Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Oh Mercy- Jack Daniel's Barrel House

Currently located along the Crown Riverwalk is the pop-up Jack Daniel's Barrel House, which sort of looks like a barn/dive bar and has Australian music acts playing for free each night. It's not exactly the venue you'd expect to see Oh Mercy live, but Alex was scheduled to play tonight so Mary, David, Ebony and I headed down to check out his set.

Alex started solo on electric guitar with "Sandy" and "My Man." We got a bit of a shout out as he said it was good to see some familiar faces in the crowd. During his 45 minute set he was also joined by Grace on piano for some songs. We were treated to the new tracks "Hot Topic," "Restless Woman" and "Auto Bellissimo" off his upcoming album due out in February 2018 (Mary's hoping for a release on my birthday). Tracks off of his last album When We Talk About Love included "Iron Cross," "Can't You Hear My Body (Calling Out To You)" and "Lady Eucalyptus," which was when some guys in the crowd decided to scull their Jack Daniel's drinks to Alex's great amusement. It was a very hot day in Melbourne and the venue was really bringing that Southern feel as more and more moths started flying around the stage lights as the set progressed.

There was a lovely cover of Leonard Cohen's "One Of Us Cannot Be Wrong," and he finished the evening with the current single "National Park" (complete with the opening guitar riff of Guns N' Roses' "Sweet Child O' Mine" at the end). It was an amusing show and Alex joked he was living out his rock star fantasy by playing at the venue.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Eddie Rayner's ENZO: The Songs Of Split Enz

It's been over 20 years since those first ENZSO shows where the songs of Split Enz were played by the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra. Eddie Rayner returned tonight to Melbourne's Hamer Hall with ENZO: The Songs of Split Enz. This time there was a smaller 14-piece band including strings and brass, with Eddie on keyboards and piano, Michael Barker (ex-Split Enz and John Butler Trio) on drums and Brett Adams (longtime Tim Finn collaborator) on electric guitar. Performing each of the songs were guest vocalists Rima Te Wiata (Hunt For The Wilderpeople), Rikki Morris and Phil Madsen.

Eddie came out for the first half of the show in his Noel and Sally Crombie designed white suit. He started the evening with the instrumental track "Albert of India." Each of the vocalists took turns singing songs from across the back catalogue of Split Enz, ranging from the later Neil Finn tracks "The Devil You Know" and "I Walk Away" to the more theatrical early Enz songs such as "Stranger Than Fiction" and "Time For A Change."

After the intermission, Eddie emerged in his black House of Crombie suit. They kicked off with "Matinee Iydll (129)" and "Stuff and Nonsense," which Eddie said was buried on the Frenzy album because radio didn't play ballads in the 1970s. Rima Te Wiata added a lot of theatricality to her performances throughout the night. It was Phil Madsen though, who was my favorite vocalist due to his amazing voice and phenomenal versions of "I Hope I Never" and "Edible Flowers," which came out of the last Enz jam sessions in 1999 and was subsequently released on the Finn Brothers album Everyone Is Here. Some of the other highlights for me were hearing "Voices," "Give It A Whirl" and "Strait Old Line," complete with a fantastic spoon solo by Michael Barker.

For the encore all three vocalists performed the songs together. They began with the instrumental "Pioneer" which segued into "Six Months In A Leaky Boat," and then finished the evening with "My Mistake." Overall it was good to hear some different interpretations of Split Enz songs, although I did miss having the Finns singing them as it bordered on karaoke at some points throughout the night.

Melbourne Night Noodle Markets 2017

The Melbourne Night Noodle Markets are on again from 9-26 November at Birrarung Marr. Sally and I headed down there after work to try out a few different savoury and sweet stalls. Thankfully it was a decent evening weather wise and there were quite a few places to choose from across the three terrace areas.

For starters we checked out Dum & Dumpling with its booth in an old school bus. We shared the vegetable and shitake mushroom dumplings, which were in translucent wrappers and tasted great.

Next we went to one of my favorite lunch spots, Wonderbao. We got the 3 gua baos for $20 which contained the Roast Pork with pickled cucumber, spring onion and hoisin sauce; Korean Chicken with sweet 'n' spicy sauce, pickled daikon and roasted sesame; and Panko Eggplant with kimchi, lettuce, spring onion and chili lime mayo. Each of them tasted amazing.

After digesting a bit we headed to the Gelato Messina stand for a bit of dessert. They always do special creations each year just for the Night Noodle Markets. First we had the O-No-Giri which contained green tea gelato and pistachio mousse dipped in rice bubbles and white chocolate. Next we ate I Think I'm Turning Sesame which was made up of black sesame gelato, condensed milk coffee jelly, miso crunch, banana miso bread, and vanilla cream and coffee powder. Both of them were really good and had lots of different textures.

Finally we tried the Dancing Dragon dish from Waffleland, which was a fresh baked waffle drizzled with melted chocolate and dusted with icing sugar, along with some ice cream and strawberries. The waffle on the stick was a bit thin, which was disappointing.

Overall we did pretty well with the dishes we chose to eat. This year's Night Noodle Markets are cashless, so be sure you have your bank card with you so you can buy food.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Marlon Williams- Vampire Again Tour

Marlon Williams has spent a lot of this year touring around the world. Tonight was the first of his three sold out shows back in Melbourne at Howler to celebrate the single "Vampire Again" and showcase songs from his upcoming album. Opening the evening was Archer, who played a set of his country/folk songs both solo on acoustic guitar and accompanied by a guy on accordion. Archer was quite the character and has a deep singing voice.

Marlon Williams was joined by his band The Yarra Benders and the majority of the set featured songs off his new album Make Way For Love, which is due to be released in February 2018. The tracks demonstrated the diversification of his sound from his country and bluegrass roots. There were some beautiful ballads such as the new single "Nobody Gets What They Want Anymore" and "The Fire Of Love" alongside more rockier songs like "Party Boy" and "Vampire Again." The standout of the new tracks for me was "Arahura" as you could hear a pin drop in the venue during the song.

We got a couple of old favorites with "I'm Lost Without You" and "Dark Child," along with a cover of John Lennon's "Jealous Guy." Marlon's voice was beautiful throughout the night (especially with his falsetto) and there were some lovely harmonies with the band. For the encore Marlon played another new track "Love Is A Terrible Thing" on keys and then the band rejoined him on stage for a corker of a finale with their cover of Screamin’ Jay Hawkins’ "Portrait Of A Man." I can't wait for this new album to be released and to get to see Marlon play live again in Melbourne in May 2018.

Here's the hilarious video for "Vampire Again"

Saturday, November 04, 2017

The House Of Dior: Seventy Years Of Haute Couture

The latest fashion exhibition at the NGV is The House of Dior: Seventy Years of Haute Couture. It features over 140 garments that have been produced by Dior's seven different designers between 1947 to 2017 and tells the history of this formidable fashion house through the theming of designs to demonstrate the evolution of the House of Dior.

There are so many beautiful gowns that are a part of this exhibition. The layout of the rooms allows you to get close up views of most of the pieces so you can see the detailed construction techniques that have gone in to creating them. It was interesting to see the fashion shows that many of these garments featured in, although some of the John Galliano shows were really cringeworthy due to the cultural appropriation in some of those collections.

Here is a sample of some of my favorite pieces that were on display.

The House of Dior: Seventy Years of Haute Couture is on at the NGV until 7 November 2017.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Wild 2 Free Benefit

Wild2Free is an Australian animal sanctuary that rehabilitates native animals (mainly kangaroos). Last year shortly after opening a fire burned down the house on the property, so tonight's sold out benefit concert at The Croxton featuring Area-7 and The Living End was to help raise funds for Rae Harvey (longtime manager of The Living End) to rebuild.

I will admit that I completely missed the years when ska/punk band Area-7 were popular in Australia in the late-1990s and early-2000s. Danny and Ruth did give me a bit of a primer on their songs in the car ahead of the gig. They played an energetic set, managed to auction off a signed poster for $500, and finished things off with a cover of The Angels' "Am I Ever Gonna See Your Face Again?"

The Living End opened their set with "Save The Day," which was a bit of a hint that the set list was going to dive deep into their back catalogue for the hometown crowd. The first few releases featured throughout the set with "End Of The World," "Roll On," "Monday," "From Here On In" and "All Torn Down." They even played their eight minute opus "The Room" off Modern Artillery, which I think I've only heard live once before.

The whole show was a bit of a sing along throughout, although Chris thought the crowd's efforts on "White Noise" were a bit weak. The slower tracks "With Enemies Like That" and "Keep On Running" off their latest album Shift provided a bit of a breather, but the crowd surfing really kicked off towards the end of the set with "How Do We Know?" "Prisoner Of Society" and the encore tracks "Uncle Harry" and "Second Solution." It was great to see The Living End play in a smaller venue than normal and contribute to a benefit for such a good cause.

Here's the video for "Staring Down The Barrel"

Friday, October 27, 2017

C.W. Stoneking- Solo Tour

C.W. Stoneking is currently doing a solo tour around the country, and tonight was the second of his two sold out shows at Howler. Opening the evening was William Crighton, who also played a solo set of songs off his debut album, which features stories centered around Australian experiences.

C.W. Stoneking came out onto the stage not in his traditional white but wearing an indigo button down shirt, jeans and a brown wide-brimmed fedora. He sat down on a raised platform on the stage and began the evening with "How Long." The set featured many songs off his latest release Gon' Boogaloo, including "On A Desert Isle," "The Zombie" (where we were encouraged to sing along), "The Thing I Done" and "Get On The Floor." C.W.'s banter in between songs was quite entertaining and covered a wide range of topics such as asparagus, rubik's cubes and trying to sell the guitar he was playing. He also dealt quite well with a woman who shouted for him to take off his clothes, saying that he could undress himself as he was wearing his big boy pants.

One of the great things about this show was hearing some older tracks, especially those from his first album which don't get played live that often. Highlights were "Jungle Lullaby," "Talking Lion Blues," "Jailhouse Blues" and an audience request for "The Love Me Or Die" off of Jungle Blues, and the King Hokum tracks "Dodo Blues," "Goin The Country," "Way Out In The World" and "Handyman Blues." We also got treated to a cover of William Brown's "Ragged And Dirty." To finish the night he played "We Gon' Boogaloo," which sent everyone out on a high note. It's always wonderful to get to see C.W. live, especially in a more intimate setting.

Here's C.W. doing a live version of "On A Desert Isle"

Saturday, October 07, 2017


Katsushika Hokusai is one of the best known Japanese artists from the Edo period with his renowned woodblock prints and paintings. The Hokusai exhibition currently on at the NGV International brings together 176 works from across his seventy-year career, including works from seven of his major series. The level of detail and use of color in these pieces was quite beautiful and intricate.

There were many pieces from Hokusai's best known series Thirty-six Views of Mt Fuji from 1830-1834 on display, which depicted Mt Fuji in scenes from different locations and seasons. Included in the exhibition is his most famous piece from this series The great wave off Kanagawa.

Another beautiful series was A Tour to the Waterfalls in Various Provinces from 1832, which was the first series on the theme of waterfalls published in Japan.

The series Remarkable Views of Bridges in Various Provinces from 1834 gives you a sense of the movement of people either going about their everyday activities or travelling across the countryside.

I also really liked his prints of birds and flowers due to the color and beauty of the pieces.

The Hokusai exhibition has been extended and is on until 22 October 2017 at the NGV International.
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