Cambridge Hotel, Newcastle
Wednesday March 29, 2017 :
Maddy Jane looked a bit bemused as she stood in front of a noisy crowd, alone with her guitar. Then she unleashed her formidable voice without warning, and grabbed the attention of everyone in the room. Maddy’s stripped back sound seemed an odd choice for a support (initially) but was impressive nonetheless. After a short-but-sweet set it was time to crank the volume.
WAAX are a solid rock band brought to another level, thanks to frontwoman Marie DeVita. Marie wailed and writhed on stage to great effect, and had the whole crowd moving. A cover of Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Dreams’ with a rock-twist was a nice addition, and the band’s final song and biggest hit ‘Same Same’ prompted a few punters to exclaim “They sing this song!?”
Following the band’s last song, a few well chosen classic singalongs were played over the sound system before the main event, and a crowd singalong of ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ was the perfect warm up for what was to come.
I didn’t know what to expect from KINGSWOOD’s new live show, and they certainly haven’t half-arsed bringing their more dynamic sophomore album to the stage. Touring with a total of 9 musicians (with a horn section!!), every nuance of After Hours, Close to Dawn was startlingly realised in an extended, satisfying set. ‘Atmosphere’ and ‘Like Your Mother’ showcased the harmonies the band is known for, and frontman Ferg and guitarist Alex’s vocals sounded great together on ‘ICFTYDLM’. But it was Alex’s solo moment on ‘Golden’ that stood out. Alex’s vocals were sublime, and the horns made this song something special. Suddenly the choice of supports made a bit more sense.
The new stuff has made a good impact, but the band still sound sensational when they’re rocking out. Ferg’s voice is better suited for the harsher vocals of their rockier songs, Alex can shred with the best (and had a few extended solos to show his stuff), and new(ish) bassist Braiden was all class in the corner locking it down. The backing band added a few flourishes during these moments, but for the most part it was just Kingswood doing what they do best.
Kingswood certainly didn’t neglect the old stuff either. ‘Micro Wars’, ‘She’s My Baby’, and ‘Ohio’ all had a huge response. A quick, teasing cover of Karnivool’s ‘Themata’ didn’t go unnoticed by many in the room (who screamed for more). A girl jumped on stage during ‘Ohio’ and sang the wrong lyrics into the mic (to the disbelief of Ferg and the audience), and then collided with the crowd barrier in an attempted stage dive. Ferg graciously gave her a successful second attempt, but her dignity remained where her face collided with the barrier. We can’t all be rockstars I guess.
Kingswood are clearly aiming higher than being a pub rock band with their new sound, and this show served as an exciting statement of intent of what’s to come. Alex said it best when he compared tonight’s sold-out show to a past Newcastle show “at the Great Northern with 12 people“, before the band slayed the crowd with ‘Creepin” to finish us off. Here’s hoping the next level isn’t far off for one of Australia’s best bands.