BOOK REVIEW: THE CSIRO & BAKER IDI DIABETES RECIPE BOOK

diabetesbookfinal

Diabetes – and the type II variety in particular – is becoming increasingly common. There are now more than 1.5 million Australians with the disease and this number is set to double in the next five to 10 years. In the past, when people were diagnosed they were often told they would have to cut out sugar from their diets. But The CSIRO and Baker IDI Diabetes Recipe Book looks set to challenge some of that thinking.

The cookbook is by two nutrition researchers and a dietitian along with contributors from the research and academic fields. These individuals have decades of experience in the area and have previously been published in academic journals and media articles. The recipes are also accompanied by glossy colour photographs by Cath Muscat. The result is a polished cookbook full of sumptuous recipes.

Diabetes can be controlled with the right diet and regular exercise and if necessary, medication. The recommendations for dietary control these days are not just about sugar. Instead, it’s about weight control and healthy eating patterns where the foods are low in saturated fat and high in fibre and healthy fats like oils and nuts. A small amount of added sugar is also okay along with a moderate intake of less-refined wholegrain carbohydrates.

This book is comprehensive and well-organised. It lists the appropriate serving portions for different foods and breaks them down into: low GI breads and cereals, lean proteins, low-fat dairy, fruit, vegetables, fats (nuts, seeds and oils) and indulgence varieties. Each recipe’s ingredients and method are also accompanied by the serving size; preparation and cooking time; handy tips; lovely descriptions; and a calculation of how one portion will contribute to your daily food intake. This makes preparing meals and following the diet a lot easier. There is also a full index at the back where recipe types and ingredients are listed, making it easier to navigate than some other cookbooks.

A total of 115 recipes are included alongside a sample eating plan. The recipes are generally high in protein, as this can help maintain blood sugar levels. This also means the book is not only useful for diabetics but for women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome and those people wanting to lose weight. The recipes also cover the full range of food types like: breakfasts and snacks; lunches; light meals; soups; substantial salads; weeknight dinners; barbeques and picnics; dinner party or weekend dinners; and desserts.

The CSIRO and Baker IDI are research facilities working hard at preventative health and the treatment of diabetes and cardiovascular disease. This volume is an excellent companion to their previous bestseller, The CSIRO and Baker IDI Diabetes Diet & Lifestyle Plan. While it’s no substitute for consulting with your doctor or health provider, it does at least point you in the right direction.

The CSIRO and Baker IDI Diabetes Recipe Book offers recipes that are designed to improve general health and to help manage weight while enabling you to eat tasty, satisfying and healthy foods. It also ultimately proves that a diabetes diagnosis doesn’t have to result in a boring or bland diet, meaning you can have your chocolate pot and eat it too.

Originally published on 29 August 2013 at the following website: http://www.theaureview.com/reviews/reading-with-the-au-the-csiro-baker-idi-diabetes-recipe-book

Visit The Au Review’s homepage at: http://www.theaureview.com/

ALBUM REVIEW: BUFFALO TALES – ROADTRIP CONFESSIONALS

buffalo-trales

 

Wes Carr has released his first album under the moniker, Buffalo Tales and simultaneously pulled a Matt Corby and a Bob Evans. The former parallel comes courtesy of shaking off the Australian Idol tag and turning your back on pop by following the folk troubadour route. The latter is because this is Carr’s most personal record to date and yet he has chosen to release it under a pseudonym.

Roadtrip Confessionals is a haunting collection of 13 acoustic songs that are loosely based on a soundtrack to a fictional road trip. It also has four pit stops along the way in the form of three jarring interludes and an introduction where feet wander around on some gravel, which sounds more like a field recording. The addition of these pieces doesn’t really work and Carr would’ve been better off re-jigging the running order and sticking to the songs proper.

The record is a long one that clocks in at 53 minutes. Carr includes two unnecessary cover songs in the form of Leonard Cohen’s “Take This Waltz” and one made famous by Rihanna, “Diamonds”. There are also three older songs by Carr including “Waiting For You” and “Please”. The latter track is a raw, pleading number that shares an awful lot in common with Paul Kelly.

“Tricks To Magik” meanwhile, features Sam Buckingham and this Sydney songwriter is one of a few guest stars. Other songs feature The Falls on backing vocals while Scottish folk singer, Rachel Sermanni and all-female, roots trio, Baskery from Sweden also take the time to lend their vocals.

The content of the songs is actually quite raw and open with the lyrics often referencing subjects like heartbreak, sadness, yearning and soul-searching. There are many moments where the feeling and emotion become all too much and will require you to reach for the box of Kleenex, with the quiet hush and personal stories tugging at your heartstrings until they’re ready to break.

On the flipside, there are also moments that are high energy and romp with a boot-scooting joy. These alt-country songs are ecstatic and party stomping like in “OH! My Kingdom” where the banjos and handclaps mean this wouldn’t be out of place during a Mumford & Sons’ show. It’s a full, layered sound that is a stark contrast to the sparse feel of the wide open road and this country’s big, brown land that the rest of the music seems to reference.

Roadtrip Confessionals is one honest and mature record. It’s like a ramble through Carr’s experiences and journey to date and it’s one that for better and for worse, in sickness and in health has already been done. He’s essentially poured his heart out and used the depth and breadth of his experience to colour his songs and while the music doesn’t differ all too much, the lyrics are sweet and full of heart.

Originally published on 25 August 2013 at the following website: http://thedwarf.com.au/album_review/buffalo-tales-roadtrip-confessionals

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EP REVIEW: TIGERTOWN – WANDERING EYES

Tigertown_WanderingEyes

 

The third EP from indie pop quintet, Tigertown looks just like a vinyl LP from the seventies. Heck, Wandering Eyes even sounds like a record from that era. The group certainly know their Fleetwood Mac’s from their Fairport Conventions. They also offer something homely and not altogether unexpected here.

The band members are all tied together by either familial bonds or marriage vows. The youngsters have certainly grown and matured with each new release and this one is no different. They continue to develop their flair for eclectic tunes with a rustic feel, songs that are shiny pop gems and their own answers to Australiana. It’s also a formula that’s worked and earned them one impressive following to date.

‘Weary One’ kicks off proceedings with some chiming boy-girl vocals and a pop style that sits somewhere between Cloud Control and Ben Lee. The artists also take the time to doff their caps at Jack Johnson as he sits on a Hawaiian beach before they come to the realisation that all is not as it used to be, nor as they figured. The song’s strength lies in the fact that it successfully draws together lots of different sonic ingredients, but the lyrics are a bit of a let down because they’re overly simplistic and repetitive.

The previous single, ‘What You Came Here For’ is offered next and this one takes us on a turn back in time to eighties childhood films like The Neverending Story and others from the fantasy genre. ‘Back In Time’ meanwhile, does just as the title suggests and is the first one to really fit with the nostalgic EP art. It was also the band’s first self-confessed ‘Real Fleetwood Mac moment’. But for my money it’s the following title track that really fits that bill, because it sounds dangerously close to being a reprise of the Mac’s ‘Rhiannon’.

Wandering Eyes was recorded live by Liam Judson (Belles Will Ring) and at times it sounds like the group are playing house in a dark room or they’re joining forces by bellowing off the side of some grand mountaintop. The result is a sound that’s often large and full of layered harmonies plus lush and ambient melodies. Wandering Eyes is filled with polish and radiates from the brain to the pulse and concludes with a hypnotic heartbeat. For a group so young, this is ultimately another joyous addition to a first-rate canon.

Originally published on 23 August 2013 at the following website: http://thedwarf.com.au/album_review/16381/wandering-eyes

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THEATRE REVIEW: FREUD’S LAST SESSION @ THEATRE ROYAL, SYDNEY

Freud. Doug Hansell as CS Lewis and Henri Szeps as Freud. © Mel Koutchavlis. 9044

Photo credit: Mel Koutchavlis



Theatre has already seen a “War of the Worlds”. But are people ready for a ‘War of words’? This is just one way to describe the two-man show, Freud’s Last Session. It’s a meeting or ‘session’ between two intellectuals that was written by Mark St Germain and was first posed in the book, The Question of God by Dr Armand M. Nicholi Jr.

The play is centred on a fictional scenario. It shows what might have happened if the controversial atheist and curmudgeonly founder of Psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud met with the then young Oxford Professor and devout Christian convert, C.S. Lewis. At times this lends the proceedings an air like a master teaching a young grasshopper about things, because it would be some years before Lewis would write his series, The Chronicles of Narnia, including the famous book, The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe.

The year is 1939 and England is in the process of declaring war with Nazi Germany. The play is filled with intelligent dialogue and brain food. The two ponder the meaning of life and verbally spar over topics like: love, sex and faith. The pair are each rather staunch in their beliefs and while they do not resort to anger, they do try to present convincing counter-arguments to the opposition. It means the proceedings are quite wordy and can seem rather one-track with the only diversions coming via interruptions like historic radio announcements, a playful dog and a couple of phone calls.

Freud’s Last Session is staged in a mock-up of Freud’s office in England after he had to flee continental Europe. The set is a handsome one with an appropriate period feel and atmosphere. It’s also filled wall-to-wall with old, hardcover books. It also contains Freud’s infamous coach which both gentlemen will use at various moments, although at times a soapbox would’ve made a more logical choice of prop.

The production has previously premiered off-Broadway but the Australian cast sees the superb pairing of Henry Szeps(Mother & Son) playing the recalcitrant Freud while Douglas Hansell is the 41-year-old Lewis. The duo has a good chemistry and together they create some funny and witty points plus some tense and difficult moments, and others that are quite thought-provoking and profound. Szeps delivers a deep, Austrian accent as the 83-year-old Freud. He proves that physical weakness is no obstacle, because while the gruff, old man’s body succumbs to oral cancer he still has a personality that is sharp, acerbic and intimidating. Hansell, on the other hand, uses a softer, more charming approach as his method of persuasion.

On opening night there were a few technical issues with the sound, but even without these problems it was obvious that Freud’s Last Session was uneven in parts. While it was interesting to see biographical elements interwoven with a lively, intelligent and often sensitive debate, at times it veered off-course and felt like a rather long talk fest. At times, it also tried too hard to find common ground between the two different schools of thought. Plus, you can’t help but wonder if you wouldn’t be able to glean just as much information from either author’s amazing written material and make up your own minds or invent your own scenarios in speculating what could have been.

Freud’s Last Session ultimately appears to engage with audiences. It also sits somewhere between the book, Tuesdays With Morrie and the episode of Q&A with The God Delusion author, Richard Dawkins and the Catholic Church’s Cardinal George Pell. In the former, we also learn a little more about life from someone who is on the precipice of death.

At the end of Freud’s Last Session the two gentlemen concede that it was foolish to attempt to solve all the ‘big’ questions in one morning. This 90 minute production is an attempt to do just that, but often it barely skims the surface without providing any real answers. So while this is a worthwhile premise, the jury’s out as to whether this fictional scenario can sustain the full drama and complexities of modern life.

Originally published on 19 August 2013 at the following website: http://www.theaureview.com/sydney/theatre-review-freuds-last-session-theatre-royal-sydney-15-08-13

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DVD REVIEW: VARIOUS – THE FREDDIE MERCURY TRIBUTE CONCERT – THE DEFINITIVE EDITION

freddie tribute

 

Queen guitarist Brian May says at the start of this show that The Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert is to “Celebrate the life, work and dreams of one, Freddie Mercury”.

2013 makes it the 21st anniversary of one of the biggest send-offs in rock ‘n’ roll history. It took place on 20 April 1992 at London’s Wembley Stadium to 72,000 people and a televised audience of approximately one billion. To say it wasn’t an important moment in musical history would be a travesty.

Mercury passed away in November 1991 from bronchopneumonia brought on by AIDS. The Mercury Phoenix Trust was subsequently set up to offer relief to AIDs sufferers and the tribute show was originally designed to raise awareness of the disease.

A star-studded line-up of rock and pop music royalty was assembled. These included Mercury’s surviving bandmates alongside acts like Def Leppard, Extreme, Guns N’Roses and Metallica, who were influenced by Queen, and other artists that Mercury was a fan of, such as David Bowie, Robert Plant and Liza Minnelli.

The filmed version of the performance has been released a few times over the years, but this year it makes its debut on Blu-ray and comes with remastered sound. The name “Definitive” is a bit of a misnomer though, because while the set is comprehensive it is far from complete – with music by Spinal Tap omitted and other artists having their sets cut short.

The proceedings are filled with nostalgia and love for the great man, but this doesn’t save the concert from some truly cringe-worthy moments. Elizabeth Taylor gives us a long, rambling speech about the importance of using protection and says, “Don’t worry, I’m not gonna sing!”

The middle of the show almost turns into a Bowie-fest as he performs “Heroes” and “All The Young Dudes”. But the weirdest Bowie moment has to be a tie between singing “Under Pressure” with Annie Lennox and when he gets down on one knee to recite “The Lord’s Prayer”. Really.

Axl Rose is shrill as he sings “We Will Rock You”, while Extreme frontman Gary Cherone is distractingly hyperactive in his performances.

There are, however, many moments where the guests do Queen’s music justice. The Who’s Roger Daltrey offers a defiant “I Want It All”, while Black Sabbath’s Tony Iommi does a superb job with May on guitars.

George Michael does a beautiful version of “Somebody To Love” with the London Gospel Choir, and Elton John is all great and powerful during his part in “Bohemian Rhapsody”. The finale of “We Are The Champions” is an absolute joy – even in such sad circumstances – lead by Liza Minnelli and the entire cast.

At times The Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert is like the frontman it celebrates. It’s camp, bombastic, colourful and full of theatrics. It also showcases the effect the band had, and continues to have, over music.

There are moments where the concert can be hit and miss, and not every fan will love every rendition of the Queen classics offered here. Nonetheless, there’s no denying that the whole shebang is an excellent farewell. The hodgepodge grouping ultimately works the crowd to fever pitch, with fans singing along to almost every word.

If nothing else, the event supported an extremely worthy cause – something that this release continues to promote.

Originally published on 15 August 2013 at the following website: http://www.tonedeaf.com.au/reviews/film/334393/the-freddie-mercury-tribute-concert-the-definitive-edition.htm

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THEATRE REVIEW: DELECTABLE SHELTER @ REGINALD THEATRE, SEYMOUR CENTRE (UNTIL 17.08.2013)

DELECTABLE

The notion of staging a story after an apocalypse is hardly new. Nor is the idea of leaving a handful of survivors with the job of rebuilding a utopian society that may or may not turn awry. This is where Delectable Shelter begins its story and what unfolds is a challenging black comedy about white terror.

The production is the latest one from Melbourne’s The Hayloft Project and continues in much the same vein as the other productions they’ve staged. In Thyestes they also pushed the boundaries and thumbed their noses at political correctness. Sometimes this approach works but like anything controversial it also comes with the possibility of offending people and leaving a bitter aftertaste. In this production the digs at Chinese people and the reliance on stereotypes certainly go too far at times.

The play was written and directed by Benedict Hardie. It sees a middle-aged, white-bread couple (Andrew Broadbent and Yesse Spence) stuck in a bunker with their indulged, hapless son (Brendan Hawke) and his wife (Simone Page Jones). This hideous family are also joined by a mad scientist-come-engineer, Tor (Jolyon James) who discovered the way to survive the world’s end.

The solution was to build a tiny bunker for the new family of five to live in. It’s a different world from the comfort and privilege they’re used to. There’s silver fern wallpaper creating a magic eye illusion effect, four uncomfortable chairs and a Van Gogh light box decorating the shelter or five sided container. The set was designed by Claude Marcos and was excellent in that it added a macabre strangeness and an oppressive prison for the family as they take shelter in the Earth’s core.

Delectable Shelter is made up of three acts and spans over 350 years in time. The first two acts are the strongest and are devoted to showing the family as they first enter the shell and a few years after they’ve settled in. The acts are broken up by musical interludes with the five-piece ensemble leaving their colourful prison to don salmon robes and perform a cappella versions of eighties hits by Roxette, Foreigner, Air Supply and Billy Ocean. These were re-arranged by Benny Davis (Axis of Awesome) and proved a real highlight, especially Page Jones’ amazing operatic voice.

The people left behind are stereotypes used to highlight the absurd and ridiculous nature of human beings. There’s the desire to maintain appearances and absolute vanity in the form of a solarium being built as an “essential” room and this serves to highlight some real first world problems. The characters are buffoons and bourgeois but their descendents are worse. The inter-breeding in the gene pool leads to genetic throwbacks and characters that resemble something out of Housos, while the world crumbles amidst fear, cannibalism and chaos.

The whole situation is an illogical one and requires a suspension of your imagination for 90 minutes. At times the long pauses and subtle movements make for mind numbingly slow viewing that should’ve been tightened for greater impact. The script also falters because while it aims to be a mature and sarcastic swipe at people and a critique on humankind, a lot more jokes could’ve been added to highlight the empty vacuousness of these characters and the insatiability of the human spirit.

Delectable Shelter is a play with an interesting premise but it was let down by series of pitfalls in its execution. Although it held up a mirror to modern society and did so with a no-holds-barred approach, this ultimately bold and edgy tale is not for the faint-hearted and it will not appeal to all. It will be enjoyed by those looking for some odd, quirky theatre or for buffs of the genre. But for those that don’t fit into either of these boxes, this “shelter” will prove to be a stifling and claustrophobic anti-haven.

Originally published on 15 August 2013 at the following website: http://www.theaureview.com/sydney/delectable-shelter-reginald-theatre-seymour-centre-13-08-13

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BOOK REVIEW: CYNDI LAUPER & JANCEE DUNN – A MEMOIR

cyndi lauper-COMPLETE

 

For such a quirky and creative individual, the title to Cyndi Lauper’s autobiography seems so safe and boring. Simply titled, A Memoir, on reflection it could’ve been named Things The Grandchildren Should Know, except that Mark Oliver Everett from Eels had already used it. In Lauper’s book she proves to be the world’s kookiest agony aunt, reflecting on most aspects of her life and offering up advice in spades.

To say the pop star that rose to prominence in the eighties is an inspirational woman is a huge understatement. She’s gone and done it all. She’s been an actress, songwriter, performer, writer, mother and she overcame great adversity.

Her story begins with her leaving the home of her Sicilian mother as a teenager after she had a run-in with her creepy stepfather. There were some bad years where she failed high school and endured poverty, countless dead-end jobs and bankruptcy, plus a sexual assault at the hands of a former band mate. She even guesses that she had undiagnosed ADHD. Lauper’s past is shocking and rather violent and seems at odds with the effervescent, quirky redhead that had lots in common with Lucille Ball or the girl that was known for just wanting to have fun.

In 1983 Lauper was anointed a star after she released her debut record, She’s So Unusual. She fought the record company to retain her creative and artistic freedom and won. She scored four top 40 singles including “Girls Just Want To Have Fun”, “She Bop” and “Time After Time” and she was the first female artist to do so. But her subsequent albums never matched this mammoth success, even though her follow-up produced the hit, “True Colours”.

Lauper’s book is co-written with NY-Times bestseller and former Rolling Stone contributor, Jancee Dunn. But even with this extra help, the words have “Cyndi” printed all over it. It is written just like she speaks and her recall is impeccable. She’s able to vividly describe scenes from decades ago with as much visual detail as if we were looking at a photograph. The writing is intimate, informal and peppered with Lauper’s accent. So when the storyline breaks off into different tangents and she adds extra asides and observations, you can’t help but feel like you’re sharing a drink with the lady rather than reading her book.

Lauper always embraced the unconventional and outsider card she was often sidled with. She is self-deprecating and even calls herself a drag queen because everything is a vision of how she’d like to look and not how she actually looks. Today, her op-shop chic style has been adopted by a more mainstream following and her influence can be felt in younger female artists like Nicki Minaj and Lady Gaga.

In addition to Lauper’s fine work in music, she has also been an outspoken advocate of civil and feminist rights and she is also a campaigner for freedom of sexuality. She’s set up the True Colours Fund to help LGBT youths in America. She’s also raised lots of money for the cause over the years and it’s one that’s close to her heart, because she lost a friend to AIDS at a young age and her adored elder sister, Ellen, is a lesbian.

Lauper’s boisterous addition to the rock lit cannon is descriptive, occasionally rambling and repetitive but ultimately one extraordinary tale of survival. She gives advice, sometimes shows us what not to do and does it all with such an inspired and goofy sense of humour and a feisty, no bulls**t attitude. Sure, it’s disorganised and chaotic but it suits the sensitive, fun and free-spirited nature of the gal.

Above all, A Memoir is a relatable story. And Cyndi Lauper is living proof that you can overcome various obstacles. She ignored the people that said they “Could’ve, should’ve, would’ve” and the other detractors that threatened to get in her way. This girl was and is so unusual but she is also one of very few people that can say “I did it my way” and mean it wholeheartedly.

 

Originally published on 12 August 2013 at the following website: http://www.theaureview.com/reviews/reading-with-the-au-cyndi-lauper-jancee-dunn-a-memoir-2013

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ALBUM REVIEW: VARIOUS – SING ME THE SONGS: CELEBRATING THE WORKS OF KATE MCGARRIGLE

katemc

 

Sing Me the Songs is a wistful but mostly bittersweet tribute to Kate McGarrigle that intertwines melancholy with joy and a celebratory air.

The 34 intimate folk tracks – recorded during tribute concerts held in London, Toronto and New York – are performed by singers from the Wainwright and McGarrigle families and their famous friends including Emmylou Harris, Norah Jones, Teddy Thompson and Jimmy Fallon. It’s an album of faithful cover versions imbibed with McGarrigle’s soft femininity and her no-nonsense personality.

At the heart of the collection is ‘Kiss & Say Goodbye’, a bittersweet pop tune performed by Rufus and Martha Wainwright with their aunt Anna McGarrigle that plays like a poignant epitaph. This sentiment is also shared on the final track, ‘I Just Want to Make It Last’, a silly, spoken-word demo performed by Kate McGarrigle that grapples with her own mortality with wit and tenderness.

Originally published on 10 July 2013 at the following website: http://www.fasterlouder.com.au/reviews/music/36525/Various–Sing-Me-The-Songs-Celebrating-The-Works-of-Kate-McGarrigle

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FILM REVIEW: YOU MAKE ME FEEL SO YOUNG

youmakemefeel

Some of you have seen it. Heck, some of you may have even been in a similar situation. You Make Me Feel So Young is centred on a deteriorating relationship between two American twenty-somethings.

The film is the work of writer/director, Zach Weintraub who also doubles as the film’s star. He is the boyfriend of Justine (Justine Eister). After Zach gets a new job programming an art house cinema the pair relocates to a new town. But this change of scenery and being away from the previous routine and familiarity of home uncovers deep seated problems and issues between the couple.

You Make Me Feel So Young is a beautifully shot film in black and white. This lends the art house film a more dramatic and creative feel, especially in the beginning when some of the music that underpins the soundtrack plays out like a modern art kaleidoscope. But while things are ambient and impressionistic, it ultimately fails to match its slick style with enough story and substance.

The tale of a deteriorating relationship is hardly anything revelatory. Blue Valentine is just one film that did this before, but was also able to give their characters an adequate past and present storyline. It would even make some viewers root for one or both of the characters as they had enough information to draw their own conclusions.

But in You Make Me Feel So Young things seem like little more than directionless art and an extensive exercise in navel-gazing. It is made up entirely of subtle, real-time vignettes and observations that depict mundane, day-to-day pieces from life.

It’s all quite honest and truthful but it makes for tedious viewing and seems like a lot of life’s in-between moments. With occasions where there is little dialogue and even less plot, it all feels far too voyeuristic in its portrayal of one young couple’s idle life and their inevitable break-up.

Originally published on 8 August 2013 at the following website: http://www.theaureview.com/reviews/possible-worlds-film-festival-review-you-make-me-feel-so-young-2013-usa

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LIVE REVIEW: BERNARD FANNING & BIG SCARY @ ENMORE THEATRE (02.08.2013)

bernard-fanning

 

Bernard Fanning and Big Scary’s Sydney show was all about presenting something new while still retaining a firm handle on the past.

The fact is the former Powderfinger frontman is promoting his second solo album while Big Scary’s sophomore effort lobbed some creative curveballs at the listener. All of this was celebrated through two solid performances by these artists.

Big Scary’s line-up was expanded from the duo format of Tom Iansek (guitars/keys) and Jo Syme (drums) to include a third member alternating between bass and keys. The touring trio did a good, eight-song set that drew heavily from their recent, Not Art record with a particular focus on the broody and atmospheric songs.

Iansek was in fine form with his charming falsetto continuing to resemble Jeff Buckley at various points. He would also crack some jokes and make quips with Symes.

The addition of a bass guitar added an extra groove to their material, while Symes did an excellent job with her drumming. This involved some skitter-scatter clomp in “Luck Now” to paring it back with the softer ballad, “Falling Away” and then playing like an all-out beast in the older, heavier songs  “Gladiator” and “Purple”.

The feeling in the room was that while people enjoyed newer tracks, “Phil Collins” and “Belgian Blues”, there was much more fun to be had with the more hooky and immediate, older numbers. The same could also be said for Fanning’s set because he stuck strictly to his solo material and one cover song; even though some audience members would’ve traded their first-borns just to hear some live Powderfinger.

At times Bernard Fanning’s new material doesn’t seem like a far leap away from his previous work with his bandmates. He even reserved his best rock frontman poses for his recent single, “Battleships”. The songs in his discography are all obviously linked by their personal and relatable nature and his solo work ventures even further into this direction, with “Departures (Blue Toowong Skies)” perhaps his most intimate portrait to date.

“Wash Me Clean” opened proceedings with Fanning stepping ever-so-casually on-stage. He finger-picked his way through a sublime folk song that could hold itself in an already impressive discography, as the lyrics tugged at your heartstrings in much the same way as a baby cooing their very first words.

Fanning was backed by a five-piece band that featured new and old faces, with Shannon Carrol and Andrew Morris on guitars, Mark Henman on drums, Lachlan Doley on keys and Matt Englebrecht on bass. On “Inside Track” the guitars were driven up a notch in both the force and volume stakes, meaning these particular million dollar riffs sounded like something captured in a garage in the 60s.

The star of the evening acknowledged that some of the older material had been tinkered with in order to flow more cohesively with the newer stuff. Nothing appeared to be out of place but the changes also seemed to be very minor and would not have registered in the minds of the casual fans.

The fact is that Fanning held his own (even though at moments he was competing with chatter from a couple of rude people, especially during the quiet moments). But he did not let this affect his jovial exterior; he instead updated us with the cricket scores, talked about Steven Spielberg and gave the top tier a job (i.e. clapping along to a few cuts).

The overall reception to the show was largely positive with Fanning going so far as to ask why all gigs can’t be like this one. “Songbird” had people clapping along and pumping their fists while other Tea & Sympathy singles, “Watch Over Me” and “Wish You Well” were produced with great renditions and went down a treat in the encore, before the night was capped off with a cover of George Harrison’s “What Is Life”.

Bernard Fanning had ultimately entertained the crowd with his thick, creamy vocals that are like buttermilk.

There were songs that made you want to dance while others had you quietly contemplating your emotions and the things inside your head before making you want to embrace your buddy in an enthusiastic hug.

It was most satisfying to skip through Fanning’s two albums and while all the choices weren’t killer and there was filler, there were also lots of opportunities to sate your appetite for heart-filled folk and good, toe-tapping pop.

Originally published on 5 August 2013 at the following website: http://www.tonedeaf.com.au/reviews/shows/332098/bernard-fanning-2.htm

Visit Tone Deaf’s homepage at: http://www.tonedeaf.com.au/

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