Sepultura deliver a killer set at the Hard Rock Café Dubai

December 18, 2017

Brazilian superheroes Sepultura stepped back onto our fabled shores once again, this time as part of their Machine Messiah World Tour, performing at the Hard Rock Café Dubai (HRCD) on 13th December 2017. UAE-based label/promoter Metal-East Records brought them alongside their label’s cluster-bomb Svengali: a gig that brought down the roof, broke down barriers and branched out into a memorable experience.

As far as metal concerts in the country go, venues are always an integral part of the experience mainly because half of the audience usually consists of musicians with a keen ear and a dire appreciation for good sound quality. So a gig at the HRCD peaked my curiosity to see how this rock ‘n roll playground was going to be in terms of overall experience.

One of the most important aspects of the organization was the ticketing and its lack of 4 VIP sections and 2 regular ones, meaning that in this case we aren’t here to worry whether we should spend a little bit more just to be able to be a fraction of a metre closer to the stage. There were no walls between us. Nothing substantial that segregated bigger numbers of people from one another (aside from the bar.)

The only variety between tickets was the Sepulnation experience at double the standard price. That included early entry into the venue, a meet & greet opportunity, a photo with the band, a signed photo by the band, a Sepulnations VIP Laminate, a Sepultura Tour Shirt as well as Svengali’s ‘Theory ofMind.’

Musicians from abroad are usually paired with local acts to warm up the crowd, which may not always give them the proper focus and recognition that they deserve. Home-grown Svengali, known for their experimental use of metal genres and devotion to fluidity of sound, were there to get the timer ticking. And off it went.

The doors open and Svengali is there to set the place on fire. HRCD was lit. Moshpits were started left and right; beer was drank up and down. The general public seemed so positively tense in anticipation, that multiple knives could not cut that beautiful anxiety apart. And why wouldn’t we be tense?

It’s not like there are many international acts of that calibre that come on a regular basis.

It’s definitely a nice break from hearing “Jingle Bells” all over the place. Not to sound miserable like Scrooge or anything. But hearing Inner Self, Territory and Refuse/Resist live in 2017 as opposed to way back in 2009 in Europe is a nice evolution to perceive, both on a personal and on a musical level. Not to mention that the combination of bassist Paulo Xisto Pinto Jr.’s beard and snowflake decorations at HRCD definitely kept a Winter-themed vibe going.

The band members saw some of the sights around town, but the sight of the day might have been embedded somewhere in the magic of the full house combined with the iconic Hard Rock environment. The set was killer, the sound progressed to reflect overwhelming energy and the overall audio-visual elements were intense. 

Sometimes I wish people had no camera phones. Because the concept of living in the moment and enjoying that moment is lost once you see that half the crowd has their phones up once the band goes on. It isn’t even remotely close to a “we’re collectively holding up lighters” moment; rather it’s comparable to this desperate need to digitally immortalise your memory rather than being utterly immersed in the experience. Live and enjoy reality to the maximum…?

Their tight set included power-ladden songs from the latest album such as I Am The Enemy, Phantom Self, Machine Messiah, Sworn Oath, Iceberg Dances and Resistant Parasites. Sepultura’s guerrilla rebel vibe is constantly kept alive by their overture into poetic chaos, transforming into a medley of Andreas Kisser’s fast guitar licks accompanying the tribal rhythm of the band’s current drummer, the talented Eloy Casagrande.

Their current frontman, Derrick Green, has a Herculean pose on stage. He stands tall, he aims and he kills. His vocal chords reflect the diversity to which he is devoted musically, both live and on the albums. That dedication to giving it all you have and making the crowd feel the passion that you feel for your music shows on stage. He grabbed the drumsticks to do a live percussion set of Ratamahatta! which advances to a crowd-favourite Roots Bloody Roots, in turn wrapping up this fantasy evening with a bang.

 P.S. I think we need Sepultura drum circles with audience participation. 

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Review by Alisa Zykova
Photos by Joseph Celso
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