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Railway Club July 20 July 2014

by Steve Habibi Kelk

From the tiny desert town of Tenant Creek in the Northern Territory, this hard rock/punk four-piece is no surprise to those in the know. I wasn’t in the know but I am now. And I am glad I am. Supporting Melbourne hard rock band Palace of the King, they played the Rails to a solid crowd of loyal fans and some very impressed first-timers.

If you like it heavy and you like a band that blurs the interface between artists and crowd, Unbroken Expanse is the band for you.

Why should I be surprised that four young guys from the middle of the desert could pull off such a massive sound and have so much stage presence? Geography doesn’t dictate talent and drive. These guys are all energy, all the time. And they have fun. Lots and lots of fun. But it takes more than just energy and having fun to keep a loyal (and growing) audience flocking to see them.

Musically, the crew is tight in timing and sound, with ripping old-school guitar and solid bass and drum. Soaring riffs on numbers like ‘Cocktail of Violence’ rise up like a raucous street-riot, only to mellow down into an hypnotic bridge before screaming back up into the sky. Growling vocals capture the soul of the message, which is a stiff front-kick to the solar plexus, and propel the audience along like a freight train.

The first thing you notice is the fire in their collective bellies – I was told by someone in the know that it doesn’t matter if they are playing to five people or five hundred, the energy is the same. These boys get busy early and don’t let up. Front man Chris ‘Wheezy’ Helmond uses not only the whole stage but most of the rest of the venue too, thanks to an incredibly long mic-cord. Bassman Chris ‘Parko’ Parker provides the grumbling backdrop as well as showing that these lads don’t take themselves too seriously – he spent as much time on his back as he did on his feet. Jason Foran keeps a steady and powerful beat in the engine room that glues it all together and Jimmy James lofts the lead guitar, adding a rare texture overlay to a genre that, these days, often lacks originality. This mob punch above their weight on all counts.

From the amount of talented local musicians in the crowd showing their support, it is obvious that these guys have the warmth and respect of their peers, even inviting some up on the stage to join in the aural fracas. I saw no egos at the Rails on this night and got the feeling that this band would be just as happy playing a backyard birthday party for their friends as they would a major festival. I have every reason to believe that Unbroken Expanse will become a major draw card on the live music circuit around the country in the very near future. Territory local music lovers need to get behind this stand-out act and see and support them whenever they can.

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