Show Review: Kate Miller-Heidke 22.03.14

Published in The Music (WA) | 26.03.14 | Issue # 31

Kate Miller-Heidke. Pic by Jarrad Seng.

Kate Miller-Heidke. Pic by Jarrad Seng.

KATE MILLER-HEIDKE, SWEET JEAN

QUARRY AMPHITHEATRE

22 March, 2014

It’s nearly impossible to capture the intense beauty of Quarry Amphitheatre in words, but the sounds of tour support Sweet Jean echoing throughout the venue and its steep limestone walls, meeting the wind rustling through treetops peaking inside, did a solid job capturing the vibe on a sonic level. If you’re down on your luck, “just like Justin Bieber”, a listen to the duo’s brand of acoustic folk will surely turn things around. They left the audience with Shiver & Shake off their most recent record, the fittingly titled Dear Departure.

Having booked three nights at the venue, Kate Miller-Heidke was practically moving in. Her quirky side was on show even before making an appearance, with a variety of plain white dresses hung around the stage like you’d imagine in someone’s backyard, playfully dancing in the wind like something out of a horror flick. A weekend by the WA coastline resulted in a calm and collected Miller-Heidke and guitarist/husband Keir Nuttall, as evident by violin-driven Rock This Baby To Sleep, off new record O Vertigo!. Supported by numerous backing vocals on the album version, a stripped-back version, with only violin, keys and a lonesome voice set the tone of the evening.

Nuttall strolled out to the chords of Ride This Feeling, and shortly after showcased some fine whistling and guitar abilities to Caught In The Crowd and Words. It wasn’t long before new material made another appearance, with the titled track receiving a comparison to, “Enya on crystal meth”. Multi-instrumentalist John Rogers – who is worth his weight in gold – received a wealth of praise for his haunting violin contribution to Sarah before leading Yours Was The Body with a thunder-like stomp box. In exchange for cupcakes, Miller-Heidke sung happy birthday to two punters, then the party really kicked off with a cameo from Sweet Jean for Devil Wears A Suit and Politics In Space.

Mixing things up a tad, Nuttall was set loose to deliver one of his own love songs – Stuck Together, a tune from his country comedy alter ego Franky Walnut, before impersonating WA hip hop legend Drapht, adding some Drama to the set. In an almost calculated matter of timing, cloud cover thickened over the venue and rain began lightly trickling over the audience as thunder boomed in the distance to a cover Divinyls’ I’m Jealous. In keeping with the intensity of the previous track, a semi-instrumental mash-up of bluegrass, metal and opera – “three of the most hated genres” – formulated in Hornets. After leaving most with a craving for chicken with a slightly altered version of Shake It, the three-piece made Beyonce’s Run The World  their own during an upbeat acoustic version that allowed Rogers to cut loose and Nuttall to implement his baritone like comedy one more time, jamming out like it was their Last Day On Earth.

Written by Daniel Cribb

http://themusic.com.au/reviews/reviews-live/2014/03/25/kate-miller-heidke-quarry-amphitheatre-daniel-cribb/

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INTERVIEW: Taking Back Sunday

Published in The Music (WA) | 26.03.14 | Issue # 31

Taking_Back_Sunday_Fall_2011_4_credit_Camille_Nolan

If what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, Taking Back Sunday should be near invincible. It’s been 15 years, but guitarist Jonathon Nolan tells Daniel Cribb they’ve finally got it right.
It’s a cool winter evening in November 2012 as this writer pushes his way through a busy Friday night crowd in New York’s Times Square towards a quiet side street and a seemingly bland grey building. Breaking free from the hustle and bustle of the peak hour traffic littered with suits, an endless line of black T-shirt-wearing Taking Back Sunday fans are filing into the complex. The building is Best Buy Theater, just off Broadway, and it isn’t long before it hits capacity.
Having a steady following around the world, another packed out Friday night in Manhattan isn’t anything new – what makes the show really special is the band’s playing their debut record Tell All Your Friends start to finish, celebrating its ten-year anniversary. Even better, it’s with the original line-up, the same that recorded it.
“Every night, the crowd reaction was unbelievable,” guitarist Jonathon Nolan recalls of the tour. After forming in 1999 and releasing TAYF in 2002, bassist Shaun Cooper and Nolan departed from the band in 2003, which saw a revolving roster of members over three records, until 2010, when they both returned, and recorded album number five, Taking Back Sunday in 2011, a year later embarking on the Tell All Your Friends tour. “We knew it would be good, but were also very conscious about not wanting to become a nostalgia act, so it was a little dangerous to do a tour like that,” he says.
“I think it worked out and we did it right… we moved on from that immediately to the new record, which I think was important – that we didn’t just have the Tell All Your Friends tour and that be the last thing we do then there’s just a three-year break where you don’t hear anything from the band.”
The excitement from recording Taking Back Sunday, touring it and performing Tell All Your Friends again transformed into inspiration, which had nowhere else to go but into the new record, Happiness Is, a record that was churned out faster than previous. And now, in 2014, they’ve three sold out shows at Best Buy Theater on the Happiness Is tour.
“This felt like the band’s second record for me, and I think everybody. Even though we did Tell All Your Friends together, it was so long ago and so much happened between then and then reconnecting for the self-titled album, the self-titled one felt like starting with a new band from scratch.
“So this one felt like more of a follow-up record and I think we had more confidence going into it because we had so much touring and so much writing experience, and I think it comes through on the record; I think you can tell that there’s more of a connection between all of us – you can hear it in the music.”
That connection stems from forming a band as teenagers and only having one goal in sight, and adds another level of strength to its members. “The group of people that are in Taking Back Sunday right now, we’re the kind of people that all we ever wanted to do was play music in a band. That was it. We didn’t have a back-up plan… there’s been plenty of times in the career of Taking Back Sunday that – even though the band has been pretty steadily successful – there’s been a lot of points where I think a lot of other people would have called it quits. It’s not any easy thing to keep up for the amount of time the band has been together,” he admits.
The path to album number six wasn’t as easy as it sounds, and it seems Nolan and Cooper re-joining may have been what stopped the band from disbanding. “The time I wasn’t in the band, talking to the guys about their experiences over the years, those guys have been through a lot; there’s a lot that’s happened in their personal lives, and it has to do with being in a band, it puts a strain on you personally and the lives of the people around you, and it puts a strain the relationship between the people in the band. It drives people towards crazy things, and those guys have been through a lot of crazy things and they never called it quits.
“When I came back to the band and talked to them about the experiences that they had in the time when I was gone, I couldn’t believe that they were still doing it and that they were still friends with each other… I needed a fresh start, and they did too. It was a pretty great thing that it worked out the way it did; it almost felt like we were hitting some kind of reset button and just starting fresh and focusing on the future.”

Show Review: South By South Wilson ft. The Bennies

Published in The Music (WA) | 12.03.14 | Issue # 29

the_bennies_south_by_south_wilson_winston_house_0314_pic_by_daniel_cribb

SOUTH BY SOUTH WILSON: THE BENNIES, APART FROM THIS

WINSTON HOUSE

8 March, 2014

Every March, thousands of industry folk, music, film, art, gadget lovers, and artists leg it to Austin, Texas to take part in the iconic South By Southwest. But, like most who have a passion for the arts, financial constraints render the activity nothing more than a pipe dream for many. A small selection of Perth musicians took the angst of those yearning for a taste of the onslaught of talent and channelled it into a local showcase dubbed South By South Wilson.

A house tucked away in the Perth suburb of Wilson was the scene for a full day of music, headlined by Melbourne party rockers The Bennies and their tour support, fellow Victorians Apart From This. The Bennies are a band notorious for their party ethos – reading through the liner notes of their debut recordParty! Party! Party! and most recent LP, Rainbows In Space, is almost enough to send one to rehab. Taking that to a house show was always going to result in one hell of a night, and fresh from an appearance at Melbourne’s Soundwave the four-piece didn’t disappoint.

The set-up is how you would imagine it – a couple of guitar rigs, a bass rig and drum kit crammed into the corner and a cluster of spectators opposing, shoulder-to-shoulder, and flowing out numerous doors. As soon as Apart From This lunged into their brand of rehashed ‘90s grunge rock, the small space was quickly transformed into an incubator, and what would usually be well defined, clear guitar tones and vocals meshed into one big wall of noise. The makings of a memorable party-turned-mini-festival were well underway.

Comments about their Sublime-eque vibe were heard around the room and a cover of the band’s Bad Fish, featuring The Bennies bassist Craig Selak on vocals, cemented such sentiment.

It was their extensive Knights Forever tour that saw The Bennies venture west for a third time – the previous time being when they supported The Smith Street Band – and since then they’ve carved their own path, as evident by the small space crammed full of fans.

It’s easy to see why 2013’s Rainbows In Space was the record the put them on the map. Like most of their material, it contains the sort of tunes you can learn while listening to them. By the time the second or third chorus rolls along, you find yourself singing along to every word. With the album being received as well as it has, it wasn’t surprising they only occasionally treaded into older territory. Anywhere You Wanna Go and My Bike managed to encapsulate the essence of what makes them so engaging and catchy live, with the latter ending including an extended outro to reinforce vocalist Anty Horgan’s distaste for the law.

“The police haven’t come down yet, so that feels like a poor effort on our behalf,” Horgan announced before launching into Hold On and Frankston Girls, rounding out an evening that showcased some of the best Australian talent on offer in an environment that’s often overlooked by touring bands. Nothing beats a good house show, and the neighbours can vouch that all those who attended had a great time. It won’t be long before The Bennies find themselves in Texas.

Written by Daniel Cribb

http://themusic.com.au/reviews/reviews-live/2014/03/11/the-bennies-south-by-south-wilson-winston-house-daniel-cribb/

Show Review: Billy Bragg 09.03.14

Published in The Music (WA) | 12.03.14 | Issue # 29

Billy Bragg

Pic by Court McAllister

BILLY BRAGG, COURTNEY BARNETT

PERTH CONCERT HALL

9 March, 2014

Having been in WA for a week already, and selling out a headline show the night previous, Melbourne singer songwriter Courtney Barnett felt right at home in front of crowd who, for the most part, probably weren’t looking for another act to add to their collection. Wandering out and fiddling with cables while a packed-out venue sat in complete silence, she quietly introduced herself and began picking away at Scotty Says.  A small selection of fans made themselves known by raising their voice at Avant Gardener’s intro, and faintly clapping along to History Eraser.
Now in his mid-50s, it seems Billy Bragg is converting a third generation with his iconic, politically-driven folk punk ethos, as evident by a child no older than five years old sitting in the front row.
It was The Clashing Of Ideologies that set the pass of the evenings set. Bragg’s political, left-wing anthems are as infectious as they are inspiring, and while the British singer hadn’t had a decent chance to sort through Australian media long enough to tailor his show accordingly, he still had a decent stab at the likes of Gina Rinehart and Perth Glory.
No doubt aware that the audience needed a break from time to time from overtly serious subjects, “sappy” tunes such as Chasing Rainbows filled the void and added another dimension of emotion to the scruffy-looking character under the spotlight.
Armed with an electric guitar that came with quite a backstory, Bragg and his band turned their anger on discrimination with All You Fascists, a tune that appears on 2000’s Mermaid Avenue Vol. II and features lyrics that Woody Guthrie penned in the ‘40s. Borrowing more talent from Guthrie with I Ain’t Got No Home In This World Anymore, Bragg then turned his focus onto his beard – something he assured was not hipster, rather “the male equivalent of getting a face lift” at his age, which can also “hide a multitude of chins”.
While it can be hard to pinpoint where Bragg’s influences lie at times and which genre he sits in, he had been “accused” of going country on his most recent record, last year’s Tooth & Nail, but proved he’s always been a little bit country with You Woke Up My Neighbourhood. Temporarily relieving his backing band from their posts so they could check their iPhones backstage, Bragg was left alone for three tracks, the most intimate and potential set highlight being Goodbye, Goodbye. After array of genre-mashing, subject-blending hits including A New England, There Is Power In A Union, Tank Park Salute and Waiting For The Great Leap Forward, the affable singer confidently took off his guitar, and raised a mug to the audience before disappearing side of stage, leaving another congregation of people plenty to ponder on their way home.

Written by Daniel Cribb

http://themusic.com.au/reviews/reviews-live/2014/03/13/billy-bragg-perth-concert-hall-daniel-cribb/

CD Review: Kate Miller-Heidke

Published in The Music (WA, NSW, QLD, VIC) | 12.03.14 | Issue # 29

KMH

KATE MILLER-HEIDKE

OH, VERTIGO!

13 March, 2014

“I’m sick of tiptoeing ‘round,” sings Kate Miller-Heidke on Oh, Vertigo! opener Offer It Up – a line that sets the precedence for what’s about to follow. The Queensland singer has made a name for herself with her unique use of operatic vocals in pop songs and it seems set out on a mission to exploit that diverse range, experimenting with somewhat unorthodox techniques whilst writing album number four, as is evident in the six-plus vocal tracks dancing around each other on Rock This Baby To Sleep.

Yours Was The Body allows the listener to regain their bearings temporarily before the record’s second single, Oh, Vertigo!, knocks them back to the ground with a series of unexpected and pleasantly surprising turns, voiding all sense of where things will venture next. The remaining nine tunes don’t seem to follow any set direction, which simply adds to the album’s charm, and keeps things interesting.

Carefully placed guest vocalists Passenger, Drapht and Megan Washington add their spin on three of the album’s best tracks, Passenger transforming Share Your Air into an instant hit that may even be Miller-Heidke’s best work to date.

Anyone who pledged to the Oh, Vertigo! crowd-funding campaign can rest assured that their money was put to good use as, with a clear headspace and support from fans, Miller-Heidke has found a healthy blend of the quirky elements of 2008’s Curiouser and more serious nature of 2012’s Nightflight.

Daniel Cribb

http://themusic.com.au/reviews/album/2014/03/13/kate-miller-heidke-oh,-vertigo!-daniel-cribb/

Show Review: Dolly Parton 27.02.14

Published on theMusic.com.au

Pic by Court McAllister

Pic by Court McAllister

DOLLY PARTON
Perth Arena
27 Feb
It became clear the last stop on Dolly Parton’s Blue Smoke World Tour would be a trip down memory lane as Perth Arena’s pink-tinged stage lit up to an instrumental medley of hits, accompanied a collage of old photos and album covers.
A somewhat unconvincing entrance (later blamed on technical difficulties) to the sounds of Baby, I’m Burning was soon rectified with crowd favourite Jolene. Dressed head-to-toe in sparkling white attire, and with a wide selection of instruments, Parton jokingly announced, “You’d be surprised how expensive it is to look so cheap.”
Humour was only part of the 68-year-old’s charm, and between classic tunes, including Coat Of Many Colours, sat intimate and heartfelt stories of her life. Remove the music from her show and you’d have enough material to entertain a packed-out arena for an hour. It was almost as if she was recording material for an audiobook that would accompany her biography.
Running through a slew of different instruments like she was trying to break some kind of record, Parton equipped herself with a flute, banjo, saxophone, harmonica and others whilst rattling through Blue Smoke, Smokey Mountain Memories, My Tennessee Mountain Home and more.
She offered up the highest level of praise for Bob Dylan and said if she is ever to do an album full of covers from one artist, she’d choose him. “It would be called Dolly Does Dylan,” she laughed. Dylan’s Don’t Think Twice was soon to follow.
A white piano bellowing with the sound of a church organ appeared out of nowhere and the stage was transformed into the Church Of Dolly for a soothing rendition of Bon Jovi’s Lay Your Hands On Me before a brief intermission allowed Parton to slide into a dress and continue with Two Doors Down.
The venue fell dead silent for a captivating performance of Little Sparrow before Parton hightailed it out of “sadville” with a bluegrass-themed version of Billy Joel’s Travelin’ Prayer. Banjos and fiddles assembled for a cover of Collective Soul’s Shine, and it seemed that maybe she realised she’d been spending a little too long on covers as she rounded out the set in much the same the way as it began with an intense medley that featured snippets of It’s All Wrong But It’s All Right, Love Is Like A Butterfly, Old Flames Can’t Hold A Candle To You and more. I Will Always Love You saw a triumphant end to a set that reminded most of a time when musicians were more like entertainers.
Daniel Cribb

INTERVIEW: Bayside

Published in The Music (WA) | 05.03.14 | Issue # 28

Bayside-Press-Photo

What happens when you’re in a punk band but no longer have anything to be angry about? Bayside vocalist Anthony Raneri provides the answer to Daniel Cribb while pondering legacy.
“My wife, my daughter and I, we moved into a new house about a week ago,” Bayside frontman Anthony Raneri begins from Nashville, Tennessee. “I’ve been juggling a big move, unpacking and we’ve got the record coming out in a couple of weeks.”
The album of which he speaks is the band’s sixth, Cult, and unlike previous releases, it took Bayside two years of writing – scrutinising every lyric, melody and beat – before they were ready to enter the studio. “When the record was done, I didn’t listen to it for a month. I was still hearing things and saying, ‘Argh, should that song have been different, should this have been different’. It was a very, very different process for us, but now I’ve been able to clear my head and just listen and enjoy.”
Such a way of writing stems from working with Gil Norton (Pixies, Foo Fighters, Jimmy Eat World) on their fifth record, 2011’s Killing Time, and Shep Goodman on 2005’s Bayside. The band returned to Goodman for Cult. “Shep always preached excitement, and then Gil added drama.”
“It’s all about getting a point across. Are you keeping the listeners interested? I always go back and listen to the old stuff when we’re writing new stuff and I try to pinpoint all my favourite parts about my band.”
Cult manages to define Bayside, and its cover art features symbols that reference the band’s five previous records. Although their punk-rock sound remains relatively the same, with a new house, loving family and successful band, Raneri had to turn his aggression elsewhere when it came to finding lyrical inspiration.
“[Cult] is more about legacy, and it’s about wanting to be like the men that came before me. Like you see these men in wars, and they’re war heroes, and they’re fathers and grandfathers and advice-givers, and they’re great men that are leaving the world now, and I want to be like that.
“Think about the World Wars that men fought in. Think about men jumping out of planes with parachutes on. There’s a war going on, and they jump out of a plane into the middle of it… can you imagine our generation – the internet generation, the YouTube generation, the Instagram generation – could you imagine any of them doing that? No way, I can’t even imagine myself doing that. It makes me think about my generation and what our legacy is going to be,” Raneri explains.
“I don’t know, and I don’t think that’s for me to decide,” he responds when asked how he wants to be remembered. “I think it’s my job to do my best and always try and be the best man I can, best musician I can, best father I can, best husband I can, and what they say, it’s not for me to decide. What matters is just that I tried and that I was never afraid.”