Review – Dead Letter Circus live at Mercury

Live at Mercury, Cape Town – 22 November 2014

I unfortunately missed Dead Letter Circus on their last tour to South Africa, and now that I have seen them, I am deeply regretful that I did. This Australian progressive rock outfit are one of the best live acts I’ve seen, and if you weren’t at Mercury on 22 November 2014, then your meter of regret should now be filled to the brim…

As I arrived at the venue, I was greeted by Duncan Bell from Turning Tricks Entertainment. He is one of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet, and is responsible for bringing Dead Letter Circus to South Africa, as well as the Krank’d Up music festival, that featured Protest the Hero and Unearth recently. He is really doing some great work to bring international acts to South Africa, and I will always continue to support him.

I had time to quickly go grab a drink at the bar before The Sleepers took to the stage. I was rather excited to see them, as I have not had the opportunity to catch one of their live shows for about a year. They are one of Cape Town’s best melodic rock bands, and have been around since 2003. Even though their show wasn’t as energetic as the other acts that evening, they did not fail to impress. Their music moves ones emotions back and forth like the crashing of sonic waves on your soul. I was particularly impressed at how they replicated their recording in a live environment. Tonally and musically it was identical, and really showed a rare level of professionalism not often seen locally. I highly recommend catching one their live shows, if you see them pop up on a local gig guide.

 

Dead Letter Circus by Christelle Duvenhage Photography

Dead Letter Circus by Christelle Duvenhage Photography

 

After a brief intermission, and break for fresh air, the Johannesburg based Deity’s Muse were up next. They were the main support act for Dead Letter Circus’s tour, and are managed by Turning Tricks Entertainment. This progressive groove rock band has been extremely busy since 2012. They have toured to the USA and UK, as well as been a support act for many touring international acts. I caught them recently at Krank’d Up, where they played shortly before Protest the Hero, and are one of Johannesburg’s finest rock acts. Their performance this evening was exciting, and they set the stage for the night ahead. I was particularly impressed by their rhythm section, and their drummer Sashan is definitely one of South Africa’s best drummers. They are currently in pre-production for a new album, and I am really looking forward to hearing it.

 

Dead Letter Circus by Christel Duvenhage Photography

Dead Letter Circus by Christel Duvenhage Photography

Now it was time for Dead Letter Circus to blow minds and show us why they are definitely one of Australia’s best live acts. I went straight to the front, while their instruments were being brought on stage, and the musician in me drooled over some of their equipment. Gear really does make a massive difference to the overall sound of a live band, and they definitely had the best sound that I have heard in Mercury in a while.
Once they were ready, the lights went dead, and a massive wave of bass hit my chest, as their intro started to play. With a crack of drums, they began to assault us with what I can only describe as a being bathed in melodic liquid fire. The band was cooking, and I was surprised not to see smoke or fire coming off of their instruments! Then Kim Benzie began to sing, and turned this burning mass of melody into something absolutely beautiful and almost angelic.
The band was in unison, and seemingly played without effort, but created the most amazing sound as one unit. Each member had basically hit level 100 on their instrument of choice, but I have to say that Luke Williams (Drums) and Stewart Hill (Bass) were the most impressive, and have talent that would make the son of Krypton jealous.

Their set was an hour and a half, but I honestly didn’t notice it, as each song kept me captivated and every moment was thoroughly enjoyable. The tracks I enjoyed most were ‘The Space on the Wall’, ‘Next in Line’, ‘Lodestar’ and especially ‘I Am’, which I found myself unknowingly singing along to.
As this was the last show on their tour, they called Duncan Bell up on stage closer to the end of their set, to personally thank him for bringing them out here. They presented him with an extremely expensive bottle of whiskey, and they said that they wanted to thank him in Afrikaans. To our amusement, some dirty local told Kim (Vocals) that ‘Thank you kind sir’ in Afrikaans was ‘Dankie jou lekker d**s p**s’, and the crowd roared with laughter!
With that, they proceeded to play their last 2 songs, and it was over before I wanted it to be. I really enjoyed this show, and it has given me inspiration to reach that level of professionalism in my band. Luckily, they did mention that they would come back to South Africa on their tour cycle for their next album. So, let’s hope that this is sooner than later, because I may begin to get DLCDS (Dead Letter Circus Deprivation Sickness)!

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