LIVE REVIEW: JIMMY BARNES @ ENMORE THEATRE SYDNEY (27.08.2016)

jimmybarnes

 

We all know Jimmy Barnes is the quintessential working class man and he will also be known as the “Working Class Boy” when his autobiography is realised. But after his recent Soul Searchin’ tour culminated in a stellar, sold-out show at the Enmore Theatre in Sydney he should also add “Soul Man” to his list of achievements.

This tour was to promote his latest record, Soul Searchin.’ Some 25 years after the release of his most successful solo record, Soul Deep, Barnes continues to entertain people by thumbing through and selecting choice cuts from an old soul song-book. The 60-year-old former front man of Cold Chisel played an energetic two-part set that saw this soul train rock in at well over the two hour mark.

Barnes was backed by a tight, 10-piece band and this showman made things look so effortless. “Hard Working Woman” had a real funk and groove as Barnes delivered his rough and raw vocals. In “Cry To Me” Barnes had the opportunity to tone down his trademark hollering and instead adopt more of a croon. It was a stunning rendition while a cover of David Bowie’s “All The Young Dudes” proved to be a nice ballad and a respectful doff of the cap to the Thin White Duke.

“Mustang Sally” was the first song to really get the punters up and dancing. This also boasted some perfect backing vocals by Jade McRae, Gary Pinto (CDB) and Mahalia Barnes (the latter had recently given birth and was subbed in to replace Juanita Tippins who had injured herself the previous night.) “Bad Girl” had all of the raw angst of Lee Moses’s original song before Messer Barnes declared that Wilson Pickett was his favourite singer of all time and played a searing “In The Midnight Hour.” This one really saw the horn section come into their element.

The group also worked their way through a series of duets. McRae offered “Reflections” while Pinto had some big shoes to fill when he took John Farnham’s place for “When Something Is Wrong With My Baby.” This was lovely and as soft and sweet as a lullaby, but unfortunately Pinto was often drowned out by Barnsey. This was not the case for Mahalia who seemed to capture the soaring spirit of Tina Turner in “River Deep, Mountain High.” This was heavenly and it was interesting that Messer Barnes said he learnt to sing from Tina Turner after he snuck into her Adelaide show in the seventies and watched her from the front row.

The second set included some more powerful funk and opportunities to get up and dance. Steve Wonder’s “Signed, Sealed, Delivered I’m Yours” was wonderful and bombastic. The main set also came to a rousing end with “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” the crazy ‘na na’s of Wilson Pickett’s “Land of 1000 Dances” and the Chess Records classic, “(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher & Higher.” The encore also included some more swaggering soul, especially in “Hold On, I’m Coming.” But it was The Beatles’s “Hey Jude” that closed the night with a gorgeous sing-along and some enthusiastic lighters being waved in the air.

Jimmy Barnes’s Sydney show still managed to pack a punch even though he was playing us some soul songs and some of these could still be considered forgotten gems. Barnes delivered the tracks with a real heartfelt feeling and conviction and he proved himself to be an amazing showman who also shows no signs to slowing down. This Soul-Searchin’ tour saw Barnsey in his element, playing his favourite soul, R & B and blues standards in the company of family, friends and fans. It was a show that reached out and captured your heart, mind and soul and rocked it to its core.

Jimmy Barnes live at the Enmore Theatre Sydney set list:
1. Hard Working Woman
2. She’s Lookin’ Good
3. Cry To Me
4. All The Young Dudes
5. Mustang Sally
6. Bad Girl
7. The Dark End Of The Street
8. The Stealer
9. In The Midnight Hour
10. When Something Is Wrong With My Baby
11. You Can’t Judge A Book By The Cover
12. Mercy
13. Lonely For You Baby
14. Shake, Rattle & Roll
15. Keep A-Knockin’ (But You Can’t Come In)
————————————————————————————
16. My Baby Just Cares For Me
17. That’s Right
18. Hound Dog
19. I Gotcha
20. Signed, Sealed, Delivered I’m Yours
21. Reflections
22. Stagger Lee
23. Show Me
24. Rip It Up
25. Money (That’s What I Want)
26. What Becomes Of The Broken-hearted
27. Ain’t No Mountain High Enough
28. River Deep, Mountain High
29. (Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher & Higher
————————————————————————————
30. Many Rivers To Cross
31. Chain Of Fools
32. Hold On, I’m Comin’
33. Hey Jude

Originally published on 29 August 2016 at the following website: http://magazine.100percentrock.com/live-reviews/201608/197401

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FILM REVIEW: DAVID BRENT: LIFE ON THE ROAD

davidbrent

 

We all know a David Brent. The original Brent (played toe-curlingly well by Ricky Gervais) was the major reason for The Office’s success, and though it’s been over 13 years since the program’s Christmas special aired and tied up all those loose ends, Brent the “entertainer” has resurfaced. The world might have changed, but Brent hasn’t.
Life On The Road takes the lead from the mockumentary style of the TV series, but it’s not The Office: The Movie. The film features none of the original cast of characters save for Brent, and Gervais’ fellow writer and The Office’s co-creator Stephen Merchant played no part in this project. However, despite the trouble that such a dearth suggests, thankfully the film is not the disaster it could have been.

Mr. Brent is now a sales rep at Lavichem, a company that sells cleaning and personal hygiene products, but he’s still an idiot clutching at dreams of rock stardom. Eventually, following his dreams, he cashes in his pension and assembles a group of hired guns to perform as his backing band for a tour of Slough. The only problem is his bandmates hate him (he even has to pay them to drink with him) and the tour is a shambles and whirlwind of humiliation for the former manager of Wernham-Hogg.

This film sees Gervais continuing to straddle the lines between cheeky jokes and gags that are plain spiteful and mean-spirited. If you weren’t a fan of the TV show then this is not a film for you. Brent has not grown as a character: in fact, he’s more of a caricature than ever, and his affected immaturity is still easily his defining character note.

Ultimately, the film has some strong gags, and is filled with songs that are enjoyably bad. Brent’s backing band, the Foregone Conclusion, are slapdash in all the right ways and their folk/rock stylings are enjoyably middle-of-the-road. A tune like ‘Lady Gypsy’ is a crystallised version of Brent’s character: all swagger and stiffness.

That said, the supporting characters are underwritten, and there are moments that feel loose, and not properly thought out. There are still times when the original wit and humour of the television show feels lacking: gaps that may very well leave you wanting to go back and enjoy the original show in order to get your entertainment fix.

Originally published on 24 August 2016 at the following website: http://thebrag.com/arts/david-brent-life-road

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ALBUM REVIEW: ALEX THE KID – SPEAK UP

alex the kid

 

If the words “Alex The Kid” only make you think about an old Sega game then you have some homework to do. This is also the name of a tight, punk rock band from Geraldton in WA. The group recently won the triple j One Night Stand Unearthed competition and they’ve also just released a smouldering, debut album called Speak Up.

The record includes 13 fast and furious tracks. It basically sees the boys crank it up to eleven in just seconds and play with this kind of crazed intensity until the final moments of the album. The only exceptions to this rule are at the start of “Let’s Blow This Joint” and “It Ain’t Over” where some talking parts get in-between the rawk goodness. In the case of the former, it’s all about finding fuel for the munchies because later on they’ll be putting out a call to arms and screaming, “Let’s get high! Let’s get high tonight!” – a phrase poised to be as popular with enthusiastic punters as the Ramones’ “Hey hos” in “Blitzkrieg Bop.”

The record features triple j favourites “Vinyls” and “Skate or Lie.” The latter is one of many songs that see the “good-looking” Ken McCartney trading vocals with the screaming, “foul-mouthed” (according to the artists’ website) banshee, Dale Barker. It’s something that is reminiscent of Joy Division’s “Interzone” but with a heck of a lot more bile and bite.

Alex The Kid are also one darned melodic band to listen to. Despite some dirty riffs, howling bass and the mayhem that ensues thanks to a cacophony of drums, they will occasionally keep you on your toes and add a catchy melodic line or two. A song like “Tenderloins,” for example, is a short, sharp thrill but they also manage to throw in some cheeky harmonica into the mix.

Speak Up is a promising debut from a group of young men who know how to rock and party. They clearly have a love/hate relationship with their small hometown because some of the songs seem to rally against it, while others seem to embrace it and just want to get the party started.

These 13 fist-pumping corkers will strike a chord with anyone who has ever wanted to jump around and mess some shit up. This is definitely a band that we should keep an eye on as they grow up and hone their talent for crafting snarling punk rock. Yeah!

 

Originally published on 22 August 2016 at the following website: http://musicfeeds.com.au/album/alex-the-kid-speak-up/

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ALBUM REVIEW: THE JOHN STEEL SINGERS – MIDNIGHT AT THE PLUTONIUM

john_steel_singers_the_midnight_at_the_plutonium_

 

The John Steel Singers are no strangers to producing bright, poppy sounds. But on their third studio album, Midnight at the Plutonium their venue of choice is a disco in the seventies and a soundtrack punctuated by smooth basslines, sweet melodies and hypnotic synths.

Single, “Weekend Lover” boasts local champions Donny Benet on keys and Jonathan Boulet on vocals and they seem to have created some healthy rivalry, because it comes across like a competition for the highest falsetto and tightest pants. The result is an awesome party anthem with a fabulous video clip to boot.

“Can You Feel The Future” is nothing less than a bizarre, eight-minute epic that started life as a psychedelic jam and includes some sultry saxophone lines and a bass that bubbles like an effervescent soft drink. It’s the complete opposite to the slower, more dream-like “Taxi or Walk?” This short interlude of introspection doesn’t last long, however, because it’s clear that this record has sold its soul to seventies funk and pop.

Midnight at the Plutonium is the sound of a confident in a playful mood, tinkering away on various pieces of instrumentation for its own amusement. Good times.

 

Originally published on 19 May 2016 at the following website: http://thebrag.com/archive/music/all/review/all

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BLU-RAY REVIEW: VINYL SEASON ONE

vinyl

 

A story clouded by lost brain cells, self-aggrandisement and bullshit. This is what the TV series, Vinyl sells you. It’s a heady dramatic turn through the sex, drugs, rock ‘n’ roll and hedonism that was the music industry in New York in 1973. This ten part TV series is a slow-burning, nuanced one that feels like a love letter to the period and the genre and a celebration of the redemptive power of rock ‘n’ roll.

This program has got a pretty impressive pedigree to say the least. The Rolling Stones’ Mick Jagger is a creator and producer along with Martin Scorsese (who also directs the pilot). Terence Winter (Boardwalk Empire, The Sopranos) is also a creator and executive producer and the series stars Bobby Cannavale (Boardwalk Empire). Vinyl takes in both fictional and real-life events and artists and it is clear that it has been meticulously researched as it is very true to the period. While the series starts off a tad slowly, the later episodes really hit more of the right notes and will hook the viewer in.

Cannavale stars as the record executive, Richie Finestra and the principal owner of the fictional label, American Century. He is a liar and coke fiend but despite these vices has also managed to maintain a friendship with his business partner and the head of promotions, Zak Yankovich (Ray Romano who puts in a strong, dramatic performance). Finestra is married to Devon (Olivia Wilde) a former model and associate of Andy Warhol’s (John Cameron Mitchell). Devon is now sober and a restless mother to two young children.

The fortunes of the owners of American Century looked set to change when Polygram wanted to buy the company. But at the eleventh hour Finestra sees The New York Dolls and his interest and enthusiasm in music is restored. The deal is off, he decides to keep the company and attempt to turn their fortunes around for the better. The label is home to some jocular A & R reps and an ambitious coffee/drug girl Jamie Vine (an enchanting, Juno Temple) and she discovers a young, punk outfit The Nasty Bits (lead by Jagger’s son, James).

The soundtrack to this series is fantastic with David Bowie’s “Suffragette City”, “Life On Mars” and “Jean Genie” played alongside tracks like “Hey Joe” (made famous by Jimi Hendrix), The Who’s “Won’t Get Fooled Again, Pink Floyd’s “Money”, The Hollies’ “Long Cool Woman In a Black Dress” and two Eddie Cochran hits that Led Zeppelin liked to cover, “Somethin’ Else” and “C’Mon Everybody”. In some instances the original track is used, in others it is a live version or a cover. The series also portrays some famous musicians in their youth- like Bowie (Noah Bean), John Lennon (Stephen Sullivan), Elvis Presley (Shawn Wayne Klush), Bob Marley (Leslie Kujo) and Peter Tosh (Aku Orraca-Tetteh), among others.

The series is not a perfect one. Some of the sub-plots are not satisfactorily explored (many of the female characters feel like quick punctuation marks to the whole tale), the flashbacks are sometimes a tad confusing and the pilot was overlong (at 113 minutes). But once you sit back and immerse yourself and get into the groove there is a lot to enjoy in this vibrant series. The individuals navigate through difficult marriages, a murder investigation, creative issues, brushes with the law and the mob, sexism and the tragedies of drugs and more. Vinyl is an enthusiastic look at the seventies but it’s not hagiography, the filmmakers are happy to show the real and raw grittiness of the environment, and this is especially important when the story is told through the eyes of the troubled main character and particularly as we follow his downward spiral.

The visuals in this series – like the soundtrack – seem quite true to the era. The colour palette looks like it could have come from an old video from the seventies and the costumes, scenery and props are also fitting for the decade. The special features on the Blu-ray are satisfactory and include audio commentaries, a featurette and some “Inside the episode” looks at the program with Terence Winter.

Vinyl is a sprawling TV series and a rich look at an exciting chapter in music. It stars a bunch of mad misfits and details their manic misadventures through friendship, booze, drugs and other excesses from this colourful period. In all, this is one fun and nostalgic look at the grit, glitz and glam that was the seventies New York music industry. Rock on!

Originally published on 13 June 2016 at the following website: http://www.impulsegamer.com/vinyl-season-one-blu-ray-review/

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LIVE REVIEW: ERIC BURDON & THE ANIMALS + THE KEVIN BORICH EXPRESS @ ENMORE THEATRE (17.05.2016)

erinburdon

 

Eric Burdon always had a voice that made him sound like a weathered old bluesman, and now his body has finally caught up. The lead singer of The Animals recently celebrated his 75th birthday, and this Enmore show proved that although older and wiser, he can still effect pure nonchalance.

The Kevin Borich Express opened with ‘21st Century’, a rocking piece of raw power that had something in common with Jimi Hendrix’s work. Kevin Borich demonstrated some amazing guitar skills as he teased and conjured up great blues licks for songs like ‘Snowball King’. ‘Fight On’ was a thoughtful look at cancer, while ‘Gonna See My Baby Tonight’ served as a sweet lullaby to end a sharp and entertaining set.

When Eric Burdon performs he is basically saying, “For better or worse, you take me as I am.” He wore sunglasses for the whole concert as well as a crazy, psychedelic shirt that was so loud it made crowd members blush. He would often resort to reading his lyrics off a screen, and when he wasn’t doing that, he pottered around the stage and offered quips about fantastic Aussie seafood, or at other points ignored the audience completely in order to chat with an offsider. The guy is the epitome of devil-may-care cool.

‘Spill The Wine’ had a real, funky groove as Burdon’s young six-piece band (another incarnation of The Animals) played a tight track that was true to the original. Burdon still has a great, gravelly voice and scratchy vocals that show only limited signs of aging.

‘When I Was Young’ was reinvented as a mid-paced ballad that bled straight into ‘Inside Looking Out’. Burdon and band also performed a number of cover songs; some of these hauntingly good, like Lead Belly’s ‘In The Pines’ (made famous by Nirvana’s MTV Unplugged In New York), while others did not work at all (see David Bowie’s ‘Space Oddity’, on which the lyrics were still fluffed and Burdon couldn’t hold a candle to Ziggy).

The Animals’ biggest hits were the real highlights of the night. ‘Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood’ and ‘The House Of The Rising Sun’ sent shivers down the spine of everyone in attendance. The evening concluded with ‘It’s My Life’, and never before had the lyrics seemed so apt – for better or worse, Eric Burdon is Eric Burdon, and he ain’t changing.

 

Originally published on 19 May 2016 at the following website: http://thebrag.com/music/eric-burdon-animals-enmore-theatre

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LIVE REVIEW: ALBERT HAMMOND JR. & GUNNS @ OXFORD ART FACTORY, SYDNEY (19.02.2016)

alberthammond

 

Albert Hammond, Jr. arrived for his debut solo headline tour in Australia, despite it being a decade since his first record was released. The Strokes guitarist had a fair swag of material to draw on – with three albums and an EP to boot – and his band played a tight set to a largely lethargic crowd, with a sound eerily reminiscent of the group that made him famous.

The support slot was filled by young Fremantle quartet Gunns, who sound like they should be wearing paisley shirts and mop tops. The group performed a series of pretty, psychedelia-tinged tunes with an added rock punch. ‘Death Of The Sun’ and ‘Who’s Gonna Be Your Dog’ from their new EP were aired during a promising set, in addition to ‘Live By The Sea’.

Albert Hammond, Jr.’s set gave his Australian fans the chance to see the guitarist step out of The Strokes’ shadow and play frontman. The songs sound a lot like The Strokes, and Hammond has a nice voice, but he is no Julian Casablancas. Some of the songs had a great idea, tone or riff, but there were other moments where the tracks sounded far too repetitive and familiar.

‘Everyone Gets A Star’ was a fun and exuberant way to start and ‘Rude Customer’ was a slice of dance-worthy rock that could have been a Franz Ferdinand cut. Hammond’s newer material certainly has a more mature and wistful air, and that was particularly evident in ‘Losing Touch’ and ‘Side Boob’. They were performed well, but the crowd was rather sedate, which could have been chalked up to the evening’s stifling heat or because some punters wanted Strokes songs (there were none).

The set was instead filled with upbeat tunes from his AHJ EP as well as some material from his debut album. ‘Blue Skies’ proved a nice diversion from the more energetic pacing elsewhere, a slower and stripped-back piece of balladry, before the night closed with ‘Holiday’. It had been a show that often hinted at a retro sentiment packaged up in a jaunty, contemporary feeling, and while it had been fun to party with Hammond, some punters were left hungry for a Strokes show.

Originally published on 22 February 2016 at the following website: http://thebrag.com/music/albert-hammond-jr-oxford-art-factory

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LIVE REVIEW: COLD CHISEL & GRINSPOON @ QANTAS CREDIT UNION (SYDNEY ENTERTAINMENT CENTRE) (15.12.2015)

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Cold Chisel’s latest run of Sydney shows doubled as their latest ‘last stand’, having famously played farewell concerts in 1983 bearing this moniker. Here in 2015, the same passion, power and fury was present, as the band bid goodbye to the soon-to-be-demolished Ent Cent (everyone always preferred that name) before it’s gone.

Grinspoon took a break from their hiatus to appear in a pleasant but predictable support slot. They blazed through most of their well-known songs (the notable exception being ‘DC×3’) and finished with the INXS cover, ‘Don’t Change’. It had been a short and fine rock show, even though it was obvious the crowd wanted to embrace its inner bogan.

Cold Chisel frontman Jimmy Barnes was in excellent singing voice, belting out ‘Standing On The Outside’, and things only grew exponentially from there. Ian Moss’ guitar playing was a real treat, both melodic and off-the-scales. ‘Barnesy’ and ‘Mossy’ were a veritable powerhouse along with the fabulous pianist Don Walker and the tight rhythm section, Phil Small and newcomer Charley Drayton. Together, they gave a metaphorical ‘fuck you’ to any naysayers that tried to dismiss them as old rockers.

Chisel’s shows are an eclectic mix where you can coast along for the subtle ‘Choirgirl’, then enjoy the funk factor on ‘Rising Sun’ thanks to long-time touring saxophonist Andy Bickers. ‘Cheap Wine’ had everyone singing along and hiding the fact they could relate to the ‘rocket fuels’ in the lyrics.

The longer second half of the show was virtually all killer and no filler. There was our unofficial national anthem ‘Khe Sanh’ and ‘Flame Trees’, a virtual hymn that’s known to make hardened men cry. It was a feast of nostalgia with a setlist inspired by the 1983 shows and a desire to tear down the venue with music. Chisel also threw in some covers: ‘Georgia On My Mind’ (made famous by Ray Charles), Chip Taylor’s ‘Wild Thing’ and Roy Hamilton’s ‘Don’t Let Go’.

It was fitting, as always, to finish with ‘Goodbye (Astrid Goodbye)’. It had been both a stunning farewell and a jubilant return to a venue that became synonymous long ago with the Chisel name.

Originally published on 17 December 2015 at the following website: http://thebrag.com/music/cold-chisel-qantas-credit-union-arena

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ALBUM REVIEW: PHILADELPHIA GRAND JURY – SUMMER OF DOOM

philadelphiagrandjurysummerofdoom

 

Philadelphia Grand Jury still know how to party (party), and their new single ‘Crashing & Burning Pt. II’ and comeback record Summer Of Doom prove it.

The short and sharp 12 tracks are a raw and red-hot deal that segues off on more tangents than a drunk uncle, and it’s all as bubbly and fun as an enthusiastic teenager.

The trio recorded the album in a whirlwind ten days in Berlin, and often live. This lends the proceedings an energetic and rough-around-the-edges vibe in which some diverse musical styles are referenced – think of everyone from The John Steel Singers (‘Get Happy Again’) to José González (‘Better Send Someone’), and some loud and fast punk in most of the other tracks.

Summer Of Doom is a sprawling and ambitious stroll towards the sun, full of layers and textures and simple yet clever lyrics. It’s sometimes one big Pro Hart-style mess, but mostly it’s full of colourful, rocking indie, punk and soul tunes.

A welcome second trip from the well-loved Philly Jays.

 

Originally published on 28 October 2015 at the following website: http://thebrag.com/music/philadelphia-grand-jury-summer-doom

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LIVE REVIEW: JOHNNY MARR & FLYYING COLOURS @ ENMORE THEATRE, SYDNEY (20.07.2015)

Johnny Marr: 'We invented indie as we still know it.'

 

Should Johnny Marr be re-named ‘Johnny Young’? That was the question at Marr’s Enmore show in Sydney on Monday night. And it wasn’t because he resembled the former host of Young Talent Time but because the former Smiths guitarist oozed energy and charisma. This was definitely a case of a charming man looking half his age but playing with the virtuosity of a hardened axeman over double his age.

The support for the evening came courtesy of a young, local quartet known as Flyying Colours. The music was very layered and textual, like running your hands over some shag pile. At times this reminded people of Ride while at other moments they referenced sixties pop, garage music and Nirvana. “Bugs” – from their eponymous, debut EP – had a very dreamy quality and proved a pleasant ending to their short set.

But there could only be one man of the hour and his name was Messer Johnny Marr. The former guitarist of The Smiths who has also played with The Cribs and Modest Mouse but these days plays solo save for a tight backing band put on an excellent show. The inevitable comparisons between Marr and his former Smiths bandmate, Morrissey were unavoidable but Marr is so down-to-earth, friendly and sweet. He’s a true, English gentleman to Morrissey’s uptight, prima donna diva.

The show started with some crazy, computer game-like sounds that marked “Playland”, as the audience was launched “Again and Again” into Marr’s rock ‘n’roll fantasy camp. This was followed by an excellent cover of The Smiths’ “Panic” before the band started alternating between songs from Marr’s solo records, The Messenger and Playland. In “Easy Money”, Marr took a page out of Franz Ferdinand’s book by offering us some very danceable guitars that were also catchy. “New Town Velocity” seemed a curious choice given our close proximity to Newtown and was the antithesis of the former and was instead, a broody rock song.

During “The Headmaster Ritual” by The Smiths, the audience were enchanted by a heady mix of scatter-gun guitars and melodic guitar riffs. It was a very similar feeling that Marr also conjured up in “Generate! Generate” in all its wordsmith-like glory. “Bigmouth Strikes Again” was another favourite for the crowd, as was “There Is A Light That Never Goes Out”. But for this writer, it was Marr’s take on Electronic’s “Getting Away With It” that was sheer bliss. This self-described “Disco song from Manchester” was excellent and while Marr’s voice didn’t resemble his bandmate, Bernard Sumner’s, he definitely got into the spirit of it all.

Johnny Marr was the quintessential English gentleman at his Enmore show and his encore featured not one but two Smiths classics, “Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want” and the remarkable “How Soon Is Now?”. Marr’s solo numbers are strong and they were performed well but there was no denying that the audience loved the slices of nostalgia that came from hearing The Smiths’ covers live. In all, this was an exceptional show from a good man and a wonderful guitarist. He promised he’d be back next year, but not before he had proven to be this charming man and artist.

Originally published on 23 July 2015 at the following website: http://www.theaureview.com/reviews/sydney/johnny-marr-flyying-colours-enmore-theatre-sydney-20-07-15

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