Show Review: Roger Hodgson 04.02.19

Published on, Feb 2019

Pic by Alan Holbrook

Roger Holbrook

Riverside Theatre

Feb 4

US rock legend Roger Hodgson wasted no time in getting the party started, strolling out to a sustained synth note as crisp and clean as the white suit he donned while some audience members where still finding their seats.

Bouncing, thick piano chords set the beat while a familiar harmonica line introduced Supertramp’s Take The Long Way Home, a fitting intro given the singer-songwriter was celebrating the 40th anniversary of the album it’s taken from, Breakfast In America.

With small palm trees spaced around the back of the stage and lights between band members, the production resembled the set of a late night talk show, a scene that was elevated with organ from Ray Coburn and saxophone from Michael Ghegan.

Requesting the house lights turned on, Hodgson stepped away from the mic and to the front of the stage to chat with frontrow punters like he was getting reacquainted with old friends. “Who was here last time?” he asked, and a sea of hands quickly rose in response.

After dedicating the evening to birthday boy Chris Wilkinson in the nosebleed section, the celebrations continued, Hodgson taking punters back to School through a wall of washed-out guitar tones.

Single Breakfast In America (“A song that I wrote when I was 19.. three years ago.”) was an early hit that had the audience in ecstasy thanks to a riveting saxophone solo.

“I couldn’t write a song like that today if I tried,” Hodgson said. “I mean, ‘Not much of a girlfriend’ – what was I thinking?”

Hodgson’s voice was the most captivating instrument on stage, adding multiply layers to songs like folk rock number Easy Does It and piano ballad Lord Is It Mine.

Sister Moonshine showcased his eclectic songwriting style with Coburn forced to offer up a soaring guitar solo and harmonica parts from his keyboard to keep up with its demanding instrumentation.

Nothing compared to classics The Logical SongDreamer, Fool’s OvertureGive A Little Bit and It’s Raining Again, but relatively new single Death And A Zoo (2000) came close. It was a set highlight driven by a symphony of obscure sound effects that complimented the song’s powerful lyrics around animal welfare.

By set’s end, Roger Hodgson and co had well and truly delivered on their promise to take fans on an emotionally-charged journey.

Advertisements WA’s Iconic 78 Records Is Shutting Down: ‘It Was Such A Great Trip’

Published on, Feb 2019

Beloved WA institution 78 Records has announced it will close its doors permanently on March 3.

Speaking with The Music, manager Andrew “Fang” de Lang, who began working there in 1986 at the age of 19, cited high rent in Perth and the rise of streaming services as contributing factors.

“We gave it our best shot over a long period, but the time is nigh,” Lang said.

Over the past 47 years, the historic CBD record store has become a staples of the city’s music scene.

After opening in Forrest Place in 1971, 78 Records relocated numerous times around the city before landing at its fifth and final home in a laneway off Murray Street, all the while establishing itself as a thriving hub via its extensive vinyl range, live performances and more.

“There was a massive commitment to local music, particularly as [artists] were bringing out a release,” Lang said.

One memorable local launch, the first at 78 Records’ Mortlock Building location, included Perth legends Jebediah.

“We found out very quickly that we couldn’t have people jumping up and down on the [second story] floor because the floor might fall through.

“The whole floor was vibrating and this was a building we just got into. We had to frantically get on the microphone and tell everyone to stop.”

Other in-store performances came from Weezer, Powderfinger, The Living End, Eskimo Joe, Gyroscope and Julian Lennon, the latter of which proved to be one of Lang’s more memorable days there.

“There were so many Beatles fans coming into the store and asking me to give him things,” Lang recalled.

“That was probably the weirdest day I can remember; seeing middle-aged people just go stupid and act like children.”

There’s been an overwhelming outpour of emotion from music lovers and artists across social media, which Lang describes as “heartening on one hand and sad on the other”.

“It just made me realise how important this shop was; it just reinforced that we provided a service for people and they had a good time meeting their friends here or just buying music.

“What I’ll remember most is just the enjoyment I had working here – just serving people, talking music, organising in-stores. It was just such a great trip.

“Time’s up and it’s a bittersweet thing, but I have no regrets.”

Show Review: Phil Collins 28.01.19

Published on, Jan 2019

Pic by Ted Dana

Phil Collins

RAC Arena

Jan 28

Phil Collins fans are a seemingly impatient bunch, demanding the arrival of the English legend with a wave of whistles only ten minutes after the advertised start time. Their calls were swiftly acknowledged, as the house lights dimmed and a rolling black and white collage of the musical powerhouse’s career to-date graced the screen; images that raised anticipation in the room to an all-time high before Collins casually strolled into view to a near-standing ovation and took a seat between two spotlights.

“Good evening, Western Australia,” he began. “Had a back operation a couple of years ago. Back’s fucked… Not dead yet. But that won’t stop us from having some fun.”

Nostalgia was in full effect as the lush verse melodies of Against All Odds danced their way around delicate, glistening guitar lines into a huge stadium rock chorus that sent chills down your spine.

The rock affair continued to the beat of Another Day In Paradise, with Collins’ backing singers elevating his already spot-on vocals. A horns section stole the show during I Missed Again, which rolled into Hang In Long Enough as Collins showcased his air drumming skills to the beat of his son, drummer Nicholas.

“A couple of hundred years ago I was in a band called Genesis,” Collins said, a segue into Throwing It All Away. In-between the tune’s call-and-response sections, he rocked back and forth in his chair to reach its high notes, proving that, despite being in one place most of the show, he was still able to deliver every song with infectious energy.

His voice did most of the heavy lifting as evident in ballad Can’t Turn Back The Years, pop rock hit Inside Out and horn-driven party-starter Who Said I Would; three numbers that also showcased the eclectic nature of his extensive back catalogue, something that kept the show interesting.

Collins then embarked on an emotionally-charged duet with backing vocalist Bridgette Bryant. The duo danced their way through Separate Lives, marking a set highlight that had the room sitting in silent awe.

The real showstopper, however, came from Collins’ son who unleashed an insane ten-minute drum solo alongside percussion Richie “The Octopus” Garcia that made it hard to believe he was still a teenager. The audience were stunned and Collins would have no doubt been filled with pride at its conclusion. The beat rolled on, with Collins finally able to showcase his rhythm via a slap-top Cajon, shuffling into upbeat single Something Happened On The Way To Heaven.

Talent definitely runs in the family, with Nicholas shifting from behind the kit to a piano for You Know What I Mean, an emotional high point that carried the show to its conclusion via drum-heavy crowd favourite In The Air Tonight, The Supremes’ You Can’t Hurry Love and a handful of hits including Dance Into The Light, Genesis’ Invisible TouchEasy Lover, climaxing in a flurry of confetti to epic dance party Sussudio.

By the time encore Take Me Home rolled around, the event was a strong contender for gig of the year. Phil Collins is definitely not dead yet, offering up a show that was equal parts uplifting, nostalgic and inspiring. EXCLUSIVE: DEA Agents Who Inspired ‘Narcos’ Detail Tell-all Book

Published on, Dec 2018

The rise and fall of Columbian drug lord Pablo Escobar was thrown into the spotlight via Netflix’s Narcos back in 2015, and now, 25 years after his death, the former DEA agents who inspired the hit series, Steve Murphy and Javier Pena, will tour Australia to tell the real story.

Today marks exactly 25 years since Colombian police shot and killed Escobar on a rooftop.

“It honestly doesn’t seem like it’s been 25 years,” Murphy told The Music.

“Neither one of us ever thought the popularity that has come from Narcos would have anything to do with us – we are shocked by the worldwide interest about this.”

The image of Murphy posing over Escobar’s dead body has become iconic, but as he tells, the show used some creative licence during that pivotal scene.

Narcos portrays that I was on the roof when Pablo was killed – that’s not true,” Murphy said.

“I was back at the police base, the Columbian National Police were the only ones out there and they took care of business.

“Back at the base, you’re thinking, ‘Could this really be over? Is this really true?’ And then when you get out there and see what’s taken place, you realise that it is.

“It was a great feeling of elation; the weight of the world had been lifted off your shoulders and you knew that thousands of people were safer now, simple because Pablo was gone.”

Unfortunately, Pena wasn’t nearby when Escobar was taken down.

“The Ambassador had ordered me to go talk to an informant who told the Embassy he knew where Pablo Escobar was and was only going to give that information to me,” Pena said.

“Luckily, Steve was there, had the only camera and took all the photos, which are now famous.

“I was very happy; it was personal, Pablo killed some of my friends, so this was a great, great victory for everybody – Columbians, Americans, the world. Basically, justice had finally been done.”

Part of the reason they signed on to work with Netflix was to ensure Escobar wasn’t “glamourised” in any way, and their A Conversation On Narcos tour, which hits Australia in July, dives deeper into the terror the billionaire cocaine lord unleashed.

And, as they exclusively detailed to The Music, they’re also penning a novel that goes into further detail.

“We haven’t told anybody else, but we’re writing a book, so it’ll come out probably November of next year,” Murphy revealed.

“It’ll be about our law enforcement careers and the story of Pablo.”

Check out theGuide for all A Conversation On Narcos tour dates.

Show Review: Shania Twain 30.11.18

Published on, Nov 2018

Pic by Georgia Head

Shania Twain

RAC Arena

Nov 30

The path to the Shania Now Tour is a remarkable one. After the singer retired from performing back in 2004, many fans accepted the fact they wouldn’t get the chance to see her again, or for the first time.

Undergoing intense vocal rehabilitation, the Canadian artist not only reemerged stronger than before, but reclaimed her creativity, with her fifth album, 2017’s Now, marking the first LP in which she wrote and co-produced every track.

The crowd impatiently stamped along to the beat of Queen’s We Will Rock You before a spotlight illuminated a platform near the mixing desk on the other side of the room from the stage.

Drummer Elijah Wood kept the beat going with a booming floor tom and tight snare, before Shania Twain appeared at the back of the room, dressed in a sparkling dress and rhinestone-studded black cowboy hat. She slowly made her way through the crowd to her place centrestage, almost although she was hosting an awards night. The winners? Everyone in attendance as soon as the curtain dropped to reveal a classy, retro-yet-modern stage setup.

“Are you ready, Perth?” she said to a lukewarm response. “I SAID… ARE YOU READY, PERTH?”

Kicking off proceedings with a new cut, Life’s About To Get Good, was a bold move, but it was a tune that allowed Twain and her four backing dancers to find their groove.

The song’s suffocating bass eased up for country-pop hit Come On Over, taking fans back to ’97, but its execution wasn’t as tight, with the vocals struggling to find their place amongst an overbearing honky-tonk accordion section.

There’s no way but up from here,” was an encouraging lyric to hear after an inconsistent start, as the singer slowly rose above the stage on one of five large cubes occupying the space, each side of which had a screen that changed to match the song at hand.

Her “drinking song”, Poor Me, was another insight into the rough path to Now, with the singer truly finding her groove when its chorus kicked in. Guitarist Joshua Ray Gooch introduced the single with a gentle twang before Twain took over and artistic production elements gave the show real, definable character.

Classic country-esque single Don’t Be Stupid (You Know I Love You) had punters boot scootin’ like it was going out of fashion, while Twain paraded in front of a semi-transparent curtain, her backing band behind it, dancing around and on top of the cubes that now resembled a swimming pool.

Megahit That Don’t Impress Me Much didn’t need extreme production to back it up, with its classic, insanely catchy chorus doing the heavy lifting, while Twain and co offered up choreographed attitude to match.

A quick kiss cam interlude to a rock/jazz influenced jam from Wood and it was back into the thick of a country-pop tidal wave with Any Man Of MineWhose Bed Have Your Boots Been Under? and Honey, I’m Home; dual fiddles weaving an emotional tapestry of their own in the background.

“I never enjoyed being in the spotlight,” she revealed, explaining her unique entrance. Getting up-close and personal with fans, face-to-face, helps her connect more with her audience and feel more comfortable.

Another drastic change of pace, the band offered up huge rock riffs, ’80s-inspired synth and gut-wrenching backing vocals, all of which was a carefully orchestrated diversion for Twain, who quietly made her way to the back of the room to appear on the small platform Wood opened the show on.

“This is what I call my reunion song with you,” she said, getting nostalgic again. “Because tonight and forever, Perth, You’re Still The One.”

With an acoustic guitar in hand and thousands of phone lights pointed her way, Twain stripped things back for a set highlight.

She picked up a few audience members on her way back to the front, bringing them up on stage and introducing them while taking selfies. “This is my favourite part of the show,” she enthused.

The meet and greet transitioned into her “sexy number”, More Fun, with one of the gentlemen who followed her from the crowd helping her up onto a piano.

It was back to the nostalgia, this time via a medley of music videos on the big screen, and the trip down memory lane continued with From This Moment On, highlighting it was her pop ballads that translated best to an arena show – her upbeat country-pop hits were a close second.

My dreams came true because of you” echoed throughout the venue, reinforcing the sentiments she’d be offering up to longtime fans all night.

It’s hard to beat the emotional intensity of a ballad with a well-timed key change, but I’m Gonna Getcha Good!, with its accompanying neon/Tron aesthetics, came close.

Opening act Bastian Baker returned to the stage, taking on Billy Currington’s vocal parts for duet Party For Two, which injected a fresh energy into the set that carried over into Swingin’ With My Eyes Closed. It was the ultimate genre mash-up, borrowing from reggae, country and pop, which rendered the audience’s reaction splintered at best, some bobbing in time while others awkwardly threw their fists in the air.

(If You’re Not In It For Love) I’m Outta Here! pulled things into line but, as the song’s title promised, Twain was gearing up to make an exit.

The band were given their time in the spotlight once more, unleashing a Blue Storm that had guitars shredding and drums booming. It was an interesting but epic transition into the familiar intro riff of Man! I Feel Like a Woman!, a song that had everyone on their feet, screaming along, finishing the evening on a high note. We Chat To Aussie Legend Molly Meldrum Ahead Of Milestone Anniversary For Rod Laver Arena

Published on, Nov 2018

Justine McAllister & Molly Meldrum

“It’s very hard for me to believe it’s been 30 years, especially considering I was there from the very beginning,” begins entertainment industry legend Molly Meldrum on the anniversary of beloved Melbourne venue Rod Laver Arena opening.

Flashback to the ‘80s when Countdown was one of Australia’s biggest shows and pub-rock was at its finest and there as a void in the state’s venue landscape, something Meldrum noted more than most.

“We had nothing really,” he recalls. “So it was a dream come true that they were going to have something there and have entertainment there as well.

“[Rod Laver Arena] is not just part of Melbourne’s venue landscape, but the world’s, and it’s something that maybe we take for granted. It was something that I thought was an impossible dream.”

The first music event at Rod Laver Arena was AC/DC on February 4, 1988, which Meldrum describes as “a magical concert”, but his involvement with the venue far pre-dates that as he was on the board.

“They had the meetings around 7:30am – for a person like myself, that was hard,” he laughs.

The board meetings were often a professional affair, so Meldrum rocking up late and walking through a construction site with bare feet didn’t sit well with a few of the other members. “I went in there and apologised profusely,” he tells.

As a fan of not only music but also tennis, overseeing the venue’s development and construction was a mind-blowing experience for Meldrum.

“I had the privilege of meeting the man himself [Rod Laver], and he is one of the most modest humans you could meet. He deserves to have that top stadium named after him,” he says.

“Just watching this amazing arena being built, I had to pinch myself.”

Since its completion, it’s become one of the world’s most well-regarded venues, with Justin Timberlake currently holding the record for highest attendance at the venue, bringing 16,183 punters to the space in 2007, while Pink’s 2013 run, The Truth About Love Tour, holds the record for most shows by an artist in a single run.

“Justin, Pink and Acca Dacca all loved that venue and said it was one of the best in the world…the acoustics are perfect.”

It truly is the heart of the Melbourne Sports and Entertainment Precinct, a hotspot for music, arts, sport and more that, in Molly’s mind, is almost perfect.

“The only thing I would like to see change is with Margaret Court Arena – I wish they’d give a new name to that,” he says.

“I think the name should be the original name of that area and that part.”

He’s witnessed multiple highlights at the venue over the years, but nothing beats seeing local acts put on a good show, one of which caught his eye the other week and he says would be a “dream” to one day see headline a venue like Rod Laver Arena.

“I went to the Age Music Victoria Awards the other night, which was fantastic. The talent that night was just unbelievable and there’s a musician called Baker Boy, who was sensational; he is the next big thing,” he says.

“That would be a dream come true for me – if he could headline a concert a Rod Laver and fill the house out.”

Speaking of local and emerging acts, Meldrum’s a fan of new ABC music show The Set, stating, “we definitely needed it”.

And as far as a Countdown revival goes, he thinks “it will happen”.

“I think it’ll eventually happen and it has to be in that [original] Countdown timeslot with all young people hosting it, looking after it,” he tells.

“There’s so much young talent around this country and they should do a show like that. The old Countdown timeslot would be absolutely perfect for it.

“I think that’s what’s missing from the music scene at the moment – we don’t have a definitive show that can really focus on all this.”

To celebrate its 30th anniversary, Rod Laver Arena has announced a Golden Ticket competition and series of murals around Melbourne by Justine McAllister, one of which features Meldrum.

The Golden Ticket will give its recipient a double pass to all events at Rod Laver Arena from February to December 2019, with those wanting to enter invited to share a photo of any one of murals or submit their favourite memories of Rod Laver Arena via social media using the hashtag #RLA30.

“That is a dream for anyone to win that one,” he enthuses, before adding, “I’ll give [the winner] one of my hats.”

You can find out more information here.

Check out theGuide for all upcoming gigs at Rod Laver Arena.

INTERVIEW: Download Festival

Published on, Nov 2018

The Past, Present & Future Of Download Festival Australia: ‘It’s A Revelation’

“I think people, at least from [the heavy music] world, hadn’t been treated that well at a single day event in a long time, if ever,” begins Download Australia programmer Nigel Melder of the festival’s inaugural run in Melbourne.

The festival made its Australian debut earlier this year with a massive bill that featured Korn, Prophets Of Rage, Limp Bizkit, Good Charlotte, NOFX and so many more, returning this year with an even bigger line-up, headlined by the likes of Ozzy Osbourne, Slayer, Judas Priest, Sum 41 and more.

It was an event that restored a lot of faith with Australian heavy music fans, but Download’s origins go far deeper than its Melbourne debut back in March, and even further than its inaugural run in the UK 15 years ago.

Its inspiration traces back to heavy music festival Monsters Of Rock, which debuted in 1980 in England, and after its finale in ‘96, there was a huge gap in the market.

“The whole idea was to bring a proper rock festival back to the UK,” Download Festival founder Andy Copping says of the festival’s inception.

Copping recalls the first event in 2003, watching Iron Maiden headline the main stage; after all the effort put in, he describes the experience as “amazing”.

“That set us on the way,” he tells. The festival was unstoppable from that moment, growing every year without fail, expanding to Paris in 2016, Melbourne this year and Sydney in 2019.

“We were just wrapped up in getting that first one up off the ground and we never envisioned we’d get to where we are now,” he admits.

“I mean, back then we were two days, two stages, whereas now we’re up to four, five stages over three days with a week’s worth of camping. It’s become one of the biggest festivals in the world.”

It’s fitting that Judas Priest, who played the inaugural Monsters of Rock festival, have been confirmed as an Australian headliner in 2019.

The festival’s growth and recurring headliners speak volumes to the loyalty of heavy music fans.

“Everybody involved with the festival is a music lover,” Copping tells. “Right from the very beginning, from the outset of the festival, we included the fans and getting them to contribute and let us know what they want to see at the festival.”

Which is the same approach they used in booking Download Australia’s second run. They expanding the festival but didn’t increase the capacity.

“By adding Sydney, that’s our way of growing this year,” Melder says. “We know [what capacity] worked in Melbourne and we know what people enjoyed and we know a couple of little things we need to tweak and then we apply that to those two shows.”

The feedback from the Melbourne show was largely positive from both punters and the industry, but there was one thing they slightly overlooked – heavy music fans’ passion for merch, with Melder saying they sold out a little quicker than expected and will be remedying that for the second effort.

From wedding cakes to tattoos and more, fans are loyal to the brand and genre, which means Download has become more of a community than purely an event. “It is a revelation,” Copping enthuses. “This is a lifestyle; the people are properly brought into the festival and feel ownership of it and so they’ll go to those lengths.”

Copping closely oversaw the festival’s Australian debut earlier this year. “When we decided to expand the Download brand, Australia was something that was really set in my sights,” he says.

“Since the demise of Soundwave, there’d been nothing; there was a big, black hole in Australia…it took us a couple of years to get it off the ground and be sure that we were doing the right thing, but the response from the Australian public was incredible. Once they got a sniff that Download was coming to their country, they were all over us.”

While there are a lot of parallels between Download UK and Australia, Melder, who attended the UK event this year, says they’re still “very different animals”.

“For me, it’s really about trying to build something that will appeal to everyone, while staying true to what people associate the name with,” he explains.

“It was funny, with Good Charlotte – and this is what I love about music as it’s so polarising – some metal heads were complaining that Good Charlotte were on the bill, but they’ll play UK Download and they had a huge set, they killed it.

“I really like people arguing about bands, because it just shows their passion and their drive for defending that what they listen to. I think that’s what’s so fun about music – we all care so much, we all give enough of a shit that we get wound up that a certain act isn’t playing or a certain act is playing. I would hate to be involved in a scene where no one really cares.”

In curating the Australian event, both Copping and Melder were adamant local talent played a part, with High Tension, Thy Art Is Murder, Luca Brasi and more confirmed for 2019. “I’ve always been connected to the scene and it’s always good to give those Australian acts an opportunity they don’t come by that often,” Melder says. “There aren’t a lot of platforms for them to get up in front of 5,000 people.”

Copping’s long championed Australian acts at Download UK, from Parkway Drive making their way from an opening band to headlining, and The Amity Affliction becoming a festival favourite. When asked his thoughts on the Australian heavy music scene, Copping didn’t hesitate in answering.

“Very simple – AC/DC. There’s nothing else to be said. Yes, Metallica are huge, Iron Maiden are huge, Black Sabbath are huge, but no one comes close to AC/DC. If you want to go back in [Australian] history, bands like The Angels, Cold Chisel, Rose Tattoo, Screaming Jets; you’ve had some amazing rock bands over the years. Everything just goes back to AC/DC; what a band.”

Copping describes their 2010 headline set as one of the “most seminal moments of the festival” and one of his biggest achievements.

Another highlight is Ozzy Osbourne and Slayer touring the event next year as part of their worldwide farewell runs. Which begs the question, what happens when all the classic rock acts retire?

“We can’t fuck about, we’ve got to bring them through, and this is everybody; festival promoters, concert promoters, the media, fans, everybody,” Copping urges.

“Don’t sit on your hands, get behind the [emerging] bands that are coming through. All of us have to get behind them, nature them, bring them through and not just sit back and go, ‘Well, back in the day.’ There’s some fucking great live bands out there that are on the edge of becoming festival headliners.

“I think back to the day I made Slipknot a headliner at Download in 2009. People wanted my head, like, ‘What are you doing?’ They don’t deserve to be a festival headliner.’ They’re now a bona fide festival headliners and that was because I put my head on the line because I believed that they were a band that were going to come through and now they’ve settled in that slot.

“I can pick 20 bands out there that I think are going to come through and be headliners of the future.”

Melbourne’s High Tension are an act that Melder thinks has the chops to work there way up the line-up, which is why they were invited back to play Download Australia in 2019 after a memorable set this year. “I want to try do that every year; bring an Australia artist back and bump them up the line-up,” Melder reveals.

Copping stresses: “You have to put the new bands on and let people see them. Someone might come to your festival because you’ve got Aerosmith or Rammstein playing, but the thing is, because they’re at a festival with 100 other bands, they’re suddenly exposed to other acts that they probably wouldn’t buy a ticket to go and see. They’re watching and going, ‘Oh my god, what an amazing band.’

“Bringing local acts through is really important and just giving people a real flavour of what the scene is all about, what the community is all about. It’s about finding new bands and getting excited about them as well as seeing the biggest, most established acts.”