Show Review: Jeff Beck 24.04.14

Published on theMusic.com.au | 30.04.14

JEFF BECK

PERTH CONCERT HALL

24 April, 2014

“Guitar nerd heaven” may be a more appropriate descriptor of Perth Concert Hall for rock legend Jeff Beck’s WA sideshow. Like restless children at a school assemblY trying to impress their peers, certain audience members couldn’t contain their nostalgic excitement as the darkness fell over the venue and Beck’s backing band assumed their positions. Well dressed to fit the part, with a wrist support more reflective than a disco ball and hair that hasn’t changed since that era, Beck casually strolled out and Loaded his signature telecaster. Nine and the 1976 Jimi Hendrix hit Little Wing all saw a different guitar delivered from the artillery. “The reason for the change of guitar is because of the different tuning. Nothing else wrong with them – except the player I think,” Beck laughed, and that was one of three sentences uttered to the audience throughout the set. He used subtle gestures towards the crowd and his band mates to bridge a connection without the microphone. He didn’t need words, only six strings. ‘80s hits Where Were You and You Never Know were prime examples of his ability to convey true emotion without words.

Just when it appeared as if his backing band were going to sit in the shadows, Beck took stage right for ten minutes. Bassist Rhonda Smith strolled forward for a showcase that almost received a standing ovation. Beck joked that guitarist Nicolas Meier was “terrible” before handing the reigns over for the classical-esque Yemin. From there, classics Led Boots and A Day In The Life (The Beatles) melded into a super jam which showed exactly why Beck stands alongside Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix and Jimmy Page as one of the greatest guitarists of all time.

Perhaps better suited to an outdoor festival, as some became restless, it was a after a second standing ovation from Cause We Ended As Lovers that Beck removed his white Stratocaster and casually strolled off stage.

Written by Daniel Cribb

http://themusic.com.au/reviews/reviews-live/2014/05/01/jeff-beck-perth-concert-hall-daniel-cribb/

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Show Review: Hugh Laurie 26.04.14

Published on theMusic.com.au | 30.04.14

HUGH LAURIE & THE COPPER BOTTOM BAND

PERTH CONCERT HALL

26 April, 2014

The last time Hugh Laurie was in Australia was in the ‘80s, promoting TV mockumentary The Crystal Cube, alongside Stephen Fry and Emma Thompson. Since then, he’s been involved in Black Adder, Stuart Littleand other films as well as playing the lead on eight seasons of the career-defining House. It was during the role of Dr Gregory House that we were given a glimpse at Laurie’s passion for guitar and piano, and returning to Australia 33 years after his first visit, it was with his backing band, The Copper Bottom Band, that those talents were on display.

It’s almost impossible to escape Laurie on the small screen; in fact, as the masses were filling into Perth Concert Hall, the 2009 DreamWorks animation Monsters Vs. Aliens was screening on TV, a film in which Laurie voices one of the main characters.

A stage production that replicated an old jazz lounge consumed what would usually be a somewhat bland stage, and a handful of musicians floated out. As people began counting the members of The Copper Bottom Band, an unmistakable voice bellowed throughout the venue. “There’s seven of them,” came a booming British voice from behind the scenes, which sparked the band to engage in classic New Orleans tune Iko Iko. Finally Laurie danced his way onto the stage. Knowing full well that most had purchased tickets due to the impressive acting credits he’s garnered, he thanked punters for taking a leap of faith; a plunge that allowed him to live out one of his dreams.

After parading around on stage with a grin from ear to ear, and downing a shot of whiskey, Laurie assumed his position at his piano to unleash an “awfully nice” performance, all the while being “sexier than Michael Buble”, who just happened to be playing up the road both nights Laurie was in town. Dr John was also in town, and if Hugh Laurie’s tweet earlier that day (“Dr John is staying in the same hotel. And so the gamekeeper turns autograph hunter”) didn’t cement his fanhood, a heartfelt cover of John’s Wild Honey sure did.

It wasn’t long before The Copper Bottom Band stole the show, consuming the spotlight more than Laurie did – a setup similar to that of Laurie’s sophomore record, 2013’s Didn’t It Rain, in which a selection of guest vocalists steer the ship. Each song was like an act from a play: the tango-esque El Choclo (Kiss Of Fire) saw Gaby Moreno take the lead for a spine-tingling performance that ending in a tango with Laurie, while Bessie Smith’s Send Me To The ‘lectric Chair was led by Sista Jean McClain and incorporated a trial with Laurie as the judge, before guitarist Mark Goldenberg, horn player Vincent Henry, drummer Herman Matthews and Laurie gathered around what was described as one of the most precious microphones on earth for a barbershop quartet rendition of Hoagy Carmichael’s Lazy River. It was the diverse range of genres and talent from The Copper Bottom Band’s seven members that ensured all 23 songs on the evening’s setlist were captivating. In fact, the show might have been just as engaging even without Laurie.

Returning for an encore that saw everyone out of their seats, and after two and a half hours of blues-fuelled energy, all comparisons to Laurie as an actor were null, and his musical talents stood as a separate entity. The leap of faith had been well worth it. Hopefully he’ll return a little sooner next

Written by Daniel Cribb

http://themusic.com.au/reviews/reviews-live/2014/05/01/hugh-laurie-and-the-copper-bottom-band-perth-concert-hall-daniel-cribb/

CD Review: Brody Dalle

Published in The Music (WA, NSW, VIC, QLD) | 23.04.14 | Issue # 35

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BRODY DALLE

DIPLOID LOVE

22 April, 2014

After fronting three separate projects over her 20 years making music, it’s about time Brody Dalle put out a record under her own name. Best known as the angst-filled teenager from ‘90s punk band The Distillers, Dalle’s grown up quite a lot since the band called it quits in 2006. She’s traded in a large portion of the aggression that once drove her music for thought-provoking lyrics and a new patience with song structure. The nine tracks on Diploid Love present Dalle in a different light. There’s no denying her songwriting has improved, but the loss of the aggression with which she used to project her lyrics leaves a void, occasionally filled with guest appearances from Garbage’s Shirley Manson, The Strokes’ Nick Valensi, Michael Shuman (Queens Of The Stone Age), El Mariachi Bronx and more.

The other problem with this record is the simplicity of some parts, which is a result of Dalle taking on a little more than she can handle and playing 90 percent of the instrumentation – the drums rarely add any dimension and become a little too repetitive, and the bass doesn’t add as much as it could have if only more thought had been put into it.

Anyone who caught Dalle with backing band in tow during her NIN/QOTSA support slot knows these songs hold up live incredibly well – they just don’t quite make the cut on tape. The end result leaves Diploid Loveshowcasing great songwriting stifled by poor execution.

Daniel Cribb

http://themusic.com.au/reviews/album/2014/04/22/brody-dalle-diploid-love-daniel-cribb/

INTERVIEW: Brody Dalle

Published in The Music (WA, NSW, VIC, QLD) | 23.04.14 | Issue # 35

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LOVE AS A DRUG

The only thing you need to know about Brody Dalle’s new album is that it “kicks arse”. Returning to music after a project that was destroyed by depression, she tellsDaniel Cribb she’s found a balance.

“I played a terrible show in Perth last time,” Brody Dalle laughs, sitting cross-legged in a green room backstage at Perth Arena and reminiscing – as best she can – on her last venture Down Under. Her last trip to Australia in 2010 saw a short run of club shows in support of her new project at the time, Spinnerette, and shortly after, the project fell apart.

“I think I had drunk a whole bottle of vodka – I was really missing my kid at that point, so I was a mess. I don’t actually remember the show… I’d kind of come out of post-partum depression, and I just didn’t feel like myself; I kind of had a bit of an identity crisis, and it took me a moment to figure it out.”

Since first picking up a guitar over 20 years ago, Dalle’s career hasn’t slowed down, taking turns in every direction. Born and raised in Melbourne, it was at age 18, after several years fronting local act Sourpuss, that she packed her bags and flew to LA where she founded the band she’s most well known for: The Distillers. After eight years of relentless touring which produced three albums, the band came to end in 2006, the same year Dalle gave birth to her first child, daughter Camille Harley Joan, with her husband, Queens Of The Stone Age frontman Josh Homme. Spinnerette was formed a year later, and its short-lived existence gave the impression that maybe Dalle’s days of touring and making music had come to an end, or at least slowed down. But then, at the end of 2012, she announced a solo album in the works. And now, sitting backstage at Perth Arena, Dalle’s finally back in the country, with a healthy perspective and balance between family and music, touring as the opening support on the Queens Of The Stone Age and Nine Inch Nails co-headline tour, with both of her kids in tow.

“The tour’s been good – I mean, I haven’t been home yet – I haven’t been to Melbourne,” she says. Having left Australia in her teens and living in the US for almost 20 years, most of her Australian accent has dissolved. But, when she pronounces the name of her hometown, her native tongue bleeds in. “And I love Sydney – I could live there.”

The tour sees Dalle supporting her debut solo record, Diploid Love, the first release under her own name. While she still tours with a backing band, releasing music solo has given way to a more sustainable method of writing and recording. “I don’t have the time to devote to a band – I always wanted to be in a band, I always wanted to be in a gang – in a crew of people, but I still do everything anyway, you know. The people in my bands played their parts, but I wrote all the songs – I write all the songs, and I like playing the bass and the drums, so why can’t I record it? I played 90 percent of the music on my record.

“I don’t play horns,” Dalle laughs when queried about the horn section that appears from time to time. “I got Mariachi El Bronx and Mariachi Divas – which is like a crew of chick mariachi horn players that are bad arses – they wear the full regalia.”

Guest appearances from Garbage’s Shirley Manson, The Strokes’ Nick Valensi, QOTSA’s Michael Shuman and more fill the remaining ten percent, rounding out a solid debut.

A lot’s changed, but the punk rock ethos that manifested throughout her teen years as she toured the world as vocalist/guitarist of The Distillers is still undeniably evident, resurfacing in fine form from time to time. “The title [Diploid Love] came from when I was researching foetuses. A diploid is a foetus – it’s the very beginning stage; a diploid cell is the set of chromosomes from the mum and the dad smashed together and then you’ve got a human with a whole unique DNA of its own.

“Everyone seems to think foetus is such a disgusting word, it’s so weird – maybe it’s just in America, maybe not here – but in America when you say foetus, everyone’s like, ‘Ew, oh god!’ so in my video I deliberately put an umbilical cord dropping down on the floor and blood splattering everywhere. If something’s ugly or gross, I like to investigate what makes it so ugly or gross, because it’s not weird or gross or ugly to me.”

Daniel Cribb

http://themusic.com.au/interviews/all/2014/04/23/brody-dalle/25726/

CD Review: The Menzingers

Published in The Music (WA) | 16.04.14 | Issue # 34

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THE MENZINGERS

RENTED WORLD

15 April, 2014

There’s a deep-seated anger that reveals itself in short, sharp bursts throughout The Menzingers’ fourth record Rented World  – the follow-up to 2012’s remarkable On The Impossible Past. For the rest of the time, it’s brutally honest lyrics that take control of the wheel and total everything in their path. It seems something has pissed these guys off big time – whether it’s an internal or external turmoil – and the lyrics on this record’s 12 songs come across as a way for them to sort through it. While Rented World will struggle as a whole to outshine On The Impossible Past (they really nailed it with that one), tunes such as In Remission,Bad Things and The Talk stand as some of The Menzingers’ best and most catchy work to date – if you want a chorus rattling around your head for a week you only have to run through opener I Don’t Want To Be An Arsehole once or twice.

Spending most of their time on the road – Australia’s seen them three times in as many years – they’ve honed their sound to one that records just as well as it comes across on stage. It’s rare to find such compelling songwriting in punk rock these days, and few truly understand the power of putting it all, mentally and physically, on the line like The Menzingers. This is punk rock that bleeds true emotion.

Daniel Cribb

http://themusic.com.au/reviews/album/2014/04/15/the-menzingers-rented-world-daniel-cribb/

CD Review: Franky Walnut

Published in The Music (WA) | 16.04.14 | Issue # 34

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FRANKY WALNUT

THE FRANKY WALNUT REFLECTIVE DRINK COASTER

17 April, 2014

If you extract the essence of what makes dad jokes so enjoyably cheesy and fuse it with some classic Australian country (Slim Dusty, John Williamson), you’re left with Franky Walnut, an artist who is as Australian as a “redback spider and a funnel web spider having a root inside a kangaroo’s scrotum”. If you’re not a fan of country music this release still holds some value with witty lyrics and catchy melodies. And if that doesn’t do it for you, use this CD as the title suggests.

Daniel Cribb

http://themusic.com.au/reviews/album/2014/04/17/franky-walnut-the-franky-walnut-reflective-drink-coaster-daniel-cribb/

INTERVIEW: The Used

Published in The Music (WA) | 16.04.14 | Issue # 34

The-Used

CALL TO ARMS

It’s been a tough couple of years for The Used frontman Bert McCracken. He’s conquered an addiction that once ruled him, but is still in the depths of another fight. Daniel Cribb prepares for battle.

When you spend April Fools’ Day in the “Amsterdam” of the United Stated among a touring party of four bands, shenanigans are a given. In the midst of a month-long co-headline tour promoting their new record Imagery Enemies with old mates Taking Back Sunday, Australia’s Tonight Alive and Florida’s Sleepwave, there’s chaos surrounding The Used frontman Bert McCracken when he answers his phone. “There’s all sorts of shenanigans – Dan [Whitesides, drums] grabbed a trashcan and put it in the bunk area, someone did the whole cellophane on the toilet seat thing; people went wild,” McCracken laughs backstage at Ogden Theatre in Denver, Colorado, having just come off stage.

Had such a conversation been instigated during the touring cycle of 2012’s Vulnerable, McCracken may have come across a little less focused. In 2012, the vocalist checked himself into rehab to deal with drug and alcohol abuse. “I was on a real destructive blackout phase, drinking, lying to everyone I knew, and even in rehab still sneaking and drinking. I did check myself in and I did get help, and I think in that context, that’s the only real way I was able to climb on top of my so-called [demons],” he says.

“I can never be the guy who has four beers, or two beers, for me it’s all or nothing; I’m the best at it, so you cannot beat me. My life is just so much more balanced and happy without it… in Australia there’s a lot of heavy drinking going on which is culturally more acceptable than even smoking weed, and it blows my mind.”

The drinking culture isn’t the only thing McCracken still hasn’t come to grips with. Moving to Australia with his wife and daughter in 2013, he’s seeking dual citizenship with America, but is willing to go to jail rather than vote in Australia because he believes the country’s political system is closer to “fascism” than democracy. “It’s hard because the Commonwealth was written so long ago. I don’t believe that democracy is possible when it’s based on antiquated ideas – in my mind, 100 years is antiquity… when the rules of the system to control people only reflect old and out-of-date ideas, then we need to rethink all the rules, and who writes the rules is a really important part of this ‘democracy’. Being an anarchist at heart, I don’t believe in that type of democracy.

“Being in Australia, with free healthcare, the system is so much better in ways, and it’s so much worse in ways. There’s bipartisan nonsense everywhere – I think in the last election for prime minister, it was really tough… you could either vote for the guy who hates homosexuals or the guy who doesn’t care for fags, you know. It’s pretty discouraging.”

It was overcoming his addiction that allowed him to break his sights from internal turmoil and direct it towards political issues. For the first time, The Used have produced a record with a political edge. “Now that I’ve been in Australia for a while, you really have to watch what you eat and drink [in the US]; it’s almost like everything’s poison out here. It’s really rampant for floriated water and genetically modified everything in the food. It’s slowly getting better out here and I think the people are becoming aware, but it’s crazy; the United States is a crazy place and I have a lot of hope for the future of the United States, but only time will tell – it’s up to the people.

“People have to become informed about what’s going on in the world; what’s going on with the business of their government systems and politics or nothing will ever change. In the new record we talk about how this revolution has to start with each individual person; humanity depends on each one of us individually, so that’s kind of where we’re going – whether or not you’re ready to take the ride, that’s up to you.”

Long-time fans needn’t fret, though, as their new mindset is accompanied by a healthy dose of pop-influenced personal tunes. The pop sounds can partly be attributed to returning to producer John Feldmann – the Goldfinger frontman who signed the band back in 2001. With every new record, The Used’s sound and lyrical focus evolves into a new beast, but McCracken stresses this time they’ve found something that will stick. “My background of music is Michael Jackson first and then I kind of came into a real pop world growing up, so I have a strong love for a good melody that gets stuck in your head – I love a good melody. The magic behind the record is that it’s a snapshot of whatever’s going on in that artist’s life at the moment, but I doubt very much that I will lose passion for people who have no ability to fight for themselves.”