Live Review: Refused, Sick Of It All, High Tension

30 January 2017 | 4:05 pm | Steve Knoth

"'Protest Song '68' and 'The Deadly Rhythm' seemed every bit as poignant and current as they did when they were penned."

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What better way to spend 'Straya day than watching a punk band from Sweden absolutely mesmerise a sun-drenched crowd. 

High Tension kicked off the night in the absolutely brutal fashion that we have become accustomed to seeing from the Karina Utomo-led Melbourne band. The small early crowd was clearly fixated on the singer as she weaved her way through and raised the energy early. Backed by punchy punk rock, Utomo showed off her impressive range. From high banshee screams to deep death growls, this performer could slay demons with that voice! 

Sick Of It All could easily have headlined their own show, so what a bonus for music fans that we got to see two international punk-rock juggernauts on the same bill! You could be forgiven for thinking the lads might be a little bit over it after 30 years in the game, but far from it: the New York natives thunderously pumped every ounce of energy into the room and gave lifelong fans a nostalgic journey through all of their albums. They even pumped out the first song brothers Lou and Pete Koller ever wrote for SOIA: My Life.

Refused are an anomaly. The only way to explain their trajectory since the band's acclaimed third album The Shape Of Punk To Come is that they must be from the future, they simply could not have got the title more right. Never easily fitting in a box, Refused tread a line of hardcore punk and rock. Using samples, crisp breakdowns and shout-out choruses, Dennis Lyxzen and his bandmates break out of any bill they play, using the set to not only sonically assault your eardrums but also establish a strong political message; attacking everything from the impending collapse of capitalism to gender equality. And despite a couple of bogans in the crowd it was all soaked in and applauded.

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Refused find the space in between the beat and are unique in the off-time vocal delivery of Lyxzen. The band, in finely pressed suits, demonstrated impeccable dance moves and militant timing as they pursued drummer David Sandstrom's broken rhythms. But their frontman's charisma constantly pulls focus.

Dishing out every classic a fanboy could want to hear, standouts like Protest Song '68 and The Deadly Rhythm seemed every bit as poignant and current as they did when they were penned.