Jan 19, 2019

Favourite Films of 2018

The year in film was book ended for me by two Mexican masters. Near the beginning of 2018 we saw the masterful The Shape of Water, directed by Guillermo del Toro. It was a superb exercise in magical realism. I thought it deservedly won Best Picture. In that same crop of films were two other magnificent films in Lady Bird, a wonderful directorial debut for Greta Gerwig and Phantom Thread, yet another cinematic masterpiece from the great Paul Thomas Anderson. Through the rest of the year my favourites were generally smaller films that saw very limited release. Such as the extremely moving Leave No Trace and the sparse and beautiful Lean on Pete. My favourite big budget film was definitely First Man, a truly masterful film that I believe deserved a much wider audience than it got. The other big story was the rise of Netflix. The Coen Brothers got into the act with the superb The Ballad of Buster Scruggs and Private Life was another small gem. But it was Alfonso Cuaron who delivered the best I believe. His deeply personal and stunning Roma was taken up by Netflix and it was a triumph in every sense of the word. I was lucky enough to see it on the big screen but thankfully it's also available in homes around the world. It might even be the first foreign language film to win Best Picture. We will soon found out.

1. Roma
2. The Shape of Water
3. Phantom Thread
4. Lady Bird
5. Call Me By Your Name
6. Leave No Trace
7. First Man
8. Lean on Pete
9. The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
10. Isle of Dogs

Jan 6, 2019

Interpol @ Sydney Opera House

I do believe that Interpol have always been a classically great rock band. When they emerged from the New York scene over a decade ago their driving, stylish brand of rock hit a hard note with many fans. In fact their first two albums I believe have achieved classic status. 'Turn on the Bright Lights' and 'Antics' are just truly superb albums. I was lucky enough to see them a few times in that early period, firstly at the Metro and then later at the Enmore Theatre. They were totally thrilling shows. Like most bands though they slowly decline in quality. To be sure Interpol still make good albums, including last year's 'Marauder', but they aren't consistently great as those first two.

But live they definitely are still quite spectacular. So a first time show at the Sydney Opera House on Saturday night was too good to pass up. I'm glad we were there to witness such a spectacular show. As befitting now a vintage band they gave us a slew of tracks from those first two albums plus a dip into the other albums and naturally a nice selection from their latest (which I quite enjoyed). Of the newer tracks my favorite was 'If You Really Love Nothing'. Of the older ones well there are really just too many to mention. But if I must then the beautifully elegant 'NYC' would rate a mention. As would the power rush that is 'Roland' or the giddy heights of 'Say Hello to the Angels'. It was all pretty great, also thanks to near perfect sound and a spectacular light show. And then the encore. Holy cow. Probably their three greatest songs. The impossibly pulsating 'Not Even Jail', the perfectly melodic 'Evil' and the guitar riff that basically launched them in 'Obstacle 1'. A perfect way to end what was a great night.

Set List
Pioneer to the Falls
If You Really Love Nothing
Public Pervert
Say Hello to the Angels
Leif Erikson
The Rover
Number 10
Rest My Chemistry
All the Rage Back Home
The New
Slow Hands

Not Even Jail
Obstacle 1

Jan 2, 2019

Best Live Shows of 2018

Once again in 2018 I felt very privileged to witness some amazing live music. A show I witnessed in January at the Sydney Festival was so incredibly emotionally powerful that I was certain it would be the best show I saw in 2018. Mount Eerie was an emotional sledgehammer. One man and his guitar baring his soul and making many, many people cry. It was truly superb. But then I made a huge decision. I decided to attend Primavera Sound in Barcelona in May. The lineup was stacked beyond belief. Wolf Parade, Ty Segall, Car Seat Headrest, Beach House, Deerhunter, Vince Staples, Grizzly Bear, The National, The War on Drugs, Father John Misty, Rostam. I could go on and on. It was all definitely worth it. A once in a lifetime experience. Out of that I managed to see the first three mentioned at shows in other European cities. They were all great but the two that were my favourites were my all time favourite Wolf Parade in Prague. A near perfect night. A perfect night though was Car Seat Headrest in Amsterdam. Just a sublime night all round and my favourite show of 2018. The other highlights of 2018 were finally seeing the incredible Destroyer in Sydney. I never ever thought Dan Bejar would tour. I was so happy he did. And then to top off the year we attended Fairgrounds Festival in the Southern Highlands of NSW. Out of that sprung a very special show at the Sydney Opera House. The great songwriters Kevin Morby and Waxahatchee in concert was a perfect way to end the year.

1. Car Seat Headrest @ Paradiso, Amsterdam
2. Wolf Parade @ Divadlo Aracha, Prague
3. Mount Eerie @ City Recital Hall
4. Kevin Morby & Waxahatchee @ Sydney Opera House
5. Destroyer @ Oxford Art Factory
6. The War on Drugs @ Enmore Theatre
7. Ty Segall @ Trix, Antwerp
8. Grizzly Bear @ Sydney Opera House
9. Godspeed You! Black Emperor @ Metro Theatre
10. Father John Misty @ Enmore Theatre