Show Review: RocKwiz Live 31.10.15

Published on theMusic.com.au, Oct 2015

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RIVERSIDE THEATRE

Watching the live format of RocKwiz is like sitting in a living room with 2500 people yelling answers at their TV, and it’s nothing short of great.

In a true celebration of Australian music, the tour was tailored to the ARIA Hall Of Fame and each segment dedicated to iconic artists. The amount of talent to choose from could have seen the show go for days, but in a concentrated format, there were few low points.

Co-host and scorekeeper Brian Nankervis set the scene perfectly and had the crowd eating out of the palm of his hand, with a stage presence that carried the show until crowd favourite Julia Zemiro and a four-piece band surfaced over an hour into the show. Had it not been for Nankervis’ direction – which started off with a classic poem from his Hey Hey It’s Saturday days – their delayed arrival would have dampened the show.

Eighteen audience members were plucked from their seats and thrown into a series of games, adapted from small screenSaturday favourites. After a rigorous audition process that had the crowd shouting Kenny Rogers lyrics in glorious unison and various contestants impersonating the moves of Mick Jagger and Peter Garrett, four remained, and that’s when the show truly began.

In keeping with the TV format, two teams were pitted against one another and forced to dig into the recesses of their minds for information only a music nerd would retain.

The show was at its finest when trivia lead seamlessly into surprise performances from Melbourne’s Olympia and local legends Brian Cadd (Axiom), and Dave Faulkner (Hoodoo Gurus), climaxing with a cover of Nick Cave’s The Mercy Seatby Abbe May.

RocKwiz Live brought together a unique group of diehard Aussie music lovers, and proved just how much talent has sprouted Down Under.

http://themusic.com.au/arts/reviews/2015/11/04/rockwiz-live-salutes-the-aria-hall-of-fame-riverside-theatre-daniel-cribb/

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Show Review: Fleetwood Mac 30.10.15

Published on theMusic.com.au, Oct 2015

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DOMAIN STADIUM

There was an unspoken sense of excitement surrounding the smorgasbord of punters cramming their way through thickening rain into Domain Stadium to witness one of the world’s most influential and loved acts.

Despite playing Perth’s biggest venue, there was no need for theatrics, as a punctual Fleetwood Mac casually strolled onto a dark stage and wasted no time, diving headfirst into The Chain.

It was a seated affair, but like moths to a flame punters were drawn to the front of the stage for a better view of their idols.

Soaring seven-part harmonies bled into the reverb-drenched solos of You Make Loving Fun and pianist/vocalist Christine McVie took the spotlight in the Perth for the first time in a long time. “We’re very glad to have her back,” eternal romantic Stevie Nicks declared, commenting on McVie’s 16-year absence from the band before stealing the attention with Dreams.

The inner turmoil of Fleetwood Mac has always been largely under a public light, which was inevitable, given that there was numerous marriages between band members over the years, which guitarist Lindsey Buckingham broke down through lyrics in Bleed To Love Her.

His heartfelt words about mended relationships were cemented when Nicks sung from his microphone and then slow-danced with him during Sara.

Buckingham was then left by himself, with nothing more than an acoustic guitar to tame the masses.

Buckingham doesn’t play with a guitar pick, instead thrashing the strings with his fingers, and as his hands turned into a blur and he showed the crowd Big Love, it was almost as if the driving force behind the band had made a deal with the devil.

A diverse and emotive set was capped off with hit Go Your Own Way and epic drum solo from Mick Fleetwood himself before McVie reiterated her return as the band’s Songbird. There’s something special about watching timeless classics Little Lies and Don’t Stop through pouring rain.

There’s a reason their songs have gone the distance generation after generation, and unlike other acts of their era whose younger fans don their K-Mart tee for hipster status, all ages appeared to be there for genuine reasons, and it could be because although Fleetwood Mac are one of the biggest bands in history; their lyrics are so painfully honest and revealing that they can leave a whole stadium feeling connected.

http://themusic.com.au/music/livereviews/2015/11/02/fleetwood-mac-domain-stadium-daniel-cribb/

Show Review: Arj Barker 28.10.15

Published on theMusic.com.au, Oct 2015

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Riverside Theatre

It doesn’t matter what Arj Barker does or says, he holds a certain charisma that thrusts just about everything he deals with under a comedic spotlight. Even the poster for the Get In My Head tour is a confusingly hysterical rip of a cheesy album cover from decades ago.

Another thing you have to know about Australia’s adopted son is that he tends to get angry from time to time, and crawling inside his headspace for an hour yielded a rollercoaster of emotions as he attempted to untangle the mess of modern life through careful analysis of social media, growing older, fame and more, all the while managing to still throw in some dick jokes for good measure.

Barker has comedic tone down to a fine art, using timing, volume and gestures to his advantage, stepping up his game from previous run, Go Time. With the Get In My Head tour cycle winding down, it’s likely Barker will continue to raise the bar with whatever he does next.

http://themusic.com.au/comedy/reviews/2015/11/02/arj-barker-regal-theatre-daniel-cribb/

Show Review: Al Murray 26.10.15

Published on theMusic.com.au, Oct 2015

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Astor Theatre

Slurred political commentary and hazy dreams of grandeur were in large supply when “the one true king of beers,” Al Murray, rolled into Perth.

Ale wasn’t the only thing thrown at front row punters as Murray went on a tirade, telling a sizeable gentlemen he had gravitational pull of the Deathstar before labelling his wife a “heartless cow”.

His set was divided into two sections, the first revolving almost entirely around fast-paced improv which had the crowd in hysterics as he spun a web of jokes from something as simple as someone’s name or occupation.

Act two saw the UK funnyman explain global finance in under half a pint, and proved that although he might play the drunken fool, he’s one of the smartest comedians going around. The fact that he managed to remember the name of almost every person in the front two rows was proof of that. The rumours of alcohol killing off brain cells are clearly false, with Al Murray debunking the claims.

http://themusic.com.au/comedy/reviews/2015/11/02/al-murray-astor-theatre-daniel-cribb/

Show Review: Alex Williamson 24.10.15

Published on theMusic.com.au, Oct 2015

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Astor Theatre

He claims to be just another internet star, but Adelaide web hero Alex Williamson is so much more than the 15-second clips he mass produces on a weekly basis.

Darting between the politically incorrect and surprisingly insightful social commentary, Williamson expanded on his crude and witty social media bites, proving he’s mastered short, sharp humour, calculated riffs and audience improv, while also delivering musical gems with an acoustic guitar and catchy melodies.

Ultimately, Alex Williamson’s humour largely appeals to the over-eager, straight up bogans that he is making fun of. And the best part is, most of them have no idea. He’s laughing at them, not with them. It’s an interesting cycle, and marvellous to be stuck in the middle of at a live show.

http://themusic.com.au/comedy/reviews/2015/11/02/alex-williamson-the-guy-from-the-internet-astor-theatre-daniel-cribb/

Show Review: Russell Brand 20.10.15

Published on theMusic.com.au, Oct 2015

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Perth Arena

The rate at which Russell Brand processes information and spits it back out into intellectual social commentary is, on its own, an impressive feat. Add that to the fact that he was born to be a comedian and you have a dangerous combination.

It’s been an interesting couple of years for the English comedian-turned-actor-turned-activist, with the media scrutinising every single word he’s uttered and often blowing it out of proportion. The stage is where Brand gets to set the record straight with fast-paced, observational wit.

“Don’t go to Armadale, is that right? Unless you explicitly require meth,” Brand said, reading a pen note on his hand.

“I’m here to talk about important things,” he added, after taking a swing at The Eagles. The title of his tour was one that allowed him to dive into the political nature of his web series, The Trews.

His YouTube series often attacks those with power in an effort to get important conversation started, but the live version didn’t have the same impact. While Brand outlined problems such as poverty and made compelling cases for social urgency, he didn’t really provide any practical solutions to the issues at hand. Instead, he spent his time on stage justifying his actions as portrayed by the media in an effort to prove he’s not the nut job they’ve made him out to be.

But that doesn’t really matter when Brand is standing in front of 5,000 people pretending to breastfeed Donald Trump.

It’s clear that Brand’s on the right path to influencing change — proving his humour to be an unstoppable tool — he just needs a more constructive set to truly engage with punters enough to get the ball rolling. This is where he started to steer things at the set’s end, leaving everyone with a quote from Rocky IV.

“I guess what I’m trying to say, is that if I can change, and you can change, everybody can change.”

As far as comedy sets go, Brand delivers A-class gold; he’s just not having as much impact as he sets out to.

http://themusic.com.au/comedy/reviews/2015/10/26/russell-brand-perth-arena-daniel-cribb/

Show Review: William Shatner 15.10.15

Published on theMusic.com.au, Oct 2015

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Perth Concert Hall

Having made a name for himself on the small and big screens, it was in theatre that Montreal-born William Shatner got his start, and it was immediately apparent the moment he stepped onstage that it’s where he belonged.

Fans of Star Trek, Boston Legal and his numerous other projects erupted into a deafening cheer when the 84 year old graced the stage, and what followed was a semi-linear breakdown of his career and life to date, with the all the emotional stops.

At times, it was hard to gauge whether Shatner was directing a life story towards a punch line or heartbreak, but regardless of the outcome, laughs were never far away. “Grief and laughter are two sides of the same coin,” he said.

With only a computer chair onstage, his greatest tool was the diverse nature of his voice; playing with level, tone and emphasis to draw the audience in.

Closing your eyes and it was almost like you were listening to an audiobook of a Shatner auto-biography.

His ultimate endgame was conveying how similar we all are, and rounding out the set by singing Real off his 2004 Ben Folds-produced and arranged record Has Been, that goal had been achieved.

Just because you’ve seen me on your TV, doesn’t mean I’m any more enlightened than you.”