Isis seem to have a real affinity for Australia. They were here in 2005, and included a full set from their Annandale gig on their 2006 live DVD Clearing The Eye. On the liner notes to that release they describe Australia as a ‘world of wonder: sand, sun, beaches, enthusiastic audiences…’, and described it as ‘one of the best tours ever’, which is nice.
So it was great to have them back five years later (wow!), and the Corner Hotel is a much better venue than the Gershwin Room where they played last time. Plus it wasn’t as hot and stuffy as it was back then, when the person in front of me collapsed into my arms and I had to haul them through the crowd to safety. Nothing like being an involuntary hero.
I’d been pretty crook for the few days before this gig, but decided to head along and check them out regardless. I was alone and sober, so tried to look all reporterish and busy, scribbling notes and taking photos throughout the gig.
This gig was a sideshow for the Soundwave festival, which had a very impressive lineup this year. Clutch were out for the festival too, and played on the same night in another part of town, which is a shame because I’m sure plenty of people would’ve like to go to both gigs. Hopefully someone invents a time machine before I die so I can go back and check out the Clutch gig too.
The first thing I noticed was the crowd demographics. As you’d expect from an Isis gig, there weren’t many chicks there. I mean, this was a total sausage fest. This was a real kind of geeky hipster crowd of blokes aged around thirty. There were more iPhones there than chicks. But still, they were expectant, and enthusiastic and knowledgeable once the band started playing, and maintained their concentration throughout despite the challenging nature of the band’s material.
The band took the stage to an appreciative roar, and launched straight into an outstanding hour and a half long set.
The sound was superb, clear but suitably loud and heavy, and beautifully mixed by the boys behind the desk – no mean feat given the dynamic range of this band.
The band continued with their predilection for playing more recent songs, with four of the first five songs coming from their latest album, Wavering Radiant, and only one song from each of their other four LPs. But when your songs go for ten minutes each, it doesn’t allow for a lot of mixing and matching in your song selection.
My personal highlight was Wills Dissolve off my favourite Isis album Panopticon, with it’s atmospheric intro particularly effective in a live setting. Threshold of Transformation was a brilliant crescendo to the main set, and the encore of Carry and a jammed out Celestial was a treat for long term fans.
Overall an outstanding performance from a truly remarkable band.
And come to think of it, even if someone does come up with a time machine, I’ll probably skip Clutch and just go back to the same gig again. Only this time I won’t be crook and I’ve already done the review so I’ll be able get smashed – yay!!
1. Hall Of The Dead
2. Hand Of The Host
3. Holy Tears
4. 20 Minutes / 40 Years
5. Ghost Key
6. Wills Dissolve
7. Threshold Of Transformation
9. Celestial (The Tower)