Show Review: Joshua Radin 18.05.18

Published on theMusic.com.au, May 2018

Pic by Dana Weeks

Joshua Radin

Rosemount Hotel

May 18

Ohio-born acoustic artist Joshua Radin was quick to make Rosemount Hotel his own as he eased into his unique brand of “whisker rock” like someone getting acquainted with old friends.

The troubadour’s voice was as smooth as the whiskey soda he was sipping throughout the set; every charming imperfection and emotion was amplified as punters stood in silence and hung off every word. It was only when the venue’s front door opened that distant traffic noises and murmurs from the beer garden broke that spell.

Radin’s calm, calculated tone between songs was enchanting, as he recalled past heartbreaks and regret with painful honesty, before diving headfirst into songs that had a real emotional connection. He wasn’t holding back and it paid off big time for those in attendance.

Melodies on fan favourite such as Winter and You’ve Got Growin’ Up To Do had a more free-flowing nature to them, and by slowing everything down slightly, even happier songs such as I’d Rather Be With You and Vegetable Car had heartbreaking undertones.

He also showcased an impressive vocal diversity, jumping from his trademark whisper to soaring melodies throughout the set, but it wasn’t until opening act Cary Brothers joined Radin onstage for an upbeat cover of Bob Dylan’s Don’t Think Twice, Its All Right did the headline act really give it his all, stepping back from the microphone and belting out the last chorus with grit, proving he could easily front a rock band.

When Radin is on stage, everyone’s made to feel like part of something; a sentiment echoed with the clapping and stomping along to the chorus Belong – one of many highlights from a memorable set.

Watching Joshua Radin play to a relatively small crowd is a perplexing experience, given the sheer charm and raw talent that he extrudes, and while it would be nice to see him fronting arenas like he deserves, there’s some special about enjoying one of the world’s best-kept secrets in a such an intimate atmosphere.

http://themusic.com.au/music/livereviews/2018/05/19/joshua-radin-rosemount-hotel-daniel-cribb/

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Show Review: Richard Dawkins 14.05.18

Published on theMusic.com.au, May 2018

Richard Dawkins

Riverside Theatre

May 14

“What would replace religion if it went away?” asked the evening’s moderator, Australian radio host, satirist, filmmaker and author John Safran, to the formidable force sitting across from him. Celebrated evolutionary biologist, acclaimed author and atheist Richard Dawkins didn’t think for a second before rattling off a number of alternatives: “Human friendship, music, art, science, literature.”

He was relatively calm and softly spoken throughout their conversation, but would unleash when confronted with an opinion he opposes, which happened often when questions from Safran and audience members touched on the psychology and inherited flaws of religion, a lot of which he discusses in his new book, Science In The Soul.

“You can call religion a computer virus,” Dawkins said, discussing the way in which religion gets passed down through families, generation after generation. “It’s an amazing coincidence that everyone is born into the right religion – think about that.”

The conversation was largely driven by points he makes throughout the 2017 novel, with audience members treated to live readings, which were quickly given deeper analysis by the legend on stage.

A number of videos were also played, with Dawkins providing commentary, including Ray Comfort’s banana argument. “Checkmate, Richard,” said Safran, to which Dawkins responded, “It’s like a Monty Python set.”

Dawkins doesn’t shy away from controversy, he embraces it, as evident to his response to Republican Todd Thomsen trying to get him banned from doing a speech at the University of Oklahoma back in 2009: “I’m quite proud of that” – it’s a badge of honour.”

Having coined the term meme in his 1976 novel, The Selfish Gene, Dawkins was treated to “the life of a [modern] meme” by Safran, who projected images of Pepe the Frog onto the screen, detailing the character’s transition from a happy frog to hate symbol. “That’s quite good,” Dawkins said. “It does show an evolutionary progression.”

But being a founder of meme culture isn’t enough for Dawkins, who revealed he’s working on a children’s book (working title OMG, I Think I’m An Atheist).

He also covered off Darwinism (which he rejects – “natural selection does not have foresight”), and championed those like Carl Sagan and Neil deGrasse Tyson, the latter of which toured Australia in 2017, thanks to the same promoter, Think Inc.

It felt like a true privilege to be in the presence of such a historical figure for an evening, and the packed house and slew of questions thrown Dawkins’ way proved people are hungrier now more than ever for answers and change.

http://themusic.com.au/opinion/culture/2018/05/16/richard-dawkins-riverside-theatre-daniel-cribb/

Show Review: Harry Styles 21.04.18

Published on theMusic.com.au, 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.

http://themusic.com.au/news/all/2018/04/22/one-direction-reimagined-harry-styles-was-on-fire-in-perth-last-night/

Show Review: Jimmy Barnes 19.04.18

Published on theMusic.com.au, 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.

http://themusic.com.au/music/livereviews/2018/04/20/jimmy-barnes-perth-concert-hall-daniel-cribb/

Show Review: Robert Plant 08.04.18

Published on theMusic.com.au, 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.

http://themusic.com.au/music/livereviews/2018/04/10/robert-plant-and-the-sensational-space-shifters-riverside-theatre-daniel-cribb/

Show Review: Bruno Mars

Published on theMusic.com.au, Mar 2018

Pic: Supplied

Bruno Mars, Dua Lipa

Perth Arena

Mar 28

UK singer Dua Lipa may have had to cancel numerous appearances on her Australian tour due to emergency dental surgery, but she was in fine form as the final leg of the 24K Magic world tour kicked off, stomping around the stage in time to show opener Hotter Than Hell.

The drums overpowered her vocals somewhat in Dreams, but Lipa’s commanding stage presence keep the slowly filling arena at full attention.

I wanna stay right here all night,” echoed the smooth, deep chorus melodies of Lost In Your Light – it was a sentiment echoed by all those hugging the barrier in GA.

Upbeat pop numbers driven by heavy sampling and booming, simple drum beats – like Blow Your Mind – made up the majority of the set, but it was when Lipa took a slight sidestep into piano-driven single Garden that the set truly hit its stride, with her full vocal range on show.

Crowd favourite IDGAF and set closer New Rules had punters Begging for more.

You can gauge the general demographic of a show by the amount of phone reception available, of which there was none by the time the lights dimmed for the headliner’s grand entrance.

A sensory overload commenced proceedings, with a flurry lights consuming the stage – most of which was covered in massive lighting panels – while thick, funky bass and ‘80s drum sounds welcomed Finesse.

Bruno Mars and his band shuffled side by side to the front of the stage through a thick fog and everyone in attendance knew they were in for one hell of a party.

A flurry of fireworks kicked things up a notch throughout 24K Magic; another whirlwind hit that had the audience struggling to keep up with its unexpected live turns.

The room was heating up, but Mars wasn’t going to let the final shows of his epic world tour unfold while half the venue was seated, demanding everyone was on their feet and dancing for Treasure.

Hip hop took focus during Perm and highlighted just how much of a group effort the production is, with Mars’ horn section, bassist and guitarist front and centre, delivering just as much energy as the “the original hooligan himself”.

As if his soaring vocals, charming swagger and killer style weren’t enough, Mars grabbed a guitar and began shredding in the bridge of Calling All My Lovelies, turning the romantic soul number into a screeching rock hit.

Mars didn’t need all the bells and whistles to impress, though, as evident during That’s What I Like and Marry You – both singles that lent mostly on their hooks and had the entire room bouncing around, fists in the air, screaming the lyrics.

The ’80s vibes were too real when ballad Versace On The Floor rolled around, complete with gut-wrenching sax solo and nostalgic key tones. It was one of few times, along with 2013 hit When I Was Your Man, Mars’ voice was given the sonic space it deserved.

“If you’re going to be quiet, we’re going to be quiet too,” he teased, bringing the music down to an almost inaudible level in Runaway Baby and dancing around in darkness.

His infectious energy remedied any weary souls quickly and by the time Locked Out Of Heaven and Just The Way You Arerolled around, Mars and co had already covered pop, rock, blues, soul, funk and more, delivering an insanely hectic two-hour performance that closed in style with Uptown Funk.

http://themusic.com.au/music/livereviews/2018/03/29/bruno-mars-perth-arena-daniel-cribb/

Show Review: Queen + Adam Lambert

Published on theMusic.com.au, Mar 2018

Pic by Hugh Buttsworth

Queen + Adam Lambert

Perth Arena

Mar 6

 

A low, eerie hum radiating from the stage as show time crawled near had a packed Perth Arena on edge and acting like they were in the midst of a heated Wild Cats match, co-ordinating Mexican waves and clapping in unison while whistles shot from all corners of the room.

The giant robot from the cover of News Of The World, Frank, burst through a screen at the stage’s front and, through clever visual effects, lifted the screen up to reveal vocalist Adam Lambert and guitar icon Brian May.

A verse of We Will Rock You collided with Hammer To Fall, which showcased the band’s trademark harmonies and the room was immediately filled with electricity.

Co-founder Roger Taylor kicked off a seizure-enduring rock/metal jam and it didn’t take long for Lambert to play the part in I Go Crazy, dishing up dizzying verses and soaring choruses.

Bassist Neil Fairclough ushered in gritty funk with Another One Bites The Dust, which had everyone shuffling along in time while Lambert proved he knew how to work a crowd by eliciting cheers with swagger-fuelled dance chops.

It was clear in Tie Your Mother Down and Fat Bottomed Girls that May’s guitar work was the real star of the show, but the other members of the band were giving the music legend a run for his money, and with two drummers (including Roger’s son, Rufus Tiger Taylor) unleashing a constant wall of noise, it was sometimes easy to forget Lambert was even on the stage.

That’s how well Lambert complements the songs; he draws focus when it’s required, but doesn’t take away from the iconic music.

After a solo onslaught, Killer Queen injected a dose of classy rock into the set, delving into the more quirky fringes of the band’s back catalogue. Gut-wrenching guitar and theatrical vocal melodies were elevated by Lambert rising from below the stage on an animatronic Frank head.

“Some of you might be thinking, ‘He’s no Freddie.’ No shit, because there will only be one rock god named Freddie Mercury,” Lambert said. “I’m a fan too, just like you, only up here in the gayest suit ever.”

Any hesitations about his position fronting Queen were put to rest with his pitch-perfect conviction of Don’t Stop Me Nowand the theatrical flair in Bicycle Race.

The OG crew then took the spotlight as Roger assumed lead vocal in I’m In Love With My Car and May stood front and centre dishing up more impressive leads – the intensity of which carried over into crowd favourite I Want It All.

May was then left to his own devices on a stool at the end of the runaway and had the audience instantly on his side by strumming his way into sing along, Waltzing Matilda.

“Now I know you can sing,” he said, kicking into intimate number Love Of My Life, which had the room in dead silence during its soft intro. “This is really the best possible use of an iPhone,” he joked to the flashlight illuminated room, sliding into another verse that had Mercury appear onscreen and sing along to spine-tingling effect.

One by one the rest of the band returned to the stage and before too long Roger was at the end of the runaway belting a gold and black kit to Somebody To Love and Crazy Little Thing Call Love next to May and Lambert.

It was then time for the Taylors to shine, as father and son went head to head in a stunning drum-off before the band returned for mega-hit Under Pressure.

Taylor was on fire during the latter half of the set, even going so far as to step out from behind the kit and assume the role of frontman for A Kind Of Magic. While his vocal chops weren’t the best of the night, the significance of watching him belt out its chorus next to May wasn’t lost anyone, and the “rock’n’roll royalty” duo proved exactly why they’re still going strong as they approach the band’s 50th anniversary.

The visuals kicked into overdrive as Frank returned and through more effective use of the screens across the stage, he lifted May into space to embark on a trippy and otherworldly one-man jam session that eventually found its way to Radio Ga Ga.

It wasn’t until the quirky call and response of Bohemian Rhapsody, featuring its iconic music video on the screens behind, that the importance of the evening and band’s legacy was truly felt; something amplified when May burst from a thick fog sporting a silver trench coat while shredding.

Mercury graced the screen one more time for a memorable crowd singalong that more than had the audience ready to scream the show out by the time Lambert returned, this time dressed like royalty for We Will Rock You and We Are The Champions. Queen delivered a truly spectacular experience with Adam Lambert that was equal parts classy tribute and epic rock show.

http://themusic.com.au/music/livereviews/2018/03/07/queen-and-adam-lambert-perth-arena-daniel-cribb/