Sunday, October 23, 2016

Rone- Empty

Throughout Melbourne there are many historic old buildings that are being torn down by developers and replaced with new apartments. In his first solo show in two years, Melbourne street artist Rone utilised the inside of the soon to be demolished Star Lyric Theatre in Fitzroy to stage his latest exhibition Empty.

The show, which ran for 10 days and finished today, contained his works of female portraits done on paper and canvas, as well as photos of ones he had painted in abandoned buildings that few would have seen in person.

The highlight of the exhibition though was his large scale portrait painted on the back wall of the theater, which ended up incorporating some of an original mural from the 1920s that he uncovered while painting.

The exhibition also contained a short video about Rone and Empty, a virtual reality station, and a secret window where you could look through to see another large scale portrait in a dark room lit by fairy lights. It's always a privilege to get to see these works up close, and also to have Rone roaming around the exhibition and chatting with people this afternoon.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Morrissey- Festival Hall

The last time I saw Morrissey live was in Berkeley in 1991 on his Kill Uncle tour, so it's been a very long wait between gigs for me. I was overseas when Morrissey was last in Melbourne a couple years ago, but thankfully he returned tonight for a sold out show at Festival Hall.

The evening began not with an opening act but a montage of music videos from his favorite artists. Then after the screen at the front of the stage dropped, Morrissey and his band emerged, bowed to each other and took their positions. They started the set with "Suedehead," his first big solo hit. Morrissey's 2014 album World Peace Is None Of Your Business featured throughout the night as they played the tracks "Kiss Me A Lot," "Istanbul," "World Peace Is None Of Your Business" and "The Bullfighter Dies." Other highlights included "I'm Throwing My Arms Around Paris," "The World Is Full Of Crashing Bores," "I Will See You In Far Off Places," "All You Need Is Me" and "You Have Killed Me." It was also amazing to hear some older songs that I wasn't expecting them to play such as"Alma Matter," "Everyday Is Like Sunday," "Ouija Board, Ouija Board," "You're The One For Me, Fatty" and The Smiths track "How Soon Is Now?"

Morrissey's voice sounded fantastic and he did his microphone cord flicks and worked the stage. When he reached out to fans in the front row, two of his crew members would come out onto the stage ready to grab him in case he got dragged into the crowd (it was quite funny). The visuals throughout the concert were great as they utilised photos and videos on the backdrop to better illustrate the songs, none to more effect than videos of the treatment of animals in abattoirs for The Smiths track "Meat Is Murder," which closed the main set.

For the encore Morrissey came back out in a red version of the shirt he had been wearing earlier and they finished the evening with The Smiths song "What She Said." Morrissey then ripped off his shirt, threw it into the crowd and departed the stage. For a man in his late 50s he's still in pretty good shape. Although the show was only a bit over an hour and a half long it was fantastic to be able to see Morrissey play live again with such a powerful performance.

Here's the video for one of my favorite tracks, "I'm Throwing My Arms Around Paris"

Wednesday, October 05, 2016

Big Scary- Animal Tour

Melbourne duo Big Scary continue to build on their success, with their latest album Animal debuting at number five on the ARIA charts. Tonight was the second of their three Melbourne shows this week at 170 Russell. The opening act was Dreller (aka Thomas Rawle), who played an emotive set of music accompanied by just a drummer.

It was an expanded live version of Big Scary that took the stage, starting the evening with "Oxygen." Their set prominently featured tracks from Animal, and for such an intricate and complex album they did an amazing job playing the songs live. Highlights included the more energetic tracks "The Endless Story" and "Up & Up & Up" alongside the more introspective "The Opposite of Us" and "Over Matter." They also played a few older tracks with "Luck Now" and "Belgian Blues" off of Not Art. For the encore Tom and Jo came out and did "Falling Away" before the rest of the live band joined them for "Twin Rivers" to close out the night. It's great to see Big Scary's popularity grow as they continue to challenge their fans musically with each new release.

Here's the video for "Over Matter"

Friday, September 30, 2016

Oh Mercy- Rolling Stone Live Lodge

Celebrating Grand Final Eve and Alex Gow's 29th birthday, Oh Mercy and friends played at The Workers Club tonight as part of the Rolling Stone Live Lodge series. The opening act for the evening was Melbourne four piece RVG. Frontwoman Romy Vager was quite a captivating presence, and their sound was reminiscent of early 1980s post-punk. It was a really good and authentic set.

Alex kicked off the evening on keyboard playing "Lady Eucalyptus." The first part of the set featured Alex solo on keyboard and guitar with the occasional friend invited to join him on stage for songs. We got to hear old favorites "Lay Everything On Me" and "Keith St.," and Olympia came out to play on the When We Talk About Love tracks "Let Me Be Him" and "Iron Cross." Alex did a beautiful version of Ed Kuepper's "This Hideous Place" on acoustic guitar. When Jae Laffer of The Panics came out he changed things up by playing Alex a song - The Panics' new single "Weatherman."

Being Alex's birthday he was a bit introspective about life and death, and joked that he felt this gig with his friends was like a funeral scene out of an episode of Touched By An Angel (perhaps the first time that tv show has ever been referenced at a concert). This show provided Alex with the opportunity to debut some of the new songs he's been working on. They covered a range of themes from Japanese saunas to crocodile meat, and the stand out track for me was "Hot Topic" with its steady groove.

The second part of the set featured the one night only Oh Mercy "hot rock band" line up containing Laura Jean on bass, Rob McComb (The Triffids) on guitar, Ceci Dowling on viola, Liam McGorry (Saskwatch) on horns, and Etta Curry (Loose Tooth) on drums. The band sounded fantastic as they played "My Man" (perhaps the best live version of that song I've heard with Liam's flugelhorn), "Without You" and "Deep Heat." The evening concluded with the band and Jae Laffer doing a cover of Bob Dylan's "Highway 61 Revisited." It was an entertaining night with some very talented musicians. Alex says there should be a new Oh Mercy album next year, so that is definitely something to look forward to.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Sans Parents- The Dead End EP Tour

To celebrate the release of their debut EP The Dead End, Brisbane/Sydney band Sans Parents (well half of the band) came down to play their first ever Melbourne show at The Retreat Hotel front bar in Brunswick tonight. Due to me watching the AFL footy finals (Go Doggies!) I only managed to catch the last song of opening act Louis Spoils' set.

Mary and David joined me before Sans Parents began to play. The half of the band that made the trip down were lead vocalists Alex Bennison on electric guitar and Kane Mazlin (ex-Hungry Kids of Hungary) on keyboards. They joked that the other two band members were actually their parents and they had no idea where they were. The guys played songs off their EP as well as a few other tracks. I enjoyed the power pop of "Can't Stop Moving," "Maybe The World's Trying To Tell Me Something.." and "Dead End." In a week where Mary and I have been battling for pre-sale tickets to the upcoming Sydney Opera House encore shows, it was nice to hear a cover of Crowded House's "It's Only Natural." The show was fun and informal, and Alex switched out guitars to play one he just bought for the last song of the night, "Loose People." It was great to get the opportunity to see Sans Parents live for the first time, and I look forward to them coming back with the full band next time.

Here's the video for "Dead End"

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Degas- A New Vision

NGVThe NGV's Melbourne Winter Masterpieces focused on French artist Edgar Degas this year. The exhibition Degas: A New Vision features more than 200 of his works, including paintings, drawings and sculptures. While he was associated with French Impressionism, Degas preferred to refer to himself as a Realist.

Most of Degas' work focused on everyday people and portrayed the reality of what was happening behind the scenes and out of the spotlight. He immersed himself in different worlds and repeatedly returned to similar themes throughout his career such as dancing, horse racing and female nudes. His works ranged from detailed oil paintings to more abstract and unfinished looking pastel drawings.




Degas is probably best known for his paintings and pastels of ballerinas, and they featured prominently throughout the exhibition. His focus was often on rehearsals and the backstage world of the supporting dancers.



The exhibition also gives a really good history of both Degas' career and the historical times he was working and living in. Degas had issues with his eyesight, which got worse as he aged. I also had no idea he was anti-Semitic, which was brought to the fore through the Dreyfus affair in the late 1890s and early 1900s and resulted in him becoming alienated from many of his friends. Degas: A New Vision runs for one more week at the NGV and closes on 18 September 2016.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Slow Dancer- Some Velvet Morning

It's been a couple of years since Slow Dancer (aka Simon Okely) released his debut album, so it was exciting to see the announcement for a last minute semi-secret show occurring tonight at Some Velvet Morning in Clifton Hill. This was my first time at the venue, which was a small, intimate space the size of a living room.

DXHeaven (aka Nicholas Lam) opened the evening by playing solo on piano and then electric guitar for his last two songs. It was a lovely set of stripped back music where Nicholas' soulful voice shined through.

A clean shaven Slow Dancer then took to the stage, joined by Nicholas Lam on bass and Robert Bassey on drums. The set list was a mix of old and new songs as Simon tested out some of the tracks he has been working on for his next release. The new material sounded great and continues the chill Slow Dancer vibe and excellent guitar work we've all come to know and love. It was good to hear some old favorites played such as "Took The Floor Out," "Leave It To Me" and "Cornerstone." We also got treated to the new single "Don't Believe" where Simon invited old Oh Mercy bandmates Eliza Lam and Annabel Griggs up to sing backing vocals. It was such a nice opportunity to get a glimpse of these new songs, which I hope see the light of day sooner rather than later.
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