LIVE REVIEW: THE MICK FLEETWOOD BLUES BAND & VICTOR MARTINEZ @ METRO THEATRE (28.03.2016)

mick fleetwood fleetwood mac

 

Mick Fleetwood is practically an honorary Aussie, having toured here last October with the Mac and now back to boogie-woogie with his blues band. The Mick Fleetwood Blues Band’s Sydney show enabled an older crowd (some seated on pinched stools from the bar) to don its best glad rags and listen to songs typically found on old dusty 45s.

The support act was guitar virtuoso, Victor Martinez. He enthralled the crowd with a short, sharp set that mixed together finger-plucking, strumming and beat-boxing techniques on his acoustic guitar. Martinez managed to coax more varied sounds out of one instrument than an entire band. His visceral version of ‘El Cóndor Pasa’ paid tribute to his South American heritage while other moments saw his fingers dancing along in a blur. It was mesmerising.

Fleetwood is a true English gentleman who just wants everyone to have a good time. ‘My Baby’s Hot’ set the tone for an evening of blues tunes about babes and Cadillacs, while the ‘Fleetwood Boogie’ was the first of many songs to pay tribute to the Peter Green era of the Mac. The group pulled out some tight sounds as the famous drummer loosely kept time up the back while Rick Vito led the proceedings with his raw vocals and guitar.

Their version of ‘Eyesight To The Blind’ was an unexpected piano ditty that differed to the original as well as The Who’s rock version on Tommy. It was a boisterous little cover that sat well alongside the sultry riffs of ‘Black Magic Woman’ and the wistful ‘Love That Burns’.

Later, Fleetwood’s fans were treated to an extended drum solo from the man himself. It was indulgent, but in the best possible way, and would have made a good segue into ‘Tusk’. But instead the band settled on ‘Oh Well’, with special guest Jimmy Barnes singing along to this and red-hot versions of ‘Little Red Rooster’ and ‘Shake Your Money Maker’. As to be expected, Barnes injected some extra fun and charisma into the second half of an already fine blues show.

The night closed with the brooding, instrumental lullaby of Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Albatross’. Fleetwood and co. had covered great terrain over their two-hour set, exuding much of the crunch, swagger and pop of many of the downtrodden bluesmen who’ve influenced their work. In all, it was one loving homage to the past.

 

Originally published on 29 March 2016 at the following website: http://thebrag.com/music/mick-fleetwood-blues-band-metro-theatre

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DVD REVIEW: THE ROLLING STONES FROM THE VAULT – THE MARQUEE CLUB LIVE IN 1971

stones

The Rolling Stones’ The Marquee Club Live in 1971 is the latest addition to their From the Vault series. It’s a rare little gem showing the group’s unique blend of sloppy professionalism in an intimate setting. The major problem here is that the set is too short for a full feature-length release as it only clocks in at the 38 minute mark.

The story goes that in 1971 The Rolling Stones got together to perform in London for the first time in five years. They had become tax exiles, living in France and this meant they had to be out of England before the new tax year began, despite the impending release of their seminal Sticky Fingers record (an album that has been recently remastered and repackaged). The group managed to play a blistering show to an invited audience of 150 people at London’s Marquee Club where Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page and Andrew Loog Oldham were among the crowd.

Mick Jagger is resplendent here, wearing a colourful cap, sparkly bolero and satin pants. Even on a tiny stage he oozes rock star cool and there are some moments where he reveals the stadium frontman he would one day become. This period of the The Stones also sees Mick Taylor among their ranks. He brings a certain crunch to the blues that is so clearly loved by the inimitable Keith Richards, drummer Charlie Watts and former bass player, Bill Wyman.

The set begins with a very funky, “Live With Me”. The Let It Bleed song sees the group at their most soulful and this is no doubt helped by the group’s then new horn section, Bobby Keys and Jim Price on saxophone and horns, respectively, as well as Ian Stewart and Nicky Hopkins on piano and keyboards. ‘Dead Flowers’ sees the Jagger and Richards powerhouse trading abrasive vocals while ‘I Got The Blues’ (one that rarely got an airing live) really shows the influence of Otis Redding and other artists from Stax Records on the band.

The Stones drop some great rock ‘n’ roll in the Chuck Berry cover, ‘Let It Rock’ although the same cannot be said for their very own, ‘(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction’. The latter is very muted and inconsistent with the speed traveling all over the place and the musicians being anything but tight. ‘Bitch’ and ‘Brown Sugar’ meanwhile, absolutely shine and are proof positive that these guys are worthy of being anointed the best rock ‘n’ roll band in the world.

The bonus features on the DVD are disappointing with two alternative takes of ‘I Got The Blues’ and ‘Bitch’ offered as well as a mimed version of ‘Brown Sugar’ from Top of the Pops. These fail to add much to the set. The Marquee Club show was originally recorded for television with Europe receiving a 52 minute cut while the British received a 28 minute cut. This DVD includes something in between these two versions but it also proves that some songs have been omitted, either deliberately or otherwise. As a standalone release the length of this is disappointing and it’s a shame that music has been left out, especially as the rest of the concert seems to have been included, warts and all and this adds to its charm and allure.

The Live in 1971 set is an interesting archive piece and a must-have for any self-respecting Stones fans who had to resort to bootleg versions over the years. This shows a band who excelled in the live environment (even more so in this private setting). It’s great and as a viewer, you can feel like you’re at the actual the club despite being in your own lounge room. In short, this is a great show from a bunch of guys who knew how to put on a fine, rock ‘n’ roll circus.

Originally published on 29 June 2015 at the following website: http://www.impulsegamer.com/rolling-stones-vault-marquee-club-live-1971-dvd-review/

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LIVE REVIEW: HOODOO GURUS’ BE MY GURU, EVOLUTION REVOLUTION @ THE POWERHOUSE MUSEUM (22.05.2015)

hoodoo-gurus

 

The Hoodoo Gurus’ retrospective Vivid event, Be My Guru, Evolution Revolution, was an extraordinary, multimedia concert experience from no ordinary band. A rotating lineup of the eight past and current members of the Hoodoo Gurus (save for new recruit, Nik Rieth) rocked up a storm at the Powerhouse Museum, toasting to a frenzied and fun-packed 28 years.

The concert was held in the temporary exhibitions hall (which did wreak some havoc with the acoustics) and some exhibits had been set up about the band, including vintage guitars belonging to Dave Faulkner and Brad Shepherd, and Rick Grossman’s precision bass that he used with the Gurus as well as Divinyls and Matt Finish. There were also posters chronicling every one of Faulkner’s bad haircuts, as well as VIP passes, setlists, signed memorabilia, vinyl, CDs, clothing and two dinosaur figures from the Stoneage Romeos era.

For the two-hour show itself, songs were played mostly chronologically and with limited introduction. Stoneage Romeos and Mars Needs Guitars! got the most airtime, but the Gurus – laidback and cool – made the whole set seem so enjoyable and effortless. Songs like ‘Arthur’ and ‘(Let’s All) Turn On’ saw the guys acting like young rebel rousers and trading dirty blues riffs. The exuberant pop of ‘Like Wow – Wipeout’ and ‘What’s My Scene?’ whipped the crowd into a frenzy. ‘Bittersweet’, meanwhile, seemed both vibrant and apt, as this was the last chance fans would have to see the retiring Mark Kingsmill at the drums.

The diehard fans were treated to rarities like ‘Snake Shake’, while the newer ‘Crackin’ Up’ was electric. But the most spine-chilling energy came when all eight members – Faulkner, Shepherd, Kingsmill, Grossman, Roddy Radalj, James Baker, Clyde Bramley and Kimble Rendall – joined together for three encores. Despite the difficulties with the venue, the whole show was like being on an out-of-control nostalgia train. In the end, Vivid Sydney proved to be the right time for the Gurus’ trip through history.

 

Originally published on 25 May 2015 at the following website: http://thebrag.com/music/hoodoo-gurus-powerhouse-museum

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LIVE REVIEW: THE DRUMS & THE UPSKIRTS @ THE METRO, SYDNEY (30.11.2014)

TheDrums

 

The Drums should be renamed “The Suns” because this sums up their music to a tee. Their reverb and hook-soaked indie pop music was a real treat for the Sydney dwellers battling a case of impending Mondayitis as well as battling Spring-time rain en route to the Metro on Sunday night. After a solid set boasting tracks that were old, new and in between, there were more than a few youngsters wanting to go surfing or do some other fun activity shortly after.

The support for the evening came courtesy of Sydney quartet, The Upskirts. They attracted a good-sized crowd and won the audience over with their brand of dreamy but punchy psychedelic rock music. The highlight of their set was the final track, “Minds A Burden” which saw some Brit-pop inspired guitar pop with psychedelic fringes going off on extended tangents coloured by moon beams and a riff that was not too far removed from Tame Impala’s “Half Full Glass Of Wine”. In short, sublime.

The Drums reminded us that they’re from New York City, not just in sound and spirit but in visual appeal. Lead singer, Jonathan Pierce said they were originally concerned that after being missing from our shores for a few years they would be forgotten. And while it was true that the Metro was only half full, the audience that were there were a devoted and enthusiastic bunch, lapping up the pair’s bouncy pop music.

The boys began their set in almost darkness as they played two new songs, “Bell Laboratories” and “Let Me”. The latter definitely showed a change in the band’s sound as the music had a much deeper and fuller feel. This made for a grand wall of sound built from synths, guitar, bass, drums and the other bleeps and blops they managed to fashion and employ.

“Me & The Moon” was an early favourite with its sharp, catchy synth line and repeated catch-call of “Forever”. The following song, “Days” saw the bass feature too prominently in the mix. This overshadowed what is normally a good and slightly rockier song by the band. Some new numbers followed before “Book Of Stories” was met with cheers after the opening chords were played and this enjoyment only increased with “Best Friend”. The latter is a quintessential Drums’ song that sees an upbeat vibe coupled with dark lyrics and it’s an interesting and youthful combination that helps you forget and drown all of your troubles.

In “Money” Pierce lamented about poverty and had more than a few people relating to his tale. After a while, though, some of the songs did have a tendency to blur into one another. The effect was like a long-lasting, Hawaiian sunset that was thoroughly enjoyable but there were definitely some moments that seemed to coast off and away. The encore was a different story and where some of the best renditions of the evening occurred.

This part of the night was exclusively reserved for The Drums’ older songs. There was the bouncy “Forever & Ever Amen”, the sheer bliss of “Let’s Go Surfing” and the cheekiness of “Saddest Summer”. If we hadn’t felt like we’d bonded earlier than we certainly had by this point. The Drums’ had ultimately produced some toe-tappingly good pop music that shone like a beacon through our collective complaints about modern life.

The Drums’ Sydney set list:
1. Bell Laboratories
2. Let Me
3. Me & The Moon
4. Days
5. I Can’t Pretend
6. Kiss Me Again
7. Book Of Stories
8. Best Friend
9. Money
10. U.S. National Park
11. Book Of Revelation
12. I Need A Doctor
13. I Hope That Time Doesn’t Change Him
14. How It Ended
15. Wild Geese
____________
16. Forever & Ever Amen
17. Let’s Go Surfing
18. Saddest Summer
19. Down By The Water

 

Originally published on 1 December 2014 at the following website: http://www.theaureview.com/reviews/sydney/the-drums-the-upskirts-metro-theatre-sydney-30-11-14

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DVD REVIEW: SPIKE ISLAND

Still from Spike Island

 

Imagine The Inbetweeners if they were an aspiring jangly rock quintet living in Manchester in 1990. The result would be Spike Island.The film tells the story of a gang of lads who just want to get off with girls, be in a band and meet their idols, The Stone Roses at the latter band’s Spike Island show. This coming-of-age drama is ramshackle, euphoric and an earnest celebration of one part of the Madchester scene.

The story is a fictional one that feels forced but is based on a true event. The Spike Island concert would become as legendary as The Beatles’ rooftop gig or The Sex Pistols at the Lesser Free Trade Hall. The film is directed by Mat Whitecross and written by Chris Coghill, who clearly know their Manis from their Hookys. And while the premise seems good enough, the plot is insubstantial as there isn’t enough here by itself to fuel a full-length feature. Instead, a series of subplots involving the major characters in various forms of hijinks and mischief are introduced with varying effect.

Elliott Tittensor plays “Tits” who is the leader of the pack. His wayward brother has sorted the group out with tickets to Spike Island. Or has he? Tits and his mates soon encounter a series of different obstacles to the gig, including parental sickness, a bizarre love triangle, a violent father, a van without petrol and a driver that hasn’t considered a map. The characters are all likeable and interesting enough but what really endears this film is the classic music by The Stone Roses, which forms the bulk of the film’s soundtrack.

Spike Island doesn’t have the same panache as a John Hughes film but it’s also more than just another teen movie. It is one brimming with bundles of joy, energy and heart (and the odd, daggy cliché). Fans of the Roses or the nineties will love this fun and nostalgic romp (that includes cameos from stars of Misfits and Game Of Thrones). But there will also be more than a few of us wishing we had actually been there at the time or that we had a film of the Spike Island gig itself, but that would involve some kind of second coming…

 

Originally published on 10 November 2014 at the following website: http://iris.theaureview.com/2014/11/10/dvd-review-spike-island-uk-2012/

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FILM REVIEW: PULP: A FILM ABOUT LIFE, DEATH & SUPERMARKETS

Pulp

 

Pulp are a band of the people. So it should come as no surprise that the film about their last concert performance in their Sheffield hometown is at times more about their fans and the locals then the self-deprecating group itself. Florian Habicht’s (Love Story) documentary, Pulp: A Film About Life, Death & Supermarkets plays out like a humorous love letter to Sheffield as well as playing tribute to its most famous exports.

The film is far more offbeat and crazy than Blur’s No Distance Left To Run or The Stone Roses: Made Of Stone. But Pulp’s biggest success is in the fact that it sets off the beaten track, avoids hagiography and rock star clichés of chorus-verse-chorus concert films and talking head celebrities praising the band’s every move. Instead, Habicht takes the microphone to the common people Jarvis Cocker was singing about and lets them give an insight into life in a Northern English town and the eccentric genius of the band.

Pulp’s biggest pitfall is that a lot of their career is simply alluded to and much of the story is actually glossed over. The group are interviewed and keyboardist, Candida Doyle gives a revealing insight into her rheumatoid arthritis. Drummer, Nick Banks also lets us in to see a part of his family because the band sponsors his daughter’s football team (the teenager actually calls the group, “crap”).

But the show really belongs to the star, Jarvis Cocker, or the man that guitarist, Mark Webber describes as having the “potential” to be a common person. The gangly front man is frequently at hand with a funny quip or aside, whether it be taking us through his cold, flu and incontinence medication he packs away on tour to changing a tyre to feeding the ducks in the park. It’s amazing that this shy, awkward and clever man who expresses himself so strongly in concerts and commands your attention so easily, has such difficulty communicating whilst he is in a relationship. The concert footage of their final show on 8 December 2012 proves that this man is a star, albeit an unconventional one.

In addition to learning about disastrous shows and university subjects dedicated the band, the audience is also treated to footage of a colourful group of eccentrics from Sheffield. These include a number of older women (one claims to like the group over Blur while another pair brazenly claim that Jarvis Cocker is Joe Cocker’s son when he’s not). There’s vox pops with Terry the local newspaper seller, a keen knife-maker and two young children who are introduced to “Disco 2000” for the first time. It’s interesting to see some reinterpretations of the band’s music, from a local dance outfit doing a routine to the aforementioned song, to Sheffield Harmony singing “Common People” and perhaps the most striking scene, a group of older people singing “Help The Aged” in a greasy spoon café.

Pulp’s farewell performance is electrifying and is at times at odds with the quieter, observational stories and interviews that pepper this film. The exclusion of many important cuts from the band’s discography may leave some fans reeling while others will no doubt be swept away by this oblique, distinct and imaginative portrait. Pulp were never a conventional band and they were always artists that were difficult to pigeonhole and this concert film/music documentary/mockumentary/bizarre travelogue/rockumentary suits these quintessential British oddballs to a tee.

 

Originally published on 10 June 2014 at the following website: http://iris.theaureview.com/2014/06/10/sydney-film-festival-review-pulp-a-film-about-life-death-supermarkets-uk-2014/

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LIVE REVIEW: ST. VINCENT @ SYDNEY OPERA HOUSE (25.05.2014)

St Vincent, aka Annie Clark, in the East Village, New York City. 'I'm almost immune to the idea of f

 

Annie Clark may not be godly but when she performs as St. Vincent she is like something out of this world. The Manhattan native made her Sydney Opera House debut for Vivid Festival and received a standing ovation. She had shown us all why 2014 has been her year thanks to a mesmerizing, theatrical show that will go down in the books as a truly special one.

The set list was predominantly made up of songs from her recent, eponymous album. The opening, ‘Rattlesnake’ saw a crazy rhythm combined with an indie pop groove while ‘Birth In Reverse’ was one of the best songs of the evening. It saw a gnarly crunch coupled with a danceable buzz.

The strong songstress also belted out some mean, electric guitar solos whilst striking her best rock star poses. Dressed in head-to-toe black and with a shock of thick, white grey hair, in the shadows she looked like The Cure’s Robert Smith while at her more mischievous and playful moments she resembled Prince.

She cracked jokes, gave a special welcome to the freaks, the others and the weirdos in attendance and told “stories” from her childhood. The latter included wanting to fly, producing fires with a magnifying glass and imagining that famous people’s faces were superimposed on the bodies of the local homeless and elderly people (yes, Clark does have one vivid imagination!)

St. Vincent isn’t just an artist with a swag full of musical chops. She also created different moods for each song, which at times seemed more like a performance art show at a modern museum then your standard gig.

There was some syncopated guitar rocking during ‘Birth In Reverse’; some twinkle toes in ‘Surgeon’; a laidback and casual air in ‘I Prefer Your Love’; and some raw, writhing in ‘Bring Me Your Loves’.

St. Vincent has previously collaborated with former Talking Heads member, David Byrne. He said that after almost a year of touring he still didn’t know her any better. As an audience member one can’t help but feel the same and also imagine that Clark is actually giving away a little piece of herself at every show, such is the visceral, incendiary and evocative moods she created live and feelings that are far more intense than the recorded form.

‘Prince Johnny’ was so tender, sad and operatic. St. Vincent stripped away at every layer in her cries and ended the song looking like a crucified woman. It was a very different feeling to the old song, “Strange Mercy”, where Clark performed solo and left little pockets of air to punctuate the piece.

It is difficult to pigeonhole such a tough chameleon like St. Vincent (especially when you consider her other work with The Polyphonic Spree and Sufjan Stevens). It would also be a massive disservice to think you could fully capture the crazed magic and colourful sorcery of her guitar hooks, electronic bleeps and amazing songs in a single review.

In short, St. Vincent’s Opera House debut was stunning. Her recent record translated wonderfully to the live stage and featured intense and heavenly art rock painted with the finest brush to reveal an awe-inspiring palate of Technicolor.

 

Originally published on 27 May 2014 at the following website: http://www.tonedeaf.com.au/406256/is-st-vincent-the-greatest-live-performer-of-2014.htm

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LIVE REVIEW: THE FRATELLIS & JENNY BROKE THE WINDOW @ THE METRO, SYDNEY (06.04.2014)

fratellis

 

The Fratellis’ show at the Metro in Sydney was their final gig of their recent, Australian tour. After a break-up and hiatus, the Scottish group along with their supports, Jenny Broke The Window put on a dazzling show. It was one that straddled the lines between rock and indie pop and it did so with the most enthusiastic burst of energy and harmony.

Sydney locals, Jenny Broke The Window were a perfect choice of opening act with their layered percussion, harmonising and indie pop sounds that at times resembled Vampire Weekend. They opened with some pounding drums and played a few tunes that had immediate and catchy melodies. It was the sort of music that was bound to hook in some new fans, even if they hadn’t heard the music before, because it was so lush and peppy.

“Abracadabra” was one of their slower tracks but it still managed to keep up the pace and the momentum of the proceedings going. “Fancy Dress” also did the same but it was the closing, “Rum ‘n’ Cola” that was the real crowd pleaser. By then the audience had swollen significantly and they were treated to a big, full sound and a song they’d probably heard on local and community radio. In short, it was a brief punchy set that was likely to earn the band some new fans.

The Fratellis were in town to promote their recent, comeback record, We Need Medicine. They would play nine songs from this effort as well as lots of old favourites from their previous two albums. They began with the exuberant, “This Old Town”, which saw front man, Jon Fratelli twisting and jigging away as he played, and it was something he’d do for much of the evening. It was pretty apparent from the start that the trio (along with touring keyboardist, Will Foster) were all happy to be there.

There were lots of jolting, lightning bolts of rhythm during “Flathead” and it was also a number you could imagine Jack White performing with ease. The stomping song, “Halloween Blues” followed and it was the first of many new tracks to be well-received but it was old favourites like the grooving, “Lupe Brown” and “Cuntry Boys & City Girls” that really got the punters’ hearts a-racing. “Vince The Loveable Stoner” on the other hand, had a lazy vibe that felt like the boys were sitting on a porch and watching the world go by.

A faster version of For “That Girl” was performed and it teased the crowd with its massive build-up while “Henrietta” proved to be a mass sing-along. One of the newer, rockier tunes, “This Is Not The End Of The World” was reminiscent of the one-two punch of The Hives before the boys retuned to the old, Britpop sunniness of “Baby Fratelli”.

The boys would close their set with “Until She Saves My Soul” but everybody new that something was missing. As the roadie set-up for the encore the near-full Metro erupted into everyone singing along to the “do-dos” of the as yet unplayed, “Chelsea Dagger”. The boys returned and played the hot-off-the-press, “All The Long Live Day” and a slightly different take on Dion’s “Runaround Sue” before the fans would get their wish and hear the track they had waited so patiently to hear all night. “Chelsea Dagger” was nothing short of amazing, arms flailed, the energy reached up and kissed the sky.

The night would then close officially with “A Heady Tale” and a promise to return soon. It was a strong number but it had been eclipsed by the penultimate tune and anthem. In all, The Fratellis had offered lots of bang for the punter’s buck with a 23-song set that was full of pulse and energy. It was something that never felt like it stopped, not even allowing one to catch their breath. The Fratellis have reunited and are back, having put on a fun and fine rock show that made most people feel like dancing their Sunday night away.

 

The Fratellis’ Sydney set list:

1. This Old Ghost Town
2. Flathead
3. Halloween Blues
4. Vince The Loveable Stoner
5. Lupe Brown
6. Cuntry Boys & City Girls
7. She’s Not Gone Yet But She’s Leaving
8. Whistle For The Choir
9. For That Girl
10. Shotgun Shoes
11. Seven Nights, Seven Days
12. Babydoll
13. Henrietta
14. Jeannie Nitro
15. This Is Not The End Of The World
16. Everybody Knows You Cried Last Night
17. Baby Fratelli
18. We Need Medicine
19. Until She Saves My Soul
——————————————————
20. All The Long Live Day
21. Runaround Sue (originally performed by Dion)
22. Chelsea Dagger
23. A Heady Tale

 

Originally published on 8 April 2014 at the following website: http://www.the59thsound.com/the-fratellis-jenny-broke-the-window–the-metro-theatre-sydney-06042014.html

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LIVE REVIEW: BABY ANIMALS & OLLIE BROWN @ REVESBY WORKERS’ CLUB (29.03.2014)

babyanimals

 

It had been some time since the Baby Animals had last played Revesby Workers’ Club. One person guessed it had been over 20 years, but one thing everyone could agree on was that their comeback gig was filled with the same level of power, passion, and intensity as a group of kids half their age.

The support for the evening came courtesy of Ollie Brown, a folk troubadour who was armed with an acoustic guitar. He started off with ‘Oh Sam’, welcoming upbeat riffs intertwined with a light lament.

His set touched on a friend’s experience with infidelity, his own thoughts on missing home, and a break-up song called ‘Weatherboard House’. The latter saw him playing harmonica and sounding a lot like Bob Evans. Overall, it was a pleasant enough half-hour set.

Despite greeting a room that had some tables and chairs set up down the back, Baby Animals were ready to rock n’ roll from the get-go. ‘Under Your Skin’ was a strong start to the set, with Suze DeMarchi allowing her three bandmates to play an extended intro before she arrived and began entertaining the room with her rock chick chic.

The frontwoman really is a true star. She coaxed punters out of the comfort of their chairs and had them dancing near the stage. The singer posed for selfies, high-fived punters, and even did her ‘feeding the birds’ act (a routine that involves her spitting wine into the mouths of her most diehard fans). She was an all-round cool and effervescent frontwoman, a crazy person who filled the auditorium with her rich, shocking blue voice.

‘Got It Bad’ started with a twisty groove and bassline courtesy of Dario Bortolin, while David Leslie played some incendiary guitars that soared. The mood was kept as high as their riffs during the early hit ‘Rush You’, which saw some people jumping around and feeding off of the vibe coming from the rock royalty in attendance.

The night was dedicated to playing a lot of cuts from their “comeback” record, This Is Not The End, with the ballsy new break-up tunes (written during DeMarchi’s split and divorce from Extreme guitarist, Nuno Bettencourt) sitting well alongside the classic angst of their early material. The group remained tight throughout and were propelled along by Mick Skelton’s chugging drums.

Whether they were singing songs about broken hearts, broken dreams, and Chris Isaak, like in ‘Break My Heart’, dedicating a tune like ‘Email’ to “Girls who can’t write songs of their own”, or playing strong ballads like ‘Stitch’, the killer music on display was undeniable. Ultimately, the spirits were high and there was a real sense of fun to be had amongst the more raucous and rocking moments.

Other favourites of the night came in the form of ‘Painless’ (a big singalong) and ‘One Word’, a chaotic, anthemic stomper. The band closed their set with ‘Early Morning’ before returning for an encore of ‘One Too Many’ and ‘Ain’t Gonna Get’.

The show was a blistering one and there was never a dull moment. Baby Animals were in fine form, proving that there’s plenty more fuel to fire up their bellies.

 

Originally published on 1 April 2014 at the following website: http://www.tonedeaf.com.au/reviews/shows/395814/baby-animals-3.htm

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LIVE REVIEW: YO LA TENGO @ SYDNEY OPERA HOUSE (13.03.2014)

yo-la-tengo

Yo La Tengo practically qualify as a musical institution, with the band having survived 30 years in the music business and almost 20 years with this current lineup. The New Jersey noise-pop trio made their Sydney Opera House debut on Thursday, playing a long concert that was broken down into two sets. The quiet and loud show bewitched people and left them joyful after witnessing some layered, indie prog sounds that were like being hit in the face with a full rainbow of colour.

The songs were predominantly drawn from their most recent album, Fade, but they did delve into their back catalogue, going as far back as the Painful release. The quiet part saw the band in acoustic mode and opening with the melodic pop song ‘Ohm’. This was filled with acoustic guitars by Ira Kaplan and James McNew, which somehow managed to sound both discordant and cohesive at the same time. The start to ‘Satellite’ was drawn out for full effect as Georgia Hubley took lead vocals for a psychedelic party where it sounded like Tame Impala were invited.

The first part of the evening was filled with some sublime tunes by these multi-instrumentalists. ‘Saturday’ had some darker overtones and the mood definitely shifted during this one. ‘Nothing To Hide’, meanwhile, was like a knowing and wistful lullaby (or something you could finish a concert with, because then the audience could go home and contemplate it).

The three joked about their choice of costumes with Kaplan saying he was wearing his “finest ripped jeans” while McNew had bought a brand new shirt. There wasn’t much banter this evening and this little segue of silliness didn’t detract from the emotional hurt and whisper of this first lot of songs. They endured the acoustic treatment very well, as the lyrics are clever and witty enough to hold their own in a quieter space.

For the loud section the group got back to the basics of being a rock band and doing what they’ve done many times before. It was here that the songs took on another life, as more and more textures, layers and flourishes were combined to reveal an intricate and often epic wall of sound. ‘Moby Octopad’ was soaring and joyful, while ‘Little Eyes’ was enjoyed by the more casual fans in attendance.

Dinosaur Jr. was a band that sprung to mind during ‘Stockholm Syndrome’ with its rocking sound and distorted guitars sounding just like one of J Mascis’ creations. The band would perform ‘Ohm’ a second time but this was nothing like the first rendition, with the tight group playing a protracted version that swung around like a grandiose mess of sound and static. In short, it was glorious.

Yo La Tengo had entertained the Sydney Opera House crowd with around two hours of choices from their melody-filled discography. Although there were a couple of songs that shared a similar sound, for the most part the music was detailed, varied and busy, sometimes emotional and at other times toe-tapping but always enjoyable. The band’s name is actually Spanish for “I have it” and in reality, this mature trio know that they are just that. The final concert from their Australian tour showed that these musicians still have an undeniable “it” or endearing curiosity factor to offer fans.

Originally published on 17 March 2014 at the following website: http://www.pagesdigital.com/review-yo-la-tengo-live-sydney-opera-house/

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