Full disclosure. While fully prepared to enter Good Charlotte guns blazing, defending whatever dignity this reviewer had left for attempting to dictate what people should listen to – the concert proved to be a decent evening with what seemed to be a fairly down to earth band.
The first band for the night, Strangers, were a tight, well put together 5-piece band from Sydney with a fairly stereotypical lineup. Your crazy guitarist with long hair, no shirt, Ugg boots, erratic dance moves and sporting an impressive moustache. The bassist wore a golfers hat and gloves, and moved around the stage in the same awkward boppy way that every pop-punk bassist seems to do, and the other guitarist -while wearing his muscle tee and (probably) greasy long hair – slung his instrument as low as possible.
The band played a sort of blend of Papa Roach and Karnivool in a pop-punk fabrication – a brilliant pairing for Good Charlotte. Their most impressive feat was their confident experimentations with their surrounds to create depth to their music – one of the guitarists, for example, rubbed his guitar strings on the fall back to create a scratchiness that was befitting to their sounds.
The band’s attempts at having their enthusiasm reach out into the far corners of the audience were good – but not quite there. Their hard work was rewarded with excitement but with the audience being small, and the room, large; they fell slightly short with their presence. Something that, with time, the band should nail.
Good Charlotte rolled on stage late, dressed in what can only be described as wealthy hipsters – frontman Joel Madden, for example, was wearing a clean Misfits studded denim vest and a crisp flat cap. The moment the boys walked on stage they leapt into a heavy instrumental before merging into their 2002 hit, “The Anthem”.
The venue was far from sold out, most of the wings and balcony remained empty – however, this didn’t faze Good Charlotte whatsoever. In fact, it is a notable credit to their career and their skills that they were able to fill the room with so much effervescence and energy despite the large gaps. The audience was hanging on every note – singing along during almost every song.
The band, however, did get incredibly annoying with their nonsense banter– particularly about how good it is to be back in Australia, in Melbourne, the girls are pretty here, thanking us, blah blah blah. It was bloody irritating.
After almost every song Joel or Benji would comment, “c’mon lets get real for a moment” – and while you could tell that whatever character they were portraying on stage was their true selves, there was one stand out moment of ‘reality’ from the less famous Madden twin.
While his bandmates walked off stage for a break, Benji whipped out an acoustic guitar and played two heartfelt tracks. It stopped the audience in their tracks, though a touch nervous he also seemed incredibly vulnerable, his nerves lending his performance a sincere honesty.
Despite their irritating banter, the boys were happy-go-lucky larrikins. At one point Benji and drummer Dean Butterworth played The Voice intro music to tease Joel – and there were several moments where, in return, Joel spoke of Benji’s lovers (there has been a few apparently).
In this sense, their playful chatter felt like they were at more of a human level with the audience.
There could be a mention of “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” being so incredibly ironic (it is, but they played this song last and the audience absolutely lost it) perhaps another mention of their sound being boring pop punk that has little respect in the “rock” industry, and maybe even something about Joel’s consistent grabbing of his crotch (It was a little concerning – perhaps you should get that checked out Madden) – but fuck it.
They played well, they were personable, and everyone had a good night.
– Tara Emily