Saturday, October 30, 2010

Little Red- Midnight Remember Tour

Last night I went to the Forum Theatre to see the sold out first night of Little Red's Midnight Remember tour.  The opening act for the evening was New Zealand native Kimbra, who I saw a couple years ago when she first moved to Melbourne.  She has gone from a singer/songwriter to more of a jazz-soul chanteuse, looking much more glamorous these days.  Although she has a full band now, she still does samples of her vocals and loops them into the songs. Besides playing her own material she also did a cover of Prince's "I Wanna Be Your Lover" in her set.

Next up was Sydney band Sparkadia, who I missed seeing on their last album tour and have been wanting to catch live for a couple years now.  They have been on a bit of hiatus, but are now back and about to release a new album.  Their set consisted of songs from Postcards as well as a few new ones.  It was so great to hear "Too Much To Do," "Morning Light," and "Animals."  The new songs are pretty amazing as well, with the audience singing along to the chorus of "Mary" and their new single "Talking Like I'm Falling Downstairs."  They closed the set with "Jealousy."

It continues to amaze me how popular Little Red have become.  Each time they play in Melbourne they are in a bigger venue and selling it out.  They opened the night with one of my favorites, "Lazy Boy."  For these shows at the Forum they had a horn section along, which really adds so much to the songs.  Dom, Quang and Tom alternated lead vocal duties throughout the night, playing songs from both Listen to Little Red and Midnight Remember.  Taka added his usual flair by wearing a fantastic white suit and standing up on his drum kit to get the audience to clap along.  Highlights of the night were "Get a Life," "Slow Motion," "Forget About Your Man," "Witchdoctor," "Jackie Cooper," "She's Not The Only One" and "It's Alright."

The crowd for the show was interesting to watch, because they really did not seem to know any of the album songs except ones that were singles.  I wonder if the success of "Rock It" is what brought most people to the gig as that was one of the few songs to get a massive reaction.  It's a bit of a shift from previous shows where everyone in the crowd has been singing and dancing along to every number.  For the encore they started slowly with "Follow You There" and then picked it up to another level with "Coca Cola."  The last song of the night was my other favorite, the fabulous "Misty, I."

Here's the video for the latest single, "Slow Motion"

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Boy & Bear- Blood to Gold Tour

Tonight I headed over to The East Brunswick Club for the second of three sold out shows by Boy & Bear.  The first opening act for the evening was Passenger, aka UK singer/songwriter Mike Rosenberg.  He was great to watch and listen to, with both funny and moving folk songs played on acoustic guitar.  His latest album Flight of the Crow has him collaborating with assorted Australian artists, including Boy & Bear, who came out and joined him to sing "Shape of Love" without mics from the middle of the floor.  He did a fantastic cover of Simon and Garfunkel's "Sound of Silence" and had the crowd singing along at the end of his set to "Holes."  Next up was Perth alternative band The Chemist.  They had the song title of the night with "Heaven's Got a Dress Code."  Highlights of their set included the songs "Lullaby #1" and "When the Morning Comes."

It's exciting to see the word spreading about Boy & Bear and how popular they have become.  They opened with "The Storm" and then went into their latest single "Blood to Gold."  The set was a mix of songs from With Emperor Antarctica and new ones they have written, which are these amazing, epic numbers.  All of the bands came onto the stage to sing a cover of Bon Iver's "Flume."  Other highlights of the night were "Rabbit Song" and "Mexican Mavis" with its extended intro.  I absolutely love this band and their harmonies are just so beautiful and uplifting that you can't help but walk away feeling inspired after seeing them perform.

Here's the video for "Blood to Gold"

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Adam Lambert- Glam Nation Tour

Tonight I was at the Palais Theatre in St. Kilda (amazingly the first time I've ever been there) for the first stop of Adam Lambert's sold out Australian Glam Nation tour.  Earlier this year very few people would have known who he was, but his promo visit in March really did the trick so far as radio is concerned and he's had a couple top five hits on the Australian charts.

This show was originally a general admission concert at The Palace, but it got moved to a bigger, all ages venue when it sold out within a couple weeks.  The Palais Theatre is seated, and while I would have preferred it to remain a general admission gig, I couldn't really complain about the fact I got allocated a seat in the eighth row on the side.  I had an excellent view!  The opening act for the evening was Sydney-based singer songwriter Morgan Joanel.  She played a good half hour set on acoustic guitar and used a loop petal to overlay instrument and vocal samples into her songs.  She even did a cover of Rihanna's "Please Don't Stop the Music."

When Adam finally took the stage the whole floor section was standing up and cheering.  He started off with a medley of "Voodoo," "For Your Entertainment," and "Down The Rabbit Hole"  (I would have loved to hear full versions of all three songs!)  as well as a teaser of "Ring of Fire," which he performed on American Idol.  The show is set up as a musical journey and the set list doesn't really change from night to night.  "Fever" really got the crowd pumping (especially the kiss with bass player Tommy) before the set moved into the acoustic section of the evening.  Absolute highlights were "Soaked" and "Broken Open."  The final more rock section of the night included fantastic renditions of "Sure Fire Winners," "Strut," and "Music Again."  Probably my favorite song off the album, "If I Had You" finished up the main set and had everyone dancing and singing along.  The band returned for just one encore, "Mad World," which was performed much closer to the tempo of the original Tears For Fears version.  It was a bit of an odd way to end the concert as I would have expected them to play at least one more song.  In any case, I still can't believe I actually saw Adam in person.  His voice is amazing live and he and his dancers and band put on a great show.  Hopefully he will return to play in Melbourne again, and actually get to spend more than a day in my fair city.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Nicole Turns Aussie

Tonight I completed the final step to becoming an Australian citizen- the citizenship ceremony.  I arrived early at Coburg Town Hall to register and was then shown to my seat, which was in the front row.  They had some musicians playing beforehand and then got everyone to be seated in order to start.  The Mayor of Moreland City Council, Cr Stella Kariofyllidis presided over the ceremony.  We had a keynote speech by Melanie Raymond, the Chair of the Board of Youth Projects, and also remarks from the Federal Member for Wills, Kelvin Thompson MP.  I'm not sure if doing a political speech about sustainability and population control at a citizenship ceremony was the best move on his part.

After the speeches it was time to stand and recite the pledge:
From this time forward,
I pledge my loyalty to Australia and its people,
whose democratic beliefs I share,
whose rights and liberties I respect, and
whose laws I will uphold and obey.
Then the Mayor presented each candidate with their certificate and an Australian native plant.  My crew of friends (Ruth, Danny, Michelle, Tash, Mary and Elvira) gave a big cheer when my name was called, which made the Mayor comment that I must have a fan club.  After everyone had received their certificates we sang the national anthem and then the ceremony was finished.  Danny grabbed my camera and started taking photos of everyone.  I was very appreciative of people coming to watch, especially Michelle and Tash who drove down from Ballarat in the rain.  We said goodbye to Elvira and then headed out to dinner at Baba on Lygon Street to celebrate.  It doesn't yet feel like I'm an Australian citizen, but I'm sure it will sink in over the next few days.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Oh Mercy- Melbourne Music Festival

Today is the last day of the Melbourne Music festival so I headed into the city to watch Oh Mercy play at the closing concert in City Square.  As always it was great to see them and we got a mix of old and new songs in their 45 minute set.  Of the new ones I really liked "Confessions," and as always it was good to hear "Broken Ears," "Get You Back" and "Lay Everything On Me."  Alex did a brief and amusingly awkward interview with Dave O'Neil after they finished playing.  The exciting news for the band is that they will be the opening act for Crowded House's Australian tour in November.  I look forward to cheering them on from front and center at Rod Laver Arena.

Here is the new video for "Keith St"

Friday, October 08, 2010

Melbourne On Stage

Today I spent my lunchtime at City Square watching the free Melbourne On Stage musical performances, which were part of the Melbourne Music festival.  We got to see a medley of songs performed by the cast of Hairspray The Musical, an aria sung by Emily Wang from the upcoming Melbourne Opera production of Madame Butterfly, assorted songs from past musicals sung by music theatre students from the Victorian College of the Arts, and the cast of Mary Poppins- The Musical singing "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious."  All the performances were really amazing and highlighted the quality of theater productions that come through town.  There was also a running theme of So You Think You Can Dance Australia throughout the hour with judges Jason Coleman (choreographer of Hairspray) and Matt Lee (Mary Poppins), as well as Season 1 winner Jack Chambers (Hairspray) all up on the stage.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

The Frowning Clouds- Melbourne Music Festival

After work today I headed down to City Square on Swanston Street to see The Frowning Clouds play a free show as part of the Melbourne Music festival.  The festival is running from 29 September - 10 October and provides the opportunity to see acts from different musical genres at various venues around the city (and mostly for free).  It is a true showcase of what the Melbourne music scene has to offer.

It has been a while since I've seen the The Frowning Clouds play live, and their set was filled with songs from their debut album Listen Closelier, which I finally managed to pick up a copy of after the show.  Highlights of the set were "Purple Heart," "Snake Charmer," and "I Saw You."  It was fun to see a band playing outside in the middle of the city with people and trams going by in the background.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Five Year Anniversary

Today is the five year anniversary of my arrival in Australia. It certainly doesn't seem like it's been that long since I first moved here. I feel very settled in Melbourne, and in ten days I will officially become an Australian as my citizenship ceremony is on October 12th. It will be great to have an Aussie passport and be able to leave the country again.
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