Live Review: Voyager

22 August 2022 | 12:03 pm | Rod Whitfield

"It’s rare to see so many cheesy grins at a heavy music show, but that’s the effect Voyager have."

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It’s a cold night in Melbourne. A makeup-covered bunch of has-beens are playing a much bigger venue just down the road. But none of that matters when the warmth of the independent Aussie live scene is present at the Evelyn tonight.

Brisbane’s The Stranger… what a surprise packet. Their music veritably explodes in a live setting, with its crunchy, ballsy-arse rhythm guitar sounds, blistering melodic lead work and soaring vocals (with the odd unclean thrown in for eye-opening effect and blistering impact). This band is several genres mixed together in a single, frothing boiling pot of sounds. They blend heavy Aussie rock, prog rock and power metal, to name but a few, but they put it all together with such nous, such finesse, it is nothing but cohesive and eminently listenable in the washup, their songs all fist-pumping anthems that come alive in the live setting.

The Stranger are truly electrifying, check them out if you haven’t already.

Melbourne proggers Acolyte represent great value, tremendous bang for your buck. Their set is always a journey, whether they play for 30 or 40 minutes as a support, or over an hour as a headliner. They never fail to deliver an expansive, dynamic set, and tonight is no exception. In fact, they seem to come across as more committed to their cause, and more together as a unit, every time they play. Their set features moments when they put the listener in mind of a band like Pink Floyd, moments that make you believe they’re creating something all their own, moments when they embody the very soul of rock (of a very progressive nature, of course), and moments when they leave you spellbound.

This band is well on its way to becoming one of the true shining lights, and true mainstays, of the Aussie progressive rock scene, if they’re not there already.

Speaking of mainstays, mighty headliners Voyager are up next. By now, the sold-out venue is so packed, the heat of human bodies sends the temperature up to toasty level. So much so that management turn the AC on, even though it’s six degrees outside. And the heat goes up a little more when the band takes the stage.

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With this band, every song is a classic, every song is cathartic and life-affirming. From opener Colours through to the accidental crowd favourite White Shadow that closes the set well over an hour later, by way of Hyperventilating, The Meaning Of I, the track that should have seen them performing at Eurovision this year, Dreamer, and so much more, tonight is another celebration of the music and performance of this most effervescent of heavy music acts.

Frontman Danny Estrin is in scintillating form, as always, drummer Ash Doodkorte is a hairy percussive whirlwind, bassist Alex Canion lays down the groove and belts out his back vocal parts with aplomb, and while a little underrated, the Dow-Kay combination is one of the best twin-guitar attacks in heavy music today.

It’s rare to see so many cheesy grins at a heavy music show, but that’s the effect Voyager have. Combined with the other two rip-roaring Aussie acts, they provide another night of local music to remember.