Category Archives: reviews

deerhunter @ the hifi 10.12.2013

As a band whose music is known to be characterised by melancholic themes and introverted lyrics, they carry themselves with much confidence on stage. Perhaps it was because tonight would be the last headline show of the tour, but Cox was in an uncharacteristically talkative mood, abruptly shifting from random nonsensical observations to even more incoherent monologues with the audience, at a point even leaving a voice message for his family back in Atlanta as the band watched on, waiting for their cue to start playing again.

Their live set varied dramatically from rock jams to delicate harmonies. Their bass notes would reverberate with such intensity, aided by the tightness of the Hifi, which ensured the sound didn’t drift away – Cox at a point even joking about amplifiers not being loud enough in Australia, insisting there wasn’t a ’12’ switch. Their 15-song set spanned their entire discography to this year’s Monomania, which more than sufficiently lived up to the expectations following their 2010 opus, Halcyon Digest. Whilst a change in direction, these s0ngs translated well in a live setting with Sleepwalking, Back to the Middle and the title track, being well received by the audience. But even above the infectious music, it is the uninhibited enigma which is Bradford Cox which makes watching Deerhunter perform such a memorable experience.

Setlist:
Earthquake
Neon Junkyard
Don’t Cry
Revival
Desire Lines
T.H.M.
Rainwater Cassette Exchange
Nothing Ever Happened
Hazel St
Sleepwalking
Back to the Middle
Monomania

Encore:
Cover Me
Agoraphobia
Helicopter

IMG_6316 IMG_6339 IMG_6356

Tagged , , , , , ,

a perfect circle @ soundwave festival, sydney olympic park 24.02.2013

In what I felt was an arguably different vein from the rest of the bill, A Perfect Circle was probably the reason I went to Soundwave festival.

Most of the crowd at the front of the pit appeared to be staking out for a good spot to see Metallica a couple of hours later and seemed disappointed that their music was less mosh-able, in relative terms compared to Stone Sour who was last on this stage. 

Perhaps it was the crowd not being used to having the lead singer stand towards the back of the stage, almost removing any engagement with the audience. But having seen Maynard perform before, I knew what to expect, and seeing A Perfect Circle for the first time, I couldn’t care less. They were musically sound, and held their own as a headline act in the massive ANZ stadium despite a less than enthusiastic audience.

Setlist:
Annihilation
Imagine
Weak and Powerless
The Hollow
Passive
Rose
Counting Bodies Like Sheep to the Rhythm of the War Drums
By and Down
The Package
The Noose
When the Levee Breaks
The Outsider

q

Tagged , , , ,

crystal castles @ the hi-fi 17.01.2013

Tonight being the third time I was seeing Crystal Castles, I had a much better idea of what to expect from their live performance. And being the first time I was seeing them in an indoor venue like The Hi-Fi where the sound didn’t just dissipate into the atmosphere, it was perfect. From watching Alice Glass, the mysterious lead singer innately diving into the crowd more than a few times, to the convulsing sequence of lights, the experience was visceral. For me, it was difficult to pin down a specific highlight, as the energy sustained for the entirety of their 90 minute set with praise for their live drummer. Ethan Kath looked in his element as he head banged whilst operating various keyboards and synths. Wrath of God from the latest album, and Doe Deer were intense – but even more surprising was how engaging songs like Telepath, Reckless, and especially Intimate during the encore were. The 1500 or so people present had been caught in a trance by two elusive figures whom which most people don’t even know their real names, for an inexplicable mindfucking (for lack of a better word).

Setlist:

Plague
Baptism
Suffocation
Wrath of God
Doe Deer
Crimewave
Telepath
Alice Practice
Reckless
Celestica
Empathy
Vanished (Remix)
Black Panther
Not in Love

Encore:
Sad Eyes
Intimate
Yes No

Image

Image

Image

Tagged , , , , , , ,

Coldplay @ Sydney Football Stadium 18.11.2012

Sure it’s true that for some people, it has gotten to the stage where it’s cool to hate Coldplay on account of their shameless attempt to be the biggest rock band in the world – but who cares especially if they produce songs that can be universally appreciated by the masses. As was the turnout, completely packing Sydney Football stadium, from the very young to the elderly, and Coldplay were exactly where they were meant to be.

Shortly after the lights went down, the show began, as fireworks erupted from the stage, the oval was showered with confetti, and the stadium lit up with each audience member’s wristbands, flashing in sync. It was difficult not to get caught up in the lights and sound that was Coldplay, as they played one of their singles from  Mylo Xyloto, Hurts Like Heaven. And if this wasn’t enough, they then unleashed the elaborately decorated giant balloons, and lasers during Major Minus.  The energy was high throughout the entire evening – the band were clearly enjoying themselves. It was hard to tell whether the audience or the band were happier to be there.  their songs brought infectious smiles towards the audience, especially The Scientist and Yellow. A more rock-oriented version of God Put a Smile Upon Your Face was played, which worked very well. There was a good mix of newer and older material, including Warning Sign also from A Rush of Blood to the Head, a nice contrast to how much the band’s sound has changed since their early days. The audience couldn’t wait to join in at every possible opportunity,  singing along with Chris Martin to Viva la Vida, and Paradise with not a care in the world.

The encore was played on a smaller stage in the midst of the standing audience as everyone on the floor scrambled to get a good view. Us Against the World and stripped down version Speed of Sound were both played beautifully. Returning to the stage, they played Clocks, a heartfelt Fix You, and finished off with the more upbeat Every Teardrop is a Waterfall, which was accompanied by a final display of pyrotechnics for the trip home, and a night well spent watching (and joining in with) a quartet of true performers.

Setlist:
Mylo Xyloto
Hurts Like Heaven
In My Place
Major Minus
Lovers In Japan
The Scientist
Yellow
Violet Hill
God Put a Smile Upon Your Face
Princess of China
Up In Flames
Warning Sign
Viva La Vida
Charlie Brown
Paradise

Encore:
Us Against The World
Speed of Sound

Encore:
Clocks
Fix You
Every Teardrop is a Waterfall

Tagged , , , , ,

Radiohead @ Sydney Entertainment Centre 12.11.2012

It wasn’t until Thom, Jonny, Ed, Colin and Phil finally took to the stage that the fact that I was seeing Radiohead live truly sunk in. They looked comfortable, as they launched into Bloom, the opener from their latest album The King of Limbs. The stage featured twelve LED panels which were repositioned in between songs, to great effect, in addition to the hypnotic visualisations accompanying the music.

Most of their songs were adapted for a more rock-orientated sound from their original recordings, with the help of a second drum kit. Songs like The Gloaming and Myxomytosis sounded drastically different to their album incarnations, retained their original punch.

Sydney was also lucky enough to hear a couple of new songs throughout the night – Staircase and Fullstop which sounded like a continuation of their sound in more recent albums but was well definitely well received by the crowd. It seemed as though each song received a lengthy applause, just in show of appreciation towards the band for making their way over to Australia again.

Radiohead played a string of songs from In Rainbows, including Videotape, Nude, and Lotus Flower, which was probably the first song played so far, which remotely resembled a ‘hit’. The impression that they were much happier playing newer material was immediately dispelled when distinctly familiar intro to Planet Telex was played.

This was followed by Feral which was a surprise highlight for me; especially hearing the vocal utterances live, layered throughout the song, not to mention the build up of bass towards the end of the piece.

After a hugely animated rendition of Bodysnatchers, they came back for the first of three encores, starting with the quieter and more subdued Give up the Ghost with just Thom and Jonny on stage. The band then re-entered as Jonny Greenwood took to the lead, bowing his electric guitar in a haunting performance of Pyramid Song, one of my favourites off Amnesiac. This was in stark contrast to Paranoid Android, which the crowd sang along to almost religiously.

The second encore featured 15 Step, then an epic, drawn out version of Everything In Its Right Place, with the repeating keyboard pattern building up as the band members left one by one, then came back for the final time to play Idioteque, finishing off an unforgettable show that was many years in the making for alot of people.

Setlist:

Bloom
Lucky
Morning Mr Magpie
Weird Fishes/Arpeggi
Myxomatosis
The Gloaming
Separator
Staircase
Videotape
Nude
Full Stop
Lotus Flower
There There
Planet Telex
Feral
Bodysnatchers

Encore:
Give Up the Ghost
Pyramid Song
These Are My Twisted Words
Reckoner
Paranoid Android

Encore:
15 Step
Everything In Its Right Place

Encore:
Idioteque

Tagged , , , , , ,

laura marling 09.02.12

After seeing her at Laneway over the weekend, I simply couldn’t pass off another opportunity to watch Laura Marling play, especially at the Opera House. She played two entire sets, with the first half being her latest album, A Creature I Don’t Know in its entirety. Backed by a band made up of drums, double-bass, banjo, a cello and keyboards noticeably different from the more folk-oriented album, they reflected the strength of Laura’s more developed, and flawless vocals from the heartfelt I Was Just a Card (which Laura mentioned was actually written whilst in Australia during her last tour), to a fierce version of The Beast. Sophia was met with the loudest applause, as well as the more upbeat All My Rage.

Following a short interval, Laura and her band were back again to play what were clearly crowd favourites including Ghosts and My Manic and I. She and the band were clearly enjoying themselves, Laura treating everyone to some very amusing banter including interesting facts shared throughout the evening, for instance: that the inspiration for the song Alas I Cannot Swim came from an Iranian poem, or that the Queen is a frequent drinker of alcohol and also possesses a driving licence. When the band were introduced, the crowd was lucky enough to be further entertained by several doses of British humour. Sound wise, the acoustics in the Opera House emphasised the dynamics, especially noticeable during one of the highlights, Alpha Shallows. Laura also debuted an epic Andalucian-styled song for ‘pure self indulgence’ and purposes of ‘living life on the edge’ which was a real pleasure to hear.

For those who’ve not seen Laura Marling before, she explained that they didn’t do encores, as they think it should be something spontaneous (as do I), finishing off with the title track from the second album, I Speak Because I Can, and modestly and humbly left the stage to a standing ovation from a full house at the Opera House.

Setlist
The Muse
I Was Just a Card
Don’t Ask Me Why
Salinas
The Beast
Night After Night
My Friends
Rest in the Bed
Sophia
All My Rage 

INTERVAL

Ghosts
My Manic and I
Alas I Cannot Swim
New Song (unknown title)
Goodbye England (Covered in Snow)
What He Wrote
Rambling Man
Alpha Shallows
Made by Maid
I Speak Because I Can

Tagged , , , ,

Muse – The 2nd Law

Muse have been, and will always be one of my favourite bands. Their appeal lies within a number of things, lead singer Matt Bellamy’s vocals, which work so well with the electric guitars, their outer space-related themes (I’ve always been a bit of a physics-nerd), or just simply their worthy of mention guitar riffs that set them aside from other British Rock bands. As of late, they’ve thrown most, if not all of this, out the door, especially with the release of their later albums, The Resistance and more recently, The Second Law. They’ve begun to tackle more ambitious themes of political domination, war and revolution, contrasting their more introspective earlier work.

The title of the album is based on The Second Law of Thermodynamics, which is referenced in the two part climax and alludes to destruction and disorder, exactly what the album is centred around. It is a wild pastiche, with echoes of Queen, especially in their hit, Madness, David Bowie and more contemporary dub-step electronica throughout. Their fan following (which has never been modest), has grown exponentially, following the success of the Twilight franchise, and now the Olympics, with the song Survival. Arguably, it is this same massive fan base which can be deemed responsible for the band’s ambitious attempt to encapsulate too many of their exorbitant ideas in one go.  Save Me and Liquid State are a pleasant surprise with bassistChris Worstenholme stepping up to the microphone, but further more add to the lack of orientation in the album. An overall disappointing effort, despite its promising construction, in practice, it lacks coherence.

Tagged , , ,

rufus wainwright @ hammer hall 15.09.2012

On his fourth visit in six years, Rufus Wainwright was certainly no stranger to Australia as he played the first of two nights at packed Hammer Hall on Saturday night. Supporting his latest album, Out of the Game, he started off with Candles sung a capella in the dark. He was very much at ease, singing effortlessly, his voice reverberating through the silent hall.  If anything, his voice was more refined than last tour for All Days Are Night, much like a good wine. The stage then lit up with elaborate lighting Dressed in a white suit adorned with sequins, his every movement created a reflection like a mirror ball, launching into Rashida. The band complemented very well, with two back up singers, guitars, keyboards, and drums, the setlist well chosen to reflect this. A number of crowd pleasing favourites, or as Rufus said, ‘greatest hits, volume half’ were played, including Cigarettes and Chocolate Milk, and The Art Teacher.

One of the night’s many highlights was the middle of the set, starring Wainwright’s backing musicians, Teddy Thompson and Krystle Warren, who each covered one of the late Kate McGarrigle’s songs, doing a fine job. They also joined Rufus in a touching cover of One Man Guy, one of his father’s songs. In contrast, Montauk was a more personal song from the present, followed by 14th Street to round off the evening. 

This wasn’t my first Rufus Wainwright show. I recall in 2008, when the encore was a sing and dance rendition of Judy Garland’s Get Happy. But I had no idea that it would be so elaborate. It all started off with the entrance of cupid, and in no particular order, followed with: mythological figures, Rufus as a Roman God, members of the audience joining him on stage, to Bitter Tears, as well as the entire three sections of Hammer Hall dancing, a rebirth, then Gay Messiah, for a really memorable evening.

Setlist:
Candles
Rashida
Barbara
April Fools
The One You Love
Cigarettes & Chocolate Milk
Teddy’s Song
Kystle’s Song
Respectable
Out of the Game
Jericho
Perfect Man
The Man that Got Away
One Man Guy
Art Teacher
Going to a Town
Montauk
14th Street

Grand Finale:
Bitter Tears / Gay Messiah

Tagged , , , , , , ,

patrick wolf @ sydney opera house 08-09.09.2012

Patrick Wolf has always been an artist that will keep reinventing themselves. With every album and every tour, he brings in a different side of himself. And with this year’s Sundark and Riverlight  tour, were acoustic re-recordings of songs in celebration of the release of his first album Lycanthropy. On board was a grand piano, a harp, and the signature assortment of ukeleles and violins, as well as an accompanying violinst and clarinettist.

Perhaps fitting with the venue, the studio of the Sydney Opera House, he produced a much more subdued performance compared to his two previous in Australia. Stripped away of the production evident in the albums, Patrick and his violinist worked beautifully, jamming off each other, re-incarnating his entire back catalogue. He played many old favourites, including Bluebells, which he described as the song which reminded him of Autumn in London. However, it felt as though the arrangements were a little hit and miss. Songs like Oblivion were more fierce than before stripped down, whereas Paris lacked its original fire on record, arranged for the piano.

It was also the debut for Trust from Lupercalia, which according to Patrick, had never been played before in its entirety. It was played poignantly, with Patrick’s fingers gliding across the harp in arpeggio motion.

Penzance was a real surprise, as a b-side from 2005’s Wind in the Wires. Especially as I had requested it earlier on Twitter. The arrangement also consisted of the deploying of a musical saw which was used to great effect. The audience were clearly happy to see him, made up of many fans who had been there during the last tours. He finished off by reciprocating the sentiment, joking at the lack of a band to jam off during The City, giving the audience a laugh as he feigned a mock self-destruction, before thanking everyone and bowing off till next time.

Setlist:
London
Teignmouth
Tristan
Paris
Bluebells
Oblivion
Hard Times
Together
Wind in the Wires
House
The Magic Position
Trust

Encore:
Penzance
The City

Tagged , , , ,

zoë keating at clarendon guesthouse, katoomba 01.06.2012

The precise level of downpour, gentle yet steady with the odd trickling of water over the hilly town was an unexpectedly perfect backdrop for Zoë Keating’s performance at the Clarendon House. Katoomba, especially is probably one of the places in Sydney most closely resembling a forest, fitting with the sound of her latest album, Into the Trees. With a simple stage setup – two launch pads hooked up to her laptop, and a cello, the sound produced, a steady flow, filling the room. Zoë Keating made playing the cello seem effortless as her  every bow stroke was amplified crisply throughout the room. As an audience member, I was purely transfixed by her fingerwork, skating across the cello’s fingerboard, all the while operating the loops at the correct time. It was a breath of fresh air to hear the cello being used in a contemporary setting, and not subject to classical music confines.

Zoë Keating used a range of techniques, showing the versatility of the cello is, plucking and percussively tapping with the back of the bow in Tetrishead, a song about fitting together musical ideas. This did not detract from the flow, the audience mesmerised by her subtle swaying movements with her cello, an extension of her instrument. The basslines were hauntingly beautiful, especially layered together then harmonised. Exurgency (from the early EP, One Cello x 16) was a song that demonstrated the complexity of setting up her music live. Zoë explained how  she was only able to play it as a result of significant improvements in RAM, trading in loops for the laptop.  It was great to hear several songs, including The Path played very differently to the record, incessantly transforming over time, with the use of the cello’s bridge to produce rhythm, Zoë joking (probably not) that tonight’s was The Path version  4.3. She rounded up the evening with a more upbeat song, Optimist, which was written after becoming a parent.

Alot of people were at the venue for some Friday night entertainment, but by the end of it, it was unmistakable that the crowd appreciated Zoë Keating’s talent, and watching her playing an instrument she truly has a passion for.

Setlist
Escape Artist
Seven League Boots
Sun Will Set
Tetrishead
Frozen Angels
Exurgency
Fern
The Path
Lost
Optimist

Tagged , , , , , ,