As those of Orthodox extraction were making their annual pilgrimage to church around Melbourne armed with candles, for midnight mass, hundreds of rock music fans were making a pilgrimage of their own to the Corner, armed with sheer enthusiasm to see Children Collide resurrect the god of rock on their national “Sword to A Gunfight” tour. One can argue that a good rock show is akin to a powerful religious experience, and the night that unfolds is testament to this.

Palms, borne out of the ashes of hip Sydney band Red Riders exude the same sense of confidence and maturity, yet remain true to their pop ethos, with copious guitar hooks, catchy tunes and some rock posturing thrown in for good measure. Vocalist Al Grigg and drummer Tom Wallace have maintained their chemistry on stage and talent for producing damn fine songs, such as the infectious and affecting “Summer Is Done With Us” which is performed to howls of appreciation from punters.

Deep Sea Arcade is truly mesmerizing. Not only do they play the brand of 60s psychedelic pop that resonates in a sentimental fashion with this scribe, but their performance is one of wonder.  The audience is transfixed and gobsmacked by the sheer genius of their sound. Nick Mackenzie’s falsetto is showcased to full effect on “Girls”; with its sinister sounding trembling bass and an eerie resemblance to Kasabian, it’s the perfect pop song for getting lost in the moment. Deep Sea Arcade’s sophisticated playing doesn’t abate with “Steam” and “Lonely In Your Arms” and then the set concludes in a mammoth wall of distortion. These dudes are amazing live, and they rev up the crowd in preparation of headlining act Children Collide, not that we require any encouragement.

The throng is bristling with anticipation and the metal barrier indicates that punters are intent on some serious moshing. When the red curtain is yanked open, lead vocalist Johnny Mackay, ever the burgeoning rock star, launches into some serious use of distortion pedals, cavorting energetically about the stage, and playing off the energy of bassist Heath Crawley to opener “Chosen Armies”. Johnny plays with a kind of abandonment that sees him almost annihilating his guitar strings but makes it seem effortless. The fans are responding by raising their arms, dancing, singing along, some are moshing and attempting to stage dive, and this continues for the entire set. It’s good to see this kind of reckless abandonment in the audience and the band are feeding off it. It’s the last night of their tour, so the trio are giving the crowd their all. It’s also the last night with the band for drummer Ryan Caeser.

It’s hard to pick a highlight as all songs are performed with the same level of intensity and stage antics. “Farewell Rocketship” introduced in Italian by Johnny, as taught to him by their Italian sound guy, draws the loudest reaction and mass sing along. “My Eagle” and ballad “Loveless” are also strongly received. They play everything from “Cherries” to “Russian Blue” and Johnny announces that their new record is being released on the 20th of April.

Johnny takes out his iPhone and explains, “I’m not checking Facebook, I’m just taking a photo of you dickheads,” which he has done at every show. Later he adds, “You know we don’t do encores. We’re gonna play two more songs,” the first of which is “Jelly Legs”; the last an instrumental for the finale. The hard slog of endless touring has paid off and they are one of the hottest live acts around. Children Collide have come of age and are set for stardom. Playing a church of rock near you. With or without Ryan.

– Anna Megalogenis