Updated: Nov 20, 2019
I made my way to the hometown show for DZ Deathrays at The Tivoli on Friday night; unsure if the band could possibly live up to the last time I saw them.
There has been a new album, a new band member and a new sound from the band since that previous show, so I had my reservations going into this set.
I have an ongoing love-hate relationship with the band’s latest album; Positive Rising: Part 1, with my brain telling me that that the band needed to shift their style before it became stale, but my heart craving more of the party rock mosh-pit fillers of yester-year.
With the move to a more melodic rock sound, which is itself hit and miss, my biggest concern was whether this change in musical direction would affect the live show.
Having seen the show, which featured every song from the new album, I believe that DZ Deathrays could produce and perform a pure dream-pop album and the live shows would still be a complete cluster-fuck of chaos.
The set started in the same place as the album; with slower ‘Hi Everyone’ being shoehorned into the front, before things were thankfully booted into gear with ‘Still No Change’.
The front of the set was pretty stacked. If you are long-time DZ Deathray circle pit attendee and ‘Still No Change’ was still a little too low key for you, ‘Total Meltdown’ was next and the chorus was made simply for smashing into people around as you yell “Cause I’m dead, there’s nothing going on in my head”.
‘Blood On My Leather’ is a wall of noise and was immediately followed by ‘Pollyanna’. This was luckily the point in the show where I was able to get a death-grip on the front barrier, as the mosh exploded and the security guards started to shake their heads and shout hollow threats at the crowd surfers.
‘In-To-It’ saw the shift to the new album, with a run of six songs all featured on Positive Rising: Part 1, broken up only with a sneaky appearance of ‘Ocean Explorer’. From the 2014 Black Rat album, it was fun to see this song return from the back catalogue, if only for that glorious guitar hook.
Before talking the final songs, I should confirm now there is no encore. So, when the set starts to pick-up again, know that there is no reason to hold anything back. You can leave it all out there.
‘Gina Works At Hearts’, the oldest song of the set, still has legs. I’ve seen this track performed numerous times, and it continues to be a highlight of any DZ’s show. This song was also where the crowd surfers transitioned from the reckless to the desperate. A ride over the heads of the crowd and the security barrier, the only way to escape from the heaving, claustrophobic chaos of the mosh.
The stage production featured custom back lights that burned bright throughout the show, but it was during ‘Year Of The Dog’ that they really came into their own. As the band headed into the chorus, the lights suddenly started to spell out “YEAR. OF. THE. DOG” in time with Shane’s vocals. It was certainly sweatiest karaoke venue I’ve ever been to.
The beauty of not doing an encore is that DZ Deathrays can just annihilate the venue with the final track. ‘Shred For Summer’ seemed to go for around triple it’s normal run time, as members from the support acts were out on stage, then off it, as they hurled themselves over the security barrier to ride the crowd.
Staff and crew were out on stage en masse, dancing even wilder than the crowd, as the band continued to play. A spotlight shown down on Simon on the drums, as the rest of the band went quiet, and he smashed out a behemoth solo. Shane and Lachlan played their guitars backwards over their heads simultaneously. It was almost too much to absorb. It is both impressive, and almost a pure fluke, that they were able to pull it all off.
DZ Deathrays continue to be headline live act. Regardless of whatever direction they have taken in the studio with the inevitable Positive Rising: Part 2, I am confident that the live show will still be massive and unruly. And after all these years, that is all I can ask for.