Saturday, May 19, 2018

Jack Ladder & The Dreamlanders- Blue Poles Tour

Last night was the launch of Jack Ladder & The Dreamlanders new album Blue Poles at the Corner Hotel. Mary and I got there for the last few songs by electronic act Golden Syrup (aka Sara Retallick).

Next on the bill was Alex Gow from Oh Mercy doing a solo set. It's never a great sign when someone needs to use an asthma inhaler to be able to sing, and Alex was on his three times throughout the set due to a cold. He opened with a cover of Ed Kuepper's "This Hideous Place" and played a mix of songs from his last few albums ranging from the brooding "Iron Cross" and "Lady Eucalyptus" to the more uptempo "Sandy" and "Deep Heat." Alex invited Liam McGorry to join him on stage to play trumpet on "National Park" and his new unreleased track "Time And Date In New York," which was the last song he played. Despite not feeling great Alex powered through his short set.

The room was pretty full by the time Jack Ladder & The Dreamlanders took to the stage. The set list featured many songs from Blue Poles, with highlights being "Can't Say," "White Flag," "Blue Mirror," and my favorite "Susan." Jack's baritone voice and the cool vibe of the band had the crowd entranced from the start, with bassist Donny Benet getting a couple of shout outs during the evening. The set also contained some tracks from previous releases, including "Cold Feet," "Come On Back This Way," and "Hurtsville" with Alex joining the band on acoustic guitar. Overall it was an entertaining night with two of Australia's most talented lyricists.

Here's the video for "Susan":

Friday, May 18, 2018

Shop The City: National Marshmallow Day

Today was Australia's first National Marshmallow Day, which was all part of this year's Shop The City event at the big shopping complexes in the Melbourne CBD. Mary and I started our evening of sweet treats at QV to make our own s'mores in their little winter village set up. It was a bit difficult to get the marshmallows toasty enough to melt the chocolate, and there weren't any graham crackers, but they still turned out ok. If you feel like making your own s'mores, the village is open on Thursday to Sunday from 4-7pm until 10 June.


Next we headed to Melbourne Central for their Ultra Violet Party (the Pantone color of the year) featuring different pop-ups on various levels. They had a Naked Negroni bar, an Ultra Violet Room for the ultimate selfie, marshmallows dipped in a chocolate fondue fountain, and some violet fairy floss. It was a yummy sugar rush.


After some dinner at Din Tai Fung we ventured to The Strand for their mini wagon wheels, and then to the Wonderland Bar at Emporium, which had Alice in Wonderland themed shortbread cookies and cute little potion bottles with a "Paint the Roses Red" drink made of Archie Rose gin infused with T2 chocberry tea (it was quite tasty).

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Eurovision 2018

It is mid-May so that means it's once again time for the Eurovision Song Contest. This year the competition took place in Lisbon, Portugal. As Australia was once again competing, our local broadcaster SBS showed the Grand Final live and I was up at 5am this morning to watch.

This year's winner, Netta (Israel) performing "Toy" was in my top three songs as it was a quirky and catchy banger of a song, with Netta having a bit of a Bjork look and vibe going on.


My favorite song from this year was Saara Aalto (Finland) with "Monsters." She has an amazing voice and this was another strong dance track with some androgynous backup dancers. I was surprised it didn't do better in the final voting.


Continuing the theme of female sung dance tracks, my other top three song (which came in second overall) was Eleni Foureira (Cyprus) with "Fuego." She gave an amazing performance and hairography in both the semis and finals.


Australia did not do as well this year as Jessica Mauboy's "We Got Love" received the lowest total in the public vote. The song was decent but not a standout track. It will be interesting to see if we continue to participate considering this year's results.


The Grand Final also had a bit of controversy as their was a stage intruder during the UK performance, but SuRie managed to continue to sing her song "Storm" once she got the microphone back and finished the track strong.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Marlon Williams- Make Way For Love Tour

Tonight I headed down to the Forum for the first Melbourne date of Marlon Williams' Australian tour in support of his new album Make Way For Love. The opening act for the evening was Canadian folk rock band The Weather Station. Lead singer Tamara Lindeman sounded great and they played a really strong set.

Marlon Williams came out onto the stage solo with an acoustic guitar and started his set with a breathtaking version of "Down In The Garden" that had the sold out crowd silent. The rest of the band then joined him, with Melbourne musician Dan Luscombe an additional member of The Yarra Benders for this tour. As expected the set list mainly featured songs from Make Way For Love (which was recorded in Stinson Beach near my hometown), ranging from the beauty of slower tracks such as "Come To Me" and "Beautiful Dress" to the more fun and upbeat "What's Chasing You" and "Party Boy."

Marlon was really happy to be back in Melbourne and to have the opportunity to play the Forum. They did a couple covers in main set, including the surprising choice of Barry Gibb's "Carried Away." They also played some older tracks such as "Dark Child" and last year's single "Vampire Again." His beautiful duet with Aldous Harding "Nobody Gets What They Want Anymore" was done with Marlon singing both parts, and they finished the main set with "Make Way For Love" (which could have easily featured on the latest Twin Peaks soundtrack). For the encore they started with a heartbreaking version of "Love Is A Terrible Thing" and then finished with their usual cover of Screamin' Jay Hawkins' "Portrait Of A Man." As always, I left in awe of Marlon's immense talent and that incredible voice.

Here's the video for "Nobody Gets What They Want Anymore"

Saturday, April 21, 2018

MICF- Helen Bidou

MICF
My final show for the 2018 Melbourne International Comedy Festival was Helen Bidou (aka Anne Edmonds) in Enter the Spinnaker Lounge. Helen Bidou originally appeared as the fashion expert on the spoof morning tv show Get Krack!n. In this show she attempts her own variety hour by interacting with the audience, chatting with guests and singing songs, all while accompanied by her awkward son and wannabe DJ Connor (Sam Campbell).

Helen wore her trademark sarong and was sipping cocktails throughout the show. She tried to keep it together while she occasionally railed against those in her life who had wronged her, including her on again/off again beau Simon. It was a show that kept you laughing but tense as you didn't know what Helen would do next. It wasn't nearly as shocking as I was expecting, although the final number is pretty revealing (and why the show has an 18+ rating).

Friday, April 20, 2018

Oh Mercy- Cafe Oblivion Tour

Oh Mercy has just put out their fifth album Cafe Oblivion, and tonight was the final show of their Australian tour at Howler to celebrate its release. I arrived for the second support act Jae Laffer, who played a mix of songs from his band The Panics and solo material. Playing acoustic guitar and accompanied by an electric guitarist and the occasional pedal steel guitar, his set included The Panics singles "Don't Fight It" and "Weatherman."

In a throw back to Oh Mercy shows of old the band came onstage to the sound of birds. They surprisingly started the set with a cover of Burt Bacarach's "This Guy's In Love With You." The songs from Cafe Oblivion featured prominently throughout the night, including the singles "Keep A Light On" and "National Park" as well as "Lee & Nancy," "Hot Topic" and "Auto Bellissimo" (unfortunately my favorite track "Ring & The Jewel" didn't get played). Alex Gow sounded fantastic vocally and did a mini solo set in the middle with "Lady Eucalyptus," "My Man" and a new song which I think is titled "Time And Date In New York."

I was impressed by the new arrangements for most of the songs, and this latest incarnation of the Oh Mercy live band is a bit of a powerhouse. Older tracks such as "Deep Heat," "Can't You Hear My Body (Calling Out To You)" and "Sandy" had a bit of new life to them. To finish out the main set they played "Restless Woman" and then Alex did an impromptu encore with a cover of Ed Kuepper's "This Hideous Place" that had the room silent. Overall this was one of the stronger Oh Mercy live performances I've seen in a while and I'm hoping we'll get more live shows sooner rather than later.

Here's the Aussie musician filled video for "Keep A Light On" where Alex wears a blazer he describes as a Split Enz b-side (he also wore it tonight):

Thursday, April 19, 2018

MICF- Louise Beuvink, Zoe Coombs Marr and Danielle Walker

MICF
Tonight was a big night of comedy shows for me at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival as I went to three different performances. I began the evening with New Zealand comedian Louise Beuvink's show Ladylike: A Modern Guide to Etiquette at the Butterfly Club. Dressed like a 1950s housewife, Louise took the mainly female audience through her modern takes on being a lady, including lessons on how to dress and put on makeup, cheap ways to entertain through homemade food and drinks, and a quick lesson on cricket to be able to talk to guys. Her funniest bit was a twist on women acting like some men do when being turned down by the opposite sex. The show was a blend of stand-up and cabaret (Louise has a really great singing voice).

MICF
Next I headed to the Melbourne Town Hall for Australian comedian Zoe Coombs Marr and her show Bossy Bottom. In this show Zoe sheds her male alter ego of the past six years Dave and performed stand-up as herself. She promised that this show would be just jokes, jokes, jokes, but of course that was never going to be the case. Zoe was full of energy and commanded the stage throughout her set as she broke down the traditional tropes of stand-up comedy (particularly that of white hetero males) and did call backs to different bits throughout the night. Her use of props was hilarious, and she had the audience on its toes as you just didn't know where she would go next. This was my favorite show at MICF so far and I highly recommend checking Zoe out if you can.

MICF
My final show for the evening was Australian comedian Danielle Walker's Bush Rat at the Victoria Hotel. The title comes from the nickname that Danielle's grandfather gave her, and the show focused on funny stories about her family who live up in Townsville in northeastern Queensland. Danielle also does drawings, which she used to illustrate some of her stories, including a pig with wheels for legs that was a running gag throughout the show. You can see why Danielle has been nominated for Best Newcomer at MICF this year.
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