Dec 4, 2018

Kevin Morby & Waxahatchee @ Sydney Opera House

Quite simply this was a night of sheer beauty and love. A night of celebration of song. It was really special. Waxahatchee (Katie Crutchfield) and Kevin Morby have been touring Australia together performing solo co headlining shows. They are exceptional songwriters, armed with an innate talent to tap into the human soul. Sunday night was the final night of the short tour, in the iconic Sydney Opera House. Katie went first, showing off her beautiful, soulful voice. She played some new ones and old ones, plus a couple off her recently released EP 'Great Thunder'. My favourite was 'You Left Me With An Ocean'. This was performed on a baby grand piano as were a couple of other tunes. The rest were performed on acoustic, with my favourite being 'Sparks Fly'. We also received a couple of covers, with the Lucinda Williams 'Fruits of My Labor' being especially wonderful.

Kevin Morby followed after a short break and ably showed yet again what a talent he is. His set was mostly on electric guitar, but he also plied the piano. He opened with what I believe is a new song in 'Hail Mary'. What a song it was. The rest of the set was a nice selection from his collection of four albums. All of it was great but I especially enjoyed 'Dorothy', my favourite song of 2016. 'Destroyer' was also superb, performed on the baby grand. As a special treat Kevin returned for his encore partnered by Katie. I'm sure everyone's hearts soared at this point. For good measure we received a Jason Molina song as well as a Bob Dylan cover. They then closed with the haunting 'Beautiful Strangers'.  What an ending to a very special night.

Set List
Hail Mary
I Hear You Calling (Bill Fay Cover) > Parade
Aboard My Train
All of My Life
Ferris Wheel
I Have Been to the Mountain
Harlem River > City Music
Cut Me Down

The Dark Don't Hide It (Jason Molina cover) (with Waxahatchee)
It Ain't Me Babe (Bob Dylan cover) (with Waxahatchee)
Beautiful Strangers (with Waxahatchee)

Dec 3, 2018

Fairgrounds Festival 2018

We ventured down to Berry on Saturday for the 4th edition of the Fairgrounds Festival. It started on Friday night but we decided to just make a day trip for Day Two. What a wonderful day we had. It's  a very relaxed festival with a nice friendly vibe, set on a grassy oval that is the Berry Showgrounds. There is plenty of room to relax and even if you are a fair way from the stage the sound travels really well. There are two stages for music. A large open air one and a smaller one that is set in an old cow shed. That's where we spent most of our day.

Total highlight of the day was Kevin Morby's mid afternoon set (see below), but there was plenty to enjoy through out the day. Waxahatchee's set was wonderful. Katie Crutchfield is such a great songwriter and has an amazing voice. Kevin Morby also joined her for a Jason Molina cover in 'The Dark Don't Hide It'. What a moment that was.

We also enjoyed a great set by the legend Billy Bragg. He played California Stars with Courtney Barnett. Lastly it was wonderful to see Wil Wagner perform a solo set. Australia’s poet laureate played 3 new songs that will be on the next Smith Street Band album. Plus a whole bunch of crowd favourites that had the whole crowd singing!

But Morby was the man. I have been very lucky to see Kevin in Europe and the US, both times with a full band. This time, his first in Australia, was solo. Mainly plying his electric, he wowed us and serenaded us with a nice cross section of his stellar catalogue. It was all great but probably the highlight was when Katie joined him for a rendition of the superb 'Beautiful Strangers'. But it got even better. I met him! Thanks to my wonderful wife who pushed me into meeting him after his set. He was so nice and engaging and he gave me his guitar pick. I floated on clouds for the rest of the day. What a day it was!

Set List
I Hear You Calling (Bill Fay Cover) > Parade
Aboard My Train
All of My Life
Harlem River > City Music
I Have Been to the Mountain
Cut Me Down
Beautiful Strangers (with Waxahatchee)

Oct 1, 2018

Destroyer @ Oxford Art Factory

Friday night at the Oxford Art Factory felt a long time coming. In fact I never ever thought it would come. Seeing Destroyer was something I knew I wanted for a very long time. But I honestly thought he would never tour. Dan Bejar that is, or Destroyer as is his artistic name. Destroyer was a name easily at the top of my 'never seen artists' list. I have loved his music for a very long time. His gift for melody and drama coupled with an astonishing lyrical ability made him lodge very deeply in my heart. So when he was announced a tour of Australia I was extremely exited. It would be a solo tour which excited me even more as it would allow his magnificent songs to flourish with beautiful abandon. And so it proved Friday night.

Dan took the stage just after 9.30 with his well worn (and loved) red acoustic Guild guitar. He then played for a bit over an hour, I could easily have taken more, delving widely across his huge repertoire of classic songs. It was certainly a well balanced set. Something for everyone I would have thought. In fact he played two new songs which I think were both great. He even gave us a beautiful New Pornographers song. I most pleased too that three songs from his classic album 'Streethawk: A Seduction" were presented on the night. Especially the magnificent 'Helena', my personal highlight of the night. Dan didn't say much but seemed very grateful for the applause. There were some small quips. My favourite being 'I have two educational songs and this is one of them'. It was truly beautiful night. Just a genius songwriter, his solitary guitar and a slew of great songs on a bare stage. Dreams fulfilled.

Set List
Watercolours into the Ocean
Stay Lost
Crimson Tide (new song)
English Music
Times Square
Tinseltown Swimming in Blood
A Light Travels Down the Catwalk
Foam Hands
Cue Synthesizer (new song)
Streets of Fire (The New Pornographers cover)
European Oils
What Road
Don't Become the Thing You Hated

Virgin With a Memory

Sep 27, 2018

Wolf Alice @ Metro Theatre

Wolf Alice are a complete force live. A thunderstorm of guitar and vocal. If you ever have the chance to see them live then definitely do. Sunday night at the Metro was the first date of a short Australian tour. In fact they only arrived in the morning so their energy was quite high all things considered. I have to say I'm not a huge fan of the band on record. I do like them but not a total devotee. But live their songs become a force of nature. Lead singer Ellie Rowsell is a force of personality on stage, commanding and personal all at once. She is backed by a great band too, full of energy and power. My favourite songs on the night were 'Yuk Foo', 'You're a Germ' and 'Bros'.

Set List
Your Loves Whore
Yuk Foo
You're a Germ
Don't Delete the Kisses
St. Purple & Green
Beautifully Unconventional
Formidable Cool
Planet Hunter
Space & Time
Visions of a Life
Moaning Lisa Smile

Giant Peach

Jul 29, 2018

Camp Cope @ Sydney Opera House

Camp Cope sure have come a long way. As lead singer Georgia said on Wednesday night 3 short years ago they played their first show in Collingwood and now here they were playing the Sydney Opera House Concert Hall. What an achievement that is. Camp Cope have built a devoted audience on two albums that explore love, depression, life and everything else. The second album especially shines a light on the issues of a male dominated music world and also the issue of masculine toxicity and all the issues that come with that. They do it all in powerful package that delivers. No wonder their audience continues to grow.

Wednesday night was probably the longest set I have seen them play. For an hour and a half they gave their all and then some. They played nearly their full catalogue and even had time for covers. The most amazing cover was the extremely poignant 'Heads Roll Off', a tribute to the immensely missed Scott Hutchison who we lost earlier this year. Also very special was a rare performance of 'I've Got You' which Georgia performed solo on acoustic. The song is a tribute to her late father and tremendously moving. The only slight quibble on the night was the sound. The vocals and lead guitar seemed a little low in the mix and therefore were a bit dominated by the bass. But apart from that issue it was a triumphant and joyous night.

Set List
Warning (Green Day cover)
Keep Growing
The Face of God
West Side Story
How To Socialise & Make Friends
Stove Lighter
UFO Lighter
I’ve Got You (Georgia solo)
Head Rolls Off (Frightened Rabbit cover)
Jet Fuel Can't Melt Steel Beams
Footscray Station
Flesh and Electricity
Lost (Season One)
The Opener

Jul 28, 2018

Kendrick Lamar @ Qudos Bank Arena

Kendrick Lamar is unique for many reasons but I think the most relevant one is that he is perhaps the only artist in the world right now that is both commercially successful and also critically acclaimed. Most of the charts are filled with artists raking in the dollars but hardly bringing the acclaim in the field of artistic merit. Kendrick does both, appealing to various subsets of people in a hugely satisfying manner. Tuesday night at Qudos Bank Arena was the first of two back to back sold out nights. What a show it was. He is a magnetic, generous and spectacular performer. He is also slightly understated in the realm of stadium shows. Although this show had a few more bells and whistles compared to his show at the same venue 3 years ago. There are more visuals projected onto a large screen and he even came into the middle of the crowd onto an elevating stage to perform 'Money Trees'. Kendrick doesn't say much. He lets his music do the speaking. Of course he performed a huge chunk from last year's smash hit album in the shape of 'DAMN.' The highlight being a great rendition of 'HUMBLE.', where the audience took the song from him for a near acapella version before he basically went back and performed the song again in its entirety. Of course he made room for classics like 'Backseat Freestyle' and 'Bitch, Don't Kill My Vibe' too. The show was finished off nicely with his huge hit from the Black Panther movie in the form of 'All the Stars'. It completed a night with a performer that is at the top of game. In complete and total control.

Set List
King Kunta
Big Shot
Collard Greens
Swimming Pools (Drank)
Backseat Freestyle
Money Trees
m.A.A.d city
Bitch, Don't Kill My Vibe

All the Stars
King's Dead

Jul 19, 2018

Lord Huron @ Factory Theatre

I missed Lord Huron on their first tour of Australia, so this time around I wasn't going to miss out. They have certainly made a bigger name for themselves, a growing reputation only helped by this year's excellent album in 'Vide Noir'. Thankfully their Sydney show last Sunday night wasn't at a massive venue but at the always reliable Factory Theatre in Enmore. It was a fun night, a great band armed with a slew of hugely enjoyable songs. Most of the tunes were taken from their previous two albums although I was very pleased to hear an older one in the stately 'Ends of the Earth'.

Leader Ben Schneider is not only an excellent singer but also has an amiable charm keeping an excellent crowd enthralled through out the night. He led the way on acoustic and what once was a solo project is now a fully fleshed out band with four guitars, drums and keyboards. The band was excellent, plying their brand of country and folk tinged rock with great aplomb. Lord Huron are certainly a band to see live if they ever come through your time.

Set List
Ancient Names, Pt. I
Meet Me in the Woods
Hurricane (Johnnie's Theme)
Never Ever
Ends of the Earth
Dead Man's Hand
Back From the Edge
The Balancer’s Eye
Wait by the River
Frozen Pines
Celestial Poem Interlude
La Belle Fleur Sauvage
Fool for Love
Ancient Names, Pt. II
Way Out There
When the Night Is Over
The World Ender
Time to Run

The Night We Met