In the early evening on a Sunday at the very edge of the world, a fitting place to witness an extraordinary performance from New Zealand band The All Seeing Hand. I had already recently noted the remarkable level of talent coming out of New Zealand in my recent review of Fazerdaze, and The All Seeing Eye were not even mentioned. It is very rare for me to see a band live without knowing their material and to be instantly smitten by the strength of their live performance alone – the last time it happened was seeing the fabulous Kid Congo Powers and the Pink Monkeybirds playing in the Spiegel Tent during the Sydney Festival two years ago. And here I was in the very eclectic venue, Schmørgåsbaag (little more than an industrial shed in the outer CBD of Hobart), being utterly mesmerised.
To describe The All Seeing Hand as playing industrial punk disco with Tibetan throat singing probably brings to mind images of some sort of Norwegian death metal band and does the band some disservice. Singer Jonny Marks is actually listed as “throat” as opposed to “vocals” and certainly, to use a cliche, uses his voice as an instrument, utilising throat singing but interspersing this with flashes of conventional singing – for example in “Cro Magnon Corp” you can almost detect vestiges of a bluesy Brian Johnson. The contribution to the sound from DJ Alphabethead (electronics and turntable) and drummer B. Michael Knight provides a muscular dynamism and an extraordinary soundscape. With Marks sometime joining on electronics and the others adding vocals, the sound of the the trio is huge and physical.
Ranging from the metallic and brutal menace of Nine Inch Nails through to the soaring beauty of Sigur Ros – often within the same song – The All Seeing Eye are a phenomena live. Brutal industrial precision pierced by moments of transcendence, the entire performance felt like some weird pagan ritual, accentuated by the frenetic convulsions of Marks with his monk-like pate and dark flowing gown. It is hard to pin the band’s sound – it’s unconventional but importantly it is accessible and a sheer joy to experience live.
This trio played like they were playing a stadium before a thousand people instead of a small crowd in an industrial shed. Their music was fittingly huge and dramatic enough to fill two stadiums. They should be playing in stadiums.
The set list was:
Cro Magnon Corp
Silicon and Synapse
The band is currently finishing off a tour of Australia, and you can catch them here:
Wednesday 26th April – Karova Lounge, Ballarat
Thursday 27th April – The Curtin, Melbourne
Saturday 29th April – The Chippendale Hotel, Sydney
Mention should be made of local band All the Weathers whom I caught the last few minutes of their set – an excellent instrument-swapping trio playing energetic pop/punk originals who ended their set with a very melodic and anthemic song.