Show Review: Harry Styles 21.04.18

Published on, Apr 2018

Pic by Jackie Jet

Harry Styles

Perth Arena

Apr 21

“It’s like a beautiful dream being here,” announced vocalist Isabella Manfredi as Sydney outfit The Preatures gave an arena full of impressionable young gig-goers a schooling on what the awesome local scene has to offer.

With its playful guitar riffs, pop melodies and charismatic conviction, 2016’s I Know A Girl set the mood, while Magick utilised a steady, repetitive beat and simple hook.

The band’s trademark indie rock was right at home in Perth Arena as Ordinary kicked things up a notch, and the response to the tight opening riff of Is This How You Feel? proved they already had quite a few fans in attendance, all of which were ready to dance with Manfredi.

The band rounded out their set by paying tribute to “the elders, past and present”, with Yanada, a powerful single that was the result of a collaboration with an Indigenous community in Sydney.

As soon as the lights dropped for the headline act, impatient fans let out a collective screech that reached dangerous levels; a sound which the heavenly intro vocal harmonies of Only Angel struggled to break through.

Bouncing around the stage with ease, Harry Styles looked wildly different from the bright-eyed singer who graced the same stage five years early. He also sounded vastly different, with the rock opener placing more emphasis on guitar riffs and drums tones than vocals.

Woman introduced a classy, chunky musical onslaught to the mix, elevated by backing vocals from drummer Sarah Jones, while thick bass from Adam Prendergast and heavy keys courtesy of Clare Uchima provided a thundering backing track.

Styles was quick to pass the spotlight to guitarist Mitch Rowland, letting it be known it truly was a band effort, as evident when all members chimed in for the song’s big a cappella finish.

“I have one job tonight and that is to entertain you, and I will do my very best,” Styles said. “Feel free to be whoever you want to be in this room tonight.”

Implementing soaring five-part harmonies that would put One Direction to shame, Ever Since New York changed the pace again; its upbeat and communal feel bouncing off his previous sentiment about inclusivity.

Styles’ transformation as an artist was most apparent during Carolina, a song that places him more on the rock spectrum than pop, and a tune that wouldn’t sound out of place on an Aussie pub tour.

Quick to point out he only has one album and thus 10 songs, Styles assured fans there was more than enough fuel in the tank to keep the party alive, driving the gig to singalong number Stockholm Syndrome, breathing new life into the One Direction single before launching into a song he penned for Ariana Grande, Just A Little Bit Of Your Heart.

Fans were treated to an unreleased tune, Medicine, and its Australia debut was greeted with fans screaming the lyrics, no doubt thanks to countless bootlegs on YouTube already.

The new song was gritty and raw, with moody, calculated verses; big, fierce choruses and menacing guitar work, all promising exciting things to come.

Casually strolling through the venue to a stage at the back of the room (screams signalling exactly where he was at all times), Styles and Rowland serenaded punters in the nosebleed section with Sweet Creature and If I Could Fly.

Not one to focus on the past for too long, he rushed back to the front of the venue to unveil another new single, Anna, driven heavily by an acoustic rhythm and containing a snippet of George Michael’s Faith.

One Direction’s What Makes You Beautiful was barely recognisable, with its light-hearted boy band chorus traded for an upbeat pop rock offering, while its verses were sung in a lower register that gave a darker tone to the lyrics and melody.

It was stadium rock hit Sign Of The Times that received the biggest cheer of the night; the venue once again illuminated by phone lights while a collective voice blew the roof off in its chorus.

Intimate encore number From The Dining Table had a similar impact, and while a surprise cover of Fleetwood Mac’s The Chain wasn’t a crowd favourite, it was a welcome addition to those parents and unwilling guests who braved the front line in the name of love and friendship.

“If you haven’t been singing this whole time, that’s no problem. If you haven’t been dancing the whole time, that’s no problem…for the next five minutes, I need you to go crazy,” he yelled as the ‘77 classic broke out into an epic jam. His wishes were fulfilled as the final moments of rock’n’roll single and set closer Kiwi rolled around, reinforcing his status as a rock star.


Show Review: Jimmy Barnes 19.04.18

Published on, Apr 2018

Jimmy Barnes

Perth Concert Hall

Apr 19

When you think of Australia’s prodigal son of rock’n’roll, Jimmy Barnes, the first thing that comes to mind is his unique and powerful voice, so it’s not surprising he chose to highlight it in the opening of his Working Class Man tour.

“It’s not pretty, but it’s effective,” began Barnes, following a behind-the-scenes look at his warm-up routine; an introduction that spoke volumes to what was on offer during his new show and the book of the same name he was promoting.

As its title suggests, the sequel to the acclaimed Working Class Boy memoir focuses on Cold Chisel, his solo career and family life.

“I flirted with death every night of the week,” Barnes said, taking fans back several decades to early 1974, shortly after he joined Cold Chisel and exactly were his debut book wrapped.

Themes of domestic abuse, violence and alcoholism were immediately apparent, as he dove into the dark corners of his personal life, each powerful anecdote elevated by a song, some unexpected, like a covers The Turtles’ Happy Together and a reggae remix of Wild Thing by The Troggs.

He spoke of the band’s slow rise into the spotlight, which included spray-painting their name around Adelaide because they couldn’t afford posters.

The music videos for Khe Sanh and Choir Girl were played, to which he gave live commentary, letting fans in on hilarious and interesting behind-the-scenes trivia, and he also touched on his friendship with Michael Hutchence and how important Australian legend Michael Gudinski was to the success of his solo career.

Overall, the Working Class Man tour had a different energy and pace to it, and smoother dynamics than his previous effort, giving great insight into not only the man and musician (who spent most of his career in a self-destructive spiral) but also the industry itself, with powerful messages about mental health and addiction scattered throughout. Melbourne’s Music Cities Convention Will Change How You View Music

Published on, Apr 2018

“There’s none of the ‘how can I book a band?’ or any of that, it’s a different kind of thing,” tells Shain Shapiro, co-founder of Music Cities Convention. It’s an event making its way to Melbourne this month after sparking conversations of change within the music industry in Washington, Berlin, Memphis and more since it was conceived a few years ago.

He describes it as a “convening of best practices and thinking”, which involves people in the industry from all across the globe coming together and learning from one another across two days of debate and conversation.

There’s no other real objective to it, other than just get as many people in a room as possible to complain or be really excited about things, and we learn from that,” he explains.

“What we’re trying to do is embed music into other city policies. For music to thrive, we have to understand its role in how cities work – from urban planning to regeneration to health and social care to touring and industry development, and all those types of things.”

Music Cities is trying to get people to view music in a new light. “We tend to see that venue closing and think, ‘Oh, shit, everything’s going wrong.’ And that may not be the case,” Shapiro says.

“If we look at it as an urban planning issue and a city issue, then we can make music fair. We’re fighting for more sustainability, not more stardom, in that sense.

“I think if we valued land in a different way, ie, the value of the building is affected by what happens inside it. We need to completely re-order how we value land; that’s one of the things that the music industry loses sight of.

“That’s one of the main reasons why venues close, because venues are not the most valuable way to use land. With modern technology, there’s solutions where you can have residential and venues in the same place and make it work for everyone.”

That’s why Music Cities takes a different approach when curating panels and speakers, instead of just getting promoters, managers, label rep, etc in a room together. “My goal is for non-music people to take interest, because I don’t want to preach to the choir all the time, and we are seeing general policy people, urban planning people and that kind of stuff show interest in the event because they’re starting to think, ‘Music is niche, but it’s important.’ It’s one of those things that if it’s not looked at strategically, then we can lose it, or it can piss people off,” he laughs.

Among the hectic schedule will be a panel with developers as well as a few new elements they’re testing. We’re trialling something called My Music Cities. We’re getting six different people – one from each continent – to tell their story of music’s role in their development.

“We have Brian Ritchie from Violent Femmes, and the head of culture from the province of Bogota and Colombia, and a big music promoter in China, so we’re doing that and we thought we’d try to create bit more personal storytelling side to it that we’ve never done before.”

There’ll be a presentation on the role of music versus the role of sport and how they’re both promoted and presented from a city perspective, and a close look into numerous censuses across the globe, including a recent Melbourne one that showcased booming results.

Melbourne has a history of having a very forward-thinking approach to music policy, from a city and state perspective,” Shapiro says on why the city was selected for the next event.

“Melbourne has taken music seriously for a long time; it doesn’t get everything right, no city does, but the fact you have a formal music policy that’s audited every year, there’s people responsible for it, there’s a lot of debates and thinking that goes into the role of music in the city, is what kind of attracted us. We’re very impressed with a lot of things that happen in Melbourne.

“Melbourne is seen globally as a thriving place for music, across all sectors.”

The Melbourne event (“the biggest one we’ve ever done”) is just a small part in what Shapiro and co hope becomes a long-term conversation across the globe, and he emphasises the importance of a big picture standpoint.

“The music industry have been focused on its inner-definition of values, so when we define the word ‘value’, it’s usually this much per stream versus that much per stream, or you pay an artist this much versus that much, and we sometimes unintentionally ignore the external or outer value that music has on society, on making people happy, on creating an experience people will remember for the rest of their lives.

“Because these things just happen, we kind of forget they’re not renewable resources – music can disappear from a place if there’s no education, there’s no music in schools, if there’s shitty licensing laws and so and so forth.

“What we’re trying to do is just have a facts-based, long-term conversation about what is the role of music.”

Music Cities Convention will take place from 19 – 20 April across Arts Centre Melbourne and Deakin Edge in Melbourne. You can find out more information via their website.


Published on, Apr 2018

Photo by Chris Fitzgerald

Alan Tudyk Is Still Trying To Make Sense Of ‘Firefly’’s Cancellation 15 Years On

From cancellations to Star Wars, pop culture icon Alan Tudyk tells Daniel Cribb his career has taken a lot of unexpected turns.

Having voiced a character in every major Disney film since 2012’s Wreck-It Ralph – including Duke in Frozen and Alistair Krei in Big Hero 6 – you’d imagine it’d be game time for pop culture superstar Alan Tudyk when he’s at a family event like his niece’s birthday. “Actually, no,” he begins from his car on the way home from such an event. “I think they’re waiting for the next [character]. They’re like, ‘We need some fresh material.’

“At cons I do – whenever I see a kid, I force my voices on them. I’m sure they’re rolling their eyes like, ‘Mum, make him stop.’”

He’ll have new Disney material to dish out later this year after the release of Ralph Breaks The Internet: Wreck-It Ralph 2, but for now, he’s still on lockdown. “The Disney lawyers will break my arm,” he jokes. “The Disney lawyers, they’re serious, they’ll come and rough you up.”

There’ll still be more than enough to talk about when he makes appearances at Supanova Comic Con & Gaming Melbourne and Gold Coast this month, with the Firefly favourite racking up an insane amount of credits across TV, film and gaming since his last visit to the convention, including Rogue One, The TickDirk Gently’s Holistic Detective AgencyPowerless and more. “You never know what’s going to come along when you’re an actor. I definitely didn’t see Star Wars coming until I suddenly got a call and they were like, ‘Gareth Edwards wants to talk to you.’ And I said, ‘Oh, my gosh! Who’s Gareth Edwards?’ And they said, ‘He’s the director who’s going to be directing Star Wars – Rogue One.’

“I went to go meet him at the Star Wars celebration in Anaheim that year and he offered me the role. We were just chatting and he was like, ‘So, you wanna do it?’

“You never know what’s going on out in the world; you just sort of hang out and wait, and then if it comes along, just say ‘yes’ and get to work.”

Tudyk took a completely different approach when it came to his own show, Con Man, which is loosely based off his own experiences at fan conventions and features a slew of familiar faces, including his former Firefly co-star Nathan Fillion. “That took over my life for about three years,” he says. “We did everything – we were a small little production house, so I was writing and producing and acting in it and doing all the post and editing and the music.

“I learnt so much from that project and it was satisfying in a way that I hadn’t experienced before; I’d love to make another show.”

Con Man began as a crowdfunded web series on Vimeo, moved to Comic-Con’s subscription streaming video service for a second season and was eventually acquired by Syfy and scoring two Emmy Award nominations, but it wasn’t such an easy project to get off the ground. “People just didn’t understand it,” he tells. “It’s just Hollywood – it’s weird… They didn’t understand the sci-fi culture or conventions. When I would explain it to production companies, they would be like, ‘Oh, yeah, those stupid nerds.’ And it’s like, ‘Woah, woah, woah, woah, woah! Back up, back up. NO. You’re missing the point – they’re the heroes of the story.’ They just couldn’t wrap their heads around it. They thought of sci-fi conventions as just this fringe thing and they didn’t get it.”

Given Con Man is loosely based on Tudyk’s own experiences, it’s not surprising the cancellation of Firefly is referenced on numerous occasions. Over the past 15 years, the sci-fi series’ following continues to grow and draw in more dedicated fans. “I love that it does. At conventions, I’ll meet people who are my age who saw it when it first came out, and I’m also meeting their kids, who they introduced it to when they were old enough to watch it.

“It was a well-written show, it was different, it was ahead of its time… It doesn’t make any sense that is was cancelled. You can imagine so many different stories that didn’t get told, so many different adventures that those characters could have gone on, and so it makes it a little bit more precious.”

Alan Tudyk will appear at Supanova Comic Con & Gaming Melbourne (20 – 22 April) and Gold Coast (27 – 29 April).

Show Review: Robert Plant 08.04.18

Published on, Apr 2018

Pic by Hugh Buttsworth

Robert Plant, Seth Lakeman

Riverside Theatre

Apr 8

A sniffer dog at Perth’s Riverside Theatre? It’s to be expected when there’s such a large congregation of Led Zeppelin fans.

“Who’s that? Who’s that?!” whispered a worried punter to a friend as UK folk singer and one of the Sensational Space Shifters, Seth Lakeman, appeared as the evening’s opening act. He’d obviously slipped by the K9 force at the entrance undetected.

Armed with a fiddle and stomp box, Lakeman had the audience on side well before the chorus of opener The Hurlersrolled around.

The storyteller painted vivid pictures with poet lyrics delivered via defined and powerful vocals.

The intimate verses of Silver Threads were thrown into chaos by its big choruses, while the dramatic wall of noise that was The Bold Knight transported punters to a place of Game Of Thrones epicness.

The energy in the room prior to Robert Plant’s arrival was electric, and with all the cheers, whistles and screaming, it felt like a massive outdoor festival.

The historical figure shimmied across the stage while The Sensational Space Shifters played 2017’s New World…; an early indication that new material would take focus throughout the show.

Soaring guitar lines from Liam “Skin” Tyson and Dave Smith’s booming tom beat matched the crowd’s enthusiasm, and there was little time to regroup before Turn It Up kicked off, Plant swaying in the darkness to the 2014 single.

Judging from his movements on stage, it was clear how connected Plant was to the music, truly embracing every second of it and singing with an honest, engaging conviction few other live performers deliver on the stage.

It was back to last year’s Carry Fire LP with the quirky twang of The May Queen welcoming Lakeman back to the stage. The harmonised chorus hooks were taken to the next level with another voice in the mix, and the song itself proved a refreshing exercise, toeing the line between alt-rock, folk and pop.

Its outro was one of few moments in which Plant’s voice reached a high octave that took Zeppelin fans back to the good old days.

The crispy, gritty guitar of Rainbow was the focus while the song’s vocal melodies took a back seat; it was a dynamic that summed up the band well, as Plant often fell into the shadows while his cohorts took the spotlight.

“Let’s go back a couple of hundred years,” Plant said, taking punters back to ‘75 with rock’n’roll number Black Country Woman, complete with mandolin and upright bass.

An over-eager fan thought he’d commemorate the evening with by snapping a selfie upfront, which didn’t end well. After causing a scene, he was eventually removed from the gig during the opening lines of Alison Krauss collab Please Read The Letter.

Telling the story behind 1994 classic Gallows Pole, Plant was rudely cut off by an obnoxious punter yelling “play some Led Zeppelin”, to which he responded, “Can somebody please help that guy to the door?”

A swift and unexpected turn to Carry Fire changed the mood drastically, which further highlighted Plant’s diverse back catalogue and that disgruntled heckler finally got his fix with an outstanding performance of Babe I’m Gonna Leave You (although still technically not an original Zeppelin song).

Tyson continued the acoustic onslaught with a fingerpicking journey that was as rocking as it was romantic, teasing punters with numerous false resolves back into the song’s epic finale, which saw a standing ovation.

The energy didn’t relent from there, carrying over into Little Maggie and Bukka White’s Fixin’ To Die, the latter transforming into a fully-fledged jam session, before fans were treated to another rare Zep offering in What Is And What Should Never Be.

Everyone was well In The Mood for one final party as Plant (hair loose and wild) remerged for an encore dedicated to the “police department and all the sleeping fascists”. He channelled that distaste for authority into the final epic lines of Whole Lotta Love, solidifying the evening as one of the more memorable performances to grace the venue in a while, despite some serious setlist omissions.

INTERVIEW: Radnor & Lee

Published on, Apr 2018

Conveying The Internal Process And Desires And Wishes And Dreams And Fears

The path to How I Met Your Mother star Josh Radnor and Ben Lee’s debut album as Radnor & Lee was paved with insecurity and vulnerability, as the prolific Aussie-bound duo tell Daniel Cribb.

“I had to battle some imposter syndrome,” begins actor-turned-muso Josh Radnor on the early stages of Radnor & Lee, his band with Australia’s own Ben Lee. It’s a project stemming from humble begins a few years ago when a couple of long-time friends sat down to write a song.

Things snowballed and they slowly began playing shows, performing to intimate crowds at first. “Neither Josh nor I are deterred by a small audience for our work,” Lee tells. “If you’re a real artist, you make what you make and there’s nothing I would go back and change just because it didn’t connect on a mass level.”

But for Radnor & Lee, the release of their self-titled debut album last November helped expand their conversation to a massive audience, taking them to sold out shows across South America earlier this year; a trip that proved a pivotal movement. “There is a real energy and a conversation that can open up with an audience if they get into it in a way that has momentum, and I think we’ve felt that starting to happen with Radnor & Lee,” Lee explains.

That trip also helped Radnor overcome some of those insecurities he initially had. “I was worried that people [in South America] would be there just because I was on TV,” Radnor reveals. “But then half the audience was singing along with all the lyrics and I thought, ‘Well, maybe they got interested in the music because of that or knew Ben’s stuff from before,’ but now it feels like they’re fans of us. It just shifted something for both of us.”

Radnor gives praise to his musical partner’s experience as another element that helped him find his bearings as a touring musician, but Lee’s quick point out why Radnor’s fresh approach is beneficial to him.

“Josh came into this as a fan of music and it wasn’t a career path decision,” Lee explains. “It’s not like when someone on a Disney show is like, ‘Hey, let’s expand your footprint in pop culture – let’s create a music arm.’ It wasn’t that at all, it was just Josh loving music and this really organic wish to use music to convey the internal process and desires and wishes and dreams and fears.”

“It was something I was going to discover eventually,” Radnor adds. “There’s a part of me that wishes I’d discovered it earlier, but there’s another part of me that feels like it was perfectly timed.”

It’s also taken Lee to brand new territory in his career, with Radnor & Lee marking the first “seriously equal” collaborative project he’s been a part of.

“I’ve had musicians who have worked for me, but that’s a bit of a different thing; you’re essentially paying someone to get your vision across and this is different – this is two friends with equal standing, trying to articulate things together,” he says. “I think I wasn’t mature enough to be open to that level of collaboration before now.”

There’s something about their creative partnership that’s struck a chord with a lot of listeners, with fans immediately making a strong connection to their music, as evident with the Doorstep music video, which was constructed by suggestions from fans. “Being two men, in a friendship, publicly creating together is very healing for people, especially this time when masculinity is being examined,” Lee says.

“As a storyteller, I honour vulnerability and transparency and stories about transformation,” Radnor adds. “I know in my own life, I love to hear artists say, ‘It’s going to be ok,’ or, ‘You will get through this,’ and a lot of our music comes back to that because Ben and I experience all the variety of emotions that come with the human experience, but we’re also fairly resilient and we’re oriented more towards optimism than cynicism.”

They’ve got plenty of stories to tell, and while they’re still in the touring cycle for Radnor & Lee – bringing it to Australia in May for a whirlwind east coast duo tour – album number two is already in the works.

“We’re a band that constructed the [debut] album before we’d played live and now we’ve experienced that, so we’re bringing that experience into the second record,” Lee explains, before Radnor chimes in: “When I directed my first film, Happythankyoumoreplease, I had never been in an editing room, I had never done post-production and on my second film [Liberal Arts], I had done all those things, so I approached the whole filmmaking process differently, and I think that’s what’s happening to us.

“Once we realised we didn’t have to play in these small rooms to 80 people, that we could actually play to more people, our songs are starting to reflect that. The sky opened up to a little more on the second record.”