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LIVE: BREAKING THE CHAINS – Jaime Page’s Dark Universe, Black Steel & Triple Engine 22 Aug ‘20

| 26 August 2020 | Reply

LIVE: BREAKING THE CHAINS – Jaime Page’s Dark Universe, Black Steel & Triple Engine 22 Aug ‘20
The Civic Hotel, Perth, Western Australia – Saturday, 22nd August, 2020
Reviewed by Shane Pinnegar
Photography by Pete Gardner

For many of the 100 present tonight this was our first live music since the world shut down due to Covid-19, and the pivotal moment comes very early in the first song from newcomers Triple Engine: it’s the thump of the bass drum in our chests, the reverberation of the bass in our bones, the wave of electricity as the guitar chords ring in our ears. Live music is back, and by cripes we’re struck with emotion at how much we’ve missed it. Despite restrictions not being relaxed as all involved had hoped (hence numbers being limited for social distancing purposes), we’re all extremely lucky to be allowed front and centre, and are treated with three fantastic sets of live music.

It’s only fitting, really, that the first act we see coming out of Covid-time is a band which literally would not exist if not for Covid-time. Triple Engine – an aptly named power trio – was assembled in the chop-shop minds of Chris Gibbs and Craig Skelton, veterans of many original bands (Kingpin, The Chris Gibbs Band, Stone Circle, Dark Universe) as well as too many covers outfits to name. Talking at length on the phone during isolation about the effect the collapsed live music scene would have on them financially and personally was all it took for the two to start writing together, and debut single Love Thing was born. That single sold well enough to crack the global top 100 single charts, and since then the band (rounded out by Skelton’s son Dan on drums) have written another five banging tunes. Triple Engine admit to some nerves, performing for the first time, but they needn’t have worried: they’re seasoned pros, and the band are tighter than ScoMo’s purse strings at the start of Covid.

The Little Engine That Could (Not) and Right Tools For The Job perpetuate the auto workshop theme that see the band wearing overalls as stage costumes. Take a Slice is a stab at the bizarre (frankly unfathomable from where we’re sitting) state of U.S. politics, and Western Shore is Skelton’s bluesy ode to his adopted home. A cover of Van Halen’s Little dreamer features pyrotechnic fretwork from both frontmen (Dan Skelton has to handle the engine room alone, as Skelton the elder plays lead bass, constantly weaving and sparring with Gibbs’ exemplary six string work), and Step Forward peppers a little funk into the mix. Love Thing is a bit special, seeing as it’s the only track the crowd have previously heard from the new outfit, and a cover of Neil Young’s Rockin’ In The Free World gets the crowd doing exactly what it says on the tin. Suggestions of comparisons bounce around the crowd in the break: are they a little Van Halen? A little ZZ Top? Maybe some Rush? Shades of Winery Dogs might be the closest parallel, but considering they’ve only had a few rehearsals and this was their first ever gig, we can be sure their sound will continue to evolve and they will undoubtedly become a force to be reckoned with very quickly.

Classic metal legends Black Steel have no first gig nerves – they ruled metal stages from 2000 through 2006 and have reformed for various gigs since 2008. Breaking The Chains is first, and effectively the title track of tonight’s gig. It features everything we love about the band: Damien Pitrelli’s drums pound almost indecently; Dave Harrison’s bass underpins everything with a reassuring intensity; the twin guitar assault of Jaime Page and Adrian Pertrache assault the ears with relentless force (fans will get that one) and Matt Williams’ muscular vocals don’t ever seem to diminish their resonant power, twenty years after this band first stepped onto a stage.

We Are One, The Power and Hellhammer pulsate with the power of the glory of ‘80s metal, shades of Maiden, Priest and more throughout, but Black Steel’s sound is resolutely individual and it has been far too long since we’ve been able to enjoy them in the flesh. Hell’s Gates and Destructor feature more blistering guitar as Page and Pertrache trade solos, then – after the band gift the latter a guitar to replace one which was stolen – the band deliver a conquering hero-sized Battle Call to finish their sweat. The room may have been half empty due to government restrictions, but there’s no doubt Black Steel raised the temperature to the rafters, and obviously loved doing so judging by the sheer joy on their faces throughout.

Jaime Page – celebrating her birthday in sensational style, it must be noted – is back for more after a short break with her own, very personal outfit, Dark Universe. Also featuring Craig Skelton from Triple Engine on bass, vocal duties here are handled by the inimitable Donna Greene, herself a beloved veteran of the local scene, and another singer whose talents have not diminished with time. The band are rounded out by epic drummer Michael Burn. There is much love in this band, and it’s evident on the rapture of the musicians as they deliver this powerful, emotional music.

It would take nothing less than virtuoso musicians to create an adequate atmosphere to do justice to Dark Universe’s music. Their songs – mostly written by Page about very intimate issues – are incredibly moving, almost operatic, epic and wonderfully transcendent. It’s almost hard to believe their sound is made by only four people, no matter how talented they are.

Into The Black features a riff as heavy as Christmas; Weight Of The World is a few years old now but has a new life with its enormous relevance to 2020. It’s hypnotically melodic, incredibly dynamic and sexy as hell. Long-time fans of Page raised a special cheer with an appearance of instrumental The Hammer, which dates right back to the early ‘80s and her outfit Trilogy. It’s a virtuosic frenzy of talent. Deepest Black, the song which started this incredible project/band, is Sabbath heavy riveted onto Heart atmospherics like only lifelong friends and collaborators Page and Greene could pull off. XXX27 is a stunning end to a passionately visceral, emotionally raw performance from a world class band, before the band tear into a raucous and loving cover of Led Zeppelin’s Rock N’ Roll.

As well as a fantastic night of music, the camaraderie in the room tonight was simply wonderful. Could it be that people are happier, enjoying being present in the moment and realising what they formerly took for granted, in regards of a night out to see bands like these? Let’s hope so – if there’s the chance of any real ongoing positive change after this pandemic, that would be a magical result, right there. On that note, a sincere thanks from all in our party to everyone involved on and off stage. These majestic artists work damn hard to entertain us for a miniscule amount of pay – far less than their talent and efforts deserve. To bring such joy to each other and to the crowd is a thrill, and a privilege to be a part of.


Category: Live Reviews, Photo Galleries

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