It’s pretty rare to get a lineup of progressive metal acts that are world class together under one roof, particularly in Brisbane, but on Friday we finally got our share with Caligula’s Horse beginning their Hands Shape Stone national tour at The Triffid.
Kodiak Empire began the night and I saw a lot of very promising stuff up on stage. Their set was good, with a lot of energy and some really great music that was engaging from the get-go. Probably the only thing that really confused me is I couldn’t quite figure out what genre it was that they wanted to perform, as their sound bordered several different genres. It will be interesting to see if they can take the energy they had on stage into their upcoming show with Katatonia in a few weeks, because if they do then I am sure they will get a few new fans.
The second act for the night was Dyssidia from Adelaide – and just WOW. There was so much going on up on stage that was good watch. This was impressive progressive metal on a much darker scale than I have ever really heard and I was totally captivated by the bands performance. The vocal range of the frontman was ridiculously impeccable, which was made even more impressive by the constant changes in his range from low, guttural growls/barks to a much cleaner, operatic style that could match up with some of the best in the business – and this was just the vocalist. The rest of the band was technically precise with their keys; visceral with their drumming and bass, and hauntingly ambient with the guitar and was the complete package in terms of a collective band performance. This is definitely a band that I didn’t have on my radar but have now firmly planted in my vision and I am excited to see what these guys can conjure up in the near future.
It became quite obvious during the nights third change over that there was a large contingent of fans that had shown up were there for the two main acts of the night, as the crowd had bloomed to more than double the capacity that had been present for the opening acts. Needing no introduction, Osaka Punch came out on stage with Jimi Jamison’s I’m Always Here (the Baywatch Theme) playing, before breaking into their progressive/funk/everything fusion which had the crowd bopping and bouncing along like it was the world’s biggest hoedown. This is a band I hadn’t had the chance to see live before, and can comfortably say that everything that is ever said about them live is true. There was not one moment where the infectious talents of the band didn’t have the crowd singing along, in hysterics, or a combination of both – and that is partly due to the antics of frontman. There was so much going on up on stage that it was difficult to describe, but rest assured if there was any band that was going to be a hard act to follow, the its definitely these guys (something which Caligula’s Horse vocalist Jim Grey alluded to during their set later in the night). Osaka Punch put on one hell of a show, and not for those who enjoy their music, but for those who enjoy music in general.
Coming out to rapturous cheers, the nights headliners Caligula’s Horse took their position on stage and promptly dove into A Gift to Afterthought to open their set. Now I have had the privilege of watching Caligula’s a fair few times over the past two years and can comfortably say that they have grown into exactly the band that they have the potential to be. Mere seconds into their opening salvo the band already has a mosh pit worked up (which is a feat for any progressive metal act), but more importantly, they had the crowd firmly placed in the palm of their hand and kept them there for their entire set.
The band, even with the addition of new drummer Josh Griffin seemed to be the most comfortable that I have seen them on stage. This air of confidence seemed to lift the band to heights that I have yet to see them hit, and I can comfortably say that the performance that they put out at this show was miles and above what they have got recorded. Vocalist Grey was as electric as ever and didn’t need to incite or rile the crowd into giving a damn, but guided them to that place where they could. Guitarists Zac Greensill and Sam Vallen’s ability speaks for itself and the guitarists didn’t need to do much to perform a good show – but they did, constantly beckoning to the crowd and making sure they engaged with everyone they could. Bassist Dave Couper has grown from strength to strength with his backing vocals which were placed perfectly in the spotlight during their set, and Griffin slotted in comfortably into the drum throne and had the ability to seem like he has been a part of the band since their inception.
Being their first show in Australia for some time, the band performed what they would have considered a ‘Best Of’ playing highlights off their three albums, and they even slotted in new 16 minute long monstrosity track Graves which was simply momentous in its grandiosity and execution. Believe me, if this is a taste of what is to come then the next release from the band is going to be simply mind blowing. As a band that has continually moved from strength to strength, if there was anyone that deserved to pack out a show at The Triffid then it is most definitely Caligula’s Horse who have been an absolute force to be reckoned with in the local and international scene for some time now. Closing out the show with an encore that the fans knew was coming (thanks Jim!) gave everyone the opportunity to use up whatever energy that they had left for the home grown heroes.
Seeing so many fans show up in force for a ‘home town’ show just goes to prove how influential this band is on the Brisbane scene-scape, and seeing the fruits of the bands labor up on stage with new material leads me to believe that the proverbial horse will be charging headlong into battle for some time to come!