Friday, August 10, 2018

MIFF- Karrabing Film Collective New Works and Now Sound: Melbourne's Listening

One of the great things about attending MIFF each year is getting to see Australian stories on the big screen. My first session for the evening was the Karrabing Film Collective New Works at the Kino Cinema, which consisted of three short films lasting around 30 minutes each. Night Time Go used manipulated archival footage to tell an alternative story of WWII where the Karrabing drive away the colonists trying to remove them from their lands in the Top End. The Jealous One was about fighting government bureaucracy to get on your own land, as well as a spirit jealous of his wife spending time with others. The final film, The Mermaids, or Aiden in Wonderland, was set at the end of the world where only Indigenous people can survive in the toxic landscape. After the screening elder female members of the Karrabing Collective did a Q&A with the audience, and talked about doing these films as a way to keep young people engaged and out of trouble, and be able to tell their own stories.

My other film for the evening was the world premiere of Now Sound: Melbourne's Listening at the Forum Theatre. This film was a documentary about Melbourne's music scene from 2016 to 2018. It covered a lot of different styles of music from indie to electronic and the various artists and subcultures around each scene. The film also explored specific issues such as the fight against gentrification and closure of venues, sexism and harassment in the industry, and the role of independent radio, labels and record shops in championing local music. As director Tobias Willis said before the film started, it's hard to capture Melbourne's entire music scene in around 90 minutes. A lot of the artists that I follow didn't make it into the film. I think the most interesting parts of the film though were when it explored the newer emerging scenes that to this point have been underrepresented in Melbourne.

Thursday, August 09, 2018

MIFF- Yellow Is Forbidden and Westwood: Punk, Icon, Activist

Tonight I attended two MIFF films that were both fashion documentaries. First I went to the Kino Cinema to see Yellow Is Forbidden about Chinese designer Guo Pei. New Zealand filmmaker Pietra Brettkelly was at the screening and spoke about flying to China to get her to agree to do the documentary. Best known in the West for her yellow dress worn by Rihanna at the 2015 Met Gala, the film focused on the lead up to Guo's first Paris fashion show Legend, which was inspired by cathedrals and featured recently at the NGV Triennial. While in Paris she also applied and was accepted into the prestigious Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture. Referring to herself as the world's slowest fashion designer, her runway shows are filled with the most intricate and amazing creations that are often so heavy they are difficult for the models to walk in. I really enjoyed the film and learning more about how Guo Pei runs her fashion business in order to fund her true passion, haute couture designs.

Next I met up with Megan at Hoyts Melbourne Central for Westwood: Punk, Icon, Activist about the life and career of British fashion designer Vivienne Westwood. Director Lorna Tucker wove together archival footage alongside present day interviews with family and the main players in Westwood's fashion business over the years. She had to fight for her independence from ex-partner Malcolm McLaren, as well as have her talents taken seriously by the British fashion establishment. Currently she co-designs her fashion line with husband Andreas Kronthaler, and has turned her focus in recent years to combating climate change. At the start of the film Westwood was reluctant to speak about past events she considered "boring" and by the end, the film raised more questions than answers on aspects of Westwood's life.

Friday, August 03, 2018

MIFF- Matangi/Maya/M.I.A. and Juliet, Naked

One of the big events in Melbourne during the winter is the Melbourne International Film Festival, which is running from 2-19 August 2018. Tonight were my first two MIFF films, which had a bit of a music theme. I began the evening at Hoyts Melbourne Central for the documentary Matangi/Maya/M.I.A. about the life and career of the Sri Lankan/British rapper Matangi "Maya" Arulpragasam, best known as M.I.A. Drawing on her own personal footage and that shot by longtime friend Stephen Loveridge, it showed her teen years as a Sri Lankan refugee in London (her father, a leader of the Tamil resistant movement, remained in Sri Lanka), time in art school, filming on the road with Justine Frischmann of Elastica, trips back to Sri Lanka, and rise as a musician. While her debut album Arular was critically acclaimed, it was the global success of the Grammy nominated song "Paper Planes" off her second album Kala that made her well known worldwide. M.I.A.'s political activism, particularly around Tamil people in Sri Lanka, has often caused media controversy for her career, with a key flash point also being her performance with Madonna at the 2012 Super Bowl halftime show where she flipped off the camera. This film was an insightful portrait on M.I.A. and gave me a better understanding of her art, activism and music.

Next I headed over to the Comedy Theatre to meet up with Ebony for the romantic comedy Juliet, Naked, which was adapted from Nick Hornby's novel. Set in the British coastal town of Sandcliff, the film stars Chris O'Dowd as Duncan, an obsessive fan of 90's alternative US rocker Tucker Crowe (Ethan Hawke) who has long since disappeared from music. One day Duncan's long suffering girlfriend Annie (Rose Byrne) opens a package addressed to Duncan that contains the demo recording of Crowe's album Juliet (titled Juliet, Naked). While she listens to it and thinks it's insipid, Duncan loves it and posts a long review about it to the fan site/forum he runs. When Annie then posts a negative review, Tucker Crowe himself gets in touch with her to say he agrees with her assessment, and they begin to secretly correspond with each other about their lives. Duncan and Annie break up shortly thereafter, and Tucker ends up coming to London to visit his daughter who is having a baby and arranges to meet Annie. It's not all smooth sailing, but this Gen-X midlife crisis film was quite funny and sweet, with great performances by the whole cast.

Wednesday, August 01, 2018

The Breaker Upperers and RBG

Over the last two nights I went to see a couple new films that opened in Australia this past week. The first was the New Zealand comedy The Breaker Upperers. The film was written, directed and stars Madeleine Sami (Mel) and Jackie van Beak (Jen) as two friends who run an agency that breaks up couples through the use of different scenarios. Their main rule is to not get attached to clients, but that fails when Mel becomes friends with Anna (Celia Pacquola) and starts a relationship with young rugby player Jordan (James Rolleston). This leads to a breakdown in Jen and Mel's friendship, and the rest of the film focuses on the fall out. The movie did have some funny moments, including bit parts by Jemaine Clement as Jen's Tinder date and Elroy Finn (Neil Finn's son) as a client of the agency, but overall it was a bit hit and miss with the storyline.

Tonight I saw the documentary RBG, about the life of United States Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. With open access to Ginsburg, her family, friends and associates, the film details her remarkable life. Ginsburg was one of the few females in her law class in the 1950s, and argued a series of cases to the Supreme Court around gender equality in the 1970s. Nominated to the Supreme Court by President Bill Clinton in 1993, she has now served for 25 years, and is one of the few liberal justices left. As the Court becomes more conservative she has increasingly had to write powerful dissenting opinions on a number of cases. Ginsburg has also become popular with younger generations through the "Notorious R.B.G." internet memes, merchandise and portrayal by Kate McKinnon on Saturday Night Live. Now at 85 years of age everyone is hoping she can hold on until the 2020 Presidential election when hopefully she can be replaced by a Democratic president. This is a fantastic documentary that I highly recommend checking out.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Blackie Blackie Brown: The Traditional Owner Of Death

Photo by Phoebe Powell
Currently on at the Malthouse Theatre, Blackie Blackie Brown: The Traditional Owner of Death is the latest play by writer Nakkiah Lui. In this tale of revenge, Dr Jacqueline Brown (Dalara Williams) is on an archaeological dig for a company when she discovers a human skull that turns out to belong to her great-great-grandmother. After learning about the massacre of her ancestors on the site by four white men, she is tasked with avenging their deaths by killing all 400 of the men's descendants within 28 days.

The superhero Blackie Blackie Brown is born, and as she goes on her killing spree and gains notoriety across Australia, she has to deal with the reality that some of these descendants (all played by Ash Flanders) are more innocent than others. The set design is a slanted white floor and wall with numerous trap doors and hidden compartments, and it allows for the fantastic animations and projections by Oh Yeah Wow to shine through and bring the action hero/comic book vibe of the production to life. The play is really well done and despite its humor does not shy away from detailing the atrocities of the past and their continuing impact on the present.

Friday, July 20, 2018

Mork Chocolate Brew House

Mork hot chocolates are well known in Melbourne, and today I went to the Mork Chocolate Brew House in North Melbourne to try some of their signature drink creations. The Brew House is located in a converted 1950s-era bakery and has items for sale along with a cafe where you can sit down for a hot chocolate or something more inventive.

One of the signature drinks we ordered was the Campfire, which is made of 70% dark hot chocolate served with maple smoke, charcoal salt and a toasted house-made marshmallow. To drink it you turn over the glass with the maple smoke, pour in the hot chocolate, add some of the charcoal salt and then stir it together with the marshmallow. Like the name suggests, it tastes like a campfire.

The other signature drink we ordered was the Forager, which is inspired by Australia. It contains macadamia hot chocolate, macadamia and wattle seed ice cream, eucalyptus honey, bush scents and foraged flora. After spraying the bush scent, you pour half the hot chocolate into the bowl, eat the ice cream, and then pour in the rest of the hot chocolate to drink. This one had a menthol taste due to the eucalyptus, but was still good.

The Mork Chocolate Brew House is located at 150 Errol Street, North Melbourne and open from 9am-5pm on Tuesday through Sunday.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Kimbra- The Primal Heart Tour

Tonight was Kimbra's sold out show at the Corner Hotel in support of her latest album Primal Heart. Opening the evening was Sydney electronic pop artist Exhibitionist (aka Kirsty Tickle). She and her band did a short set of songs, including one written with Sally Seltmann.

Kimbra's band members Spencer Zahn and Timon Martin came out on stage first before she joined them to launch into "Version Of Me." The set featured many songs off of Primal Heart, including "The Good War," 'Everybody Knows," "Human," "Like They Do On The TV," "Lightyears" and "Past Love," which she played on electric guitar as an homage to her early Melbourne days. For visuals they used many of the 3D computer animations from last year's Audio Electric show, which were projected onto the screens at each side of the stage.

Kimbra was so excited to be back in Melbourne and had lots of friends in the crowd. She played a few reworked versions of her older tracks during the evening with "Settle Down" (including a verse and chorus of "Somebody That I Used To Know") and "Two Way Street" off of Vows and "Love In High Places" off of The Golden Echo.  She finished the main set with a fantastic version of "Top Of The World," and then for an encore came out solo and closed with "Real Life." It was great to be able to see Kimbra live again, and she promised she'll be back sooner rather than later.

Here's the video for "Top Of The World"

Saturday, July 07, 2018

The Bachelor S17 E5

Tonight a group of us from work went to see the La Mama Theatre production of The Bachelor S17 E5 at the Brunswick Mechanics Institute in support of one of our workmates who acted in the performance. The production used transcripts from the show to bring to life one of those special two night Bachelor events focused on Sean Lowe's season of The Bachelor in the US.

The casting was inspired as they had different age ranges, body types and genders representing the female contestants. The guy who played host Chris Harrison was fantastic, and like a typical Bachelor episode, this one had a one on one date, a group date, a two on one date, and a dramatic rose ceremony. The Bachelor gave off some creepy and predatory vibes as he made out with many of the cast, and there was all the backstabbing and drama you would expect from the contestants. The staging was well done, with my absolute favorite part being the departure from the two on one date of drag queen Precious Cargo in a brilliant lip sync performance of Lana Del Ray's "Young and Beautiful" inspired by Sasha Velour's Ru Paul's Drag Race season nine finale performance. It was an entertaining evening and a fun way to portray the madness of The Bachelor.

Sunday, July 01, 2018

The Harpoons- Amaro Album Launch

Last night was a bittersweet show at the Corner Hotel as much loved Melbourne band The Harpoons both launched their second album Amaro and played their final show together.

Opening the evening was Melbourne five piece electronic pop band Tetrahedra. Their songs were quite interesting and filled with complex time signatures and beats. The songs they played included some from their latest release SOMA, which is a visual EP project you can watch here. Next up was the Melbourne electronic duo SAATSUMA, who did a set of their atmospheric dance music that had the crowd moving.

The venue was really packed by the time The Harpoons took the stage for the last time. They started with the final song off Amaro "All I've Ever Done," and played a number of tracks off the album, including "Pressure," "Reassurance," "Do You Want My Love" and the standout song "Set Me Up To Fall." Band members did lots of thank yous to each other and their families, friends and supporters throughout the night. As always it was amazing to hear Bec Rigby belt out these songs, especially old favorites like "Ready For Your Love" and "Unforgettable," where they got a few friends and fans up on stage to sing along.

The absolute highlight of the night for me though was towards the end when they returned to their garage band roots and played some of their very first songs such as "Hey Girl," "Keep You Around," "Be My Lover, Be My Girl," "Garden City" and "Faith" to finish out the main set. For an encore we got one more song with "Swim My Baby" (used in a Big M milk commercial) and that was it from The Harpoons. It's been a joy to watch them grow and evolve their sound over these past ten years, and I wish each band member all the best for their future projects. You will be missed!

Here's an early live version of "Do You Want My Love"

Friday, June 22, 2018

Sarah Blasko- Depth Of Field Tour

Tonight at 170 Russell was the last show of Sarah Blasko's Australian tour in support of her latest album, the fantastic Depth Of Field. I ran into Oh Mercy's Alex Gow as I entered the venue, and he told me he is a distant cousin of the opening act Ryan Downey. The Melbourne singer-songwriter was accompanied by a band and I was impressed with his atmospheric songs and deep baritone voice. He finished the set with a cover of Eurythmics' "Love Is A Stranger."

The staging for the show was quite simple with large white letters spelling out BLASKO hanging in front of a black backdrop. For the first half of the set Sarah and her band (which included Donny Benet) played the entire Depth of Field album from start to finish. Highlights included "Phantom," "A Shot," "Never Let Me Go," "Heaven Sent" and "Read My Mind." If you are interested in learning more about the origins of the album I strongly recommend checking out the documentary Blasko, which covers Sarah's time as artist-in-residence at Sydney's Campbelltown Arts Centre.

Sarah was very playful on stage and danced around throughout the night. For the second half of the set she dipped into her back catalogue. We were treated to "I Am Ready" and "I Wanna Be Your Man" off her last album Eternal Return, "I Awake," "God-Fearing" and "Not Yet" from I Awake, and the As Day Follows Night tracks "All I Want" and "We Won't Run," which closed the main set. For the encore she did the beautiful "Down With Love" and finished the evening with "Without." Sarah continues to grow her sound with each album, and it was a pleasure as always to get to see her perform live again.

Here's the video for "Phantom"

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

The Living End- "Don't Lose It" Single Launch

A couple weeks ago The Living End announced two intimate pub gigs in Sydney and Melbourne to launch their new single "Don't Lose It." There were a very limited number of tickets available, but I managed to grab one for tonight's show at The Gasometer Hotel.

The venue was packed when the band took to the stage and launched with "What's On Your Radio?" The hour long set was a mix of old classics along with a preview of some of the new songs off their upcoming album that was recorded earlier this year. The standout new tracks for me were "Don't Lose It" and "Proton Pill." They also did a cover of The Beatles' "Help!" in honor of having recorded the album in Berlin. They joked about staying at some really bad Airbnb property for a few days before checking into a nice hotel for the rest of the recording session.

The new material fit in well with their back catalogue, and it was good to hear songs from earlier in their career such as "From Here On In," "Roll On," "Second Solution," "What Would You Do?" and "Long Live The Weekend." The only recent track played was "Monkey" off their last album Shift. For the encore (although they didn't leave the stage) they played an audience request for "Uncle Harry." It was an amazing opportunity to get to see them play in such a small venue, and I look forward to the new album being released later on this year.

Here's the lyric video for "Don't Lose It"

Tuesday, June 05, 2018

Trixie Mattel- Accessories Sold Separately

Over the past few months I have been binge watching numerous previous seasons of RuPaul's Drag Race that I missed when they originally aired (it's available for streaming on Stan here in Australia). One of my absolute favorite contestants, the winner of All Stars 3 and co-host of the YouTube series UNHhhh and Viceland's The Trixie & Katya Show, Trixie Mattel performed tonight for her third Melbourne show at Chasers Nightclub in South Yarra.

The show was broken up into two sets to allow for costume changes. It began with the famous Melbourne queen Karen From Finance lip syncing to Meredith Brooks' "I'm A Bitch." Karen was our MC for the evening and was quite entertaining as she revved up the crowd and introduced each performer. At the start of each set we got a lip sync performance from local queens Lexi GaGa (set 1) and Sabrina Babyslut (set 2), who had the largest number of outfit reveals that I have ever seen in one performance. It was pretty epic.

Supporting Trixie on this tour was RuPaul's Drag Race season one and All Stars 1 contestant Tammie Brown. Tammie is an absolute original and performed her own songs across both sets, including "Walking Children In Nature" and "Porta Potti Prostitute." She also spoke to us in multiple languages and got the whole crowd to move like chickens.

Trixie Mattel is an extremely talented musician and comedian, and she has combined these elements, along with her trademark look, into an amazing and hilarious show. In the first set she did a total take down of some of her fellow RuPaul's Drag Race: All Stars contestants and played the finale version of "Kitty Girl," inviting people up from the crowd to sing the verses by Shangela and BeBe Zahara Benet. She also did one of my favorite songs of hers, "Mama Don't Make Me Put On The Dress Again" off the album Two Birds, and a cover of Avril Lavigne's "Sk8er Boi."

In the second set she opened with the most epic mashup lip sync performance themed around the working woman that included movie clip dialogue and portions of Dolly Parton's "9 To 5," Donna Summer's "She Works Hard For The Money" and Britney Spears' "Work Bitch." The whole crowd lifted and lost it when Trixie started dancing down the stage platform. She did some more comedy bits, including her attempt at an Aussie accent, and finished by singing "Break Your Heart" off her latest album One Stone.

All the girls that performed then came out for one final bow and a photo with the audience (Trixie somehow managed a quick costume change into a pink dress and short wig) and that was it for the night. It was such a fun evening although I wish Trixie had performed more of her own music, including the wonderful and touching "Moving Parts." I'm looking forward to getting to see Trixie again (as well as other Drag Race alumni) as part of the Comedy Queens tour in August.

Here's the video for "Mama Don't Make Me Put On The Dress Again"

Saturday, June 02, 2018

Blue Mountains

Today Mary and I took a train out to Western Sydney to meet up with Tash, who picked us up at the station, for our road trip to the Blue Mountains. Our first stop for the day was the lookout at Wentworth Falls with its expansive and spectacular views of the Blue Mountains.

Next we stopped in the town of Leura to visit Bygone Beautys Treasured Teapot Museum and Tearooms, which has the largest private collection of teawares in the world. There were over 5,500 teapots alone in the museum grouped by era, country and design. I particularly liked the art deco and royal themed teapots. We had a cup of tea in the tearoom and then headed back onto the road.

One of the interesting finds in the town of Katoomba was the Street Art Walk at Beverly Place. It featured local, national and international street artists, including a nice wall mural by Adnate that included the Blue Mountains.

The Echo Point lookout outside Katoomba is one of the most iconic viewing points for the Blue Mountains due to the popularity of the rock formation known as the Three Sisters. We began at the main lookout and then walked down the path to get a closer look (but didn't go down the Giant Stairway to the Honeymoon Bridge).

Blue Mountains

Blue Mountains

Blue Mountains

For our late lunch we ate at the Boiler House Restaurant, which was part of the Hydro Majestic Blue Mountains hotel complex. Tash wanted to check out the Hydro Majestic after having driven past it before, and it did not disappoint. We ended up doing a tour of the place with the concierge to learn more about its fascinating history. Founded by Mark Foy in the early 1900s, what was originally a health retreat became a luxury hotel to bring in business. The architecture was stunning, particularly the Belgravia building which was rebuilt in art deco style after burning down in 1922. The Hydro Majestic has amazing views of the Blue Mountains and glamorous interiors throughout since money was no object when it was built.

Blue Mountains

Blue Mountains

After our tour was finished it was dark so we headed back onto the road for the hour and half drive back to Sydney. It was nice to be able to get out of the city and explore the beautiful Blue Mountains region.

Friday, June 01, 2018

Vivid Sydney 2018

This year is the 10th anniversary of Vivid Sydney and my second year attending. For the past two nights we have been walking around and checking out the light projections and installations in the Sydney CBD and along the waterfront.

Our first stop on Thursday night was the area around Customs House. The installation Chrysalis contained colorful cocoons made of fibre optic cables hanging from trees that had butterflies inside that would flutter based on sounds nearby. Synergy represented a complex superorganism of a tree surrounded by ferns that changed colors.

Vivid Sydney 2018

On Customs House itself were light projections of the May Gibbs' children's books characters Snugglepot and Cuddlepie as they journeyed through the Australian bush.

Vivid Sydney 2018

Along the waterfront towards the Sydney Opera House were a few installations, including the light sculpture Visible Dynamics and the illuminated cube Fragmented.

Vivid Sydney 2018

In the Royal Botanical Gardens there were a number of fantastic installations. At the start was The Nautilus Forest with its changing colors, the illuminated Hyperweb, inflatable versions of Snugglepot and Cuddlepie, and wave inspired light bars of He'e nalu.

Vivid Sydney 2018

Light Houses were created with different designs and shapes and changed colors. One of the most moving pieces was Oasis, which paid homage to the memory of children growing up in out of home care and combined audio with illuminated lights in a pond.

Vivid Sydney 2018

Further in the Royal Botanical Gardens were the cute perched birds of Parrot Party and the interactive Aqueous where the colors would change as people stood on different sections of the pathway.

Vivid Sydney 2018

Tonight we headed to Barangaroo for dinner at the Chinese restaurant Lotus and then saw my favorite work of Vivid Sydney, which was the illuminated large scale puppet Marri Dyin (meaning 'Great Woman' in the Eora language) in the piece The Liminal Hour.

Vivid Sydney 2018

There were some good installations around The Rocks, with the different colored light tubes of Peacock, the multi-colored birds of 1000 Cranes, the flying neon kites of Luminous Flight, and the large sculpture Illuminosaurus.

Vivid Sydney 2018

Of course the main draw each year are the light projections on the Sydney Opera House. This year's installation Metamathemagical transformed the sails into a series of kinetic digital sculptures.

Vivid Sydney 2018

In the surrounds of the waterfront there were some playful pieces, including a giant inflated Earth, the rotating pufferfish sculpture Fugu, The Garden of Sweeties which was powered by renewable energy, and the cute Harmony Valley - Rainbow of Peace and Trees of Friendship.

Vivid Sydney 2018

Once again there were large scale light projections on the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia with Virtual Vibration, but they weren't as exciting or dynamic as last year's ones.

Vivid Sydney 2018

Overall I enjoyed the light projections and installations, but was surprised at how empty the streets were of people on both nights. Vivid Sydney is on until Saturday, 16 June 2018.

Biennale Of Sydney- Cockatoo Island

The 21st Biennale of Sydney is currently occurring across multiple sites in Sydney. The theme SUPERPOSTION: Equilibrium & Engagement gives attendees a way to view these pieces and how they reflect current issues in the world. Mary and I took a ferry out to Cockatoo Island today, which is one of the locations for the Biennale. Cockatoo Island is a UNESCO World Heritage listed site that was a former convict prison in the 1800s and then a naval shipyard until its closure in 1991.

Artworks were spread across different precincts on the island. Our first stop was the Industrial Precinct, which contained a few of my favorite works. Austrian artist Martin Walde's piece Timeline explores the passing of time, with a sheet of paper being shot out from a printer up in the rafters every six minutes containing a calendar date that started with the opening of the exhibition and ending in 2071. Each paper floats onto the floor, and some of them have drawings or writing from the artist in addition to the printed date.

Biennale of Sydney

The focus of the pieces by Chinese artist Ai Weiwei at Cockatoo Island is refugees. Law of the Journey is a 60-metre long raft filled with people that is made out of black rubber. There is also wallpaper made of photos taken while he was filming the documentary Human Flow, as well as four different video works that were made in the past couple years to focus on the refugee crisis.

Biennale of Sydney

Scottish artist Anya Gallaccio's piece Beautiful Minds uses a programmed 3D printer loaded with clay to recreate the sedimentary rock formations of Devil's Tower, also known as Bear Lodge Butte in Wyoming.

Biennale of Sydney

Thai artist Mit Jai Inn has a few large scale installations with Planes (Hover, Erupt, Erode) which involves the use of paint in different forms.

Biennale of Sydney

In the Ship Design Precinct were two interesting video installations. Lebanese-Australian artist Khaled Sabsabi's audio-visual piece Bring The Silence depicts video on five different screens of people offering their respects to the Sufi saint Muhammad Nizamuddin Auliya at a sacred burial site. The floor of the room was covered in rugs and the scent of rosewater filled the air.

Biennale of Sydney

American artist Suzanne Lacy's multi-part audio-visual installation The Circle and the Square is the culmination of the two-year project Shapes of Water - Sounds of Hope in the town of Pendle, Lancashire. Residents came together in a closed down textile mill to sing choral music and do Sufi chanting. The sound of the choir singing rounds filled the room, and there were also individual interviews with local residents that you could listen to.

Biennale of Sydney

The Biennale of Sydney is on for a couple more weeks, closing on Monday, 11 June 2018.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Neil Finn- Out Of Silence with Orchestra

As part of this year's Vivid Sydney Live program, Neil Finn played two nights at the Joan Sutherland Theatre in the Sydney Opera House with an orchestra and chorus made up of Aussie and Kiwi musicians. Mary and I flew up to Sydney to attended tonight's second show. The first half of the set was the entire Out Of Silence album played from start to finish. It was so great to finally hear all these songs live, particularly my favorite tracks "Love Is Emotional," "Chameleon Days," "Second Nature," "The Law Is Always On Your Side," "Terrorise Me" and "I Know Different." Neil was really pleased once they finished playing the album, saying he really enjoyed it.

The second half of the set was a mixture of songs from throughout Neil's career. We got to hear tracks from his previous solo album Dizzy Heights, which also featured strings, with "Divebomber," "Impressions," "Better Than TV" and "Dizzy Heights." With the entire Finn family on stage they also previewed tracks off of the upcoming Neil and Liam album Lightsleeper with "Where's My Room," "Hiding Place" and "Hold Her Close." Then there were the classic Split Enz and Crowded House songs with "One Step Ahead," "Private Universe," "Four Seasons In One Day" and "Don't Dream It's Over," which finished the main set. For the encore a few bars of Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" became an improvised cover with everyone singing along, and then they finished the evening with "Message To My Girl." This was such a special and intimate show, and with Neil joining Fleetwood Mac, who knows when we will next get the chance to seem him performing his own material live.

Here's week four of The Infinity Sessions which was the actual recording of Out Of Silence broadcast live online:

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Jack Ladder & The Dreamlanders- Blue Poles Tour

Last night was the launch of Jack Ladder & The Dreamlanders new album Blue Poles at the Corner Hotel. Mary and I got there for the last few songs by electronic act Golden Syrup (aka Sara Retallick).

Next on the bill was Alex Gow from Oh Mercy doing a solo set. It's never a great sign when someone needs to use an asthma inhaler to be able to sing, and Alex was on his three times throughout the set due to a cold. He opened with a cover of Ed Kuepper's "This Hideous Place" and played a mix of songs from his last few albums ranging from the brooding "Iron Cross" and "Lady Eucalyptus" to the more uptempo "Sandy" and "Deep Heat." Alex invited Liam McGorry to join him on stage to play trumpet on "National Park" and his new unreleased track "Time And Date In New York," which was the last song he played. Despite not feeling great Alex powered through his short set.

The room was pretty full by the time Jack Ladder & The Dreamlanders took to the stage. The set list featured many songs from Blue Poles, with highlights being "Can't Say," "White Flag," "Blue Mirror," and my favorite "Susan." Jack's baritone voice and the cool vibe of the band had the crowd entranced from the start, with bassist Donny Benet getting a couple of shout outs during the evening. The set also contained some tracks from previous releases, including "Cold Feet," "Come On Back This Way," and "Hurtsville" with Alex joining the band on acoustic guitar. Overall it was an entertaining night with two of Australia's most talented lyricists.

Here's the video for "Susan":

Friday, May 18, 2018

Shop The City: National Marshmallow Day

Today was Australia's first National Marshmallow Day, which was all part of this year's Shop The City event at the big shopping complexes in the Melbourne CBD. Mary and I started our evening of sweet treats at QV to make our own s'mores in their little winter village set up. It was a bit difficult to get the marshmallows toasty enough to melt the chocolate, and there weren't any graham crackers, but they still turned out ok. If you feel like making your own s'mores, the village is open on Thursday to Sunday from 4-7pm until 10 June.

Next we headed to Melbourne Central for their Ultra Violet Party (the Pantone color of the year) featuring different pop-ups on various levels. They had a Naked Negroni bar, an Ultra Violet Room for the ultimate selfie, marshmallows dipped in a chocolate fondue fountain, and some violet fairy floss. It was a yummy sugar rush.

After some dinner at Din Tai Fung we ventured to The Strand for their mini wagon wheels, and then to the Wonderland Bar at Emporium, which had Alice in Wonderland themed shortbread cookies and cute little potion bottles with a "Paint the Roses Red" drink made of Archie Rose gin infused with T2 chocberry tea (it was quite tasty).

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