Tuesday, December 04, 2018

The Songroom- Season 3

I have spent the past two Tuesday nights at the Northcote Social Club for tapings of Season 3 of The Songroom. While Jess McGuire has returned as host, Kris Schroeder and Tim Heath from The Basics are now overseeing things from behind the scenes. The new house band features Brett Wolfenden on percussion and Benji Miu on guitar. As with the previous seasons, veteran and newer artists come together on the day of the show, and each person gets to play two originals and two covers as they take turns singing in the round.

27 November
Brett and Benji came out first and played a couple instrumental versions of songs to warm up, including Chris Issak’s "Wicked Game." Jess McGuire then introduced each of this week's guests one by one: New South Wales singer-songwriters William Crighton and Melanie Horsnell, and Melbourne hip-hop artist Sirak Abu. The magic of The Songroom is how everyone plays on each other's songs and the unexpected things that can happen. William Crighton decided to change songs last minute, and played his song "Fire In The Empire" about a massacre of Aboriginal people on the land he had been camping on. As a response to that song, Melanie Horsnell switched up her next song and played "Sugar And White Man" about the stolen generation and loss of culture. It was an amazing moment to hear those two songs back to back. There were also some great covers with Melanie doing Edith Piaf's "La Vie En Rose" and William singing Leonard Cohen's "Bird On The Wire" and Neil Young's "Roll Another Number (For The Road)," which finished off the night.

4 December
This evening's guests were Melbourne music royalty Dave Graney and his long-time partner Clare Moore, and the band Rudely Interrupted, which features Rory Burnside on lead vocals. It was quite an upbeat show with lots of humorous moments both through the song lyrics of Dave and Clare's songs and Rory's stories. Highlights included Clare Moore's "A Lot To Drink About," Dave Graney's "Apollo 69" (which is from my favorite mid-90s Graney era), and Rudely Interrupted's "No Goodbyes." There were also some interesting covers, with Clare playing John and Beverley Martyn's "Auntie Aviator," Dave doing The Rolling Stones' "Time Waits For No One," and Rory playing Modern English's "I Melt With You." They all finished the evening playing the Rudely Interrupted track "Calculus & Tea."

Here's The Songroom episode featuring Gotye and Monty Cotton, which was taped in late December 2016 (see if you can spot me in the crowd):

Thursday, November 22, 2018

An Intimate, Reimagined Evening With Kimbra

Kimbra is currently on tour in Australia opening for David Byrne, but decided to do two intimate shows in Melbourne tonight at The Gasometer Hotel to celebrate the released of her new EP Songs from Primal Heart: Reimagined. I attended the second sold out show for the evening, and it was a very stripped back and jazzy sounding set with just Kimbra on the microphone accompanied by a bass player and keyboard player.

Kimbra spoke about the origins of many of the songs that were played before launching into each track. The four songs off the new EP were featured with "The Good War," "Everybody Knows," "Hi Def Distance Romance" and "Black Sky." She also played some deep cuts from throughout her catalogue, including "Past Love" off Primal Heart, "Rescue Him" and "Waltz Me To The Grave" off The Golden Echo, and "Plain Gold Ring," "Withdraw," "Old Flame" and my favorite "Cameo Lover" off of Vows. For an encore she did a heartfelt rendition of "Version Of Me" to finish the evening. It was very special to get to hear these reworked versions of her songs, and her voice shined strongly throughout the night (even though it was the second show). This tour now heads to the US in December and Europe in March 2019 so if Kimbra is coming to your city make sure you go to see her.

Here's the video for "Version Of Me"

Friday, November 16, 2018

Fahrenheit 11/9

I have been wanting to see Michael Moore's latest film Fahrenheit 11/9 for a while now, but it only recently opened with a limited release here in Australia. Going into the movie after the mid-term elections meant I was feeling slightly more optimistic about things because of the blue wave and the Democrats winning control of the House (and therefore being a check on Trump).

The film began with the 2016 Presidential election and that horrible night when Donald Trump became America's 45th President. It spends some time on Trump, but the main focus of the film is on the corrupt and criminal behaviour that has led to some major issues in the country such as the Flint water crisis in Michigan, the West Virginia teacher's strike, and the Parkland school shooting in Florida. He also focuses on the political, from the disenfranchisement of Bernie Sanders delegates at the 2016 Democratic National Convention to meeting with several of the new wave of progressive candidates that ran for office this year. This is one of Michael Moore's stronger films and I highly recommend seeing it if you get the chance.

Saturday, November 03, 2018

The Living End- Wunderbar Tour

The Living End recently released their eighth studio album Wunderbar and tonight's gig at the Forum was the first of their two shows in Melbourne. The opening act for the evening was South Australian seven piece band West Thebarton. They put on a very energetic set of Aussie rock as their charismatic front man Reverend Ray roamed around the stage.

The Living End began their set with "Wake Up The Vampires" and "Don't Lose It," two of the many tracks from Wunderbar that were played throughout the evening. Other highlights from the album were "Otherside," "Death Of The American Dream," "Proton Pill" and "Drop The Needle."

Considering the band's extensive back catalogue, it's always interesting to see what unexpected tracks will make the set list. Tonight we were treated to "'Til The End," "Bloody Mary," "Loaded Gun," "End Of The World," "Wake Up" and "One Said To The Other." They also played usual favorites such as "Roll On," "All Torn Down," "Second Solution," "White Noise" and "Prisoner Of Society," which had the mosh pit going and finished off the main set. For the encore Chris came out and played "Amsterdam" solo and then the band joined him for the epic "The Room" and a raucous version of "Uncle Harry." Once again The Living End proved they are still one of the top Australian live acts out there.

Here's the video for the latest single "Otherside"

Friday, November 02, 2018

Dave Dobbyn- The Evelyn Hotel

Dave Dobbyn returned to Melbourne tonight for a sold out show at The Evelyn Hotel. I got there as Adam McGrath from The Eastern was finishing his solo set for the mainly Kiwi crowd. It was packed and very hot in the venue by the time Dave Dobbyn and his band took to the stage. They began with "You Get So Lonely" off his latest album Harmony House, and played songs from throughout his long career. It was great to be able to hear so many of my favorites, including "Language," "Whaling," "Devil You Know," "Maybe The Rain," "Be Mine Tonight" and "Love You Like I Should."

Dave was chatty and telling stories throughout the night, while the crowd was in full voice singing along, especially when "Slice Of Heaven" was played to closed the main set. For an encore they played "Outlook For Thursday" and then invited Adam McGrath back onto the stage for the beautiful "Welcome Home" to finish the night. It's always a pleasure to see Dave live and he seemed to really enjoy getting to play in Australia again.

Here's a te reo Maori version of "Welcome Home"

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Bang On Live

Bang On is the weekly podcast hosted by Myf Warhurst and Zan Rowe that covers all things music, art, life and "farshun." As part of the Darebin Music Feast they did a live taping of the podcast at The Thornbury Theatre this afternoon, which was a sold out gathering of the Melbourne #BangFam.

Warming up the crowd was ABC journalist Virginia Trioli, who did a DJ set that had some members of the audience up and dancing. Then Myf and Zan came out and taped this week's podcast (episode 82), which covered topics such as the new movie A Star Is Born, Rihanna turning down the Super Bowl halftime show in support of Colin Kaepernick, and the pink fur Fendi scarf. Zan banged on about Holly Throsby's new novel Cedar Valley, and Myf reminded us about the real people behind true crime podcasts. They also had Virginia Trioli come up for a chat, and she encouraged us all to do something new every day.

We were also treated to a couple of extra things, including Myf and Zan's Year in Review, where they picked their celebrity of the year, think piece of the year, and farshun of the year. Then we got to watch an entertaining denim themed farshun parade of audience members, with the winner receiving a pair of flap chaps made by Myf (inspired by Janelle Monae's "Pynk" video). All in all it was a very fun afternoon and exciting to get to be a part of a live taping of Bang On.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Olympia- Star City Tour

Last night Belinda and I attended the second sold out Melbourne date at Northcote Social Club in support of Olympia's new single "Star City." It was nice to have an entire bill of female musicians for a change. We caught the second half of the set by opening act Merpire, who played as a duo. I really enjoyed their atmospheric and dreamy pop music. Next up was Eilish Gilligan, who started solo on piano for a few songs and then had her band join her for a more 80s electronic sound for the rest of her set.

Olympia kicked off the evening with "Somewhere To Disappear" off her last album Self Talk. The first half of the set featured other songs from the album, including "Tourists," "Honey" and my favorites "Different Cities" and "Smoke Signals." Once Olivia removed her kimono to reveal a sequin dress she started to preview songs from her upcoming album, which all sounded fantastic. Her band was made up of a bunch of veterans from the Australian music scene with Richard Bradbeer on bass, Ryan Strathie on drums and Sarah Belkner on keyboard, percussion and backing vocals. They finished the main set with the new single "Star City," and then for the encore Olivia played a new track solo and then had the band come back on for one of her older songs "Atlantis" to end the night. It was great to see her live again and I look forward to the new album coming out next year.

Here's the video for "Star City"

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