Review: King Gizzard & The Wizard Lizard ‘Live In Adelaide ‘19’
Words by Tom Walters
Graphic by Jason Galea
Wasting no time introducing themselves, King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard’plunge straight into 13 minutes of eco-thrash. Searing renditions of Infest The Rats’ Nest numbers ‘Planet B’, ‘Mars For The Rich’ and ‘Venusian I’ carve twisted soundscapes of fire and flight. The songs are delivered with an intensity matched only by the crowd’s own. Taking a left turn the band then veers into Fishing For Fishies’ ‘Cyboogie’ and on Gizz go, floating, jamming, and segueing from song to song.
King Gizzard has proven themselves exceptional at crafting albums. Their records are cohesive experiences more than the sum of their parts. Adelaide shows a similar but not entirely identical approach. As on the band’s other recently released live albums Live In Brussels ‘19 and Live In Paris ‘19, Gizzard draws more extensively from their 15 album discography than ever before. Despite the spontaneity with which they flip between albums and styles, Gizzard retains a bizarre sense of continuity. And in this sense, Adelaide is the band creating cohesion before their audience’s – and now the listener’s – very ears.
With echoes of the past playing against the wild abandon of the present, Adelaide demonstrates the band’s continued efforts to push their live set to the next level. This showmanship comes across in moments like the drum solo on Flying Microtonal Bannana‘s ‘Open Water’. Here the band puts its own spin on the legendary solos of Led Zeppelin’s John Bonham, albeit played out in a distinctively King Gizzard fashion. Rhythmically, the group’s songs have never sounded more powerful. Live they pulse with a mesmerizing groove. There’s a degree of extramusical surprise at play too, like when, later in the set, Midlife’s Adam Halliwell joins the band to play flute as they jam upon ‘Hot Water’.
Much has been made of the set’s final inclusion, a kaleidoscopic reintroduction to Float Along – Fill Your Lung’s ‘Head On/Pill’. Expanding ‘Head On/Pill’ well beyond the psychedelic parameters of its original album counterpart (and into to fragments of other songs such as The Tale of The Altered Beast, ‘Hot Water’, ‘Rattlesnake’ and several others), it doesn’t disappoint.
As with all albums of its kind Live In Adelaide is not ‘perfect’ in any sense. Removing the sound of live performance from its context changes its very nature. Mixes can get muddy, feedback becomes jarring. As with firsthand experience — things get blurry. However, this does not detract from the sheer enjoyment coursing throughout Adelaide’s each and every tack.
Playing live, some bands strive to recreate their studio recordings. Others, such as the Grateful Dead, are jam bands. Some, such as Queen, rely on spectacle to carry the day. Live in Adelaide shows King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard to be their own mutant concoction of all three.