…And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of The Dead @ Consiston Lane, 24.05.2013

...And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of The Dead @ Coniston Lane, Friday 24 May 2013

Compared to a lot of the press releases that fill my inbox on a daily basis, the news that Trail Of The Dead were playing a Source Tags and Codes tour and playing a show in Brisbane was an email that I was more than happy to receive.

However, even in the days leading up to this show, I wasn’t sure whether to go or not.  I couldn’t get a reviewer to cover it and so didn’t email the promoter for a photo pass and wasn’t sure if I could afford to go.

Then of course there was their selection of venue; Coniston Lane, the re-branded Woodland that I’ve not been to in almost 18 months and not since the change in name and management.  Last time they played in Brisbane, it had been at The Hi-Fi, the time before that at The Zoo.  Playing a venue that essentially stopped putting on live shows about a year ago didn’t seem like the best fit for the band, especially not in a venue that never had the best sound anyway, and it also felt like a downsizing from the last couple of venues that band played at when their tours brought them to Brisbane.  From memory, both of those venues were reasonably sold and so I expected the Coniston Lane show to sell out quickly (although I later found out that the official capacity of the venue is 500 people, which seems fairly ridiculous given the size of the place).

On top of all that, reviews of the Melbourne show started to filter in from Mess+Noise’s forum thread, which, in the first instance, made them sound very unrehearsed and just not very good, before some later comments that put a much more positive shine on the night.

It wasn’t until the night before the gig that I decided that I would go, and duly bought a ticket.  I don’t know what made me make the decision, probably anticipating that they couldn’t be as bad as some of the Melbourne commentators were saying, that maybe jet-lag might have played a part and that a couple of shows later they hopefully would be a bit more together.  Another thing that greatly helped was finding out that it was to be an early show, with the support band starting at 7:25pm and Trail Of The Dead starting at 8:25pm.  The band were to play two sets, with a break in the middle, and it all had to be over before 11pm so they could re-open the venue in its Friday night club mode.  Seriously, there is no better news than finding out that after a week at work that you don’t have to wait around to after midnight to see a band that you really want to see.  All shows should be over by 11pm, as opposed to shows where the headliner doesn’t even take to the stage until after that time.

It was also approaching the point of no return for being able to buy a ticket in advance, and so a ticket was duly procured ($56).

Coniston Lane is more or less the same as I left it almost 18 months ago.  The only things that have changed are a few sofas in front of the mixing desk and out on the right hand side of the room (with the booths on the left hand side remaining unchanged) and the removal of all those woodland paintings behind the stage and with spray painted graffiti-style art on most of the walls.

Trail Of The Dead start 15 or 20 minutes later than their advertised 8:25pm start time and duly play Source Tags and Codes in order.  It’s excellent. Stripped back to the current four piece band, it may lack some of the subtleties of the recorded album, but that doesn’t matter.  If there was any criticism it would be that singer Conrad Keely’s voice sounds strained at times, as if he’s struggling with a cold and a sore throat, but again this doesn’t distract from the performance.  It’s hard to understand what the Mess+Noise rumblings were about, unless the Melbourne attendees expected a 100% accurate re-enactment of the recorded album.  After the album has been played, the band announce that they’re taking a quick break but will be back soon to play their second set.

As good as the Source Tags and Codes set is, the second set provides an almost instantaneous perspective on the first 45-or-so minutes by being even better.  Whereas Source Tags and Codes was played fairly straight, and with little in the way of stage banter, the second set of their other songs is much looser, the band appear a lot more relaxed and happier and there’s much more in the way of between song banter and more of the normal onstage action that you expect when you go to see a Trail Of The Dead show.  Given that that as far as I know, Australia is the first place to get the Source Tags and Codes show, rustiness with some of the songs not played in a long time and ultimate concentration to play them may have been a factor in the difference between the two sets, with this being only the third show of the tour.  It’s almost as if the first half of the evening was a contractual obligation and with that out the way the band can just get on with what they what to do.  First set great, second set even better and I say that only owning one Trail Of the Dead album (something I must get around to rectifying), namely Source Tags and Codes.  I’ve seen the band more times than I own albums of theirs.

As I’ve written before, they’re such a good live band that even not knowing many of their songs has never been a factor in going to see them or limited my enjoyment of the show.  The only disappointment is that they’re playing to a crowd of probably less than 200 people in a venue that’s not much used for live shows these days (although having said that, the sound and lighting was a lot better than it used to be, and hopefully that means that it might get used a bit more now rather than just be a club venue).  It’s depressing living in times in Brisbane when a band as awful as The Rubens can sell out the 1,500+ capacity of The Tivoli when Trail Of The Dead are playing to about a tenth of that audience.  It’s criminal.  If you want to go and see a rock band that can out-rock band just about every other rock band, you should make it a goal to go and see Trail Of The Dead next time they come to Brisbane.

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