One of the best things about the Soundwave tour are the sideshows that come with it. Every single one of them is made up of quality acts, and tonight was no exception. Angels & Airwaves, Madina Lake and Framing Hanley would play a special show at the very lovely Forum Theatre in Melbourne.
Framing Hanley had the honours of starting off the night, and did so to the modest crowd who had assembled in front of the stage. It must be a daunting, and perhaps a little disheartening, task playing such a venue and having so few people there for you, but the five piece from Tennessee either didn’t show it or didn’t care. In fact, it almost seemed they were bewildered at how many people actually turned out to see them, thanking the audience at several points throughout their 30 minute set.
That aside, Framing Hanley didn’t waste much time, and powered through as many songs as they could in the little time they had. It was a shame that no new material was on show - strange, considering recently the band stated they had written and recorded new tracks. However, that didn’t take away from anything, and the band played a set that was quite heavy on their first album The Moment, and by the end they had turned more than a few heads in their direction.
Madina Lake would go on to play a set much like Framing Hanley before them. While there was a small swarm of dedicated fans eager to watch and absorb them, the majority of punters had little interest. This was quite evident several times during the show as lead singer Nathan Leone urged fans to press forward or to jump with him, but these requests fell on deaf ears.
It was a shame, really, not to see them get the response they deserved, because, quite frankly, Madina Lake played a great set. Lead single “Hey Superstar” off their latest effort World War III, and “House of Cards” off their debut would prove to be the two most popular tracks among fans, but it was “Adilia” that really stole the show. An obvious favourite by the band as the energy levels for this one song were a clear cut above those of the rest of the set.
It’s been six years and three albums since Angels & Airwaves last came to our shores, on what many thought would be their only ever tour of Australia. However, due to the nature of Soundwave’s AJ Maddah in getting bands, no one thought possible he booked Tom DeLonge and his band to play the festival as well as two sideshows in Sydney and Melbourne.
As the stage lights dropped, the backdrop of ‘LOVE’ (as seen on the two most recent album covers) fell into place behind the stage, and the show was off to a start. Coming onstage one at a time each to a larger applause, Angels & Airwaves kicked things off with “Saturday Love” from last year's Love: Part Two. Illuminated from behind by four LED columns, the boys would play most of the show silhouetted by the lights. It actually looked fitting, considering the themes of space that run throughout the bands music.
One thing that struck me during the show was the professionalism shown by the band. I had expected a sort of Blink-182esque version of Tom making dick and fart jokes the whole show, but he was much more restrained than I had imagined. The only exception to this was when his band left the stage for him to play a solo rendition of the Box Car Racer track “There Is”. Preceding the song, he mentioned that admission to the show included the service of him going to every audience member's house in order to seduce their mothers, and later, mid-song, he told a story of an old lover and how he used to fornicate with her in his car in her driveway, because he was scared of her parents. Now, while the anecdotes were quite funny, I feel they took away from the production, and were merely placed there to please the fans who had come to see Tom act like he did a decade ago.
That aside: Angels & Airwaves put on one of the more memorable performances I’ve seen in a while. Coming out to encore “All That We Are” and finally, “The War”, the former had drummer Ilan Rubin play an extended piano solo before actually starting the song that, while very impressive, failed to capture the attention of many in attendance. However, the last song of the evening most certainly had everyone’s attention. Producing the largest mosh of the evening, and really testing the security who had to deal with stage divers and crowd surfers.