Show Review: Roger Hodgson 04.02.19

Published on theMusic.com.au, Feb 2019

Pic by Alan Holbrook

Roger Holbrook

Riverside Theatre

Feb 4

US rock legend Roger Hodgson wasted no time in getting the party started, strolling out to a sustained synth note as crisp and clean as the white suit he donned while some audience members where still finding their seats.

Bouncing, thick piano chords set the beat while a familiar harmonica line introduced Supertramp’s Take The Long Way Home, a fitting intro given the singer-songwriter was celebrating the 40th anniversary of the album it’s taken from, Breakfast In America.

With small palm trees spaced around the back of the stage and lights between band members, the production resembled the set of a late night talk show, a scene that was elevated with organ from Ray Coburn and saxophone from Michael Ghegan.

Requesting the house lights turned on, Hodgson stepped away from the mic and to the front of the stage to chat with frontrow punters like he was getting reacquainted with old friends. “Who was here last time?” he asked, and a sea of hands quickly rose in response.

After dedicating the evening to birthday boy Chris Wilkinson in the nosebleed section, the celebrations continued, Hodgson taking punters back to School through a wall of washed-out guitar tones.

Single Breakfast In America (“A song that I wrote when I was 19.. three years ago.”) was an early hit that had the audience in ecstasy thanks to a riveting saxophone solo.

“I couldn’t write a song like that today if I tried,” Hodgson said. “I mean, ‘Not much of a girlfriend’ – what was I thinking?”

Hodgson’s voice was the most captivating instrument on stage, adding multiply layers to songs like folk rock number Easy Does It and piano ballad Lord Is It Mine.

Sister Moonshine showcased his eclectic songwriting style with Coburn forced to offer up a soaring guitar solo and harmonica parts from his keyboard to keep up with its demanding instrumentation.

Nothing compared to classics The Logical SongDreamer, Fool’s OvertureGive A Little Bit and It’s Raining Again, but relatively new single Death And A Zoo (2000) came close. It was a set highlight driven by a symphony of obscure sound effects that complimented the song’s powerful lyrics around animal welfare.

By set’s end, Roger Hodgson and co had well and truly delivered on their promise to take fans on an emotionally-charged journey.

https://themusic.com.au/article/tb2tqairqq0/roger-hodgson-riverside-theatre-daniel-cribb

Advertisements

theMusic.com.au: WA’s Iconic 78 Records Is Shutting Down: ‘It Was Such A Great Trip’

Published on theMusic.com.au, Feb 2019

Beloved WA institution 78 Records has announced it will close its doors permanently on March 3.

Speaking with The Music, manager Andrew “Fang” de Lang, who began working there in 1986 at the age of 19, cited high rent in Perth and the rise of streaming services as contributing factors.

“We gave it our best shot over a long period, but the time is nigh,” Lang said.

Over the past 47 years, the historic CBD record store has become a staples of the city’s music scene.

After opening in Forrest Place in 1971, 78 Records relocated numerous times around the city before landing at its fifth and final home in a laneway off Murray Street, all the while establishing itself as a thriving hub via its extensive vinyl range, live performances and more.

“There was a massive commitment to local music, particularly as [artists] were bringing out a release,” Lang said.

One memorable local launch, the first at 78 Records’ Mortlock Building location, included Perth legends Jebediah.

“We found out very quickly that we couldn’t have people jumping up and down on the [second story] floor because the floor might fall through.

“The whole floor was vibrating and this was a building we just got into. We had to frantically get on the microphone and tell everyone to stop.”

Other in-store performances came from Weezer, Powderfinger, The Living End, Eskimo Joe, Gyroscope and Julian Lennon, the latter of which proved to be one of Lang’s more memorable days there.

“There were so many Beatles fans coming into the store and asking me to give him things,” Lang recalled.

“That was probably the weirdest day I can remember; seeing middle-aged people just go stupid and act like children.”

There’s been an overwhelming outpour of emotion from music lovers and artists across social media, which Lang describes as “heartening on one hand and sad on the other”.

“It just made me realise how important this shop was; it just reinforced that we provided a service for people and they had a good time meeting their friends here or just buying music.

“What I’ll remember most is just the enjoyment I had working here – just serving people, talking music, organising in-stores. It was just such a great trip.

“Time’s up and it’s a bittersweet thing, but I have no regrets.”

https://themusic.com.au/article/oqi-tLe2ubg/it-was-such-a-great-trip-wa-s-iconic-78-records-is-shutting-down/

Show Review: Phil Collins 28.01.19

Published on theMusic.com.au, Jan 2019

Pic by Ted Dana

Phil Collins

RAC Arena

Jan 28

Phil Collins fans are a seemingly impatient bunch, demanding the arrival of the English legend with a wave of whistles only ten minutes after the advertised start time. Their calls were swiftly acknowledged, as the house lights dimmed and a rolling black and white collage of the musical powerhouse’s career to-date graced the screen; images that raised anticipation in the room to an all-time high before Collins casually strolled into view to a near-standing ovation and took a seat between two spotlights.

“Good evening, Western Australia,” he began. “Had a back operation a couple of years ago. Back’s fucked… Not dead yet. But that won’t stop us from having some fun.”

Nostalgia was in full effect as the lush verse melodies of Against All Odds danced their way around delicate, glistening guitar lines into a huge stadium rock chorus that sent chills down your spine.

The rock affair continued to the beat of Another Day In Paradise, with Collins’ backing singers elevating his already spot-on vocals. A horns section stole the show during I Missed Again, which rolled into Hang In Long Enough as Collins showcased his air drumming skills to the beat of his son, drummer Nicholas.

“A couple of hundred years ago I was in a band called Genesis,” Collins said, a segue into Throwing It All Away. In-between the tune’s call-and-response sections, he rocked back and forth in his chair to reach its high notes, proving that, despite being in one place most of the show, he was still able to deliver every song with infectious energy.

His voice did most of the heavy lifting as evident in ballad Can’t Turn Back The Years, pop rock hit Inside Out and horn-driven party-starter Who Said I Would; three numbers that also showcased the eclectic nature of his extensive back catalogue, something that kept the show interesting.

Collins then embarked on an emotionally-charged duet with backing vocalist Bridgette Bryant. The duo danced their way through Separate Lives, marking a set highlight that had the room sitting in silent awe.

The real showstopper, however, came from Collins’ son who unleashed an insane ten-minute drum solo alongside percussion Richie “The Octopus” Garcia that made it hard to believe he was still a teenager. The audience were stunned and Collins would have no doubt been filled with pride at its conclusion. The beat rolled on, with Collins finally able to showcase his rhythm via a slap-top Cajon, shuffling into upbeat single Something Happened On The Way To Heaven.

Talent definitely runs in the family, with Nicholas shifting from behind the kit to a piano for You Know What I Mean, an emotional high point that carried the show to its conclusion via drum-heavy crowd favourite In The Air Tonight, The Supremes’ You Can’t Hurry Love and a handful of hits including Dance Into The Light, Genesis’ Invisible TouchEasy Lover, climaxing in a flurry of confetti to epic dance party Sussudio.

By the time encore Take Me Home rolled around, the event was a strong contender for gig of the year. Phil Collins is definitely not dead yet, offering up a show that was equal parts uplifting, nostalgic and inspiring.

https://themusic.com.au/article/wsje1NfW2dg/phil-collins-rac-arena-daniel-cribb/

Show Review: Shania Twain 30.11.18

Published on theMusic.com.au, Nov 2018

Pic by Georgia Head

Shania Twain

RAC Arena

Nov 30

The path to the Shania Now Tour is a remarkable one. After the singer retired from performing back in 2004, many fans accepted the fact they wouldn’t get the chance to see her again, or for the first time.

Undergoing intense vocal rehabilitation, the Canadian artist not only reemerged stronger than before, but reclaimed her creativity, with her fifth album, 2017’s Now, marking the first LP in which she wrote and co-produced every track.

The crowd impatiently stamped along to the beat of Queen’s We Will Rock You before a spotlight illuminated a platform near the mixing desk on the other side of the room from the stage.

Drummer Elijah Wood kept the beat going with a booming floor tom and tight snare, before Shania Twain appeared at the back of the room, dressed in a sparkling dress and rhinestone-studded black cowboy hat. She slowly made her way through the crowd to her place centrestage, almost although she was hosting an awards night. The winners? Everyone in attendance as soon as the curtain dropped to reveal a classy, retro-yet-modern stage setup.

“Are you ready, Perth?” she said to a lukewarm response. “I SAID… ARE YOU READY, PERTH?”

Kicking off proceedings with a new cut, Life’s About To Get Good, was a bold move, but it was a tune that allowed Twain and her four backing dancers to find their groove.

The song’s suffocating bass eased up for country-pop hit Come On Over, taking fans back to ’97, but its execution wasn’t as tight, with the vocals struggling to find their place amongst an overbearing honky-tonk accordion section.

There’s no way but up from here,” was an encouraging lyric to hear after an inconsistent start, as the singer slowly rose above the stage on one of five large cubes occupying the space, each side of which had a screen that changed to match the song at hand.

Her “drinking song”, Poor Me, was another insight into the rough path to Now, with the singer truly finding her groove when its chorus kicked in. Guitarist Joshua Ray Gooch introduced the single with a gentle twang before Twain took over and artistic production elements gave the show real, definable character.

Classic country-esque single Don’t Be Stupid (You Know I Love You) had punters boot scootin’ like it was going out of fashion, while Twain paraded in front of a semi-transparent curtain, her backing band behind it, dancing around and on top of the cubes that now resembled a swimming pool.

Megahit That Don’t Impress Me Much didn’t need extreme production to back it up, with its classic, insanely catchy chorus doing the heavy lifting, while Twain and co offered up choreographed attitude to match.

A quick kiss cam interlude to a rock/jazz influenced jam from Wood and it was back into the thick of a country-pop tidal wave with Any Man Of MineWhose Bed Have Your Boots Been Under? and Honey, I’m Home; dual fiddles weaving an emotional tapestry of their own in the background.

“I never enjoyed being in the spotlight,” she revealed, explaining her unique entrance. Getting up-close and personal with fans, face-to-face, helps her connect more with her audience and feel more comfortable.

Another drastic change of pace, the band offered up huge rock riffs, ’80s-inspired synth and gut-wrenching backing vocals, all of which was a carefully orchestrated diversion for Twain, who quietly made her way to the back of the room to appear on the small platform Wood opened the show on.

“This is what I call my reunion song with you,” she said, getting nostalgic again. “Because tonight and forever, Perth, You’re Still The One.”

With an acoustic guitar in hand and thousands of phone lights pointed her way, Twain stripped things back for a set highlight.

She picked up a few audience members on her way back to the front, bringing them up on stage and introducing them while taking selfies. “This is my favourite part of the show,” she enthused.

The meet and greet transitioned into her “sexy number”, More Fun, with one of the gentlemen who followed her from the crowd helping her up onto a piano.

It was back to the nostalgia, this time via a medley of music videos on the big screen, and the trip down memory lane continued with From This Moment On, highlighting it was her pop ballads that translated best to an arena show – her upbeat country-pop hits were a close second.

My dreams came true because of you” echoed throughout the venue, reinforcing the sentiments she’d be offering up to longtime fans all night.

It’s hard to beat the emotional intensity of a ballad with a well-timed key change, but I’m Gonna Getcha Good!, with its accompanying neon/Tron aesthetics, came close.

Opening act Bastian Baker returned to the stage, taking on Billy Currington’s vocal parts for duet Party For Two, which injected a fresh energy into the set that carried over into Swingin’ With My Eyes Closed. It was the ultimate genre mash-up, borrowing from reggae, country and pop, which rendered the audience’s reaction splintered at best, some bobbing in time while others awkwardly threw their fists in the air.

(If You’re Not In It For Love) I’m Outta Here! pulled things into line but, as the song’s title promised, Twain was gearing up to make an exit.

The band were given their time in the spotlight once more, unleashing a Blue Storm that had guitars shredding and drums booming. It was an interesting but epic transition into the familiar intro riff of Man! I Feel Like a Woman!, a song that had everyone on their feet, screaming along, finishing the evening on a high note.

https://themusic.com.au/article/rieqoKOipaQ/shania-twain-perth-arena-daniel-cribb/

Show Review: Bill Murray, Jan Vogler & Friends 07.11.18

Published on theMusic.com.au, Nov 2018

Pic by Dana Weeks

Bill Murray, Jan Vogler & Friends

Riverside Drive

Nov 7

“A spirited evening of music and literature.” That’s the tagline on the poster for Bill Murray, Jan Vogler & Friends’ Australian tour, with many immediately drawn to a certain name and his image before taking a step back to figure out exactly what was on offer.

Many film icons of Murray’s calibre and vintage set out on “An Evening With” tours, but when you think about it, a show that features the Ghostbusters star reciting classic poetry and great American literature and singing classic songs, backed by a captivating chamber orchestra, is probably the best representation of Bill Murray on stage you could expect.

The evening began with a comical message from Murray about ensuring mobile phones were switched off and shortly after his arrival on stage it was clear why.

Walking out with renowned Chinese-American violinist Mira Wang and Venezuelan-American pianist Vanessa Perez, Murray stood tall and imposing and began reciting classic American literature to a deadly silent crowd. The audience was hanging off every word, and at its finish, German cellist and Murray’s creative partner, Jan Volver, joined the party, with the band embarking on a classical journey that captured the essence of the powerful words that had just been delivered.

The show continued to play out in a similar fashion, with Murray delivering works from Twain, Hemingway, Whitman and more and the band offering up music from the likes of Ravel, Schubert, Saint-Saëns and Bach in support.

“The worst is over,” Murray joked after the band had settled in. “But if you want to leave now, we’d totally understand.”

It was his largely-than-life personality that kept the show alive, and there was plenty of humour on offer; from renaming Rottnest Island’s Quokkas to “Quokkos” (“They couldn’t have been sweeter… or more delicious.”), to pulling Perez’s local paper turner to centre stage for a dance, Murray was on fire.

His infectious energy was truly on show during classic songs The Piano Has Been Drinking by Tom Waits, in which he ended up sitting on the piano after downing a healthy amount of whisky, and It Ain’t Necessarily So, which had the entire audience singing along.

Murray may not have the greatest singing voice (as evident in My Girl), but that’s what adds to the show’s charm; Murray comes across as a relatable and fun guy who is easy to connect with.

While it was during these collective singalongs that the room was filled with the most energy, it was when Murray was reading works like The Adventures Of Tom Sawyer, playing four different characters, that the night truly found its stride, with many audience members transported to another place.

That’s not to say the band didn’t have their time in the spotlight, with Murray vacating the stage (or more appropriately, hiding behind the piano from time to time), to let the mind-blowingly talented musicians on stage unleash.

Given the show’s unique structure and it’s accompanying parts, it’s hard to know who will get the most out of it, but that’s what makes it so great; it brings together people who wouldn’t normally find themselves in the same room. It’s a bold celebration of art, life and friendship.

https://themusic.com.au/article/1dXNycjLys0/bill-murray-jan-vogler-friends-riverside-theatre-daniel-cribb

Show Review: Taylor Swift 19.10.18

Published on theMusic.com.au, Oct 2018

Pic by Ted Dana

Taylor Swift, Charli XCX, Broods

Optus Stadium

Oct 19

Security was thorough as thousands of Taylor Swift fans unloaded from buses and trains around Perth Stadium, with one thing, in particular, standing out on the “Prohibited Items” list – “Ex-boyfriend/Ex-lovers”, with a series of the headline act’s greatest hits pictured beside it.

Each punter entering scored “a gift from Taylor”, a wristband that we were instructed to activate during the main event, adding to the excitement around the corner.

After loosening up with a tightly executed version Hold The Line, New Zealand sibling duo Broods were right at home at Perth’s largest music venue for their biggest gig to date.

Songs like Heartlines and Free, with their slow-building verses and soaring choruses from vocalist Georgia Nott, rendered them perfect for a stadium, as the space in the verses allowed the vocals to bounce around the open-air venue, while their chorus hooks filled every inch of the space with an infectious energy.

The atmosphere was drastically different when Charli XCX‘s name lit up on the big screen, with thick and moody synth adding a sense of urgency to the air and snare hits so piercing they could have been mistaken for gunshot as Boom Clap fought to overpower the screaming crowd. Her Icona Pop collab, I Love It, was up next, transforming the gig into an aerobic workout for many.

Break The Rules proved popular with the younger audience members, something that resulted in primary school kids singing along passionately about “Getting high and getting wrecked“.

Despite not mentioning the song’s Perth connection, Troye Sivan collab 1999 proved a set highlight. It would have been nice to see Sivan on stage with her like their joint performance of the song in New York the week previous, but the Bloom hitmaker appearing over the PA and on the big screen was a nice touch.

Taylor Swift doesn’t shy away from her critics, her intro consisting of a series of news snippets calling her reputation into question before the singer raised her middle finger to the haters with an intro so bold it immediately had everyone on side.

The massive screens centre stage parted to reveal the superstar on the stage by herself, dressed in a sparkling black playsuit and asking punters if they were …Ready For It?.

Backing dancers joined halfway through to add a dark, theatrical flair into the mix, before the air intensified with blood red lighting in anthem I Did Something Bad.

I can feel the flames on my skin,” she sang, before flames and fireworks burst from the stage, while everyone’s gifted wristband pulsated red in time.

“Good evening, Perth,” Swift politely said, immediately thanking everyone in attendance and the support acts before pointing out it was the first time a female artist had headlined the new stadium. It proved a nice transition into new tune Gorgeous.

The single, like many on Reputation, is a slight departure for the singer, with more calculated and simplistic production than some of her previous efforts, but it translated well to the stage.

The production, choreography and outfits were dripping Style, something Swift’s mastered over the years through a number of different creative direction changes.

It was the juxtaposition between classic tune Love Story and more recent electronic pop hit Look What You Made Me Do that really illustrated the eclectic nature of her catalogue.

With a giant inflatable cobra, gold throne, dizzying dance moves and headline act that commanded undivided attention, it was easy to forget she was accompanied by a solid live band, especially given the fact, when they weren’t concealed behind the big screens, they were perched between them, often left in a flurry of lights. But their presence and talent definitely added to the experience, with booming drums laying a platform for hits like King Of My Heart, while electric guitar gave the show a rock’n’roll edge and other acoustic instruments throughout grounded the electronic onslaught.

A candid speech about taking time off after 1989 to find herself gave fans an insight into the inception of her latest album, resulting in a powerful message about love and friendship.

“Is that rain?” Swift asked. “Well, I’m not going anywhere, no matter what,” she added, as our wristbands illuminated purple and Delicate drops of rain fell onto the crowd.

Swift climbed aboard a carriage lit by rope lights and gently floated around the stadium, a sea of screams radiating from below.

“Will you dance in the rain with me?” she asked over the quirky pop intro of Shake It Off, now positioned on a stage in the middle of the stadium where more giant inflatable snakes and a sea of flickering, rainbow coloured wristbands set the scene for a set highlight that included more fireworks and confetti.

It might be the singer’s first all-stadium tour, but she hasn’t forgotten her roots, standing solo on the same platform with just an acoustic guitar for a stripped-back rendition of Dancing With Our Hands Tied.

Keeping things intimate and revisiting a song she hadn’t “played in a minute”, a reimagined I Knew You Were Trouble had the crowd screaming every word and proved she didn’t need all the bells and whistles to have an impact. It was also a reminder of just how powerful her voice is.

Venturing from one side of the stadium to another, a few lucky fans got high fives and handshakes, before she re-emerged on another platform, dressed in a classy, sparkling red playsuit.

It was back to the pop hits as Blank Space re-enlisted booming drums and epic chorus hooks, something continued by megahit Bad Blood as its eerie intro that transitioned into thundering bass.

The 2014 hit, mashed with Should’ve Said No, saw dancers flying around the stage while Swift ducked and weaved through its various platforms, spitting its lyrics with an intensity that gave punters another dose of adrenaline that not only saw them bouncing for the remaining songs but probably buzzing in the days that followed.

A mash-up of Long Live and New Year’s Day was a religious experience for many; some avid fans in tears watching their idol perched behind the piano for the ballads.

A video interlude, Why She Disappeared, bridged the gap before the encore, with the audience sitting in silence as they listened to its poetic message. It didn’t last long, as Getaway Car saw the venue erupt.

Swift wasn’t done yet, though, with confetti once again showering the audience as she danced alongside brightly dressed backing dancers on a stage that looked like something out of Vegas.

All the evening’s best musical and production elements culminated for a massive finale in We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together and This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things. Taylor Swift’s latest production delivers everything you could want from a stadium tour.

https://themusic.com.au/article/5bX9-fj7-v0/taylor-swift-optus-stadium-2018-australian-tour-daniel-cribb/

Show Review: Cher 12.10.18

Published on theMusic.com.au, Oct 2018

Pic by Ted Dana

Cher

Perth Arena

Oct 12

The abundance of sailor hats scattered around Perth Arena was fitting, not only given the headline act but the waves of excitement she brought with her.

DJ Andrew McClelland went above and beyond in his duties as a warm-up act, dishing up a smorgasbord of classic hits that rendered the space the hottest place in the country, both figuratively and literally.

“Ladies and gentlemen, Cher is ready,” he declared, and shortly after, Woman’s World played soundtrack to a dizzying, nostalgia-fuelled slideshow through her career, before the curtain dropped, revealing the pop icon to a standing ovation.

From thundering sampled drums to a soft piano line, Strong Enough signalled a slight change of pace, with Cher’s booming vocals taking centre stage over a tight disco jam.

An army of backing dancers dressed like Roman warriors offered up an intense energy and amplified a stage that resembled something from a classy Broadway production.

“I have to get a drink, then I’m going to tell you a fabulous story,” Cher said, taking punters back to the ’60s and conception of The Sonny & Cher Show, turning 40, calling David Letterman an arsehole to his face and more.

She stood solo on stage telling stories under a spotlight for 20 minutes, with most of the venue hanging off every word.

“Before I tell you my age, I just want you to know not so long ago I did a five-minute plank,” the 72 year old said. “What’s your granny doing tonight?”

She disappeared for the first of many costume changes and the stage transformed into an immersive Indian landscape to the tune of Gayatri Mantra, before Cher re-emerged riding a prop elephant.

The auto-tune was in fine form for All Or Nothing, before another costume change and nostalgic montage saw a return to the ’60s and another quirky yet classy callback with The Beat Goes On, fittingly carried by a tight snare drum and rolling toms.

“Don’t laugh, I’m on a Farewell tour,” Cher said as she dove into an anecdote of seminal hit of I Got You Babe, featuring Sonny on the big screen and delivered with such emotion it sent chills down the spine.

The team was cycling through elaborate sets just as quickly as songs, from a “Magical Mystery Circus & Carnival” for Gypsys, Tramps & Thieves to a Burlesque extravaganza, each designed in such a way to amplify their respective song’s meaning or tone.

The logistics in changing props and dressings meant backing dances were left to entertain the crowd for a third of the show, something they nailed through eclectic and captivating choreographed moves. While many of those interludes proved surprising set highlights, nothing could match an electric medley of ABBA hits that included Waterloo, SOS and Fernando, the latter of which had the crowd soaring in time to the song’s dramatic and haunting sustains.

By the set’s end, the general consensus among many was that Cher is only getting better with age, something you’d be hard pressed to argue during the execution of set closers If I Could Turn Back Time and Believe.

With a mixed bag of classic Cher hits and covers alongside anecdotes and TV/film clips on the big screen, the Here We Go Again Tour summed up her legacy perfectly in only a couple of hours.

https://themusic.com.au/article/-Bzg6u3s7-4/cher-rac-arena-daniel-cribb/