Holy Shit! If you weren’t at this gig then go ahead and kick yourself now and do it twice, one for each band you missed. The elegant ballroom of the Eatons Hill Hotel was torn apart during this epic night.
The Bronx took the stage, with singer Matt Caughthran exuding a vaguely menacing presence reminiscent of Henry Rollins, and launched into ‘Sore Throat’. Then he threw himself into the heart of the crowd for ‘Heart Attack American’, not to surf it but to get the mosh pit started. Without missing a single beat and whipping up chaos around him, this was a man clearly in his element and the grin said it all. Ending on a massive high with ‘History’s Stranglers’, The Bronx proved themselves more than up to supporting a huge band like Pennywise. My mind was blown and I wasn’t the only one either, there was a pretty decent chant for an encore when they left the stage.
How do you follow a band with that intense energy? With punk favourites Pennywise of course, although singer Jim, joking around said he ‘hated playing after those guys’. The night was a celebration of the 20 year old ‘Full Circle’ album, one of the band’s fastest and most intense and the first after the death of original member, Jason Thirsk. With so much emotion behind the songs it was no surprise there was a rawness to the show. After 29 years of playing, Pennywise are tight and polished so it was an intriguing shift. This was played out as they finished the songs from the album and launched into more familiar live territory like ‘Same Old Story’, ‘Pennywise’ and cover ‘Stand By Me’. There was a great contrast from the little screw up kicking into ‘Nowhere Fast’ (blamed on Randy) with the hint of nerves and the most loved and slick final song ‘Bro Hymn’. It’s not for nothing that Pennywise have stood the test of time; they know how to connect with their fans. The mosh pit was heaving, fists were thrown in the air and voices were lost as every word was screamed back at the band. Even with Jim recognising it was ‘slightly patronising’, the entire place, mezzanine and all, lost it for the cover of ‘Land Down Under’.
I could go on and on about how freaking awesome this was, and I will once I get my voice back. For now though, if you were there you know, if you weren’t then take ‘a word from the wise’ and don’t make that mistake again.
IMAGES (c) JD Garrahy