Saturday, October 28, 2017

Wild 2 Free Benefit

Wild2Free is an Australian animal sanctuary that rehabilitates native animals (mainly kangaroos). Last year shortly after opening a fire burned down the house on the property, so tonight's sold out benefit concert at The Croxton featuring Area-7 and The Living End was to help raise funds for Rae Harvey (longtime manager of The Living End) to rebuild.

I will admit that I completely missed the years when ska/punk band Area-7 were popular in Australia in the late-1990s and early-2000s. Danny and Ruth did give me a bit of a primer on their songs in the car ahead of the gig. They played an energetic set, managed to auction off a signed poster for $500, and finished things off with a cover of The Angels' "Am I Ever Gonna See Your Face Again?"

The Living End opened their set with "Save The Day," which was a bit of a hint that the set list was going to dive deep into their back catalogue for the hometown crowd. The first few releases featured throughout the set with "End Of The World," "Roll On," "Monday," "From Here On In" and "All Torn Down." They even played their eight minute opus "The Room" off Modern Artillery, which I think I've only heard live once before.

The whole show was a bit of a sing along throughout, although Chris thought the crowd's efforts on "White Noise" were a bit weak. The slower tracks "With Enemies Like That" and "Keep On Running" off their latest album Shift provided a bit of a breather, but the crowd surfing really kicked off towards the end of the set with "How Do We Know?" "Prisoner Of Society" and the encore tracks "Uncle Harry" and "Second Solution." It was great to see The Living End play in a smaller venue than normal and contribute to a benefit for such a good cause.

Here's the video for "Staring Down The Barrel"

Friday, October 27, 2017

C.W. Stoneking- Solo Tour

C.W. Stoneking is currently doing a solo tour around the country, and tonight was the second of his two sold out shows at Howler. Opening the evening was William Crighton, who also played a solo set of songs off his debut album, which features stories centered around Australian experiences.

C.W. Stoneking came out onto the stage not in his traditional white but wearing an indigo button down shirt, jeans and a brown wide-brimmed fedora. He sat down on a raised platform on the stage and began the evening with "How Long." The set featured many songs off his latest release Gon' Boogaloo, including "On A Desert Isle," "The Zombie" (where we were encouraged to sing along), "The Thing I Done" and "Get On The Floor." C.W.'s banter in between songs was quite entertaining and covered a wide range of topics such as asparagus, rubik's cubes and trying to sell the guitar he was playing. He also dealt quite well with a woman who shouted for him to take off his clothes, saying that he could undress himself as he was wearing his big boy pants.

One of the great things about this show was hearing some older tracks, especially those from his first album which don't get played live that often. Highlights were "Jungle Lullaby," "Talking Lion Blues," "Jailhouse Blues" and an audience request for "The Love Me Or Die" off of Jungle Blues, and the King Hokum tracks "Dodo Blues," "Goin The Country," "Way Out In The World" and "Handyman Blues." We also got treated to a cover of William Brown's "Ragged And Dirty." To finish the night he played "We Gon' Boogaloo," which sent everyone out on a high note. It's always wonderful to get to see C.W. live, especially in a more intimate setting.

Here's C.W. doing a live version of "On A Desert Isle"

Saturday, October 07, 2017


Katsushika Hokusai is one of the best known Japanese artists from the Edo period with his renowned woodblock prints and paintings. The Hokusai exhibition currently on at the NGV International brings together 176 works from across his seventy-year career, including works from seven of his major series. The level of detail and use of color in these pieces was quite beautiful and intricate.

There were many pieces from Hokusai's best known series Thirty-six Views of Mt Fuji from 1830-1834 on display, which depicted Mt Fuji in scenes from different locations and seasons. Included in the exhibition is his most famous piece from this series The great wave off Kanagawa.

Another beautiful series was A Tour to the Waterfalls in Various Provinces from 1832, which was the first series on the theme of waterfalls published in Japan.

The series Remarkable Views of Bridges in Various Provinces from 1834 gives you a sense of the movement of people either going about their everyday activities or travelling across the countryside.

I also really liked his prints of birds and flowers due to the color and beauty of the pieces.

The Hokusai exhibition has been extended and is on until 22 October 2017 at the NGV International.

Thursday, October 05, 2017

Oh Mercy- National Park Tour

It's been a year since Oh Mercy last played a show in Melbourne, and tonight they were back at the nightclub Hugs & Kisses in support of the new single "National Park." Opening the evening was James Moloney & the Mad Dog Harrisons with James doing a solo set on acoustic guitar which included a cover of Tom Petty And The Heartbreaker's "Refugee." Next up was the band Ern Malley, who played a fantastic set with their 1970s rock/alt-country vibe. I was quite impressed and will be keeping an eye out for them in the future.

The latest incarnation of the Oh Mercy live band includes all guys this time (the first time there hasn't been a female member in the mix). The hour long set showcased some of the new songs which will appear on the new album due to be released in early 2018. The highlights for me were "Hideous Place" (standout track of the night), the driving rhythm of "Hot Topic," the excellent "National Park" and the slow ballad "Auto Bellissimo," which Alex joked he wants to go viral in Italy (and also led to him singing a snippet of the La Porchetta commercial jingle). Alex had quite a few funny moments throughout the night, whether it was puns, praising Jesus and making a Hillsong reference, comparing a song to a jeep commercial, or doing a shout out to Cameron Daddo and SmoothFM.

We were treated to some Burt Bacharach with a cover of "This Guy's In Love With You" and a few lines of "Walk On By." Older Oh Mercy songs in the set were "My Man" and "Deep Heat" off the Deep Heat album, and the When We Talk About Love tracks "Can't You Hear My Body (Calling Out To You)," "Lady Eucalyptus" solo and "Sandy," which closed out the night. I ran into Alex on the way into the venue, and Mary and I had a brief chat with him after the show and he was as gracious as always. It will be great when the new album is finally released (especially since it's been done for a while).

Here's the video for "National Park" (shot in Castlemaine):

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