As a photographer, arriving to the Paradise in the middle of the opening act is not a good feeling.
The trick to the Paradise is to get there early, with an empty bladder (If you leave to use the bathroom your spot will be long gone.) I managed to squeeze through the already-established crowd, but the real fans and Paradise veterans had made their stand: No one was going to budge an inch.
Andrew Stockdale, lead vocalist and guitarist of Wolfmother, walked onto the stage with his right fist raised timidly. His big ball of hair shifted asynchronously with his head as his gaze darted around the two-story room. It took him a minute to get his bearings after being bombarded by the howls of close to 1,000 fans. A few fanatics were impressively audible over the excitement, especially the girl in front of me—thank you, ear plugs.
They began with “Victorious” from their newest album of the same name. This provoked a supercharged jumping spell. Stockdale bumped into an amp, while bassist and keyboardist, Ian Peres, tripped on a monitor; Wolfmother acted like a Roomba the first time you turn it on.
Next was “New Moon Rising,” from their less-remembered sophomore release, Cosmic Egg. Apparently all of Stockdale’s tunes invoked the same response from the die-hards in the front. I had infiltrated their territory in the name of good photography and had to deal with the bumpy consequences.
Now that the band had calibrated their positronic brains—the iconic riff of “Woman” sent the entire room into instant pandemonium. Stockdale had emerged from his cocoon, a glorious butterfly of rock n’ roll majesty.
Dissonant chords from the keyboard clashed with the soaring guitar and paired perfectly with the violent surges of the audience. Crowd surfers tumbled and rolled overhead. It was a fight to keep balance inside the fusion of limbs, attracted this way and that by the magnetic forces of Stockdale and Peres. It was one hell of a crowd and the band provoked it like a bullfighter, coming back harder and harder for each song.
The tenacity of Ian Peres sustained throughout the entire show. He was loving every moment, jumping for joy, literally above his keyboard. Every time I turned around to help along a crowd surfer he was playing a different instrument, smiling all the while. Alex Carapetis, the newest member of the trio proved himself rock-solid on the drums. He led the count in for a number of songs and expertly synchronized with Stockdale where the first chord and symbol crash meet in “Woman” after that tasty opening riff.
They gave the fans exactly what they wanted: a sprinkling of new tunes among a solid base of their first album. Everyone was jumping, standing tippy-toed, leaning all over each other. Folks effortlessly floated on top of the condensed hands. It was outrageous, minus the short-lived Roomba stage. Watching Stockdale jump off the base amp during the encore of “Joker And The Thief” more than made up for the slow start. It was as if it was 2006 again, before the rock radio success and the sold-out arenas. This crowd was tightly packed with pure love and appreciation. Wolfmother is back.
- Sweet opening act
- Played all the classics
- Brought down the house
- Slow start
- Crowd surfers, drunk people