The year was 1992. The distorted guitars and depressingly moody vocals of grunge music were in full flight, Kurt Cobain was singing about lithium, and Australia’s contribution to the stoner rock scene, Tumbleweed, was appropriately selected as the opening band for Nirvana’s only Australian tour.
Fast forward two decades and the Wollongong boys are back in the spotlight, doing a slew of headline shows around the country in their ‘Back from the Grave’ tour.
This evening’s venue was Fowlers Live, known to many Adelaide punters as lacking the ideal acoustics for live music, as would be made apparent over the course of the night. This aside, Fowlers was filled with quite an unusual crowd with Tumbleweed attracting fans in their late teens to their late thirties. The venue was very darkly lit, with only a few lights adding a gloomy feel to the night’s show, incidentally making the band room seem much smaller than it was.
The action started surprising early, with Adelaide locals, Quiet in the Lab, taking the stage just after 7pm. It was a shame they only played to a small crowd, of about fifteen or so people, for they had an amazing guitar-driven and melodic sound. The most outstanding thing about Quiet in the Lab was the energy and fun that they brought to the stage, joking around and simply having a good time.
The second band to hit the stage was local psychedelic rock band: Ride into the Sun, in their first show since the addition of new drummer, Florentina Pergoleto, to their line up. A roar of muffled guitars, including a very sinister sounding lead guitar, led their opening song and front man, Anthony Candlish, entertained the crowd with his passionate guitar playing. It was disappointing that the band didn’t get a good sound mix, often making the vocals and guitars difficult to hear and distinguish. Aside from the acoustics, they played a quality set of fun-filled psych rock ‘n’ roll.
Melbourne outfit, Money for Rope, was the last support band, and burst onto the stage with a sign of things to come. One punter screamed out, ‘Go back to Victoria’, but any such criticism was soon silenced with the crowd drawn into the band’s energy. Each member never quite stood still, rather rocked out like they were all having seizures.
Also of note is that the group has two drummers, adding a greater solidity to the band’s sound (as well as looking very cool on stage). The band also had a remarkable keyboard player, adding an almost experimental feel to the performance. This is one band that draws the crowd in with their energy and charisma, and make it impossible to stand still.
The stage was now set for Tumbleweed to take the reins as everyone waited for the Australian rock ‘n’ roll legends to grace the stage. Lead singer, Richard Lewis, declared simply, ‘Hi, we’re Tumbleweed’, as the band entered to the crowd’s scream of exhilaration. After the quick introduction the heavy grunge like guitars hit and everyone was entrenched by the celebrated Australian band.
A mosh-pit instantly formed as the sound of the heavy grunge guitars hit the speakers, as many people also started dancing on the outskirts of the crowd. The band played a vast array of songs from their back catalogue, and Lewis would often interact with the crowd and his fellow band maters, creating a more intimate feel to the show. To add to this, the band had a long jam/experimental session on stage, and the crowd’s screams again showed their appreciation.
To add to the force of the performance, the band started a slow clap during a ballad that the audience quickly joined. As the show progressed, Lewis jumped in to join the mosh, but the crowd was most animated with the opening power chords to ‘Daddy Long Legs’. It was quite evident that the classic songs are still favoured by the crowd.
Tumbleweed put on a very alluring show that was sure to give every fan a thrill. The only let down of the evening was the venue’s acoustics often making the vocals hard to discern and lessening the effect of the guitar sound. Overall however, Tumbleweed showed with their solid and very entertaining display that they are very much back from the grave. Let us hope they stay resurrected.
- Matthew Mercieca