May 29, 2019

Dirty Three @ Sydney Opera House

Spectacular. Transcendent. Incendiary. These words could describe Dirty Three at the Sydney Opera House on Sunday night, but honestly they still don't probably do justice to the magnificent show we witnessed. A true privilege and pleasure to be there. Dirty Three are an iconic trio formed in Melbourne close to thirty years ago. Their first album was self titled and this year marks the 25 year anniversary of that explosive album. As such it was a great idea to have the band perform the record in full as part of the 2019 Vivid Festival.

The album consists of 7 songs and lasts approximately 45 minutes but this performance took it to nearly double the length. Two reasons. Songs were elongated and expanded to great effect. Best example being the blockbuster opener in 'Indian Love Song'. This song tore the roof off. Powerful and ecstatic to dramatic effect. Then there is Warren Ellis, the talismanic lead man. A true Australian icon. A living national treasure. He takes time between songs to tell rambling stories that take strange paths and unique twists. He comes across as the crazy old uncle in your family. His stories are about life and death, drugs and love and everything in between. But he is much more than that. His violin work is unique and visionary. He cajoles his instrument to produce ungodly sounds. On 'Odd Couple' he even pulled out the piano accordion. But the Dirty Three are more than one man. Jim White is in my opinion the greatest drummer to have ever lived. He can do it all. He can be subtle and bombastic. His ability to draw out sounds is second to none. Then there is the bedrock in Mick Turner. A wonderful guitarist, I think his playing is quite possibly under rated if that is possible. Their night reached a peak in the classic 'Everything's Fucked'. A song that provokes emotional peaks to this day. When the album concluded you could see the band didn't want to stop. So we had the added pleasure of four songs from 'Horse Stories', an album I consider to be their best. What a way to conclude a night from a legendary Australian band.

Set List
Indian Love Song
Better Go Home Soon
Odd Couple
Kim's Dirt
Everything's Fucked
The Last Night
Dirty Equation
1000 Miles
Sue's Last Ride
I Remember a Time When You Used To Love Me

May 22, 2019

Jeff Tweedy @ Metro Theatre

I have seen Wilco countless times over the years. The venerable Chicago band always putting on an excellent show. I even saw Tweedy a couple of years, the band headed by Jeff Tweedy and his son Spencer. Monday night though at the Metro Theatre I had the extreme pleasure of seeing the great man himself solo. It was truly solo too. Just Jeff Tweedy armed with a couple of acoustic guitars. For close on two hours he gave a superb performance. Amazing songs, great wit and comedic timing and that special voice that is warm and rich and full of humanity.

Mr Tweedy opened with the classic Wilco song 'Via Chicago' and the night was off and running. He would then proceed to weave and wander through his thirty years of stellar songwriting. Many Wilco songs, but he also gave some tunes from the band that preceded them in Uncle Tupelo. I especially loved 'New Madrid'. Hearing it live it really struck me just how beautiful the melody is. Also on the night were a couple of songs from the Billy Bragg collaboration and of course a number of songs from his two recent solo albums. Of these my particular favourite was 'Having Been Is No Way to Be'. Of the Wilco songs it was impossible not to love them all but special mention goes to 'Hummingbird' and 'Jesus, Etc.', the latter inducing a warm crowd singalong. If the music was sublime and unforgettable then the wit and banter of Jeff elevated the night even further. He is such a great storyteller, armed with an extremely dry wit. His stories of Uncle Tupelo and life on the road were especially welcome. Then the encore just blew me way. 'Misunderstood' (perhaps my favourite Wilco song) followed by the swooning beauty of the Uncle Tupelo classic 'Acuff-Rose'. A very special night in the hands of an American songwriting icon.

Set List
Via Chicago (Wilco song)
Bombs Above
Some Birds
I Am Trying to Break Your Heart (Wilco song)
New Madrid (Uncle Tupelo song)
I Know What It's Like
Hummingbird (Wilco song)
Lost Love
Remember the Mountain Bed (Billy Bragg & Wilco cover)
Having Been Is No Way to Be
Jesus, Etc. (Wilco Song)
It Must Be Love (Labi Siffre cover)
I'm the Man Who Loves You (Wilco song)
Let's Go Rain
Impossible Germany (Wilco song)
Passenger Side (Wilco song)
California Stars (Billy Bragg & Wilco cover)

Misunderstood (Wilco song)
Acuff-Rose (Uncle Tupelo song)

May 12, 2019

Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever @ Manning Bar

In a short space of time Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever have proven themselves to be one of the finest bands that Australia have to offer. A sold out Manning Bar on Friday night proved that. Close to a year since their excellent debut album in 'Hope Downs' was released the songs have become dear to the hearts of all their fans. We heard all of that plus old favourites from their first EP. One of those songs in 'Julie's Place' opened the night and it was a great opener indeed. The band were in fine form, chiming and rollicking guitars bouncing off each other to create a lush and fervent sound. This band are super talented, containing great guitarists that continually push the sound forward and onward and upward. Three lead vocalists add to the variety of the sound, with each singer adding a different layer to the sounds of the songs. It was a great night with highlights for being 'Sister's Jeans' and 'Taling Straight'. One downside of the night though was the presence of so many 'bros'. You know the type. Bullish men that are passively aggressive, taking over the space around them. It can be a bit disconcerting, especially to those in close proximity. A rolling mosh pit even broke out which all seemed a bit unnecessary for a band of this type. It all seems a pity on what was otherwise a great night.

Set List
Julie's Place
Clean Slate
The Hammer
Time in Common
Sister's Jeans
Read My Mind
Sick Bug
An Air Conditioned Man
Exclusive Grave
Big Fence
In the Capital
Talking Straight
Fountain of Good Fortune
French Press

Orinoco Flow (Enya cover)