Brighton Show Recap: May 31, 2024
Amby on the keys, with shrimp clip and chord change notes; photo by ToraTapesphoto by ToraTapes

In a rush and can’t read the whole thing? I’ll cut right right to the chase: this entire show is worth checking out. This makes the short list of best shows of the tour and included three live debuts.

For their first appearance in Brighton since 2017, the boys hosted a chilled-out acoustic evening at the Brighton Dome in England. The crowd on stream had a palpable but chill buzz, reminding me of the acoustic show I had attended live back in 2023 at the Caverns. That night had been full of special moments, incredible musicianship, and a certain level of comfort from the band that you only get at an acoustic show. And King Gizzard’s European acoustic debut was to be no exception.

We were off to a quick and flashy start with an acoustic “Iron Lung” debut. Amby came in calmer than ever with his “Frog breath, steam tent”s and the acoustic jams were excellent. After the song, Joey mentioned that they thought the tune “might not work live” and that it was headed in that direction as they were playing. But to everyone in the audience (and the writers here), it sounded just beautiful.

Continuing the trend of debuting the entirety of the next album live, “Mirage City” was debuted acoustically. This played beautifully and while I suspect it will be a bit faster and harder on the album, nothing is better than the intimate acoustic setting for the boys to feel comfortable with a song.

Two songs from Paper Mâché Dream Balloon followed, with “Most of What I Like” as a returning classic and a surprise first-time showing in “Time = $$$.” Played acoustically (as it should be) and “packed full of the most chords we’ve ever played” according to Stu before the song, this will remain a classic that may only see the light of day at acoustic shows.

poster art by Amy Jean: skull staring up at the name of band, flanked with demons and back-dropped by mountains

“Let Me Mend the Past” was (incorrectly) introduced as a song about Stu and Ambrose. As with most of the acoustic shows, the banter was top notch. It was clear from the stream and audience accounts that the boys let loose and it showed in the stage presence and antics. At the conclusion of “Let Me Mend,” Cavs came down from his raised drum throne to have an impromptu interview with Joey before saying he’d be “right up there if anyone needed him” and returning.

Even more banter led eventually into yet another surprise debut: “You Can Be Your Silhouette.” Fans of Sketches of Brunswick East should be happy with this acoustic version that keeps the spirit of the original song while translating very well live in its acoustic style.

An extended intro led into “Raw Feel.” The new album seems to be shaping up very well for Fishing for Fishies fans and “Raw Feel” is no exception to that wailing blues feel.

Cavs took creative lead on the next song, starting with the drum intro to “Muddy Water” while the rest of the band eventually launched into “The Bitter Boogie.” Ambrose’s vocals were angelic as always on this PMDB classic (and it’s always great to hear these as they were recorded acoustically).

Between song banter included “Rattlesnake” and “Hey Joe” (Jimi Hendrix) teases and quotes (again, top notch, go listen). This acoustic version of “Hot Water” contained “Cellophane” teases but sadly no “Joey Walker” lyric change.

“Trapdoor” and “Sense” rounded out the Paper Mâché Dream Balloon songs, with the acoustic debut of “Sad Pilot” sandwiched in the middle. The lyrics and vocal stylings of Shrimp Daddy continue to impress in this song, with “Gotta leave my problems at the jet bridge, can't be carrying heavy luggage” ringing out almost with a Murlocs spirit. “Sense” was just under ten minutes and contained some chilled out jam sections.

“This Thing” was introduced as a song that “may not work,” but work it did, as layered acoustic guitars added some excellent complexity to the usual rock classic. And Ambrose wailed true on the harmonica as always, but can we consider it an acoustic performance when his playing was so electric?

“Slow Jam I” was long, slow, and beautiful as always. The band stopped the song in the middle to let the crowd sing “my mind down low” back to them before breaking back in and finishing the song. A clear “Ice V” tease was clearly heard after the break and some additional uncategorized jamming (as is tradition) also made an appearance.

Stu took a few moments to make a shout out to a folk cover artist in the audience who handed him a CD of PetroDragonic Apocalypse covers at an earlier show. Thank Han Tyumi for Emily, because the band launched into the first metal song ever played acoustically: “Witchcraft.”

This acoustic performance of the song was beautifully haunting. Stu started to pick the notes and sang solo before the rest of the band launched into the second half of the first verse. The bridges with the classic “Witchcraft” riffs had almost a classical guitar feel as Joey and Cookie plucked along. Ambrose gave a clear and frightening witch giggle at some point while he tapped out the beat on his tambourine for most of the song. And of course, Cavs and Lukey’s calm but precise playing kept the beat for a tough acoustic debut. Overall it was an incredible end to a very special performance.

Acoustic shows will remain a special treat for us fans for years to come. How do you even summarize a show that had so many special moments? You really should just go listen to the whole thing right now, as this recap doesn’t fully encapsulate the feeling and vibe of one of these shows. With a quiet atmosphere, the boys feel like speaking from the heart and experimenting with some truly creative stuff. We see incredible debuts, both acoustically and some for the first time. Overall, this is a show for the ages and I hope we can have just as much fun at the next acoustic show in Detroit, August 23rd.

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