Review: King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard ‘Live in Brussels ’19’

Words by Cole Costello
Graphic by Jason Galea

With the release of King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard’s Live in Brussels ’19 one wonders. Just how many of these recordings does the band have tucked away? Could Gizzard’s 2019 World Tour be the Grateful Dead’s Europe ’72 for a new generation?

Live in Brussels ’19‘s material is taken from Gizzard’s two nights at Belgium’s Ancienne Belgique on October 8th and 9th. Together the two performances run through Gizzard’s recent material and classic live staples with a few rarities thrown in. As with previous 2019 albums Live In Paris and Live In Adelaide, the setlist is varied. Brussells mixes album medleys with fun re-interpretations of recent releases. Fans are also treated to revolutionary reimaginings of older, rarely-played classics like ‘Work This Time’ and ‘Sense’.

Infest the Rats Nest‘s ‘Superbug’ kicks things off. Live, the song is something special. With each verse, the sludging intensity increases, culminating in a grand and lumbering trod. ‘Superbug’ then transitions into Murder of the Universe favorite ‘The Lord of Lightning.’  Unfortunately ‘Lord’ is, of the three live albums provided so far, the first real sign of Stu’s voice having trouble keeping up. These two nights were late in the tour, and he is certainly showing the effects of a long, loud year. At some points this works to his advantage, providing a raspier and gruffer tale on lines Gizzheads will know by heart. ‘Lord’ continues into more pieces from Murder until a nice rendition of Nonagon Infinity‘s ‘People-Vultures’ announces another about-turn.

Sense’ and ‘Work This Time’ are clear standouts, both for their extended, lively interpretations and the extreme infrequency that they are performed. After playing through the familiar verses the band picks up the pace, turning the Paper Mâché Dream Balloon number into a funky jam, replete with bouncy, sparkling keyboards and expressive, soulful guitar solos. This extension of ‘Sense’ is an unexpected pleasure. On Paper Mâché Dream Balloon, ‘Sense’ runs for about three a half minutes. This is nearly tripled on Live in Brussels ’19.

Oddment‘s ‘Work This Time’ starts slow and quiet, much to the woe of the fan who moments before yells, “There is no Planet B!” Once the audience recognizes the song, they erupt, and with each heartbreaking verse, the song gathers momentum. Once the climax feels as if it has been reached, the band pause for a moment before launching into a tear-jerking, knee-buckling, wailing triumph of a guitar solo, which will now forever feel absent in the studio version. ‘Sense’ and ‘Work This Time,’ along with the always-notable ‘This Thing,’ serve as high points in a mid-album pivot from harder and heavier material.

Let’s keep it jazzy,” one bandmember remarks midway through this run of songs, which if anything really shine a light on the band’s funkier and groove based leanings. “Cookie Dawg’s got a song to sing,” says Stu before Cook Craig adjusts the mic stand for ‘Down the Sink,’ a rare Gumboot Soup cut that sits amongst the band’s jazziest. ‘The Bird Song’ is also in sequence, and features stronger and more uninhibited guitars than the studio version. This run of songs is also where the split between night one and night two occurs. Despite being a compilation of two separate concerts, the flow and consistency speak to the quality of King Gizzard’s performances, and how despite drastic musical differences from album to album, the live product is always a cohesive and solid whole.

After ‘Work This Time,’ this course is halted by an “enough of that shit,” and Gizzard fire off into ‘Robot Stop.’ But before ‘Robot Stop’ gets going, the band tease the crowd with a guitar lick from ‘Hot Water’. Mistaken that the rest of the song is to follow, the crowd sings along. Gizzard then plays with the crowd’s expectation a bit more, playing the riff to ‘Rattlesnake,’ which the fans promptly sing along to as well. Stu cuts in with a “Nonagon Infinity opens the door” and the band launches powerfully into a medley of ‘Robot Stop,’ ‘Big Fig Wasp,’ and ‘Gamma Knife.’ This opening trio of Nonagon songs returns to the heaviness of Gizzard’s eighth album. Like many King Gizzard concerts, these shifts do not feel forced.

Rather than ending in a frenzied jam, the band digs up a relaxing, trance-inducing classic – the title track from Float Along – Fill Your Lungs. A glistening space raga that sounds like it’s from centuries in the future, ‘Float Along’ is greatly extended from its album counterpart. Despite coming from an often overlooked period in King Gizzard’s discography, not to mention the rarity of its performance, the song somehow feels like a logical conclusion to everything which came before it on this night. Soothing riffs repeating are a tonic to the hard-hitting Nonagon suite preceding it. the song acts as a perfect closer to another delightful live installment of King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard. Live in Brussels 19, like Adelaide and Paris before it, was a wonderful surprise. Will fans see more live releases to come? If so, they will be certain to be full of treasures and treats. If not, these albums by and of themselves are strong enough to stand, as their names suggest, as a perfect portrait of King Gizzard live in 2019.

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