LIVE REVIEW: THE SCREAMING JETS & THE SNOWDROPPERS @ METRO THEATRE, SYDNEY (23.11.2013)

TheScreamingJets

Next year marks The Screaming Jets’ 25th anniversary, but judging by their recent show at The Metro, celebrations have already started. The group were there to film the performance for a live DVD, and their near two-hour set had enough fire and energy to blow most young bands out of the water.

The Snowdroppers supported the headliners and played hard blues-rock numbers. The quartet pulled out all the stops, trying their damn hardest to win over the crowd with songs like ‘Excavating’ and ‘White Dress’. But the 45-minute set by the locals failed to really cut through, and this may have been due to the rhythm section being too low in the mix and the vocals too high. Their set wasn’t lacking in dirty, scuzzy riffs and powerful beats – but the evening was all about the masters, The Screaming Jets.

The Screaming Jets’ show started off strongly and practically reached 11 on the scales with ‘Dream On’. The energy remained high as the band played a solid set, drawing on both old and new albums, hit singles, and some more obscure tracks.

The band’s fans are a loyal bunch and could be seen belting out a lyric or ten. Musically, the group seem to sit comfortably alongside great Australian rock bands like AC/DC, Rose Tattoo, and The Angels.

‘Tunnel’ was the first of many tunes to have an excellent, gnarly guitar solo. Both guitarists, Jimi “The Human” Hocking and Scott Kingman, looked so cool while they were playing – it looked like they could almost do it backwards. Hocking was a little flashier, so he probably would’ve done it if you’d asked him nicely.

Another great showman in the group was Dave Gleeson, who entertained us all with his quips and asides about everything from responsible drinking and the government to vans and drugs.

Clive Palmer was also a man that Gleeson described and he doubled as the subject of ‘FRC’, a song not played anywhere near enough by the group. Words cannot explain how fun it was to be in the crowd yelling, “Fat, rich, c**t” over and over again (although, another close moment came when a punter in a horse mask was moshing away during ‘Silence Lost’).

There was the incendiary ‘Come On’, while ‘Shine On’ had the kind of hungriness that only comes when you have little more than a pocketful of hopes and dreams, as Gleeson described it.

The start of ‘Eve Of Destruction’ teased the audience in much the same way as Jimi Hendrix did at Woodstock when he played the ‘Star Spangled Banner’. This Screaming Jets song proved a concert highlight and one that also turned into a giant, smoky singalong – a real contrast to the shiny groove of the Paul Woseen-penned, ‘Helping Hand’.

The band played a lot of their own material, including their big hit ‘Better’, but they also found room for a couple of special covers. Renditions of Rowland S. Howard’s ‘Shivers’, Slim Dusty’s ‘Cunnamulla Fella’, and AC/DC’s ‘Ain’t No Fun (Waiting Round To Be A Millionaire)’ were all well-received.

But the best cover of the evening was their affectionate take on Neil Young’s ‘Rockin’ In The Free World’, a song so good that it made your eyes glisten with hope.

While The Screaming Jets put on one feisty rock show, they managed some quieter moments thanks to the mandolin-lead ‘Disappear’ and the very sweet ‘Friend Of Mine’.

The Metro seemed like one loud and sweaty party hosted by The Screaming Jets. The group may be approaching their quarter century anniversary, but they sound as fresh as they did back in their heyday. The tight group proved they still rock and have the live and writing chops to continue on for some time yet.

The Screaming Jets’ Sydney set list:

1. Dream On

2. Tunnel

3. Come On

4. Shine On

5. Do Ya

6. Eve Of Destruction

7. Helping Hand

8. Holding On

9. Shivers (original by Rowland S. Howard)

10. Cunnamulla Fella (original by Slim Dusty)

11. Disappear

12. Silence Lost

13. October Grey

14. Sad Song

15. Living In England

16. Needle To The Red

17. Better

———————————————————-

18. Friend Of Mine

19. F.R.C (AKA Fat Rich C**ts)

20. Ain’t No Fun (Waiting Round To Be A Millionaire) (original by AC/DC)

21. Rockin’ In The Free World (original by Neil Young)

 

Originally published on 27 November 2013 at the following website: http://www.tonedeaf.com.au/reviews/shows/367226/the-screaming-jets.htm

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COMEDY REVIEW: ARJ BARKER & JOEL OZBORN @ ENMORE THEATRE (24.11.2013)

arj-barker

It was the last Sydney show for comedians, Arj Barker and Joel Ozborn, who have been touring Australia together. The Go Time tour could’ve been renamed the “Good Time” one. Both comedians seemed to be having a ball, as they told their jokes and enjoyed the laughs from a warm and generous, Enmore crowd.

Joel Ozborn was in charge of the warm-up duties and did an almost half-hour set. He was a good choice of opening act (the pair has toured together before) and his observational humour and sense of sarcasm made it a good fit. Ozborn has also been named a ‘comic to watch’ this year, but this didn’t stop him recently being embarrassed after he followed an Elvis impersonator who reverted out of character to ask in the most Australian drawl ever, “What was your name again, mate?”

He made a funny quip about latecomers getting their own “Torch and everything” before settling on some airline jokes (a comedian’s bread and butter). There were some cheeky asides about “The Vodafone Effect” and how tin cans can do the job better, plus his thoughts on how the judges of Australia’s Got Talent should really have some before they’re qualified to comment on it. He ended with a long piece about YouTube which could’ve been shortened but did have a good pay-off at the end. As Arj had said, “Joel is a comedian to watch”.

Arj Barker took us all by surprise when he started his set with a big, musical Broadway number. He had some good lines in this song about some people thinking it was ‘theatre’, while others would say that it was to make up for a lack of quality material. He conceded that 85% of the jokes were brand new and also jigged along to his song. It would’ve made for perfect YouTube fodder, except that we weren’t allowed to record or film the show.

Go Time is perhaps one of Barker’s most polished and clever shows to date. Like Wil Anderson, his set fused hilarity with a deeper, underlying messages. In this case, it was to live for today and focus on your heart, not your head. To re-enforce this message, Barker came up with a number of great one-liners (and arguably the best jokes in the show) like:

“Build a pyramid and get to the god-damn point”
“Turn on the computer and get with the program”

And the absolute, crowd-favourite: “Get a deck of cards and deal with it”.

Barker was his typical, droll self. His humour was dry and sarcastic as he told us about getting laser eye surgery; his love of gaming and technology; and his idea that unemployment isn’t such a bad thing. At times, his humour was quite biting and angry (like the discussion about Apple workers), while at other moments, he would take a much simpler route, like talking about some questionable bathroom antics. These jokes all had one thing in common and that was that they were not for the easily offended because some of it did fit into the arena of black comedy.

Ultimately, Arj Barker has a unique way of describing things and this can mean he’s a little like Carl Barron and Dave Hughes, in that he is funny just being himself. Barker has been a guest on Flight of the Concords and over the years has perfected the art of his slacker humour. In his almost two hour set he managed to throw in a Breaking Bad impersonation and a video game reconstruction along with his own material.

When Arj Barker first started doing comedy, his father encouraged him by saying that if only one person laughs, you’ve done your job (albeit, not very well). Arj’s final Sydney show was an enjoyable and funny one for a Sunday afternoon. It showed how this comedian has improved with experience and how adept he has become at his job.

 

Originally published on 25 November 2013 at the following website: http://www.theaureview.com/sydney/arj-barker-joel-ozborn-enmore-theatre-sydney-24-11-13

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LIVE REVIEW: ALEX LLOYD & THE YOUNG LIONS @ SYDNEY OPERA HOUSE (21.11.2013)

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Alex Lloyd’s show on Thursday night was his Sydney Opera House debut, but what could’ve been a victorious hometown return instead felt like a missed opportunity for his absent fans.

The support band was The Young Lions, a hipster-folk duo who were playing their sixth live gig. They played gentle acoustic music and sounded like a mix between Georgia Fields and Mumford And Sons.

The pair performed ‘The Shade Of Grey’ and sang about the passage of time as well as wistful ruminations over lost love. ‘Winter To Spring’ was a slow ballad that crossed different ground and one that you could imagine being a good addition to a play or a film.

The guys also played ‘Hello Goodbye’ and dubbed the show as their “comeback” gig, proving to be a funny and affable pair.

But the man of the hour was Alex Lloyd. The audience members were a more mature lot who, despite enjoying his folk and pop tunes, only filled half the room.

The crowd rose to their feet for the second last song of the main set, ‘Amazing’.  At that moment, the show felt like it had properly started. Despite Lloyd having just produced one of his best and most varied album in years, the night felt more like a gathering of family and friends instead of a gig.

Lloyd and his band started the night with the new song, ‘Black Cat’. This had a feathery touch while finding a good balance between light and dark moments.

He played a variety of numbers from his 16-year career. ‘Black The Sun’ was an early favourite and just heavenly, with all of the samples in the right place. It was strange that the audience didn’t join in to sing along – instead, they saved this for the end.

‘What A Year’ followed and still proved to be poignant. It’s a song that can easily sum up Lloyd’s past few years living abroad as well as caring for a young family, writing music for other artists, and producing film soundtracks.

The man himself looked very comfortable and happy to be back playing. He thanked the crowd, a few important people, and his wife, Amelia – who inspired him to write the tender love song, ‘Beautiful’. Lloyd featured this song alongside newer material from Urban Wilderness, like the soulful ‘Waterfall’ and the country twang of ‘Better The Less You Know’.

‘Bring It On’ could pass for a Crowded House song, while ‘Honestly’ was squeaky-clean pop. Lloyd and the band returned for a fabulous encore and performed ‘Momo’, the fusion of genres making it an inspiring song for younger artists. He also played a perfect rendition of ‘My Way Home’ and the singalong of the night, ‘Coming Home’.

Apart from the lack of punters on their feet, it was hard to fault Alex Lloyd’s set. His song choice and playing was near perfect, performing a great mix from his early albums as well as a solid introduction to the varied music on his latest record.

The material on Urban Wilderness is so different; it covers a range of emotions in different and exciting ways reminiscent of the film soundtracks he’s previously worked on. It’s for this reason that perhaps the songs would’ve been better showcased and launched in a film theatre – where they could reach their full potential.

Alex LLoyd’s Sydney set list:

1. Black Cat

2. Slow Train

3. Black The Sun

4. What A Year

5. Beautiful

6. Hello The End

7. My Friend

8. Waterfall

9. Bring It On

10. Better The Less You Know

11. Trigger

12. Bus Ride

13. Honestly

14. Amazing

15. Good Thing

———————————–

16. Momo

17. My Way Home

18. Coming Home

Originally published on 25 November 2013 at the following website: http://www.tonedeaf.com.au/reviews/shows/366498/alex-lloyd-2.htm

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DVD REVIEW: JIMI HENDRIX – HEAR MY TRAIN A COMIN’

hendrix

Jimi Hendrix enjoyed just a few years in the limelight and yet to this day we still continue to talk about him and his legacy. He has been considered one of the most important American musicians of the twentieth century and it’s a well-deserved title. No other guitarist has been as unique- in a musical sense and in the way they performed and presented themselves. So it comes as no surprise that there is yet another documentary that is dedicated to him.

Hear My Train A Comin’ isn’t the first Hendrix film to be directed by Bob Smeaton. He has already produced one about the guitar god’s performance at Woodstock plus Jimi Hendrix: Voodoo Child & Band of Gypsies. Where this doco differs from those previously, however, is that it seems like more of the people closest to Hendrix have come on-board here. Also, this time around his family have offered up old photographs and letters while his ex-girlfriends have been given the chance to provide their sides of the story (and this is possibly one of the first opportunities they’ve had, because in the past the estate has erred on the side of hagiography and attempted to whitewash Hendrix’s fondness for women and drugs).

In addition to personal footage, his documentary also contains a plethora of archive material. There are cuts from his performances at the Monterey, Woodstock and Isle of Wight festivals. There are parts taken from some TV interviews he did, including one with Dick Cavett where Hendrix proves to be shy and modest.

Jimi Hendrix was an enigmatic character and chameleon. On stage he was a wild thing- a confident player and showman who knew how to work a crowd (who can forget when he set his guitar on fire at Monterey?) But in person the people who were fortunate enough to know him remember an insecure character and a guy who had a great sense of humour. This documentary charts a lot of territory- from his early family life to joining the US military as a paratrooper (and the place where he’d meet fellow musician, Billy Cox (who is also interviewed here).

Hendrix admired the bluesmen whose music he first listened to from his father’s record collection. He enjoyed the likes of Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters, B.B. King, Chuck Berry and Robert Johnson. His first breaks in the business were also playing with the likes of Wilson Pickett, The Isley Brothers and Little Richard. But he’d eventually start his own group and was managed by Chas Chander (The Animals).

There are lots of talking head interviews with Chandler, Paul McCartney, The Experience members: Noel Redding and Mitch Mitchell, Michelle Phillips (The Mamas & Papas) and Steve Winwood, to name a few. There are also interviews with Al Hendrix (Jimi’s father) and Bob Hendrix (Jimi’s cousin) plus journalists like Chris Welch and Dave Fricke (Rolling Stone) and other people in the business like producers, DJs and publicists.

At two hours, Hear My Train A Comin’ does a good job of painting a portrait of a complex musician who found fame with The Experience and the short-lived, Band Of Gypsies. His death was an untimely one at the age of 27 in 1970. But his legacy continues to shine bright to this day with hits and covers like “Wild Thing”, “Hey Joe”, “Soul Free”, “Purple Haze”, “The Wind Cries Mary”, “Foxy Lady”, “Dolly Dagger” and “Voodoo Child (Slight Return)”, to name a few. These continue to be played and mimicked and it’s easy to see why these songs remain so important.

This documentary is ultimately an important addition to the Hendrix canon. It is a solid introduction and an excellent look at this guitar god. And with its rare footage and other material, this will also leave a little something for those diehard fans to enjoy. The Hendrix legacy continues to live on and is celebrated and supported through labours of love such as this.

Originally published on 22 November 2013 at the following website: http://sfmedia.com.au/jimi-hendrix-hear-my-train-a-comin-dvd-review/

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LIVE REVIEW: FRANZ FERDINAND & SHINING BIRD @ METRO THEATRE (15.11.2013)

franz-fernindad 2013

You could say Franz Ferdinand have all the right moves because they provided the right action at their Sydney Metro show. The Glaswegian quartet confidently straddles the lines between two rather different musical styles, meaning it’s sometimes about rock music you can dance to and at other times, dance tunes you can rock out to. Having just released studio album number four, the group know a thing or two about putting on a fine show and they managed to find the right balance between old and new material.

The supports were local lads, Shining Bird. They proved a curious choice of opening act as the five-piece played dreamy, psychedelic pop rock that would’ve been better suited alongside the Brian Jonestown Massacre or Tame Impala. The quintet sounded like they were walking on their own dream or ten, and they willed the audience to journey along with them, but they did so with varying results.

The band’s biggest drawcard is front man, Dane Taylor’s amazing croon. It was like caramel, pleasantries and velvet goodness all rolled into one. At times this meant that he sounded like Freddie Mercury singing Queen’s “Crazy Little Thing Called Love”, Simple Mind’s Jim Kerr in “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” or The Righteous Brothers’ in “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’”.

The group were an artistic bunch with their guitars shimmering in sound and occasionally pitter-pattering out. “Keep Warm” started off almost hymn-like and spiritual, even though the boys delivered a set that sounded as if they were playing in your lounge room or on a tropical island like Last Dinosaurs. In all, this was a promising show, even if the primary musical genre was not the line of best fit for this particular crowd.

The audience were only here for one band and that was Franz Ferdinand. Their set kicked off with some lights that changed colour and helped build the intensity and overall feeling of theatrics. Then it was time for one of the best dressed men in the business, Alex Kapranos to declare this thing officially open. He said, “Hello Sydney, we’re Franz Ferdinand from Glasgow,” and they launched into the new song, “Bullet”. It was a polite start from this charming man, who was also backed up by a group of merry men.

The last time I saw Franz Ferdinand live – like many of the punters at the Metro – was at the Big Top in Luna Park in 2010. At that show, I remember the crowd danced up a storm and enjoyed all of their catchy and immediate, indie rock tunes. It was also obvious that the group themselves really enjoyed playing, like guitarist Nick McCarthy whose smile never left his face and drummer, Paul Thomson who kept perfect time while also grooving. It’s nice to see that little has changed, apart from their musicianship and talents increasing and seeing them even more adept at their instruments by virtue of time and experience. These three core members were joined tonight by their friend Scott on bass as Robert Hardy was back in Glasgow.

“No You Girls” was an early favourite. It was also the first number of theirs tonight to show how powerful this group really is. It contained all of the punch of the original track (including those all-to-important guitar riffs) and it possessed the crowd like a good curse, making it impossible for them not to dance. Ditto, “The Dark Of The Matinée”, which was all about singing and jumping. It also built up to a big finish and this is something the band shares in common with the likes of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs – because their tracks often have big payoffs at the very end.

There was lots of energy pulsing through the room, especially in the heavy chorus of “Do You Want To”. Things were a tad quieter in the crooning, sixties-like pop of “Walk Away”, before Kapranos checked in on the audience like a mother hen and proved he is a real sweetheart. “Fresh Strawberries” also had a similar influence from that same period with its jangly guitars. The new songs fit in well with the old material and filled the room with real warmth, allowing the band to prove that they are not content to just sit back and trade on nostalgia alone.

“Can’t Stop Feeling” was as fun as a cartoon theme with the synth zipping and zapping along while also being a bit like Bowie and a lot like a party machine. They received positive reactions for “Darts Of Pleasure”, while “Take Me Out” was something else. The latter was a big anthem that sounded as fresh as it had done back in 2004. A new song that also seems destined to achieve big heights is the crunchy, “Love Illumination”. The guitars were like good, old-fashioned Aussie pub rock mixed in with the raw power of The Hives, before it was a case of the band making it all look completely effortless, as they added “Ulysses” and “This Fire” to an almost-faultless set.

The boys returned for an encore and finished with “Right Action” and “Outsiders”. The latter was a great choice of finale, with Kapranos joining his three band mates on percussion. The four men had played an excellent show and had found the right balance between old and new songs plus loud, good times and some quieter, contemplative moments. Franz Ferdinand ultimately proved that they’re like a good wine; they’ve gotten better with age as they have all the right thoughts, right words and right actions.

Franz Ferdinand’s Sydney set list:

1. Bullet
2. No You Girls
3. The Dark Of The Matinée
4. Tell Her Tonight
5. Evil Eye
6. Do You Want To
7. Walk Away
8. Fresh Strawberries
9. Can’t Stop Feeling
10. Brief Encounters
11. Darts Of Pleasure
12. The Fallen
13. Take Me Out
14. Love Illumination
15. Ulysses
16. This Fire
17. Goodbye Lovers & Friends

——————–

18. Right Action
19. Outsiders

 

Originally published on 17 November 2013 at the following website: http://www.theaureview.com/sydney/franz-ferdinand-shining-bird-metro-theatre-sydney-15-11-13

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ALBUM & DVD REVIEW: VARIOUS – THE ROCKWIZ DUETS VOLUME IV WITH A LITTLE HELP FROM OUR FRIENDS

rockwiz

In over a decade Rockwiz has become a musical institution. It has a large family of artists that have graced the Espy’s stage and created some memorable and forgettable moments, particularly in the duets that close the show.

The compilation series is now up to instalment number four with the only mainstays being the Rockwiz Orchestra- Peter Luscombe (drums/percussion), Mark Ferrie (bass) and James Black (guitar/keys).

Each week they can tackle anyone and everyone, with this set alone featuring music by the likes of: Bob Dylan, Crowded House, The Stones, The Pixies, Beyoncé and Nick Cave, among others.

The CD includes 22 duets while the DVD has 31 performances. Some are special and intense while others are more about being quirky and fun. There are some faithful renditions while others are influenced by the artists involved and in most cases this is a younger musician inspiring an elder statesman of the industry.

Two versions of “Stumblin’ In” are included, one with Jack Ladder and Leone Carmen and the other with Chris Cheney and Suzi Quatro. The latter is the better version of the two, especially when you consider Cheney’s great guitar solos and the two denim-clad rockers doing the track justice.

The same cannot be said for Shellie Morris and Ross Wilson’s take on “Louie Louie”, which is mid-tempo tripe that lacks the raw anger of the popular version. It’s so corny; it even comes with syncopated dancing.

Another down point is Dave Mason (The Reels) and Sally Seltmann’s “As Soon As I Hang Up The Phone” where the theatrics dominate and overshadow the proceedings. Mason’s spoken-word improvisation is difficult to hear and some fans will think the pair is murdering the original. Ditto, The Pixies’ “Here Comes Your Man”, as performed by Patience Hodgson and Jae Laffer.

There are some redeeming moments on this set however, with Ella Hooper and Dan Sultan proving they can tackle R&B and The Beatles with aplomb, while Sarah Blasko has such a powerhouse voice that she carries “Hearts On Fire”. The same can also be said of Marcia Hines in “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough”, which fits this lovely lady like a glove.

The latest Rockwiz duets boasts lots of different songs as tackled by young and consummate professionals alike, with lots of finesse and a real sense of camaraderie. Not all tracks will appeal to everyone but there is no denying that when the chemistry’s there it makes for some intriguing listening, indeed.

Originally published on 11 November 2013 at the following website: www.tonedeaf.com.au/reviews/film/362110/the-rockwiz-duets-vol-iv.htm

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ALBUM REVIEW: DAY RAVIES – TUSSLE

day ravies

Shakespeare asked, “What’s in a name?” but if he’d met Sydneysiders Day Ravies, he’d know they were giving a subtle nod to the frontman of The Kinks. The quartet’s record Tussle is a consolidation of sounds and a love letter to all the musical greats that preceded them.

The 20-somethings are a little young to have so much first-hand knowledge of the 90s, but if this album is anything to go by, their record collections must be filled with the likes of Sonic Youth, The Breeders, and Dinosaur Jr.

Tussle is only their second release, but it’s also a high-quality one.

A lot of complex, bittersweet, and frantic energy has been expended and compressed into this record, throwing just about everything into the proverbial pot. In a lesser band’s hands this could seem like fake pastiche or overdone copycatting, but this record’s picture is complete and flawless.

“Double Act” is drenched in reverb and distortion that contrasts (and occasionally drowns out) the sweet vocals in the song. The group offer some driving rock in “Pinky”, where the mood leans more towards Spiderbait in a garage than the dreamy feel from earlier.

Sonic Youth is a key reference in the fuzzy guitars of “Cocoon”, even if Sam Wilkinson sounds like The Church’s Steve Kilbey during the verses. In other songs the music bubbles and jangles (but never in the same way) and there’s a gorgeous ballad “Steeple Walk”.

Tussle references shimmery music with lo-fi production, with elements of shoe-gaze psychedelia and alt-rock all coming together under the banner of pop. While the likes of AC/DC have released entire albums boasting the same three chords, Day Ravies have taken a leaf out of a different book.

Their journey is a weird and noisy one. They should be commended for their  fresh and experimental nature, because it is impossible to pigeonhole these dynamic sounds.

Originally published on 12 November 2013 at the following website: http://www.tonedeaf.com.au/reviews/new-music/362228/tussle.htm

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ALBUM REVIEW: THE JOHN STEEL SINGERS – EVERYTHING’S A THREAD

the_john_steel_singers_everythings_a_thread

The John Steel Singers may be one member down, but their sound is as big as ever.

The band now sees its five founding multi-instrumentalist members taking on more specialised roles in what has ultimately resulted in their most diverse collection of music to date.

Their second studio album, Everything’s A Thread, has fewer brass instruments than their previous worksIt is also an assembly of strong grooves, quirky melodies, and crystalline harmonies, and was lovingly put together at Luke McDonald’s parents’ place on the Sunshine Coast.

The group wanted complete control over their sound so that they could follow their instincts and let the music take them on a journey – one that was not necessarily “technically correct”.

For better or worse, they hoarded new instruments, listened to records, and studied photographs of old studio set-ups. Almost like magpies, they chose the aspects they wanted to emulate.

The title track is a perfect introduction to the album as it sounds like a few different songs played at once and in an absolute frenzy.

The album includes some catchy pop tunes like “Common Thread”, and hints of their old sound in “MJ’s On Fire Again”.

But as the tracks continue, the layers of synth and guitar get denser. “The Marksman” sees a catchy bass line played alongside spooky melodies, distorted walls of sound, and that sublime feeling of basking in the sunshine.

In “State Of Unrest” the band sing about a chaos that’s not dissimilar to what they’ve created on this particular baby.

At its best, Everything’s A Thread is creative, quirky, and experimental. It’s a confident and upbeat mass of melody, chaos, and disarray. But there are moments where things are a tad overdone, and there’s just too much fat left to chew on this bone.

Originally published on 8 November 2013 at the following website: http://www.tonedeaf.com.au/reviews/new-music/361103/everythings-a-thread.htm

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

COMEDY REVIEW: ANH DO & MATT ELSBURY @ STATE THEATRE (06.11.2013)

Anh_Do

Never before has a show made an audience laugh, cry and then sent them away so happy. But there is only one happiest refugee. And there is only one Anh Do. He is the comedian whose stand-up show and recount of his incredible life story lifted the roof and the spirits of the packed audience at the State Theatre.

The support for the evening was Matt Elsbury who was initially introduced to us through a strange, dark and husky voice that he, “Planned to stalk people with later”. Elsbury was a middle-aged gentleman who had a dry, sarcastic humour. He cracked funny jokes about the suburb, Manly and said that one of our now-defunct airlines, Impulse was doomed to fail because no pilot would say, “Welcome to the Sydney to Brisbane flight, IMP36J. Oh stuff it, let’s go to Perth”.

Elsbury also covered some territory that is more typical fodder for jokes. There were pot shots at the store, Athletes Foot and the unnecessary warning labels on things. (Shampoo has “external use only” while a chainsaw said, “Do not stop the blade with your hands or genitals”). In all, it was a rather good little warm-up and at just 15 minutes, Elsbury was clever with his observations, even though the routine was not necessarily the most unique one I’ve ever seen.

The undisputed star of the evening though was Anh Do. The comedian has won a loyal following thanks to his appearances on The Footy Show, Dancing With The Stars and Thank God You’re Here. He proved as funny in a live environment as he is on television, when he’s talking off-the-cuff or presenting or participating in little segments and packages.

The Happiest Refugee Live covered a lot of ground, just like Do’s autobiography of the same name. He talked about his birth in Vietnam and how his family had to flee the country during the war as refugees. (Two of his uncles were in concentration camps). They were forced onto a tiny boat crammed with 40 people and communist soldiers shot at them as they tried to leave. Along the way they ran out of food and water and were attacked by Thai pirates. Miraculously they survived and came to live in working class poverty in Yagoona in Sydney (“Where the end-of-year school photos are taken in front and side profile”).

Do’s story had its fair share of anecdotes that were poignant, fun, heartbreaking and funny. He found the right balance between these different elements. One minute he’d tell us about his parents and the important lessons they taught him (like there’s only two times in life “now” and “too late”) and then he’d make a funny aside about himself, his race or those closest to him. His younger brother was a Future Young Australian Of The Year but his mother forced him to wear dresses during his first year in Australia after there was a mix-up with the local charity. One thing that was obvious was that Do is one gracious and happy-go-lucky fellow, willing to give things a fair go and he’s also a guy that has triumphed over adversity.

In school, Do was almost forced into a special needs class but his mother helped him with his reading and writing while she worked multiple jobs. He would one day write an award-winning autobiography and after finishing school he studied to be a lawyer. He met his future wife at University and they now have three young boys and want to try for a girl. Do’s foray into comedy started whilst he was studying and it’s blossomed and snowballed from there. He went on to appear in popular TV shows and tonight’s show featured videos from various stunts he’s done, plus old family photos and footage.

Anh Do is a great, family man with a big heart. His comedy show was inspiring, personal and funny. His remembering and talking about various aspects of his life story made for relatable and emotional viewing and there was a huge amount of applause, affection and appreciation shown for this happy refugee because he has lived one enviable life that is destined to one day become a very popular film.

Originally published on 8 November 2013 at the following website: http://www.theaureview.com/sydney/comedy-review-anh-do-matt-elsbury-state-theatre-sydney-06-11-13

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

LIVE REVIEW: DAN SULTAN @ THE BASEMENT, SYDNEY (24.10.2013)

dan sultan

 

Dan Sultan is a natural, a consummate professional and storyteller, if you will. On his Back To Basics tour he left the seven-piece band and supports at home and instead delivered a strong, two-set show with little more than an electric guitar and a mic. He said it was a “nerve-wracking experience” but you wouldn’t have known it. We all could have been in his lounge room or sitting around the campfire having a chat and a laugh, such was the relaxed and chilled vibe in the room.

The Sydney show was a sold-out one at The Basement. The venue was absolutely packed to the rafters with the security even opening up the back doors that lead out into the alley way, just to let some fresh air in. It certainly created some funny moments when the passers-by outside gave bemused looks and wanted to know who was responsible for such great tunes.

Dan Sultan is a singer-songwriter who is by his own admission, one to dabble in the blues, soul, rock and country genres. But as the sound was raw and stripped back, the emphasis seemed to be on the blues mixed with a country twang. The ingredients were there for some good storytelling, not just in the numbers and their genres, but in the excellent between-song banter.

The fact is Dan Sultan should be given a soap-box or his own TV or radio show. His asides were funny; his humour self-deprecating and other things he said were just so darned interesting. I was a little late for his first performance but one of my initial introductions to him was his describing the recording of his third, forthcoming album in Nashville (AKA Crashsville, which he’d later attribute to its high number of incidents on the road). It’s a place that has hosted the likes of Kings Of Leon, Taylor Swift and Keith Urban, so they’re “Used to a lot worse than three blokes from Melbourne”.

Another important aspect about Sultan is his powerful and soulful voice that can switch from rough to sweet in a matter of seconds. It’s the kind of thing that has a kind of magic of its own and takes you by the hand, willing you to go on a journey. In “Nobody Knows” Sultan sang verse-after-verse to his sweetheart. He sounded like a choir-boy singing a hymn with his velvet croon suiting the love song to a tee. He also charmed the pants off of every lady in the room as he delivered the words: “Nobody knows my love for you”. Awwwwww…

Sultan followed this up with one he co-wrote with Paul Kelly, a man he has admired and become friends with. “Time To Run” is a track that has not made it on any official release but it was an expressive and mature tale that should be put up for consideration someday. After this, he said we’d all take a break so people could, “Have a smoke, get a drink” and he could go comb his hair.

The second half started with “Kimberley Calling”. It was also one that involved his recounting his experiences in Broome, especially while filming Brand Nue Dae. In some ways this song was similar to some of the material John Butler has written, because it was also by a man speaking from the heart as he described his connection to one part of his homeland.

There was a plug for Rock For Recognition, as the purpose of the show was to promote the issue of constitutional recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Sultan described the cause well when he said it wasn’t a matter of race or politics.

He would then play “All Night”, which made me think of Paul Dempsey and Adalita entertaining audiences of all kinds with just their voices and an electric guitar. Sultan’s punters were as engrossed as the crowds I’ve seen at either of these musicians because they were absorbed – for the most part – in the proceedings. Sultan really enchants us with his great guitar playing and even more amazing voice, he creates something that’s simply beguiling.

“Mountaintop” was a real heart-on-the-sleeve type moment before “Voices” transported us all back to the west side of our vast, island home. “Your Love Is Like A Song” saw a geographical change to Melbourne with its references to Flinders St station, making it a slice of contemporary introspection before Sultan introduced us to the song that will be his next single. He turned his amp up for this slightly rockier number before leaving the crowd with “Old Fitzroy” another funny story about playing three-set shows in Melbourne in his late teens for a complete tight arse. It was some cheeky fun.

Make no mistake; Dan Sultan is one natural entertainer. His format tonight may have been raw and stripped back but he entertained the sold-out Basement crowd with his thoughtful and emotional music and fun and light-hearted anecdotes. There was really no other way we could’ve shared such a pleasant and enjoyable evening.

 

Originally published on 25 October 2013 at the following website: http://www.theaureview.com/sydney/dan-sultan-the-basement-sydney-24-10-13

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