St Jerome’s Laneway Festival Photos, Brisbane 31 January 2009
Photographer: Kristen Ashton – Stillpixels.com
CLICK HERE for full gallery
St Jerome’s Laneway Festival Photos, Brisbane 31 January 2009
Photographer: Kristen Ashton – Stillpixels.com
CLICK HERE for full gallery
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
As Neil Young took to the stage at the Brisbane Entertainment Centre, the crowd was set for a journey as this legendary musician weaved a magical blanket of music that transported you through the decades.
Performing “Hey Hey, My My”, “Just singings a song won’t change the world”, “Old Man” and “Needle and the Damage Done” – to name a few – was just mind blowing!
Without doubt, Neil Young is Legend!
Photographer: Elize Strydom
Click image for larger photo.
Matt Burgess of Burgo’s Blog attended the show and writes:
“Last night, I had probably the most visceral experience of my life, watching Bon Iver perform live at the Tivoli in Brisbane. To call it sublime would be an understatement.
It was over two years ago (side note: how fast is time going these days? I mean, honestly…) that the dulcet tones of Justin Vernon first made their ways to my ears. I managed to catch the tail end of the Hazeltons days/post DeYarmond Edison days, but really – if I’m honest – I was probably only fully hooked when I first heard Skinny Love. It’s a cardinal sin to admit something like that, when you’re a music blogger (especially considering the strength of the Hazeltons era), but that’s the moment when I realised that this was… different. That there was something transcendent in this music. So when the news made its way to me that Bon Iver would be performing at the Tivoli, I knew I would be going.
And man, am I glad I did.”…
Read Matt Burgess’s full review at http://www.burgoblog.com/2009/01/18/bon-iver-live-tivoli-brisbane-2009/
Big Day Out 2009 Gold Coast Review
Author: Tara Kai Hammond
Whilst 2009’s Big Day Out line up contained more locally-grown artists then big- name-crowd-pulling international acts; other activities and entertainment like the dunking-pool, the movie theatre, and the ‘ carny’ style rides; all helped this years festival to be a big day out of live sun, fun and music for all styles and ages.
[photo: Stuart Blythe]
Sporting band leader outfits, The Grates to took the stage and were an obvious crowd favourite. Patience has an instant reapport with the massive crowd and has them singing along and on each others shoulders, poppin and bobbin.
All Tomorrow’s Parties – The Riverstage, Brisbane
January 15, 2009
Author: Stephen Goodwin
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.
All Tomorrow’s Parties
January 15, 2009
The Riverstage, Brisbane
Photographer: Matt Palmer
Click image for full gallery
[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.
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 support of the album release, the John Steel Singers are embarking on an Australian Headliner tour thoughout November. Click here for tour details…
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.)
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!
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. 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!