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Live review: Arctic Monkeys + Pond – Brisbane Entertainment Centre – 7/5/14

arctic monkeys brisbane

Alex, Alexxx, ALEXXXX! These words could just about sum up the Arctic Monkeys’ gig at the Brisbane Entertainment Centre, such was the fervour reverberating around the arena for the band’s singer, Alex Turner. The 28 year-old has an oddly powerful hold over his audience – boy and girl alike – as he struts and poses throughout, and the result is the loudest screaming this reviewer has ever heard in the venue. More on that in a second.

The opening band for tonight is Perth’s always-excellent Pond. “Alex will be here soon; until then you’re stuck with us,” says frontman Nick Allbrook, but it’s a situation everyone’s happy with. Psychedelic rock rarely makes an appearance in a venue of this size, and it’s a great sight to behold to see the quintet brilliantly jam through their best-known tracks. They’re a band that can make a set seem like a perfectly ramshackle fuck-around while still being tight as hell, in only the best possible way.

With a backdrop of the huge glowing letters A and M and a retina-destroying light show, Arctic Monkeys arrive to deafening screams from every corner of what must be an almost sold-out venue. As they start with ‘Do I Wanna Know?’ and move through ‘Snap Out Of It’, ‘Arabella’ and ‘Brianstorm’, it’s clear the band are tour-tight and focussed, and all eyes are on Turner as he moves from one side of the stage to the other, soaking up the adulation, shaking his hips, and showing how far charisma can take someone who uses it cleverly.

The first big, big moment comes at the start of ‘Don’t Sit Down Cause I’ve Moved Your Chair’; a song that remains the band’s best, before Turner asks the audience “why do you only call me when you’re high, Brisbane?” Recent supports The Orwells claimed that every aspect of the band’s performance is mapped out, including ad-libs, and there is a feeling that that may be the case, but if it works this well it doesn’t really matter.

After an initial finisher of ‘505’ and despite sound problems in the encore during ‘R U Mine?’, which ended up being played twice, there was a very large group of satisfied people dispersing into the Brisbane night after this show.

Live review: Pond + Doctopus + Peter Bibby – The Zoo, Brisbane – 14/12/13

Pond

In the future, when I think back to the time I saw Pond just before Christmas 2013, the main memories I’ll have – besides the outstanding performance of the bands themselves – will be ones of sweat, perspiration, humidity, and even more sweat. That’s what happens when Brisbane’s aircon-less The Zoo is sold out in summer, but what the hell; it’s Saturday night, the cold beers are flowing, and everyone’s getting loose in preparation for Pond.

After a set of folky, charismatic songs by Peter Bibby, the ramshackle trio of Doctopus take to the stage and batter their way through a fantastic collection of sweaty, lairy and hairy tunes, complete with sometimes unintelligible banter between. Theirs is a straight-up, fire-’em-off approach that is both exciting and catchy at once; a coarse but finely-executed set of rough-at-the-edges garage rock. Any band with an instrumental song called ‘QI/Stephen Fry’ and who fly-kick each other in the middle of songs is okay by me. (TIP: their album Buddies is free on Bandcamp – get on that thang).

The Zoo is heaving long before Pond is due to take the stage, and it’s refreshing to see that the crowd is seemingly entirely full of good vibes and enthusiasm for the head-liners, and there’s a generally great atmosphere despite the amount of perspiration going on. The Perth six-piece are in fine form, as they power through ‘Whatever Happened To The Million Head Collide’ and ‘Xanman’ early on, before moving through a set heavy with Hobo Rocket numbers. I’d seen Pond previously (at Laneway Festival last year) and while they put on a good show on that occasion, something about being enclosed on the smaller stage makes frontman Nick Allbrook a more engaging and entertaining mix of rabid posturing, banshee-like wailing, and clear enthusiasm for everything the band is doing.

‘Fantastic Explosion of Time’ is an obvious highlight, but it’s the pulsating juggernauts of extended jams throughout and a manic finish (including the expected level of crowd-surfing) that make the gig – and the band – such a unique one.