Words and photography by Shelley Te Haara
After only visiting our shores in November last year, in support of their previous release Node, Northlane return in support of their new album, Mesmer.
For this tour, they bought over fellow Australians, In Heart’s Wake, to open the show. As I arrived at the venue there was a queue to get in. But when I finally got in, the opening band came on and I saw that the venue already seemed to be at capacity, though people were still coming in. Kicking off the show was local band Set On End. Formed in 2005, the band only returned last year after a lengthy hiatus to release their first full-length album, The Dark Beyond. I had never heard their music before but it seemed quite a bit of the crowd had. Considering the stage was rather small, the band had a lot of energy and that really fed the crowd. Jesse’s vocals were strong and his screams were clear which allowed me to enjoy their set a lot more.
One of the tracks was dedicated to his friend who recently passed and it brought him to his knees towards the end. It was quite a moment, and during the set the crowd broke out into mosh pits a few times and it was clear the band was into it as much as the crowd was. Next up were Byron Bay locals In Heart’s Wake. On top of their shows with Northlane, they did their own show in Christchurch and just before the show, they combined forces with Sea Shepherd NZ to clean New Brighton Beach.
In conjunction with the release of their new record, Ark, In Heart’s Wake have been running the We Are Waterborne: An In Hearts Wake Initiative to lead a series of waterway clean-ups as marine debris is one of the major environmental issues. Following on from their side trip to Christchurch they met up with Northlane in Wellington and then on to us here in Auckland. The lights dimmed in the Kings Arms and then… karaoke. The crowd sang along to Living on a Prayer and Savage‘s Swing. It was an entertaining opening that’s for sure. Getting straight into it with tracks Ark and Passage both off the recent full-length release, the band fed off the crowd’s energy, getting the crowd to shout along to Healer saying “No hate, no fear” with fists risen high. The Kings Arms crowd had become quite a tight fit which led lead vocalist, Jake Taylor, to his next task – Capture the Flag. This involved him surfing the crowd in a boat to retrieve a flag at the back of the room and return to the stage. The low roof made it a bit difficult however he retrieved the flag and began the journey back. Sadly, Jake only made it about 3/4z of the way back before capsizing. Emerging with a smile, Jake continued with the track and the crowd turned into a sea again, lifting him up and putting him back on the stage.
In Heart’s Wake also treated the crowd to a few older tracks of previous release, Earthwalker, as well as a track from their first album, Divination, both of which involved crowd chants/sing-a-longs, a few mosh pits and a wall of death. It was an amazing set.
Finally it was time for headliners Northlane to take the stage. The heat was building, venue packed to the edges and sweat dripping from the crowd. They kicked off their set with Paragon. The crowd was giving whatever energy they had left, and continued to mosh along to the following tracks Colourwave and Citizen. Vocalist Marcus Bridge even grabbed a fans GoPro during Citizen to film the band and crowd. During the set, I noticed I couldn’t really hear Marcus’ vocals. This didn’t seem to change throughout the set so I’m going to assume that’s how he wanted it. I somewhat understand this as they have had a heavy tour schedule prior to this show and I guess he either wanted to mask that or just take it easy, though I really enjoyed how he used his hands and the gestures he made while singing/screaming. I felt like it showed him expressing the music, like somewhat of a visual performance. The crowd was moshing most of the set and there was a lot of crowd surfing. However, it seemed a bit annoying to both the crowd and the band as the stage is small and it was the same people repeatedly getting on the stage.
But I must say, ending the show with Obelisk, Northlane went out with a bang and not even the crowd surfers or lower vocals could deter everybody from what was one hell of a show!