Tonight Alive @ The Cambridge Hotel, Newcastle NSW Australia 03/11/2017 written by Brendan Lewis
Let’s travel back through time, plunder the Underworld and bring Tonight Alive! Sydney rock heavy-weights Tonight Alive take over The Cambridge Hotel as the next stop of their crusade of past times the ‘Back To Beginnings’ tour. This journey is to pay homage to, and return to the intimate venues the band played at in the early stages of their careers, and to pay thanks to the bands and artists who supported them, in lead up to the release of the bands’ fourth studio album ‘Underworld’.
Thee who enters do so with caution, this may be a bumpy ride…
This voyage sets off with lead singer Jenna singing the chorus of their smash hit, ‘Lonely Girl’ as they take the helm (walk onto the stage).This suspense building intro is of course flowed into the full song of ‘Lonely Girl’, which sees Jenna stand up on the centre fold-back speaker to address us with a “what’s up Newcastle?!” between her intensely powerful singing. The connection Jenna established with us in the audience just then is kept with a “what’s that?”, prompting the crowd of fist-pumping fans to sing the bridge section of the song, while Jenna goes wild rocking out on stage, incredibly still able to keep her voice clear and accurate.
Now that we’ve set sail, Jenna’s clear and spine-tinglingly powerful voice takes us into ‘The Ocean’ and then without a shudder in speed to ‘How Does It Feel’. Just like a captain telling their crew of the dammed to work harder, Jenna commands us to “put your hands in the air’ revving us up during ‘The Ocean’, while she rocks out energetically whilst singing sharply and clearly, sending shockwaves through the crowd and sustained with some epic drumming in the songs’ bridge. The unrelenting energy keeps raining down as Jenna waves her arm from side to side singing “hey, ho” with each wave of the arm, conducting the audience to mimic her to lead into ‘How Does It Feel’. The crowds energy is awoken and is in high spirits, as we all pump our fists and sing along in echo to Jenna as we watch her rock out with ferocious energy and then squats down here at the front to sing a section engaging us here at the front. The sound is really well mixed and Jenna’s hard-hitting vocals that aren’t wavering even with her intense energy, shine bright like a lightning in a storm, with the lights behind her shining in sync with the beat in vertical pillars of light, flashing in different pattern adding to the dramatic essence of the night. The fiery blaze of energy connected between Jenna and her audience burns brightly as Jenna prompts us to sing along louder stating “I wanna hear your lovely voices” ….lovely? uh-huh, topped with the guitarist joining in on the rocking out with Jenna, taking this voyage of energy deeper into the depths.
Now just to clarify any confusion, Jenna tells us “we are Tonight Alive from Sydney, welcome to the Back To Beginnings tour!” formally addressing her loyal followers at last. The next stride of greatness includes ‘Waysso’ ‘Listening’ then ‘Wasting Away’ and finally out to ‘The Other Side’. Jenna eggs us on to “bring it!” as she races around the stage for ‘Waysso’ like a taunted ghost that escaped from the underworld, bringing the climatic energy right back to explosive levels once again after her quick intermission/public address. The energy in the crowd is booming as everyone around me claps along as Jenna responds to the enthusiasm with a “lose your f***in’ minds!” ….I’d say those minds were lost a while ago Jenna. I am really astonished at how powerful, accurate and sharp Jenna’s voice is and yet she can still keep up the insane energy! Are you listening? good, because for this song the clap alongs are sustained especially heightened in the bridge section, with Jenna’s incredible high notes soaring over the crowd, and even prompts the first in-sync crowd jump. The wild deathly energy from Jenna and copied by her audience, along with all other band members playing equally important precise roles in the performance, set a new precedence for the night. The energy is brought down ever so slightly for ‘The Other Side’ until the bridge, which explodes and leaves us all stunned, only to then have the flow slowed down dramatically for the next section of this crusade…
Jenna takes this opportunity to catch her breath, as she says thanks to the supporting bands of the night and commands us to do so too, then reminisces about the next couple of songs which are off their first EP, this next song is a shout out to the girls in the crowd… apparently. These two songs ‘Five Years’ and ‘My Favourite Thing’ are played as acoustic renditions, bringing a pleasant contrast to the wilderness of the show like a glimpse of an island through the sunset on a haunted ghost ship. The captain does not let her crew wander and slack off though, she keeps us all in her undivided attention with her stunning voice resonating through us in the audience even more powerfully and beautifully as it has been, now that it’s only an acoustic guitar and Jenna’s amazing voice… and the cheers of the audience. Her hold on us is further tightened as Jenna moves up close to us at the front, sings and points to audience members keeping the connection with her fans strong.
The band now re-join Jenna on stage as we head into the home stretch of the voyage. This final portion consists of ‘To Be Free’ which of her hold on us we are not, ‘Don’t Wish’ which the dead need not, before reaching ‘The Edge’ of our destination, the ‘Temple’ within The Underworld… which ironically is the first single of said upcoming album. Being re-energised after the acoustic break, the crowd go nuts with excitement and start singing along immediately to every word of ‘To Be Free’, plus Jenna’s fire is definitely burning brightly with her on-stage energy and charisma. Jenna then revvs us up even more by prompting us to sing along to the melodic hook of the song, picking the energy and speed up nicely. The rest of these songs continue the charge towards glory with wild guitar riffs and hooks, mind-bending drum rhythms, stunning knock-out clear vocals, and of course, mountains of energy worthy of resurrecting the gods! Jenna’s energetic movements further amaze me, as she squats down/races around the front of the stage rapidly whilst singing perfectly. Jenna’s must have/continue to train her voice so incredibly well to keep it unbroken whilst she moves around like a crazy mythical creature! Jenna now shows her exhaustion slightly with a puff and “holy s***!”, and tells us that there will be no encore, this is the end people. The gates to the underworld are torn open and ‘Temple’ charges the night into eternal glory and with a blaze!
Wow! Is your mind blown? It should be, this was an engaging insane ride that truly leaves me astounded at the band and Jenna’s musicianship and jaw dropping performance! No wonder these guys are a world-wide rock phenomenon! Bring on the new album and more shows!