Revolver is unarguably a Melbourne institution, albeit one that is primarily known for its dance music parties and recovery sessions, and truth be told, I stumbled down its steep stairs on far too many occasions in my younger years, and often when the sun was well and truly up for good measure.  However, as a venue for live bands, I must say that I have always found it lacking somewhat in atmosphere.

Irrespective of this caveat, it was with a heavy dose of sentimentality and some fairly high expectations that I recently made my way back to Revolver to see prog-rock up and comers, Breaking Orbit, on the Melbourne leg of their ‘Silence Seekers’ Tour.  Considering their reputation as a ‘musicians band’, and having never seen them play before, I was certainly keen to find out whether their live performance would be as sublime and polished as their debut album, The Time Traveller, which was easily one of my favourite Australian albums from last year.

The night was promoted by Saltar Hype, which is run by ex-Full Scale drummer, Matt Crute, who put together a group of support bands comprising Transience, Shadowgame and Sleep Parade, the last of which in particular have been generating a bit of buzz of late within the Melbourne scene, and will also be supporting sleepmakeswaves in a few weeks time.

By and large, these support bands were all pretty good without being mind blowing, but as I looked around the room, and saw members of Circles and Jerrico in close conversation with members of various other Melbourne bands, just as members of Karnivool, Twelve Foot Ninja, Circles and The Nerve had all been in attendance at the launch of Jericco’s excellent debut album,‘Beautiful In Danger’, just a few weeks prior, I was struck again by the fact that one of the main reasons why the Australian progressive rock scene has developed such strength over the last decade is the closeness of the progressive music community here, and the loyalty our bands seem to feel for each other.

It was also really interesting to chat with Jericco’s Roy Amar, who admitted that during his band’s first few years together, they were not really prepared for their fairly rapid rise to prominence, and he told me of the anxiousness and sense of responsibility this caused within him, as well as how the band’s financial and personnel issues nearly led to ‘Beautiful In Danger’ not being released at all.

By the time Breaking Orbit commenced their set at about 11.15pm, the audience had grown to an acceptable number, although I must say that for a Friday night, I was a little disappointed with the size of the turn out.  Furthermore, whether it was my own inability to consume alcohol on this night due to a work function the next day, or something else, my concerns regarding the atmosphere at Revolver seemed to ring true, with the room feeling a bit more subdued than I would have preferred.

Photo courtesy of Osborne Images Photographic Design

However, with an impressive dual percussion performance of the tribal instrumental, ‘Machiguenga’, Breaking Orbit announced themselves as a band of impeccably precise instrumentalists, who rightly deserve their place amongst ‘the next big things’ in Australian progressive rock music.

Unsurprisingly, their set consisted mainly of songs from ‘The Time Traveller’, as well as a few new songs too, all performed in a supremely powerful manner in what must rank amongst the heaviest performances I’ve seen from an Australian progressive rock act in some time.  The one thing letting it down, though, were the vocals of Matt Quayle, for while in my review of the album I described his performance as “exacting”, I was disappointed to hear him struggle with his intonation from almost his very first note, and especially in his higher and falsetto ranges.

Photo courtesy of Robert Geary

Regardless of this issue, the clear highlight of the night for me was the band’s cover of Massive Attack‘s ‘Dissolved Girl, a version of which appears on their self titled EP from 2010, and as they closed out their set with ‘Silence Seekers’, with its walking bass line and vocal melody, and delay heavy guitar, the trip-hop influence on Breaking Orbit’s music became abundantly clear to me.

Thankfully, Quayle assured the audience that they will not have to wait too long to hear the next release from Breaking Orbit, and on the evidence of this performance, it promises to be one of the most anticipated Australian albums of 2014.

– GS

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