Ever since it was announced, I was looking forward to seeing Iced Earth return to Australia. I’d seen Iced Earth at their first-ever Australian show in 2012 and it was amazing, so I knew what to expect.
Unfortunately, the universe conspired against the bands playing and resulted in a performance that musically wasn’t top-notch, but energetically brilliant, as I’ll explain.
Iced Earth had also been stuck in Melbourne’s Formula 1 Day traffic, meaning that the VIP had to take place almost an hour and a half after it was scheduled, and GA doors were half an hour late.
First thing’s first: the sound was patchy. For Elm Street, I could barely hear the vocals, and I just needed more bass in the mix, I couldn’t feel the music in my chest at all. Iced Earth’s mix was great other than that I could barely hear Stu Block singing, which kind of let them down. He has such a brilliant voice and not hearing him sucked. The lighting for the whole gig, however, suffered from chronic blind-the-fuck-out-of-me-itis, especially during Iced Earth.
The crowd was good for the most part, but I swear there are a lot of people who are cunts in the Melbourne scene.
The first thing I noticed about Elm Street as they set up was the crazy drum kit Tomislav Petrovic uses. It was far from the usual set-up, with a large arched cymbal and tom rack instead of the usual stands. It was very impressive, but unfortunately, Providence saw it barely used at all. As Elm Street began only their second song, I looked to watch Anthony slappah dah bass when suddenly the music stopped. I looked to see Aaron Adie rolling on the floor, holding his leg.
The band left the stage with Aaron, and didn’t come back out for what felt like an age.
The band came back on stage, save for Aaron, and Ben Batres revealed that Aaron had dislocated his knee, saying that he had “shredded too hard.”
He also regrettably informed the crowd that Elm Street would not continue to play with a man down, and that he was proud to play with Iced Earth in their hometown, to the joy of the crowd. He then asked the crowd to support Aaron; “Show him your appreciation. Let him hear you from back there Melbourne!”
Of course, the crowd roared their support for him. Musically and performance-wise, they were brilliant for the short time they were on stage. Tomislav was truly a sight to behold as he beat the ever-loving shit out of his strange kit, hardly missing a beat despite the configuration. The technical prowess of the band, as well as their unorthodox playing style made for a brilliant show. It’s just a shame there wasn’t a whole lot before it was over, but the whole thing was dealt with quickly and professionally, which I really loved.
Though Iced Earth could have hit the stage much earlier than scheduled, but chose to play at their 10 p.m. scheduled starting time. As the intro to “Plagues of Babylon” started, a guitar tech confusingly stayed on stage with Jon Schaffer’s guitar. As Jon revealed later, he was suffering from guitar and amp issues, hence the guitar tech. After playing through “Plagues” and “V,” it was pretty obvious Stu was struggling to belt it out. After “V” was finished, Stu and Jon once again asked to show support for Aaron of Elm Street, and revealed their difficulties playing.
Stu’s voice was shredded, and Jon was having guitar troubles. Determined to give everyone a great show, they powered on, despite their troubles, and the crowd adored them for it, responding with vitality and support like I’ve never felt. Jon praised Stu, saying, “No-one has ever fit this band more. We love you, brother,” before mentioning they performed 250 shows last year, which is insane.
Schaffer eventually swapped out for a new guitar after “The Hunter” that wasn’t giving him shit, and as the night began to run more smoothly, I started to appreciate how brilliant the band truly was. I couldn’t hear Stu, so I focused on the instruments, and wasn’t disappointed. Jon Dette was covering drums for Iced Earth, and was a machine behind the kit.
Troy Seele shredded masterfully, and Luke Appleton, who I’d known for his other band, Fury UK, was fantastic. All the members engaged with the crowd and it made me smile. I really had to admire how well they played, even through all the shit they were putting up with.
The setlist was AMAZING though. Lots of stuff from the Something Wicked series, combined with golden oldies and some newer songs.
I would have liked more from Dystopia but that’s because it’s one of my favorite albums ever. Unfortunately, Iced Earth had to cut their set short to save Stu’s voice, but it was only willing by the strictest possible definition. As Stu said; “I would love to play 50 songs for you, but it is how it is. But know, brothers and sisters, we love you from the bottom of our blackened metal hearts,” and ended with a nod to Elm Street and support to the local scene.
Elm Street and Iced Earth brought this gig back from the brink of disaster. NOTHING went right and they still managed to pull the gig off with flair, and that is something I now admire these two bands for.
You know the drill by now. Go check out Elm Street and Iced Earth, if you appreciate good, honest heavy metal and haven’t heard them before. And if you get the chance, definitely go see them. Stay tuned; I’m seeing Absu tomorrow so that review should be coming up soon.
Also, I’ll see if I can get the Obscene Extreme Australia review done in the next few days. Until then, stay awesome.
Iced Earth setlist:
1. Plagues of Babylon
3. Dark Saga
4. If I Could See You
5. The Hunter
6. Burning Times
7. Blessed Are You
8. Vengeance is Mine
9. Cthulu (cut from the set because of Stu’s difficulties)
10. My Own Savior
11. The End?
13. Watching Over Me
14. Iced Earth
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