Friday, May 30, 2014

Rue & Co

Rue & Co is the latest pop-up food venture in the Melbourne CBD located on the corner of Exhibition and Collins Streets.  Open all day it features three different food options from the popular eateries St. ALi, Jimmy Grants and Kong BBQ.  There is also a gorgeous eight-story portrait on the side of a building by street artist Rone that needs to be seen in person to really appreciate its scale.

I have been to Rue & Co two times now for lunch with work colleagues and each time it has been full with people from the surrounding office buildings.  As I have previously eaten a few times at Jimmy Grants on Smith Street I was eager to try out the other two eateries.  On my first visit I went to Kong BBQ and ordered the BBQ lemon and gochujang chicken SSAM roti roll with Korean chili paste, slaw and zucchini kimchi.  It was pretty tasty and a good meal for lunch, although I still had room for dessert on the way back to the office, which was a stop at La Belle Miette on Collins Street for a few macarons.

Today I tried out St. ALi, who have smartly got a designated special burger for each day of the week which should result in repeat business.  As it was Friday I tried the "Pork Me!" burger with pulled pork, celeriac coleslaw and apple sauce, along with a serve of french fries.  Both tasted good, and I also couldn't help myself and got an espresso custard donut (which was from Cobb Lane in Yarraville) since the salted caramel ones were sold out.

All in all the atmosphere at Rue & Co is fun but it will be interesting to see how they go as we head into winter.  If you are looking for somewhere new to try to break up your regular lunchtime routine be sure to check it out.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Major Tom And The Atoms- Cherry Bar Residency

Throughout the month of May Major Tom and The Atoms have been doing a weekly residency at Cherry Bar on Wednesday nights, with each week devoted to a dearly departed legend of rock.  Tonight I met up with Mary as the opening act Casey Dean from the band Secret Tsunami was starting his solo set on acoustic guitar.  He played a mix of bluesy rock songs as well as covers of the Foo Fighters' "Everlong" and R.E.M.'s "Losing My Religion."

Major Tom and The Atoms began the evening with their latest single "Boom Boom Boom."  Tom Hartney was wearing a very impressive plaid suit (on the Matt Preston scale for loudness).  The set list featured many songs from their debut album Heroes, Villains, Boom Boom Boom! including "Bloodhound," "Confusion," "Evil Angel" and "Hey Flo."  It was also good hear old favorites like "Merri Creek (Dead & Gone)."  This week's residency was devoted to English singer-songwriter Nick Drake so the band did covers of "River Man" and invited Venice Music on stage to sing lead vocals on "Hazey Jane II."  To finish off the night and their May residency they had people up and dancing to "The House That Love Built" and "Mockingbird."

Here's the video for "Hey Flo"

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Things Of Stone And Wood- 25th Anniversary Tour

It's been 25 years since Things of Stone and Wood formed so the original line up have reunited and hit the road for a small run of shows to celebrate their 25th anniversary.  Taking advantage of a special dual show ticket price, I have spent the last couple days at the Northcote Social Club for their first two sold out Melbourne shows- an evening performance on Saturday and matinee show today that included quite a few kids in the audience.

The opening act was singer-songwriter Carus Thompson who played a solo set on acoustic guitar and harmonica.  His songs told stories about current events, personal experiences and his travels.  For the song "I Found Love" about a prisoner he encountered at a jail house gig in Germany, he came into the audience to sing and got us all to join in on the chorus.  His set was engaging and entertaining.  The next act was Gentle Persuasion, another early 1990s Melbourne folk-rock band that was around at the same time as Things of Stone and Wood which has also come out of retirement for this tour.  I had never heard of them before as they disbanded before I came to Australia for the first time, but there were some definite fans in the audience who were singing along to the songs in their set.  I think they are the only opening band I have ever seen come back on for an encore!

Both Julie and I commented that the guys in Things of Stone and Wood really haven't aged that much over the years.  The set lists for both shows were pretty similar, with a strong focus on songs from their debut album The Yearning.  It was great to hear "Share This Wine," "Beg," "Rock This Boat," and beautiful acoustic versions of "Rain Fell Down" and "Single Perfect Raindrop."  As expected there was a huge audience sing along for "Happy Birthday Helen," and pogo jumping by both the band and crowd for "Barkly Street," with Greg Arnold and Mikey Allen joking that they were risking middle-aged soft tissue injuries to do it. 

Justin Brady had a very impressive two harmonica solo at the opening of "Hand Grenade," and at today's show Greg played a solo acoustic version of "The Yearling" (which he said he last played live in 1994).  The hour and a half sets also included my faves "She Will Survive," "Beautiful Wonderful" and "Wildflowers," although it was disappointing that there were no songs played from the album Whirligig.  It was great to hear some stories about the band's history in between songs, and for today's finale a couple members of Gentle Persuasion came on stage to sing "Roar" which was a song by their combined folk super-group back in the day called Four.  All in all these two shows were pretty special and I feel fortunate to have been able to see the original line up live and in such great form.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Essendon v. Sydney

It was a big Friday night of footy at Etihad Stadium as Essendon faced the Sydney Swans and our nemesis over the years, former Hawthorn and current Sydney player Lance "Buddy" Franklin.  Considering how we have been playing lately I wasn't overly optimistic about this match, but I did not expect us to only manage to score 1.1 and be 6 goals behind by the end of the first quarter.  It was good to see Tom Bellchambers back from injury, and that freed up he and Paddy Ryder to go forward from the ruck at times, although it didn't have a massive impact on the scoreboard.

Of course, the biggest worry was Buddy, and he was up and about getting 3 of his 5 goals in the second quarter.  In the third quarter an umpire collided with a Sydney player and was down on the ground motionless for 5 minutes before being stretchered off.  Some in the crowd were actually booing him, which was a bit rough (Onagh and I even had a guy sitting behind us who wanted him put down like a race horse).  Part of the reason for the booing was likely the bad umpire calls, with the last straw being Michael Hurley getting a head high bump from Sydney's Dan Hannebery that put Hurley on the ground for a few minutes and resulted in no free kick.  Jake Carlisle was our sub for the game and managed to kick 2 goals, so hopefully that is an indication of his form starting to improve.  In the end Essendon lost by 50 points but at least we managed to stop Buddy from getting his 600 career goal!

Final Score
Essendon: 9.10 (64)
Sydney: 18.6 (114)

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Eurovision 2014

I have spent the past three evenings enthralled by the Eurovision Song Contest, which was held in Copenhagen, Denmark this year.  It was a tight race up to the end with a bit of geopolitical intrigue as any votes for Russia were booed by the audience.  For once my top three was fairly close to the final voting results.  The winner was the amazing Conchita Wurst (Austria) with her song "Rise Like A Phoenix," an epic power ballad which could easily be the theme song for a James Bond movie.

My second choice didn't make the top three, but was my favorite dance song in the competition: Freaky Fortune featuring RiskyKidd (Greece) with "Rise Up"

My third choice ended up finishing second on the night: The Common Linnets (The Netherlands) with their alt-country song "Calm After The Storm"

Honorable mention must go to Carl Espen (Norway) for his sensitive and lovely ballad "Silent Storm"

In the second semi-final Australia got a special segment while the votes were being counted due to our obsession with Eurovision and desire to participate in it (even though geographically we cannot).  After what could be considered a cringe-worthy skit of Australian stereotypes our very own Jessica Mauboy got to sing a song she especially wrote for the Eurovision stage:

All in all it was another good year with a truly stand out winner.  Congratulations Conchita!

Saturday, May 03, 2014

Essendon v. Western Bulldogs

It's been a mixed start to the season for Essendon.  After the first three rounds we had two wins and a close loss to the reigning Premiers.  Everyone was very optimistic for our prospects this year.  However, we have lost the last three games and have not been playing consistently, so it was very important to get a win tonight against the Western Bulldogs.  As Belinda is a Bulldogs fan she joined me at Etihad Stadium for the match. 

It was a scrappy game from the start with the Bulldogs going into half time with a 14 point lead as we had another disaster second quarter for the second week in a row and did not score a goal.  After watching Darth Vader and some Stormtroopers walking along the boundary at half time (there was some strange Star Wars cross-promotion going on) I was hoping the force would be with Essendon in the second half.  Thankfully a few minutes into the third quarter the boys started to show some life and kick goals again, and we went into the fourth quarter with a 13 point lead.  The last quarter was tense as the Bulldogs got within a goal, but we managed to hold on for a gritty win as our senior players stood up.  Dustin Fletcher had an amazing game but we are still having issues with the forward line.  Hopefully the team can start putting together a full four quarter effort and play better in the coming weeks.

Final Score
Essendon: 10.13 (73)
Western Bulldogs: 9.11 (65)
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