Concert Review with PHOTOS: The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus


By Saffy Wihoite

Artist: The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus

Date / Venue: Wednesday November 28th, 2018 - Galatos, Auckland

The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus packed out Galatos, making the already intimate location even cozier.

They could have easily sold out big venues like Spark Arena, but this is more their scene. This is more personal, they can connect with their fans, who they know have been waiting hopelessly for this gig since 2006.

I felt like I was surrounded by kindred spirits; old souls reemerging for a taste of their fading youth. They were supported by homegrown opening acts: Flirting With Disaster and Pale Lady.

Aucklanders Flirting With Disaster, or should I say, Flirting With The Crowd, are the love child of every great pop-punk boyband. They bounce around the stage with endless energy and give the crowd crap for not being on their level yet. Banter is free-flowing for these guys as they take digs at each other in between songs.

Following shortly are Wellingtonians Pale Lady. Pale Lady blends effortlessly the sound of 2006-era post-hardcore and 90's grunge. They neatly pair with The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus, playing a song from another huge band from the scene and a cult-fave, Helena by MCR. If anybody were still in their shell, their inner teen-angst kicked the walls out to their cover of Helena.

The stage is pitch black; The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus band members mere silhouettes against the drum kit. As excitement grows and the crowd gets a tad restless, the music kicks in; the drums fast and the guitars even faster.

Red lights flash wildly on stage and Ronnie's voice joins the music as they take us into In Fates Hands, a well-loved song from their platinum album Don't You Fake It. As a contrast to Ronnie's rock-ballad singing come Randy Winter's gravely growls, very much showing their era and genre.

Randy looks every part a rock star, with his long hair and scruffy beard. It's no surprise how deep he can growl and how gritty he plays his guitar. The limelight is shared between the Winter brothers and the guitarist, Josh Burke.

Josh's fingers move quickly and skillfully; he's good and he knows it. A few times throughout the night, Josh takes center stage and shows his talent with guitar solos. Tucked away to the side, completely lost in his own world of bass, is Joey Westwood. Although out of sight, Joey was definitely not out-of-mind. He and drummer John Espy filled up the deep range and helped to emphasise Randy's equally deep rumbles. The rhythm support was masterful, the bass shook the room, and vibrating right through my heart.

They opened with two fast, up-tempo songs, hoping to get the crowd jumping and hollering. They succeed. I look over and see a mosh pit forming, with its very own Wall of Death.

Ronnie lets us know what's in store for us, telling us that they will play an old song, then a new song, then an old song. The crowd let him know what they were excited for; reaching deafening volume when promised old songs. This isn't to say that their newest album, The Awakening, is not well-loved among the kiwi fans; it's more that they have been waiting for so long to hear the band live, and need to hear the classics.

The music winds down and Ronnie picks up a guitar. While ensuring it’s in tune, Ronnie warns us that he's not that great at guitar - despite writing all the songs with one.

Symphonic tones from the band back Ronnie as he tells us all about Toyah Cordingley and about how much she loved and listened to Your Guardian Angel. She was unfairly taken from this world and they have nobody to blame as of yet. Ronnie pressed the issue, "Her name is Toyah Cordingley, and we're saying her name all over tour so that maybe somebody, somewhere, knows who killed her." The band starts playing the intro to Your Guardian Angel, while Ronnie repeats her name and dedicates the song to her, "Tonight, [Your Guardian Angel] is called, Toyah," before crooning out the now-bittersweet song.

The crowd has attempted to restrain themselves from praying out loud for Face Down, but as the clock ticks closer to midnight, people are getting nervous. This, for a lot of the fans, was THE song that introduced them to both The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus and post-hardcore bands. Ronnie can feel the tension and promises that we're nearly there.

He loves playing that song, he says that it simply rocks and he is still very proud of every aspect of it, so of course it's on the set list. It's too good to not be the final song - too great of a way to end the night.

But knowing that they just took us to a sad place, they move into a song titled Atrophy, a final plea for people to break down their walls to remember who they really are.   

When we get there, Ronnie hushes the crowd. Soft melodic playing comes from the two guitars. The crowd is swaying, knowing that this is a boiling pot. Gradually Ronnie's dulcet tones join the music as lights tint the stage red. The tension builds, almost to breaking point, the crowd is getting antsy; the mosh pit is a beating heart powered by the alt-rock drum and bass.

The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus have the performance of this song down to an art, bringing in the drum and bass in hard and fast and throwing the crowd into a frenzy. We sing the song wholeheartedly back to them, reminding me of when I used to sing along to them in my bedroom with my best friends.

Ronnie looks stoked, we have definitely made the trip all the way to New Zealand worth it.  As we sing along to the final verse, Ronnie holds the mic out over the crowd and when we are done, he gives us a thumbs up before closing out the song.

Candidly, Ronnie tells us that Face Down is usually their last song. For special crowds, however; crowds that they "vibe with," there is an extra song, a special song. It's particularly close to their hearts as it was the first song they wrote together as a band. It's a harrowing song about the pull of bad habits and the tug of good influences. It feels like it’s included because of its importance as their first song together but also to show the growth and changes in the band from 2006 to now.

Grim Goodbye sounds like classic The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus. Strong on the heavy guitar riffs and fast-paced drumming, with bass you feel more than hear. And of course, Ronnie's voice interplaying and mingling expertly with the rest of the band. When the song ends, Ronnie approaches us to run his hands through the reaching crowd, while other bandmates give it their final thrash on their instruments for the night.