1980s power balladeer and one-time punk Belinda Carlisle said it best; heaven is a place …
TESSERACT with Circles and Glass Ocean
Metro Theatre, Sydney
Saturday, 15th September 2018
Upon reflection, it’s hard to imagine a band that has had more of an influence over contemporary metal than British juggernauts TesseracT.
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The edgy spelling of the name is just the beginning with these cockney lads, with their rhythmically mind-bending sound, Seinfeld bass-slaps and all, kicking off the modern and ongoing phenomena of “djent”, taking the new wave of music prodigies from the record stores to the webcams.
However, regardless of how many hits you get with your latest “betcha can’t play this” segment on the interwebs, you’re never going to build a real name for yourself if you don’t have the stunning, energetic, majestic live show to back up your brand; all of which are adjectives which accurately describe what TesseracT delivered in Sydney on a balmy spring evening.
Kicking off the evening were local supports Glass Ocean, sending the surprisingly strong early throng into a trance with their dreamy yet hard hitting prog. Live, this band offers a mixed bag of things to enjoy, from bassist Eamon Wooster rocking out like its warped tour, to front man Tobias Atkins channelling his inner Maynard James Keenan with his movements and vocal technique. A unique act, it’ll be interesting to see where their debut LP, due out next year, takes them.
Melbournian quartet Circles took to the stage next, bringing a wealth of new material from their recently released LP The Last One with them. Cuts Dream Sequence & Blueprints For A Great Escape proved effective in raising the energy in the room, but this band shines the most when they play with dynamics, evidenced by a strong performance of new single The Messenger. Frontman Ben Rechter did an outstanding job performing the tricky rhythm parts while hitting all the high notes to a pitch, but it felt at times that the band were struggling to keep their energy at 100%. No doubt in part due to the intensity of their music, it was great to see an Australian band given the chance to do the full lap with TesseracT, and with a three-week stretch in Europe with Caligula’s Horse coming up, Circles live act is no doubt going to continue to grow in quality over time.
With the Metro swelling to capacity, expectations were high for the headliners, TesseracT, to match the level of quality that they provided to Aussie audiences on their last visit three years ago. When they arrived, the seized the moment by the throat, launching into Luminary, a short (by their standards) sharp punch that kicks off their sprawling fourth LP Sonder.
Tompkins closed proceedings by promising that the band would “Be back next year.” A slot on Download? Supporting that long rumoured and overdue Metallica tour? Heck, whatever the reason, if tonight is anything to go by, cancel everything when they’re in town next.
What was a surprise was the genuine energy this band possesses onstage, given the complexity of their craft. Guitarists James Monteith and Acle Kahney remained mostly stationary but were able to give their lovely locks a good swish from time to time, whilst rhythm section Amos Williams (Bass) and Jay Postones (Drums) executed their parts with both intensity and grace. This show however, belonged to frontman Daniel Tompkins.
One of the most underrated vocalists on the circuit, his commitment to the performance and quality singing was mind-bending. From launching himself into the crowd between screams during Concealing Fate pt. 2: Deception, to sailing to dizzying vocal heights on Survival & Dystopia, what Tompkins offered, backed by the band, was world-class—and boy didn’t the crowd love it. Some of the band’s deeper cuts, such as Phoenix & Hexes, were met with the same moshing enthusiasm and jubilation as the combo of Of Matter pts 1-2; Proxy & Retrospect, with circle pits, crowdsurfing and huge singalongs throwing energy back to the band.
The best songs of the night however, were the cuts from the largely neglected Sonder. It was disappointing to see only three songs off the new album get a run on the tour promoting it. More than any other record this band has put out, each song holds together beautifully, and it would have made perfect sense for the band to present the record front-to-back given the links between each track musically and conceptually. However, those songs that were included in the greater body of the set, Smile & King, were the high points for the evening. King in particular was a six minute juggernaut of power and anger, swelling to a triumphant climax before mournfully coming to an end, bringing all the punters along for a wild ride. An instant classic that is sure to get à look in on future record cycles.
Closing the evening with Concealing Fate pt. 1; Acceptance, one was left stunned by the ability of a heavy band to give such à beautifully dynamic performance. TesseracT reminded all in attendance that you don’t need to have guitar slings and windmills to put on an great live show; a rocket cop-turned frontman and obsessive instrumentalists who love a good polyrhythmic triplet will do just fine. Tompkins closed proceedings by promising that the band would “Be back next year.” A slot on Download? Supporting that long rumoured and overdue Metallica tour? Heck, whatever the reason, if tonight is anything to go by, cancel everything when they’re in town next.