Mar 8, 2015

The Felice Brothers @ Newtown Social Club

Over the last decade or so I have come to listen to a lot of American music. Most of the time it is my go to point when I listen to music. Which is naturally on a daily basis. There are probably many reasons. Foremost it is because of the quality. But probably the most important reason is an emotional one. American music fits my mindset and fills my heart. The traditions of folk and country and rock hit the hardest. For my listening ear, and this has to be totally subjective, it's the heartfelt lyric, the guitar lick, the violin plucked that make the happiest and the most nourished. The Felice Brothers tick all the boxes. I really hate that expression but it will do nicely here. Now they might not be the most talented band going, although they are pretty talented. But they reek honesty. They are filled with an authenticity that few match. And the best part when you see them live, as I did Saturday night at the Newtown Social Club, they give 100 per cent. Totally.

They also have a large catalogue and they mine it thoroughly. And they all sing, although Ian Felice is the main man. But it's a total team effort, which produces a great show. Guaranteed. I won't go deep into the highlights. But the show was worth it one three counts alone. The back to back stark beauty of "Omie Wise" and "Ruby Mae". James Felice leading the enthusiastic crowd on a sing along of "Whiskey In My Whiskey". Closing the show with a burning cover of the spitfire Neil Young song "Rockin' In The Free World". American Music! Have to love it!

Set List
Meadow Of A Dream
Saturday Night
Cherry Licorice
Dead Dog
Silver In The Shadow
Whiskey In My Whiskey
Honda Civic
The Big Surprise
Love Me Tenderly
Omie Wise (Doc Watson cover)
Ruby Mae
Frankie's Gun
Cus's Catskill Gym
Got What I Need
White Limo
Penn Station
The Mating of the Doves

Run Chicken Run
Lincoln Continental
Rockin' In The Free World (Neil Young cover)

Mar 4, 2015

Stephen Malkmus and The Jicks @ Newtown Social Club

I am currently reading a book on the classic Pavement album "Wowee Zowee". As a long term fan of the great American band it has stirred up a lot of memories and prompted me to binge listen to the greatness again. Of course the man responsible for the greatness was primarily Stephen Malkmus. Tuesday night he played a show in my neighbourhood. An intimate gig at the Newtown Social Club. He and the Jicks have toured Australia several times now and it is perhaps strange to think that this band have actually existed longer than Pavement. And they are a fine band in their own right with many great songs penned by Malkmus. Of course it's very hard to follow up the supremity of Pavement but they do a pretty great job. Naturally for many years Pavement tunes were not heard live. Which is fair enough. Create your own identity, move on, etc. But the last couple of years have seen Malkmus throw in a Pavement song, normally in the encore. Last night it was "Lions (Linden), a slightly obscure one to be sure, but still stamped with greatness.

The rest of the night was a free wheeling ride though the Jicks catalogue, pulling songs from nearly all of the albums. It was slightly shambolic, fractionally absurd, mightily great. Malkmus was in fine form, opening with the line 'Welcome to the comedy hour'. You get the feeling that he takes his craft very seriously but also that he likes to play around the edges, keep it loose and fun. Not worrying if mistakes are made, happy to keep the audience guessing. That is part of the allure I think. Besides the fact that Malkmus has written some of the finest music to grace this planet I love that he has this mystique, this unapproachable cool. Something you either have or you don't have. You can't manufacture it or buy it. It doesn't appeal to everyone, but it hits so hard with his true fans. Long may the reign of the Malk continue.

Set List
Cinnamon and Lesbians
No One Is (As I Are Be)
Rumble at the Rainbo
Hopscotch Willie
Power (new song)
Animal Midnight
Houston Hades
Out of Reaches
Baby C'mon

Lions (Linden) (Pavement cover)

Mar 2, 2015

Sharon Van Etten @ Factory Theatre

I am just a whole lot in love with Sharon Van Etten. Her talent levels are exceedingly high. Great songs with full depth and a voice that just won't quit make for great music and a great show. This was the case Sunday night at the Factory Theatre. Her 2014 album was clearly a favourite of mine, one of the best of the year. So I was very excited to hear these songs live. They did not let me down. Especially the beautifully rendered "Tarifa" and the powerful "Your Love Is Killing Me". The first time Sharon toured Australia it was a smaller affair. Just her, Heather Woods Broderick on keyboards and Doug Keith on guitar. This time around she had a drummer and a bass player. The bass player by the way was none other than Brad Cook of Megafaun fame. The whole band were great, adding extra power to the music. But it is Sharon who takes centre stage. Swapping from electric to acoustic her powerful voice is both strong and emotional. She even played three new songs. Two that are on an upcoming 7 inch single and one that she performed solo that has no title as yet. All were great, indicative of the talent that Ms Van Etten possesses. I was quite pleased to hear an older tune in "Don't Do It" which was great. I just wished she could have player for longer, especially as we didn't get to hear enough songs from her previous album in "Tramp". But what we received was great indeed. Songs of searing emotion delivered with heart and soul.

Set List
Afraid of Nothing
Taking Chances
Break Me
Nothing Will Change
Magic Chords
All Over Again
I Don't Want To Let You Down
(new song)
Tell Me
Your Love Is Killing Me

Don't Do It