The time on the ticket said 8pm, so I made sure I was there with ample time. I wanted to get "the feel" of the place before the crazed metal antics began. A huge queue of metal fans told me that the doors weren't open yet, and they were to be paraded along Devonshire street for the passing people to stare at and think negative thoughts.
The Gaelic club is an intimate venue, to be sure. There is one great pillar blocking the complete view of the stage, but nothing drastic. Stronger than Hate were only on stage for 40 minutes, but still managed to belt out a stack of songs that got the audience jumping and cursing.
Frankenbok were second on stage and, to their credit, played a fantastic set. A kind of death metal with a hint of "melody," which would explain why they were such a good opener for Soilwork. Once they'd left the stage, it was only a matter of time for the roadies (bless their little hearts) to get the headliners on.
The audience were (once again) a stockstandard bunch of crazed freaks, all in the uniform of black. Boots, chains & a shirt emblazoned with their favourite metal musicmakers. Outside, DimmuBorgir, Cradle of Filth and In Flames seemed to be the favourites, but once folks got inside and made some purchases, Soilwork was on a great percentage of chests. The only verbal interactions with the maddening throng was some guy tapping me on the shoulder and expressing how annoyed he'd be if two lumbering behemoths were to stand in front of him. I agreed it was annoying, but shrugged indifferently and pushed in front of the beerswilling monoliths to get a closer view of the stage.
Soilwork played their own particular style of death metal for well over an hour. I've never seen the point of chanting the band's name before they get on stage. They already know they have to play. But it seems to give the audience something to do as a group. Earlier, between bands, some kind of preternatural bonding session sung along with IronMaiden guitar solos.
Once Soilwork were on stage, people went crazy. It's hard to dance to such crazed beats. in terms of pure effort, I think the drummer does the most work, and perhaps the singer does the least. But as a unit, they're fantastic. Five Swedish giants on stage rocking our collective worlds as we swayed and jumped and shoved and got way too close to people wearing spiked jewellery.
A technical glitch in front of the third song seemed to have brought the show to a halt, but a little over a minute later the noise was back and the performance continued until 11:55pm. This is when the fans spewed forth onto the streets to wreak havoc unknown; I'd parked blocks away and was in no mood to hang out with roaring and sweaty freaks any longer.
It was a big show. A fantastic show. A show worth every cheap cent. Although the opening acts were good, Australian metal just isn't as good as it could be. This is why God invented Scandinavia.
Reviewed on Saturday, 13 September 2003