Live Review: KINGSWOOD @ The Corner, 02.09.18
The Corner Hotel, Richmond
02 / 09 / 18
Words and Photo by Imogen Hanrahan
Did you see Kingswood this winter? No? Well, consider yourself unlucky. The modern rock group are going to be hard to catch for the rest of the year (unless you’re heading up to FKA Festival in NSW), after their national tour through August and September in Adelaide, Perth, Brisbane, Byron Bay, Sydney and Melbourne. SYN snagged their last night at The Corner in Melbourne.
“You ready to have a party? It’s our last night of the tour”
When Fergus Linacre asks a crowd to rise to the challenge, you can bet they’ll go hard. It’s his crowd-pleasing falsetto that seals it. Tambourine jangles heralding the intro of 2014’s ‘I Can Feel That You Don’t Love Me’ (ICFTYDLM), the crowd was ready to be taken to new heights on Saturday. And they really went high. The age of shoulder riding isn’t dead – a Sherpa jacket-wearing fan swayed near the ceiling and wailed every word.
Kingswood has incredible energy. After eight years in the circuit, they’ve built a strong base of fans. This could be attributed to their live performances; not a band to just spew back the songs recorded on each album, Kingswood mixed it up. Nearly every song had an extended solo to indulge Alex Laska’s superb shredding skills. Shout-out to the lighting tech – the guys’ frenzied dancing was silhouetted by floodlights swapping in time between multiple colours and darkness.
“She always catches my eyes under summer night skies”
Laska complained briefly about the woes of washing your hair before planned activities. Strange – you’d think with all the head-tossing going on stage, a fresh, oil-free would do for maximum flare. Moving through to another 2014 track, the lesser played ‘So Long’, Laska got another chance to show off musical talents probably nurtured from years of practice. His mother would be proud. Unlucky for him though, bassist Braiden Michetti’s own mother quickly upstaged them all after joining the back of the crowd on another punter’s shoulders. ‘Stevie’ seemed thrilled – even as the group moved into more sensual pieces.
“Here’s an old song for ya. In your best voice, Melbourne!”
The first twangs came in. The whole crowd belted the lyrics to ‘Ohio’. No help from the boys at all; the entire intro was fully crowd-sourced acapella. It wasn’t just Stevie and the Sherpa-jacket fan on shoulders now. Everyone was anywhere they could see Kingswood swagger across the stage for one of the biggest hits in their repertoire. Sometimes bands will forgo their old hits in favour of newer album pieces, but it’s clear how much the Kingswood rockers enjoy playing treasures. It was almost like watching old friends reconnect, slipping into perfect grooves and rhythms, and introducing them to fresh news. Every tempo change, pause, solo, was emphasised and spun upon. Linacre, Laska, Michetti, and Justin Debrincat gave the crowd a new taste of ‘Ohio’, inviting lucky front row-goers to repeatedly choke out “you can stay a little longer” on the mic.
Unfortunately, their trust in the crowd’s musical talents was quickly shot to pieces. During one of their extended guitar solos with ‘Drops of Jupiter’ piano overtones, Linacre started everyone clapping. Turns out people suck at clapping. They took the hint and brought in their strongest ammo to bring everyone back on track with a singalong to After Hours, Close To Dawn’s ‘Golden’. This brought out some unsurprising declarations of love from certain punters.
“I don’t love you, but I really like you.”
Kingswood spread the love around instead to their supporting artists, Mane and William Bloom. Laska continued the sweet atmosphere by launching into their folky ballad, ‘Big City’. It sounded like something you’d hear in an open-air amphitheatre glowing with fairy lights. They made the dark band room at The Corner work – regardless of mixing up their own lyrics accidentally. Call it artistic license.
“Please welcome to the stage Stephanie Greenwood and Emma Yarosh”
If this were an album tour, no one would’ve gotten to hear the treat Kingswood held out next. Off the back of their wildly successful Triple J ‘Like A Version’, Kingswood pulled in their backing vocalists Greenwood and Yarosh for ‘Say My Name’. Originally a Destiny’s Child classic, the group twisted it with rock, falsetto, and the expected shredding. This was obviously everyone’s secret favourite – even the merch team hidden away in The Corner’s corner were on their feet.
“Who was here the last time we played The Corner and who the f*** are the rest of you?”
Was this a secret shared only with previous attendees? Was Kingswood going to save the best for last? After stretching out their final minutes with drinks, between-song conversation, and riffs filled with hair-whipping, they finally gave everyone what they wanted. Twangy, moody, broody, ‘Creepin’ was Kingswood’s most polished yet relaxed performance of the night. Shoulders were filled, vocals were drowned out by audience acapella, dancing became stop-motion in pulsing lights. Linacre offered one last touch, jumping into the crowd. There’s a strong chance a few fans went to bed that night thinking of Kingswood’s performance instead of closing their eyes and sleeping.