Saturday, March 28, 2009

C.W. Stoneking

Tonight I met Tash at Melbourne Zoo for the Earth Hour concert with C.W. Stoneking. She had won a double pass and kindly allowed me to come along with her. It's always a relaxed and family friendly setting at the zoo and the only gig where you get to hear lions roaring occasionally while musicians are playing. We found a spot on the lawn near the pavilion and listened to the opening act, New York blues singer Mamie Minch.

As darkness descended C.W. Stoneking and the Primitive Horn Orchestra took to the stage. He is a very unique artist and storyteller with a New Orleans jazz and blues sound. His accent is a strange mix of Aussie and Cajun. C.W. played songs from both of his albums and it was great to hear "Brave Son of America" (about General MacArthur), "Goin the Country," and "Talking Lion Blues." He brought out his wife to sing "Housebound Blues" and finished the night with the fantastic "The Love Me or Die."

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Sound Relief

I knew it would be a wet day when the sky went black at 10:30 am and the heavens opened up. Thankfully I had a poncho which was the fashion choice of the day amongst the crowd at the Sound Relief Bushfire benefit concert at the MCG yesterday. I arrived as Jet was midway through their set. Once they finished Tash and I located each other in the front arena section as we waited for Melbourne teen Gabriella Cilmi to start. She sang her hit "Sweet About Me" as well as a cover of "Whole Lotta Love." Next on the bill was the first big act of the day, Kings of Leon. The crowd noticeably swelled just as the rain began to fall. Due to the fact they were playing a show later on that evening, they had a short set of four songs and didn't play their biggest here "Sex on Fire" which led to some mumbling in the crowd after they finished.

Next was Melbourne's own songwriting legend Paul Kelly. There were big crowd sing alongs for "Dumb Things," "To Her Door," and the song that mentions the MCG "Leaps and Bounds." Augie March's set started off a bit slow, but picked up at the end with the barnstormer "This Train will be Taking no Passengers" and their bit hit "One Crowded Hour." As the dark clouds came over the arena Tash and I decided to take a food break during Bliss N Eso which was smart because a torrential downpour happened while we were undercover and the stage lost power for a bit. However the rain eased up and the boys were joined by Paris Wells for a song at the end of their energetic hip-hop set.

During breaks between acts we were shown video from the artists performing at the Sydney concert. We got to see snippets from Coldplay (including their collaboration with John Farnham on "You're the Voice"), Hoodoo Gurus, Little Birdy, Josh Pyke, Eskimo Joe, Architecture in Helsinki, You Am I, Icehouse, and The Presets. There were also videos in tribute to the CFA firefighters and of the devastation from the bushfires.

Kasey Chambers and Shane Nicholson performed a similar set to the one we saw at Homebake and had Troy Cassar-Daley join them for "The House that Never Was." Then is was time for Liam Finn and friends. Liam and EJ Barnes came out and performed "Second Chance" and "Lead Balloon" before calling out the family band- Elroy Finn, Unkle Nick (Seymour) and N-Dog (Neil Finn) for some songs. When "Don't Dream It's Over" started the crowd erupted in cheers and quickly filled the arena for a big sing along. Tim Finn came out to sing "Weather With You" and then Neil finished up with a song dedicated to the firefighters "Better Be Home Soon." It was one of the highlights of the day.

The crowd stuck around for a mellow set by Jack Johnson during which we watched the dark clouds start to come over the stadium again. After he finished the downpour began with much colder rain this time. It continued as Wolfmother took to the stage in front of an excited crowd. I found the set a bit uninspired as Andrew Stockdale is playing the exact same songs from 3 1/2 years ago except with all new band members. I was expecting at least some new material out of them. When they finished there was a joint live feed with the Sydney concert where a video message from Princes William and Harry was aired and a minute of silence held for the victims. Kylie Minogue then appeared on the Melbourne stage and lead everyone in singing "I Still Call Australia Home."

Next it was time for the first big reunion of the night, Hunters & Collectors, who hadn't played together in 11 years. They started their set with "When the River Runs Dry," and played their hits "Do You See What I See?", "Holy Grail," and "Throw Your Arms Around Me" among others. They finished with an encore of one of their earliest songs "The Slab." After the Finn family set in the afternoon Neil and Tim were back on stage with Split Enz. Opening with "Shark Attack" the highlights of the set were "I Got You," "Six Months in a Leaky Boat," "History Never Repeats," and "I See Red."

The final and most anticipated act of the evening was a reunited Midnight Oil featuring current Federal Minister for the Environment Peter Garrett. They began with "Redneck Wonderland" and played their hits "Dreamworld," "Blue Sky Mine," "Beds are Burning," "One Country," "King of the Mountain," "The Dead Heart," "The Power and the Passion," and finished up with "Sometimes." It was an amazing and powerful set to top off a fantastic day of music (despite the weather) and I was proud to be part of the historic 80,000 crowd there at the MCG.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Poor Boy

Tonight I met up with Tash and her roommate Jennifer at the new Melbourne Theatre Company Sumner Theatre for the play Poor Boy starring Guy Pearce. It was written by Matt Cameron and incorporates the music of Tim Finn throughout. The plot of the play is as follows:
Jeremy Glass is an untroubled little boy until his seventh birthday, when he suddenly announces that he is really a grown man called Danny, who died some years before. How can his parents indulge his conviction that he must find his real family? And how can his eerie insistence on his true identity not resurrect painful memories for Danny’s widow?

The new theatre is gorgeous and we had excellent seats in the second row to the right of the stage. The plot of the story took a bit of time to understand, but it ended up making sense by the end. The actors were all great and made the switches between dialogue and song easily. They had a live band hidden in the set on the stage and it was good to hear such a wide variety of Tim's songs used, especially Split Enz's "Walking Through The Ruins." Our other excitement of the night was spotting Ashley Zukerman from the tv show Rush in the audience. Poor Boy is finishing up its run in Melbourne this week and then heads up to Sydney later in the year.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

End of Fashion, Oh Mercy, and The Greasers

Last night Tash and I met up at the East Brunswick Club for a great night of bands. The evening started off with The Greasers who I haven't seen for a while. Dom and the boys played a good set despite a couple issues with the guitar lead. I was happy to hear "Metamorphosis" and "No Love Left" again live. Next up was Oh Mercy who played a very tight set without a lot of banter between songs this time. "Salvation Jane" and "In My Stride" were highlights and it's good to see them getting support slots on national tours.

The headline act of the evening was Perth band End of Fashion. They played a very strong set and sounded fantastic. You would have never guessed that lead singer Justin had laryngitis a week ago. It was a bit of a surprise that the venue was only about half full for them but the fans that were there were very enthusiastic. They played hits off both their albums and it was good to hear "Fussy" although I missed the horns. The night ended with "The Game" and then it was off for home.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Corner Bushfire Benefit

After wasting some time in the city I headed to Richmond to meet Tash and Mary at the Corner Hotel for the Corner Bushfire Benefit. As you probably know, Victoria suffered through severe bushfires a few weeks ago which left over 200 people dead and countless others homeless as some towns were burnt to the ground. Many venues throughout Melbourne were holding benefit concerts tonight with proceeds going to the Red Cross. The first act of the evening was Hot Little Hands. Their set was ok and they did a good cover of "Rip It Up."

Next on the bill was The Basics, the main reason we attended the show. It was their first live gig in three months as Kris has been overseas. They didn't sound too rusty as they played a few newly written songs as well as "Just Hold On," "Money (Gimme, Gimme)," "Like A Brother," and their new single "With This Ship." It was great to see them again and hear those sweet harmonies. We are eager for the new album to come out but it appears that they are still recording some more songs. When they finished their set Tash and Mary went over to Wally for a chat and to get pictures with him. I was good and refrained.

After a comical welcome to the evening and explanation of the auction items by Julia Zemiro of RocKwiz fame, The Pictures took to the stage. Lead by Davey Lane of You Am I, there set was full of classic Aussie rock sounding songs. I thought they played great and were very entertaining. After they were done we went upstairs to the rooftop to have some food, and then decided to head for home since we weren't that interested in the rest of the bands on the bill. Hopefully the evening raised a lot of money to help those affected by the bushfires.

Sydney Road Street Party

It's time once again for the Sydney Road Street Party. I met Michelle and Ruth at noon and we had a wander up and down the street. There seemed to be less people and booths this year (maybe because of the cooler weather). It was also disappointing that there was no fashion show by the local shop owners and the Muslim Women's Association wasn't cooking any gozleme this year. It's the one reason why I attend the Street Party every year!

However the afternoon was not a complete loss. Ruth came along with mystery envelopes to play her own version of The Amazing Race- The Amazing Ruth. The first envelope involved tasks at the Street Party, and then we had to go to Bridie O'Reilly's for a drink. The next clue told her to travel into the city and go to Shanghai Dumplings in Chinatown. Since I had to go into the city later on I just tagged along. We met the man in the fluorescent vest for her next clue- which was a roadblock task of matching places to things that she had done there while in her relationship with Danny. It was then that I realized what was really going on. When Ruth successfully completed her roadblock she was handed her final clue, where she had to head to the pit stop at the Rialto. We said goodbye and heard later that she said yes!
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