Apr 21, 2017

Strand Of Oaks @ Newtown Social Club

Thursday night was to be a bittersweet one. It was a total pleasure to see Strand of Oaks for the first time. But it was also sadly my last gig at the soon closing Newtown Social Club. It was so exciting a couple of years ago when the old Sandringham Hotel was transformed into a brand new venue with local and international acts. I had the pleasure of seeing Thee Oh Sees, Stephen Malkmus, Daniel Rossen and many others there. And even though the small venue was often sold out it could never make a profit. So the bottom line won and live music in Sydney lost out. Sadly.

But last night was a good way to go out as the soulful, boisterous rock of Philadelphia's Strand of Oaks filled the room with joyous effect. It was a short set to be sure, but Timothy Showalter's beast of a voice boomed out loud, ably supported by his very tight four piece band. The set was divided between tracks from their last two albums in 'Heal' and this year's 'Hard Love'. I was able to spot the set list before the show and the the encore song was going to be the wonderful 'JM', a tribute to the late great Jason Molina. Sadly for some reason they didn't play it as there was to be no encore. Still it was a night to be savoured as I lamented the loss of a wonderful Sydney venue.

Set List
Shut In
For Me
Kraut Rock
Radio Kids
On The Hill
Rest Of It
Goshen '97

Apr 14, 2017

The Mountain Goats @ Factory Theatre

The Mountain Goats are like beautiful old friends who every time they visit they are most welcome. Their wit, heart and humanity are self evident and warmly received. Such was the case again last Sunday night in Sydney. A sold out crowd enjoyed every second and it was certainly a room full of love and warmth. The Mountain Goats have a huge catalogue so naturally there won't always be songs you wish you could hear but there will also be surprises and delights. I do believe their recent albums have lacked greatness but it was still a great night. They actually played a couple of tunes from their upcoming release in 'Goths'. One song was a bit average but I really enjoyed 'Shelved'. I also learned its slang meaning later which added a different perspective to the song.

John Darnielle, their fearless leader, is an extremely erudite and intelligent front man and it's always a treat to hear his mid section of the set when he goes solo. He delivered an old unrecorded song in 'Shower' which was definitely the highlight of the night. Of course the classics came late in the set too, culminating in another spectacular version of 'This Year ', with every single person singing along in full voice. I first saw this band back in 2007 and I stated then that seeing them live was like an old school revival meeting. This opinion still holds true to this day. It's always a pleasure and a great experience to see them live. Always and forever.

Set List
In the Craters on the Moon
Harlem Roulette
Damn These Vampires
Animal Mask
Heel Turn 2
Steal Smoked Fish
Shower (John solo)
The Alphonse Mambo (John solo)
Thank You Mario But Our Princess is in Another Castle (John solo)
We Do It Different on the West Coast
The Diaz Brothers
New Zion
Oceanographer's Choice
Broom People
Song for Dennis Brown
Up the Wolves
This Year

Amy AKA Spent Gladiator 1
No Children
Spent Gladiator 2