Sunday, January 15, 2023

Powerman 5000 - Live in Sydney, Australia 13/01/23 Concert Review - Better Late than Never!


Photos & Videos supplied: Cameron Hons

It's taken over 20 years for the highly respected "nu-metal" band Powerman 5000 to come to Australia but it's better late than never, right? In fact, that's what this tour should have been called. Originally, the Boston American rockers formed back in 1991 and cut their first EP in 1993. In 1997 they released their first debut album, 'Mega Kung Fu Radio' a mixture of groove and hard hitting metal with powerful vocals and funky guitar and bass lines. The debut album has a huge live jam feel that I really love and often find it underrated compared to their other, more known albums such as 'Tonight The Stars Revolt!', 'Tansformed', or 'Somewhere On The Other Side Of Nowhere', for example. But those are still great albums. However, the whole point of this  tour was to celebrate the 20th anniversary of 'Tonight The Stars Revolt!" - the classic 1999 album which many consider to be the true breakout album for PM5K, featuring great hits like 'When Worlds Collide', 'Supanova Goes Pop' , 'Nobody's Real', 'Tonight The Stars Revolt!" to name a few. 

They were meant to come to Australia in 2020, but of course the Pandemic happened. Instead of cancelling the tour they ended up delaying it until a later date. The later date was going to be 2021, then 2022, but we got lucky in 2023 with plenty of vaccines and easing restrictions, after kicking off their first Australian show in Brisbane at a pub called The Zoo (not to be confused with the Steve Irwin Zoo of the same name & location)!

I've already been quick to get back to concerts last year in 2022, from Midnight Oil for the 3rd time, The original Wiggles reunion, and KISS that year. Live music is back!

Out of my 20+ years of going to concerts i've never been to the Manning Bar before, located at prestigious Sydney University. 950 nice people, mostly big looking dudes with their girlfriends both whom had very fun and interesting coloured hair similar to that of punk influences like Sid Vicious from the Sex Pistols for example, filled the venue quickly to full capacity. But they were all good people. And there were normal looking people here too. We were only here to have fun and enjoy the evening's music and of course the main act, Powerman 5000.

The first time I heard Powerman 5000 was back in the year 2000 or 2001, when I saw the movie Evolution featuring David Duchovny. There was this great song called 'Bombshell' in the film that I thought sounded badass as a 10 year old. I was instantly hooked afterwards. Then, I heard 'When Worlds Collide'' I think from one of the N64 Tony Hawk Pro Skater games and thought they sounded awesome. I have been a fan ever since. 

First, local Sydney based doom sludge metal band ASTRODEATH was our first support act, who I actually met at the Merch stand before the show. They're great people and I just discovered them the day or two before and thought they sounded awesome. I got to tell them how much I enjoy them and I also like watching their music videos. They are a nice bunch of dudes. They played a blistering 30 minute set of their own original material and a few Black Sabbath covers. ASTRODEATH have a new album, VOL. 2 - coming out in February so check em out. 

Another Local Sydney act, OUR LAST ENEMY went up next. This Industrial Gothic Metal band has been around since 2006 and has made a few albums. They had a really great drummer and guitarist while the singer was powerful and the bassist was also enjoying the show. "We won't stick around for so long because we know you guys wanna see Powerman 5000!" he said. That's a shame, I quite like these guys too! But they also had a fair share of 30 minutes and played a bunch of thier original tracks, especially "Long Time Coming", a song of theirs I also quite liked. 

After another breif intermission, the lights went down and Powerman 5000 burst onto the stage with their 2017 hit opener 'Footsteps And Voices' from the album New Wave. They came out with lasers attached to their instruments, something I was hoping they would do from past videos i've seen. Everybody was enjoying themselves and Spider One and the other band members were all jumping around with a sheer amount of energy and full force as if they were formed just yesterday. We as the audience instantly welcomed them with open arms, loudness and applause.

'Footsteps And Voices'

It was difficult to tell who was having a better time, the band or the audience, but everyone was just absolutely on their feet, jumping and stomping around and absolutely getting into it. Spider One's vocals were in fine form, and the band was tight throughout the whole show. There was a bit of banter during the show and at one point someone from the audience even asked what kind of conditioner they use. Someone else near the front row wanted them to do a Shoey, but they were very shy and probably a bit freaked out by this traditional Australian cutsom for alcoholic lovers. Either way, the band were in fine form throughout the whole show, as were the audience who never stood still for a second!

The setlist contained a wide variety of hits and songs from almost all of their currently released albums. They played songs such as "Nobody's Real". "Invade, Destroy Repeat", "Super Villain" (at this point literally no one in the audience was not jumping up and down) - the pit in the front row was insane! They had the whole audience's attention and the response was good! Although it's now 2023, we should be celebrating the 20th anniversary of the album 'Transformed', but at least they played 'Hey, That's Right!' from the CD. Spider One is a great frontman, bouncing around as much as everybody else was. I was surprised the floor didn't cave in or the roof didn't come down for such a small venue. I also have to give kudos to the professional lighting and sound setup. Drummer DJ Rattan was absolutely smashing it in each track. While Muurv3 and Taylor Haycraft were absolutely ripping it to shreds, in a good way!

The two most recent songs from their latest album 'The Noble Rot' from 2020 were played. 'Play God Or Play Dead' a classic PM5k feel for a new song and my other personal favourite 'Black Lipstick', which has a unusual synth-wave party style tune but they pull it off so well and the live version sounds distinctively different than the studio version. The whole crowd was bopping up and down to this one.

When Spider said 'Let's get all my friends to jump up' everybody would jump up on command. There was nobody not doing what they were told ! 

'How To Be A Human'

There was also the anthemic buzz of the 2014 hit 'How To Be A Human', with absolute burst of energy throughout. There were certainly no backing tracks used throughout this show, and it was obvious. Then next up came 'Horror Show' from the 2009 album 'Somewhere On The Other Side Of Nowhere'. During this track started a huge jam session based on the White Stripes riff of Seven Nation Army. With the repeated groove and bass line, they broke out into other various songs over the top. Mostly they were Australian songs. They did their homework before they came here. With the jams including 'Seven Nation Army / It's Tricky / Am I Ever Gonna See Your Face Again / Rebel Yell and even a very surprising Powerman 5000 rendition of The Wiggle's classic 'Fruit Salad', something not even I expected! / Devil Inside / Du Hast / Dragula and then once again back to Horror Show! What a performance!

Powerman 5000 were even impressed with what just happened. "Holy shit, dude!" Spider One said at the end. "Americans will never be able to hear us play stuff like INXS, The Angels and The Wiggles on one sitting".

An excerpt of the "Horror Show" jam featuring Fruit Salad & Seven Nation Army. Hopefully someone recorded the full bit!

Near the end of the evening which was something nobody wanted but still, we were all taken back in time to the year 2000 when they played their smash hit 'Bombshell' in a brutal form indeed. The audience and band were not showing any signs of sleep or tiredness, and neither was I! 

During the encores Spider One gave a speech to the lovely Sydney audience thanking them for being fans for so long and apologizing for not coming out here sooner, also thanking everybody for buying CDs, Merch, Shirts or meeting them in person or at VIPS. Every fan means the best to them and nobody is excluded. "WE WILL BE BACK!" shouted Spider One at the end of the speech. The entire audience erupted with a standing ovation.

We were rewarded with the encores "Supanova Goes Pop", "Tonight The Stars Revolt!" and ending the show with the smash hit 'WHEN WORLDS COLLIDE" duing the track audience members stage dived into the crowd at one point and we were all going nuts. Time seemed to go so quick through the hour and a half Powerman 5000 had on stage, but as the saying goes - time flies when you're having fun!

Out of the 20+  years of me attending concerts this has to be one of the best shows i've ever attended. Both Powerman 5000 and the audience were showing absolutely fine form and showmanship like no other. These guys are truly professionals. To anyone thinking the Powerman 5000 heyday is over, they are dead wrong. Powerman 5000 are a band that are still alive and well and even have a new album coming out sometime in 2023 to prove it! 

Thank you ASTRODEATH, OUR LAST ENEMY and of course POWERMAN 5000 for making their first trip to Sydney , Australia a truly unforgettable one and I REALLY REALLY hope you come back soon and it doesn't take another 20 years for them to do so, pretty please!

At least better late than never, right!

Powerman 5000 - Live at the Manning Bar in Sydney, Australia 13-01-23




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