Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Neil Finn and Paul Kelly - The Palais Theatre

When the Neil Finn and Paul Kelly Australian tour was first announced I was very excited because one of the two original dates at the Palais Theatre was on my birthday!  Those shows on February 16th and 18th quickly sold out and they are now doing a total of 7 shows at the Palais in February and March.  I'm not sure anyone expected this tour to be so popular, but it's not surprising when you have two of the best singer-songwriters from Australia and New Zealand joining forces.

Lisa Mitchell opened both nights with a half hour set.  She was accompanied by Robert Vasey playing keyboards and drums while she switched between acoustic and electric guitar.  Lisa's set sounded good and included "Pirouette," "Coin Laundry," "Neopolitan Dreams" and "Spiritus." 

Paul and Neil emerged onto the dark stage with lit lanterns to the sound of crickets.  They met in the middle, shook hands, and then launched into Paul's song "Don't Stand So Close To The Window."  The songs mostly alternated between Finn and Kelly numbers throughout the evening with both Neil and Paul singing parts on each song.  The band for this tour consists of Neil on piano/keyboards and guitar, Paul on guitar, piano and harmonica, Dan Kelly on electric guitar, Elroy Finn on drums and Zoe Hauptmann on bass.  The amazing backdrops were once again created by Noel and Sally Crombie.

The set list was pretty much the same for both nights I went. I was really happy about the diversity of Neil songs from throughout his career as they played some ones I haven't heard live in quite a while, including Crowded House's "Not The Girl You Think You Are," "She Will Have Her Way" and "Sinner" from his solo albums, and the Finn Brothers' tracks "Won't Give In" and "Only Talking Sense" (which was replaced by "I Got You" on the 18th).  As expected they also played the Crowded House classics "Four Seasons In One Day," "Distant Sun," "Private Universe," and audience sing along favorites "Better Be Home Soon," "Fall At Your Feet" and "Don't Dream It's Over."

Many of Paul's songs really lifted the energy in the venue, including "Careless," "Leaps and Bounds," "Deeper Water," "How To Make Gravy," "To Her Door," "Dumb Things" and "Before Too Long."  One of the best parts of the set was when Paul and Neil took turns singing one of each other's songs.  Paul put his unique interpretation on Crowded House's "Into Temptation" while Neil did an amazing version of Paul's "(You Can Put Your) Shoes Under My Bed" solo on piano.  This was my favorite moment of both shows as Neil's voice was just so strong and pure.

As you would expect there were many funny moments of banter.  On the 16th, which was the first night of the tour, Neil and Paul joked about having a $100 tip jar for every time they messed up on a song.  While Paul complained about having to learn all of Neil's complex instrumentation, Neil worried most about all the words in Paul's lyrics he needed to remember.  Neil recounted how he got badly electrocuted at the Palais once and had to be rubbed down by a strong man in the crew.  On both nights I thought Paul captured the spirit of Split Enz with his deadpan shaking of the bells on "One Step Ahead."  And on the 18th Neil admitted to getting a perm before they shot the video for that song- it was the 80s after all!

We were treated to two encores on both nights, with some fake snow falling on the stage during Paul's "Winter Coat" (I think we wished it was real snow as the heat wave Melbourne has been experiencing made the Palais feel like a sauna).  The second encore had a love theme with them playing Paul's "Love Is The Law," the Split Enz classic "Message To My Girl," and a cover of Buddy Holly's "Words Of Love" to finish the nearly two and a half hour set.  I'm so happy I got to see these shows, and I'm looking forward to one more return visit in March to see how they sound after being on the road for a bit.

Here's a little promo video for the tour:

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Father John Misty

It was another hot day in Melbourne but that didn't deter me from heading down to The Hi-Fi Bar tonight to see Father John Misty.  Luckily for me Oh Mercy was the opening band for the night.  First Alex came out and did "Lady Eucalyptus" on electric guitar solo, then was joined by Rohan to play "Europa."  Finally Simon and Eliza came on stage and the band launched into "Still Making Me Pay."  Everyone was dressed very nicely with the boys in their various colored suits and Eliza in a black dress.  The whole set was tight and unrelenting as they played songs off of Deep Heat including "Drums," "Rebel Beats," "Fever," "Pilgrim's Blues" and "My Man."  They finished like they did last week with a cover of Leonard Cohen's "Memories."  It was a very impressive set and the best I've seen them play in a while.  If I didn't already know their music I would have been a new convert.

Father John Misty (aka Joshua Tillman) and his band came onto the stage to big cheers from the crowd and opened with "Fun Times In Babylon."  I actually saw him a bit over a year ago when he was still playing drums in Fleet Foxes.  Joshua is quite a charismatic front man with his unique dance moves and poses while singing.  The whole set featured songs from his album Fear Fun, including my favorites "Nancy From Now On," "Only Son Of A Ladiesman," "Now I'm Learning To Love The War," and "Well, You Can Do It Without Me."  The in between song banter was quite funny throughout the night and may have been aided by jet lag after the long flight to Australia.  They finished the main set with an epic version of "Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings" and returned to the stage for an encore that started with the new song "I Love You, Honey Bear" before finishing with a cover of Canned Heat's "On the Road Again."  Overall it was an excellent show with two very talented singer-songwriters and their bands.

Here's the video for "Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings"

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Oh Mercy- St. Kilda Festival

After spending the morning at the gym I hopped onto a tram and headed down to the annual St. Kilda Festival.  Thankfully the weather was sunny but mild, with a strong breeze coming off the bay.  I grabbed some gozleme from one of the food stalls for lunch before making my way toward the front of the main stage for Oh Mercy's afternoon slot. 

They started with "Stay Please Stay" and then launched into "Drums."  It was great to have Simon back playing guitar with the band again.  The set list consisted of many songs from their latest album Deep Heat, including excellent versions of "Rebel Beats," "Pilgrim's Blues," "My Man" and "Still Making Me Pay."  Alex was full of good advice for the crowd, telling everyone not to get sunburned and also for parents to not let their children touch the water.  They finished their set with a rousing rendition of Leonard Cohen's "Memories."  Luckily I get to see Oh Mercy again in a week's time when they open for Father John Misty.

Mary and I found each other afterwards as she got there a bit late due to a very slow tram.  We had a wander around the festival and then treated ourselves to some Dutch pancakes before heading back home.

Monday, February 04, 2013

Super Bowl XLVII

After the San Francisco 49ers won the NFC Conference Championship I could feel a "Niners Flu" coming on for 4 February.  I received a tweet from Burger Mary about a Super Bowl party she was hosting at The Precinct Hotel in Richmond with an authentic menu of American food and decided to get a ticket.  I also managed to convince Danny take off work and come along as well.  It was nice to have a reserved table in a room where most of the people there were interested in watching the game.  We got a breakfast burrito on arrival, and also sampled the buffalo wings, shrimp po boy and loaded potato skins during the game, which all tasted good.

The 49ers were their own worst enemies in the first half, while the Baltimore Ravens pulled off some miraculous plays that defied belief.  The kick off run back for a touchdown at the start of the second half was almost the final nail in the coffin for the 49ers.  But then the power went out in the Superdome for 35 minutes, and after that it was like the Niners had finally gotten a spark and pulled it together as a team.  They stormed back to within 2 points and it seemed like the power outage would claim the MVP award, but unfortunately the 49ers failed to make it into the end zone on the final drive and the Ravens won the Super Bowl.  It was a disappointing outcome, and the "Quest for Six" still continues.

Of course, the Super Bowl is not only about football, but also the half time show and commercials.  Beyonce's performance was pretty amazing with her use of the screens, and I actually cheered when Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams popped up onto the stage for a mini-Destiny's Child reunion.  The Aussie broadcast doesn't show the American commercials, but I've watched them all on the NFL site, and the Tide "Miracle Stain" one was, not surprisingly, my favorite of the bunch:

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