[Live Review] KINGSWOOD

Kingswood - credit Matt McIntyre 04

Cambridge Hotel, Newcastle
Thursday September 18, 2014 :

There’s nothing quite like a midweek show to help you on that final stretch towards your weekend and no band does it with as much horsepower as Kingswood. Half way through a national tour promoting their debut record, Microscopic Wars, the Melbourne four-piece called into the Cambridge Hotel in Newcastle to deliver a high-octane dosage of the band’s trademark blues-rock sound.

Early arrivers were treated to a couple of quality support acts in the form of folky family band, Castlecomer and Melbourne alt-punk trio the Sinking Teeth. Dubbed “Australia’s next big thing” by Virgin Red Room, Castlecomer, a five-piece comprised of four cousins and a mate from Sydney, definitely impressed as the first act to hit the stage. With Vampire Weekend/Graceland inspired beats, melting five part harmonies and a lead singer with a voice somewhere between Dan Sultan and Matt Corby, it goes without saying that these boys quickly won hearts and had a fair few punters up dancing early on.

The Sinking Teeth kept the positive momentum going, producing a set packed with the sort of energy to belie their three-piece status. The noise that came out of these guys sounded like something a six-piece would struggle to achieve and little wonder – their guitarist/vocalist produced a river of sweat in during their 30-minute slot, the drummer was going at it like Animal, and their bassist literally rocked his specs off. These guys will be supporting Jimmy Eat World on their Australian run later this year so if you’re planning to head along, make sure you get there early – you won’t be disappointed.

As for the main attraction, Kingswood were, as always, in fine form, jumping straight into the deep end from song one, with Microscopic Wars opening track, ‘All To Much’. It’s sure as hell an energetic start to a debut record and it definitely proved to be an early indicator of what punters would be in for on Thursday night. The energy only increased from here as the boys followed up with ‘She’s My Baby’ and ‘Sucker Punch’ before wailing frontman Fergus Linacre was relieved of his lead vocal duties by guitarist Alex Laska for the sexy, blues-inspired new single, ‘I Can Feel That You Don’t Love Me’.

Kingswood headed Stateside to Music City (Nashville, TN) to record their new record and the regional flavour has undoubtedly infiltrated the band’s sound, showing up most on tracks like ‘So Long’ and ‘Piece by Piece’. The pleasing result is much more light and shade in Kingswood’s live shows, i.e. punters get some much-needed relief time after an onslaught of heavy rock’n’roll. And there is much to appreciate in these calmer moments. Far from being boring they offer opportunity to indulge in soulful extended guitar solos and drumming you can truly lose yourself in.

But, in true Kingswood style after these moments of quiet they’re right back into it with the relentless ‘Side to Side’, ‘Yeah Go Die’ off their Change of Heart EP, and an amped up cover of yet another First Aid Kit track, ‘Silver Lining’ all getting a go in the latter half of the set before ‘Medusa’ received the Queens of the Stone Age treatment with the lyrics to 2000’s ‘Feel Good Hit of the Summer’ slipping seamlessly into the crowd favourite – a real highlight of the night.

Nitpickers may have called them out on not granting their sell-out crowd an encore but after a solid hour-and-a-half of rock, ending with the epicness that is ‘Ohio’, with every person in the pit scrambling to share the pre-chorus, “You can stay a little longer” vocals, honestly, I don’t think many of us could have handled much more.

From taking out triple j’s Splendour in the Grass Unearthed competition in 2012, in just two short years Kingswood have established themselves as one of this country’s premier and must-see live acts. Go see them! They never disappoint.

Reviewer: Amelia Parrott
Photographer: Matt McIntyre

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