Keeping busy fresh off the release of their new and widely well received, album Brace, Perth’s Birds of Tokyo kicked off the album tour in their hometown, taking over Metro City with help from Pat Chow and Sydneysider’s Strangers. Heralding a return to those deeper reverberating rock themes, the crowd were not left disappointed and welcomed both old a new tracks with open arms.
The streets of Northbridge were relatively quiet for Thursday night, the lack of a queue at Metro City deceptive as Pat Chow opened to a growing crowd inside, the punk rock sounds gathering everyone front and centre. The intermission cracked out some wicked tunes before Strangers introduced some classic rock flair to the stage. Blending those Kingswood-esque harmonic rock tones with the frontman Ben Britton‘s charisma to match and the attitude of Phil Jamieson it was great to see the weeknight attendance go from “I have work tomorrow” to “Who cares, let’s party!“.
At first the one sided reception seemed off, punters barely moving as the four piece hit the stage with their heavy melodic rock, Timmy Hansen on drums firing out a fountain of beer as they exploded into their first song. However as we rolled into the track “Hex Mama”, Britton was taking no prisoners, leaping over the barrier to perform the song from the floor arm in arm with the crowd.
The energy was clearly amping up as they dedicated their next track “The Wall” to embracing where they’re from in Cronulla despite, ‘the racist shit’, before diving into the title track from their upcoming album, Mirrorland, with Britton taking one last adventure into the crowd, singing from atop each of the side bars to leave the set on a total high.
The lead up to the headliners was obviously targeting the older fans as Brids of Tokyo walked out after a Bon Jovi tune, but it was a true measure of what the night was going to hold. Decked out in black and white, they wasted no time in drowning the venue in the opening colossal guitar chords of “Harlequins”, the drums echoing out like a war march as vocalist Ian Kenny stepped forward to lay down those eerily light lyrics.
The pure churning rock dominating most of the track to the obvious delight of the crowd, and while it was apparent most of the venue was there to connect with the music rather than with their bodies in the pit, that didn’t stop the atmosphere. The close of “Harlequins” brought moderate head banging all round as it rose to its anthemic conclusion and established the expectations for the night.
Following up with “Gods” from their new album, the high impact rock continued verging on operatic, before “Broken Bones” really erupted. Like I said, there may not have been a great deal of movement on the floor, but that didn’t stop the crowd from singing every song Word. For. Word.
From the cheers as that infamous tune rang out, into crushing guitars the crowd were there for every lyric, every chord change, like it was their lifeblood, chanting along to “I hear your words, they call my name…” And it didn’t stop with the Universes favourites as mid-set, “Plans” from their self titled album ran back to back with new release, “Empire”, followed by “Silhouettic”, the voices were still audible singing along.
It was the perfect melting together of new and old fans as Birds of Tokyo had come full circle from the alternative early rock days to the more harmonic synth orientated melodies of Birds of Tokyo and March Fires to the return of those Karnivool paralleled heavy brooding tracks of Brace.
Dedicating the majority of the setlist to this new movement, “Discoloured” saw the appearance of Louise Penman from Perth electronic group Lilt to take on Hayley Mary‘s vocals in the verse to much cheering from the floor. “Anchor” brought us a notch down with some mellow warbling synths, the stage illuminating brightly behind the band, before it returned to the ambience of dark strobing for “Brace”, the electrifying otherworldly overtone of the chorus line setting off the venue.
“Lanterns” brought out the videos and phone camera lights to sway along to the uplifting euphony forming the close of the set, the voices that had been singing throughout the show still carrying on strong as Ian Kenny orchestrated with standard fervour. As the venue darkened and the band retreated, the floor became vehement with their calls for encore, having to wait just that tantalising bit longer than usual before the guitars could be seen being handed out in the shadows. The bold drumming of “Crown” boomed out, signalling the last of the sonically haunting tracks from their album Brace for the night, while “This Fire” finished the show with the hypnotic chanting of the chorus until the final note.
Every time I see Birds Of Tokyo, I’m left amazed, somehow in the lead up I completely forget how powerful their music is, their stage presence, their commitment to performance, and of course Ian Kenny’s legendary dance moves.
Playing at Metro City on Thursday night just gave me another lesson in their sheer diversity, and the impact of how being so passionately involved in the direction of your music can translate to all fans. Brace is another album to be reckoned with and the tour to celebrate it no less so.
Birds of Tokyo play The Tivoli in Brisbane on November 25th, two nights at The Croxton in Melbourne (November 26th & 27th) and finally at Sydney’s Enmore Theatre on December 16th.
The reviewer attended the show at Metro City on November 17th.
Photos by Stuart Sevastos.