The first time I’d ever heard of Jinjer, I was in Melbourne and having a chat with Nik from Twelve Foot Ninja. He was telling me about their time touring through Europe with them and how amazing they were. That conversation would have been in March 2018, I was in town to see Queen, and to try my hand at making some stage wear. The shirt I started making for him is still sitting half finished in the study. (Sorry Nik, I will finish it one day!)
I didn’t run out and listen to them immediately, but within a few months the live video session of Pisces was doing the rounds on Facebook and everyone was raving about them so I finally stopped and listened.
I think ‘yeah, not bad’, was my first reaction but to be fair I’ve always been picky when it comes to bands with clean vocals and growling. These days I usually decide how much I like a band after I’ve seen them live, mostly to make sure they can pull it off.
And by god she did! Oh, and I’m not referring to last night. I was in Finland last year for Tuska, where I witnessed them dominate the Helsinki Stage on a warm Sunday evening.
Since then they’ve been on rotation in the car and featuring as my gym music in the lead up to the show. Ok, back to last night…
We arrived early, unintentionally but glad we did. There was already an awkward forked line forming from the doors of the Manning Bar at Sydney Uni. Combinations of groups making unbearable small talk and people sitting on their phones. An hour passed before they started letting us in.
As I made my way into the band room I noted that the merchandise line was already long, so we grabbed a spot on the first tier railings and I went back to join the line. There was a decent amount of merch variety available, some things a bit overpriced in my opinion (so not paying $30 for a canvas tote bag) but I was happy with my girlie shirt with tour dates on the back. You can bet I’ll be wearing that when I see them in June this year at Tuska again. I wandered back over to our spot on the rail and watched as the room filled up.
It wasn’t quite the audience I was expecting. Maybe around one third being your traditional metalheads in a range of shirts from Opeth to Death and Gojira (myself included) plus a few thrash kids in their battle jackets, but most of the crowd seemed to be metalcore kiddies repping Parkway Drive shirts and the like. I think I only saw a handful of people I knew by face in attendance.
The Blacktides, a duo from Melbourne came on at around 8:30. A singer/bassist and a singer/drummer. It was definitely not my jam, part comedy show, part cover band? I’m not really sure, but every third word happened to be c*nt. The singer hinted at a powerful bluesy voice on some songs, I personally would’ve liked to have heard more of that than the banter.
As it edged closer to 10pm the room was looking fuller than I’d seen it in some time. I knew the show was going to sell well, so I’d bought our tickets while we were on holiday in Japan last year. Having sold out most shows on their 2019 Macro tour, I think this is just a taste of what’s to come for them, and very well deservingly so.
The house lights dimmed at 9:55, just long enough for the sounds of lainnereP to waft through the speakers. An excited rumble from the crowd grew with anticipation as the track came to an end and they walked out onto the stage.
They opened with Teacher, Teacher! which I wasn’t familiar with having spent most of my time with King of Everything and Macro. I enjoyed the song and watching the crowd go wild, assuming that seeing them tonight was a first for most people in the room. From where I was standing during the first few songs I couldn’t hear the bass and guitar too well in the mix but it evened out over the next few songs.
“We came from the lands, where kindness equals weakness” Tati teases just as the band launches into Judgement (& Punishment). It’s songs like this that make me think that whoever put Twelve Foot Ninja and Jinjer on a tour together was a fucking genius, and hopefully one day I’ll see them tour together again. Oh and yes there was a collective ‘Booyah!’ from the crowd.
I definitely dig the reggae interludes on this song, and the various musical and stylistic influences that Jinjer bring to the table (pun intended) in each of their songs. You only have to visit Tati’s Instagram account to see her evident love for all things rockabilly in her fashion and winged eyeliner, dressing up as Amy Winehouse and quoting No Doubt lyrics in a post while posing in one of their shirts.
Song after song and there’s never a dull moment, circle pits, crowd surfing and even one attempted backflip, the band powered through their set. For me there were a few songs missing like Prologue, Just Another and Pausing Death but I’m sure they’ve played them to no end in Europe on previous tours.
Taking a step back from the full force of Noah into the mesmerising arpeggiated intro to Retrospection, I listened in awe as she sang in her native tongue. Such a powerful and catchy song, wishing I was up the front to swing my head around with the rest of the crowd.
Having come straight from performing in Israel to a run of 6 consecutive and mostly sold out shows in Australia with barely a break before heading over to South America, I was concerned for the ever so slight strain in her voice towards the end of the set (totally not noticeable to the crowd). Being such a hot night, and probably ten times worse under the stage lights, I say with genuine concern that I hope she’s not coming down with something.
But in saying that, she truly is flawless, with her transitions from clean vocals to melodic growls, full energy performances, makeup that somehow stays perfectly on her face the whole time without a smudge (clearly dark magic)! And I don’t mean to just zero in on her, the whole band is incredible, both in technicality and in their stage presence, but as a trained singer myself, the vocals are what brings a band together for me.
Cue the whole “this is our last song” speech when it’s clearly not, they “end” on Words of Wisdom and a dim of the stage lights. Of course the crowd starts chanting so they come back out to play Pisces and Captain Clock. I noticed she growled the chorus of Captain Clock rather than transitioning between the clean and growled lines, so I’m not sure if that’s the live preference or not, so I’ll take note when I see them again. Either way it sounded awesome and she absolutely belted out the bridge with everything she had, and for me, finishing on that high was the perfect end to their set.
The show ended with lit candles and a birthday cake for their bassist, Eugene and a token photo with the crowd from the stage.
Find the full setlist over at SetlistFM.