Ah Soilwork, you Swedish metal titans, how you had fans eating out of your hands tonight at The Triffid. As you reminded us, it’s been a long time between drinks and Brisbane was palpably excited to be welcoming you back. Kicking proceedings off with an incendiary version of The Ride Majestic was a top-notch move. Energy levels were immediately amped by this infectious title track from the latest studio release. Many punters were singing along at the top of their lungs as we observed the fruits of two decades’ worth of dedicated toil, commitment to musicianship, and honing of live performance. Bathed in blue light, singer Björn ‘Speed’ Strid cuts an imposing figure downstage, one foot propped on a monitor, thick, tattooed biceps bulging from his black vest. Those of us who are fortunate to nab a spot down the front early are also treated to Sylvain Coudret’s frenetic finger work as he blazes his way through Nerve and Bastard Chain.
After that, mayhem is unleashed in the form of a curious crowd member who creates a one-man circle pit of epic proportions. Appearing to have perhaps wandered out of a Spin Doctors gig and lost his way, he nevertheless proceeds to tear around manically, eventually attracting a cohort of hobbitesque pit buddies who prompt surrounding audience members to exchange ‘wtf?’ looks. After much customary chest slamming and shoulder collision, the merry band is given a wide berth. Someone’s girlfriend has the cheery smile wiped from her face when she is smacked into by one shorts-sporting little individual who, despite his surprising ferocity, has clearly been skipping leg day at the gym. Behind them, a mini-wall of colossal guys look a little pissed off, but eventually relax. And this is probably for the best, all things considered. The crowd is temporarily divided by the strange display, but Strid reminds us that he’s in control by appointing one enthusiastic fan as our ‘captain’ for the night. ‘His job is to lead the rest of you guys into trouble, alright?’ Captain happily obliges as the opening licks of Follow the Hollow explode from the amps. Coudret and Andersson’s twin guitar assault is formidable throughout this ol’ skool Soilwork number. There is another perceptible spike in energy levels from this point on. Henceforth, the crowd becomes more united and there is a positive buzz in the air.
Strid engages in a bit of banter now and then. He’s pumped to be back in Australia and playing Brisbane on a Saturday night for a change; he hopes we’re into the stuff from the new album; he acknowledges fans who’ve stuck with the band over their 20-year career. He’s congenial and obviously respects his listeners, but he doesn’t go on with any self-indulgent waffling.
The night features a number of high points. Predictably, Death in General is a crowd favourite, with its combo of Strid’s powerhouse vocals, Dirk Verbeuren’s precision drumming, and the swaggering, moody guitars. Visibly enjoying the show, Markus Wibom indulges in a spot of showmanship during This Momentary Bliss, head banging, animated, and even playing his bass behind his head for a bit. The appreciative crowd are equally energised by the older material and offerings from the new album. Stabbing the Drama is rewarded by much delighted roaring from the crowd. After that, the guys temporarily leave the stage, before returning to play a generous encore set, including Let this River Flow, Late for the Kill, Early for the Slaughter, and Rejection Role (which Strid invites us to sing along with him). Strid’s vocals are faultless: from guttural to clean, and everything in between, he demonstrates remarkable range and power. Throughout the encore, the crowd’s stamina is apparently unflagging; there’s an approving sea of raised fists, index fingers, and devil’s horns, as well as a burst of spirited crowd surfing. At the end of Whirl of Pain, Strid thanks us for our hospitality and tells us that the final song is coming up next. ‘You’d better show me what you’re made of, Brisbane!’ he booms, and the crowd responds with assorted excited bellowing. The show closes with classic Soilwork: 2013’s melodic thrasher, Spectrum of Eternity. For those who have been patiently waiting for their return, Soilwork have not disappointed tonight. My gig companion, not previously familiar with their work, is a bona fide convert as a result of tonight’s show. Blast beats still ringing in our ears, we head back out into the balmy night and agree that it’s a refreshing change to have a major international act play in our city on a Saturday night. Onya, Soilwork. Let’s just hope that Aussies don’t have to wait another two-and-a-half years to bathe in your musical majesty again.
Soilwork 2016 Australian Tour Dates
ROSEMOUNT HOTEL, PERTH
WEDNESDAY FEBRUARY 10
THE GOV, ADELAIDE
FRIDAY FEBRUARY 12
THE TRIFFID, BRISBANE
SATURDAY FEBRUARY 13
MAX WATTS, SYDNEY
MONDAY FEBRUARY 15
170 RUSSELL, MELBOURNE
TUESDAY FEBRUARY 16
For complete tour, VIP package and ticketing details, visit: www.livenation.com.au