Northlane’s new ‘Live At The Roundhouse’ set is a well-presented, well-oiled 14-song beast.
I caught Northlane on their Australian headline run for ‘Alien‘ last year, and it was one of the finest sets I’ve ever seen the band play in the last eight years that I’ve been able to watch the Sydney act perform. Their set at Unify Gathering 2020 just a couple months later also solidified this, and whilst watching their upcoming fully mixed, edited and pro-shot live release, ‘Live At The Roundhouse‘ (also from that 2019 national stint), I had the exact same feeling wash over me. If you’ve read any of my pieces about Northlane over the last 12 months, you’ll notice I don’t a single bad word to say about them. That trend continues here. Always nice to have that secondary confirmation and knowing that the sheer amount of low-end present at their November run last year didn’t overload my brain to the point of me simply imagining how good they were live. Northlane are that good live.
Produced by Neal Walters, expertly mixed and mastered by their friend and studio collaborator, Chris Blancato, with varying multi-cam footage, blasting air-canons, lavish synchronised LEDs, and some neat visual texts announcing each song, ‘Live At The Roundhouse‘ is a well-presented, well-oiled 14-song beast. All of those cool little details that you can pick out on the deluxe instrumental version of ‘Alien‘ pop-put so much in this impressive live setting. The micro-tonal, low-tuned guitars from Josh Smith and Jon Deiley mesh against the fabrics of the latter’s synth work beautifully, as Nic Pettersen’s rock-solid drumming and Marcus Bridge’s versatile, emotional vocals alike push and pull this hulking, futuristic set along wonderfully. All as a passionate audience give it back to the band with their voices raised high as the five members thrash about on-stage – especially bassist Brendon Padjasek – to their fresh faced, prog-industrial, acid-metalcore, cyber-djenty nu-electronic compositions. (I’m just making up genre buzz words now for the hell of it.)
This show was the first and biggest of that aforementioned 2019 tour. A year in which marked a ten-year milestone for the band, and a first in the sense of it being the debut of their latest and greatest material. Songs that hold a very special yet very raw and dark place for Marcus. As it’s the ‘Alien‘ songs that are delivered in the strongest, most cerebral way; the core highlights for me. ‘Freefall,’ ‘Bloodline,’ the punishing live debut of ‘Jinn,’ and ‘Details Matter‘ all sound as immense live as they do on-record. Not only that, older tunes like ‘Rot,’ ‘Citizen,’ the bouncy-as-fuck ‘Obelisk,’ and the classic ‘Quantum Flux‘ go off the biggest and loudest, a crowd and band moving as one. The set flows smoothly too, from the volcanic eruption of opener ‘Talking Heads,’ the surreal and evocative moody high-point of the deeply personal ‘Sleepless‘ (where it’s clear the emotions are running high for Marcus with the weight of the event and the source material) and the powerful bow-out to fan-fave, ‘Quantum Flux.’ Really, it’s mighty hard to fault this sucker.
Honestly, watching this mammoth show, it’s almost impossible to think that a band playing of this calibre were ever once teetering on the brink. ‘Live At The Roundhouse‘ is a testament to the band and their close team’s dedication, planning, and hard work.
I wouldn’t be surprised if Northlane were to release smaller, individual segments or the entire set at a later date in 2020, whether through YouTube or as a one-off digital purchase through another platform. (And it’s not like there’s many tours or shows happening right now in Australia or elsewhere.) It’ll also be very interesting to see how these kinds of business models, of offering new content and live streams, changes and adapts – both from the artists making them, as well as the fans and listeners consuming them – in time, both during and beyond the current pandemic. Free or paid for. (Code Orange, Dance Gavin Dance, and Underoath are all making do with such methods in their own ways, too.)
However, in the meantime, Northlane will be streaming this damn fine set through a pay-per-view model come August 21st and 22nd – Sydney, London, Los Angeles and New York at 8pm local times – via Netgigs. If the recent live video release of ‘Bloodline‘ left you clamouring for more, then get around it if you’ve got the spare time! This aural and visual live experience of Northlane sitting at their zenith is a must for new and old fans, and is required-viewing for anybody out there with severe quarantine blues missing live music.
Here’s a small but solid taste of what you’ll see and hear later this month: