Children of Bodom, Killrazor, Nothing @ Fowler’s Live, Adelaide (28/06/08)

Well, it was with huge excitement that we headed through town on Saturday night, trying to find a park, on our way to see the incredibly popular Finnish act Children of Bodom (Cob). Hailing from the small town of Espoo in Finland, CoB have risen to huge heights of fame in a relatively short time – though the band would disagree on that latter point – and have now experienced two sell-out tours of Australia in just over three years. With a track-record like this, it’s a fair bet to say that they’ll keep coming back.

When we got to Fowler’s, having walked through past the back of the Media Resource Centre, we encountered a line like we have never seen at Fowler’s before. It stretched right up to the walkway near the Jam Factory, and kept going; and that is a line of two to three people wide.We got there at about 7.20 pm, and the first band, Nothing, which started at 7.30 pm were already well into their set by the time we managed to get in the door. We did expect to see a huge amount of people – Adelaide’s show sold all its tickets locally incredibly quickly, with only four tix left (and those available only from Just Say Rock) in the fortnight leading up to the show.

In something that is becoming common in the Adelaide metal scene, very few of the kids who turned out to CoB ever rock up to local shows; and those who do weren’t at CoB. There’s something odd about that, but I’m not going to speculate here as to what that could be.

My first gripe for the evening came when the sound at Fowler’s was not up to standard – at least, this was the case if you weren’t standing right next to the mix desk. I have finally worked out that it’s a problem with the configuration of the speakers in this venue; anywhere outside dead-centre of where the speakers are focused will result in you experiencing what seems like a really bad mix. This was the case when, at one point during the first set, the reverberation from the bass was almost enough to make you feel sick; that ain’t brutal, that’s just mismanagement.

My second gripe was that the second mike wasn’t anywhere near as loud as the first, and this was a bit of an issue, given that the vocals for the bands often required the second mike to be used.

Although Nothing were pretty average, in my view, and although the vocals were more metalcore, the music was pretty heavy; almost black in parts, though without that deep brooding element that defines much black metal in Australia. One thing I have to say for this band is that they were full of confidence, and had a winning way with the crowd. The kids were totally into it, and the band were even more so as a result. In fact, they were heard to say:

‘This is the first time we’ve been here, and we definitely want to come back!’

To their credit, Nothing listened to the crowd; at requests for a drum solo, they obliged with a brief, 30-second solo that lacked the class of your old-school solos, but was great just because it happened.

With a fairly short show, the bands had to follow each other quite quickly; hence, the second band, Killrazor, were on stage just more than ten minutes after Nothing walked off – just long enough to get another stout, visit the loo and have a smoke and a chat.

Killrazor, about which one member of the crowd was heard to exclaim, ‘This is fkn brutal!’ And they were – they were nice ‘n’ heavy. A huge contrast to the first band, if only in appearance: Nothing sported short hair (or none), Killrazor had long locks and pentagrams. They were also tighter and more energetic (and therefore better to watch) on stage.

They worked the crowd like pros, they were tight and played a great set, and were a good intro to CoB. I hope that they head back to SA sooner rather than later, coz they put on a great set.

After a longer delay than between the two support acts, with final sound-checks building the atmosphere of anticipation in the venue, CoB finally took to the stage at about 9.40 pm. Even though I write ‘finally’, this is the time that they were billed to start – perhaps the first time in ages that I’ve been to a show where the running list was accurate to the minute.

As the crowd packed itself tighter and tighter into the front of the stage, the venue got hotter and hotter. Also, for short-arses like me, the stage started to disappear by dint of the tall bastards in front of me! I noticed quite a few people shifting around as best they could to get a better view. I struck it lucky towards the end of the set: some dude had vacated a box right next to the mixing desk, so I got a glorious, uninterrupted view of the stage from the back of the venue, and unsurpassable quality in the sound as well: the best of both worlds!

My excitement as to the show was not unfounded. CoB played their shit harder and faster than you’ll hear it on the recordings – especially their latest, Blooddrunk – and the vibe was one of elation as they started to shred their way into the set.

I’d heard from those who saw CoB last time they were in Adelaide that Laiho, the band’s lead guitarist and vocalist, was incredible to watch, that it is good to see that he can pull of on stage what he does in the recordings. Primed with this knowledge, could I say that it’s true. Absolutely! As one of the best young guitarists in the world at present, Laiho was no disappointment. That’s not to take the glory away from the rest of the band, however; they were all of an incredibly high standard, and all were having a ball and were glad to be back. Said Laiho: ‘It’s been a fking while since we played here, dude!’

Just as we were all getting into it, at about four songs into the set, the entire show stopped, the band walked off the stage, and management and security got on to the stage to ask everybody to get back behind the barrier. Barrier? I hadn’t even seen a barrier; neither had the FL photographer at the show, who was now pissed coz he’d missed his chance to get the best pics – which would have been from between the stage and the barrier. Of course, kids being kids, they totally ignored the request to move back. So it was repeated, three or four times. Eventually, it got to the point where this happened:

‘Get back behind the barrier. If you don’t step back, the show will be pulled. This has come straight from their management. Come on guys, show some respect for the band. They don’t come here every day, they’ll be around for a long time to come, so please just step back and the show can go on.’

After this happened for a while, people got their shit together and moved back again, the chant went up, and the band re-emerged. But when they did, some of that indefinable magic had been lost and the vibe wasn’t quite the same as what it had been earlier in the show.

Still, it was an awesome set! CoB played tracks from most of their releases, including Hate Crew Deathroll, Hatebreeder, Follow the Reaper, and their newie, Blooddrunk.

Right at the end of the show, before the final encore, Laiho told us all:

‘You know, we’ve seen this shit,’ pointing to the mosh and circle pits, ‘every night, but I really, really mean it when I say that you guys have been a big, fking kick-ass audience!’

It was an awesome show; amazingly, the venue was still selling beers at the end of the set, and there was an absolute shitload of people hanging around outside afterwards on the off-chance of meeting the band. I think everyone would agree with me when I say that Just Say Rock have done a brilliant job with this tour.

Let’s hope we see CoB again very, very soon – after this second round of sell-out shows, perhaps this is not a hollow hope.