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Review: Body Count, Live At Melbourne’s Margaret Court Arena

It took Body Count two decades to return to Australia. 27 years into their career, Ice-T’s rap-metal band has just released its sixth album, Bloodlust, which they brought to Melbourne, Brisbane and Sydney this week. Their live show proves the band has lost none of its intensity, putting an authentic no-holds-barred performance.

Kicking off the night was Melbourne’s Void of Vision, who did their best to win over the mostly empty room with intense riffs and screaming vocals. Though early start time and bare arena swallowed much of the energy, it set the stage for what was to come.

Up next was Australian Music Prize winners A.B. Original. At first, it felt like an odd interlude between the two heavier acts, but by the time Briggs and Trials had finished hard-hitting opener 2 Black 2 Strong, it was a perfect fit, and the audience responded with endless cheering and applause. Despite the musical differences, A.B. Original and Body Count are deeply connected through their pointed anger and conscious aggression over issues like police brutality, racism and politics.

Referencing Margaret Court’s recent comments, A.B. Original promptly renamed the venue The Body Count Arena; they also changed a few lyrics in January 26 (We can do it on your nan’s grave/Margaret’s grave, Fuck that homie/Fuck that Margaret).

It took 22 years, but the room finally dimmed. Red and blue lights started to flash to the sound of police sirens as five people in black clothing appeared on stage. Body Count immediately launched into Raining in Blood/Postmortem from their new album, whipping the crowd into a frenzy that spanned the entire arena.

Early on, Ice-T introduced his band and its new members to the crowd: Vincent Price, Little Ice, Juan of the Dead, Ill Will and lead guitarist Ernie C, the only other original member still in the band.

Demanding action from the crown, they then ripped into 2014′s Manslaughter and 1992 hit There Goes The Neighbourhood. The mosh pit kept growing as Ill Will thumped his drums.

Ice-T’s lyrics and themes are as relevant as ever, from 1992’s Cop Killer to 2017’s Black Hoodie. “Sometimes I sit at home and wonder what the world would be like without racism, class shit and religious persecution,” Ice-T said, while someone wearing a Donald Trump mask patrolled the stage around him.

At one point, Ice-T searched the crowd for its youngest member, eventually finding a 14 year old. “Fuck me! Why are you at a Body Count show?… I’ve been a cop on TV longer than you’ve been alive.” Ice proceeded to adopt the boy (Uncle Ice), and offered him some advice on dealing with bullies: look them straight in the eye and say “talk shit, get shot.” An ample intro for the song of the same name.

The show closed with Body Count’s most prominent and controversial track Cop Killer, which Ice-T coined ‘Australia’s new anthem’. The crowd absolutely loved it, chanting “fuck the police” right up until Ice-T announced that it was the end of the show.

Ice-T went on to perform a “virtual encore”, claiming he’s “too lazy” to walk off the stage and come back out. Instead, he turns his back, dims the lights and waits until the chanting is deafening enough to deserve an encore. They delivered with Disorder, Born Dead, and latest anthem This Is Why We Ride.

It was an incredibly powerful show, full of relentless energy, underpinned by the sobering thought that the same issues Body Count roared about 25 years ago are just as relevant today. Ice-T’s incredible aggression made you completely forget his acting career, delivering a legendary performance that more than stands the test of time.

Image: Body Count