Since the release of their sophomore album Stranger Fruit, Zeal & Ardor have built themselves a global following that would usually take most bands a couple of years to accumulate.
In less than 12 months, mastermind Manuel Gagneux and his band have hit some of the biggest stages in the world and packed out every venue they have set foot in, so to see them on Australian shores so soon is really something special and a tour everyone jumped at getting tickets for.
For a Thursday night The Brightside in Brisbane is packed with a few familiar faces from the local scene who have all turned out to see Zeal & Ardor’s first ever show in Brisbane.
Opening the show tonight is Sam Haven, who’s dark ambient sounds fill the venue setting the tone for the evening ahead.
The three piece perform a set which plays out like the Soundtrack to a movie.
Haunting and moving Sam Haven’s compositions would be perfect for that night drive in the middle of nowhere but if you close your eyes and let the music work it’s magic you could almost be transported to that setting.
Up next is Brisbane instrumental trio Balloons Kill Babies who have been making massive waves on the scene of late.
Their heavy prog grooves and soaring guitar tones have everyone’s eyes in the room locked in as they made use of what little stage space they had and put on a stellar and memorable performance worthy of bigger stages in the near future.
As the lights go out the sample of Sacrilegeum 1 reverberates around the room and the Zeal & Ardor logo is beamed up above the stage as the hooded figures take their places to a venue of screams and cheers.
Opening ferociously with In Ashes from Devil Is Fine, the chanting and layered vocals from Manuel, Marc Obrist and Denis Wagner is unsettling and unlike anything I’ve witnessed live before.
Following it up with Servants, Come on Down, Blood in the River and Row Row the best thing about these songs and the set to follow is the crowd interaction.
Each song seems to be perfectly written to have a connection with the audience and make you feel as if you are part of the ritual through singing along to the call and response vocal parts or clapping along.
The rhythm section comprising of bassist Mia Rafaela Dieu and drummer Marco von Allmen are phenomenal players, combine that with guitarist Tiziano Volante you have one of the best backing bands you could ever ask for and when you see these guys play you can see exactly why Manuel hand picked them to go on this crazy musical adventure with him.
Together the band are extremely tight and rightly so, they have pretty much gone non stop since Stranger Fruit was released.
At times it seems that all the touring has started to catch up with Manuel but he quickly shakes it off and pushes himself even further and seems to put everything he has into the performance like it was his last.
The set list is also very satisfying from a fans perspective, they played every song I had hoped to hear and then some.
The biggest highlights for the evening were Waste and Built On Ashes, these songs are incredibly powerful on record but hearing them performed live was an experience I’ll never forget.
Ending with the stand alone single Baphomet the band leave the crowd more than satisfied and even manage to convert a few curious spectators to full on devoted followers.
In a world where everything feels like it’s been done musically Zeal & Ardor are carving their own path and creating something new an exciting and I know I am not alone when I say that tonight was hands down one of the best shows I have ever seen in my life and I regret not traveling to see them in other states, next time though I sure as hell will make the effort!