AU ABROAD

Live Review: Jimmy Eat World + Panic! At The Disco + Alkaline Trio - The Hi-Fi, Sydney (24.02.14)

From the opening piano of "Time to Waste", right up to the opening bars of acoustic guitar on "Radio" Alkaline Trio delivered their set with fervent energy as if somebody would tell them to get off stage any minute. It’s a testament to their lasting appeal and workmanlike consistency that the Hi-Fi is packed inside but still has a line of eager fans jostling to get inside when they take the early opening slot.

A 45 minute set hardly does justice to Alkaline Trio. Punk stalwarts for over 15 years, they seem buoyed in this knowledge and seem to celebrate the chance to still be on the road. Doling out three minutes blasts of guitar, drums and bass Matt Skiba, Derek Grant and Dan Adriano churn through a set of macabre punk rock. The speedy punk of Goddamnit cuts '"Gringe" and "Clavical"' sit perfectly alongside arena rock ready songs about Charles Manson collaborators on "Sadie G" and choruses fantasising about being murdered on "This Could Be Love". These are greeted with enthusiasm from separate section of the audience, showing the evolution of their sound. The crowd doesn’t completely unite under the music completely until the end of the set when Matt Skiba launches into the opening cry of "Radio".

Between sets a crew of younger fans surge forward to catch Panic! At The Disco. They deliver a slick set of showman like songs, that basks in the glitz and glamour of their native Las Vegas. Brendan Urie looks particularly sharp in bronze smoking jacket, bowtie and leather pants. He preens like a genuine pop star and when he eventually strips down to just his leather pants a sea of dedicated fan-girls phones rise in the air to take pictures. Their set still leans heavily on debut A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out, which has aged surprisingly well. It’s melding of pop synthesisers and emo punk still as upbeat and exciting as it was in 2005. Last years Too Weird To Live, Too Rare To Die has seen them finally recover from the exodus of Ryan Ross and Brent Wilson. "Ms Jackson" is Uries’s love letter to R&B and "This Is Gospel" channels the same heart on sleeve rock and roll that has filled stadiums since Weezer dropped Pinkerton.

Late into set when it seemed like the underrated Pretty. Odd would be ignored, the stage was bathed in green and an introduction of Danny Brown’s "Kush Coma" broke through to the upbeat piano of "Nine In The Afternoon". This quickly led into a song inspired by Brendan Urie’s positive hardcore Thursday Vines, before closing things out with breakthrough track "I Write Sins Not Tragedies". It was a slick way to close a professional and polished live show that revealed a longevity to Panic! At The Disco that may not of been expected.

Jimmy Eat World deliver. Day in day out, they play to huge crowds with undented enthusiasm. Even with the release of Damage last year the set list hasn’t changed much over the past five years. The old tricks still work, handing lead vocals across to Tom Linton on "Blister" is still a late set highlight and when their set includes big rock hits like "Pain", "Bleed American", "Big Casino" and "Sweetness", one can hardly begrudge them for it. The newer material played was aired early into the set, the stomp of "My Best Theory" an early highlight.

"Hear You Me" remains the emotional apex of their set, and repetition hasn’t robbed it of its impact. It’s a tender ode to a lost friend and Jim Atkins does it justice every night. Atkins as a songwriter has an ability to take an honest and uninhibited approach to the human psyche. He connects with personal neurosis that affect everyone, self-doubt, frustration and identity, rolling them into punchy sections of power pop that revels in the overall joy of life itself. These are universal themes that are at their greatest impact during the epic stadium rock of numbers like "23", which led led the encore into a raucous sing along to alt rock anthem "The Middle".