Saturday, April 25, 2015

Oh Mercy- Sandy Single Tour

It's been two years since Oh Mercy last played a proper band show in Melbourne, so it was no surprise that tonight's gig at The Gasometer Hotel to launch the new single "Sandy" was sold out. Mary and I arrived just as the first act, the Steve Miller Band (not the one you're thinking of), kicked off the night with a loud, old school punk set of songs and covers. Next up was Melbourne four piece band Pearls with their 70s inspired glam rock songs.

The Oh Mercy of old is no more as Alexander Gow has assembled a new live band that includes a drummer, keyboardist, bass guitarist and violinist. They started off the evening with "My Man" and then played the new single "Sandy," which is a fantastic song with a driving guitar and synth line throughout. The set list included songs off the upcoming album When We Talk About Love including "Without You" and "Iron Cross." We also got some old favorites such as "Keith St," "Deep Heat" and "Stay Please Stay," which Alex hopes to be on high rotation on Smooth FM one day. Towards the end of the set Alex invited his "tall and handsome friend" Paul Dempsey on stage to join him in singing a cover of The Waterboys' "The Whole Of The Moon." The band came back on and they played a cover of Echo & The Bunnymen's "The Killing Moon" before finishing the night with "Lay Everything On Me." The new songs sound great on first listen and I'm looking forward to the new album coming out in June.

Here's the video for "Sandy."

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Rolls Bayce- On My Own Tour

While it's sad that Brisbane's Hungry Kids Of Hungary are no more, out of the ashes of that band have emerged several new projects, including Rolls Bayce featuring Dean McGrath. Tonight they played their first Melbourne show at The Curtain on Lygon Street. Opening the evening was the lovely Slow Dancer. Simon played his set solo on electric guitar and did stripped back versions of his songs, including "Took The Floor Out," "Leave It To Me," "Please" and "Doesn't Matter." He also treated us to a cover of The Go-Betweens' "Streets Of Your Town." Next up was Melbourne five piece Playwrite, who had these big anthemic songs and made it through their set despite the fact their lead singer had the flu.

Rolls Bayce were immediately impressive for a band that hasn't been playing together live for that long. Their set contained new songs as well as "Mutate," the hit single "Don't Get Me Wrong" and "On My Own" off their EP. All three members are such amazing musicians and fed off each other as they played extended jams. I loved the chunky guitars and psych sound to their songs, and it was great to hear Dean singing again. Rolls Bayce are such a talented band that they should have no trouble rising in popularity quickly.

Here's a live version of "On My Own."

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Essendon v. Hawthorn

It has been an unusual start to the 2015 AFL season for Essendon. The 34 current and former players who were serving provisional suspensions after being given infraction notices by ASADA last November over the 2012 supplements program were finally cleared by the AFL Anti-Doping Tribunal just days before the start of Round 1. While this meant our 13 current players could finally play in the team, they hadn't had any match preparation until our first game last week against Sydney. Although we started strong and had a 41 point lead into the third quarter against the Grand Finalists, we ended up fading in the fourth quarter and got overrun, losing to Sydney by 12 points.

For today's Round 2 match we faced the reigning Premiers Hawthorn. No one really had any hope that we could win, especially after Hawthorn's emphatic win over Geelong last week. I joined Tash and her mum and sister at the MCG, seated behind the Hawthorn goals for the game. Amazingly Essendon had another fantastic start and we were up by 22 points at half time (which should have been more but we allowed two late goals before the siren). In the third quarter Hawthorn started to come back, and we went into the fourth quarter with an 8 point lead and a sense of deja vu from last week.

Hawthorn kept coming and eventually went in front by 16 points midway through the fourth quarter. Although it looked like the game was over, the Essendon players did not give up and they cut Hawthorn's lead down to 10 points with 2 minutes left to play. We then somehow managed to kick two goals in a little over a minute, with defender Cale Hooker's goal putting Essendon back in front by 2 points with 57 seconds left on the clock. The ball was back in Hawthorn's 50 as time ran down, and they would have won the game had the siren not sounded a couple seconds before Luke Breust kicked the ball through the goal. The Essendon supporters erupted as we somehow managed to beat the best team in the competition, while the Hawthorn fans were in shock that they lost the game. As the Essendon club song played over the loud speakers former coach Kevin Sheedy walked around the boundary waving his scarf over his head and the crowd joined in.  It was a great moment and a fantastic win for the club.

Final Score
Essendon: 12.6 (78)
Hawthorn: 11.10 (76)

Friday, April 10, 2015

MICF: Hannah Gadsby and Sara Pascoe

Friday night at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival is always super busy and full of sold out shows. Tonight Onagh and I started our evening at the Melbourne Town Hall with Hannah Gadsby's show Donkey. We are both big fans of Hannah, having seen her show in previous years. This year she explored her mental health and how being diagnosed with ADHD has changed how she views herself. Having built a career around "depression comedy," being told she had ADHD and getting on ritalin has completely changed her perspective on her behavior and attitude to life. The funniest stories revolved around her long simmering hatred for a server named Fletcher at her local cafe, and her unique solutions to problems she couldn't bring herself to deal with. This was another funny show from Hannah at the festival and it finished with an entertaining singing number.

Next we rushed downstairs to join the line for UK comedian Sara Pascoe and her show Sara Pascoe Vs History. Sara was incredibly smart in the way she wove together stories of her own relationships over time while delving into the sexual evolution of the human race. She wondered if her current relationship could last when history's great romances have not (e.g. Adam and Eve; Napoleon and Josephine). She also explored male and female sexual desire, sperm selection, female anatomy, having babies and other interesting insights from research she has done. All in all this was an intelligent and fascinating hour of comedy and my favorite show of the festival so far.

Thursday, April 09, 2015

Paul Kelly Presents The Merri Soul Sessions

After a tapas dinner at Teatro along Southbank Promenade (food was good, service not so much) Tash and I headed to Hamer Hall for Paul Kelly Presents The Merri Soul Sessions. The opening act for the evening was Emma Donovan & The Putbacks. Joined by Kylie Auldist on backing vocals, they played a soulful set of songs and sounded great.

The musicians assembled by Paul Kelly for The Merri Soul Sessions were an amazing bunch of Australian talent. The album itself has songs written and sung by a variety of members of the group, as well as covers of a couple Paul Kelly tracks. The evening started with Vika and Linda Bull taking turns singing lead on the the first two songs "What You Want" and "Smells Like Rain." Paul Kelly dedicated "Thank You" to a couple after receiving a letter, and it resulted in a marriage proposal during the song (she said yes). Dan Sultan and Clairy Browne did a sultry duet of "When Something Is Wrong With My Baby."

It was the Paul Kelly tracks from his back catalogue though that got the biggest response, with "How To Make Gravy, "Song From The Sixteenth Floor," Clairy's version of "Keep On Coming Back For More," Dan singing "Look So Fine, Feel So Low" (complete with audience sing along), Kira Puru doing "Give In To My Love" and Vika's great rendition of "Sweet Guy." In the encore everyone joined in to sing "Dumb Things" and then the six vocalists gathered around a microphone in the middle of the stage to sing "Meet Me In The Middle Of The Air" a capella.  It was a moving finish to such a fantastic evening of music.

Here's a clip about how The Merri Soul Sessions came to be:

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

MICF: Geraldine Hickey and Adam Hills

It was tightarse Tuesday at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival tonight, so how could you not head out to see some shows? Onagh and I began our evening at the Melbourne Town Hall for Geraldine Hickey's Listen Out For The Castanets. Geraldine came out dancing and joked that she's getting fitter as the festival progresses. After asking us about our favorite footy teams and singing portions of their theme songs, she began the show. While telling a story about an encounter with an unstable person in a bottle shop, she expertly wove in tales from her childhood and life to illustrate points before continuing with the story. You also have to like a show that discusses ice cream bars, and I learned about two I've never heard of before- Bubble O'Bill and his cheap imitation Garry Gumball. This was a subtle and smart show that's definitely worth checking out.

Next, after some dessert, we headed to the Athenaeum Theatre to see Adam Hills show Clown Heart. Adam is a veteran of the Australian comedy scene and started off his show by calling out late comers and dragging them up onto the stage with hilarious results. His actual show explores getting older, fatherhood, cancer and dying after losing his dad recently. After showing a clip of his friend Craig Coombs, who is fighting cancer in a unique way (hint- Naked Tuesday), Craig came out and told a few jokes before he and Adam launched into the big finale number. Adam just makes it look effortless on stage, and I really enjoyed his show and its overall message.

Sunday, April 05, 2015

MICF: Wil Anderson, Arj Barker and Joel Creasey

MICFIt's Melbourne International Comedy Festival time once again and there are over 500 acts performing this year from 25 March - 19 April. I have gone through the program and shortlisted a bunch of shows (we'll see how many I end up getting to). My first MICF show was last Monday with Onagh for Wil Anderson's Political Wil at the Comedy Theatre, which is only running for three shows in total on Monday nights. Wil is doing two shows this year, but this one is focused on Australian politics and other things that wouldn't fit into his regular show. He covered a wide variety of topics, including Tony Abbott eating a raw onion, the Australian knighthood of Prince Philip, refugees, violence against women and his hatred of columnist Andrew Bolt, amongst other things. It was a funny and insightful 70 plus minutes and I actually enjoyed the darker moments of the show as it reminded me of the stand-up comedy I grew up watching. As Wil stated about 45 minutes in that he was where he thought he'd be at the 15 minute mark, it will be interesting to see how much the show changes each week.

Tonight Belinda and I started our Easter evening at the Melbourne Town Hall for Arj Barker's Get In My Head. This is the first MICF show of his I have caught, even though he is a regular visitor to Australia. I'll always have a soft spot for Arj as he also grew up in Marin. The show had an overarching theme of getting older and looking back at simpler times, such as when children had manners and people didn't have control over photos because they were taken on film. Portions of the material were blokey (his anti-aging "poo facials," freezing sperm at home and erections) but overall it was an entertaining hour, with the best bits of the night being about airplane boarding systems, what Bob Marley would be like today if he smoked as much weed as in the past, and surprisingly ISIS.

Next we headed down to ACMI to see Joel Creasey's show The Hurricane. Joel recently did a stint on the Australian version of I'm A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here in the South African jungle, so he was full of amusing anecdotes from that as well as other events in his life. His tales from the jungle were hilarious, especially about Maureen McCormick (aka Marsha Brady) and some of the other "celebrities" that were there. He also snarked about being invited back to the apartment of a closeted male star of the tv soap Neighbours for a sex party, and a particularly nasty run in at an interview with a two time Oscar winner. Joel is a fantastic storyteller and not afraid to share the inside dirt from his encounters, which resulted in a funny and fast-paced hour of comedy that ended with an amusing costume change.
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