It rarely feels this tense as one enters the familiar surrounds of the Metro Theatre, with a police car doing the rounds in the street behind the venue, three separate security checkpoints and even a metal detector scan needing to be cleared in order to enter the room. Certainly, one understands the context given the tragic circumstances in which the band became headline news not six months prior. It does, however, give off a considerable degree of discomfort while trying to settle in for a night of good-time rock & roll music.
Thankfully, the mood is lifted in an unexpected manner. Sydney’s All the Colours were once an always-the-bridesmaid psych-pop outfit that garnered so many support slots they might as well have changed their name to With Special Guests. Watching them tonight, however, is the equivalent of Sandy turning up at the school carnival dressed entirely in black leather. Indeed, they have shaped up – and it’s electrifying.
Slimmed down to a power trio, the band are trading in heavier guitars, louder jams and a slicker, sharper dynamic. Elements of their past certainly shine through, but they’re translated in a new way that makes them improve exponentially. Midway through their set, they offer up their take on the blues standard Baby Please Don’t Go, with their rendition drawing mostly from the version recorded by Them in 1964. For a song that has been covered literally hundreds of times, it says a lot that the band are able to rustle more life out of it yet. Their originals, lifted from a recently-recorded second LP, are also out to impress; taking cues from muscular guitar music as diverse as Dick Dale and Queens of the Stone Age. Perhaps “colour us surprised” is too trite a closing sentiment, but All the Colours have reinvented themselves in a big way. Well worth giving a second chance.
When the clock strikes ten, our heroes emerge in a haze of light, smoke and the unmistakable sounds of Pilot’s 70s pop classic Magic. Jesse “The Devil” Hughes, AKA Boots Electric, gets the crowd to sing along to the anthemic chorus, particularly the telling line: “Never believe it’s not so.” After potentially the biggest fall from the proverbial horse one can fathom, Eagles of Death Metal are back out on the road and playing to a sold-out crowd on the other side of the globe. It’s magic, alright, and it’s unrelenting. Hughes and co. power through a plethora of their set staples, including I Only Want You, Whorehoppin’, Cherry Cola and their take on the Stealers Wheel hit Stuck in the Middle with You. The band’s presence is commanding – quite literally at points, too. You want handclaps in time with the beat? You got it. You’re after a call-and-response “woah-oh” or a sung refrain? Just say the word. You just want us to give it up for the sake of giving it up? Absolutely positively.
“You all came out just for us,” says Hughes toward the end of the band’s near-two-hour set. “That is not something that is lost on any of us.” Tonight is a night where rock & roll prevails. A night where that kind of music does more than just soothes the soul – it fights for peace. It sends a message of making the most of every moment you have on stage – be it literal or the abstract. We can laugh, we can dance, we can have a good time. We will refuse to let evil win over a greater good. Peace, love and death metal: Never believe it’s not so.
Gallery: Eagles Of Death Metal, All The Colours – Metro Theatre, Sydney 27/03/16 / Photos By Ashley Mar