Saturday, October 28, 2017

Wild 2 Free Benefit

Wild2Free is an Australian animal sanctuary that rehabilitates native animals (mainly kangaroos). Last year shortly after opening a fire burned down the house on the property, so tonight's sold out benefit concert at The Croxton featuring Area-7 and The Living End was to help raise funds for Rae Harvey (longtime manager of The Living End) to rebuild.

I will admit that I completely missed the years when ska/punk band Area-7 were popular in Australia in the late-1990s and early-2000s. Danny and Ruth did give me a bit of a primer on their songs in the car ahead of the gig. They played an energetic set, managed to auction off a signed poster for $500, and finished things off with a cover of The Angels' "Am I Ever Gonna See Your Face Again?"

The Living End opened their set with "Save The Day," which was a bit of a hint that the set list was going to dive deep into their back catalogue for the hometown crowd. The first few releases featured throughout the set with "End Of The World," "Roll On," "Monday," "From Here On In" and "All Torn Down." They even played their eight minute opus "The Room" off Modern Artillery, which I think I've only heard live once before.

The whole show was a bit of a sing along throughout, although Chris thought the crowd's efforts on "White Noise" were a bit weak. The slower tracks "With Enemies Like That" and "Keep On Running" off their latest album Shift provided a bit of a breather, but the crowd surfing really kicked off towards the end of the set with "How Do We Know?" "Prisoner Of Society" and the encore tracks "Uncle Harry" and "Second Solution." It was great to see The Living End play in a smaller venue than normal and contribute to a benefit for such a good cause.

Here's the video for "Staring Down The Barrel"

Friday, October 27, 2017

C.W. Stoneking- Solo Tour

C.W. Stoneking is currently doing a solo tour around the country, and tonight was the second of his two sold out shows at Howler. Opening the evening was William Crighton, who also played a solo set of songs off his debut album, which features stories centered around Australian experiences.

C.W. Stoneking came out onto the stage not in his traditional white but wearing an indigo button down shirt, jeans and a brown wide-brimmed fedora. He sat down on a raised platform on the stage and began the evening with "How Long." The set featured many songs off his latest release Gon' Boogaloo, including "On A Desert Isle," "The Zombie" (where we were encouraged to sing along), "The Thing I Done" and "Get On The Floor." C.W.'s banter in between songs was quite entertaining and covered a wide range of topics such as asparagus, rubik's cubes and trying to sell the guitar he was playing. He also dealt quite well with a woman who shouted for him to take off his clothes, saying that he could undress himself as he was wearing his big boy pants.

One of the great things about this show was hearing some older tracks, especially those from his first album which don't get played live that often. Highlights were "Jungle Lullaby," "Talking Lion Blues," "Jailhouse Blues" and an audience request for "The Love Me Or Die" off of Jungle Blues, and the King Hokum tracks "Dodo Blues," "Goin The Country," "Way Out In The World" and "Handyman Blues." We also got treated to a cover of William Brown's "Ragged And Dirty." To finish the night he played "We Gon' Boogaloo," which sent everyone out on a high note. It's always wonderful to get to see C.W. live, especially in a more intimate setting.

Here's C.W. doing a live version of "On A Desert Isle"

Saturday, October 07, 2017

Hokusai

Katsushika Hokusai is one of the best known Japanese artists from the Edo period with his renowned woodblock prints and paintings. The Hokusai exhibition currently on at the NGV International brings together 176 works from across his seventy-year career, including works from seven of his major series. The level of detail and use of color in these pieces was quite beautiful and intricate.

There were many pieces from Hokusai's best known series Thirty-six Views of Mt Fuji from 1830-1834 on display, which depicted Mt Fuji in scenes from different locations and seasons. Included in the exhibition is his most famous piece from this series The great wave off Kanagawa.




Another beautiful series was A Tour to the Waterfalls in Various Provinces from 1832, which was the first series on the theme of waterfalls published in Japan.


The series Remarkable Views of Bridges in Various Provinces from 1834 gives you a sense of the movement of people either going about their everyday activities or travelling across the countryside.



I also really liked his prints of birds and flowers due to the color and beauty of the pieces.



The Hokusai exhibition has been extended and is on until 22 October 2017 at the NGV International.

Thursday, October 05, 2017

Oh Mercy- National Park Tour

It's been a year since Oh Mercy last played a show in Melbourne, and tonight they were back at the nightclub Hugs & Kisses in support of the new single "National Park." Opening the evening was James Moloney & the Mad Dog Harrisons with James doing a solo set on acoustic guitar which included a cover of Tom Petty And The Heartbreaker's "Refugee." Next up was the band Ern Malley, who played a fantastic set with their 1970s rock/alt-country vibe. I was quite impressed and will be keeping an eye out for them in the future.

The latest incarnation of the Oh Mercy live band includes all guys this time (the first time there hasn't been a female member in the mix). The hour long set showcased some of the new songs which will appear on the new album due to be released in early 2018. The highlights for me were "Hideous Place" (standout track of the night), the driving rhythm of "Hot Topic," the excellent "National Park" and the slow ballad "Auto Bellissimo," which Alex joked he wants to go viral in Italy (and also led to him singing a snippet of the La Porchetta commercial jingle). Alex had quite a few funny moments throughout the night, whether it was puns, praising Jesus and making a Hillsong reference, comparing a song to a jeep commercial, or doing a shout out to Cameron Daddo and SmoothFM.

We were treated to some Burt Bacharach with a cover of "This Guy's In Love With You" and a few lines of "Walk On By." Older Oh Mercy songs in the set were "My Man" and "Deep Heat" off the Deep Heat album, and the When We Talk About Love tracks "Can't You Hear My Body (Calling Out To You)," "Lady Eucalyptus" solo and "Sandy," which closed out the night. I ran into Alex on the way into the venue, and Mary and I had a brief chat with him after the show and he was as gracious as always. It will be great when the new album is finally released (especially since it's been done for a while).

Here's the video for "National Park" (shot in Castlemaine):

Sunday, September 03, 2017

Dan Sultan- Killer Tour

Last night Danny, Ruth and I headed to the newly renovated Forum Melbourne to see Dan Sultan play in support of his latest album Killer. We arrived as William Crighton took the stage, opening his set by singing a capella without a microphone. He and his band played a strong set of songs off his debut album, which tell fantastic stories that are based around the Australian countryside.

Dan's band came out on stage first before he joined them, pumping up the crowd as he launched into "Magnetic." The majority of the set featured songs off Killer, with the highlights being "Hold It Together," "Drover," "Reaction" and the current single "Kingdom." The addition of two female back-up singers really added a soulful sound to all the songs, and Dan's voice sounded the best I have ever heard it live.

There were also tracks from Dan's previous albums played throughout the set, including "Kimberley Calling," "The Same Man" and "Under Your Skin" off Blackbird, and "Your Love Is Like A Song" off his first album Homemade Biscuits. For the encore Dan came out and did a lovely solo version of "Dirty Ground" before the band rejoined him for the classic "Old Fitzroy" to finish off the night. If you get a chance to catch Dan live on this tour make sure you go see him because he is in fine form.

Here's the video for one of my faves "Hold It Together"

Thursday, August 31, 2017

MWF- Janet Mock: Visability and Voice

MWF
I first heard writer and transgender activist Janet Mock on the podcast Politically Re-Active so was excited when it was announced she would be coming to speak at the Melbourne Writers Festival. It was a packed house at Deakin Edge in Fed Square as Janet took to the stage to give a speech and presentation about her life, including growing up as a trans women of color in Hawaii, and moving to New York City in her twenties and working as a magazine editor before going public about being transgender. She paid tribute to the trans activists that have come before her and spoke about the importance of having an intersectional and inclusive movement that fights for the rights of everyone.

Benjamin Law then led a short Q&A before inviting the audience to ask questions. It was lovely to see how important Janet was to those in the LGBTIQ community that came to see her tonight. It was also interesting to hear her take on the marriage equality vote here and how it compares to the current situation in the US around transgender bathroom and military bans. Janet spoke about the fact that a lot of people felt their work was done with the US Supreme Court ruling, which has allowed conservatives to target other groups, including trans people. She urged everyone to continue the fight for social justice until everyone shared the same rights and privileges.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

People Of Letters


The literary salon Women Of Letters holds events each month in Melbourne at The Thornbury Theatre to celebrate the lost art of letter-writing with people from different fields. Occasionally they invite men along to participate in either Men Of Letters or like this afternoon, People Of Letters events. Hosted by Angie Hart, today we had pairs of people (friends, siblings, partners) who wrote and read letters to each other.

The afternoon started with comedian Joel Creasey and television and radio personality Chrissie Swan talking about their friendship, where we learned the phrase "bitch cheese." Next up were the most moving letters of the afternoon from co-directors of Chapter Music and life partners Guy Blackman and Ben O'Connor, who talked about their lives together and love for each other. Then we heard from life long friends musician Clare Bowditch and actress Defah Dattner, who have been there for each other through many key life stages.

After an intermission the next three pairs took to the stage. Siblings and writers Benjamin Law and Michelle Law spoke about growing up together and what they meant to each other. Former WA Senator and Deputy Leader of the Australian Greens Scott Ludlam and his friend and Communications Advisor David Paris talked about life in politics and wishing they had looked into Scott's citizenship before he first took office nearly ten years ago. The final pairing was musician Paulie Stewart and his mentee, rapper Fablice Manirakiza (aka FLYBZ) who was a former child soldier in Burundi and refugee who arrived in Australia in 2007. They ended the event by getting everyone up out of their seats to dance along as Fablice rapped a song. Overall it was a moving and inspiring afternoon about the importance of relationships and bonds between people.
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