I’ve always been a fan of Northlane, and after giving Alien a few listens I was well and truly hooked. I really dig the way this record incorporates electronic and industrial sounds into the classic metalcore direction pursued by Northlane, and this album showcases the creativity and technical abilities of this band. After spewing that I missed that sneaky little album launch at Yah-Yahs, I was pumped to see Northlane perform Alien on the Neon World Tour - and boy did they deliver.
Opening the show was Void of Vision. After their recent success of Hyperdaze, I made sure I was at the venue when doors opened to see their set. Opening strong with ‘Year of The Rat’, they played a good mix of material from their new album and incorporated some old crowd pleasers too. Given the huge reaction displayed from the audience even after just the first band, I was incredibly excited to see just what the rest of the night would bring.
Following Void of Vision was Silent Planet, a Christian metalcore band whose songs touch on issues like racism, sexism and inequality. I’d actually never listened to them before they played on Friday, and I do love a band with a political agenda, so these guys were pretty impressive. Musically, they were a solid act and earned no complaints from over here.
Next up was Counterparts, who blew up the stage with old favourites as well as showcasing their new releases ‘Separate Wounds’ and ‘Wings of Nightmares’. Their set was energetic, tight and could have even been the main act. Finishing on a high note with ‘The Disconnect’, Counterparts’ made sure the crowd were well and truly ready for Northlane to take the stage.
Opening with fan-favourite 'Talking Heads', it was immediately apparent how fine-tuned Northlane had become while touring the world with this album. Marcus Bridge’s ability to sing the clean and unclean vocals and switch between the two styles seamlessly was mind blowing. He’s an incredible front man and the emotion he’d put into writing the lyrics in this album shone through while he was performing.
Following the earth-shattering performances of 'Intuition' and 'Details Matter', I ended up going to stand at the back of the venue to experience the insane light show going on while the band played. Northlane also nailed the theatrical performance aspect of their show, incorporating lights and smoke to their stage show while making sure not to overpower the musical performance.
A highlight for me was watching guitarist Jon Deiley switch from playing guitar to triggering all the the electronic aspects of the songs using an Ableton Push pad controller onstage. Musicians who can conquer these production tools in a live context are always impressive, and to see it being done with these two incredibly different genres was quite remarkable.
Northlane also blessed us with 'Rot,' 'Obelisk' and 'Citizen' from their older catalogue. The band seemed to be genuinely enjoying themselves onstage, and the crowd was reciprocating the vibe. The only negative aspect I can touch on is that Nic Pettersen was a bit hazed out by the smoke machine and it would’ve been nice to see him smashing it on drums. The band went on to close the set with 'Bloodline'; the powerful dedication to Marcus Bridge’s rough upbringing and first single from the album.This performance of this song gave me chills. I wasn’t the biggest fan of this track when it first dropped so I never gave it much of a chance, but after seeing it live, I’m well and truly won over.
Once the band finished their twelve-song set, the crowd demanded more. Marcus Bridge returned to the stage in a bedazzled black hooded cloak. With Deiley killing it on the Ableton Push again, Bridge filled the venue with the soothing ‘Sleepless’ and reminded us all again how diverse his vocal range is, whether he’s belting out growls or singing a melody. The rest of the band returned on stage and had everyone in the crowd (and even some of the bartenders) singing along to the band’s signature metal anthem ‘Quantum Flux’ for their final song.
Northlane transformed 170 Russell with their performance on Friday night. The crowd were buzzed and sang along to every single song, reminding me why this band is one of Australia’s best musical exports, not just in the metal scene. Their unique ability to perform an album with such musical precision while focusing on the visual and theatrical aspects of the stage show makes them an absolute force to be reckoned with. Taking Void of Vision, Silent Planet and Counterparts along with them for the ride was a great move on the band’s behalf. After seeing this show, it was no surprise that this tour sold out across the country.
Revisit our September cover story with Northlane here.