February 26th, 2015, Tivoli Theatre, Brisbane

Boston’s alt-metal/heavy rock outfit, Godsmack, have been in existence since 1995, and have endured a touring schedule so punishing that it even notoriously blew the mind of Dimebag Darrell, back in the day. It’s hard to believe that this month marks their first ever time in Australia. With an understated, yet effective stage set up, backed by a massive logo banner, they kicked off tonight’s Brisbane Sidewave double headliner with the heavy groove rock of ‘1000hp’, from their 2014 album of the same name.

Frontman Sully Erna’s voice is in absolutely top-notch form, it has to be said. With their tight, clean style, they raised the roof with the highly charting hit. Disappointingly, the Tivoli is only probably about three-quarters full tonight and Erna occasionally sounds a little frustrated by the crowd’s lacklustre response. His vein-popping roars of ‘Turn. That. Shit. Up. Louder!’ are met with, for the most part, almost polite head-nodding. At one stage, he implored the audience to, ‘Make some fucking noise!’ Later, in a frustrated effort to raise the energy, he yelled, ‘This is your last chance, Australia!’ and even asked us, cheekily, towards the end, whether we were awake. Eventually, a sea of fists started gosmack-brisbane-2015punching the air and the good-natured frontman was visibly pleased. When he was hit in the head by a flying shoe during the show, he asked whether it was Cinderella’s, since: ‘I haven’t been laid since I got here. I’ve been looking for her.’

It was a treat to finally see these talented, seasoned performers in action. I just wish that there’d been a bigger crowd turn out, though fans will doubtlessly show up, en masse, over the weekend at Soundwave, in any case. And here’s hoping they pump up the energy for this hard-working, rockin’ band. Highlights of the set included a brilliant rendition of ‘Straight Out of Line’, and a sweaty, angsty version of ‘Cryin’ Like a Bitch.’ Drummer Shannon Larkin’s energy and timing were beyond impressive; and Tony Rombola on guitar and Robbie Merrill on bass rounded things out with tight grooves and meaty riffs, such as those on a spine-tingling performance of hit, ‘Voodoo.’ Finishing proceedings off with a kick-arse performance of mega-hit, ‘I Stand Alone’, the guys thanked the crowd, and Erna dived from the stage into a sea of fans. Not a bad way to finish.

papa-rach-bisbane-2015Californian alt/nu/rap-metal favourites, Papa Roach, seemed a strange choice as Godsmack’s Sidewave counterpart , and there was a sense of division in the audience. But sometimes that makes for a more interesting experience, overall. A range of ages and styles abounded; and older rockers stood, shoulder-to-shoulder with young punks and nu-metal, teen fans. The 4-member group exploded onto the stage with apparently boundless energy and enthusiasm. Singer, Jacoby Shaddix, was an amped-up, restless, and engaging presence throughout the entire gig. Perched on amps, tearing around the stage, and feeding off the vibe of a swelling crowd, he delivered high-voltage performances of crowd favourites including ‘Getting Away with Murder’, ‘Hollywood Whore’, and ‘Between Angels and Insects’.

Tony Palermo (ex-Unwritten Law and Sixx:A.M) was a powerhouse on drums and pulled out everything from funk, punk, and rock beats, through to straight-ahead nu-metal grooves. The sweat flew freely from the headbanging guitarists either side of Shaddix. Lead, Jerry Horton, brought the dynamic, big riffs, while bassist, Tobin Esperance, underscored the whole thing with electrifying bass stylings. In short, the crowd ate out of Shaddix’s hand all night, and were even treated to up-close-and-personal experiences, including his wading through the crowd and pausing for mobile selfies with thrilled fans. He seems genuinely connected to his fans, and even had to break up a moshpit scuffle at one point.

The guys finished the set with huge hit, ‘Last Resort’, and took photos with fans before they left the stage. All in all, this double-header was a satisfying and energetic experience, which will definitely whet appetites for those heading to the Ekka grounds this weekend for Soundwave.

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