INTERVIEW: Rise Against

Published on theMusic.com.au, Nov 2015

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The stadiums that Rise Against now headline give a wider reach to their politically-driven music, but as frontman Tim McIlrath tells Daniel Cribb, making a connection with that audience is a lot harder.

Tucked away in a Perth club back in March of this year, Rise Against returned to their roots. The Chicago punk rock icons were on tour with rock heavyweights Foo Fighters, playing arenas, stadiums and more around the country to 50,000 strong crowds, but booked a last-minute gig at WA venue Amplifier Bar to remind themselves where it all started. “It was so much fun,” McIlrath recalls. “The Amplifier show was the smallest show that we’ve played in I don’t know how many years, and those Foo Fighters shows were the biggest shows that we’ve ever played.”

“And so that juxtaposition was a refreshing way to kind of remind ourselves who we are, what we do and why we do it, and put ourselves face to face with the people who made us tick.”

A Sea Shepherd stall follows the band on tour, educating fans on one of many things the band believes to be an important cause, and that show was no exception. The only difference was the amount of competition it faced, which was a lot less in a venue of that size. Usually Sea Shepherd has to fight to be seen and heard amongst other stalls at massive shows, and the same goes for the passionate themes McIlrath tries to convey through his music. “The more barricades you put between you and that crowd, the more distance you put, the harder it is to kind of reach people,” he explains.

“You take a different strategy and realise they’re not going to catch every innuendo of the song — or even what you say in between songs sometimes. But, you know, a show like that, we’re just trying to hook people into Rise Against and get them to kind of dig deeper and check us out and listen to another song or come to a show and that kind of thing.”

Once a potential new fan does a little digging, there’s a wealth of educating music to engage with, and that’s where stadium singles from 2014’s The Black Market really come into play. They serve two purposes: to leave their mark on a massive and sometimes uninterested crowd, while also working on a more intimate level, where McIlrath’s lyrics shine through.

Their upcoming Australian headline tour will likely mark the end of The Black Market‘s touring cycle, and will see them ease back into writing for album number eight. “I think we’re ready to do something different to The Black Market,” he tells.

“I think we’re going to tackle that over these next six months, but the Rise Against plan has always been a lack of a plan. We never really plan anything, we kind of just stumble blindly into the darkness.

“We were just [jamming] on stage here in San Francisco at sound check – playing a riff for eight minutes straight, whether it’ll be something that we can turn into a song or not we’ll see; we’re just playing it with all of our gut instincts.”

http://themusic.com.au/interviews/all/2015/11/18/rise-against-tim-mcilrath-daniel-cribb/

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Show Review: The Lion King 21.11.15

Published on theMusic.com.au, Nov 2015

CROWN THEATRE

There’s something so relatable about The Lion King‘s storyline that no matter how many times you experience it — every heartbreaking moment and uplifting song climax — it’s still somehow able to make an emotional connection. So much so that it wouldn’t be a stretch to think the gentleman that conveniently had to “go to the bathroom” right before Mufasa’s death just couldn’t sit through the pain again. And we don’t blame him.

The Australian stage production of The Lion King has a lot to live up to, not only because of the acclaimed animated classic, but because the musical has been smashing it on Broadway since 1997, performed to millions of spectators, this scribe included.

While it was clear some kinks and inconsistencies were still being ironed out on opening night in Perth, the production as a whole was an engaging and memorable one, if for no other reason than the intricacy and beauty of the ever-moving stage and set.

The original tale is told as usual with additional songs — some hit, some miss — and by the end of it, it’s hard to believe three hours have cruised by, which, by any means, is proof of success. One of a few errors this production made, however, was failing to cast someone with as deep and smoothing a voice as James Earl Jones, who lent his vocal chords to Mufasa in the animation.  That’s not to say the actor chosen for the part, Rob Collins, didn’t do a good job, but that this example is one of many tiny inconsistencies that drew away from the overall experience.

http://themusic.com.au/arts/reviews/2015/11/24/the-lion-king-crown-perth-daniel-cribb/

Show Review: Neil Diamond 14.11.15

Published on theMusic.com.au, Nov 2015

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SANDALFORD WINERY

As the sun set over the picturesque scenery at Sandalford Winery, dark clouds scattered the horizon and spat lightening in the distance, which marked the perfect theatrical entrance for Neil Diamond, as he ran through a heavy, thunder-like synth to what would soon slide into I’m A Believer. “Are you ready to partay tonight?!” he yelled.

The upbeat tone continued, seeing Desiree smashing into heartfelt romantic numbers Love On The Rocks and Hello Again, giving the first glimpse at the diverse skillset acquired by the charismatic performer since he began his musical journey in the ’60s.

Plucking an acoustic guitar from under a spotlight, Solitary Man picked things up again, and shortly after Longfellow Serenade was concluded the iconic black axe was laid to rest and Diamond floated around to You Got To Me, while his female backing singers were thrust into the spotlight. If was all about the ladies for Girl, You’ll Be A Woman, and they weren’t shying away from the song’s lyrical content.

“I love it when the women scream out my name,” he said, urging security to lay off front row punters drifting towards the stage. “Makes me feel like I’m 70 again.”

Play Me saw the 16,000-strong crowd singing in quiet harmony, and it was indeed a Beautiful Noise. But it wasn’t long until the spotlight was once again fixed on Diamond for If You Know What I Mean. Keeping the emotional rollercoaster on full throttle, a touching rendition of Brooklyn Roads was accompanied by home footage from Diamond’s childhood, which provided a taste of his storytelling abilities.

Although a little less transparent and linear, Shilo extended the trip down memory lane before The Art Of Love, a single from 2014’s Melody Road record, pulled things in the other direction: a juxtaposition that gave a stark comparison between old and new songwriting and inspiration.

Fans’ patience for sitting through the new stuff was rewarded with Forever In Blue Jeans, Cherry Cherry and Hot August Night intro Crunchy Granola Sweet, which was just a glorious as the day it was out to tape at the Greek Theatre in LA in 1972.

Holly Holy swept into I Am… I Said, and Diamond soaked up a wealth of applause, disappearing behind the massive production only to quickly reappear in a silver jacket for Cracklin’ Rosie, Sweet Caroline, and Brother Love’s Travelling Salvation Show.

Six decades into his career and Neil Diamond is all class and charisma. It’s hard to imagine any artists of the current generation having such longevity in their careers and resulting music, proving they just don’t make them like they used to.

http://themusic.com.au/music/livereviews/2015/11/17/neil-diamond-sandalford-winery-daniel-cribb/