Thursday, October 05, 2017

Oh Mercy- National Park Tour

It's been a year since Oh Mercy last played a show in Melbourne, and tonight they were back at the nightclub Hugs & Kisses in support of the new single "National Park." Opening the evening was James Moloney & the Mad Dog Harrisons with James doing a solo set on acoustic guitar which included a cover of Tom Petty And The Heartbreaker's "Refugee." Next up was the band Ern Malley, who played a fantastic set with their 1970s rock/alt-country vibe. I was quite impressed and will be keeping an eye out for them in the future.

The latest incarnation of the Oh Mercy live band includes all guys this time (the first time there hasn't been a female member in the mix). The hour long set showcased some of the new songs which will appear on the new album due to be released in early 2018. The highlights for me were "Hideous Place" (standout track of the night), the driving rhythm of "Hot Topic," the excellent "National Park" and the slow ballad "Auto Bellissimo," which Alex joked he wants to go viral in Italy (and also led to him singing a snippet of the La Porchetta commercial jingle). Alex had quite a few funny moments throughout the night, whether it was puns, praising Jesus and making a Hillsong reference, comparing a song to a jeep commercial, or doing a shout out to Cameron Daddo and SmoothFM.

We were treated to some Burt Bacharach with a cover of "This Guy's In Love With You" and a few lines of "Walk On By." Older Oh Mercy songs in the set were "My Man" and "Deep Heat" off the Deep Heat album, and the When We Talk About Love tracks "Can't You Hear My Body (Calling Out To You)," "Lady Eucalyptus" solo and "Sandy," which closed out the night. I ran into Alex on the way into the venue, and Mary and I had a brief chat with him after the show and he was as gracious as always. It will be great when the new album is finally released (especially since it's been done for a while).

Here's the video for "National Park" (shot in Castlemaine):

Sunday, September 03, 2017

Dan Sultan- Killer Tour

Last night Danny, Ruth and I headed to the newly renovated Forum Melbourne to see Dan Sultan play in support of his latest album Killer. We arrived as William Crighton took the stage, opening his set by singing a capella without a microphone. He and his band played a strong set of songs off his debut album, which tell fantastic stories that are based around the Australian countryside.

Dan's band came out on stage first before he joined them, pumping up the crowd as he launched into "Magnetic." The majority of the set featured songs off Killer, with the highlights being "Hold It Together," "Drover," "Reaction" and the current single "Kingdom." The addition of two female back-up singers really added a soulful sound to all the songs, and Dan's voice sounded the best I have ever heard it live.

There were also tracks from Dan's previous albums played throughout the set, including "Kimberley Calling," "The Same Man" and "Under Your Skin" off Blackbird, and "Your Love Is Like A Song" off his first album Homemade Biscuits. For the encore Dan came out and did a lovely solo version of "Dirty Ground" before the band rejoined him for the classic "Old Fitzroy" to finish off the night. If you get a chance to catch Dan live on this tour make sure you go see him because he is in fine form.

Here's the video for one of my faves "Hold It Together"

Thursday, August 31, 2017

MWF- Janet Mock: Visability and Voice

I first heard writer and transgender activist Janet Mock on the podcast Politically Re-Active so was excited when it was announced she would be coming to speak at the Melbourne Writers Festival. It was a packed house at Deakin Edge in Fed Square as Janet took to the stage to give a speech and presentation about her life, including growing up as a trans women of color in Hawaii, and moving to New York City in her twenties and working as a magazine editor before going public about being transgender. She paid tribute to the trans activists that have come before her and spoke about the importance of having an intersectional and inclusive movement that fights for the rights of everyone.

Benjamin Law then led a short Q&A before inviting the audience to ask questions. It was lovely to see how important Janet was to those in the LGBTIQ community that came to see her tonight. It was also interesting to hear her take on the marriage equality vote here and how it compares to the current situation in the US around transgender bathroom and military bans. Janet spoke about the fact that a lot of people felt their work was done with the US Supreme Court ruling, which has allowed conservatives to target other groups, including trans people. She urged everyone to continue the fight for social justice until everyone shared the same rights and privileges.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

People Of Letters

The literary salon Women Of Letters holds events each month in Melbourne at The Thornbury Theatre to celebrate the lost art of letter-writing with people from different fields. Occasionally they invite men along to participate in either Men Of Letters or like this afternoon, People Of Letters events. Hosted by Angie Hart, today we had pairs of people (friends, siblings, partners) who wrote and read letters to each other.

The afternoon started with comedian Joel Creasey and television and radio personality Chrissie Swan talking about their friendship, where we learned the phrase "bitch cheese." Next up were the most moving letters of the afternoon from co-directors of Chapter Music and life partners Guy Blackman and Ben O'Connor, who talked about their lives together and love for each other. Then we heard from life long friends musician Clare Bowditch and actress Defah Dattner, who have been there for each other through many key life stages.

After an intermission the next three pairs took to the stage. Siblings and writers Benjamin Law and Michelle Law spoke about growing up together and what they meant to each other. Former WA Senator and Deputy Leader of the Australian Greens Scott Ludlam and his friend and Communications Advisor David Paris talked about life in politics and wishing they had looked into Scott's citizenship before he first took office nearly ten years ago. The final pairing was musician Paulie Stewart and his mentee, rapper Fablice Manirakiza (aka FLYBZ) who was a former child soldier in Burundi and refugee who arrived in Australia in 2007. They ended the event by getting everyone up out of their seats to dance along as Fablice rapped a song. Overall it was a moving and inspiring afternoon about the importance of relationships and bonds between people.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

MIFF- Step and City Of Ghosts

Today was the last day of the MIFF and my final two films of this year's festival. I began my afternoon with the documentary Step about the girls representing the Lethal Ladies step team from the Baltimore Leadership School for Young Women. The film focuses on three of the girls as they go through their senior year of high school and try not only to win the state level step competition but also get into college. It's a fantastic film that honestly shows the struggles the girls and their families face, along with the great support provided by school staff and their step coach to help the girls to succeed.

Next I watched the documentary City Of Ghosts about the Syrian citizen journalists from the website Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently (R.B.S.S.) who documented the atrocities of ISIS' occupation of their city. Risking their lives to show the world what is happening in their homeland, this group of men fight against ISIS not with guns but by transmitting the truth and facts to counteract the ISIS propaganda machine. The men end up in exile in Turkey and Germany, but still work with informants inside Syria to get stories of the war and realities of life under ISIS out to the public. It's a difficult film to watch, but one that is really important for everyone to see.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Kimbra- Audio Electric

The Supersense Festival is on at the Arts Centre Melbourne this weekend, and tonight Kimbra performed at the Playhouse, doing her show Audio Electric for the first time in Australia. Kimbra came out onto the stage wearing a neon yellow dress that glowed under the lights along with some black lace up platform boots. Joined by musicians Spencer Zahn and Timon Martin, this unique audio-visual performance featured mainly new songs along with some amazing 3D computer animations projected onto the screen at the back of the stage. The new material was more electronic and beats focused, with Kimbra's voice sounding as strong as ever.

Kimbra was so excited to be back in Melbourne for the first time in years and was very appreciative of the love from the sold out crowd. Besides the new songs, we were also treated to reworked versions of older tracks throughout the hour long set with "Settle Down" and "Two Way Street" off the album Vows as well as The Golden Echo's "Love In High Places" and a beautiful rendition of "As You Are." To finish off the night she played the recent single "Sweet Relief." Despite some technical glitches at the start the show was an immersive experience and I look forward to the release of her new album.

Here's the video for "Sweet Relief"

Saturday, August 12, 2017

MIFF- Something Quite Peculiar, Westwind and Mountain

On Wednesday night I attended two more MIFF documentaries. The first was Something Quite Peculiar: The Life and Times of Steve Kilbey. The film focuses on Steve's 40+ years in the music industry, mainly as the lead singer of The Church. While the film covers the history of the band, it focuses more on the present day and doesn't use much archival footage. It also uses their greatest known song "Under The Milky Way" as a character throughout the film. It's an interesting device which I don't think quite works. Steve Kilbey himself is quite honest about his past and present and needing to continue to tour in The Church for money. One of the funniest lines in the film is when he admits that in the 1980s he autographed a bunch of albums as Neil Finn. After the screening we had a Q&A with both Director Mike Brook and Steve Kilbey. A few members of the audience voiced their concern that Steve was a bit harsh on the Gold Afternoon Fix album (which I really like), but Steve feels it was The Church paint-by numbers. It's not your typical documentary, but was still interesting to watch.

My second film on Wednesday night was the world premiere of the film Westwind: Djalu's Legacy. We had a Welcome to Country by Aunty Joy and short musical performance by some of the key people in the film before it started. Filmed over eight years it tells the story of Yolngu elder and master Yidaki (didgeridoo) player Djalu Gurruwiwi. As the keeper of his people's Songlines and culture, he is desperate to pass them on to his son Larry, who is not quite ready to take on the responsibility. As Djalu allows outsiders to come and learn about culture and the Yidaki from him, he develops an unlikely friendship with Wally De Backer (aka Gotye), who manages to help bridge the musical gap between Djalu and his son. The film culminates with their performance together at WOMADelaide. After the screening we got to hear from Producer Kate Pappas, Director Ben Strunin and Djalu and Larry Gurruwiwi in the Q&A session.

Today I got to see the breathtaking film Mountain, which was a collaborative project between Director Jennifer Peedom, Artistic Director of the Australian Chamber Orchestra Richard Tognetti, and author Robert Macfarlane. Exploring the increasing human fascination with mountains, footage was primarily sourced from that shot by Jennifer Peedom and cinematographer Renan Ozturk, along with other Go-Pro and drone material from high adventure athletes. The score by Tognetti includes original pieces as well as ones from classical composers, and the film is narrated by actor Willem Dafoe. Being able to see this film on a massive screen was fantastic, and some of the shots of people climbing up sheer wall faces or skiing down from the tops of mountains is nerve wracking. There was a Q&A after the screening with Director Jennifer Peedom where she described the process of putting this film together and collaborating with the others.
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