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Live Reviews : Earth, Magic Mountain Band, Bonnie Mercer @ Hifi, Melbourne 21/06/2014

By on June 24, 2014

There’s something otherworldly, something hypnotic, about watching a band like Earth live. It was immediately present on their 2012 tour, sitting on the side stage at the Corner Hotel, eyes closed for half the set. Before we get to that though…

Just as in 2012, opening the night was Bonnie Mercer (or perhaps she was second support that time? Either way she played…). It was half an hour of pure noise bliss. Accompanied by bassist Steve Patrick, the set was entirely focused around the ebb and flow of droning feedback and reverb-drenched guitar. Despite performing what was essentially one long piece the balance between darker bass-driven moments and the more high-pitched white noise kept things interesting from start to finish, with the guitar being driven into the floor several times in true rock star fashion. Mercer’s material is one of those in-the-moment kind of things, and sitting down on the HiFi floor (ignoring the stickiness) amongst fellow drone fans was the perfect experience.

Magic Mountain Band followed. Clearly influenced by the headline band, and perhaps the likes of Dirty Three, it’s clear why these guys were chosen for the show. Take Earth’s slow, deep guitars, reduce the focus on repetition, and add some Hammond organ, and you’ve got a pretty good idea of what the Magic Mountain Band sound like. That’s not to discredit them as any sort of pale imitation of course, they have enough of their own touch to be their own band and manage to conjure the mental desert images as good as any. Having listened to their debut album Wilderman more times than one can count, it was exciting to see the music on the live front, and it translated perfectly. It will be exciting to see where they go from here.

Despite Earth’s legendary status, they’re as relaxed and low-key as a band can get. They don’t explode out into the stage in any grandiose manner, instead wandering out after hanging around the stage helping set up their own gear, introducing the first couple of songs as if they were your best mates, and playing. It’s a nice change from the norm, and amplifies the honesty and emotion in their music. Classics like “The Bees Made Honey in the Lion’s Skull” easily received the biggest response, but it was the new material that made the show. An instrumental version of “Rooks Across the Gate”, one of the tracks that shocked the world by including vocals, was an entirely different beast than the recording. And in general it seemed that the new album has that that more finesse and even a lighter vibe in parts than past material, which on the live front, adds a new touch to what is a very established sound.

It’s impossible to complain about an Earth set. You know exactly what you’re going in for and as long as the mix is nice and clear, which it was, it’s perfect.


Mitch Booth is the owner, designer and grand overlord of Metal Obsession. In the few seconds of spare time he has outside of this site, he also hosts a metal radio show over on PBS 106.7fm in Melbourne (Australia) and organises shows under the name Untitled Touring. You should follow him on Twitter.