From the moment it was announced, we knew ISD 2017 was going to be something special. Fortress, after 10 years, were returning to the Australian stage and accompanied by two other legendary Aussie outfits, Open Season and Ravenous. Many of us have never had the opportunity to see Fortress play before and there was no way we were missing out this time. As with every year people started to arrive in Melbourne and catch up with familiar faces with plenty of laughs and a beer or two. There is something pretty special about seeing people travel from all over Australia to see each other and enjoy a good weekend and pay homage to Ian Stuart and everything he did.
Saturday afternoon saw people swing into action and everyone getting involved with setting up the venue, organising lifts and getting the equipment set up. People started arriving and it was great to see some new faces come along. 9% Productions had a great stand set up offering lots of great merchandise and if you missed out on anything that was on offer, definitely jump on the website and grab something to help support the scene and gigs like this. The beer was cold, the smiles were big and everyone was hanging for the first band to take the stage and before too long things were ready to kick off.
Aussie RAC legends Open Season were the first band to get things started and they sounded damn good. "Kommando" is a personal favourite of mine and it looks like it was the same for everyone else there.
There was no milling around standing to the side, people were getting in to the pit and having a blast. I have to say the sound set up was really well done and Open Season sounded great. Ivory Towers is a great track and was just as good live along with classics like "Kill the Poofs". They also did a great cover of "Bang Bang" by the legendary Midtown Boot Boys. The boys got a resounding applause as they finished their set and were a great indicator of what was to come.
I don't think anyone there were anything but big fans of Ravenous and people piled back into the vemue as soon as they took the stage ready for another taste of good Aussie RAC. Blind Faith is one of those albums that everybody should own and playing live they didn't fail to impress. The title track of that album had everyone singing along and it was pretty awesome to see people arms around each other getting right into it. What gig would be complete without "88 Rock n Roll band" and Ravenous nailed it. I didn't get to catch all of their set as we were all busy keeping things running smoothly but it seems like I definitely missed out on a pretty stellar performance. Everyone I spoke to had nothing but good words to say and from what I did see they deserved every bit of the praise. Again, the crowd gave a massive round of applause and people were full amped up for what was to come.
Well, what can I say about Fortress and their performance? Their music has been an inspiration and influence for so many of us for so many years and the fact they were there to play wasn't lost on us. There were no signs of people being tired or worn out by the previous two acts, we were ready for a great show and that's exactly what we got. Classics like "Hail Rock n Roll", Skrewdrivers "Hail the New Dawn" and more kept coming and we couldn't get enough. A moment of silence was shared by all to pay respects to the late and great Ian Stuart. A new track written in dedication of the Hammerskin Nation was very well received and appreciated but of course there was one song we all not just wanted, but needed to hear. I couldn't tell you the amount of time I've listened to "I hate Commie Scum". Hundreds if not thousands of times, but none of them will ever come close to hearing it live surrounded by all the people that came out to support Blood and Honour Australia, and the ideals and vision Ian Stuart had for the scene around the world.
All good things must come to an end however and ISD 2017 was over. People said their goodbyes and everyone got stuck in with the clean up of the venue and packing things away. This is truly the best gig I have ever attended and one I will remember for the rest of my days.
A massive thanks to Blood and Honour Australia for putting on such a great event. Of course also a huge thanks to the bands who help make these events so good. I also want to thank everyone who travelled from across Australia to attend and the new faces, I hope you guys will come along again and help support events like this and have a great time. A special nod to everyone who worked hard behind the scenes to give lifts to people, set up and pack up the venue and maybe most importantly of all, keep the beer cold!
See everyone again in 2018!
RIP Ian Stuart