Category Archives: Live Review

Live Review | Shapeshifter @ the Hi-Fi, Brisbane, Friday 11 September 2009

Shapeshifter @ the Hi-Fi, Brisbane, Friday 11 September 2009
Review by: Will Alexander – Photo: Jose Eduardo Cruz

ShapeShifterIt was New Zealand night at the Hi-Fi Brisbane last Friday, and if the accents didn’t give it away then the multitude of girls walking around screaming out for their countrymen did. Irrespective of how bad (and hilarious) the Flight of the Conchords make us look though, there’s no shortage of amazing New Zealander entertainers out there and Shapeshifter are undoubtedly some of the finest. Shapeshifter has earned no small degree of fame after the release of three albums, and you get the sense listening to them that they’ve come close to perfecting an electronically heavy but still organic sound. Unmistakably a drum and bass act on their studio albums, you more often than not see them referred to as a ‘dance’ act in live reviews. This may seem like an oversimplification of their sound but in reality the rising and falling of the beats is energetic and soulful – and doesn’t come across as straight drum and bass at all.
Continue reading Live Review | Shapeshifter @ the Hi-Fi, Brisbane, Friday 11 September 2009

Live Review | Sugar Army with Buick Six @ The Troubadour, Brisbane 4 September 2009

Sugar Army supported by Buick Six @ The Troubadour 04.09.09
By José Eduardo Cruz

sa2smallBuick Six are relatively new within the industry, but do not be fooled by the anonymity. They are a three piece local Brisbane band that has a fresh sound, or at the very minimum, is doing what other bands are doing within the genre, but just that much better to gain rapid notoriety. Three piece bands will always have the difficult task of producing a full sound, which is why many three piece bands turn into a four piece. That being said, Buick Six have an incredible full sound for a three piece which carries them throughout their whole set. The strength in their sound lies in the ability to create shades of colour in their music. The bass player grooved, the drummer walked off covered in sweat and the guitarist challenged a punter to jump on stage mid set after being asked to play Daddy Cool. Every member had the confidence needed to survive in this game, but remained humble enough to greet punters that thanked them throughout the night. These guys are very young and deserve much greater recognition which should come if they continue to perform such energetic shows filled with genuine artistic flair.

Continue reading Live Review | Sugar Army with Buick Six @ The Troubadour, Brisbane 4 September 2009

Live Review | Dukes Of Windsor & Trial Kennedy’s @ The Zoo, 8 August 2009

Dukes Of Windsor & Trial Kennedy’s @ The Zoo, 8 August 2009
By José Eduardo Cruz

Dukes Of WindsorTonight, The Trial Kennedy displayed a level of professionalism that made them the shining star of the night. Firstly, they had to temporarily replace their drummer due to the fact that their original drummer had contracted chicken pox a few days prior. The fill in drummer learnt an entire 45 minute set within one day which, was an amazing achievement given the structure of their songs. He powered Trial Kennedy through their set with 20 inch crashes and an Australian made drum set. Secondly, after their first song their bass amp blew up and had to be fixed on stage before they could proceed. In the interim, their vocalist proceeded with an acoustic song until the amp could be fixed and they could proceed. Even with a shorten set; Trial Kennedy worked their every bit of energy to showcase their music. These guys are in the process of recording their second release and this should see them headline their own set of shows in the not so distant future.

Continue reading Live Review | Dukes Of Windsor & Trial Kennedy’s @ The Zoo, 8 August 2009

Live Review | The Herd @ The Zoo, Brisbane – 31 July 2009

By José Eduardo Cruz

The Herd
The Herd supported by Koolism.
July 31 @ The Zoo

This is to be The Herd’s final national tour for twelve months. Although they had decided not to tour for the remainder of 2009, they succumbed to popular demand for another tour. Since this is a fan’s tour, their fans came out in absolute support and made this night a Sold Out night several days in advance.

It is always good to see a support act receive acknowledgements from a crowd that is eagerly waiting for the headliner. Koolism do an excellent job at drawing several acknowledgements from tonight’s crowd. It is amazing what two guys, a laptop and some decs can do. It’s worth a mention that several punters, at the conclusion of their set, quickly moved to the side of the stage to personally greet and congratulate them.

Continue reading Live Review | The Herd @ The Zoo, Brisbane – 31 July 2009

Live Review | Kev Carmody “Cannot Buy My Soul” Landmark Australian Music Event @ Brisbane Riverstage 1 August 2009

Review By: Elize Strydom

Kev Carmody“You’re going to a Kev Carmody tribute, eh?” Silence. “So, who’s Kev Carmody?”

Sadly that was a common response when I mentioned tonight’s gig to friends. Sadly, it was my initial response, too. However, I’ve been told that that is what the show is all about: taking one of Australia’s finest songwriters and exposing his talents to a whole new audience. Kev Carmody has been singing about the realities of Aboriginal society for the past 24 years through blunt protest songs and poetic ballads; blending folk, country, rock and gospel. In 2007 Paul Kelly pulled together the who’s who of the Australian music scene and an album was released featuring those singer songwriters performing Kev’s songs. Tonight those artists – including Paul Kelly, Bernard Fanning, Missy Higgins, John Butler, Clare Bowditch, the Herd and the Drones – will take to the stage to honour a man who is very much alive and passionate about his people and his country.
Continue reading Live Review | Kev Carmody “Cannot Buy My Soul” Landmark Australian Music Event @ Brisbane Riverstage 1 August 2009

Live Review: FourPlay @ The Tivoli, Brisbane 25 July 2009

By: Stephen Goodwin
FourPlay String Quartet @ The Tivoli, Brisbane

FourPlay String QuartetFew bands could be as innately suited to The Tivoli’s lush interiors as the sonically eclectic FourPlay String Quartet. Coaxed all the way to Brisbane to feature in the Deborah Conway-curated 2009 edition of the Queensland Music Festival, the fourtet of Sydneysiders grace the venue with an exquisite set worthy of a far-larger audience.

Over the course of a little more than an hour, the ensemble treats a small, enthusiastic crowd to new material that shows they still have the creativity and talent to match their genre-crossing ambitions.
Continue reading Live Review: FourPlay @ The Tivoli, Brisbane 25 July 2009

Live Review | The Butterfly Effect + Dead Letter Circus + Calling All Cars @ The Tivoli 10 July 2009

Review: Hannah Collins

The Butterfly EffectRecently returned from the UK, stand up Brissy, prog rockers Butterfly effect embark on yet another journey around Australia to promote their fourth studio album “Final conversation of Kings”.

Kicking off the first live show in a string of tours for The Butterfly Effects “Final Conversation tour”, a band of a smaller stature, not lacking in rock adjure, show Brisbane they can do it, and do it well. Calling All Cars, a three piece from Melbourne rocked it hard in the lead up to Brisbane’s Dead Letter Circus taking stage as the main support for one of Australia’s favourites.

Continue reading Live Review | The Butterfly Effect + Dead Letter Circus + Calling All Cars @ The Tivoli 10 July 2009

Live Review – JEFF MARTIN & THE ARMADA @ The Hi-Fi, Brisbane 10 May 2009

Review by Stephen Goodwin for Life Music Media
Photo: Stuart Blythe
Armada - Jeff MartinArmadas, historically, take a long time to build. It’s something to do with the size of the whole endeavour. On the evidence of tonight’s outing at the Hi-Fi Bar in Brisbane, Jeff Martin’s version – like the venue itself – still needs a few rough edges knocked off before it can truly take on the world.

Even early, the omens are there. Punters are forced to mill impatiently in the street outside the Hi-Fi long past the advertised opening time. Then, after doors open, the wait for psych-blues tie-dye standard-bearers Black Boards Mind feels interminable.

When they do appear, the Fremantle-based five-piece compound matters by seeming determined to turn in a trainwreck. Maybe it’s nerves, but jarringly out-of-sync vocals utterly destroy the first song and a half.

Eventually their sound begins to cohere, the vocals acquiring a straining nasal twang not too dissimilar to the Vasco Era’s Sid O’Neil. But even combined, Black Board Minds’ trio of vocalists possess nowhere near the Melbourne bluesman’s live-wire charisma. Song progression – characterised by a mushy bass-heavy sound that lacks any subtlety – feels equally leaden. The tambourinist’s creditable impression of the energiser bunny says it all: a manic distraction, it only serves to emphasise the act’s rawness.

Staring at Jeff Martin’s guitar rig, one entertains the possibility that it may contain more pedals than there are punters at the Hi-Fi tonight. And that’s not a dig at the crowd size – there’s plenty of the latter.

Martin’s admission during some mid-set technical issues – “it’s like trying to work the space shuttle up here” – feels like tacit validation, and one gets the feeling this massive contraption is the culprit of the early evening delays, and a longer-than-usual wait during the interval.

The downside of these delays is the flaccidness of the crowd. Curiously detached even as the band take up their instruments, they never seem to click with the band. Consequently, there’s too little of the energising feedback that can propel a “merely” good performance into something truly memorable.

For some musical styles, it’s irrelevant. But with the Armada squarely aiming for rock bombast, it’s a limiting factor.

The good news is that Martin and band are clearly “up for it”. It’s little short of jaw-dropping to simply watch skinsman Wayne P Sheehy’s pummelling drumwork. The intensity of sound is a whole order of magnitude more devastating.

Watching Martin, one is torn between appreciating his rich, pitch-perfect baritone, and admiring the almost-arrogant casualness with which he can pause and rip out a fiery solo. And, to the delight of the guitar nerds near the front, he does this often.

All the while man-mountain bassist Jay Cortez anchors the show with unflappable calm.

Several Tea Party tracks wedge themselves into the set, but the evening’s highlights draw themselves almost exclusively from The Armada’s self-titled debut. The sheer immenseness of opener Morrocco. The poignancy of Line in the Sand – even if the nuance-for-power trade-off is clearly felt compared to the “Live at the Corner” rendition. And the demented slide wizardry of Black Snake Blues, complete with a Led Zep excursion into Whole Lotta Love.

One exception is Winter Solstice, the Splendor Solis instrumental forming an spine-tingling acoustic one-two as it segues into new cut The Rosary.

After roughly 90 minutes, with The Armada closing out with another Tea Party staple Save Me, one is left with no doubt that the band has all the elements – strong songs and incredibly talented personnel. Once they iron out the kinks, they may just go on to conquer the world. Unlike the Spanish version.

Set-list

Morocco
Chinese Whispers
Overload
Line in the Sand
Broken
Coming Home
Kingdom
Winter Solstice/The Rosary
Black Snake Blues
Cathartik
Closure
Invocation
Closing Down Blues

Save Me

Bands: The Armada – www.thearmada.com
Black Board Minds
Venue: The Hi-Fi Bar, Brisbane – www.thehifi.com.au
Date: May 10, 2009

Related:
Photo Gallery: JEFF MARTIN & THE ARMADA @ The Hi-Fi, Brisbane 10 May 2009
JEFF MARTIN & THE ARMADA @ The Hi-Fi, Brisbane 10 May 2009 and May 2009 Tour Dates
The East Coast Blues & Roots Music Festival Byron Bay – BluesFest 2008 – images including Jeff Martin

St Jerome’s Laneway Festival Review, Brisbane 31 January 2009

Backstreet Joys

Elize Strydom gets friendly with Girl Talk, The Hold Steady and Architecture In Helsinki at the St Jeromes Laneway Festival in Brisbane.

I don’t think it’s possible to lose your posse at the St Jerome’s Laneway Festival. I just tried but then I bumped into them – literally – amongst the throng shuffling between No Age and the Temper Trap. The same thing happened during The Drones‘ set – I glanced behind to see who would be sharing the musical goodness with me and there they were. It’s just that kind of festival. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that we’re squished into a few forgotten back streets behind Brisbane’s RNA showgrounds and not a barren ten acre field. I get the feeling that’s what Danny and Jerome had in mind for this fair little festival from the start. I don’t get the feeling they could have guessed what their baby would grow up to look like when they celebrated the first year of St Jerome’s Bar in Melbourne with a bangin’ street party for a group of discerning music lovers. Since then ‘Laneway’ has become a national event, this year adding Perth to the itinerary. It definitely has its own niche, more ’boutique’ than ‘big day out’, and you’re likely to catch bands you may have heard in name only. Most probably dropped in conversation by the coolest kid you know.

Bands like the John Steel Singers. Okay, okay, so I’m sure you’ve heard their fanciful falsettos by now, what with the triple j Unearthed Artist of the Year gong and all, but they haven’t been on the national scene for long. The aforementioned falsetto is one of the first sweet sounds I hear as I bustle through the festival gates.

‘Is that the John Steel Singers?’ asks my mate. ‘I think so. Are there ten of ‘em on stage?’ I reply. So there are six band members, not ten, but you get what I’m saying right? We head over to the Alexandria Street stage and there they are bouncing around, long locks flouncing around their heads as they belt out tunes featuring the wonderful Pete and his trombone, Ross on drums, Pat on bass and the others on whatever instrument they pick up. They’re having fun and it’s catching. Bodies are walking towards the stage as if being pulled by some magnetic force. Slowly their limbs start moving…are they? Yes people are dancing, what a wonderful world.

Safe in the knowledge that I’ve left the punters in good hands I bolt over to the Car Park Stage one song into Tame Impala‘s set. My expectations are high because, you know, these boys are obviously so hot right now. It takes two seconds to see why. Or should I say hear. Visually, they’re three barefoot boys wearing plain tees and old Nike sports shorts but aurally they’re taking me on a psychedelic journey and I feel like I’m being hypnotised and I can’t stop my eyes from closing and my sensory perception is overloading and what are you doing to me?! Maybe it’s Kevin’s languid phrasing or the guitar distortion or the way each song takes on a life of its own and goes exactly where I want it to go, but didn’t realise. Forty One Mosquitoes Flying in Formation, Skeleton Tiger and that cover of Blueboy’s Remember Me morph into long jams. That sort of thing has the tendency to come across as a little indulgent and, at times, a sure fire way to lose your audience, but not today. Jay, Dominic and Kevin launch into Desire Be, Desire Go and I realise the magic is coming to an end. I could have listened to them all day and looking around it’s clear I’m not the only one.

Back over on the Alexandria Street Stage Holly Throsby helps to break my fall. Her gentle, quiet and unassuming stage presence is like the cool relief that comes when the breeze blows through the trees and touches our sweat-damp faces. This girl has a little something that sets her apart from the multitude of sweet-voiced singer/songwriters. I think it’s because when she sings tunes like Making a Fire, Things Between People and A Heart Divided you know she’s telling the truth, both lyrically and in her performance. A diminutive soul, Holly doesn’t make a fuss and seems completely at ease strumming the guitar or sitting at the keyboard. Her bandmates – Bree and Jans aka the Hello Tigers – swap between the drums, accordion, glockenspiel and mandolin, cello and bass respectively. They fill out Holly’s subtle melodies and create a beautiful sense of simple delight.

The crowd strolls away and I spot dreamy smiles spread across glowing faces. Some look like they’re planning to take a little kip and reflect on the day so far. But then something catches their eye. Is that Jay, drummer from Tame Impala, sitting bare-chested on a platform above a tank full of water? Why, yes it is. This day’s going from strength to strength! I soon catch on that it’s one of those Hit ‘n’ Dunk games where punters peg a ball at a target and if they hit the bull’s eye the poor sod on the platform gets wet. There’s a list of ‘Dunk Times’ posted on the brick wall and I see that members of Cut Off Your Hands, the Temper Trap, Jay Reatard and Still Flyin’ will all take a seat on the Platform of Doom. Good sports huh? Plus all the money raised goes to charity. Everybody wins!

Indie darlings Yves Klein Blue aren’t on the list, they’re on stage. Slick hair, big hair, red hair – these poppy, punky, jazzy rockers have got it covered. Charles swaggers to the mic in his high wasted Ksubi’s with the arms of his button-up shirt rolled tightly over his biceps. He surveys the crowd and a huge grin spreads across his baby face before he counts in a rollicking yet-to-be released tune. They boys are treating us to a swag of new songs from their highly anticipated debut LP plus favourites like Silence in Distance and Polka. It’s obvious that despite the success they’ve achieved over the past few years they’re still as wide-eyed and appreciative as ever.

After Yves Klein Blue make a reluctant exit, the all hootin’, all hollerin’ Born Ruffians take to the stage. At first the Canadian trio remind me of Vampire Weekend but I soon hear distinct differences. There seems to be a real buzz surrounding these guys; a large crowd has gathered and there are even three girls in the front row dressed (and painted) in red, yellow and blue – the name of the band’s first long player. By the time they hit their strides with songs like Hummingbird and I Need a Life people are singing along with every word. To be honest, I’m a little surprised. What was I doing while everybody else was off getting into these rascals?

I think I was busy trying to figure out the Temper Trap. When these Melbourne lads dropped Sweet Disposition they had my full attention. But I didn’t want to declare my love too loudly ‘cos I got the feeling they were one of those bands who had been on the scene for years making outstanding records with a small but dedicated following. That’s kinda true but apparently the band has come in a few different forms and represented a diverse range of genres. As expected, a large crowd has gathered around the Car Park Stage to find out more about this mysterious five-piece. From the word go I was transfixed on Dougy, the enigmatic front man, and his captivating vocals. Throughout the set, singing duties are shared and soulful harmonies come as an unexpected delight. Sweet Disposition is the fourth song on the set list and I’m more than impressed. I get the feeling that I’m witnessing something special from a collective on the verge of something big. They close with a cover of Dancing in the Dark by none other than the Boss. What? Where did that come from?! It doesn’t matter, the Temper Trap can do no wrong.

Meanwhile there’s potential for things to go horribly wrong for New Zealanders Cut Off Your Hands. The security guards are setting up wheelie bins in the pit and filling them with water. Huh? As soon as the boys bound on stage it becomes clear: lead singer Nick likes to get close to his fans, either that or he’s just had a six-pack of Red Bull and needs to burn off a little energy. Which would be totally plausible; this is one fire-cracker of a guy! At this point I’m torn: I really want to stick around for songs like Happy As Can Be, Still Fond and Oh Girl but The Drones are about to start over in the Car Park.

The Drones win. I arrive halfway through the first number and am greeted by Gareth’s dark and dirty snarl. It took me a while to warm to the Melbourne rogues but now I won’t hear a bad word against them. Oh My and the Minotaur are clear standouts. The Drones seem to project a surly lawlessness and devil-may-care attitude which works in their favour on stage. Gareth literally spits his words and is so direct I feel that if I take my eyes off him I’ll suffer the frightening consequences. Like poor Michael who cops a snare drum to the head during one of the crazier moments of the set. Things seemed to take a turn at that point. Nothing wildly out of hand, just your garden variety of rock ‘n rollery, I guess. On the surface it doesn’t look like the band connect; it’s as if they’re all doing their own thing (especially Fiona who has her back to the audience for the majority of the set) but that must be a ruse because they couldn’t possibly produce such gold unless they were well and truly cohesive. The last few minutes are a wall of distortion that trails after the band as they stride off stage.

The next 40 minutes are spent darting back and forth between stages trying to catch snippets of Architecture in Helsinki and Brooklyn boys, The Hold Steady. Not the best way to experience what each group has to offer, I must say. I don’t feel I’m able to really sink my teeth into either of the sets.
That said, these two acts are strong contenders for the title of “Band that Has the Most Fun on Stage’– so who cares if I enjoy it or not! I haven’t seen AiH before but everybody talks up their live show….and I can see why. Still, I overhear a guy nearby say he’s seen them six times and this is by far their most subdued performance. Geez, if this is ‘subdued’ I’d like to see ‘on fire’! The Melbourne collective bound and bop and jump and hop all over the stage as they belt out newie That Beep as well as old favourites from their impressive back catalogue like Hold Music and Heart it Races. They swap instruments, take turns singing and generally dish out the good vibes in spades.

The Hold Steady are also on the good vibes train riding off the back of last year’s record, Stay Positive. How Craig Finn remembers the lyrics to all of his songs I will never know. These tunes are wordy. Don’t believe me? Try singing along. Musically it’s classic, riff-driven pop rock but lyrically it’s like a life story packed into three minutes and 30 seconds. That can be damn annoying but The Hold Steady has the chops to make it work. Even if the kids didn’t know all the words they certainly join in for numerous choruses, with gusto! Visually the band keeps us entertained. Finn is a fan of gesticulating and generally waving his spirit fingers about the place. He’s also a fan of yellow microphones. That’s lost on me. Maybe he explained it while I was over watching Architecture in Helsinki?

Okay, it’s time for Girl Talk (aka Gregg Gillis) and something is not quite right. The mood has changed. Sure, people are drunker but they seem angrier too. Not what I expected from punters about to enjoy a DJ (sorry, musician) who mashes Gwen Steffani, Jay-Z and Michael Jackson. They’re packed in and getting impatient. Phew, here he comes. Gillis runs on stage and does a few laps before whipping off his hoodie (no, it’s not the last item of clothing to go). He then takes his place behind a big desk and starts playing with all of his musical toys. And what’s this? A whole bunch of people fill the stage. It appears they’ve been hand-picked to bust some moves and create a party vibe but it seems all they’re doing is making everyone else jealous. Guys and girls make attempt after attempt to fend off the security guards and launch themselves up on to the stage to join the rent-a-crowd. Some make it, some don’t, and it’s entertaining but gets kinda distracting. I like the idea of Girl Talk, really, I do. It takes a lot of skill and persistence and talent to produce these mash-ups. They’re fun to listen to and I turn that stuff up when it comes on the radio, but something about Gillis’ is bugging me… or maybe it’s the drunk dude who just made it up to on stage and is proceeding to get the junk out of his trunk for all to see? Hmmm, I think it’s time to back away slowly then make a run for it in the hope of catching a little Augie March.

A little is right, like, the last line of the last song. But from all reports it was a mesmerizing set.

There’s a tap on my shoulder. Who do we have here? It’s my posse! I told you it’s impossible to lose them.

Review by: Elize Strydom

All Tomorrow’s Parties – Riverstage, Brisbane 15 Jan 2009 Review

All Tomorrow’s Parties – The Riverstage, Brisbane
January 15, 2009
Author: Stephen Goodwin
nickcave14
Photo:Matt Palmer – Click here for full ATP Gallery

Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, The Saints, Spiritualized, Robert Forster, The Necks, James Blood Ulmer

“And what costume shall the poor girl wear
To all tomorrow’s parties”
– The Velvet Underground & Nico, 1967

The sun blasts Brisbane’s Riverstage bowl with pitiless intensity. The eyes almost hurt, and punters stake-out the little shade that exists as soon as they come through the gates. It’s a piercingly bright summer day that feels more suited to a day at the beach (or a Gunslinger showdown, for the more dramatically inclined) than the latest instalment of All Tomorrow’s Parties – the festival often dubbed “the ultimate mixtape”. Yet with the sun barely past the meridian, blues-jazz auteur James Blood Ulmer seats himself near the front of stage without fanfare and begins to play.

The open space and bright light of the Riverstage is a world away from the smoky, intimate bars that birthed the blues, yet Ulmer is unperturbed. His be-ringed hands glide languidly across his guitar, generating poignant echoing blues music to make the hardest soul melt. In a way, the fierce afternoon heat assists, forcing the few hundred early arrivals to seek the shade at the front of stage. His talented fingers and crooning, quavering voice do the rest. Katrina – she “ran a whole lotta people outta town” – is, perhaps, the highlight, but every song is greeted with generous applause and by the time he departs the initially reserved Ulmer seems to have almost warmed to both crowd and setting.

Avant-garde rock minimalists The Necks seem to confuse as many as they delight with a performance that’s not so much a set as a single instrumental movement. Over 45 unbroken minutes, pianist Chris Abrahams, double-bassist Lloyd Swanton and drummer Tony Buck construct, and then deconstruct, a hypnotic piece that blends their three instruments into a slowly evolving ocean of sound. With Abrahams facing away from his fellows, Swanton with eyes tightly shut, and Buck hunched studiously over his kit, there’s the overwhelming sense that the transitional cues are aural rather than verbal. But the true testimony to their skill is the organic fashion in which their initial gossamer web of piano and cymbals evolves into a portentous mass of deep bass tones and kick-drum thumps. By the end, we’re back to the start and wondering whether the intervening 45 minutes were merely a dream.

Robert Forster tempers his patrician loftiness with a boyish enthusiasm and playfulness that’s quite endearing. Seemingly so excited to be at ATP that he kicks off five minutes early, he and his band members squeeze out 11 summery pop songs to perfectly match the balmy late-afternoon. The selection leans heavily to Go-betweens tracks, but Forster skips the hits for obscurer choices such as Head Full Of Steam, German Farmhouse and Make Her Day. Surfing Magazines and Quiet Heart form a lovely duo of charm and tenderness, while Darlinghurst Nights and the rollicking Here Comes A City illustrate why Oceans Apart garnered critical acclaim. It’s left to If It Rains, Pandanus and Heart Out To Tender to hold the fort on behalf of Forster’s impressive solo repertoire.

J Spaceman’s (aka Jason Pierce) Spiritualized, incarnated for ATP as a seven-piece complete with a pair of wonderful gospel singers, bursts out of the blocks with the frothing, squalling admonishment of You Lie, You Cheat. What follows leaves the crowd spell struck, and proves a mere 45 minutes is hardly enough to fully appreciate the complex beauty of a sound that threads together rock, psychedelia, gospel and blues. Word wankery aside, it’s divine, and choosing a highlight is nigh-impossible. The bliss-out space-rock of Ladies And Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space? The plaintive, hopeful poetry of Shine A Light? The anthemic grandeur of Soul On Fire? Or perhaps the wonderful, country-inflected rendition of Spaceman 3 classic Walking With Jesus? By the conclusion, if I wasn’t already, I think I’m in love, because the gospel singers just own Come Together, for all that they leave stage before the wig-out finale of guitar cacophony.

Surely no act on today’s ATP bill is more anticipated than The Saints. Billed to perform their seminal debut album in order, in its entirety, and with original members Ivor Hay and Ed Kuepper joining Chris Bailey, there’s a palpable feeling that the home-town performance could prove one for the annals. Anticipation peaks as the band emerges to the strains of bagpipes and Kuepper and Hay fire up. The joy is short-lived though. They open not with (I’m) Stranded, but Swing For The Crime – a cut from 1979′s Prehistoric Sounds. Shock and surprise soon turn to deflation and disbelief as they transition into This Perfect Day and it becomes clear that, somewhere, there’s been an unannounced change of plans.

In the end, only five out-of-order songs from (I’m) Stranded feature in the brief eight-song set. Criminally, not one is the title track. Equally mystifying, the mix is nothing short of appalling, reducing the crisp, ferocious beauty of Kuepper’s guitar to indiscernible droning sludge. The best moments come from the bluesy Kissin’ Cousins and a slow-tempo version of Messin’ With The Kid where Bailey’s acoustic guitar helps rather than hinders. But the verbal abuse sections of the crowd hurl at the departing band after they conclude with a disappointing rendition of Nights in Venice highlights how much of a letdown they were tonight. Know your product? Apparently not.

After The Saints, Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds are left with a lot to do. Fortunately, their 90-minute set is an absolute barn-burster that completely erases the sour taste left by the The Saints‘ lead balloon. All energy, gusto and unignorable charisma, Cave prowls the stage, alternately treating his guitar with violent disdain and imperiously lashing the audience with his evocative lyrics. It only takes a few songs to grasp that the act of creating Dig!!! Lazarus Dig!!! has propelled the Bad Seeds’ passion for live performance into the stratosphere. Dual drum kits intensify the bottom end while the regular mandocaster wig-outs of Warren Ellis push many a Bad Seed classic to the edge of mania. And even if there’s a touch of greatest hits about the selections, there’s a frightening intensity in the delivery. Tupelo, The Mercy Seat, Papa Won’t Leave you Henry, The Weeping Song – all are simply searing.

Red Right Hand benefits from a softer club-lounge re-arrangement of soft ivories, brushed drums and finger-plucked fiddle – dramatic yet intimate. Then, in a flash, it concludes in a mania of sawing violin, mashed piano and crashing cymbals. Love Letter and The Ship Song form a quieter mid-set interlude, and amidst the older material, tracks from Dig!!! Lazarus Dig!!! emerge needle-sharp and glorious. The title track, as well as Midnight Man and More News From Nowhere, show signs of becoming instant classics. Only the demented We Call Upon The Author strikes an off note in its awkward transition into Ellis’s post-chorus funkified loops, but Cave’s vocal delivery is so fluid and poetic that it more than balances the ledger. Anyway, it’s surely nothing a pair of scissors can’t fix.

Cave demands audience participation as the band encore. But the crowd’s ragged call-and-response effort for Lyre of Orpheus prompts him to remark sardonically at the end: “Well, that was messed up”. The unrelentingly fierce rendition of Get Ready For Love that follows feels almost like a punishment for our collective misdemeanour. Unfortunately, all good things must come to the end, but the Bad Seeds have arguably saved the best for last, finishing with the stunning murder ballad Stagger Lee. From start to finish, it’s been a tour-de-force of no equal. And as we all drift off into the night, I muse that, bar a single act, ATP has been peerless too.

Sunset Sounds 2009 Review

By Tara Kai Hammond
Sunset Sounds - Riverstage Brisbane 8th January 2009Sunset Sounds - Riverstage Brisbane 7th January 2009 - Tegan and Sara Sunset Sounds - Riverstage Brisbane 7th January 2009 Sunset Sounds - Riverstage Brisbane 7th January 2009 - The Hives Sunset Sounds - Riverstage Brisbane 7th January 2009 - Violent Soho

In an era when music festivals seem once again to be the current trend, there was definitely something very special and unique about The Sunset Sounds festival, put together by the same crew as the renowned Falls festival.

Originally the festival was proposed to take place in ‘beautiful’ Byron Bay, (under the name – The Byron Bay Arts festival). But the location had to change due to approval issues, and Brisbane’s Botanical Gardens was chosen to hold the event under the new banner – The Sunset Sounds Festival.

I was lucky enough to go along both days and soak up all the sun and sonic-goodness; and the following is an account of my first day at the festival.

*-:SUNSET SOUNDS DAY ONE:-*

After picking up my media pass and with a sense of excitement as I passed through the front gates, I headed straight for a big shady tree in front of the Hibiscus stage where I was entertained by the simple, laid-back, folk-rock, sounds of Australian band, TinPan Orange; which consisted of a Alex Burkoy on violin, and folk/soul driven female vocalist Emily Lubitz, – reminiscent of recent Australian artists such as Claire Bowditch – who strummed, plucked and tapped her ukulele, while singing from her heart and soul about love, life and loss.

Wandered over to the Garden stage for French based artist Soko; Soko‘s voice alternated enjoyablely between a husky-enunciation and a elevated-husky-shriek, but her songs of anguish and dejection, left me a little downhearted. The highlight of her set, for me, was the song I’ll Kill Her; Her live performance was a little strange with crying throughout her set, announcing her early retirement, and finishing her set rocking-out on the drums while singing about having a nervous-breakdown; I’m beginning to wonder if she will.

Recent graduate from Brisbane’s indie-dance-rock scene, Yves Klein Blue; were the first band on the River stage and seemed more than at home during their set. They played a high-energy show that left the crowd hyped-up and buzzing. The stand out song of the set for me and the rest of the audience was obviously the song Polka, but the set was so full-of-life and hot-to-go; that it was hard to tell whether the smoke that billowed of the stage during their set came from the band, smoke machines, or both.

Award winning English band Gomez, was next up on the Garden Stage; and I must admit to being a little bit disappointed due to their low-energy performance, which could have something to do with the fact that it was boiling hot when they played, or just couldn’t be bothered putting in much energy or effort. And also, because their set lacked a lot of the tracks they’re most famous for, like the tune Get Myself Arrested. However they did play some classics and crowd favourites such as Get Miles, Bring It On, GirlShapeLoveDrug, and We Haven’t Turned Around, amongst others. An excellent band in general, but I definitely had high hopes of them being even better live and couldn’t help feeling that they could have done better, (and would have at some point in the past).

I only got the chance to see The Rocketsmiths, (another quality Brisbane band), for a short while; but during that time I was quite impressed with the way they mix the funk-punk-rock-carnivalesque genres quite well. And they also reminded me of one of my favourite ‘old school’, Zappalesque, mixed genre bands, the one and only, Mr. Bungle.

If ego had a name, its name would be Howling Pelle Almqvist! The Hives certainly know how to entertain the crowd, and the power outage early in their set only fired up Pelle even more. The crowd wowed to their show but, for me, with Pelle declaring “You do not cut the power on The Hives!”, it was time to move along to the next act.
Making my way back to the Garden stage, The Cat Empire were a happy and vibrant breath of fresh-air, who put the crowd in a good mood, (with smiles and good vibes all around); got the crowd pumping, (arms and legs in the air and everywhere); and kept the happy-high-energy going the whole one hour set. Playing crowd favourites like Two Shoes, Someday, and So Many Nights, amongst others. And also a few covers as well – one of Paul Kelly’s songs Dumb Things, (which got the whole crowd singing along); and also a French version of The Eagles tune Hotel California, (which segued into their song Chariot). Throughout their six year career as a band they’ve received much recognition, (including their first album receiving seven ARIA nominations; their first two albums scoring double platinum sales; and the fact they’ve done around 600 sold-out shows between Melbourne and Montreal). The Cat Empire continue to be vibrant, warm, engaging, humble band; with attitudes of respect for creativity, the power of music, the environment, and other cultures and humanity in general.

The Cat Empires horn section eventually faded, sounding the end of the nights activities, and as the lights went down, the crowd cheered and began to quietly file out of the main gate like ants; tired, energized and eager all at the same time. And as I left the festival, (high on life and buzzing and beaming from ear to ear); I headed along the bamboo track that leads back into the concrete jungle, (a.k.a Brisbane City); and I let out a big “ahhhhhh” and thought – what a festival!!!… can’t wait for tomorrow!!!

By Tara Kai Hammond