LIVE @ Roche Estate, Pokolbin NSW Australia 18/11/2017 written by Brendan Lewis
Lightning Crashes and Heaven will open, as rock deities LIVE reunite in it’s original entirety for the first time since 2009, for their Reunion Tour! The next stop on this momentous reign, is at the Hunter Valley’s Roche Estate winery in Pokolbin, with two more American rock legends along for the ride The Calling and Lifehouse to warm the stage and the drenched fans who braved mother-natures wrath, in anticipation of LIVE’s arrival. Something tells me that the rain might have passed in time for LIVE’s arrival onto the stage, but the true storm is yet to come…
The patrons in the first two rows have scrapped their saturated seats and are poised and ready at the front barrier, and just like humidity brings the eery warning of rain, a countdown starts on the on-stage screens, 3,2,1 then a thunderous mighty bang starts the show. The rain starts steadily with drums, then accompanied by bass intensifying the rain, then guitar before finally, the full down-pour of rain as the legend himself, Ed emerges like Thor himself in a godly storm. With a massive roar from the audience, we are hit with the bands electrifying power surge rock anthem ‘All Over’, bringing the thunder down hard straight away, charging us all with excitement. The sky is full of lights from mobile phones recording ‘All Over’ as the whole audience sings along to Ed’s crystal clear voice, as he perfectly executes the dynamics and the recorded sound extraordinarily, even after all these years. Ed pauses his marvellous singing to let the audience sing a couple of words in the verse, keeping us all engaged and when the full rock force of the chorus hits, it sends shockwaves through us all! Even with the entire audience singing along in a harmonious echo, Ed’s voice still excels exquisitely throughout the open sky.
Without a pause, the musical storms’ intensity is continued, as the audience clap the band into ‘Operation Spirit’ followed by ‘Pain Lies On The Riverside’. These songs keep the powerful sound surging with clear sharp vocals and some wild drumming in the latter of the two songs, although the bass is a little too domineering for my liking, upsetting the balance of sound slightly, luckily this doesn’t drown out Ed’s amazing voice. Whilst Ed sticks to his position in the centre of the stage, concentrating on his powerful voice and guitar rhythms, the guitarist however moves around and moves up close to us at the front spreading the energy while his stunning riffs dance around Ed’s voice like lightning in a storm, riling the audience right up, especially the girl standing next to me who’s enjoyed a few too many wine’s on offer here, and I think should really make use of the seat she paid for.
Again without pause, the storm rages on for my personal favourite, anthemic rock wonder ‘The Dolphins Cry’ followed by ‘Selling The Drama’. ‘The Dolphins Cry’ is started with an alternative classical sounding symphonic intro before cheers erupt from the audience as Ed starts singing. The song is paused suddenly and Ed addresses us all formally “Hey how you doing Sydney?” (by the way, we’re a tad far off Sydney Ed, but I get it, Pokolbin is an odd name to try and pronounce), what, was that just a teaser of the song or something? No the song is started again thankfully. Perhaps it was performance issues, which if so, don’t worry guys, performance issues are nothing to be embarrassed about at your age. Ed improvises some notes in the verse while the crowd sings the normal notes, adding a nice dual vocal layer, this is then followed up with the band extending the pre-chorus to raise the suspense before the rock might of the chorus hits with Ed’s efficacious voice reigning down on us, sending euphoric tingles throughout me. Ed now leaves his position in the centre of the stage as he moves around the front while the guitarist tears it up for a solo in the songs’ climatic finish. Ed now addresses us yet again with a “how you doing? it’s so good to be back in Australia!” then introduces us all to his brothers on stage before picking up the divinity again for ‘Selling The Drama’. As Ed sings passionately with quivering vibrato in his voice, the crowd sings back to him which prompts him to say “you guys are beautiful”, why thank you Ed, I have been working out lately. The up-beat chorus strikes and gets us all dancing in the musical rain, with Ed’s voice elevating to soaring levels, keeping the pouring rain of energy strong and consistent.
After a cover of Johnny Cash’s ‘I Walk The Line’ which continues the clear yet slightly too bassy sound, Ed showing off his vocal diversity with stunning highs and smooth lows and sound-synced lighting, Ed now thanks us and has a bit of a chat before the next wave of songs, ‘Pillar Of Davidson’ before Ed asks us “is there anything better than rock ’n’ roll in the summertime with a glass of wine?” then instructs us to keep filling our wine glasses… please don’t (looking at the staggering girl next to me). This is then followed by ’T.B.D’ with it’s smokey bass lines and heightened on-stage energy from the band, then rock tyrant ‘I Alone’, bringing the thunderous energy in all it’s glory. The first of these changes the atmosphere from high-energy rock power surges, to a bass-lead bluesy swaying feeling, like light rain carried side to side in the wind, before the chorus hails down in it’s might, before returning to the blues groove. The attention of the little sight I have left is caught by the addition of on-stage screens showing complimenting graphics…. of some sort. ‘I Alone’ brings the biggest clap of thunder in the energy yet, with the band building up to the chorus which then explodes and electrifies and snatches everyone’s attention if previously wandered.
“Are you ready?” Ed questions us, before the last two songs of the show starting with ‘Lakini's Juice’ bringing a headier rock vibe, really making the musical energy roar, then lastly ‘White Discussion’. ‘Lakini’s Juice’ with it’s heavier contrast, brings forth some wicked drumming and guitar work in the build up of the songs’ bridge, which the whole band move around and rock out to amidst a blizzard of wild lighting. Leading up to the songs’ bridge, Ed shows off some astonishing sustained powerful notes that echo’s in the valley. It seems we’ve now reached the end of the storm with ‘White Discussion’ and it’s dance-provoking essence and bright lighting effects on the on-stage screen that leave me blind, and all-in-all follows the extravagance of the set before it. Hang on, we’re already at the encore? It’s only been twelve songs though?
It appears that that wasn’t really an encore, more just a break for the band to catch their breath, as the “encore” features six more songs giving the performance the length and fullness I anticipated. These songs include two acoustic renditions of ‘Heaven’ and ‘Turn My Head’ which Ed dedicates the latter to the ladies in the audience. These acoustic songs give the feeling of a beautiful rainbow after a storm with it’s pleasant stripped-back contrast which makes Ed’s voice shine so brightly, and sends waves of euphoria through me, even though I’m not a girl.…at least not the last time I checked. The rainbow disappears with the rain picking up again as the rest of the band return to the stage for ‘Rattlesnake’, ‘Run To The Water’, a cover of Audioslave’s ‘I Am The Highway’ “one of the many gifts from Chris Cornell” says Ed, and finally ‘Lightning Crashes’ in a rapturous blaze of glory. The show is finished on an electrifying high as the audience echo back Ed’s exceptional vocals that hail down on us, along with the band rocking out/moving around like bolts of lightning accompanied by the thundering rock sound that beckon an array of phone lights filling the field around me like twinkling stars in a stormy night sky.
I was impressed when LIVE came out to the country last in absence of Ed when they supported Def Leppard, but wow! Ed brings it to a whole new level with a unique voice that can’t be matched! I’m so grateful to have experienced this amazing course of some of rocks’ all-time greats, performed beautifully with an amazing show of camaraderie from Ed and the rest of the band. I hope more of these shows await us on the near horizon!