Tag Archives: live

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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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bryce dessner, nico muhly & sufjan stevens at the opera house 28.05.2012

Originally billed as a collaboration between three musicians but with no further information until fairly close to the performance itself, this classical pop concert was probably what most who turned up tonight at the Sydney Opera House would have expected. This is coming from three musicians that would most likely be near the top of a compiled list of pop musicians with classical music composition skills, fairly different from four minute structured verse-chorus-verse-type songs.  (Although we are speaking of Sufjan Stevens here, so perhaps this is an exception).

As a huge fan of Sufjan Stevens and The National’s entire back catalogue, as well as many of the projects that Nico Muhly has been involved with (Antony and the Johnsons, Phillip Glass, Jonsi, Grizzly Bear), I was already predisposed to enjoy this mash-up of musical talent. The first part, a recital by the Orava String Quartet of Sydney, who were very young and visibly nervous (it was probably one of their first performances for an audience the size of the Opera House), unfortunately was not always coherent. Diacritical Marks, by Nico Muhly, clearly alluded a certain contemporary music pioneer, Steve Reich, in its variations on a theme, and rhythms, building and exploring the range and depths of sound. Needless to say, the dynamics were well emphasised by the string quartet, who were clearly on top of their game, at points the force of their playing severing the bow horsehairs mid-song. Sufjan Stevens’ part was an arrangement of three songs off Run Rabbit Run, which proved to be slightly more structured as a conventional pop piece by Sufjan Stevens’ standards. This was then followed by Bryce Dessner’s Aheym which was a more rough composition, and as described by Dessner, “metal arranged for string quartet”.

Following a short interval, the three musicians were ready to play Planetarium, with a backing ensemble comprised of 7 trombonists, the Orava String Quartet, as well as a drummer. This resembled, much more closely, what a pop collaboration between the three would sound like. With Bryce on his guitar, Nico at the keys, and Sufjan providing vocals, the audience was transported on a journey through space. A massive orb hanging from the centre of the stage had moving images projected into it, emulating the planets from the songs. Nico Muhly,  was the most talkative on stage, at a point, joking that the most controversial part of the show, was performing Pluto, which was demoted to a stellar body.

The use of the vocoder could have been considered slightly excessive, despite keeping with the ‘space’ theme. I think he may have gotten carried away with it, after using it in the recording Age of Adz. The evening was filled with music that had the depth of Sufjan’s career, from the quieter and fragile Venus, written about love, (obviously!) to seven minute epics, including the fierce Mars, Saturn, and Earth, with Nico Muhly’s faultless work on the keyboards and the celeste, also multi-tasking with conducting hand gestures in the corner of my eye providing a signal that the band was building up.  Dessner’s solo guitar work complimented the pieces well, bowing the guitar in Earth to great effect. As a whole, their performance came across as delicate and poignant in their interpretation of the planets. (even if some of them were no longer planets – as long as it makes for good music.)

PART 1 – STRING QUARTETS Performed by the Orava String Quartet

By Nico Muhly Diacritical Marks   (in eight movements)

By Sufjan Stevens Run Rabbit Run
i. Year of the Boar
ii. Year of the Horse
iii. Year of Our Lord

By Bryce Dessner:  Aheym

INTERVAL

PART 2 – PLANETARIUM Composed and performed by Bryce Dessner, Nico Muhly & Sufjan Stevens
“Planetarium”

Neptune (instrumental)
Jupiter
Venus
Uranus
Mars
The Sun
Pluto
The Moon
Saturn
Earth
Mercury

Encore:
Neptune

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my brightest diamond @ sydney opera house 27.05.2012

Following her success with Australian audiences at the 2010 edition of Vivid, Shara Worden took to the stage with her long-time drummer, backed by what was billed as a string ensemble, but in fact, was a mini-orchestra, with woodwind and the all-important brass trumpets, bringing to life, her latest album All Things Will Unwind. 

Dressed in a costume consistent with the theme of the album, and slightly reminiscent of a children’s tv show presenter (not that there’s anything wrong with that, of course), complete with coloured wool balls (see below), she emerged with a large bunch of orange helium filled balloons, breaking into the opening song off her latest We Added It Up. The ensemble did a great job backing Shara’s heavenly voice, especially the brass and woodwind. The heartfelt Escape Routes, Shara explained, was written the last time she was on tour was inspired by a conversation she had with Laurie Anderson. The assistance of certain props, including a bob-the-builder-esque hard hat (filled with ‘snow’), a porcelain mask which was used for the transformation to Be Brave, and numerous loose balloons helped sustain the audience’s imagination as she performed songs from her latest album. She was clearly enjoying herself, jiggling around in between songs, and playfully exchanging words with the musicians on stage. At a point, she even attempted an Australian accent, which was quite amusing because it was more than likely that no one in the audience would speak with such a twang. 

Everything Is In Line was definitely one of the highlights from the new album, which segued smoothly into Apples. Picking up her electric guitar, old favourites, Workhorse, Dragonfly and Inside a Boy were met with applause and recognition by the audience, as was the My Brightest Diamond version of Tainted Love. Following a short break, the night was concluded with an encore of  I Have Never Loved Someone, completing a short but sweet evening.

Setlist:

We Added It Up
Reaching Out to the Other Side
Escape Routes
Be Brave
She Does Not Brave the War
Everything Is in Line
Apples
High Low Middle
Workhorse
Dragonfly
Inside a Boy
Tainted Love

Encore:
I Have Never Loved Someone

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a celebration of steve reich at opera house 29.04.2012

Steve Reich’s brilliance was displayed in a three part extravaganza, in celebration of his work, proving as a reminder of how he is one of the most highly regarded contemporary musicians. Clapping Music was performed by none other than Steve Reich himself and a member of the Synergy Percussion. This was perfomed by one performer playing the rhythm pattern, and the other shifting the pattern by an eighth over time. Drumming, was organic in the sense that the primality of the beating of drums was used in highlighting what could’ve been the sound of raindrops making contact with the surface of leaf. The loudness varied in the pattern of a sine wave, fluctuating up and down, as the percussive sounds produced a rhythm. This was in contrast with the melodic variations for vibes strings pianos with the harmonic rhythms and repetitions creating almost a trance-inducing state to the listener.

Then came part two. Eighth Blackbird, the group consisting of a multi-wind-instrumentalist, violins, piano, and vibraphone, produced a mesmerising sound in Four Organs, reverberating across the Opera House. This was followed by a splendid solo performance by the wind-instrumentalist, who layered phrase upon phrase, alternating from the flute to the piccolo, and more impressively, played from memory. It was concluded rendition of Double Sextet that sent shivers down this listener’s spine. This piece was driven by the pianos and vibraphones, with Eighth Blackbird playing against a recording of themselves in their production of harmonies.

The evening was then completed with a performance of Music for 18 Musicians, consisting of 4 voices, a cello, violin, two clarinets, four pianos, xylophones, three marimbas, two xylophones and a vibraphone (unplugged), which steadily built up in sound over the entire venue. The harmonies and melodies interacted, almost as if in conversation, and were accentuated by the prominent sound of breath, creating pulses which were prominent throughout the entire evening. On conclusion of the hour-long piece, Steve Reich himself made a final appearance, graciously accepting the standing ovation, and greeting each musician on stage as the audience looked on in amazement at what they had just experienced.

PART 1: SYNERGY PERCUSSION 6.00pm – 7.00pm
1. Mallet Quartet – 14’
2. Drumming Part 1 – 14’
3. Variations for Vibes Strings Pianos – 25’ (Australian Premiere)

INTERVAL (20 mins)

PART 2: EIGHTH BLACKBIRD 7.20pm – 8.15pm
1. Four Organs – 20’
2. Vermont Counterpoint – 10’
3. Double Sextet – 22’

INTERVAL (20 mins)

PART 3: MUSIC FOR 18 MUSICIANS 8.40pm – 9.40pm
1. Music for 18 Musicians – 60’

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st vincent at factory theatre 12.03.12

Oscar + Martin were greatly improved since supporting Metronomy earlier in the year at Manning Bar.  Their blend of vocals, backed by beats worked, but not always, falling out of time at certain points, but still created enjoyable music as the openers.

Prancing on stage in high heels and short leather shorts, you can tell that St Vincent is a rock star. With the two backing keyboards/synths overlayed with Annie Clark’s precise guitaring, they channelled a hyper-real and at times quirky reality. Her range was demonstrated by pure loudness with a song resembling a garage rock number, Krokodil  where she thrashed through the crowd as well as a cover of She is Beyond Good and Evil, by 80s post-punk band The Pop Group. This was in stark contrast to the more mellow songs like Dilettante, which she said was written about New York City. St Vincent played a set full of songs from the 2011 album, Strange Mercy, as well as  2008’s Actor.

Perhaps the most appealing aspect about seeing St Vincent live, is the contradiction between her almost angelic, vulnerable appearance, and her suddenly breaking into a huge guitar solo. Or in tonight’s case, the theremin in Northern Lights. She ended the night perfectly by a quiet rendition of The Party, followed by an emphatic Your Lips Are Red. 

Setlist:

Surgeon
Cheerleader
Chloe in the Afternoon
Save Me From What I Want
Actor Out of Work
Dilettante
Black Rainbow
Cruel
Champagne Year
Neutered Fruit
Strange Mercy
Marrow
Krokodil
She is Beyond Good and Evil (The Pop Group cover)
Northern Lights
Year of the Tiger

Encore:
The Party
Your Lips Are Red

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