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).

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Eurovision 2018

It is mid-May so that means it's once again time for the Eurovision Song Contest. This year the competition took place in Lisbon, Portugal. As Australia was once again competing, our local broadcaster SBS showed the Grand Final live and I was up at 5am this morning to watch.

This year's winner, Netta (Israel) performing "Toy" was in my top three songs as it was a quirky and catchy banger of a song, with Netta having a bit of a Bjork look and vibe going on.

My favorite song from this year was Saara Aalto (Finland) with "Monsters." She has an amazing voice and this was another strong dance track with some androgynous backup dancers. I was surprised it didn't do better in the final voting.

Continuing the theme of female sung dance tracks, my other top three song (which came in second overall) was Eleni Foureira (Cyprus) with "Fuego." She gave an amazing performance and hairography in both the semis and finals.

Australia did not do as well this year as Jessica Mauboy's "We Got Love" received the lowest total in the public vote. The song was decent but not a standout track. It will be interesting to see if we continue to participate considering this year's results.

The Grand Final also had a bit of controversy as their was a stage intruder during the UK performance, but SuRie managed to continue to sing her song "Storm" once she got the microphone back and finished the track strong.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Marlon Williams- Make Way For Love Tour

Tonight I headed down to the Forum for the first Melbourne date of Marlon Williams' Australian tour in support of his new album Make Way For Love. The opening act for the evening was Canadian folk rock band The Weather Station. Lead singer Tamara Lindeman sounded great and they played a really strong set.

Marlon Williams came out onto the stage solo with an acoustic guitar and started his set with a breathtaking version of "Down In The Garden" that had the sold out crowd silent. The rest of the band then joined him, with Melbourne musician Dan Luscombe an additional member of The Yarra Benders for this tour. As expected the set list mainly featured songs from Make Way For Love (which was recorded in Stinson Beach near my hometown), ranging from the beauty of slower tracks such as "Come To Me" and "Beautiful Dress" to the more fun and upbeat "What's Chasing You" and "Party Boy."

Marlon was really happy to be back in Melbourne and to have the opportunity to play the Forum. They did a couple covers in main set, including the surprising choice of Barry Gibb's "Carried Away." They also played some older tracks such as "Dark Child" and last year's single "Vampire Again." His beautiful duet with Aldous Harding "Nobody Gets What They Want Anymore" was done with Marlon singing both parts, and they finished the main set with "Make Way For Love" (which could have easily featured on the latest Twin Peaks soundtrack). For the encore they started with a heartbreaking version of "Love Is A Terrible Thing" and then finished with their usual cover of Screamin' Jay Hawkins' "Portrait Of A Man." As always, I left in awe of Marlon's immense talent and that incredible voice.

Here's the video for "Nobody Gets What They Want Anymore"

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