Words Emma Cooper.
Photos Matt Allan – Silk Imagery.
With a reputation for energetic live shows preceding them, Melbourne band Kingswood played a packed out gig at The Forum on 13th March as part of their comprehensive nationwide tour of the album Microscopic Wars. Recorded in Nashville with Grammy award-winning producer Vance Powell (Jack White, Arctic Monkeys, Kings of Leon), the album was released to much acclaim in 2014. The band has gained a lot of road experience in the last few years, touring with huge names such as Aerosmith and Grinspoon, as well as a hectic schedule of festival appearances, work which paid off in this crowd-pleasing show.
After keeping us waiting to the sound of a suspenseful synth bass for a lengthy ten minutes after the house lights went down, Kingswood finally burst onto the stage with She’s My Baby, a solid ‘70s metal revival that had the crowd jumping. From there they powered straight into the lead track on the album, All Too Much, with its racing guitars and slower, more melodic intervals that show off the vocal dexterity of singer Fergus Linacre. Keeping up the momentum of these power tracks, they then launched into the hit single released from the album, Sucker Punch, a great Aussie rock number.
With the crowd nicely warmed up, Kingswood finally took a breath to say hello and how good it was to be playing at the iconic Forum, a ‘bucket list’ venue for these local boys, and which they later described as the ‘sexiest venue in the country’. Appearing a little nervous in their banter, they quickly ploughed back into the set.
The melancholy, plaintive So Long, augmented with added backing singers, provided lead guitarist Alex Laska with an opportunity to indulge in an excellent extended blues solo, but the track felt like it drifted in the live arena and lost the crowd a bit with a rather lacklustre finish. We would have liked to have seen a bit more of what the talented Laska was doing, in fact we would have liked to have seen more of the band in general throughout the night, but an over-zealous lighting design meant that we found ourselves either continually unnecessarily blinded or the band plunged in what we assume was supposed to be atmospheric, moody rock lighting but was actually just darkness. This band doesn’t need fancy lighting tricks to boost its on-stage entertainment value, and it would have been good to catch more of their actual performance and their interaction with each other.
However, this technical annoyance didn’t seem to bother the rest of the enthusiastic crowd, and the bluesy Ohio with its White Stripes flavour and immensely catchy hooks was the highlight of the night. It felt like it should have been a triumphant finale, but was oddly placed mid-set. Encouraging an audience singalong, the band demonstrated well mastered timing, and the song was another superb vocal showcase for Linacre, who is at once completely at home and confident on stage, yet humble and sweetly awkward, with his fellow band members gently ribbing him about his dress sense.
Kingswood moves easily through a range of genres, melding rock, country and blues to their whim. Complete with brass section and opening with a jazz trumpet solo, the rendition of Side to Side worked well and gave Laska the spotlight on vocals. Alex and Fergus’s complementary shared vocals on this and other tracks like I Can Feel That You Don’t Love Me give great colour to the band’s sound. Kingswood lived up to its growing popularity with a tight, polished gig, but perhaps it would be good to see them rock out a bit more freely without the over-produced lighting getting in the way and with a slightly better planned set list to keep the big hits for a bigger finish.