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Great songs. An incredible voice. And So. Much. Hair.

Lorde was amazing. That was the first concert I've been to where a sea of mobile phone held aloft felt not annoying but celebratory.

On stage, Ella Marija Lani Yelich-O'Connor is calm, confident, and charismatic. And contradictory: she sings about coming from a torn-up town, but she has a MAC lipstick named after her. She comes on stage in couture, but she dances like a teenage goth, all flailing hair and twitching limbs. Her singing voice is smoky and deep, but when she talks between songs, she chirps.

No. Contradictory is the wrong word. Lorde is complex. She's complicated, like every other teen. And what's so inspiring about her is that she doesn't try to hide it. She doesn't smooth away her edges to make an easily digestible pop package. Her music is her.

That's why her fans respond with such passion, such joy. That's why every pause was filled with cheers. In Lorde's lyrics, being on the cusp of adulthood and being on the cusp of commercial success are metaphors for each other.

"I'm little but I'm coming for the crown," she sang.

We are all little. We're all coming for the crown. The crown is the rest of our lives.

MOFO 2014

Jan. 24th, 2014 11:07 am
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The image that stays with me:

An industrial welding robot, retro-fitted with a 1,000 watt lamp, traces splines of light inside a darkened tent, while a singer raises her arms and sings to it about Ada Lovelace.
~

We've just spent a week down in Hobart for the MONA FOMA music festival. Seven days of bands, art, another visit to MONA, and then some touristy daytrips to finish up.

Music, robots, touristy things... )







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Release the Bats was All Tomorrow's Parties Halloween special, a follow-up to their successful festival in February this year.

We bought our tickets the day before they announced they were changing venues because ticket sales were too low. So instead of the bizarre Westgate Entertainment Complex, it would be held at the Palais in St Kilda, with the second stage at the Prince Bandroom, ten minutes walk away.

We weren't very happy about that.

It meant you couldn't just poke your head in to watch a band for a few songs. Either you trekked over to watch the whole set, or you missed. And since the Palais is seated, you were allocated seating zones based on when you bought your ticket, which meant we were way up the back.

There were no food trucks on site, either. If you wanted to eat food other than chips or Maltezers, you had to head out into St Kilda.

I understand the promoters had to do something to deal with low ticket sales, and that festivals in generally are struggling at the moment. But it created a very negative first impression.

These are the bands we saw:

The UV Race
I don't know. A pop-punk band who made dumb jokes between songs. We were too busy being annoyed at the disorganisation to pay them much attention. We left after three songs.

We skipped the Twerps to get coffee and eat some Mexican for a late lunch. Then we got back early for...

Pop Crimes: the songs of Rowland S. Howard
Lovely. Just lovely.

Television performing 'Marquee Moon'
A band I know of rather than know. Tom Verlaine's voice is less squawky with age, but the guitar-work is still the highlight. I spent most of their set with my eyes closed, letting the music wash over me, and possibly having short naps.

The Scientists
I spent the 80s listening to Pink Floyd and U2, so I missed the Scientists. I get Kim Salmon is an important figure in Australian underground music. But I've seen him play a few times and his music has never grabbed me.

Fuck Buttons
So loud and psychedelic I think my teeth saw God

The Breeders performing 'The Last Splash'
Lots of fun. Everyone stood up to dance to 'Cannonball', then swayed sheepishly through the less known and less danceable album tracks. They played a really heavy version of 'Safari' at the end as a bonus. A lovely upbeat way to end the day.


Overall: some great bands, but it felt like a really long gig rather than a festival.

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Reading back over this journal, I realsied that I have almost no functioning memory of the past. If I don't write it down, I forget it ever happened.

So: a quick wrap up of last week.


TUESDAY: Art Spiegelman
Art Spiegleman gavea talk at the Melbourne Town Hall about the history of comics, and his involvement with them. It was a fantastic talk, illustrated with a huge variety of slides. Hard to sum up, though - the brilliance lay in the details.

WEDNESDAY: Françoise Mouly
Art editor for The New Yorker, and Spiegelman's wife, Mouly talked about how she met Spiegelman, buying her first printing press in the 70s, starting Raw Comics, her work at The New Yorker, and her new line of comics for younger readers. Particularly interesting was the section on New Yorker covers that she rejected, including one from Robert Crumb about gay marriage.

THURSDAY: Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer
This documentary is now screening at Cinema Nova. To celebrate, they had a discussion panel afterwards that included Karen Pickering from Chrechez La Femme..

SATURDAY: The Handsome Family
Weird Southern Gothic folk-band. Lots of fun. Had a running joke about koalas, hence A.'s drawing.

SUNDAY: Splendid Chaps
I don't listen to podcasts, but I very much enjoy going to the live recordings of this Doctor Who one. This episoe was about David Tennant, and the theme of sex.

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Last Friday, we saw Amanda Palmer and the Grand Theft Orchestra play at the Forum.

This was her rescheduled tour: she was originally going to come out in February, but rescheduled those shows so she could stay and support a friend through chemo.

This caused a mild panic attack on Wednesday night when I couldn't find the tickets in the drawer where we normally keep concert tickets. After searching through every drawer and filing cabinet in our flat, I eventually remembered that the tickets had been emailed to us, and I could just print them out.

By coincidence, the rescheduled date was the day before A.'s birthday, so we made a date night of it, with dinner at Bangkok Rain in Rathdowne Street, a tram into town, a breif stop at the City Square to look at the Melbourne Fringe Digital Gardens display, where people were testing the Occulus Rift. Then we joined the queue that ran up Hosier Lane.

Die Roten Punkte were the main support act, followed by Jherek Bischoff, physical comedian Sabrina D'Angelo, and Brendan McClean.

And then: Amanda Palmer.

They started with a voice-over introduction from local cabaret artist Meow Meow, and the instrumental Grand Theft Intermission. Then Palmer hit the stage for 'Do It With a Rock Star', and things got loud. Her second song was a cover of Nirvana's 'Smells Like Teen Spirit', sung while surfing the moshpit.

It was that sort of concert.

I've seen Amanda Palmer play about ten times now. Each show has it's own mood. This one felt more like a rock concert party.The band played loud and had a blast. The big rock sound was helped by their booming new drummer, Thor Harris, who looked like a caveman in nothing but tiger-striped shorts and his trademark mullet.

Of course, it wouldn't be an Amanda Palmer show without the quieter piano or ukulele songs. And it wouldn't be an Amanda Palmer show without some weird audience interaction, in this case one girl saying she'd lost her bag in the mosh pit, and another saying she'd lost her mum. Both were reunited.

And it's definitely not an Amanda Palmer show without guests.

Meow Meow duetted with Palmer on a screeching, jagged version of 'Missed Me'. Kate Miller-Heidke and Missy Higgins sang originals. And Brendan McClean duetted on a raw and passionate cover of Bat for Lashes' 'Laura'. That song has been haunting me ever since.

There were lots of covers: Nirvana, Bat for Lashes, Pulp's 'Common People'. I suppose that goes with the giant party vibe.

They ended with everyone on stage for a cover of 'Sweet Dreams', before finishing with 'Leeds United'.

Afterwards, A. asked me what my favourite song was, and I mumbled and digressed. I'm not good at ranking my pleasures. The whole concert was great. But standouts for me would have to be 'Missed Me' with Meow Meow, 'From St Kilda to Fitzroy', and that Bat for Lashes cover, because I just can't get that song out of my head now.

I don't think this was the best Amanda Palmer concert I've been to. It lacked the visceral ferocity of her Dresden Dolls concerts, and it didn't make me cry the way her version of 'Have to Drive' did back in 2010.

But it was great show.

Oh, and during the set she made an announcement. She'll be staying in Melbourne early next year to write a book. Her husband Neil Gaiman will apparently by joining her too.


SETLIST )



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Adrian Edmondson playing folk versions of classic punk and new wave songs.

I was debating whether or not to go see The Bad Shepherds, flipping between "that sounds cool" and "I've spent too much money lately". In the end, some friends said they were going, and that was enough to tip me into buying tickets.

We met up, had dinner upstairs at the Corner, made self-deprecating jokes about all the bald middle-aged punks there. Then we went down to watch the support band.

Support band Merri Creek Pickers were a line of long hair, scraggly beards and mellow folk harmonies. Very pleasant.

I didn't really pay a lot of attention to them, because I was too startled to see cabaret-style tables set up around the edge of band room floor. Thank, Corner. Way to drive home that we're getting old.

It was hot inside the band room. Someone fainted near the side of the stage. It was only after the ambos wheeled him away that the Corner turned on the air-conditioning.

Which was also when the Bad Shepherds came on stage.

I hadn't actually listened to any of their music before the gig. I assumed it would be pretty much straight covers, but done with a mandolin and maybe some fiddle.

They opened with a droning version of 'Anarchy in the UK', Edmondson's mandolin accompanied by fiddle and uillean pipes. The covers were a lot more Celtic and folky than I expected. But they were great. The covers were often a bit quiter than the originals - their version of the Members 'The Sound of the Suburbs' was almost plaintive - and then they would segue into a foot-stomping traditional folk melody. Their cover of PIL's 'Rise" as fantastic, all jangling mandolins and Edmondson shouting into the mic.

The audience were very polite, clapping loudly after each song, then standing quietly for the next one. There was not much dancing, perhaps because it was a Monday night. A few hecklers yelled out for the Hat Song, and a nearby couple didn't seem to understand the difference between a live music venue and their lounge room.

But the music was great. And now I'm late for work.

Damn you, middle-aged punks!





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Amazing. Zoë Keating was amazing. Layer upon layer of lush, hypnotic cello loops, rising and circling and fading away.

She has a piece called Tetrishead which was inspired by the similarities between fitting together the brightly colored blocks in a game of Tetris, and fitting together her musical loops to make a song. It was a joy to watch that Tetris mind at work, building music up out of scrapes and plucks and taps, out of droning deep bass notes and birdlike treble melodies.

The Famous Spiegltent was a great venue for her. Keating's image was reflected in the dozens of mirrors on the Spiegltent poles, fragments of cellist mirroring the fragments of music.

And she's adorable: smart, funny, dorky, beautiful, talented, and possessed of the cutest Canadian accent.

My only complaint was that it was over so soon. Even on the Spiegltent's terrible wooden chairs, the hour flew past.
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The St Kilda Memo is an old art-deco picture theatre being brought back to life as a music and performance venue. Fitting then, perhaps, that it was used as the place to bring Rowland S. Howard's music back to life for two night.

The venue is still finding its legs, I think. The doors opened late, the queue was slow because they were wristbanding punters instead of stamping them, and the on-stage lighting was bad enough for the performers to complain. The whole show had the shambolic air of a one-off.

Not the music, though. The music was tight. It ran in sets chronologically through Howard's life: the Young Charlatans, The Birthday Party, These Immortal Souls, and finally his solo work. The rotating band members were a who's who of Melbourne's underground music: Mick Harvey, Harry Howard, Spencer P. Jones, Tex Perkins, Gareth Liddiard, Hugo Race, all MCed by Dave Graney.

The music was tight. The music was great. Harry Howard got a bit emotional after singing 'Autoluminescence'.

And that's when I felt like a stranger in someone else's church. I never saw Rowland play live. I know a bit of his music, but not a lot. Intellectually I understand his importance to Melbourne's music heritage, but I was surrounded by people who had lived it.

The show ended abruptly at 11. The venue had hit its curfew. There was no encore. There was no 'Shivers'. Bowie played loudly over the PA while we shuffled out into the cool St Kilda night.

The twilight market was on outside Luna Park. Fires twirled in the darkness. We said goodbye to our friends and made our way home.

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I have had way too much work and way too little sleep in the last few days. But it's been worth it.

We went to All Tomorrow's Parties on the weekend.

I was dreading it, to be honest.

The venue was sports centre/wedding reception/indoor rock climbing/bingo hall complex out in Altona. Metro decided that that weekend would be a good time to do track work, so there was no public transport. And it was stupidly hot all weekend.

It could have been awful.

The heat was relentless, but we survived by drinking lots of the free water and fanning ourselves with the festival lineup postcard. ATP ran shuttle buses and they worked surprisingly well. The venue was daggy enough that it was kinda cool.

And most importantly, the music was excellent.

Saturday:

Swans made vast slabs of rhythmic pulses, dark, punishing, and shamanistic.

Godspeed You! Black Emperor were lush, atmospheric, droning, and my highlight for Saturday.

A lot of people raved about My Bloody Valentine. I was never that familiar with their music, and I was a bit underwhelmed. They did their twelve-minutes-of-pure-noise break in 'You Made Me Realise', but it felt simplistic after the nuanced racket of Swans and Godspeed.

Sunday we decided to take things a bit easier.

We sat down to listen to My Disco and their noise funk. Crime and the City Solution were mellow. We skipped out on the Drones to eat dinner and rest up, which I feel a bit guilty for, since they were curating the festival. Pere Ubu were cantankerous and crazy and cool - I can clearly see the influnce they had on the Pixies.

Beasts of Bourbon were good, but their lighting mixer was atrocious. They appeared to be just pressing buttons at random.

During the gap between bands, we made our way up towards the front so we could get a good position for Einstürzende Neubauten.

And Neubauten were amazing. Mellow and delicate one minute, gloriously loud the next. Some bands have guitar solos. Neubauten had dropping-scrap-metal solos. Blixa was debonair and theatrical and amusing. Bass player Alexander Hacke looks like he escaped from Spinal Tap. N. U. Unruh looks like your nerdy uncle, but did the craziest banging on homemade scrap metal instruments.

The only disappointment was that they had to drop their planned encore so that people could catch the buses home.

Fortunately, we got to see them again last night at the Palace.

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We went to MONA FOMA last week. It was amazing. Perhaps not as astonishing as last year - the format was different, which meant the musical acts on offer felt less diverse and experimental.

But it was fantastic.

David Byrne and St Vincent were a revelation. Other highlights: All Fires, Neil Gaiman, Ben Walsh's Orkestra of the Underground scoring Shaun Tan's 'The Arrival'.

Once MOFO was over, we took a day tour down to Port Arthur. Our tour guide was like a Chris Lilley character, complete with catchphrase and borderline homophobic jokes.

I don't have time for a proper write-up - I'm trying to finish my novel by the end of the month. But I made a Storfy story of all my tweets from MOFO, and they cover it off pretty well. So this is a placeholder, in case I never get back to do a proper write-up.

My MONA FOMA

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The weird disconnect of an old act touring: the audience screaming "We love you!" to Peter Murphy, then booing him when he finished with one of his solo songs instead of a Bauhaus single.

Now in his mid-fities, Murphy is now longer the emaciated glam-goth androgyne he was in his Bauhaus days. He hair is thinning. He has a paunch. And, as he exclaimed while unbuttoning his shirt to show us, "I have tits!"

But he still has the charisma. Arch, witty, theatrical, he pouted and pirouetted in a way that was both ridiculous and magnificent in it's swaggering-punk-glam-fuck-you-ness. He was cultured, dropping asides about Istanbul where he now lives. And he was funny. "Bela Luigi's Dead?" he joked. "Bela Lugosi's Dad? I'm dad, I'm dad, I'm dad?"

I was never a deep Bauhaus fan, and I'm not that familiar with his solo work, so I can't really tell which songs he played. He dropped a verse from 'Bela' into one of his solo songs, a slow acoustic number with a keening Turkish influence. My personal highlights were the songs I did recognise: Bauhaus's dubby 'She's in Parties', his shimmering 'Cuts You Up', and his dirty, rocking cover of Bowie's 'Ziggy Stardust'.

For an encore, the band came out, lay down on the stage, and played a mesmerising Middle Eastern influenced drone. It was beautiful, just beautiful, and spoiled only by the yobs in the crowd yelling out "We can't see you!" and then booing after the band left the stage and they realised that no, he wasn't going to play 'Bela Lugosi's Dead' in full.

Yes, 'Bela' is an iconic song. And yes, it would have been fantastic to hear it live. But also: fuck you, audience. Peter Murphy is not your performing monkey. Don't yell out how much you love him, then boo him because you didn't get to relive a moment from your mopey little goth days.

And that is why I enjoyed this concert so much. Because Peter Murphy embodies that defiant disregard for the audience. He does as he wishes. He is sublime, and he is punk, and as he joked while the audience was reaching out to grope him: "I'm more beautiful than Bowie."

Which isn't actually true. But we loved him for saying it.

EDIT:
I realised I haven't really talked about the music. Which is a pity, because even though I didn't know most of the songs, the music was excellent. The band were tight. The sound was clear. And Murphy's voice was fantastic: strong and rich and disciplined. A. said afterwards the music would have been perfect for a performance at the Arts Centre.

I tried out my new HearPlugs at the show, too. The sound was slightly muffled and lost some tone while wearing them, but it was much clearer and richer than the smothered-with-cheap-mattresses sound you get with basic foam earplugs. And today my ears are free of either ringing or pain.





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A Buddhist chant for AC/DC? A string quartet played by seismic data? Three separate Dresden Dolls shows in as many days?

Yeah, A. and I have just been to MONA FOMA.

Or to give it's full title: the Museum of Old and New Art's Festival Of Music and Art. Like that full title, this write-up is going to get long. I might split it into three parts.


BACKGROUND

Regular readers may remember me raving about MONA after we visited it in April last year. MONA FOMA is a music festival run by the same people. It's funded by MONA, and curated by Brian Ritchie, who used to be the bass player for the Violent Femmes.

Remember that. It becomes important later.

The festival has a reputation for being eclectic to the point of eccentric, and for having big name acts performing very cheaply. Two of the headliners for this year where the Dresden Dolls and PJ Harvey.

I booked tickets as soon as they went on sale.

Then one of the other headliners (Death Grips) had to cancel. The festival organizers asked the Dresden Dolls if they would play a second set.

Amanda Palmer thought that would be boring. So she came up with another plan, and persuaded Brian Ritchie, Mick Harvey and John Parish to form a supergroup with the Dolls and play the entire first Violent Femmes album live.


WEDNESDAY 18 JAN

A. and I flew down to Hobart. Apart from PJ, the Dolls and this supergroup, I had no idea who or what else would be playing at the festival.

We landed in the afternoon, caught up with some friends, and had a nice dinner in a fancy Indian restaurant. The headliners for that night were Girl Talk, but they were sold out and we weren't that interested, so we basically had an early night.


THURSDAY 19 JAN

Thursday morning we caught the ferry to MONA to check out the new Wim Delvoye exhibition. (Delvoye created Cloaca, the machine that digests food and produces shit.)

Back on the early afternoon ferry. A bit of rest. Then down to Princes Wharf 1, the giant shed on the harbour where most of the MONA FOMA acts were playing.

Thursday night was the Dresden Dolls headlining. While we waited for them, we saw...

SENYAWA - an Indonesia two piece. Vocals and a self-made bamboo sitar/guitar/percussion instrument. They played sort of grindy metal mixed with folk dancing.

TOSHIMARU NAKAMURA - Japanese artist who plugs the output of a mixing desk back into itself, and mixes the resulting feedback into noise music. Brutal and transcendant, but I could only last half an hour before my ears hurt and we bailed.

PRINCE RAMA - shiny sparkly psychedelic Hare Krishna electro pop from a Brooklyn duo.

KELLY O'DEMPSEY painted on a giant paper scroll while the Tasmanian Improvised Orchestra played. We left half way through to try and get a good spot for the Dresden Dolls, and ended up about one row back from the barrier.

THE DRESDEN DOLLS
were great. We were directly in front of the left-hand speaker stack, so it was *loud*. The show didn't quite have the manic energy of the recent gig at the Forum in Melbourne - the Dolls we giving it their all, but they seemed a little tired or the audience was a bit more subdued. But this is only a relative comparison: they were ripping it up and audience loved it.

There was an official after-party at the festival club FauxMo, but we chose to go home and get some rest instead.

(To be continued...)

Home

Jan. 23rd, 2012 07:33 pm
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Back from MONA FOMA in Hobart.

Was amazing.

Very tired now. Massive write-up to come...
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For those interested in seeing the Sisters of Mercy play at the Corner Hotel in February, the tickets are on sale now. I bought ours at 7:15 am.
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Thanks to everyone who joined us for lunch at the Northcote Social Club yesterday.

It was an excellent day. Good food, good friends, and good conversation.

(And thanks too to everyone who apologised for not being able to make it. It would have been great to see you, of course. But the whole point of a pub lunch is to be laid back and casual. If you can rock up, rock up. If not, there'll be another one in a month or so.)

The only bad thing, really, was the weather. It was completely wrong. Pub lunches work best when it's cold and raining outside, not warm with clear blue skies.

We managed to work around such hardships.

The dining patio out back isn't quite as atmospheric as the Napier Hotel's beloved pool room. The food, however, more than makes up for it. Not only is it delicious, with a tasty Spanish influence, there are also plenty of both gluten-free and vegetarian options. A. and I ate ourselves silly.

The NSC does need to lift its game in regards to the toilet graffiti there. Since it's Northcote, I'll assume all the death-metal tagging is ironic. But it's still not very interesting to read.

B and D gave us a lift home.

We had a bit a of a grandpa nap.

And then we went into town to see Mick Harvey launch his new solo CD, Sketches from the Book of the Dead.

~

The launch was at the Toff in Town. We arrived early enough to score one of the tables down the front. This whole cabaret-style seating at rock gigs still feels a bit weird to me. I'm getting old, though, and I appreciated not having to stand all night.

The support act was Celery, a young woman and her Fender Jaguar playing droning, Cat Powers style songs. She had a great voice, of the sort that gets called "ethereal". She was bit shy to begin with, but warmed up. Two friends joined her on stage for her last two songs, ending with a cover of The Stooges' "Dirt".

They all looked very young. But they were all very talented. And given my novel is about young women starting a band and playing rock and roll, my heart did swell a little bit to see it in action.

~

I've said before Mick Harvey looks less like a rock star, and more like someone's dad. Last night, he was a grumpy dad.

It was a rough night. The PA had problems, someone's phone kept playing music, and Harvey had to tell the talkative Toff crowd to shut up and show some respect for the music.

The music was worth it.

Haunting Australian folk-gothic. Paul Kelly meets the Paradise Motel. Harvey sang and played acoustic guitar, backed by a double bass player and a violinist/guitarist/accordian player. They started out with quiet folk-style songs, and built up to a bluesy wall-of-noise.

You could argue, as the review I linked to above does, that the music was a bit too close to the Bad Seeds sound to distinguish Harvey's solo work from that of his former bandmates.

The counter-argument would be a) Harvey helped invent the Bad Seeds sound and b) this folk-blues-wall-of-noise sound is now an established tradition in Australian music, and it's what an artist does within that tradition that distiguishes him from his peers. (Also, c) It's Mick Harvey. Shut up and show some respect.)

Harvey has none of Cave's swagger, or vitriol, or ornate sentimentality. What he has is a laconic introspection, the sound of a man alone, beer glass in hand, haunted by his memories of the departed.

The various problems on the night visibly irritated Harvey. He's a veteran performer, though, and the music shone through clearly. A great night, to finish off a great day.

~

The Age has an informative interview with Harvey, where he talks about his album and why he left the Bad Seeds.

I tried to find a link for Celery, but that has to be one of the least Google-able names ever. I got some links to an American prog band with the same name, and lots of recipes. Still, she's worth a listen, if she's playing near you.



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I started writing this last night, after we got back from the Amanda Palmer gig. It's long. Very long. And a bit rambling. My apologies. The actual review bit is at the end, if you want to skip over the blow-by-blow descriptions.


SOME BACKGROUND

Friday night we saw Jason Webley's gig at the Evelyn Hotel. Jason Webley is a sort of gypsy/gutterpunk/Tom Waits accordion player. He's supported Amanda Palmer on previous tours, which is where I suspect most of his fan base in Australia comes from.

Supporting him was Evelyn Evelyn, a pair of Edward Gorey-esque conjoined twins who were "discovered" by Webley and Palmer. And yes, by "discovered" I mean they're characters played by Palmer and Webley.

The chance for Evelyn Evelyn to play at a venue called The Evelyn was too good for them to pass up. Even if it confused the hell out of the poor sales assistant at Polyester when I tried to buy our tickets.

So...

FRIDAY: THE EVELYN )

 

SATURDAY: THE FORUM )


THE ACTUAL REVIEW


Look, we saw Amanda Palmer play the Forum exactly a year ago. And that was one of the best concerts of my life. Intimate. Shambolic. Joyous. Utter magic. Irrepeatable magic, too, because it came just after the SLAM rally, and she had Paul Kelly and Mick Harvey join her on stage. There was just so much love flowing on the stage, and between the stage and the audience.

Last night was a great performance from a great performer. And if I sound hesitant about it, it's only because you can't catch lightning twice.

It was a great show. She had the entire audience on their feet, all the way to the back rows of the Forum. And part of what makes her shows so great is the rag-tag family of musicians she surrounds herself with. Mikelangelo joked she had so many guests on stage it was like the Johnny Cash Show.

And that rag-tag family extends out into the audience, too. Palmer was booked to play Christchurch the day the earthquake hit. She sent go-go dancers out into the crowd with donation buckets for the New Zealand Red Cross.

You can't catch lightning twice. But Amanda Palmer can throw a party. It might start out a bit maudlin. But it ends in strippers wearing koala suits, and every one cheering like mad.

I'm glad we went. I also glad went to the Evelyn the night before, and caught something more intimate.
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Amanda Palmer is playing the Forum on Saturday 26 February 2011.
Presale tickets are available from now until midday Friday the 17th.

Link to the presale is here:
http://www.ticketmaster.com.au/Amanda-Palmer-tickets/artist/1225948

Presale password is A55932423
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I had tickets for Concrete Blonde the last time they toured, eight or nine years ago. Didn't make it.

The evening of the concert, as I was getting ready to go, I got a phone call. My dad was in hospital. He went in complaining about constipation. The doctors found cancer. He was about to have surgery to remove it.

So I missed Concrete Blonde last time. And therefore, I assumed, forever.

Except I was wrong. They toured again. There were no medical emergencies tonight, fortunately. (My dad's all clear, thanks.) We made it to the Palace Theatre just fine.

-

Support band were Graveyard Train. Hillbilly music with lyrics about mummies and ghosts. Lots of fun.

Noticed several family units during the break: mums and dads bringing their son or daughter to the gig. There were lots of old people in the audience. Including us.

Concrete Blonde established their old-school goth rock cred before they even came on. Their amps were draped in black lace. There were roses strewn across the stage. And the band members walked on to Bauhaus's "Bela Lugosi's Dead."

Johnette Napolitano took up the bass riff. Stretched it out. Turned it into the riff for "Bloodletting". And then she started singing.

Dear God. After all these years, her voice is still enormous. The audience cheered her singing the was footy fans cheer a goal.

The band ripped through the opening songs, but their energy seemed to flag towards the middle. They played "God is a Bullet" about an hour in to the two hour show, and Napolitano fluffed a chorus.

But the band rallied for the end. They finished with an acoustic set - "Mexican Moon", "Happy Birthday", and finally "Tomorrow Wendy".

That was the emotional highlight of the concert. Napolitano talked about the background of the song, and turned it in to a plea to help prevent the suicides of young gay teenagers.

For the encore, they played a cover of Midnight Oil's "Beds are Burning".

-

Okay. It's quarter to three in the morning. My brain is not functioning. I'm just going to post this, and perhaps edit in some sort of conclusion tomorrow.










sharplittleteeth: (Default)
I know almost nothing about hip-hop, and only discovered Sage Francis because the extended version of his song Sea Lion features both Will Oldham and Saul Williams. So I had no idea if or how popular he is.

(For those equally ignorant: Sage Francis is a white rapper from Providence. He's credited with being a father of the Indie Rap movement, and his work is very progressive/political/poetic, rather than gangsta rap.)

Popular enough to sell out the Forum, apparently.

We saw him there as part of the Melbourne Festival. The venue was packed. A huge cheer rose up as Francis came on stage wearing a black wig. It was just him and a backing track. But he filled the place. He was fast and passionate, funny and smart. The audience down the front loved him, waving their arms, singing along. We were sitting up the back, because we're old. But even we were bopping our heads along to the beats.

Uplifting.

-

Speaking of Saul Williams - he has a new single out. "Explain My Heart". You can download it for free off that link. It's different to his previous work - more of a straight-up song than a rap - but the tribal percussion and fuzzed-up guitars are fantastic.

sharplittleteeth: (Default)
Peter Hook and Friends, performing Joy Division's "Unknown Pleasures" in its entirety.

I can understand the purists complaining this was a glorified cover band. But how else would we ever hear these songs played live? A time machine?

Support band The Wreckery were good, I guess, but I never really knew their work. They were loud, though. We sitting in the second row, and I regretted not bringing earplugs.

A short interval. Then the low point of the concert: a 20 minute video, made up of random clips about New Order, and Peter Hook, and just a smattering about Joy Division. It was awful, and amateurish, and went on way too long. People were yelling and clapping for it bugger off and the band to start.

Peter Hook and band came out, and opened with a some Warsaw songs. Then they launched into the Unknown Pleasures album in its entirety.

The band were tight and loud and passionate. The sound was more "rock" than the sparse, haunting Martin Hammet-produced sound of the record. But that was good. It was live and vital, rather than some sterile re-creation. Their guitarist in particular was fantastic. Hook's voice was better suited to some songs than others, but I was surprised by how strong his singing was overall.

The Palais is a seated venue. That felt weird. We were so close I could see the frown in Peter Hook's eyes. But there was no dancing. Just people nodding along in their seats.

These are iconic songs, and the band did them justice. "Disorder" was good, but it was "Day of the Lords" that sent the chill up my spine. "Insight", "New Dawn Fades", "Shadowplay" were amazing. They messed up "She's Lost Control" a little bit - Hooksy was effectively playing lead bass, playing the riffs in between singing, while his son Jack played the traditional bass role. The main set ended with "I Remember Nothing".

The encore was just two songs: "Transmission" and "Love Will Tear Us Apart". Both songs sounded enormous. "You've made an old man very happy," Hook said as the audience gave him a standing ovation.

Look, there are issues here. Is this just a glorified tribute band? Does this concert exploit the memory of Ian Curtis, or celebrate it? Does Peter Hook have the right to play these songs? Does New Order? Does anyone?

I'd resolved ahead of time that I would rather hear these songs played live than not.
Was it Joy Division?

No. Of course not.

Was it great to hear these songs live? 

Hell yes.

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July 2014

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