LIVE REVIEW: Shihad @ Metro Theatre, Sydney

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Shihad, Young Lions, The Dead Love
Metro Theatre, Sydney
November 24th, 2018

Thirty years, damn… where did that time go. This writer recalls first seeing them open for The Angels in Auckland, New Zealand in 1990. Back then they were fresh-faced young lads, still in thrall to the thrash metal of Metallica and co and yet to embark on the ups and downs of their rock ’n’ roll career. Now of course they’re middle-aged statesman of Antipodean hard rock, a conduit between metal and melodic rock and most importantly, still performing as passionately and intensely as ever.

The Dead Love were up first, keeping things simple, rough and raw with their grunge punk that treads a nice line between unhinged rock and crossover melodic punk pop. At times their songs veered too close to catchy choruses of the anthemic hook kind but they know to ensure they keep enough throat shredding angst and anger in the mix to stop the songs sounding too cleaned up.

Young Lions on the other hand represent the worst of modern rock, when technology creeps in and bleaches out the rough edges and believable conviction in the music. In their frontman they have a singer who can certainly nail emo, hard rock and some cringeworthy rap moments but his self-belief was overcooked with over-the-top rock star moves and ventures into the audience. The music was generic alt-rock by numbers, Bono fronting Linkin Park, an Australian Idol facsimile of rock music.

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Shihad quite simply laid waste to what came before them. On a stage devoid of amplifiers and a sound that was blisteringly loud, heavy and perfectly balanced, they set about celebrating 30 years as a band with a set that began with Think You’re So Free from their most recent album FVEY and worked its way back, in chronological order to Factory from their debut Churn. 

It was a fascinating arc to experience as the four black-clad Kiwis accurately acknowledged their high-points and lesser successes. The General Electric (celebrating 20 years) supplied five songs, FVEY three, Shihad, Killjoy and Pacifier two apiece. The most commercial period spanned The General Electric and Pacifier albums and the near sold-out crowd were in full voice singing along to songs such as Comfort Me, Run and My Mind’s Sedate. As always Jon Toogood was the hype man and the tireless frontman, constantly inciting audience involvement with handclaps, sing-alongs, lit-up phones held aloft and unified jumping up and down. They’re all cliched rock moves but he does it well and all with his laconic, genial stage manner. 

As a band there are few that play tighter hard rock and honour the riff as diligently as Shihad, they’re a precision machine with a beating heart. In Toogood’s case, one that pumped blood in a stream down his arm as a result of frenetic guitar playing. Karl Kippenberger still works the stage, grinning at the audience like he’s bumping into old friends, Phil Knight is a study of six string wizardry while Tom Larkin is the glue and anchor that ties it all together. As they approached the tail end of the set things got darker with the magnificent thrum and throb of Deb’s Night Out, an absolutely brutal psych assault of You Again and the industrial tectonic riff of Factory from their debut album.

Shihad are essentially still doing what they’ve always done, entertaining their devoted fans with sensory overload at maximum volume. It’s fun, it’s life-affirming rock music and they’re still right at the top of their game, a claim that can be bestowed on very few bands after three decades of making music.

Chris Familton

LIVE REVIEW: Shihad @ The Factory Theatre, Sydney (15/07/16)

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Shihad have been investing a lot of time in revisiting their back catalogue in recent years with reissues, tours of their best albums and greatest hits shows. That threatened to cement their place as a band built on past glories until the brutal and re-energised FVEY album came out in 2014. This night, though focused on celebrating their self-titled yet commonly known as The Fish album, served to reinforce the band’s history and their intense and still beating collective rock ’n’ roll heart and spirit.

The Vanns played to a near empty room yet they still played with youthful exuberance, matching skilful chops with a bluesy hard rock sensibility that was an attractive collision between Kings of Leon and Hendrix. They know their pop smarts and know how to match them with earthy hard rock.

Adelaide trio Grenadiers were a harder beast to pin down. One minute they were pounding at the door with post-hardcore intensity and aggression, the next they were decidedly mid-90s alternative rock and punk, channeling everyone from The Bronx to QOTSA. Energy-wise they lifted the temperature in the room but in terms of memorable hooks and songs they were left in the shadows when the headliner hit the stage.

Nothing much changes with a Shihad live show. Frontman Jon Toogood is still the limbs-askew crowd-rousing vibe merchant. He was constantly calling for the audience to bounce up and down, clap along and SCREAM! Behind him, the band bristled like a pre-match cage fighter, on their toes as they played their four favourite songs from their self-titled (Fish) album. The songs showed the balance between melody and riffs they were searching for in the mid 90s and those best examples proved they were on the right track. From there it was a trip through the rest of their back catalogue with the conspicuous absence of anything from the three albums between 2005-2010. The General Electric is still an undeniably monstrous rock song but it was the latter part of the night that cemented it as a superb show. Four songs from their excellent FVEY album before an encore of Factory (at the Factory of course) and the sledgehammer You Again. At their best Shihad are a brutal marriage of metallic swagger and bittersweet melodicism and they’re very much still alive and kicking in 2016.

Chris Familton

ALBUM REVIEW: Shihad | The Meanest Hits

by Chris Familton

Nearing a quarter of a century together and well overdue for a greatest hits compilation, Shihad have put together a 2CD collection that reinforces the claim that they are one of the greatest rock bands to come out of New Zealand.

The best-of travels from their early speed metal origins on the Metallica-aping It, through their industrial and post punk influenced debut album Churn to its dark successor Killjoy and onto their commercial peak with The General Electric. The Meanest Hits shows that though Shihad have incorporated everything from pop melodies (Beautiful Machine) to more expansive sonics like the electronic bounce of Wait And See they have remained a visceral and dynamic band who balance controlled aggression and soaring choruses like few others.

The inclusion of their latest single Right Outta Nowhere finds them in rude health with a pummeling groove and Toogood’s chorus that ruthlessly wedges itself in your brain. It is a promising sign that this 38 song retrospective in’t a gravestone but rather an impressive signpost in their illustrious career.

this review was first published on FasterLouder

 

LIVE REVIEW: Shihad @ Metro Theatre, Sydney 07/09/12

by Chris Familton

A night of celebratory rock was kicked off by locals The Upskirts and though at first coming across as fairly generic alt rock they soon revealed a real mixture of influences. They swung from Arctic Monkeys guitar pop to a a great dirgy track sung by drummer Thomas Kell that sounded like The Cure. They approach basic rock songs with an inventive bent, marking them out as a promising band to watch as they either refine or further embrace their stylistic range.

The Snowdroppers took things into another realm with their retro saloon styling in their brash and entertaining set. Frontman Johnny Wishbone came out scissor-kicking, lurching and gyrating around the stage like an Aussie pub rock version of Little Richard. The audience responded to the band’s ribald songs about cheap girls and cheap drugs and fittingly they played with just the right amount of slickness and ramshackle rock n roll to loosen up the Friday night crowd. Wishbone’s antics are ridiculously over the top but he pulled it off and showed he is one of the best frontmen around at the moment.

From the moment Shihad hit the stage they had The Metro in the palm of their hand and the interesting concept of playing songs from their near quarter century of music, in chronological order, paid off as a fascinating way to travel their career arc through its many stages. Their early speed metal origins were honoured with the brutal riffing of It before the industrial and post punk tinged Derail and Factory showed how quickly the band matured in their early years. Shihad have always been a devastating live act and when matched (as it was) with a loud and visceral sound mix they can sound like one of the greatest on the planet. All the usual suspects were played from the darker Killjoy tracks, fan favourites like Home Again and the commercial peak of The General Electric through to highlights from their recent albums. Looking around at the audience it was interesting how people connected with different parts of their career from the early fans to the ones screaming along to the newer songs. Jon Toogood was exceptional as ever pulling guitar-hero moves atop the speaker stacks and showed he is still as enthusiastic and passionate as ever about their music.

Distractions like name changes are irrelevant when it comes to the music and in celebrating their career to date Shihad were simply superb.

this review was first published in Drum Media

NEWS: Shihad announce NZ greatest hits tour…

Shihad are hitting the road for their upteenth NZ tour, this time in support of their recently released collection The Meanest. The band will play 2 sets, the first at the front of the stage, tight and intimate to represent their early club gigs before shifting to a full stage rock show in honour of what they have achieved as one of the biggest rock bands in this part of the world…

The Meanest is out now…

DISC ONE
1. Home Again
2. The General Electric
3. You Again
4. La La Land
5. Pacifier
6. Stations
7. Rule the World
8. Dark Times
9. Ignite
10. I Only Said
11. Sleepeater
12. Beautiful Machine
13. Interconnector
14. A Day Away
15. Sport and Religion
16. Bullitproof
17. Alive
18. Factory
19. It

DISC TWO
1. Run
2. My Minds Sedate
3. Bitter
4. Comfort Me
5. Ghost from the past
6. Thin White Line
7. One will hear the other
8. Wait and see
9. Everything
10. Engage
11. Debs night out
12. Yr Head is a Rock
13. Saddest song in the world
14. Lead or follow
15. Gimme Gimme
16. All the young Fascists
17. Screwtop
18. Derail

NEWS: Wellington’s Homegrown Festival line-up announced…

Featuring all NZ acts Jim Beam Homegrown happens on February 18th 2012 on Wellington Waterfront. Below is the first line-up announcement with another 20 bands and DJs to be added at the end of October. Tickets for GA are $95, head HERE to get yourself sorted…

  • Shihad
  • Kora
  • Blacklist
  • Six60
  • The Adults
  • The Black Seeds
  • Black River Drive
  • 1814
  • The Thomas Oliver Band
  • AHoriBuzz
  • Shotgun Alley
  • Optimus Gryme
  • Smashproof
  • Bulletproof
  • David Dallas
  • Concord Dawn
  • P Money
  • Kids of 88
  • Kidz in Space
  • Karn Hall
  • K One
  • Sunshine Soundsystem

LIVE REVIEW: Shihad @ The Annandale, Sydney 21/08/10

Still from the new 'Lead Or Follow' video

written by Chris Familton

Shihad are one of those bands that generates debate over their various career moves. There was the ill-fated name change to Pacifier in a bid for overseas success and the subtle and not so subtle stylistic shifts with each new each album. The diehard fans, particularly the New Zealanders who cottoned on early to the band’s greatness, still call for songs like Derail and Screwtop from Churn whereas the less metallic fans love the darkness of Killjoy. The General Electric holds the biggest appeal to the masses and it was this album that was bound to create the biggest reaction when played live in full.

There was no support act, probably a sign of the band’s fastidious approach to the quality of their setup and live sound and commitment to delivering the best possible live show. Instead we got a ‘rock’ DJ who did a great job of warming up the crowd with Queens Of The Stone Age, Head Like A Hole, Split Enz, The Datsuns, Darcy Clay and AC/DC.

After an interminable wait the smoke rose, lights dimmed and the four figures of Shihad bound onstage to a heroes welcome. Obviously we all knew what song was coming first and they launched into My Mind’s Sedate with the usual intensity and precision aggression. The Annandale was a sea of arms in the air and despite the deafening volume the voices of the fans could still be heard passionately screaming along in unison.

Playing an album live does have its downside in that the band is locked into the track-listing order which isn’t necessarily designed for a live show. The General Electric does play its cards early with the title track sounding monstrous with its super-crunch riff slicing through the room. It has to be one of the last great hard rock tracks of the 20th century. Wait And See followed with its electronic bounce injecting some danceability. The chorus was huge with Jon Toogood leading the crowd in a united bounce and sing-a-long.

Pacifier dialed back the speed but not the intensity. Allowing the band and audience to get their breath back it showed how well Shihad can do slow and heavy. My friend, seeing them for the first time, turned to me and asked if the band thought they were in a stadium, such was the epic delivery and passionate interaction of Toogood. That is the thing about Shihad, their songs can destroy a small club and then fill a stadium with equal ease.

Toogood had all eyes on him for the entire set as he gripped the ceiling, leant out over the fans, and implored them to leap into the music with the same conviction as him. He made three journeys along the top of the bar, with guitar and mic, to engage the punters at the back and they responded in kind. It seemed a tad predictable after he had done the same thing the last time they played The Annandale but you couldn’t help but grin at the overt ‘rockness’ of it all.

With The Thin White Line Shihad roared back into turbo mode but it was the last great moment of the album airing as things dropped off in song quality. The Metal Song providing the last gasp of sweat and metal before the smoke cleared and the ears were given a momentary reprieve before the encore of Interconnector and the pop attack of La La Land.

Shihad breathed new life into a 11 year old album with conviction and power and it would have been magic to have also witnessed Killjoy the previous night. They are a band who know how to give the fans what they want and it was clever and perfect timing to do these shows as a bookmark ahead of the release of their new album Ignite, hopefully focusing attention on the new now they have revisited the old.

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REVIEW: SHIHAD @ The Annandale, Sydney (18/09/09)

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Shihad have been fully committed to ‘rock’ for 21 years and over that time they have had their fair share of ups and downs with the death of their manager Gerald Dwyer during  1995s Big Day Out tour and the ill fated name change to Pacifier in a bid for more commercial success. 2009 sees an interesting time for the band with a new album slated for March 2010 and a run of New Zealand shows, each featuring one of their albums played in its entirety.

In light of their current projects there was an expectant mood in the air of the Annandale. With no new album to promote this promised to be a set of the ‘hits’ and a chance for the band to get back on stage after a break for much of 2009.

Up first were Kill Teen Angst who possessed a big Queens Of The Stone Age sound, muscular and swinging. These weren’t fey emo rock boys – as their name suggests.

Regular John are everywhere at the moment and their live show is super tight. With dual frontmen they present an interesting dynamic. One carries a more psychedelic 70s look while centre stage the other resembles a young James Hetfield, dressed in black with crazy eyes and wild blond hair. Between the two of them they produce guitar sounds that swerve between metal, punk, stoner rock and 60s psych rock. It is a clever and diverse mix that only bores slightly with some of the dumber ‘fuck the establishment’ type lyrics.

Shihad hit the stage like they always do, full of energy, on their toes and ready to tear the place apart. With the briefest of greetings they launched headlong into My Mind’s Sedate, a sign that they were here to deliver a big heartfelt set.

Songs came thick and fast from most of their albums (alas Churn was again neglected) and it was great to see them pulling out Bitter from what many consider to be their classic album – Killjoy. The reception for the tracks from the Pacifier album showed that though they were highly criticised for the move, their audience still bought the music. Comfort Me, Run and SemiNormal were all big choruses and audience sing a long moments.

The best moments came when Shihad unleashed their metal side with full force. Day Will Come and The General Electric were massive riff-fests that had the Annandale moving from stage to back door with more energy than I have witnessed there in a long time.

The highlight of the night was Jon Toogood’s passion and energy which he demonstrated during Wait And See by clambering from the stage to the bar with mic and guitar and proceeded to shimmy and strut his way to the far end of the room where he unleashed slashing chords and rock poses for the outreached arms of the fans. It was one those magic moments where the gap between audience and band was well and truly torn down and the crowd lapped it up.

There was one new song debuted – Sleepeater – which showed them employing an interesting and dense guitar sound with a characteristic big melodic chorus. Promising signs that their next album will be a well balanced mix of the metal and melody that they shift between.

Shihad tonight showed that they play the same way in a stadium and in a local pub. All hesitations and pretensions are disregarded and their one aim is to move your feet and engage your ears with intensity and emotion. They proved they have a now classic back catalog to draw on and they show no signs of slowing down or easing up.