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CHELSEA WOLFE @ Rosemount gets 8.5/10


Chelsea Wolfe @ Rosemount Hotel

w/ Emma Ruth Rundle
Tuesday, June 14, 2022

8.5/10

Four years in the making, and following two cancellations – one due to COVID and another due to the dissolution of former promoters Life is Noise – Chelsea Wolfe finally made it to the Rosemount Hotel. It was more than worth the wait, as the sold out crowd of goths, post-metalheads and general appreciators of amazing music witnessed a sonic and visual assault not seen at the Rosie since pre-pandemic acts Mono and Russian Circles (the latter frequent collaborators of Wolfe).

While those experiences featured memorable support acts, Wolfe’s cursed date with Perth faced a final hurdle when support act and Sergeant House label mate Emma Ruth Rundle was a late cancellation due to illness. While it was a definite blow to miss seeing the Portland, Oregon songwriter, and no local replacement was called upon, promoters made up for it playing Rundle’s latest acoustic and piano-inflected album over the PA in the lead up.

Chelsea Wolfe

The main question going into Tuesday night’s performance was whether Chelsea Wolfe would follow the cue of her last studio album, 2019’s Birth of Violence, into dark folk territory; or would she come out heavy AF as per her peerless previous trilogy, Pain is Beauty, Abyss and Hiss Spun. We got our answer with the very first track, as Feral Love from 2013 emerged in nothing short of an assault on the senses. One of the night’s absolute highlights, from its chiming intro and stunning sound and lighting, to an eerie falsetto Kate Bush would be proud of, this was art rock at its finest.

Chelsea Wolfe

From the outset it was hard to criticise the setlist, which leaned heavily on 2017’s mighty Hiss Spun for huge moments like 16 Psyche, Vex, The Culling and Scrape – the latter offering up more of the shrieking that exhibits what a powerful weapon Wolfe’s voice is in the live setting, as it closed the main set. Meanwhile Abyss fans got their due with Dragged Out dropping early, Carrion Flowers pushing the EQ of the Rosie sound system into the red, and a reworked version of Survive that traded the eerie, swirling weirdness of the (Russian Circles featuring) original for something heavier and altogether more menacing.

Chelsea Wolfe

Ask a group of Chelsea Wolfe fans what their favourite album is and you’ll likely get an array of answers, such is her consistency over the past decade. And she catered to every era, from recent highlight Deranged for Rock & Roll all the way back to Tracks (Tall Bodies) from 2011’s Apokalypsis. A personal favourite is the John Congleton-produced Abyss, but the album most agree on is 2013’s Pain is Beauty, the first of her heavier and electronic-influenced records that have led to the near industrial sound she is best known for today. And that album’s House of Metal was an undeniable standout, the orchestral moments ably replaced by Bryan Tulao’s lead guitar. Tulao’s playing was nothing short of wondrous all night, whether soloing, creating atmosphere or providing a thunderous post rock-inspired wall of sound.

Chelsea Wolfe

Where Tuesday’s show fell just short of perfection was in its brevity. We were promised 90 minutes and got just over 60 (including the one-song encore of early favourite Flatlands). It meant her excellent electro-goth experiments like The Warden, After the Fall and Offering all missed the cut, while epic favourites Iron Moon and The Waves Have Come were quite conspicuous in their absence.

It seems silly to complain, though. What we did get is an act at the absolute peak of her powers, who left us wanting more – safe to say every single member of that audience will be back next time she plays, wherever that may be. Chelsea Wolfe may be an outsider artist in a mainstream world, but with productions as artful as this, the world is taking notice. The first woman of heavy metal she may currently be, but more than her goth and post-rock contemporaries, her boundary-pushing abandon and eclectic experimentalism may yet find her the appeal of rock luminaries such as Nick Cave and Kate Bush.

HARVEY RAE

Photos by Karen Lowe

 

 

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