Live Reviews : The Sword @ Billboard The Venue, Melbourne 25/02/2013
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I was happy to hear the news that The Sword were making their way back to Australia after I missed them at Soundwave a few years back due to bullshit security reasons. However I wasn’t happy to hear they were sharing the bill with Dragonforce! Not only is it detrimental to the atmosphere on the night to put two completely opposing genres together but it can also be impactful on numbers for fans that don’t want to pay a certain amount if they only want to see one of the bands. Either way it was a laughable mistake on Soundwaves part, add it to the ever growing list.
So as expected the amount of people I saw at Billboards minutes before The Sword were to take the stage was disappointing. Not only do they have a killer back catalogue and solid new release in Apocryphon but they’re a great live band and play a kind of rock that is almost better live than on CD. I’d never seen proper photos of the band members before so I wasn’t sure what to expect but the biggest surprise was seeing John D. Cronise in person. This guy has such a distinct and monstrous voice that I had to take a second look at the skinny white kid in the trucker hat at the mic. I don’t know whether the band felt like the odd band out as well but they started off shaky but very quickly showed the audience they were more than prepared to put on a great show for Sword fans and win over some Dragonforce ones as well. One thing that surprised me is that I expected more off Warp Riders which seemed to be their best selling album during my days at JB Hi Fi but it was a very varied set list with songs from Age of Winters and Gods of the Earth as well…a pleasant surprise to say the least.
Tres Brujas got people in the mood, especially the drunk cowboy to my left dancing up a storm and repeatedly trying to start a slow clap that never quite caught on. New material such as the title track from Apocryphon went down nicely and an old classic like Winters Wolves began to round out the set. One highly irritating aspect of the night was that the house lights were never turned off during their entire set which obviously goes to show that lighting in general was non existent. It’s times like these that you actually realize how critical good lighting is and how much it adds to the overall experience.
There’s something really beautiful about the sight of a lone of Orange amplifiers about to be turned up to 11 and when it comes to sludge/stoner gigs I know the show was a success when I feel like the sound is so heavy that the guitars look like they weigh a tonne…well in this case the guitars looked like they weighed 2! All four members had great stage presence, from Kyle Shutt’s Hendrix like psychedelic solos to the relieving sight of Bryan Richie on bass whose instrument looks like it’s seen better day (so you know they’re not just going to stand there being boring as bat shit providing a generic bass line).Santiago “Jimmy” Vela III (who joined the band after the release of Warp Riders on drums) proved to the audience that he had more than just a bad ass name to contribute to the band with his flawless efforts and Cronise had really come into his own by the end of the set, hiding behind his trucker cap a little less and leading the band through some cool jam sessions in between.
So as expected The Sword kicked some major ass and I think gained some new fans through their killer live show, so no thanks to Soundwaves idiotic pairing on this one. I just wish this could have been a sideshow alongside Ghost or something along those lines.