At first glance, The Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster may not seem like the most naturally great live band, especially as Jesus-esque lead singer Guy McKnight strides on stage at the Rescue Rooms with an unassuming ‘good evening, thanks for coming down’ by way of introduction. This all changes, however, as soon as the band kick into set opener ‘Whack of Shit’, with McKnight beginning to scream as though possessed, and lead guitarist Tristan McLenahan transforming into a sweaty whirlwind of hair and riffs. We’re only a couple of songs in and McKnight has hopped the barrier and entered the crowd, mic lead trailing behind, as though being on stage just wasn’t quite intense enough for him. It’s this anarchic streak that make Eighties Matchbox such a compelling live power and it’s difficult to stop yourself from grinning as McKnight leers his way through the excellent ‘Psychosis Safari’, with its immortal opening lines ‘I drink all night/and I sleep all day’.
Musically, the set is a great mix of old and new, with most of the material coming from debut album ‘Horse of the Dog’ and 2010’s ‘Blood and Fire’, the latter of which has been described as featuring some of the band’s best songwriting yet. It’s certainly difficult to argue with this as they begin to play ‘So Long, Goodnight’, a song that displays a much different, quieter side of Eighties Matchbox. McKnight’s vocals really shine here as he powerfully croons through his dark tale of betrayal and heartbreak. It’s unlike anything they’ve done before but it’s absolutely brilliant and provides a great interlude in the middle of the set. The first single from ‘Blood and Fire’, ‘Love Turns to Hate’, is also impressive, with its heavy aggressive groove contrasting McKnight’s calm baritone.
Undoubtedly the highlight of the night, however, is the frenzied double-whammy of ‘Charge the Guns’ and ‘Fishfingers’, during which McKnight enters the crowd again, and McLenahan even ditches his guitar and jumps into the frantic mayhem of the mosh. It’s really a shame that Eighties Matchbox aren’t much more widely known, but fingers are firmly crossed that ‘Blood and Fire’ will gain them the recognition they deserve; if their live show is anything to go by, it’d certainly be warranted.