Dec 18, 2022

Nick Cave & Warren Ellis @ Sydney Opera House

Nick Cave and Warren Ellis are truly Australian music icons. More than that they are living national treasures. Artists with incredible and awe inspiring histories. So anytime they play live in Australia I'll definitely be there to see them. Recently they have played as a 'Bad Seeds' show. But Friday night at the Sydney Opera House, the first of 3 sold out shows, was billed as 'Nick Cave and Warren Ellis'. I guess based off the album in 'Carnage' that they released togther in 2021. Prior to that the last Bad Seeds album was 'Ghosteen', which was released in 2019. The pandemic stopped them touring that record so this special show I guess was a way to showcase both of these fine records. And so it ensued that the main set was basically 'Carnage' and 'Ghosteen'. And it was spectacular. For two and a half hours we were enraptured and entertained. All of it was great but special highlights were 'Carnage', 'White Elephant' and 'Balcony Man'. Plus the epic 'Ghosteen' title track. Then there was 'Hand of God'. Just wow. Cave not only touched the audience he came among us, singing most of it whilst being propped up by a generous audience member. An apt disply of the magnetic power of Cave the performer. He owns the stage, totally. The band assembled was great as well. Smaller than a 'Bad Seeds' show but powerful nonetheless. Ellis of course, who played mainly melodica. Colin Greenwood of Radiohead on bass and a trio of wonderful British singers. Cave solo or on piano. It all added up to a special show.

Then an encore to up the ante. An epic 'Hollywood' followed by classic tracks like 'Henry Lee' and 'The Weeping Song'. We stood and sung along with incredible joy. Then it was over. But wait  there was more. The band quickly came back on stage to perform the timeless 'Into My Arms'. What a way to end a simply spectacular night.

Set List
Spinning Song
Bright Horses
Night Raid
White Elephant
Lavender Fields
Waiting For You
I Need You
Cosmic Dancer (T. Rex cover)
Hand of God
Shattered Ground
Galleon Ship
Balcony Man

Henry Lee
The Weeping Song
Jubilee Street
Ghosteen Speaks

Into My Arms

Dec 15, 2022

Dry Cleaning @ Manning Bar

Dry Cleaning are a hot band, of that there is no doubt. The London band recently released their second album in 'Stumpwork' and it more than delivered. So to see them live for the first time Wednesday night at the Manning Bar was a special treat indeed. This band are special and quite unique I believe. They played everything I hoped to hear, stretching back to the first song I ever heard by them in the magnetic 'Viking Hair'. They then ripped through songs from their two albums. So many highlights but there were obvious standouts like 'Scratchcard Lanyard', 'Don't Press Me', 'Strong Feelings' and 'Unsmart Lady'. As said this band are unique. They draw on bands from the 80s and 90s with their strong and urgent guitar lines, but it is the presence of singer Florence Shaw that makes them different. Her deadpan delivery is almost spoken word. She doesn't play an instrument and stands quite still. But it is impossible to take your eyes off of her. The band ably support her and it was clear live how clean their guitars sound. Bass was thumping and prominent and lead guitar gave us great guitar line after guitar line. A great young band truly delivered last night. 

Set List
Kwenchy Kups
Gary Ashby
Scratchcard Lanyard
Viking Hair
Her Hippo
Hot Penny Day
No Decent Shoes For Rain
Don't Press Me
Conservative Hell
Driver's Story
Strong Feelings
Unsmart Lady
Magic of Meghan

Tony Speaks!
Anna Calls From the Arctic 

Dec 9, 2022

Kendrick Lamar @ Qudos Bank Arena

Kendrick Lamar is a spectacular performer and one of the most important artists of his generation. He proved it again Thursday night in his return to Sydney at Qudos Bank Arena. A hugely enthusiastic crowd was there from beginning to end as Kendrick held them tightly in his hand. This year he released his latest album in 'Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers', a complex piece of music that didn't actually receive universal acclaim but one that I keep going back to. In this show he played a huge chunk off the album and I have to say the songs were quite spectacular live. Especially highlights like 'United in Grief', 'N95' and 'Crown'. Of course the older songs were hugely received too, such as 'HUMBLE.' 'Backseat Freesyle' and 'Alright'. At the age of 35 Kendrick is now just the consummate performer. He commands the stage and it's hard to take your eyes off him. Backed with great dancers and superb sounds and graphics he certainly puts on a show to remember. 

Set List
Savior (Interlude)
United in Grief
Worldwide Steppers
Backseat Freestyle
Rich Spirit
Father Time
m.A.A.d. city
Purple Hearts
King Kunta
Swimming Pools (Drank)
Bitch, Don't Kill My Vibe
Die Hard
Count Me Out
Money Trees
Silent Hill
Vent (with Baby Keem)
A Life of Pain (with Baby Keem)
Family Ties (With Baby Keem)
Mr. Morale

Dec 4, 2022

Pixies @ Sydney Opera House Forecourt

Pixies were a seminal band for me in my 20s. They hit hard and I loved them dearly. Their first three records were near masterpieces, especially 'Surfer Rosa'. But they never toured here so I never got to see them. Years later they reformed and toured here. But I had lost the impetus to see them. Unless it's Pavement I'm not really keen on reformations. Rock bands lose that edge and it often feels more like going through the motions and not feeling especially vital. But when they announced they would be returning to Australia and playing 'Come On Pilgrim' and 'Surfer Rosa' in full I was intrigued. Then it was announced it would take place at the Sydney Opera House Forecourt and my sister asked me to go it was hard to resist.

So on a beautiful summer Saturday evening the band thrilled us with 90 minues of classic Indie rock. They played the first two albums in full and it was actually pretty great. 3 of the 4 original members are still there and even though Kim Deal is no longer a Pixie, Paz Lenchantin does a fantastic job on bass and sung lead on 'Gigantic', my favourite Pixies song. And Black Francis is still a dynamic presence, even if his voice isn't quite the same. I guess that's the thing with rock bands. In their 20s and 30s there is a huge vital energy that you naturally lose as you get older. So Pixies didn't have that incredible energy but they still entertained greatly. They didn't encore but after the two albums were played they gave us some more of the 'hits'. Which was basically 'Doolittle' with classics like 'Debaser', 'Gouge Away' and 'Here Comes Your Man' being great hits with a very enthusiastic crowd. So a trip down memory lane was a lot of fun and definitely worth the night out.   

Set List
Come On Pilgrim

Isla de Encanta
Ed is Dead
The Holiday Song
Nimrod's Son
I've Been Tired
Levitate Me

Surfer Rosa

Bone Machine
Break My Body
Something Against You
Broken Face
River Euphrates
Where Is My Mind?
Tony's Theme
Oh My Golly!
I'm Amazed
Brick Is Red

Gouge Away
Head On (The Jesus and Mary Chain cover)
Monkey Gone to Heaven
Planet of Sound
Wave of Mutilation
Here Comes Your Man
Winterlong (Neil Young cover)

Dec 3, 2022

Sharon Van Etten @ Sydney Opera House

Sharon Van Etten is one special talent. She proved it again Thursday night at the Sydney Opera House. This was the first show of her latest tour, her fourth in total. I have seen her on each occasion and she never disappoints. On the back of her latest album 'We've Been Going This All Wrong' she delivered a wonderful and complex show. Of course she played a fair bit off the new album and those songs sounded wonderful. The new album explores a new palette with more varied sounds although still leaning on the more traditional singer/songwriter sound Van Etten carved out over a decade now. The new album was made after she moved from New York to Los Angeles and explores her new life of motherhood. It still manages to pack an emotional wallop. My favourites off that new album were played such as 'Born', 'Headspace' and the extremely catchy 'Mistakes'. Althougth we didn't receive a lot of older stuff it was great to hear songs such as 'All I Can' and 'Save Yourself''. Van Etten has an incredible voice and the band were great too. But it is her humanity that really shines, forming a bond with a very excited audience. This was never more exemplified then on the explosive closer 'Seventeen' when she went face to face with a front row member, singing straight into his face while holding onto his shoulders. I am sure that fan will forget this show, as neither will I.  

Set List
Comeback Kid
Save Yourself
I'll Try
Come Back
Never Gunna Change
Beaten Down
All I Can
Every Time the Sun Comes Up

Darkness Fades