Sep 28, 2014

Neutral Milk Hotel @ Hollywood Bowl

Neutral Milk Hotel have become an iconic band. A band of almost mythic status. They made two albums in the 90s of immense quality. The second one is close to perfection. Then they disappeared and the myth grew. Eventually, perhaps surprisingly, they came back. In 2013 they started to play live again. They even managed to make it all the way to Australia. I was lucky enough to see them at the Enmore Theatre. It was a night I will never forget. Such joy. Such happiness. Such excitement. So in 2014 I was getting itchy feet to return to the USA. To revisit some old favourites, see some new sights. But I needed a touchstone to base the trip around.
Then I found it!

Neutral Milk Hotel were playing a show at the iconic Hollywood Bowl. I was in. And what a night it was. Having said that it wasn't as perfect as the Enmore show. Mainly because that was a standing affair and we were down the front, close to the stage and feeling part of a heaving mass of joyous humanity. The Hollywood Bowl is a great venue. It a great experience, but it is set up as a sitting venue with a lot of the areas designed for dining. Very civilised. And quite large. So even though my seats were pretty handy I was still a little way from the stage. So it felt a passive show, not the emotional blockbuster that Sydney was. But the band was still great. From the moment Jeff Mangum entered solo and started "I Will Bury You in Time" I was hooked. As would be expected the set was fairly similar to Sydney. The main point of difference was no "Oh Comely" in Los Angeles. But instead we did receive the remarkable "Little Birds". Of course songs like "Two Headed Boy" and "In The Aeroplane Over the Sea" were just magical. And if you are not moved by their closing three songs then I'm not sure if you have blood in your veins. Who knows what the future holds for this mythic band. Will they ever record again? Will they continue to tour? Who knows? For now I am just grateful that they are with us.

Set List
I Will Bury You in Time
Holland, 1945
The King of Carrot Flowers, Part One
The King of Carrot Flowers, Parts Two and Three
Ferris Wheel on Fire
Two-Headed Boy
The Fool
In the Aeroplane Over the Sea
A Baby for Pree / Glow Into You
Gardenhead / Leave Me Alone
Song Against Sex
Ruby Bulbs
Snow Song, Part One
Little Birds
Two-Headed Boy, Part Two


Sep 24, 2014

The Avett Brothers @ Shrine Auditorium

The Shrine Auditorium is an historic and legendary venue in Los Angeles. So to see The Avett Brothers on a recent balmy Sunday night was an extreme pleasure that I won't forget any day soon. The Avett Brothers are a joy to behold live. Their downright enthusiasm and genuine warmness is hard to resist. They represent all that is good in American music.. They write great songs and perform them with stellar energy. They have also grown in number since the first time I saw them a few years back. It's not just 'the brothers' anymore. Their shows are also a surprise every time as with an extensive back catalogue their set lists are wide and varied. But you know we will always receive the achingly beautiful "I and Love and You". What an amazing song!
What an amazing night!

Set List
Satan Pulls the Strings
Laundry Room
Traveling Song
Live and Die
Paranoia in B Major
Morning Song
And It Spread
Rejects in the Attic
Le Reel Du Pendu/Les Bars De La Prison
Talk On Indolence
Down with the Shine
Head Full of Doubt/Road Full of Promise
Fisher Road
In the Garden (traditional cover)
Kick Drum Heart
Go to Sleep
The Race Is On (George Jones cover)
Slight Figure Of Speech
If It's the Beaches

I've Endured (Ola Belle Reed cover)
I and Love and You
Goodnite, Sweetheart, Goodnite (The Spaniels cover)

Sep 22, 2014

Ty Segall @ The Mohawk

Recently I had the good fortune to be in Austin, Texas and whilst there on a Friday night I saw the ever prolific Ty Segall in concert. The man recently released his latest album in "Manipulator". It's a great album and most of his set on that night was drawn from this record. He played a great venue in The Mohawk, which is a multi level complex with many nooks and crannies. Segall played the out door stage which is small and intimate and suited him perfectly. He opened with the title track of the new album and proceeded to tear through his set with amazing energy, playing great songs such as "It's Over", "Feel" and the epic "The Singer". Also on hand was his good friend Mikal Cronin who played bass in his band. I can't wait to see Ty again when he tours in December.

Sep 4, 2014

Bob Dylan @ State Theatre

There are singers, there are great singers. Then there are legends. Bob Dylan is most certainly a legend. You could make a strong argument that he is the greatest songwriter we have ever seen. But I had never seen him live. So the opportunity to see him in a great venue such as the State Theatre was too good to pass up. But, as they say, time waits for no man. And at his advanced age I didn't really expect his voice to be strong and vital. But I wasn't prepared for this. At first it was hard to latch onto this show, his voice failing to reach in any way. But I soon got used to it. But here's the kicker. I certainly didn't expect a medley of great hits. Even Bob Dylan doesn't want to do that. But the whole show was nearly made up of more recent material. Which to be honest, isn't very good. The band was great, but a lot of the music was moderate mid tempo rock. We did hear a few classics. "She Belongs To Me" for example. But it just didn't do it for me. Even "Blowin' in the Wind" was unappealing in its cabaret version. I guess I should be grateful that I finally got to see the legend that is Bob Dylan. But I left feeling a little underwhelmed.

Set List
Things Have Changed
She Belongs to Me
Beyond Here Lies Nothin'
Workingman's Blues #2
Waiting for You
Duquesne Whistle
Pay in Blood
Tangled Up In Blue
Love Sick
High Water (For Charley Patton)
Simple Twist of Fate
Early Roman Kings
Forgetful Heart
Spirit on the Water
Scarlet Town
Soon after Midnight
Long and Wasted Years

All Along the Watchtower
Blowin' in the Wind