Friday, June 09, 2017

An Evening With Bic Runga - MEMO Music Hall

It's been five years since Bic Runga last played in Melbourne, and tonight was the first of a two night run at St Kilda's MEMO Music Hall. Bic started the evening solo on acoustic guitar playing "Drive," "When I See You Smile" and "The Be All And End All" before being joined by her band, which included her partner Kody Nielson on drums. The songs played across the two sets covered material from throughout her career and her latest album Close Your Eyes, which is a mix of originals and covers. I really enjoyed her version of Nick Drake's "Things Behind The Sun" as well as the new original songs "Close Your Eyes" and "Dream A Dream."

Bic played some of my favorite tracks of hers, including "Get Some Sleep" "Listening For The Weather," "Winning Arrow" and "Something Good." We also got some rarely played live songs such as "This Girl's Prepared For War" and "Darkness All Around Us" off Belle, and the Beautiful Collision tracks "Gravity" and "Election Night," which I'm guessing was thrown into the set due to yesterday's UK election.

What really made this show special was the songs that were done with Natalia Mann on the concert harp, which enhanced the arrangements for "Precious Things," "Beautiful Collision," "Birds," "Captured" and "Bursting Through." As this year is the 20th anniversary of the release of the hit single "Sway," it was only appropriate that it closed out the second set. Bic was so happy to finally be able to come back to Australia and was really grateful for everyone coming out to see her. For an encore she attempted an audience request for "Gracie," but only made it part way through as she couldn't stop laughing at the lyrics which she wrote when she was 19 years old. All in all it was a great and intimate show, and hopefully Bic will make it back across the ditch sooner rather than later for another live performance.

Here's the video for "Close Your Eyes"

Wednesday, June 07, 2017

I Love The 90's Australian Tour

I got a call late this afternoon from Chantal that she and Shevonne had a spare ticket for the I Love The 90's concert at Hisense Arena tonight. Once I saw the line up I knew I couldn't say no as it was a list of late 80s and early 90s hip hop and R&B acts that I used to watch on MTV.

First up was Young MC, who did a rap to Midnight Oil's "Beds Are Burning" and of course played "Bust A Move." Next was Tone Loc, who not only played his hits "Funky Cold Medina" and "Wild Thing," but also did a cover of Snoop Dogg's "Gin and Juice."

Three members of the boy band Color Me Badd hit the stage in matching outfits and sang their hits "All 4 Love," "I Adore Mi Amore" and "I Wanna Sex You Up," along with a cover of Blackstreet's "No Diggity." Coolio was the next act to play, and had a band with him. Their set included "Fantastic Voyage," "I'll C U When U Get There," "1, 2, 3, 4 (Sumpin' New)" and "Gangsta's Paradise." They also did a bizarrely short tribute to Prince by playing the intro to "Purple Rain" but not the whole song.

The main act that everyone was there to see was Salt N Pepa with DJ Spinderella. Celebrating 31 years together, they played lots of their best known songs, including "Do You Want Me," "Shake Your Thang," "Let's Talk About Sex," "Shoop," "Whatta Man," "None Of Your Business" and of course "Push It." Spinderella did a bit of a DJ set during the middle of the set, and they got some fans up on stage to dance with them, including a little kid who broke out some break dancing moves.

The closing act of the night was Vanilla Ice, who wanted to turn his set into a block party so he invited people up on stage just a couple of songs in. His set was all over the place as he played "Ninja Rap," his song from the 1990s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie,  "Play That Funky Music" and of course "Ice Ice Baby," which resulted in nearly half of the crowd heading for the exits once it was done. He did a freestyle rap with Coolio and Tone Loc, and finished the evening by doing a cover of Bob Marley's "No Woman, No Cry" to a near empty arena.

Overall while the concert was entertaining it was a bit sad to see a packaged tour which was clearly just a money grab. Everyone quickly played their hits and then got off the stage for the next act. I imagine it would be a bit demoralising, but then I guess if you need the money you have to cash in somehow.

Sunday, June 04, 2017

Van Gogh And The Seasons

The latest exhibition for the NGV's Melbourne Winter Masterpieces is Van Gogh and the Seasons. It contains around 50 drawings and paintings from Van Gogh that are themed around the four seasons.

As you enter the exhibition there is a large screen video presentation about Van Gogh before you get to see some examples of the different types of art that influenced him in the first rooms, such as Japanese woodblock prints.

The main sections of the exhibition focus on a specific season, with paintings and drawings of landscapes, still life, and people working out in the fields. Here were some of my favorite pieces:


Autumn


Winter


Spring


Summer


It's not the largest exhibition, but it took a while to get through due to the sheer number of people trying to see it. I wish the NGV would sell timed tickets to cut down on the lines and crowds going through the exhibition at any one time as it was an exercise in patience to deal with the number of people in there.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Vivid Sydney 2017

I have spent the past two evenings wandering around the Sydney CBD to check out as many of the light projections and installations as possible on display from 6:00 - 11:00 pm as part of Vivid Sydney. My first stop was Martin Place, which had the Urban Tree 2.0 projections on the CTA Building, and the pieces Waratah and re/FRACTION at the opposite end of the pedestrian mall.

Vivid Sydney

Vivid Sydney

Down towards Circular Quay were a few interesting pieces, including the different angles of the piece Helix, the umbrellas of Supernova and Under My Umbrella, and the hanging lights of Parallax.

Vivid Sydney

The Rocks and along the waterfront were where I was able to catch the bulk of the light projections and installations. The highlight was the Organic Vibrations projections on the facade of the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, which were spectacular.

Vivid Sydney

Other interesting installations in The Rocks and Campbell's Cove precincts were the light columns of Connections, the different environments viewed through Portholes, the light sculpture of Fractal, and Landscape of the Mind, which explored people's experiences with anxiety on a series of body maps.

Vivid Sydney

The Sydney Harbour Bridge and buildings along the waterfront had different colored lights. The southern pylon of the Bridge also had projections of the Bangarra Dance Theatre as part of the piece EORA - Bennelong.

Vivid Sydney

Of course the main draw of Vivid Sydney is the projections on the Sydney Opera House. Lighting of the Sails: Audio Creatures had a focus on sea creatures and animals this year.

Vivid Sydney

The Royal Botanic Garden Sydney was my final stop and contained many of the sculptural elements at Vivid Sydney this year. There was a set path through parts of the Garden, with some of my favorite pieces being the moving The Sunflowers, the kiwi Birds of Lumos, the dandelions of SPREADING LIFE, and the Reflection light boxes.

Vivid Sydney

The trees in the Garden were also lit and contained some interesting objects as part of the Electric Forest, and the Sydney Conservatorium of Music had some colorful light projections as you exited the Garden.

Vivid Sydney

Vivid Sydney

Overall there were some really great pieces at Vivid Sydney, but I don't think it compares as a whole to the all encompassing amazing experience that is White Night Melbourne.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Fleet Foxes - Vivid LIVE Sydney

Tonight Tash and I headed to the Sydney Opera House for the second of four shows by Fleet Foxes as part of Vivid LIVE. As these were their only shows in Australia for 2017, I was really excited to be able to get tickets to attend.

It's been five years since we last saw them play live. The set list featured many songs from their upcoming album Crack-Up, which is due to be released in mid-June. I always enjoy the opportunity to get to preview songs live before an album is released, and these tracks show the progression of the band from their previous two albums.

Watching Fleet Foxes recreate these intricate songs live is an amazing experience as band members switch instruments not only between songs but during them. It was great to hear some old favorites in the set, including "Grown Ocean," "White Winter Hymnal," "Ragged Wood," "Your Protector," "He Doesn't Know Why," "Mykonos" and "The Shrine / An Argument."

For the encore Robin Pecknold did a stunning version of "Tiger Mountain Peasant Song" solo on acoustic guitar. We also got to hear "Blue Ridge Mountains" and were treated to a cover of the Bee Gees' "In The Morning." During the concert someone shouted out what sounded like "I have the same tattoo" but it turned out to be a request for "Helplessness Blues," which ended up being the last song they played this evening. It was such a fantastic show and the band earned the standing ovation they received at the end.

Here's the lyric video for the first single off Crack-Up, "Third of May / Odaigahara"

Friday, May 26, 2017

Vivid Sydney 2017 - Taronga Zoo

Tonight was the kick off of Vivid Sydney for 2017, the 23 day festival of light, music and ideas. This is my first time attending Vivid, and tonight I took the ferry out to Taronga Zoo for Lights for the Wild. When you arrive there are some fantastic light projections on the heritage building at the entrance to the zoo.

Vivid Sydney

Inside the light walk takes about an hour and half as you wander around the zoo on a marked path past these amazing giant animal light sculptures. They are split between ten legacy species lanterns in honor of Taronga Zoo's centenary conservation commitment, as well as feature lanterns of a variety of different animals and creatures.

Vivid Sydney Taronga Zoo

Vivid Sydney Taronga Zoo

Vivid Sydney Taronga Zoo

Vivid Sydney Taronga Zoo

Vivid Sydney Taronga Zoo

I cannot recommend checking out Lights of the Wild enough - this alone made the trip up to Sydney this weekend worth it.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Eurovision 2017

I was up very early this morning to catch the Grand Final of the Eurovision Song Contest, which was held in Kiev (or Kyiv), Ukraine this year. Going with the theme "celebrate diversity" it was interesting that they decided to have three white males as the hosts. However, they did grow on me over the three days of the competition, and did a hilarious sketch with Mans Zelmerlow about learning how to be the perfect Eurovision host:


This year's contest didn't really have any songs that totally bowled me over like in previous years. I did really like the winning song from Portugal, Salvador Sobral's "Amar Pelos Dois" (written by his sister Luisa). It was a delicate, quiet performance that packed an emotional punch with a song that reminded me a bit of Antonio Carlos Jobim.


My favorite song for this year was Blanche (Belgium) with "City Lights." She may not be that animated a performer, but the song stands on its own.


I also liked Lucie Jones (United Kingdom) with the ballad "Never Give Up On You," which had the best staging of any song in the competition.


Australia was back once again this year with two contestants - Isaiah Firebrace as Australia's official entry with "Don't Come Easy," and Anja Nissen who sang for Denmark with "Where I Am."


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