Oct 20, 2019

The Felice Brothers @ Lansdowne Hotel

File The Felice Brothers under massively under appreciated. Or just flat out great live. Either way the Catskills, New York band fly underneath the radar to a large extent. Which is a shame because they have a special place in my heart. They played a wonderful show at the recently revamped Lansdowne Hotel last Monday night, their first in Sydney in four years. All their characteristics were on show. Earthy, generous songs of place and pathos, humour and heartbreak. In some ways they remind me of a modern day version of The Band. They draw on traditional music and give it a modern touch without losing those elements that made it great in the first place. The centrepiece obviously are the two actual brothers in the band. Ian on his battle scarred Guild and lead vocals. And the garrulous James on keyboards and piano accordion and also vocals. Rounding out the band are Jesske Hume on bass and Will Lawrence on drums. Together they make a tight unit, producing sounds to warm hearts. The band, in one form or other, have been around for close to 14 years so they have a good catalogue to draw upon. On this night they gave us a bit of everything including obviously a good slice from this year's excellent album in 'Undress'. My absolute favourites were 'Nail It on the First Try' and 'Days of the Years' when Ian and James were left alone on stage to stirring effect. Both such beautiful songs. The whole night was a success though, just the purest of music to make us all feel very lucky to be there. 

Set List
Holy Weight Champ
Aerosol Ball
Wonderful Life
Hometown Hero
Love Me Tenderly
TV Mama
Salvation Army Girl
Special Announcement
Nail It on the First Try
Days of the Years
Jack Reminiscing
Whiskey in My Whiskey
The Kid
Cherry Licorice
White Limo

Frankie's Gun!
Silver in the Shadow

Oct 18, 2019

The Flaming Lips @ Sydney Opera House

Joy! Joy! Joy! This is exact reaction I get at every Flaming Lips that I have been to. They are pleasure domes for the mind, the heart and the soul. Recently The Flaming Lips returned to Australia for a special performance at the Sydney Opera House. It was made extra special as they played their classic album 'The Soft Bulletin' in full, 20 years after the release of this spectacular record. So it turned out to be a very special night for everyone lucky to be there.

I was wondering if an Opera House show would be different from a normal Flaming Lips show. Would it be more restrained given the surroundings. Well apart from no dancing animals the answer was no. From the opening strains of 'Race for the Prize' confetti and balloons rained down on an entranced audience. Smiles burst out everywhere. As lead man Wayne Coyne asked people to stand and make noise we were all soon on our feet. Which is where we stayed. 'The Soft Bulletin' is such a brilliant album. It flows beautifully, soft and tender and hard and rocking. It was all so special. The stunning 'What Is the Light? was momentous. 'Waitin' for a Superman' was serene and beautiful. 'The Gash' rocked the house. As the music played balloons were bounced through out the audience. Wayne Coyne even came into the crowd in his inflatable bubble momentarily. We even received an encore of their 'greatest hits', leaving everyone totally satisfied. If you have never attended a Flaming Lips show once in your life I recommend you remedy that situation.

Set List
Also sprach Zarathustra
Race for the Prize
A Spoonful Weighs a Ton
The Spark That Bled
The Spiderbite Song
What Is the Light?
The Observer
Waitin' for a Superman
Suddenly Everything Has Changed
The Gash
Feeling Yourself Disintegrate
Sleeping on the Roof

She Don't Use Jelly
True Love Will Find You in the End (Daniel Johnston cover)
Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, Pt. 1

Do You Realize??

Oct 17, 2019

Ty Segall @ Teragram Ballroom, Los Angeles

So my recent US adventure came to a close in Los Angeles to see the mighty Ty Segall and the Freedom Band. I love Ty so much. He represents everything to me in artist. So creative, so explosive, so everything. A few months ago he announced he would be doing a weekly residency at the Teragram Ballroom. Over about 8 Friday nights he would play an album in full plus mystery songs. It's turned out the 'mystery' songs would be his new album in full. 'First Taste' came out in early August and naturally I loved it. Then it worked for me that I would be able to see 'Manipulator' in full. What an opportunity. What a night it turned out to be. 2 hours of pure rock and roll perfection.

So 'First Taste' is a departure of sorts for Ty. The whole album is devoid of guitar, instruments like the bouzouki take centre stage. But holy cow the album still rocks. And live it was explosive. The Freedom Band are just awesome live. And Shannon Lay is now a huge addition to the band. Mikal Cronin does more as well, playing all sorts of instruments and Ty himself plays drums on some songs, so we had double drumming going on a few tracks. This was especially so on 'The Fall', with Ty and Charles Moothart going head to head. I think my favourites though were the sludgy sledgehammer of 'I Worship the Dog' and the huge wigout of 'Self Esteem'. To be honest I would have been satisfied with this alone. But then we received the 2014 classic 'Manipulator' in full. The band switched to traditional mode. Ty strapped on his Travis Bean and away we went. The crowd went beserk. Crowd surfing and stage diving broke out and there was palpable joy in the room. But despite the hectic chaos it always felt safe and respectful. This was evident I thought in the amount of women front and centre. I think this is a good guide to the type of music Ty produces and also that the environment at his shows is conducive to women feeling safe. I loved every minute. What a pleasure to see this album live. It was all spectacular but my absolute loves were 'The Singer' and also 'The Feels'. The band even gave us a short encore, two covers as the clock ticked past midnight. We floated away into the night, content in the knowledge that the king had conquered.

Set List
Ice Plant
The Fall
I Worship the Dog
The Arms
When I Met My Parents Pt. 1
I Sing Them
When I Met My Parents Pt. 3
Self Esteem
Lone Cowboys
Tall Man Skinny Lady
The Singer
It's Over
The Faker
The Clock
Green Belly
The Connection Man
Mister Main
The Hand
Susie Thumb
Don't You Want to Know? (Sue)
The Crawler
Who's Producing You?
The Feels
Stick Around

Cherry Bomb (The Runaways cover)
Cherry Red (The Groundhogs cover)
Titus Andronicus @ Polaris Hall, Portland

In 2010 New Jersey ragged punks Titus Andronicus released an album named 'The Monitor'. It was an explicitly brilliant follow up to their debut and was easily my favourite album of 2010. In fact it has become my favourite album of the entire decade. I was lucky enough to see them live in New York in 2010, a blistering show at Webster Hall, but I hadn't seen them live since. Sadly they have never toured Australia. But on my recent US trip I found a way to work in a live show. Also it was in the great city of Portland. It was totally worth it. They played a lovely venue named Polaris Hall, a beautiful buidling that also hosts parties and weddings.

Lead man Patrick Stickles entered first and played a slow and stirring version of  'To Old Friends and New' before the band joined him. For close to two hours they ripped through their back catalogue including many cuts from their excellent 2019 album in 'An Obelisk'. My favourite being 'Troubleman Unlimited'. It was great to hear older classics too such as the bone splitting 'Fear and Loathing in Mahwah, NJ'. Of course 'The Monitor' songs hit the absolute roof. Especially the monumental epic that is 'The Battle of Hampton Roads'. What a total pleasure to hear this song live again. And Stickles is the perfect front man too. Loquacious and erudite, he totally involved the audience. Now please tour Australia! 

Set List
To Old Friends and New
Just Like Ringing a Bell
Troubleman Unlimited
Fatal Flaw
Ecce Homo
Still Life With Hot Deuce on Silver Platter
Above The Bodega (Local Business)
Fear and Loathing in Mahwah, NJ
On the Street
(I Blame) Society
Dimed Out
Tumult Around the World
The Battle of Hampton Roads
 A More Perfect Union
Titus Andronicus Forever

Oct 16, 2019

Whitney @ Tipitina's, New Orleans

My journey through the US in September took me onto New Orleans. Luckily for me Whitney had announced a show in the Crescent City. The Chicago band released their second album shortly before the show and it's pretty wonderful to be honest. A great follow up to their stellar debut album. So this was set to be a special night.

An added bonus to the night was the support act in Hand Habits. Hand Habits is headed up by Meg Duffy, a truly extraordinary guitarist. Their album this year is also great I think, so it was a great pleasure to see them live. Pity the crowd was pretty awful, so many talking through out. I just don't get why people do this at shows, so little respect for the artist or people trying to listen. It did improve a bit for Whitney, but still disappointing that some people put themselves above the show. Anyway Whitney were still a joy to behold. They write such beautiful melodies and the harmonies just make you float away. The set would comprise basically most of their first two albums and I enjoyed it all thoroughly. The encore itself was sheer perfection with the great new song in 'Used to Be Lonely' and the almost classic now in 'No Woman'.

Set List
No Matter Where We Go
Giving Up
Dave's Song
Friend of Mine
Day & Night
The Falls
Forever Turned Around
Before I Know It
Golden Days
Light Upon the Lake
My Life Alone

Used to Be Lonely
No Woman
Valleys (My Love)
Kevin Morby @ Third Man Records, Nashville

Recently I travelled to the US for two weeks. College Football was the main agenda but I managed to squeeze in quite a few concerts starting with Kevin Morby in Nashville. I have been very lucky to see Kevin Morby a few times now. In Australia, Belgium and also the USA. This year he released his latest album in the shape of 'Oh My God'. Soon followed a full band tour. But this show was part of a duo tour. Firstly he was touring with the wonderful William Tyler. Tyler was great. He is quite simply and extraordinary guitarist. Then Kevin played a stripped back show with his band member Cochemea Gastleum, a wonderful saxophonist.

The venue was Third Man Records, owned by Jack White. It's really a special place. Part record store, part museum, part concert venue and recording studio. Kevin played in what is called The Blue Room, a lovely space with great acoustics. He naturally a good chunk from his wonderful new album. Favourite songs were 'Hail Mary' and 'Piss River'. Kevin is such a beautiful performer. Songs are so generous and warm. Kudos to the crowd too. Extremly attentive with great respect for the artist. The encore was very special too with William Tyler joining Kevin for a rendition of the Silver Jews classic in 'Random Rules'. A tribute to the sadly departed David Berman. A beautiful end to a great night.

Set List
Oh My God
Hail Mary
Piss River
No Halo
O Behold
I Have Been To the Mountain
Harlem River

Random Rules (Silver Jews cover)
Beautiful Strangers