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

All Tomorrow’s Parties – The Riverstage, Brisbane
January 15, 2009
Author: Stephen Goodwin
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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.

Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – ATP 2009 Photo Gallery

All Tomorrow’s Parties
January 15, 2009
The Riverstage, Brisbane
Photographer: Matt Palmer
Click image for full gallery
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Paul Kelly

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[photo: Courtesy Paul Kelly website]
  From very early on in his career, Paul Kelly has been recognised as one of the most significant singer/songwriters in the country.

His influence over Australian music and Australian culture is wide and significant – backed up by the fact his new compilation Songs From The South – Volume 2 has gone Gold since its November 2008 release.

As well as issuing an enduring body of work with his own bands, Kelly has written film scores (Lantana and the Cannes 2006 highlight, Jindabyne), and produced albums for and written songs with some of Australia and New Zealand’s finest artists.

Paul Kelly’s Songs From The South Volume 2 was recently released, along with a DVD collection of Paul Kelly videos from 1985 to 2008 and a double CD including Songs From The South Volume’s 1 & 2. You can find these at record stores and digital outlets now.

Since it’s release the positive reviews have been coming through thick and fast.
One such review can be read below, from Noel Mengel of The Courier Mail. More reviews are posted in the ‘Recent Press’ section on Paul Kelly‘s website.


Review:
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EP: The John Steel Singers – “In Colour”

The John Steel Singers have just released their latest indie styled fuzz pop musical offering in an EP titled “In Colour”. 

 

This EP is a great progression for the band and in working with producer Scott Horscroft, the end result speaks volumes. Maybe it’s their conscious decision to make the rhythms more direct and simplified. Whatever it is, you will be transported into a fantasy, surreal, floating world with a sixties laid back summer love feel. 

The opening track, Rainbow Kraut is a clear favourite and after a few listens I found myself humming along and somehow a little uplifted. 

The EP is now available through Levity®/Inertia.

“In Colour”
1. Rainbow Kraut
2. Luxembourg
3. Mother
4. Harlequin Maid

 

In support of the album release, the John Steel Singers are embarking on an Australian Headliner tour thoughout November.   Click here for tour details…

Leonard Cohen

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For four decades, Leonard Cohen has been one of the most important and influential songwriters of our time, a figure whose body of work achieves greater depths of mystery and meaning as time goes on. His songs have set a virtually unmatched standard in their seriousness and range. Sex, spirituality, religion, power – he has relentlessly examined the largest issues in human lives, always with a full appreciation of how elusive answers can be to the vexing questions he raises. But those questions, and the journey he has traveled in seeking to address them, are the ever-shifting substance of his work, as well as the reasons why his songs never lose their overwhelming emotional force.

His first album, Songs of Leonard Cohen (1967), announced him as an undeniable major talent. It includes such songs as “Suzanne,” “Sisters of Mercy,” “So Long, Marianne” and “Hey, That’s No Way to Say Good,” all now longstanding classics. If Cohen had never recorded another album, his daunting reputation would have been assured by this one alone.

However, the two extraordinary albums that followed, Songs From a Room (1969), which includes his classic song, “Bird on the Wire,” and Songs of Love and Hate (1971), provided whatever proof anyone may have required that that the greatness of his debut was not a fluke. (All three albums are reissued in April, 2007.)



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Upsize, The Radiators and the Angels @ Acacia Ridge Hotel – May 4th 2007

Upsize
The Basement Bar at Acacia Ridge Hotel played host to an awesome night where Upsize , The Radiators and The Angels played live and loud! Rock shall never die!

Brisbane rock band Upsize totally rocked the Basement Bar to over a crowd of a 1000. Upsize are playing gigs around Brisbane promoting their debut CD West End Delicacy . They were the perfect band to get the crowd worked up in anticipation of The Radiators and The Angels performances. Upsize’s performance was outstanding, playing all the songs off their debut CD plus a few others which had the crowd jumping and yelling for more!

The Radiators
When The Radiators hit the stage, a wave of people surged forward. If it wasn’t for the guardrail the band would have been engulfed completely. The crowd varied in ages, from late teens to mid to late sixties. The Radiators had everyone nodding, feet tapping, jumping up and down as well as singing along. Everyone, no matter what age, appeared to know all the words to all the songs.

The Radiators started with a few of their slower and older classics like Summer Holiday , and by the time they started playing You Gimme Head , you couldn’t hear the band over the crowd singing. After decades of playing live gigs, The Radiators continue to wow their audience with an adrenaline filled performance.

The Angels
The Angels. What more can be said? The name itself makes you want to bow down low and chant “We’re not worthy! We’re not worthy!” The Angels have a repertoire spanning nearly 3 decades with countless hits including Take A Long Line, After The Rain, Mr Damage, Straight Jacket and their first major hit Am I Ever Gonna See Your Face Again? , which were all performed to the delight of the audience. All that experience has been polished to the extent that you almost feel that you’re listening to the CD.

Friday night was surreal. Not only did we have more Australian rock’n’roll history than you could poke a stick at, the rock’n’roll was picked up and carried forward into the present by Upsize. As I said at the beginning of the review, Rock shall never die!

Reviewed for: FasterLouder.com.au 
Photos: Upsize flickr photo set  and   The Angels & The Radiators flickr photo set