May 26, 2013

Kraftwerk @ Sydney Opera House

Well, that was pretty unique. Kraftwerk were THE ticket of VIVID LIVE in 2013. Tickets were sold on a ballot system and were obviously in great demand. They were here to play 8 shows (featuring a particular album at each show) over 4 nights. So 2 albums, or shows, a night. We scored tickets to the first show featuring "Autobahn", an album I remember fondly from my youth. Yes, I was into Kraftwerk whilst my friends were enjoying Sherbet. Having said I haven't listened to them in years. So I wasn't really sure what the show would be like. Well, as said, it was pretty unique. The four German men entered the stage and took their place behind their consoles. Then they proceeded to dazzle us for 90 minutes of German electronic wizardry.

"Autobahn" was the band's fourth album and was released in 1974. It was their first album to feature vocals. They actually opened the set with "The Robots", before they launched into the album proper. All of the music was accompanied with 3D images. We were given white cardboard glasses for the show. Some were effective and some were static. Each song had totally different images. Some really flew off the screen. These were the most effective. It was a slightly surreal experience that had the audience enthralled through out. As the album finished I wondered if more music would be on offer. There sure was. They basically gave us a "Greatest Hits" package. We received "Model" and "Computer World" and "Trans-Europe Express", which was my favourite. It was a dazzling show. Although it did feel a trifle long as the electronic influence can feel a little repetitive at times. But it was certainly unlike any show that I have ever seen and I was certainly glad I entered the ballot for this one.  

Set List
The Robots
Kometenmelodie 1
Kometenmelodie 2
The Hall of Mirrors
Trans-Europe Express
Metal on Metal
The Man Machine
Computer Love
Computer World
It's More Fun to Compute
Tour De France 1983
Tour De France 2003
Boing Boom Tschak
Techno Pop
Musique Non Stop

May 25, 2013

...And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead @ Metro Theatre

The concept of seeing a classic album played in full can sometimes be problematic. Of course it would seem ideal to hear and feel that classic and hopefully favourite album played from start to finish. But on the other hand there is no element of surprise. No wondering what comes next in the set list. You are guaranteed to hear great music that's for sure though. I have been to a couple in the past. Dirty Three and Sonic Youth to be exact. And both turned out to be quite special. And both bands tacked on some extras just to fill out the night. When Austin hard rockers ...And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead announced that they would be giving the same treatment to their classic decade long album "Source Tags & Codes" I thought two things. This will be great and this will sell out in an instant. I was right in the first instance but dead wrong in the second.

When we arrived at the Metro Theatre on Thursday night we first noticed that the back of the theatre was curtained off and that the area in front of the stage was sparsely populated to say the least. By the time the band took the stage it had filled out a bit but there was still plenty of room for more. This was a mystery. "Source Tags & Codes" is a ferocious beast of an album that ebbs and flows between beauty and assault. It is poetic, strange and unique. I know the band are sailing under the radar at the moment but where was everyone. No matter. It was still great. As "Invocation" floated across the room with its stark piano lines the anticipation built. Then "It Was There That I Saw You" was launched and we were off and running. The iconic guitar riff of "Another Morning Stoner" just turned up the volume. As they pummeled through the album it brought back so many great memories of the time when the album was released. Conrad Keely is a ferocious frontman, whilst Jason Reese's drumming is a huge feature of their sound. "How Near How Far" was a real favourite of the night as was the title track but it was probably "Days Of Being Wild" that surprisingly became the highlight of the night. It was a beast. As is the album. As was the band.

May 22, 2013

Sea Of Love-The National

Well this is rather good. But you knew that hey?
The National. We all love them.

May 18, 2013

Hospital Ships

I'm very excited to let you know that June 18 will see the release of a new album from Hospital Ships. "Destruction In Yr Soul" will be the third album from Hospital Ships, which started as a solo project for Jordan Geiger but has now evolved into a fully formed band. Geiger was a member of Kansas' now defunct Minus Story, one of the more under rated bands of the last decade. The album, to be released by Graveface, contains 8 tracks and is sure to be unique, strangely emotive and very personal.

Destruction In Yr Soul Track Listing
1 Come Back to Life
2 Joan of Arc
3 If It Speaks
4 Desolation Waltz
5 Lost Folk Song
6 All Yr Gold
7 Servants
8 Remaining Light


May 16, 2013

Local Natives @ Metro Theatre

I could name quite a few, a lot really, bands that receive more acclaim than Local Natives. Bands that don't possess anywhere near the talent that this Californian five piece does. But let's not be negative. Let's just enjoy this band for what they are and what they bring. A band of immaculate harmonies, supreme rhythms, insane melodies, gut checking emotions and great personality. Yeah, you could say I think Local Natives are ultra special. If you were at Wednesday's night show at the Metro Theatre you would know what I mean. The room was filled with joy, overflowing in fun. It was a great night and you know what. I think this band is only scratching the surface of just how good they can be.

When I first heard "Breakers" earlier this year I had an inkling that "Hummingbird" could be a bit on the special side. The band's second album hasn't let me down. And right now it is still my favourite album of 2013. "Gorilla Manor" was great but "Hummingbird" takes things up a notch. More depth, more pathos, more emotion. It's a powerful and diverse record brimming with thoughts and ideas. I love it. Last night we naturally received a good dose of both albums. It did seem however that the "Gorilla Manor" tracks were better received by the crowd. I put this down mainly to the fact that they are more anthemic, more conducive to mass singalongs. Songs like "World News" and "Airplanes" and "Sun Hands" are just made for crowd involvement. So much fun and rapture. But it was the "Hummingbird" songs that really had me going. "You & I" was a great start, but it was actually a couple of 'lesser' album cuts that really impressed. "Black Balloons" and "Wooly Mammoth" were huge live. So much grunt and power. But there was one song that rose above all. The heartbreaking "Colombia". Of course this song is about the death of Kelsey Ayer's mother. It's sad but ultimately moving and live it's a juggernaut. Ayer and Taylor Rice are front and centre in this band swapping vocal duties and instruments. The band all harmonise though, creating a wall of serene vocals. Matt Frazier drives the band forward on drums, providing a solid base for the band to work their great melodies and harmonies. When they return for the encore we are treated to "Shape Shifter", my favourite song off the first album. A great way to end an night in the hands of a truly great band.

Set List
You & I
Wide Eyes
Black Balloons
Warning Sign
Mt. Washington
Heavy Feet
World News
Wooly Mammoth
Who Knows Who Cares
Sun Hands

Shape Shifter

May 11, 2013

Frightened Rabbit @ Oxford Art Factory

Thursday night at the Oxford Art Factory was a seething, sweaty mass of humanity. We came as one to celebrate song. Passion. Life. Scotland's Frightened Rabbit were finally back in this country and they gave their all and then some. You can best file this band under 'Flying Under the Radar'. They have everything. Great melodies. Euphoric choruses. Passion. Singalongs. And yet they can't break through in a big way. But their fans are dedicated and know their special qualities. This show sold out a while back so there is that. But it amazes me that much less talented bands play much larger venues. The vagaries of life. But no matter, the bonus is we get to see them up close in intimate venues. We can feel the sweat. See their eyes. It's probably all worth it.

This night felt special. We were ready for special and they delivered. Off the back of this year's excellent "Pedestrian Verse" we received a huge chunk from that album and a good spread of older material. So much so that by the time the encore finished it was approaching midnight. But no one really wanted to go home. Not after so much joy was spread around the room. The band jumped out of the gate with the rousing "Living In Colour", which was soon followed by the epic "The Modern Leper", a show stopper if there ever was one. There was no let up after that. "Old Old Fashioned" bounced off the walls. "Fast Blood" was especially welcome too. All the new songs sounded great. "Backyard Skulls" was huge whilst "December's Traditions" went up a notch in the live arena. And "State Hospital" is already a classic. Such a great song. "My Backwards Walk" was emotionally cathartic. Even more so was the highlight of the night. "Poke" was not only delivered solo and acoustic. But Unplugged! Scott ventured to the front of the stage and we engaged in some dark and passionate singalong. He stopped mid song and had a chat and then continued. It was intimate and emotional and tear inducing. His depth of honesty and humanity is quite astounding. And the accent helps it even more. "Acts of Man" closed the set in epic fashion before the band delivered a great encore. "The Woodpile" should be a world wide number one hit, whilst current closer "The Loneliness And The Scream" is a perfect conclusion. It builds and builds until are hearts are swelling and bursting with pure joy. Again, this band should be huge. But it's great to have this little secret. 

Set List
Living In Colour
The Modern Leper
Old Old Fashioned
Late March, Death March
December's Traditions
Nothing Like You
Backyard Skulls
Fast Blood
The Oil Slick
My Backwards Walk
State Hospital
Scottish Winds
Good Arms Vs. Bad Arms
Swim Until You Can't See Land
Acts Of Man

The Woodpile
The Twist
The Loneliness And The Scream

May 5, 2013

Hero Brother-Sarah Neufeld


Love this! Looking forward to her album!

May 1, 2013

Newtown Social Club

Tonight I was lucky to be invited to the industry launch of Sydney's latest entertainment venue. Newtown Social Club looks likely to be the best thing to happen to Sydney in quite a while. As you are probably aware the King St institution Sandringham Hotel went into receivership last year and was up for sale. Thankfully the people behind Melbourne's Northcote Social Club and Corner Hotel swooped in and ensured live music would get a big shot in the arm. After months of closure it's finally happening. They have done a wonderful job. Gone are the stale carpet and poker machines. Instead we have exposed brick, wooden features, subtle light fittings and even some greenery at the back. The bar is well stocked with a good selection of beers and ciders and the bistro serves an array of pizza, burgers and hot dogs. The venue officially swings open the doors on Friday and will be open daily from noon to midnight. Of course the big question is when will live music return? No proper word yet, but hopefully soon. It will, I believe, be in the upstairs room when it is ready.

Stay tuned Sydney. This place is going to be great!