The Getaway Plan + Break Even + Gatherer + Hands Like Houses - UC Refectory, Canberra (27.11.11)

You can forget about Sunday being a day of rest, with Melbourne alternative rockers The Getaway Plan bringing their mind-blowing Requiem tour to the UC refectory in Canberra, with special guests Break Even, Gatherer and Hands Like Houses.

Lesson number one: If the facebook event page signals for a 7.30 start, it might be worth it to get there a tad earlier. Due to this little mishap and much to my disappointment, I only caught the tail end of Hands Like Houses. The Canberra band has been generating much hype and has already been touted one of the bands to look out for next year.

New Zealand band Gatherer were next to take to the stage. After ripping straight into the set, their first song was greeted with a somewhat shocked and/or awed silence (still unaware of which one) before a smattering of applause broke loose. The band did well to work with a slightly unresponsive crowd, and definitely demonstrated an individual and diverse sound, with a variety of different musical genres and influences within their music – touches of indie, inter weaved with a grunge-tinged sound and constantly changing tempos definitely made for a fresh approach.

Break Even hit the stage next, bringing with them a very distinctive shift in the mood and energy of the crowd. The Perth hardcore rockers opened on ‘The Truth’ and from the get-go tore through their set with a frantic and unwavering energy. Some of the hardcore fans migrated to the middle of the ‘pit’ (I use this term loosely) screaming along enthusiastically with a couple attempts of crowd surfing put to a stop by a single glare from a burly security guard. With frontman Mark Bawdens vocals waning towards the end of their set (just an indication of how into the band does get) the band were the clear crowd favourite so far.

Finally it was time for The Getaway Plan. While the majority of us are familiar now with the fact that the band split in early 2009, only to announce late last year their subsequent reunion, it was still yet decided whether second album Requiem would sound just as epic live, and whether the band would be able to still hold that old magic. Any critics should be silenced however, because The Getaway Plan without a doubt are back in full force – with everything from the vocals, to the instrumental chemistry, to the lighting show bigger and better than ever.

Starting strong, the band opened on the explosive first single ‘The Reckoning’ before launching into ‘Phantoms’ – which definitely sounds more impressive live as on the record it can come across as quite an under-rated song.
Front-man Matthew Wright’s voice has never sounded better, with him clearly at ease with his falsetto and longer notes. The band played with a great chemistry, and former Behind Crimson Eyes member Kevin Orr made a great addition on backing vocals and guitar to take the songs to a new, epic level.
While the night was primarily about showcasing songs off Requiem old favourites such as ‘Streetlight’, ‘New Medicine’, and ‘Shadows’ got the crowd so excited that Matthew’s voice was just about drowned out.

Anyone who has seen The Getaway Plan live would know the guys seem quite reserved, or almost shy on stage, with little banter to the crowd – while this may seem strange for the headlining band, it also puts greater emphasis and concentration on the music and with a band this talented, this is a great thing. Clint Ellis proved as always that he is one amazing guitarist to watch, managing to bounce up and down around the stage, while maintaining electrifying and soaring guitar riffs. Accolades must also go to Aaron Barnett on drums, who becomes a complete whirlwind to watch, never skipping a beat.

Other highlights included the haunting ‘S.T.A.R.S’ with Wright and Orr’s harmonised vocals soaring the magical levels, crowd pleaser ‘Move Along,’ the sweet falsetto of ‘February’ and the attention grabbing ‘Heartstone’ – with each band member contributing on opening the song with their own pounding drums and cymbals, giving it a heavier and edgier appeal.

Leaving the stage after ‘Heartstone’ it was clear the night wasn’t quite over yet, with the boys coming back on stage to play ultimate crowd pleaser ‘Where The City Meets The Sea’ and ending on ‘Requiem.’ While the lack of older, heavier material was disappointing, the live performance of ‘Requiem’ just about made up for this, with Wright ending the song on guttural screams.

While Requiem has already been getting rave reviews, the live performance of the albums songs are really just something else. The band plays with such a ferocious energy, that it’s easy to forget that the album isn’t nearly as heavy as their older material. Instrumentally and vocally they have never sounded better and have never been so exciting to watch. If anything, the Requiem tour has proved The Getaway Plan are back – and here to stay.