Jun 16, 2018

Ty Segall @ Trix, Antwerp

In recent years Ty Segall has become of my favourite artists. The ever prolific Californian guitarist has unleashed a slew of quality music in recent times. His blend of ear for melody and guitar heroics has made him a firm favourite in my heart. I recently decided to attend Primavera Sound in Spain with Ty's spot on the lineup a major factor. So I thought it would be a good idea to find a show elsewhere in Europe that his band was playing. I landed in the ancient city of Antwerp in Belgium and it was a good decision. The city is historic and beautiful and worth the trip and I got to see Ty perform in his own show at a venue named Trix.

It was a big lineup supporting Ty with two stages and seven bands. But it was Ty I came to see and hear and for an hour and a half they just blistered the stage. The Freedom band is his latest band of friends to play with him live. They are tight and expert. His longtime friend Mikal Cronin on bass combines expertly with drummer Charles Moothart to form a formidable rhythm section. Emmitt Kelly is a sublime guitarist and is a great foil to Ty, whilst Ben Boye  provides ample colour on keyboards. The whole night was a bit of a blur and I don't have the full set list. Suffice to say it totally rocked. They opened with the pounding rock anthem 'Wave Goodbye' then ran through a set of Segall classics such as 'Finger' and 'Caesar'. Of course they played a strong selection from this year's wonderful new album in 'Freedom's Goblin'. Tracks such as 'Alta' and 'Fanny Dog' were especially well received. They even encored with a Beatles tune in 'one After 909'. My only complaint about the show was the sound. The guitars were tuned way up virtually stomping all over the vocals. Which was a shame because the energy in the room was off the charts and the sound was the only thing stopping this night becoming one of the greatest music nights of my life.

Mar 29, 2018

Angel Olsen @ Giant Dwarf

Sorry for the late review but here it is. Last Saturday night I saw the incomparable Angel Olsen at the Giant Dwarf Theatre in Redfern. A venue that was a first for me. It's pretty great, small and intimate and with great character. Ms Olsen is more than pretty great. She is very great. This show was the second show of back to back sold out nights. Unlike her last tour this show was sans band. Just Angel and her nearly forty year old Gibson electric. I don't know if it was deliberate but she didn't play anything from her last album, the superb 'My Woman'. Maybe she felt they are songs better suited with a full band. But not to matter it was a great show, with a lot of deep cuts from her burgeoning career. Ms Olsen has a very impressive voice, full of range and great emotional depth. Her brand of country tinged rock is wounded and sometimes stark. But contains an overflow of humanity. She was also very charming, sometimes breaking into giggles and always enjoying her glass of red wine. She did a mean Australian accent and gave forth stories of her youth and her experiences of life. It was a great crowd, one that was very engaged and respectful. Certainly befitting such a great talent.

Set List
Since You Broke My Heart (Everly Brothers cover)
Drunk and With Dreams
Some Things Cosmic
You Are Song
All Mirrors
Tiniest Seed
If It's Alive, It Will

White Fire

Mar 25, 2018

Camp Cope @ Metro Theatre

Fierce. Intelligent. Passionate. Forthright. Angry. Talented. These are all adjectives I think can easily describe the Melbourne three piece Camp Cope. Friday night was their biggest Sydney show yet. A sold out Metro Theatre crowd sang along loudly to every word with passion and sheer joy. This band has sure come a long way in a short period of time. Their recently released second album has met with great acclaim and rightly so. It's a personal, passionate album that is important and timely and connecting with many fans. And it rocks. So does the band live. Georgia is a vocalist who reaches deep down inside for every line of her songs and Kelly's bass lines are the rock each song is based upon. There has been a lot of discussion lately on inequality in the music scene. Some healthy, some far from it. I don't think it's a black and white issue. But there is certainly a lot of ground to make up and Camp Cope are fighting the good fight. And they are hugely talented!

Set List
Jet Fuel Can't Melt Steel Beams
How To Socialise & Make Friends
Keep Growing
The Face of God
Stove Lighter
UFO Lighter
Lost (Season One)
The Opener

Mar 17, 2018

Grizzly Bear @ Sydney Opera House

Fashion and hype can be a terrible thing. Especially in the music world. The thought that an artist can be 'past their time' because of current trends is a useless and irrelevant idea. Grizzly Bear could fall into this trap. Around a decade ago they were the darlings of the music world. 'Veckatimest' was luminescent and follow up 'Shields' glowed as well. But then the band stood aside for a while. Last year they returned with 'Painted Ruins' and generally speaking it was very well received but there were choruses of 'we've moved on'. Well I believe true quality lasts. And in years to come Grizzly Bear will be revered and others hyped up will be in the dustbins of history.

So it was with great excitement that they returned to the Sydney Opera House last Monday night. It was a stark reminder of their greatness. Their sublime musicianship. Their incomparable harmonies and melodies. All five musicians displaying craft and intelligence. 'Painted Ruins' was well shown with 'Three Rings' being a certain standout. But it was a well rounded evening with the band reaching back to 'Knife' and 'On a Neck, On a Spit' and also giving us well received classics such as 'Two Weeks' and 'Sleeping Ute'. It was a rapturous crowd bedazzled by the beauty unfolding before us. By the time they closed the night with the simply glorious 'Sun in Your Eyes' it was a very grateful audience indeed.

Set List
Four Cypresses
Losing All Sense
Yet Again
Fine for Now
Ready, Able
Sleeping Ute
Mourning Sound
Glass Hillside
Two Weeks
On a Neck, On a Spit
Three Rings
While You Wait for the Others

Sun in Your Eyes

Feb 25, 2018

The National @ Sydney Opera House Forecourt

I am always a little surprised and bewildered at the level The National have reached. Not that they are playing football stadiums but they are playing large venues and winning major awards (even a Grammy!). Their music is subtle and deep but also a little sombre and introspective so it's pleasing to me that they have reached a fairly sizable audience. Wednesday night was the first of two back to back sold out shows at the Sydney Opera House Forecourt. They played the same venue four years and whilst this show wasn't quite at that level it was naturally still a great night. A testament to the greatness that is The National.

In 2017 the band released their latest album in 'Sleep Well Beast' and whilst I really enjoyed it I thought it lacked the spark of their previous great work. Of course naturally they would play a fair chunk from the album, in fact they opened the night with four tunes from it. The one that received the greatest noise was 'The System Only Dreams in Total Darkness'. Later on 'Day I Die' would also go down a treat but it was older songs that were best received. Such as the euphoric 'Bloodbuzz Ohio' or the crowd rousing 'Conversation 16'. It was really exciting to see them reach down deep in their bag of tricks for old classics like 'Wasp Nest' and Secret Meeting'. By the time they finished up with 'Fake Empire' we were all totally in the hands of the band. Of course the encore was great although Matt Berninger's voice was getting a bit rough especially during the loudness that is 'Mr November'. When they finally closed with 'About Today' it was a satisfied crowd indeed.

Set List
Nobody Else Will Be There
The System Only Dreams in Total Darkness
Walk It Back
Guilty Party
Don't Swallow the Cap
Bloodbuzz Ohio
Squalor Victoria
I Need My Girl
This Is The Last Time
Wasp Nest
Secret Meeting
Conversation 16
I'll Still Destroy You
Born to Beg
Secret Meeting
Slow Show
Carin at the Liquor Store
Day I Die
Fake Empire

Mr. November
Terrible Love
About Today

Feb 8, 2018

The War on Drugs @ Enmore Theatre

The War on Drugs are a virtuoso display of the wizardry of guitars. Their music is enormous but also full of smaller details. Each song is multi layered and progresses to a point of breaking beauty. It's not really immediate music but it must have struck a chord as their audience keeps growing. I guess that must be the result if you keep releasing such excellent music. Their last two albums are just truly superb, the latest one even winning a Grammy for Best Rock Album. So they now reached the level where they can sell out the Enmore Theatre two nights in a row. I attended the first night on Tuesday night and it was a spectacular night. The only slight drawback being that the set was fully loaded with the last two albums. But of course that's still a pretty great thing considering how great those two albums are. There is the euphoric burst of 'Holding On', the blasting hold of 'Under the Pressure', the boldness and enormity of 'An Ocean in Between the Waves' and the sheer beauty of 'Strangest Thing'. And then so much more. For example the acoustic beauty of 'In Reverse'. And so on and so on. It's quite gratifying to see such music find such an ecstatic audience.

Set List
In Chains
An Ocean in Between the Waves
Strangest Thing
Nothing to Find
Knocked Down
Accidentally Like a Martyr (Warren Zevon cover)
Red Eyes
Thinking of a Place
Holding On
Under the Pressure
In Reverse

Eyes to the Wind

Feb 6, 2018

Sydney Laneway Festival 2018

Sydney's Laneway Festival on Sunday was once again an enjoyable experience packed with great music and a friendly vibe. The food vendors have really gone up a notch and the spacious grounds make for a relaxed and fun time. For the first time since 2012 it wasn't totally sold out. Probably because the line up lacked a huge headliner but the programme was packed with quality and variation. Something for everyone for sure. My highlight was (Sandy) Alex G (pictured above). Alex G from Philadelphia released one of my favourite albums of 2017 and it was great to see him live for the first time. His brand of melodic and off kilter rock is quite infectious. I will be very interested to see where his career takes him. I didn't stay for the greatness of The War on Drugs as I am seeing them Tuesday night at the Enmore Theatre. But I did Australia's very own Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever who were wonderful. Their cascading and rollicking guitars with big melodies made for a great way to spend Sunday afternoon. Highly recommended to see them live.

The biggest surprise of the day for me were London's Wolf Alice. I have listened to some of their music but it didn't really appeal to me. A little to basic and A to B. But live they were ferocious and hugely impressive. Great power and huge builds and crashes. Their drummer and guitarists were great but it was singer Ellie Rowsell who really stole the show. What a talent she is. They truly completed a great day for me.