LIVE REVIEW: Motor Ace ‘Five Star’ 20 year anniversary tour supported by Emilee South + Rya Park

words + photos: Brittany Long

Sunday the 14th of May saw iconic, classic Australian rockband Motor Ace bring their 20-year anniversary show dubbed the ‘Five Star Reunion’ tour to Melbourne’s 170 Russell for a second night. This was always going to be a special show, particularly for the fact it was a hometown show, with the band being born in Melbourne, but also being the final show of the reunion tour meant emotions were high for both band and fans alike. It was a night many die-hard fans couldn’t have ever imagined would even take place, following the band’s split in 2005 after the release of Animal.


With her electrifying three-piece band in tow the talented Emilee South got the night off to an electric start at the bright early time of 7:30PM, delivering a giant sound that weaved its way into every inch of 170 Russell and had the early comers rocking and rolling. Her hit new song Heartbreaker was a big feature of the set and had the crowd grooving and shaking their hips. For me personally it evoked surfy rock’n’roll vibes and, accompanied with Emilee’s powerful voice and guitar it truly was a masterpiece. The crowd were delighted when Emilee gave us a taste of upcoming single Shotgun to close off her set. Left disappointingly wishing she had’ve been given much more stage time that was adequate for her level of talent.

Not to be outdone, next up was Rya Park. A performance I personally was very excited for. Rya is an absolute powerhouse, choosing to ditch the guitar on this particular night, and just hit the audience with her powerful vocals. Armed with her backing band, their slick guitar riffs and pounding drumbeat, coupled with her crystal voice cut through the air like a knife, leaving the audience hooked from the moment she stepped onstage. Smashing out hits like Ex Appeal and Tokyo every note was hit with such elegance and poise. However it was her cover of the Arctic Monkeys Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High that proved to be a crowd favourite. Rya has an all encompassing stage presence and style that surrounds every inch of her performance and I could’ve quite easily have watched her perform all night. Those audience members whom were early enough to catch her performance were definitely counting their lucky stars they did not miss out on what was an absolutely stellar show.  

The supports were given not nearly enough stage time and coming from such powerful performances this was rather disappointing. However both succeeded in warming up the crowd ready for Motor Ace. The anticipation for Motor Ace’s return to the stage shadowed much of the night with fans anxiously counting down the seconds until the band reunited onstage and filtering in.

Motor Ace played to a sold-out audience with fans crammed into every corner of Melbourne’s 170 Russell, it was quite a sight. A video montage incorporating the many moments of Motorace’s career, from studio fun to live footage, preceded Motorace taking to the stage, a moment that was much anticipated by many fans in the audience. Opening with Keep Secrets this followed with Five Star Laundry. Then Siamese, Lorenzo and Criminal Past. Playing songs off 2005 album Animal they played a massive setlist taking fans back to their very beginnings including Fluke and Tomorrow’s Gone. Ride the Wave, A Little Closer and Pieces were just some of the many songs on the nostalgia filled setlist.

The presumed final song of the set was aptly Carry On a notion expressed by fans who wanted Motorace to carry on performing all night, echoed through the venue with a chorus of chants of ‘encore’. To the audience’s delight Motor Ace returned for an encore of four songs; Hey Driver, Chromakey, Death Defy and the final song of the night Chairman Of The Board.

Unfortunately as much as I wanted to enjoy the show and have it be a night to remember, my experience was sadly tainted by a negative personal encounter with the band’s manager before they took to the stage. This means I am unable to write an unbiased review because my entire night was clouded by this negative experience, and as such I am unable to do the band’s performance itself justice.

See the full gallery of photos here

Motor Ace Setlist
Keep Secrets
Five Star Laundry
Criminal Past
Ride the Wave
Tomorrow’s Gone
A Little Closer
Where Did You Go
American Shoes
Carry On

Hey Driver
Death Defy
Chairman Of The Board

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