Show Review: Bob Dylan 08.08.18

Published on, Aug 2018

Bob Dylan

Perth Arena

Aug 8

Bob Dylan plays by his own rules. It’s likely why, after 38 studio albums, countless awards and a recent Nobel Prize, the US music icon only filled Perth Arena to half its capacity.

“Is that Family Guy?” one fan asked, pointing to another’s phone in which a cartoon rendition of the headline act was picking a fight with Popeye. Indeed, “Not much is really sacred.”

Said phone was soon secured into the owner’s pocket with a stern voice over the PA warning that any photography would result in eviction.

As promised on the ticket, the show began at 8:00pm sharp, with the crisp plucking of an acoustic guitar echoing throughout the room before the man of the hour strolled out and assumed his position behind the piano for Things Have Changed.

The band navigated its ebbs and flows like they were jamming, as their fearless leader spat its lyrics through his trademark hoarse voice.

With minimal, dimmed lighting around the stage, the band settled into It Ain’t Me Babe, which was almost unrecognisable; its original folk qualities traded in for a blues-rock edge.

During his 2014 theatre tour, Dylan hid behind two big microphones and the brim of his hat the entire show, but his return saw him under the spotlight, rocking out behind the keys, showcasing an infectious energy in Highway 61 Revisited, before slurring it up in Simple Twist Of Fate.

The song’s relaxed pace, slide guitar and soaring harmonica parts were poetic, eventually bouncing into an upright bass-driven shuffle for Duquesne Whistle. It was almost like someone had removed the stage from a small underground jazz bar and placed it within an arena, as the band continued to jam in a casual manner around an increasingly more energised Dylan.

When I Paint My Masterpiece elicited a solo slow clap from the nosebleed section, piercing the dead silence Dylan refused to fill between songs before the band added a surf rock twang to the night with Honest With Me. It’s a shame that Dylan doesn’t dish up anecdotes from his prolific career, as he’d no doubt have some mindblowing stories.

It takes some getting used to the unconventional way in which Dylan pieces together his setlist and structures his songs live, but once you let go of any expectations, the artist’s intentions become more clear, with each song adding different strokes to a bigger picture.

Carefully emphasised guitar parts and piano lines throughout Make You Feel My LoveEarly Roman Kings and Desolation Row added a wealth of emotional depth, while the occasional clear vocal line cut through with more impact; lyrics such as “Life is short and it don’t last long,” during Pay In Blood.

Love Sick was a stompy blues onslaught that opened up into a jam session before another classic reared its head in Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right; a seminal hit that had the crowd cheering loudly for the first time since Dylan came out onstage. It was a welcome addition to the set, but a sad reminder for many the night was coming to an end with only a few classics in the bag.

A wave of chaotic noise washed over the crowd for Thunder On The Mountain, with a flurry of drums smashing head first into a medley of guitars before things pulled back for delicate ballad Soon After Midnight and upbeat tune Gotta Serve Somebody.

Two hours on the stage and Dylan didn’t address the audience once — not even a “hello” or “goodbye” — and the few big singles that did make the cut were reinterpreted in a manner that rendered them nearly unrecognisable; half the audience didn’t identify encore tune Blowin’ In The Wind until its chorus.

Diehard Dylan fans left in awe, while casual listeners were either scratching their heads or disgruntled about the lack of hits and showmanship. Bob Dylan plays for Bob Dylan.


Show Review: Celine Dion 04.08.18

Published on, Aug 2018

Pic by Ted Dana

Celine Dion

Perth Arena

Aug 4

A handful of pop superstars had graced the Perth Arena stage with their presence in the weeks prior to that of Canadian royalty Celine Dion, all of whom brought with them mind-blowing, extravagant production.

The arrival of Dion seemed to have a more chilled out atmosphere surrounding it, and the packed venue suggested it was her renowned voice and not all the bells and whistles usually accompanying an international tour of this size that punters were anxiously awaiting.

The chatter turned to a roar as the lights were killed and a theatrical intro took hold, uplifted by a medley of dramatic strings. It was stadium pop at its finest as booming drums became entangled with heavy harmonies and screeching guitar. The wall of noise finally eased up as Dion casually strolled into the spotlight in a blinding gold suit to the soaring chorus line of The Power Of Love.

Her powerful voice struck like lighting and left a shock that felt like a lifetime of heartbreak kicking you in the chest.

Grinning ear to ear, Dion and co shuffled into uplifting number That’s The Way It Is, reconnecting with Aussie fans after almost a decade apart.

“Tonight, what do you say we make up for that lost time?” she asked, and punters were more than ready to comply as they screamed the lyrics of I’m Alive and Because You Loved Me.

Through a series of shiny, futuristic images, the screens around the stage added another level of depth to the production, without taking away from the songs and Dion, whose lack of big dance moves were compensated by her big personality and mesmerising vocals.

Dion briefly left the stage while her backing band unleashed an emotionally intense score that wouldn’t seem out of place in a blockbuster film, before she re-emerged in a new outfit and continued the theatrical affair with It’s All Coming Back To Me Now, her voice reaching gritty new heights in its final moments.

The scene was set for Beauty And The Beast, and joined by backing singer Barnev Valsaint, Dion delivered the nostalgic and iconic tune in a unique way that highlighted how much of a theatrical feel her performances have.

It was her first film theme (“a long, long, long time ago”) and one of her most adored, alongside “the one about the big, sinking boat”, but it was another theme and its accompanying anecdote that had everyone on the edge of their seat and laughing. The story began with a letter from fellow Canadian Ryan Reynolds and ended with Deadpool 2’s Ashes.

Classical guitar and flute shifted the mood, with Dion and dancer Pepe Munoz channelling the intimacy of Falling Into You into a romantic, calculated Latin dance before punters were transported to another world with Pour Que Tu M’aimes Encore, “the biggest song of my French career,” as she noted.

Things took a surprising and local turn with the iconic electronic drum intro of John Farnham’s You’re The Voice, bringing fans to their feet, clapping and screaming along. It was a risky song choice, but one that paid off greatly.

Dion touched on a recent and difficult time in her life, mourning the death of her husband, Rene Angelil, back in 2016. She praised Pink – who had performed the same venue only a few weeks earlier – for a gift in the form of a song that gave her strength during the heartache.

Recovering stripped things back to a delicate piano line for a powerful moment that proved all Dion needed was her voice to stun.

The emotional rollercoaster kept climbing, through the ebbs and flows of All By Myself, and a touching string quartet rendition of Janis Ian’s At SeventeenA New Day Has Come and Unison before soaring through the big choruses of To Love You More.

A medley of disco bridged the gap while Dion disappeared again, and her band led an epic dance party that re-energised the audience. Dion strolled out on a wave of funky bass in an outfit plucked straight from the ’70s, adding pop star flair to a number of hits from the era before paying tribute to Prince with an uplifting version of Purple Rain, the venue illuminated in a colour to match while Kaven Girouard gave the song the guitar shredding it deserved.

The soul-pop onslaught continued with Love Can Move Mountains and River Deep, Mountain High, before the mood shifted again as the haunting vocal melodies of seminal hit My Heart Will Go On floated out from the darkness for the encore; half the room was wiping tears from their eyes while the other watched along through a phone screen.

Promising to return sooner next time, Dion and co left fans with a parting gift in Elvis Presley’s Can’t Help Falling In Love With You. Celine Dion engenders loyalty from fans like few others and after witnessing her live, it’s clear why.

Show Review: Herman’s Hermits 04.08.18

Published on, Aug 2018

Pic by Karen Lowe

Herman’s Hermits

Regal Theatre

Aug 4

A quirky instrumental medley of Herman’s Hermits hits ushered a ’60s Brit-rock invasion to the stage, bang on 6pm as the tour’s flyer promised.

Paul Cornwell slid into the surf rock guitar twang of Silhouettes, which vocalist and bassist Geoff Foot bounced around with a charming vocal nostalgia, backed by infectious harmonies before key player Tony Hancox took lead for Can’t You Feel My Heartbeat.

“Hands up all the people who thought we were dead?” Foot jokingly asked.

Staying true to songs’ original arrangements, things were stripped back (one guitar, one bass, keys and drums), with every instrument occupying its own space with clarity as iconic lyrics took focus.

Love Potion No. 9 and Wonderful World found the ideal balance between quirky guitar twang and uplifting vocals steering the mood.

The main man on stage – “keeping the beat for 54 years” – drummer Barry Whitwam left his throne to address the audience, sharing anecdotes of times with Elvis Presley and touring with The Who, segueing into trivia about Mrs. Brown You’ve Got A Lovely Daughter.

The megahit saw Cornwell wedge a pair of underwear under his guitar bridge, which replicated the short, sharp banjo-like tone the original song had. A song for “the lovers”, the introduction of My Sentimental Friend was met with a collective “aww” as Cornwell’s voice transported punters to a simpler time.

Foot showcased stunning vocal execution in darker hit Jezebel as the band navigated its ebbs and flows in a tight way that only seasoned musicians could, before the title track from the band’s film, Hold On!, had punters synchronised screaming.

With 23 hit single in the ‘60s alone, Herman’s Hermits had a wealth of material to choose from, but it was a medley of covers from the late ’50s/early ’60s – including Poetry In MotionDream LoverWill You Still Love Me Tomorrow – that highlighted the longevity and power of music as punters sung the lyrics to those around them.

Foot’s remarkable vocals stole the show during Listen People before Whitwam grabbed a mic again to introduce Something Happening; a song he claimed was a fan request and had left the charts 52 years ago. Regardless of its chart history, its catchy chorus had the biggest sing-along of the night.

Pulling things back to the root of the band, Whitwam took over for a memorable drum solo before the band rejoined him for soaring ballad The End Of The World, party tune Sea Cruise and Chuck Berry’s You Never Can Tell.

The legends then rounded things out with quintessential ’60s Brit-rock classics No Milk TodayI’m Into Something GoodThere’s A Kind Of Hush and I’m Henry VIII, highlighting just how historically significant their back catalogue is.

Show Review: The White Album Concert 26.07.18

Published on, Jul 2018

Pic by Linda Dunjey

The White Album Concert

Riverside Theatre

Jul 26

It’s fair to say a portion of The White Album Concert audience knew little about the four legendary Aussie frontmen on the show’s poster, while others might only have basic knowledge of the seminal album they’d be performing.

But whatever the reasons punters were there, the collective excitement had the room buzzing as the lights dimmed and The Living End’s Chris Cheney strutted on stage with his Gretsch to dish up an upbeat rendition of Back In The U.S.S.R., giving its iconic melody a new spin with his unmistakably Aussie vocals.

Just as soon as he’d arrived, he exited stage right and Grinspoon’s Phil Jamieson crept onto the stage with a cheeky grin on his face to the quiet twang of Dear Prudence.

An army of backing musicians filled the stage with a mesmerising sound populated by strings, piano, multiple guitars, two drummers, horns and more before Cheney returned for Glass Onion. Finally, all four vocalists stood centre stage for crowd favourite Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da, with Josh Pyke proving to have the most powerful vocal chops, while Tim Roger‘s Pirates Of Penzanceswagger and humour had the audience immediately onside.

It was clear they were playing to their individual strengths, with Rogers remaining on stage and channelling his unique quirkiness into Wild Honey Pie before a theatrical undertaking of The Continuing Story Of Bungalow Bill that was on-point to original recording’s vibe.

Cheney’s crooning in While My Guitar Gently Weeps accompanied by some tight shredding rendered a set highlight, along with a solo and acoustic rendition of Black Bird by Pyke.

While Pyke’s stage presence wasn’t as intense as Rogers’ in Happiness Is A Warm Gun and Piggies, his voice cut straight to the point in Martha My Dear and Julia. It was the different strengths of the revolving cast that kept things fresh and interesting all night.

Their personalities bounced perfectly off one-another too and having known each other for years, their natural chemistry was infectious and fun, perfectly captured when Rogers piggybacked Jamieson off stage in Don’t Pass Me By.

Jamieson’s big personality and broad vocal range allowed him to dart from lush ballads like I Will to upbeat pop numbers Sexy Sadie and Honey Pie with ease.

Part two kicked off with two big injections of Aussie rock’n’roll in the vein of The Living End and Grinspoon, with Cheney and Jamieson taking on Birthday and Yer Blues and bringing their A-game alongside some unique characteristics from their respective bands.

Each vocalist seemingly had more creative control during the latter half of the set, with Mother Nature’s Son allowing Pyke to also showcase some acoustic singer-songwriter quirks he’d usually offer at solo performances before Cheney returned to take the show to its climax with a mind-blowing onslaught of guitar madness for Helter Skelter.

Given The White Album’s tracklisting, they would have almost been better off playing it in reverse instead of having a bottleneck of classics near the beginning. It was an issue quickly remedied with an encore featuring all four members for acoustic versions of On Our Way Back HomeAcross The UniverseThe Ballad Of John And Yoko and big finale songs All Things Must Pass and Revolution.

The final few songs highlighted once again how great the energy was when they were all onstage together and just how well their voices gelled; something punters didn’t quite get enough of throughout the set.

It’s an interesting balancing act, trying to navigate through such iconic material in a way to doesn’t stray too far from the original execution but also gives it a fresh energy, but Cheney, Jamieson, Pyke and Rogers nailed it.

Show Review: Katy Perry 24.07.18

Published on, Jul 2018

Photo by Linda Dunjey

Katy Perry

Perth Arena

Jul 24

The only problem with pulling out all the stops with a global arena tour is you might struggle to one-up yourself next time.

Given the insanely detailed props, costumes and overall production Katy Perry rolled out during her 2014 Prismatic World Tour, it was interesting to see just how the pop superstar planned on kicking things up a notch for Witness: The Tour.

As expected, the new album brought with it a slightly more bizarre aesthetic, with punters welcomed to their seats by an eye looking around the room on the massive eye-shaped screen behind the stage. A distorted video of Perry flickered on the massive screen while her backing band and dancers flooded the stage to create a wall of noise that sat somewhere between a warped news theme and a Star Wars score.

The screen parted and Perry flew in on an object that resembled something from a tacky sci-fi film, yelling the verse of Witness like she was summoning an army before two massive dice appeared for Roulette.

Fireworks burst from the end of the runway and her futuristic gold outfit was illuminated by stage lights as she dished out quirky choreographed dance moves.

“I’m only going to give you what you give me, Perth!” Perry yelled, leading into Dark Horse. “Some of you only came to hear this song, so if this is your song, let me hear you sing!”

And sing they did, while Perry became Chained To The Rhythm, channelling a peculiar energy as two giant, lanky figures wandered the stage and backing dancers donned television masks with menacing eyes plastered on them.

After the evening’s first wardrobe change, the scene was set for what you’d expect from a cheesy ’90s music video for Teenage Dream.

“I’m not like all the other pop stars,” Perry said, ending a nonsensical jetlag-driven rant that included a terrible attempt at an Australian accent and headstand, all the while sporting a small LED screen across her chest displaying the title of Hot N Cold.

Equipped with a pink guitar and dancing between giant flamingos, Perry proved the over-the-top stage design didn’t hinder the execution or reception of classic hits like Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.), although perhaps grinding up against a dancer wearing a plush shark outfit in California Gurls was slightly unnecessary. “Left Shark” then proceeded to dance atop a giant piano to the tune of Chopsticks. It was all too much for a Tuesday night.

Celebrating the 10-year anniversary of her first hit single, a giant pair of lips hovered above the stage for I Kissed A Girl, the start of which was given a jarring electro-pop makeover before the band decided to “take it back to the original” in all of its pop glory.

Perry may have wound up suspended from the ceiling during the song, but it was guitarist Devon Eisenbarger shredding centre stage to a whirlwind beat from drummer Tony Royster Jr. that took the track to an epic finish.

Royster Jr. kept the spotlight, working a tight beat around funky bass lines from Josh Moreau before Perry reappeared from another costume change, this time casually dancing about giant roses scattered around the stage to Déjà Vu and Tsunami, both holding a more controlled and calm pace and relying on electronic elements and big harmonies.

“Do you believe in aliens, Perth?” Perry asked, and just when things had seemed to cool a little, a weird E.T. like mantis crawled out and awkwardly (and terrifyingly) strutted around the stage before the singer paid tribute to Janet Jackson in Bon Appétit.

The night’s highlight came in the form of a more subdued moment, as Perry – dressed head-to-toe in silver sequins – floated around the arena sitting on a model of Saturn, strumming an acoustic guitar and singing Wide Awake.

“Is it okay if I come down to Earth?” she asked, descending from the ceiling and other planets scattered around the room.

After showering longtime fans and unwilling parent attendees in praise for their support, things got more intimate for ballad Into Me You See, proving yet again Perry didn’t need all the big production elements to leave a mark; the music and some earnest crowd interaction went a lot further than the sensory overload that had taken precedence throughout most other songs.

The next hit on the setlist, Power, found a happy medium between the two, allowing Perry’s voice to take focus, while the production complimented the band.

Welcoming fans to an 8-bit overload and Pac Man-themed rendition of Part Of Me – another hit given an electro-pop makeover – Perry had one final burst of sporty energy to deliver, offering up another puntastic prop for Swish Swish as she sat atop a giant basketball hood for its bass-heavy verse.

It set the scene for a game of basketball with a punter named Wade, the “raddest dad” who didn’t even want a post-victory selfie when Perry offered.

The room lit up for megahit Roar and the energy from the dancers was infectious as they bounced around the stage to its uplifting chorus.

Perry then sailed above the audience on a broken clock to a giant hand at the end of the runway during Pendulum, which was complimented nicely by the soaring chorus of finale Firework, a combination that truly highlighted the transformation of the artist since the release of Witness.

Show Review: Aladdin 19.07.18

Published on, Jul 2018


Crown Perth

Jul 19

Living up to its tagline of “A Whole New World” almost immediately, the stage production of Aladdin is immersive from the moment the curtain lifts to reveal a captivating portrayal of the fictional Arabian city of Agrabah.

Fans are greeted by Gareth Jacobs as Genie for Arabian Nights, and his onstage presence sets the tone perfectly, as his charming and infectious energy slides into quirky and fun One Jump Ahead, led by understudy Graeme Isaako as Aladdin.

The songs are big, the choreographed dance moves and bigger and the entire show is loud, fun and inspiring, with enough variety (and fireworks) to hold attention with ease.

Perth’s own Shubshri Kandiah makes the role of Princess Jasmine her own, showcasing local talent with world-class conviction on hits like These Palace WallsA Million Miles Away and crowd favourite A Whole New World, the latter of which unfolding amidst a magic carpet ride that almost won a standing ovation.

The Cave Of Wonders set was awe-inspiring, with Jacobs delivering a show-stopping performance with a quirky ensemble to Friend Like Me; it was so bold and memorable the rest of the performance struggled to keep up.

Those worried about the absence of Aladdin’s rascal monkey friend, Abu, might find some comfort in the fact that his replacement – a trio of close friends by the names of Babkak, Kassim and Omar – help explore a different side to the main character, while also giving songs like Prince Ali a new edge.

Lago’s transformation into a human sidekick (played by Aljin Abella) also works well, and when you add Adam Murphy’s Jafar to the mix, you’ve got another healthy dose of comedy and commentary that proves the show doesn’t take itself too seriously, which is where half its charm lies.

Nostalgia can be a dangerous emotion to toy with, especially when dealing with iconic ’90s Disney classics, but through carefully placed call-backs to the original and a wealth of new life breathed into beloved characters, the creative team behind Aladdin found the perfect balance between paying tribute and carving a new path; largely driven by Jacobs, whose presence as Genie was uplifting, humorous and gave good pace to the show.–oaA/aladdin-crown-perth/


Show Review: P!nk 03.07.18

Published on, Jul 2018

Pic by Sean Finney

P!nk, The Rubens

Perth Arena

Jul 3

WA was on a mission to paint the town pink, with the hotel adjacent Perth Arena illuminated to match the evening’s headline act, much like The Rubens’ name on the screens inside the venue as the homegrown rockers kicked off the Aussie leg of the Beautiful Trauma world tour with their recent cut Go On.

“We’re kinda nervous, but seeing all your faces makes us excited,” said frontman Sam Margin. Early tunes like Hold Me Back and I Knowmanaged to fill the arena with an upbeat, punchy vibe, but overall, got lost in such a big venue; they were tight, but didn’t quite cut through. It wasn’t until Margin equipped himself with a guitar, giving their sound extra crunch, that the five piece found their stride, sliding into an infectious indie rock groove with The Best We Got.

The energy continued to build in The Day You Went Away, as drummer Scott Baldwin and bassist William Zeglis locked in, and their stage presence was on-point during set highlight and slick single My Gun.

It was party central when Pink’s resident DJ, KidCutUp, hit the decks, spinning a whirlwind medley of upbeat ’80s and ’90s hits that left fans more than ready.

A sensory overload welcomed punters to Pink’s set; the headline act suspended high above the stage and swinging around a futuristic chandelier that was spitting fireworks to the tune of Let’s Get The Party Started, while a flurry of stylish and eclectic backing dancers orchestrated mesmerising arrangements below.

One song in and the audience was stunned, struggling to process the intro as punchy single Beautiful Trauma saw the stage fill with fog and warped streetlights, eventually resembling something from a classic Disney fairytale.

Pop hooks backed by rock arrangements rendered Just Like A Pill the perfect partystarter, and as Pink danced around the runway protruding from the stage, it was clear she was giving it her all, both physically and emotionally, in a way few other pop stars could.

But it wasn’t all theatrics and insane production, sometimes a song’s melody and beat were enough, as evident in Who Knew, when the chaos temporarily subsided to make way for interpretive dance.

Her humour was on show as she welcomed punters to Revengeland via a warped, gory and hilarious claymation video that acted as a fitting introduction to Eminem collab Revenge. Quirkiness met class for the R&B-inspired single, which saw Pink go head-to-head with a massive inflatable Eminem in another stunning aerobic display. “It’s hard work kicking a blow-up doll’s arse,” she said.

The soaring rock’n’roll guitar lead of Funhouse by Justin Derrico then took centre stage, sliding into an unexpected and welcome cover of No Doubt’s Just A Girl, elevated by backing singers Stacy Campbell and Jenny Douglas-Foote. “Feel free to lose your minds for the next four minutes,” Pink yelled, with drummer Mark Schulman taking control and rolling into more unexpected and surprisingly epic territory with a raging cover of Smells Like Teen Spirit.

Secrets saw the multitalented performer team up with dancer Khasan Brailsford for an acrobatic display that would rival that of a Cirque du Soleil act, and then the entire production followed suit; the stage becoming a dark, fairytale-like forest playground occupied by various animals for Try – Pink playing out the song’s meaning through more compelling, calculated choreographed dancing.

From the woods to an abandoned mansion, props transformed the stage into the set of the Just Give Me A Reason music video, and Pink was joined by Fun vocalist Nate Ruess – who guests on the studio recording – via an old TV; an addition that was quickly background noise once Pink was hovering above the audience on a bed.

The theatrics subsided once more for I’m Not Dead, allowing Pink to soak up the atmosphere before things heated up again, literally. Bursts of flames fittingly spat out from various parts of the stage in time to Just Like Fire, and if that wasn’t enough action, emotionally draining affair What About Us once again employed mesmerising choreographed dance moves from her backing ensemble, leading into ballad For Now.

Pink finally got a chance to interact with fans, getting up close and personal with frontrow punters and going so far as to sign someone’s arm for tattooing purposes – “no pressure”. It created an intimate atmosphere for acoustic number Barbies, with the singer joined by a stripped-back backing band at the end of the runway. “I like Transformers, too, but I couldn’t find anything to rhyme with Transformers,” she joked.

Even the acoustic portion of the set was upbeat, as I Am Here erupted into a folk pop onslaught in its chorus, Pink bouncing up and down to its pounding beat and continuing her inspirational journal via Fuckin’ Perfect and a speech on inclusion through a touching anecdote about her daughter.

Raise Your Glass, complete with fireworks, signalled the end was near, but not before megahits Blow Me (One Last Kiss) and So What made an appearance, the latter of which had Pink soaring around the entire arena attached to numerous cables – she could almost high five ticketholders in the nosebleed section… whilst being suspended upside down.

But that wasn’t how she wanted to leave things, bringing the vibe back down to earth and a relatable level as she emerged in a t-shirt and jeans for Glitter In The Air, singing its final chorus to an arena illuminated by smartphones; a perfect send off and a chance for many to soak up the insane two hours of nonstop action that had just unfolded. Few acts master production, stage presence and songwriting like Pink.