Show Review: Paul Kelly 25.11.17

Published on theMusic.com.au, Nov 2017

Pic by Linda Dunjey

Paul Kelly

Kings Park

Nov 25

It may have been a sell out crowd, but Aussie icon Paul Kelly‘s presence (five minutes early and by himself) was accompanied by a sense of intimacy; a feeling amplified by the revealing lyrics of opener Life Is Fine. The title track off his latest LP made it quite clear his creative well is nowhere near dry.

By contrast, its follower, Rising Moon, ushered in an upbeat, full-band affair that cast a wave of energy over the audience, driven by big harmonies from Vika and Linda Bull.

Finally Something Good rounded out an opening trio of new songs, but fans were quickly rewarded by “late 20th century” hit Before Too Long.

His trademark Australian folk essence came in thick and fast with Ned Kelly ballad Our Sunshine; a humorous way to introduce his nephew Dan on guitar, who drove the tune with a catchy and theatrical twang to a steady kick from Peter Luscombe and rolling bass from Bill McDonald.

Having provided vocals for the studio recording earlier in the year, Vika took lead for My Man’s Got A Cold, which saw another drastic change of pace into heavy blues territory. Comparing the setlist so far with one of Kelly’s last stints in WA – performing funeral songs in a cathedral – it’s not a stretch to call him the country’s most prolific and eclectic songwriter.

2017’s Letter In The Rain proved that while a lot of acts from a similar vintage might be going through the motions when it comes to new material, Kelly’s still producing fresh and original content that stands strong on its own; the aforementioned single still giving the occasional nod to his roots.

Residents nearby would have heard the powerful, collective chant of From Little Things Big Things GrowTo Her Doorand Deeper Water and while a wealth of talented musicians amplified the iconic songs to a new level, it was during the stripped back Sonnet 18, when Kelly’s voice was hanging on nothing more than a few quiet guitar notes, that the evening was truly taken to a magical place, only anchored in reality by the faint crushing of VB cans on the grassy hills and drunk conversations scattered around the venue – would you expect any less at a such an Aussie affair?

Before we knew it, like a whirlwind reunion with an old friend, the evening was over; the Australia legend leaving his fans satisfied but also wanting more as the verses and choruses of How To Make Gravy, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers’ Handle Me With Care (feat supports Middle Kids and Steve Earle), Look So Fine Feel So LowBradman and Leaps And Bound faded into the night.

http://themusic.com.au/music/livereviews/2017/11/27/paul-kelly-kings-park-and-botanic-garden-daniel-cribb/

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INTERVIEW: Nirvanna The Band The Show

Published in The Music (NSW, VIC, QLD) and on theMusic.com.au, Nov 2017

Why ‘Nirvanna The Band The Show’ Deserves Your Attention

Canadian pals Matt Johnson and Jay McCarrol admit Nirvanna The Band The Show can be hard to digest at first, but it’ll only take a few episodes until you’re hooked.

“I would look at the trailer for this show, and be like, ‘That looks like a bunch of shit,’” tells Jay McCarrol, one half of Viceland’s Nirvanna The Band The Show. It’s nearing midnight in Toronto and only a few days before the show’s second season premieres, but his partner in crime, Matt Johnson, is in the thick of editing. “Jay doesn’t edit,” Johnson begins, with McCarrol relaxing at home on the other end of the conference call.

The series follows the childhood friends as they try to get a hometown show at Toronto venue the Rivoli, with each episode playing out an elaborate and convoluted plan, from inadvertently holding up a bank to trying to crash a Christmas parade, all while parodying iconic films and TV shows like Jurassic ParkHome Alone and Daredevil.

Initially emerging as a web series 10 years ago, it was brought back to life earlier this year by Viceland. “Our show doesn’t really look like or seem like any other show that people are groomed to enjoy, where it’s easy for them to settle in right away and know what they’re into,” McCarrol says.

“I think when people watch our show, and we’re lucky enough to get them for whatever reason, and they start to dig into it a little bit and give it a chance then it’s really rewarding for them.”

Its guerrilla-style production is one that Johnson used in his first feature film, The Dirties, which won a wealth of acclaim and even caught Kevin Smith’s attention and saw him release it.

Part of makes Nirvanna The Band The Show so charming is that loose production style and its hidden camera scenes, but it wasn’t something they initially gave too much thought to.

“We didn’t really plan so hard the whole, ‘Oh, we’re going to shoot it with unsuspecting people and weave them into the plot.’ The media likes to talk about it, but with us, it was just the easiest way that we could tell the story, and the funniest way,” McCarrol explains.

“You’re in dude,” Johnson adds, referencing a moment in season one where a brief and unplanned conversation with a stranger outside the venue gives the episode the perfect end note.

“Some of the time that’s where we’re getting our plots from,” he tells. “But other times, we’re trying to force certain things to happen, so that things will make sense. It kind of goes both ways.”

“We’re starting to know what we’re getting into when we shoot certain scenes,” McCaroll says.

While the storylines and grand plans in each episode are brilliant on their own, it’s McCarrol and Johnson’s onscreen characters and the dynamics between the two that really drives the show. Their real-life friendship is evident throughout and contributes to the natural flow of things, and something they lean on heavily throughout production, with McCarrol quick to state that neither of them are “proficient or elegant writers”.

“We don’t really write the show,” he admits. “We write what we think is a good premise…we always end up looking back at a rough cut and saying, ‘Okay, well only half of this is working,’ and, ‘Look at what just happened here with this person on the street. We need to explore that.’ So we go out and re-shoot. You can see that our hair changes a lot if you look closely,” he laughs.

The absurdity of their onscreen personas gets amplified in the season two. “Some of that stuff is some of my favourite stuff that we’ve ever done,” Johnson says on an episode entitled The Buddy, which finds the perfect blend of character development and hidden camera content. “I think what Jay and I think is really funny is more of the drama,” he continues. “The characters are basically brain dead in many ways, but then they’re experiencing these complex emotions.”

Most episodes begin in their apartment, with the duo messing around or coming up with another scheme. “A lot of people would say that’s just what they want to see,” McCarrol states. “We would say that too sometimes, but really what drives it forward is when we can finally come together and tell a compelling story with a good backbone of characters that make sense off of each other.”

“You’ve got a good example of that in your own backyard,” Johnson adds. “The first episode of Summer Heights High, Jay and I go back to over and over and over and over again, in terms of character.”

Johnson’s appreciation of Aussie talent stems from his friendship with local filmmaker Dario Russo, the creator of SBS comedy Danger 5. “[Danger 5] is another Australian original that, in my opinion, is really, really excellent.”

“Are we just naming Australian things we know, like Tim Tams?” McCarrol asks. “No, no, these are Australian television shows, Jay. Very important,” Johnson responds.

The conversation continues, with a recommendation of Russell Coight’s All Aussie Adventures thrown their way before the pair engages in a conversation reminiscent of what you’d see onscreen. “I’m really liking The Deuce right now,” McCarrol says. “It’s not Australian,” Johnson responds. “I thought he just asked if we were watching any shows?” “No, he said Australian shows.” “Well, I’ll just tell him off the record then, The Deuce is a good show. James Franco is exactly how you want him in it.”

The turnaround between seasons was lightning fast in comparison to other shows, and while they’re developing praise from the likes of Rick & Morty creator Justin Roiland (“one of the best shows ever made”), they’re not sure where it’ll go. “We don’t really even know what our expectations are for how the show can grow,” McCarrol admits.

“We’re in the middle of shooting [season 3] right now,” Johnson reveals. “I shouldn’t say in the middle of shooting it, but we’ve shot a good portion of it already.

“I hope that it doesn’t come out until next summer because I think that’s almost kind of when it needs to. But I don’t know what the plan is for when it will be delivered.”

“Every now and then, we pop our heads above water,” McCarrol says, “but for the most part, we’re just a little tiny team making it as best as we can.”

You can stream season one of Nirvanna The Band The Show via SBS On Demand.

http://themusic.com.au/interviews/all/2017/11/25/matt-johnson-jay-mccarrol-nirvanna-the-band-the-show-daniel-cribb/

Show Review: Yusuf (Cat Stevens) 22.11.17

Published on theMusic.com.au, Nov 2017

Pic by Daniel Cribb

Yusuf (Cat Stevens)

Perth Arena

Nov 22

Transforming Perth Arena’s stage into an immersive West End trainstation, Yusuf (Cat Stevens) had punters in awe even before making an entrance.

The British legend casually strolled out with his acoustic for Don’t Be Shy, bassist Kwame Yeboah and guitarist Eric Appapoulay joining after a verse to add some gentle accompaniment before Where Do Children Play? injected more energy, Yusuf sweeping between husky and gritty melodies.

“This is a fairly old song that Rod Stewart updated,” he said, taking a seat and settling into an intimate and raw rendition of The First Cut Is The Deepest.

For an artist of his calibre, the stripped-back nature of the arena show was refreshing and exactly what the iconic music deserved; songs such as Blackness Of The Nightwere instantly captivating as Yusuf’s powerful melodies and earnest voice took hold.

Miles From Nowhere found the perfect balance of folk and rock with quiet verses and rocking choruses, Yeboah playing bass and drums (not to mention his various stints on the piano throughout the night) while Appapoulay shredded.

The guitar intricacies and thoughtful lyrics of The Wind and Daytime – the latter taken from his last official album as Cat Stevens in 1978 – showcased just how good a songwriter he is, as the short, sharp hits cut straight to the point.

Mary And The Little Lamb off 2017’s The Laughing Apple LP was revealed as a song that had been sitting in storage for 50 years and only recently dusted off – a welcome decision as its upbeat rhythm and inspirational melodies were a set highlight, especially when percussionist Glen Scott delivered soaring backing vocals in its chorus.

From the West End to Jamaica, a healthy dose of reggae was injected into the evening for an interesting and memorable rendition of (Remember The Days Of The) Old Schoolyard.

“Don’t go anywhere, we’ll be right back,” he said, ushering in an intermission after only 45 minutes onstage that somewhat interrupted the building momentum.

“Welcome to my attic!” he yelled upon return, as a curtain dropped to reveal another insane set you’d expect to find on Broadway. The attic resembled that of his childhood home, located above a cafe.

It set the scene for a hit-laden, story-driven second half, welcomed by a quick acoustic verse of There’s A Place From Us from 1957 Broadway musical West Side Story.

He put down the guitar and walked over to a record player to put on The Beatles’Twist & Shout.

“We all wanted to be in that band. Here’s my chance,” he said, kicking into From Me To You with his full band. The trip down memory lane continued with his first big hit, Mathew & Son.

It wasn’t all easy going after the ’67 hit, though, with Yusuf quick to admit he wasn’t too fond of the industry’s inner-workings at the time, as illustrated via the blues-heavy Big Boss Man.

The insightful introduction to “over-orchestrated and overproduced” follow-up single A Bad Night was met with an unhappy reaction from a frontrow punter who requested a different song. “Go to another concert if you don’t like this one,” he responded.

The short and sweet Tea For The Tillerman paved the path for longtime musical partner Alan Davies to join him on guitar and backing vocals for Wild World. It’s overwhelming melodies carrying over into If You Want to Sing Out, Sing Out and Morning Has Broken, which were only slightly hindered by a relentless buzzing noise over the PA that a roadie was quick to fix once summoned.

The stark contrast between Moonshadow and Ruby Love truly highlighted the singer’s eclectic back catalogue and his status as one of the all-time greats was cemented with flawless performances of Oh Very YoungThe Hurt, and another Beatles fanboy moment (Here Comes The Sun), all accompanied by tales of his religious enlightenment; the ecstasy of which was summarised in See What Love Did To Me.

He blamed the media (giving a special mention to Australia’s) for the “misunderstanding” about his time away from music, talking of his education, charity and family endeavours, the latter of which was the perfect segue into epic singalong Father & Son.

“Fast forward – I think it’s time to get on that loco.” The Peace Train finally arrived, bringing with it a smorgasbord of classics that included Can’t Keep It InMaybe There’s A World and Beatles’ All You Need Is Love to round out a stunning performing.

http://themusic.com.au/music/livereviews/2017/11/23/yusuf-perth-arena-daniel-cribb/

Show Review: Lorde 18.11.17

Published on theMusic.com.au, Nov 2017

Pic by Brandon Ward

Lorde

Kings Park

Nov 18

Adoring shrieks and fans screaming the lyrics to Homemade Dynamite overpowered Lorde‘s voice as the open-air venue filled with smoke and a red hue for a theatrical yet down to earth intro from the pop superstar.

“GO THE KIWIS!” grunted a middle-aged male in a deckchair on the grassy banks like he was cheering on his favourite player on the Melodrama world tour.

Lorde’s trademark dance moves quickly surfaced in Disclosure’s Magnets as she bounced from one side of the stage to the other, and when the chorus dropped in Tennis Court, the punters on the deck up front returned the energy. “Holy shit, there’s a lot of you,” she said, grinning ear to ear under a fluorescent Melodrama neon sign.

The minimalist production and few supporting musicians (which ranged from one to three members throughout the evening) were used to great effect, with Lorde’s haunting and diverse voice carrying the night while two dancers weaved powerful visual representations of the music on the spacious stage.

The full effect of the dancers was felt during the dramatic affair that was Sober, during which the New Zealand talent kicked things up a notch, dishing out bursts of aggressive vocals between ’80s synth lines and an intimidating beat.

The nostalgic tone continued with a reflective and thought-provoking pre-recorded poem beaming over the PA, a well-placed bridge that transitioned into the guitar-driven The Louvre. The change of pace proved that, although Lorde’s voice pairs nicely with electronic elements alone, it’s with some clean chords that her emotional melodies truly hit the mark.

A similar arrangement in piano ballad Liability reinforced this, with Lorde, illuminated by several thousand phone lights, pouring her heart out.

“You gonna sing this one with me, Perth?” Lorde said in a playful tone over the intro beat of Royals. Even old mate in the deckchair was on board, proudly declaring, “I’ve heard this one!”

The megahit highlighted one major flaw in the set, being an overuse of vocal sampling that, while helping replicate the sound on the record, seemed a lost opportunity to employ backing vocalists to truly elevate the vocal melodies and dynamics to the next level, which is something the singer has done on other dates on the album tour to great effect.

With that said, Lorde well and truly earned the title of one of the year’s best shows in just over an hour, transporting those in attendance to another word with the epic chorus of Perfect Places before rounding out the evening with TeamGreen Light and Loveless – the trio proving an uplifting and invigorating way to close the night.

http://themusic.com.au/music/livereviews/2017/11/20/lorde-kings-park-and-botanic-garden-daniel-cribb/

INTERVIEW: Shelley Hennig

Published in The Music (QLD) on theMusic.com.au, Nov 2017

Why Fans Connected So Strongly With Teen Wolf

Teen Wolf star Shelley Hennig tells Daniel Cribb why the supernatural hit is more relatable than a lot of other shows out there.

“Why do you think I’m napping? I only nap when I’m depressed,” sighs US actor Shelley Hennig, still processing the series finale of Teen Wolf.

Over the past three years, she’s developed a loyal following through her portrayal of Malia Tate on the MTV hit, and the reaction garnered from fans when the final episode aired recently proves just how strong an impact it had.

“Even though it was a supernatural show, it was surprising relatable; if you put aside the powers that we had, at the end of the day, they were pretty relatable teenagers dealing with being different, and I think we can all relate to that.”

In-between life or death battles with supernatural creatures, most of the characters were worried about getting good grades. “I appreciated that,” Hennig laughs. “It kept things grounded.”

While the show might be finished, Hennig says it won’t ever truly be gone, with dedicated fans around the globe keeping it alive; like those attending Supanova Brisbane and Adelaide this month to meet her and other guests such as Millie Bobby Brown (Stranger Things) and Graham McTavish (Preacher).

But Hennig’s stepping away from the supernatural and into the world of hip hop with her next film. She showcased a natural comedic flair throughout Teen Wolf that fans fell in love with, and she’s keeping that ball rolling with upcoming Netflix film The After Party, featuring Andy Buckley (The Office), Wiz Khalifa and more. “Basically, it’s a movie about a young rapper who wants to get signed by a record label and if he doesn’t within 24 hours then he’s going to join the marines,” Hennig explains. “My brother in the movie is his manager, and I’m just out of high school. I’m the older sister who the artist has always had a crush on, so my brother makes me come along to convince him to come back out instead of joining the marines.”

Hennig will also appear in the upcoming TV comedy Liberty Crossing as Carly Ambrose, which is currently in post-production. “I’m open to anything, it just seems that comedy has been coming lately,” she tells. “Comedy’s hard, though. Comedy and drama are both challenging in different ways. Comedy is a lighter day, mentally, but also more challenging in other ways.”

http://themusic.com.au/interviews/all/2017/11/08/shelley-hennig-daniel-cribb/

INTERVIEW: Jeremy Neale

Published on theMusic.com.au, Nov 2017

Why Jeremy Neale’s Debut Solo Album Made Him Evaluate His Entire Life

Brisbane rocker Jeremy Neale tells Daniel Cribb how the path to his debut album might have saved his music career.

“I think a lot of this record was me figuring out a way to make my life work when it wasn’t really working,” Jeremy Neale begins, cutting straight to the chase on his highly anticipated debut album, Getting The Team Back Together.

It’s a tone reflected throughout the LP’s 11 songs, and something Neale has mastered across a number of EPs and his time fronting Brisbane band Velociraptor. “That was the prime focus; getting the word right,” he tells. “Sometimes there’s a discrepancy between how you’ve been feeling and how you can word it, but over time I’ve gotten better at being super-honest about my experiences and then wording it in a way that’s not hidden – it’s straight-up.”

While on previous releases the affable singer-songwriter took a more “derivative” approach to music (not in a negative way), he let the aforementioned method of penning lyrics drive this album’s sound. “I’m heading towards a new or more consistent sound,” he says, which is confirmed through the record’s ebbs and flows, assisted by producer Miro Mackie, who maintained a birds-eye view of the project throughout. “I have stuff I want to say and I was like, ‘I’ll say it in my voice and I’ll figure out what the common ground is there, and apply the production to suit’.”

Getting The Team Back Together is an eclectic take on late-‘70s/early-‘80s power pop and on first inspection will grab you with insanely catchy hooks (Small TalkVideo), but after multiple spins its depth is revealed and presents an artist who has truly found his groove, largely through an interesting contrast between fun melodies and relatable, thought-provoking lyrics. “I wasn’t having a great time and I wasn’t looking after myself as well as I should have. A lot of it was written in a period of my life where I was like, ‘Okay, how am I going to rebuild the foundations of a life that works for me?’ Everything between work, exercise and approach to music; not being in such a hurry, I think.”

Figuring out that balance is illustrated perfectly in All My Life, which tackles mental health throughout with calculated musical dynamics.

One of the burdens placed on indie artists is juggling time and financial constraints, and nothing is more draining than the production and promotion (touring included) of an album, which is perhaps part of the reason why there’s a higher rate of mental health issues within the industry. “It’s very brutal. And I totally, at some point in the past few years, bankrupted myself because of music commitments,” he reveals. “I was like, ‘Well, that’s not really sustainable. How am I going to find a way to make it sustainable and enjoy the process too?’ I feel like sometimes you get caught up and say, ‘I’m going to sacrifice for now, and it’ll all be sweet and surely something great will come my way,’ but I’m just at the point now of never sacrificing a moment now for a potential future that you just can’t predict.”

It’s a realisation that a lot of artists don’t come to and, without that, it’s easy to burn out after the initial “all or nothing stage”; a reality that means your favourite song could be sitting on a hard drive in storage. “A lot of the time, someone will send you a demo and then a couple of years will go by and they never put out the song, and I’m like, ‘Aw, man, that song was incredible. I wish it had made it out to the world.’ But, for one reason of another, whether it’s the personal or financial reasons of music or just the headspace demand, people just go, ‘Nah, I can’t do it anymore.’ And they’re out.

“It depends how you approach music, but I’ve always wanted to do it for life. I always want to be doing it – it doesn’t matter in what capacity – so it’s like, ‘How do you approach music so it is suitable to do for your life?’ It’s not for me to put all my eggs in a musical basket, but I can’t get rid of my desire to create and every time I create something I want to share it. So what format is most conducive to doing that over a lifetime? I don’t really have the answer for that, but I guess I’ll just keep putting out albums until I can’t.”

http://themusic.com.au/interviews/all/2017/11/03/jeremy-neale-daniel-cribb/