Tag Archives: live music

Report, Setlist: Foo Fighters begin their Australian tour in Brisbane

foo fighters brisbane

“TONIGHT is the 20th anniversary of the first time Foo Fighters ever played an Australian club gig,” announced Dave Grohl, part-way into his band’s memorable first stop on their Sonic Highways tour – their first show Down Under in four years. “I’d like to thank you all personally for sticking around with us for the last 20 years and for coming out tonight.”

The tens of thousands of fans who turned up at Suncorp Stadium needed no encouragement from anyone to get into the spirit of the gig, and Grohl and co. more than delivered in return, playing two and a half hours of material spanning their entire career, peppered with an appropriate amount of F-bombs, audience banter and classic rock covers.

A subdued open with ‘Something From Nothing’ and ‘The Pretender’ allowed the band to warm up, with notable grins visible on the faces of Grohl and guitarist Pat Smear, before ‘Learn to Fly’ upped the ante and work rate. “We’re going to play until they fucking kick us off the stage,” announced Grohl, which wasn’t strictly true in the end, but it was exactly what the audience wanted to hear. The 46 year-old frontman couldn’t supress a satisfied giggle during the mass sing-along in ‘Breakout’, before he dedicated ‘My Hero’ to “all the old Foo Fighters fans” and then took a second to talk to the crowd about the band’s last visit to these parts.

“A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, there was a young Foo Fighters band that used to come over and play this really fucking fun show called the Big Day Out,” he recalled. “One time my friend Taylor Hawkins and I thought we would peruse the city of the Gold Coast on our scooters with fucking motorised pedals. On the way back there was a traffic jam. We saw some checkpoint and thought, how bad can it be? Well, ladies and gentlemen, they threw my ass in jail that night. But I learned a lesson: even when you’re think you’re okay on your moped with fucking motorised pedals, they’re going to get you. So when you come back you have to tick that box; you have to explain you were drunk on a vehicle with fucking motorised pedals and that’s why you’re a convicted felon. So tonight, I’m going to dedicate this next song to the hardworking police force of the Gold Coast for teaching me a lesson: don’t spend more on your suit than your fine in court.”

Cue early track ‘Big Me’. The middle section of the set saw the band decamp to the extended part of the stage, where they proceeded to make the year of one particular uber-fan. After covers of The Faces’ ‘Stay With Me’ and AC/DC’s ‘Let There Be Rock’, and despite Hawkins’ best efforts to kick the band into Queen’s ‘Under Pressure’, Grohl halts proceedings, points to one sign-bearing audience member and announces the next song – ‘Tom Sawyer’ by Rush – as being for “the guy with the braces who made the sign on his computer”, before adding “even though nobody likes that fucking song”.

Building to a climax with ‘All My Life’, ‘These Days’ and the enduring ‘This is a Call’, the band seemed genuinely grateful for the love Brisbane showed them tonight, and with the final words “We don’t ever say goodbye, we say this…” before striking the first chords of ‘Everlong’, Grohl sent the majority of the audience into a beer-throwing frenzy.

Setlist

Something from Nothing
The Pretender
Learn to Fly
Breakout
My Hero
Big Me
Congregation
Walk
Cold Day in the Sun
In The Clear
Arlandria
Monkey Wrench
Skin and Bones
Wheels
Times Like These
Stay With Me (The Faces cover)
Let There Be Rock (AC/DC cover)
Tom Sawyer (Rush cover)
Under Pressure (Queen + David Bowie cover)
All My Life
Outside
These Days
Generator
This Is A Call
Everlong

Foo Fighters Tour Dates:

Feb 26, 2015 ANZ Stadium, Sydney
Feb 28, 2015 Etihad Stadium, Melbourne
Mar 02, 2015 Derwent Entertainment Centre, Tasmania
Mar 04, 2015 Coopers Stadium, Adelaide
Mar 08, 2015 nib Stadium, Perth

For FasterLouder

Live review: St. Jerome’s Laneway Festival, Brisbane – 31/1/15

perfect pussy brisbane laneway
Perfect Pussy

“It’s so hot; how can you live like this?”

These are some of the first words Benjamin Booker mutters into his microphone as he takes to the stage at yet another talent-packed and heatstroke-inducing St. Jerome’s Laneway Festival. And he’s from New Orleans…

It’s an appropriate question from the 25 year-old singer-songwriter, as rivers of sweat run from every pore on every square inch of every dancing punters’ skin under the punishing Queensland sun. But since when did a few rays and humidity stop Brisbane having a party?

Particularly perfect party-starters are New York’s Perfect Pussy (try saying that after a few ales); the noisy five-piece charge through a blistering set of shouty punk and hardcore. Singer Meredith Graves may look fairly angelic in her all-white get-up, but once her brutal vocals and flailing arms get going, you realise she is a force to be reckoned with. The juxtaposition of her meek “thank-yous” and ferocious vocal performances is truly a wonderful thing.

Leeds likely lads Eagulls are plying their own brand of guitar noise over at the Good Better Best stage, although theirs is more of the post-punk variety. The harsh afternoon heat hasn’t stopped Brisbane’s music fans from turning out early in large numbers, and the quintet go over well.

Back at the Mistletone stage, Connan Mockasin is one of a few artists who will experience sound problems today, although the New Zealander takes it in his stride, seating himself on a monitor and pulling off some of the most laid-back licks on show today. His woozy psychedelia is perfect for hot days and stiff drinks, which is pretty damn appropriate.

At the Never Let It Rest stage, American singer Raury’s sound is the first of the day to go beyond big and into massive territory; the Atlanta native’s final song ‘God’s Whisper’ being the finest on show so far, as his band mates’ hats fly from their heads, are replaced and fly off again as they bounce around the stage.

Next is South Australian ball of energy Tkay Maidza, who is, quite simply, an infectious delight throughout her entire set. The teen rapper has justified all the hype surrounding her over the past year, and if she keeps pulling out performances that make audiences want to move as much as this, surely world domination isn’t just a pipe dream. ‘Switch Lanes’ is a highlight, as is the ridiculous ‘Brontosaurus’, but it’s Maidza’s I-don’t-know-what-I’m-doing-but-fuck-it grin that makes her the most fun to watch.

Andy Bull receives a suitably colossal reception from an ecstatic crowd at the Never Let It Rest stage, just before Benjamin Booker gets his sweat on next door. Despite initial problems which force his rhythm section to jam while a pedal is fixed, the classy Louisianan remains unfazed, even while one confused and inebriated woman shouts “Where’s Agnes?” No lady, this is not Mac Demarco, and go drink some water FFS.

jungle laneway brisbane
Jungle

Back at the Mistletone stage, Norwegians Highasakite finish off with an epic sing-along to their single ‘Since Last Wednesday’, before a storm warning is announced under a heavy and ominous cloud. As English duo Royal Blood kick off and bassist/singer Mike Kerr asks a heaving audience “are you ready to get wet?” that’s exactly what happens; the sky briefly opens and a temporarily-concerning mass of sopping punters surges towards the gates, causing a crush. “If you push me any harder, this girl in front is going to end up pregnant,” announces one guy caught in the mass of bodies, and the band play on, unperturbed.

The rain clears and normality is restored, and Courtney Barnett takes to the stage in front of another huge audience. After kicking off with ‘Lance Jr.’, the Melbournian proceeds to shred with aplomb throughout her entire set; a fact that only increases anticipation for her debut album, set to be released in March.

Now comes perhaps one of the most anticipated moments of the day: Mac Demarco and his dear old mum. In a cheesy move, Agnes introduces her “talented and beautiful son”, before the man himself starts into ‘Salad Days’ with all the right amounts of quirk and whimsy. The almost God-like status he is afforded by a baying audience is puzzling, but it’s all silly good fun, so what the hell.

Future Islands draw somewhat less of a crowd than might have been expected if their slot didn’t clash with both Banks and Little Dragon, and while their synth-pop is tailor-made for a festival of this size, the majority of people present at their set are clearly only here for that song, which frontman Samuel T. Herring almost introduces with a sigh, as he says “Okay – let’s do it”. The crowd at the front at this point goes suitably mental, while the rest of us hope ‘Seasons (Waiting On You)’ doesn’t become the band’s ‘Creep’.

Now: shit gets real as English soul collective Jungle prove themselves to be a major highlight in the dark of the Never Let It Rest stage. An opening salvo of ‘Platoon’ and ‘Julia’ is enough to get every person present moving more than they have all day, before fourth track ‘The Heat’ whips the crowd into even more of a frenzy. ‘Accelerate’ is good, but ‘Busy Earnin’’ is great, and as this reviewer finds himself involuntarily shuffling past the probable brilliance of St. Vincent, ducking his head under the water tap before tumbling into a taxi with demands to be taken to the nearest vendor of pizza slices, he realises Laneway has defeated him for another year. Jolly good show, St. Jerome.

For Scenestr

Live review: The Rolling Stones – Brisbane Entertainment Centre – 18/11/14

the rolling stones brisbane

“We know you’ve waited a long time, cuz we ain’t been back for aaaaages!”

While no apology is needed for the unfortunate circumstances in which the Rolling Stones were forced to cancel their last Australian tour, it’s nice that Mick Jagger acknowledges the fact shortly after an explosive opening double-salvo of ‘Jumpin’ Jack Flash’ and ‘It’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll (But I Like It)’. It’s also nice that he receives a response loud enough to probably kill every bird within a ten-mile radius.

Two songs in and it already feels that incredible amounts of energy have been expended by both band and audience. The lack of a support band hasn’t kept an arena-sized bunch of music fans of mostly advanced years from allowing themselves to be whipped up into a frenzy by Jagger, who almost can’t find enough parts of the stage in which to shake his bony hips and flail his arms like it’s 1969 all over again. Besides the prancing peacock frontman, ol’ Keef and Ronnie are looking mean and lean (and dressed mostly in green) as they puff on cigarettes and interchange licks. Charlie is the epitome of cool and reigns everything in. Touring members are sounding and looking hot. The knowledge that we’re witnessing a bunch of frail septuagenarians roll casually yet efficiently through their hits has been suspended from our minds and we are being drawn into the Stones’ world of swagger, mystery and comfortable trainers, if only for a couple of hours.

‘You Got Me Rocking’ is up next, followed by ‘Tumbling Dice’, after which Jagger gets playful, referring to the G20. “Everyone in Brisbane was so well behaved, I hear” he says, almost sneering. “Even Tony Abbott was well behaved” Cue boos. “No shirt-fronting for Abbott. He was in a Putin-free zone.”

The always-outstanding Mick Taylor joins in the fun to run through ‘Silver Train’ and ‘Bitch’; the former taking a few seconds to start, while Jagger confesses they are “trying to remember the arrangement.”

A punchy 1-2 of ‘Paint It Black’ and ‘Honky Tonk Women’ takes the fervour up a notch before Jagger introduces the band and leaves the stage to let Richards take lead vocal on ‘You Got The Silver’, ‘Before They Make Me Run’ and ‘Happy’. “All you up the back there – I’m thinking of you,” he mocks, in his trademark whisky-soaked voice; the voice that gives rise to the argument that he might be the best vocalist on stage tonight, just as there exists the strong argument that Mick Taylor is the best guitarist present. Not that it really matters, anyway.

An extended version of ‘Midnight Rambler’ sees just about all band members do a circuit of the tongue-shaped extended stage, and ‘Miss You’ allows bassist Darryl Jones to unleash his incredibly funky fills. ‘Gimme Shelter’ and ‘Start Me Up’ keep the hits a-comin’, then Jagger cranks his inner dandy up to 11 as he comes back onto the stage draped in huge red feather cape for ‘Sympathy For The Devil’, and ‘Brown Sugar’ gives back-up singers Lisa Fischer and Bernard Fowler the chance to strut their stuff.

And now, the obligatory encore. Huge kudos to the guys and gals of Vibrancy, the Choir of the Cuskelly College of Music, for their perfectly-executed take on ‘You Can’t Always Get What You Want’, although their choral careers might have just peaked – sorry guys, it’s all downhill from here. Closer ‘Satisfaction’ does the job, and multiple bows and a spot of fighting over tossed plectrums and drumsticks later, and the night is complete. Not bad for a bunch of guys labelled as has-beens as far back as the early seventies.

For Scenestr

Live review: BIGSOUND Live – Brisbane – 10/9/14

kingswood

PERHAPS it’s appropriate that the first song I hear at BIGSOUND Live 2014 is ‘Get On Your Horse’ by The Furrs at Oh Hello! It’s an appropriately-named kickstart to another night of top drawer Australian music across a multitude of stages and hidey-holes in the Valley.

After that start, the trek to the Zoo is punctuated by a short stop at the Press Club to catch All Our Exes Live In Texas; the folky Sydney quartet sounding like perhaps the most elegant act on show anywhere here tonight.

You wouldn’t call Steve Smyth an elegant performer, but he’s all the better for it. The impressively-moustachioed Sydneysider’s sweat sprays off in fountains as he throws his Gibson and himself around the Zoo’s stage, with new song ‘Shake It’ being a particular highlight among many great tracks.

Over at the Brightside, Adelaide’s Bad//Dreems show why they’re one of the most hyped acts of this year’s BIGSOUND, as they power through a rip-roaring set of songs from their EP and upcoming debut album. A cover of The Replacements’ ‘Bastards of Young’ is the perfect setup to closer ‘Dumb Ideas’, as the quartet steal the show for tonight.

bad//dreems

Following Bad//Dreems is another hyped act, the Britpop-heavy DMA’s, who finish with their sing-along epic ‘Delete’ to a massive response. At the same time, in the darkened cavern of Alhambra Lounge, Melburnians Lurch & Chief are making an unholy racket in all the best ways, with ‘We Are The Same’ being the standout.

At the Rev in Warner Street, a much more chilled vibe is apparent, as Melbourne’s Martha Brown – aka Banoffee – is going solo with a set of cool r ‘n’ b and synth numbers in an enticingly air-conditioned environment.

Every BIGSOUND night needs a big finish, and this time it’s provided by Kingswood. The Melbourne rockers are flying high, having just released their excellent debut album Microscopic Wars. Despite teasing a few bars of ‘Stairway to Heaven’ and playing the intro to QOTSA’s ‘Feel Good Hit of the Summer’ after calling for the BIGSOUND delegates to “get your hands in the air”, it’s their own ‘Ohio’ that provides the massive close. What a night.

For Scenestr

Live review: Band of Skulls + Apes – The Hi-Fi, Brisbane – 21/6/14

band of skulls

“IT’S the last night of our world tour,” says Band of Skulls frontman Russell Marsden, a couple of songs into his band’s set at The Hi-Fi. “And we’ve got nothing to lose”.

Tonight is the kind of night that breeds those similar feelings in band and punter alike. It’s Saturday, it’s Brisbane’s West End, it’s raining and the night is young. The need to be responsible is more than 36 hours away, and with a little help from this English rock trio, we’re aiming to fit a hell of a lot in.

Ballarat’s Apes are up first as the venue fills with anticipation and beer farts. Kicking into gear mid-set, the quartet make their mark with an excellent finishing brace of new single ‘Pull The Trigger’ and ‘Helluva Time’.

Marsden, bassist Emma Richardson and drummer Matt Hayward look and sound like they mean business from the off. Lean, mean and tour-tight, the Band of Skulls trio appear up for it and then some; opening with ‘Asleep At The Wheel’ from new album Himalayan, and following on with the title track and ‘You’re Not Pretty But You Got It Going On’ from Sweet Sour. ‘I Know What I Am’ gets the first big sing-along moment, and arms flail and flap in efforts to grab plectrums tossed audience-ways by Marsden. “Don’t worry, we have plenty,” he assures the most frantic, which makes no difference whatsoever.

A stripped-back ‘Nightmares’ threatens to explode into life but never does, providing a poised mid-set highlight and a final ‘Hollywood Bowl’ leaves an audience beaten and bruised yet baying for more, as stomping feet threaten to knock the smell of stale beer out of the Hi-Fi’s carpet once and for all.

A final trio of ‘Sweet Sour’, which Marsden dedicates to the crew, ‘Light Of The Morning’ and ‘Death By Diamonds And Pearls’ is a strong finish and the perfect way to mark the conclusion of one of the best rock performances to grace Brisbane this reviewer has experienced in recent months.

For The AU Review

Live review: Arctic Monkeys + Pond – Brisbane Entertainment Centre – 7/5/14

arctic monkeys brisbane

Alex, Alexxx, ALEXXXX! These words could just about sum up the Arctic Monkeys’ gig at the Brisbane Entertainment Centre, such was the fervour reverberating around the arena for the band’s singer, Alex Turner. The 28 year-old has an oddly powerful hold over his audience – boy and girl alike – as he struts and poses throughout, and the result is the loudest screaming this reviewer has ever heard in the venue. More on that in a second.

The opening band for tonight is Perth’s always-excellent Pond. “Alex will be here soon; until then you’re stuck with us,” says frontman Nick Allbrook, but it’s a situation everyone’s happy with. Psychedelic rock rarely makes an appearance in a venue of this size, and it’s a great sight to behold to see the quintet brilliantly jam through their best-known tracks. They’re a band that can make a set seem like a perfectly ramshackle fuck-around while still being tight as hell, in only the best possible way.

With a backdrop of the huge glowing letters A and M and a retina-destroying light show, Arctic Monkeys arrive to deafening screams from every corner of what must be an almost sold-out venue. As they start with ‘Do I Wanna Know?’ and move through ‘Snap Out Of It’, ‘Arabella’ and ‘Brianstorm’, it’s clear the band are tour-tight and focussed, and all eyes are on Turner as he moves from one side of the stage to the other, soaking up the adulation, shaking his hips, and showing how far charisma can take someone who uses it cleverly.

The first big, big moment comes at the start of ‘Don’t Sit Down Cause I’ve Moved Your Chair’; a song that remains the band’s best, before Turner asks the audience “why do you only call me when you’re high, Brisbane?” Recent supports The Orwells claimed that every aspect of the band’s performance is mapped out, including ad-libs, and there is a feeling that that may be the case, but if it works this well it doesn’t really matter.

After an initial finisher of ‘505’ and despite sound problems in the encore during ‘R U Mine?’, which ended up being played twice, there was a very large group of satisfied people dispersing into the Brisbane night after this show.

Live review: The Jezabels + Gang of Youths – The Tivoli, Brisbane – 6/5/14

the Jezabels Brisbane

SYDNEY’S The Jezabels have been making headlines in the music press recently for two reasons: getting involved in a somewhat exaggerated spat with music critics on the subject of their work credentials and putting on great live shows. So, given that singer Hayley Mary was recently quoted as saying music writers need to “fucking get a real job”, it’s with mixed expectations that I pass through the doors of The Tivoli to catch their show.

Let’s get this straight from the off: this critic remains a big fan of the band and its music, despite the fact this would make me diabolically uncool in certain circles. The Jezabels continue to shrug off their detractors and make simple and great pop music, and they seem to be comfortable with the fact they’re pretty uncool at the same time. Which kind of makes them cool.

Tonight’s gig begins with the excellent Gang of Youths, who are much-improved performance-wise and song-wise since the last time they played this venue supporting Cloud Control in August. ‘Evangelists’ is a stand-out, and the only thing lacking for the band is more time to jam; these guys deserve to be big, and probably will be.

Nick Kaloper, Sam Lockwood and Heather Shannon take to the dimly lit stage of a now-packed house and receive a monumental cheer, before Mary herself strides on dressed in glittery black top and black pants and ups the volume several fold. The band begin in measured fashion with the title track and opening number of new album The Brink. Mary’s voice is what makes The Jezabels better than most similar pop bands; it soars, chills and soothes at different points and at the drop of a hat, while the rest of the band are clinically precise.

‘Endless Summer’ is next, and the audience is in Mary’s hands at this point, followed shortly after by ‘Time To Dance’, which a Jezabels audience doesn’t really do; it’s more of a stand-gawping kind of deal. Mary spins, shuffles and raises her left hand to the roof during the more majestic moments, and while the rest of the band stay fairly static, there’s enough to keep things interesting throughout ‘Look of Love’ and early track ‘Hurt Me’.

‘Beat to Beat’ is a mid-set highlight as Mary stretches her vocal range and gets out into the audience to high-five some fans at front-and-centre, with further big responses for ‘The End’ and ‘Disco Biscuit Love’.

So, what’s the somewhat confused lesson this critic learned from tonight’s gig? It’s this: fuck the critics. Nice work, Jezabels.

Live review: Queens Of The Stone Age/Nine Inch Nails + Brody Dalle – Brisbane Entertainment Centre – 17/3/14

Nine Inch Nails Brisbane

Brody Dalle and her band took to the stage at 7pm just as equal amounts of Queens Of The Stone Age and Nine Inch Nails fans were wondering which band would be first in this outstanding double bill. After a quick 30-minute set of punk rock guitars, that fantastically throaty rock voice and a song dedication to a naked biker spotted earlier in the day, Dalle had the growing crowd’s ears warmed up nicely.

It didn’t take long before everything became clear, as the dark presence of NIN’s Trent Reznor emerged in a haze of purple lighting and he and his band started into ‘Somewhat Damaged’ and ‘Me, I’m Not’. The ominous and sleazy ‘Piggy’ was a highlight, as was ‘Terrible Lie’, during which Reznor – adopting a primal and menacing stance at the microphone – carried off an intensely brutal vocal before throwing his guitar to the air and letting it crash to the stage. Drenched in green light, the band finished with ‘Hurt’, as lighters were raised skyward throughout the audience.

A quick turnaround later, and QOTSA strolled onstage, and by second song ‘No One Knows’ the entire audience was eating out of Josh Homme’s hand. In a groove-laden set, including ‘You Think I Ain’t Worth A Dollar, But I Feel Like A Millionaire’, ‘Smooth Sailing’, ‘If I Had A Tail’ and ‘Fairweather Friends’, the band provided a looser and more relaxed vibe to what came before, with Homme at one point telling security guards “don’t worry about the fucking kids; stop trying to tell us what to do” as a few harmless crowd-surfers were pounced upon. An extended jam at the end of ‘Make It Wit Chu’ was a highlight, and an encore including ‘The Vampyre Of Time And Memory’ rounded out an evening of top-drawer music.

Judging from the similarly rapturous reactions both bands received, it was clear there was a big crossover appeal for fans of each, and while both were excellent and the gig was in no way a competition, Nine Inch Nails just about edged it.

Scott Owen of The Living End: “I guess we just get along as mates and respect each other”

living end

THE LIVING END have just played five Soundwave shows and will headline The Big Pineapple Music Festival next month; not bad for a band technically on a break. Upright bass player Scott Owen explains why the Melbourne trio doesn’t sit still for long.

“Soundwave was fantastic,” he says. “We didn’t know what to expect as it was all very last-minute; we only got added to the bill two weeks before the festival. It was unexpected, but you can’t complain about getting up in front of audiences like that. Everyone seemed to file in there early and there was a really respectable amount of people there. [Short notice] can work either way for us; sometimes we rehearse our arses off before a show and for one reason or another it’s difficult to pull it together, and then sometimes you just have to jump into the deep end without a chance to rehearse, and they can be the best gigs. We went for the middle ground and only had a couple of rehearsals in the week leading up to it, and left it at that; just enough to dust out the cobwebs a little bit, but not overthink it.”

The band will be the top-billed rock act at next month’s second Big Pineapple Music Festival, which also features Dead Letter Circus and Spiderbait.

“Because we’re at a stage right now where we don’t have a new record out, we’re just kind of getting up and trying to tailor our set – and this probably sounds wanky – to please everyone,” Owen says. “We figure with festivals you’re there for a good time, not a long time, so we just try to play things that we think people are going to know and things people can sing along to; I think that’s our job at a festival. We didn’t really think of doing [AC/DC’s] ‘Jailbreak’ until the day of the gig at Soundwave in Brisbane, but every now and then we’ll pull out a cover and it’s normally something that’s planned. We’ve got six albums, so there’s a lot of catalogue to choose from and it can be difficult to try to think of what will please everyone, but that’s why we tend to rely on the songs most people are going to know. It’s not our own show; people are there to see a bunch of bands, so we just try to offer a good time.”

This year marks two decades since the band formed in Melbourne, but Owen isn’t keen to make a fuss of the anniversary.

“We did a retrospective tour the year before last, where we went out and played all of our albums for seven nights in each city, and that was a good way to look back over everything,” he says. “I think we’re more into looking forward than looking back now, although the plan is to do nothing for pretty much the rest of the year, apart from a few gigs here and there, and then sometime next year we’ll get together again and start thinking about the next record. This is the first time we’ve all not lived in Melbourne. Over the last couple of years we’ve all moved in different directions; Chris [Cheney, singer-guitarist] is over in America, I live in Byron and Andy [Strachan, drums] is down the coast in Victoria. There’s a bit of a distance between us and we figured it’s a good opportunity to just chill out for a reasonable amount of time. Fortunately we’ve never had any major difficulties with each other and we’ve been lucky to continue to get people to want to watch us play. I guess we just get along as mates and respect each other, and just enjoy getting up onstage and playing together. I really don’t know how to read it any more deeply than that.”

The band’s sound includes elements of rockabilly, rock ‘n’ roll and punk; a formula that has worked well for the trio, although Owen’s ‘bass stunts’ – primarily standing on his instrument mid-performance – wasn’t always the polished party-piece it is today.

“When Chris and I were in high school we were only interested in’50s rock ‘n’ roll and rockabilly,” he says. “Getting up on the bass was always part of the act; it was happening from day one. The funniest time was when Chris and I started playing; we were only about 16 or 17 years old when we started playing pubs around Melbourne. One of the very first times we played a proper pub – and we were still just doing rockabilly covers at the time – Chris climbed up on my bass to play a guitar solo and it all went horribly wrong and we ended up in a pile on the floor. It was devastating; we were thinking we could never get up onstage and show our faces again after such an epic fail. But we got over the hurdle. Luckily it hasn’t happened in front of an enormous audience.”

THE LIVING END PLAY THE BIG PINEAPPLE MUSIC FESTIVAL SATURDAY MAY 17.

Live review: Pharrell Williams + Baauer + Nina Las Vegas – Brisbane Riverstage – 12/3/14

Pharrell Brisbane

For a man with so many fingers in so many pies, it’s a wonder that Pharrell Williams can even spare the time to be touring Australia. Producer, musician, rapper, fashion designer; he has been called a man of many talents, and while I was aware of his ubiquitous presence across seemingly every corner of the music world in the last twelve months, I wasn’t yet convinced that he deserves the level of veneration in which he’s held by a fair percentage of the music-loving population. This gig would help me decide.

Initially to be held at the RNA Showgrounds Marquee, the show was moved to the far superior Riverstage due to huge early demand, and no doubt benefited as a result. The natural amphitheatre by the river is surely one of the best venues in Brisbane, and it’s a blessing for everyone involved that the dreaded Entertainment Centre had no part to play in the evening’s proceedings.

Nina Las Vegas took to the stage to warm up the crowd as the venue filled, and ran through an up-tempo set of party tunes before an audience still happy to stretch out on the grass with a beer in hand; it was only seven o’clock and most people had just finished work after all. “Oh my God, you’re alive!” she announced, to a fairly fuzzed-out bunch of gig-goers, before further trying to entice a bit of movement with “arms are good if you wanna say hi!” during a remix of Disclosure’s ‘When A Fire Starts To Burn’.

Baauer was up next with a request to “make some noise if you’re seeing Pharrell tonight,” as I realise that I’ve never actually heard a DJ say anything interesting between or during songs; the nature of their work relegates them to using inane sentences like “let’s go Brisbane!” or “are you ready?” and while it’ll probably work at a club gig, it mostly fell on deaf ears with this audience.

With a 10pm curfew firmly in place for every Riverstage gig, Pharrell had his work cut out to make his show worthwhile when he arrived on-stage at 9:15. With his DJ and pair of dancers in tow, he simply had to walk to the front of the stage and salute for this crowd to go wild and bawl his name. What followed can only be described as a lazy, half-hearted attempt at a performance, as he reeled off shortened versions of most of the more well-known songs he’s had a hand in, with a Ramones-esque urgency but lacking in the elbow grease, entertainment value and any semblance of realism. He’s got a fairly hectic schedule, so preserving a bit of energy is understandable, but gig-goers still want to get some value for money, you know what I mean?

Starting off with ‘One’ by Swedish House Mafia, Pharrell leaned over almost into his baying and slathering audience during ‘Drop It Like It’s Hot’ and an excerpt of ‘Hollaback Girl’, and he still had basically done nothing on stage. I found myself wondering what would happen if the audience didn’t immediately go crazy for him the second he appeared. What would he have in his performer’s arsenal that would win over a crowd who aren’t instantly impressed by a foolishly-chosen hat, a couple of gyrating girls and a – admittedly impressive – set of abs? Luckily for him it’s a question that doesn’t have to be asked, as somehow his reputation carries him through.

“Tonight I just wanna perform for you and show how much I appreciate you so much. I know they call this the land Down Under, but this is the land on top. I want the Martians to hear the Australian voices all the way to the moon. Australia, are you ready to make some motherfucking noise?” Planetary confusion aside, this request got a huge response before more shortened versions of ‘Hot In Herre’ and ‘Lapdance’ and a request for some “oestrogen on stage” saw six or seven enthusiastically gyrating girls take their moment in the limelight.

The only song to be played in full – and indeed be anything more than two minutes long – was new effort ‘Hunter’; a song “written from the woman’s perspective”, as we’re informed. Hearing a track in its entirety made for a pleasant change to the start-stop nature of the show up to this point, but unfortunately that feeling is quickly erased when the wince-inducing lyrics of ‘Blurred Lines’ appeared.

The obvious climax is ‘Get Lucky’, which got the biggest response of the night, before ‘Happy’ closed out the set as dancing breaks out across the entire venue, although the man himself is still fairly static and alone on a big stage. More rambled speeches about being so loud as to shake the moon or some such nonsense are made, but as I left the venue it was more a feeling of utter indifference than happiness that I felt; and I was certainly no closer to understanding the phenomenon that is Pharrell Williams’s popularity after this half-hearted and peculiar little evening of live music that was a runaway triumph for style over substance.

Live review: Wire + Per Purpose + Multiple Man – The Zoo, Brisbane – 19/2/14

Wire

Writing about Wire is hard, just like listening to a lot of their music. Just like spending a couple of hours in the sweatbox we know as probably the best live music venue in Brisbane. Just like waiting for support band Per Purpose to warm up. Just like, well, just like anything about now; I’m listening to Wire as I write this.

Getting together in 1976 just after the first year’s worth of English punk had reared its ugly head, the quartet of Londoners that made up Wire were never a bunch to follow trends or fashion; instead being intent to walk their own path and be one of the original instigators of post-punk. Often credited for expanding sonic boundaries in new and brave ways, they have influenced just about everything that has ever been labelled post-punk.

Now: maybe it’s the heat, but tonight’s lesson in crushing electronic noise doesn’t have the desired effect, except I don’t know what that effect should be. A sense of stark destruction, perhaps? I arrive just as openers Multiple Man are finishing, but don’t get a sense of what they’re really about. Per Purpose, on the other hand, know exactly what they’re about; droning jams, intense cheekbone-framed stares and wailing, shattered guitars. Towards the end of their half-hour set they finally get going and produce some quality The Fall-esque jams.

Wire were innovators in the ’70s, so I’m not sure why it feels odd to see singer-guitarist Colin Newman using a tablet and USB, but as their songs morph from one to the next without much of a discernible difference except perhaps the cacophonous volume of drone, it’s more the lack of a tune that is most frustrating. Something about the performance feels great; dark and enveloping in a brooding way, but in other ways it falls over; a lack of connection to the audience or any showing of emotion, perhaps.

Some bands make great records and others were born to play live, and I think Wire fall into the first category.

Live review: Richie Sambora – The Tivoli, Brisbane – 20/2/14

Richie Sambora

IF YOU BELIEVE EVERYTHING that you’ve read in the majority of music press, it would seem that the past week has been a turbulent one for Soundwave. Bands pulling out of the festival, a multitude of timetable changes and a flurry of what promoter AJ Maddah has referred to as “pissing contests” between bands have all contributed to an impression of a festival in trouble. If you look past the melodrama, however, you’ll realise that there remains a festival of almost a hundred bands of such impressive diversity and talent to make any such trivialities irrelevant, and with more rock credentials than any music fan could spend a day shaking several sticks at.

A pleasant bonus to having Soundwave roll through town is of course sideshows, and tonight’s gig from ex-Bon Jovi member Richie Sambora would be a more than pleasant addition to that roster.

With a set beginning at the early time of 8pm and with no support bands on a stiflingly humid Brisbane evening, it could be suggested that Sambora might have his work cut out to make the gig work, but this is one rock stalwart who has played more stadium gigs than some of the fans here tonight have had hot dinners, so it’s no surprise that the old master works the audience into a frenzy with a series of classic rock tracks and plenty of between-song banter. The only question remains is how much Bon Jovi material will he play, and will he mention his old song-writing (and latter day sparring) partner?

At around 8:30 the lights dim and AC/DC’s ‘Thunderstruck’ comes over the PA, announcing the arrival of the healthy looking Sambora and Australian guitarist Orianthi among a six-piece setup. Starting off with the first two tracks from his most recent album Aftermath Of The Lowdown, ‘Burn The Candle Down’ and ‘Every Road Leads Home To You’, he directs his audience to “wave your hands motherfuckers,” and said motherfuckers respond in the appropriate fashion. Explaining that his last album was a cathartic one for him to write and record, and receiving an amiable ribbing from a few people in the crowd for drinking water instead of alcohol, the 54 year-old says that “there’s too much shit around music now; people just want to hear people communicate music and jam out,” in reference to over-production and adding too many electronic elements.

Working through ‘Taking A Chance On The Wind’ followed by an excerpt from ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’, Sambora leads the first huge sing-along of the evening for Bon Jovi number ‘I’ll Be There For You’, although there’s no mention of Jon as yet. Platinum-blonde guitarist Orianthi is a hard-rocking delight throughout; trading riffs and owning large sections of songs, while not stealing the limelight at any point. Its easy to see why she has been voted one of the top female guitarists in the world by several guitar magazines.

A cover of INXS’s ‘Don’t Change’ is wedged appropriately into the show at this point, before ‘Sugar Daddy’ and ‘Weathering The Storm’ provide rocking riffs and a spot of cheese-rock balladry respectively.

“I wrote this song about my fucking ex-wife,” says Sambora, to ridiculous levels of cheering, before playing the opening chords of ‘Learning How To Fly With A Broken Wing’ and finally the first reference to Jon Bon Jovi comes as he introduces ‘These Days’. “This is the title track of our 1995 album,” he says. “I know which songs are mine, and which were his.” Cue more cheering. “When he coughs up some dough I’ll probably go back.”

By now, everyone can feel that a big number is coming, and as Sambora dons a hat that looks like it was picked due its resemblance to that of Crocodile Dundee, the band kick into ‘Beds Are Burning’ by Midnight Oil, which after a couple of verses becomes ‘Living On A Prayer’. Like a time-bomb going off, the release of energy is inescapable, and for three or four minutes it feels like a stadium gig circa 1987, or every bad birthday party you’ve ever been to.

An obligatory encore including ‘Wanted Dead or Alive’ is enough to finish off this audience, and if tonight’s gig reinforced anything, it’s that Soundwave is going to be special. Oh, and Richie Sambora doesn’t need the help of any old ‘friends’ to put on a kick-ass rock show.

RICHIE SAMBORA APPEARS AT SOUNDWAVE FESTIVAL STARTING IN BRISBANE FEB 22.

Live review: Misfits + Graveyard Rockstars + The Wrath – The Zoo, Brisbane – 16/1/14

New Jersey horror-punk legends the Misfits may have had more line-up changes than Kiss, Thin Lizzy and The Ramones put together (possibly), but with founding bass player and vocalist Jerry Only still at the helm of the iconic band, they seem to be in just as good a shape as ever.

Brisbane’s The Zoo is packed and humid as a sell-out audience takes position to catch the make-up toting trio, with almost as many skulls on T-shirts as tattoos and chains hanging from a variety of facial features. First up is Sydney quintet The Wrath, who put in a strong opening set as the venue fills, followed by fellow Sydney-siders Graveyard Rockstars, whose performance is a mashing together of white horror-punk make-up, head-banging dreadlocks and foreboding tales about death and what might be lurking “six feet under the floor”. “This next song is a doomsday anthem,” says frontman Ash Rothschild. “You can take it how you will. That sounds a bit gay, doesn’t it?”

With a stripped-down stage show for their Australian jaunt, the Misfits themselves don’t take long before lowering the lights and appearing before an audience now collectively losing its marbles. Almost from the second Jerry, Dez and Eric take to the stage a mess of frenzied moshing breaks out front-and-centre, and the energy doesn’t let up for ninety minutes. Jerry Only is the focal point throughout; his trademark devilock hairstyle hasn’t changed a bit since 1977, and his spiked shoulders and skull-encrusted bass head reflect spotlights and drip sweat in tandem.

With Ramones-like speed the songs are reeled off, from ‘Land of the Dead’, ‘Scream’, ‘Attitude’, ‘Angel Fuck’ and ‘She’; the latter written when Only was seventeen, and seemingly about a hundred others. The inevitable crowd-surfing breaks out during ’20 Eyes’, and the band continue unperturbed as a sea of elbows, knees and beer bottles bubbles and boils beneath them.

Almost as quickly as it started the set is over, and I’m left with a feeling that despite the horror-punk label the band is given, there is so much more in their arsenal; from punk, speed-metal, rockabilly, and good old fashioned rock ‘n’ roll. They just don’t make ’em like this any more.

Live review: Black Rebel Motorcycle Club + Immigrant Union – The Hi-Fi, Brisbane – 17/11/13

It’s hard to believe that Californian rock band Black Rebel Motorcycle Club has been in existence since 1998. For me, their near-perfect blend of neo-psychedelia and barely-restrained garage-rock aggression transcends time and trends, owing to the fact that throughout their seven album, fifteen year career they haven’t ever tried to be anyone but themselves. Originally on the line-up of the now deceased Harvest Festival, the band delighted their Australian fans by swiftly responding to the cancellation of their festival shows and announcing a headlining tour of their own. Tonight’s result is that Brisbane gets to experience Black Rebel Motorcycle Club in West End’s The Hi-Fi. Game on.

An already quite full venue greets support act Immigrant Union; a band of mish-mashed styles (both musically and hair-wise), featuring Dandy Warhols’ drummer Brent DeBoer on frontman duties. Written descriptions of their music often feature the word ‘folk’, but tonight’s performance is a quite exhilarating mix of bluesy roots and country, with extended jams only being beaten in length by the awesome hair of singer-guitarist Bob Harrow.

Lighting in a now packed Hi-Fi is sparse and ominous as the effortlessly cool trio of Black Rebel Motorcycle Club walk onto the stage, amid reverberating roars of welcome and gasps of shock (come on, people) at guitarist/vocalist Peter Hayes having a solitary cigarette perched on his guitar neck, the light trail of smoke heading ceiling-wards from the red-hot tip while reflecting the light and adding to his already smooth exterior.

Starting with the grand ‘Hate The Taste’, the trio build a monumental sound from their respective instruments, before heading into ‘Beat The Devil’s Tattoo’ and a cover of ‘Let The Day Begin’ by bassist Robert Been’s father’s band The Call. Switching styles, instruments, pace, and groove comes easy to the three-piece throughout, as an ecstatic crowd are treated to the likes of ‘Ain’t No Easy Way’, ‘Screaming Gun’ and ‘Conscience Killer’, before a final blast of scathing, fiercely powerful guitar rock with ‘Spread Your Love’.

Obviously an encore is called for, and BRMC oblige with a further four-song outing, including ‘Whatever Happened To My Rock ‘n’ Roll (Punk Song)’. With pounded ears, a sense of dark elation, and the foreboding doom of the working week ahead, we make for home. What a bloody great gig.

Live review: Cody Chesnutt + The Cheap Fakes – The Hi-Fi, Brisbane – 20/10/13

Cody Chesnutt

Some gigs promise much but deliver little. Fewer promise little but deliver much. Probably even fewer again promise much and deliver even more. But what type would tonight’s gig be? This particular Atlanta new-age soul brother – whose new record evokes smooth and dreamy mental images of Prince, Marvin Gaye and Southern-fried gospel – is in town for one night only, and for a soul gig in Brisbane on a Sunday night, perhaps expectations shouldn’t be high.

Enter Cody Chesnutt; a man who will take your expectations of the gig, the evening, and even your life, and lift them tenfold. Tonight, he would not only deliver more than could have reasonably been expected; tonight he’d take this Brisbane audience to church.

Support for tonight comes partly in the form of Brisbane’s own ska-party real-deals, Cheap Fakes. The classy six-piece run through an entertaining set of tight, danceable ska jams that instantly makes Sunday night feel like a Saturday again, as the dreaded Monday blues are fought off with vigour. Starting with ‘All I Know’, the six-piece led by engaging frontman Hayden Andrews are stylish and smooth and as the sound builds and each member solos like their lives depend on it, the audience knows they’re no fakes. Andrews announces the fact that “We’re really honoured to be supporting Cody Chesnutt. He’s been one of our favourite artists since his first album. You guys are in for a treat.”

Treat indeed. After a lengthy setup time, the impossibly cool Cody Chesnutt and his band of four take to the stage; the man himself in trademark blue army helmet and red cardigan, looking lean, mean, and ready to rock our worlds. Not content to rely on older, more familiar material, the set is comprised of songs mostly taken from his latest album, Landing On A Hundred, and lacks nothing for it. “Do you wanna listen to some soul music tonight? Let me hear you say YEAH!” he screams, and the audience respond from the off.

Starting with ‘Everybody’s Brother’ with it’s anthemic chorus, Chesnutt proves himself immediately to be a worker of crowds of the highest order as he has us eating out of his hands within minutes of being on the stage. As we sing “no turning back” loudly, then softly, then loudly again at his direction, Chesnutt grins, poses, sweats and beats around the stage with the energy of a man half his age, and we know we’re in for a pretty special night. This music is the very essence of soul, and Chesnutt knows the importance of putting everything into it and leaving nothing in the tank.

‘What Kind of Cool (Will We Think of Next)’ is next, and this is where his band of hand-picked musicians get their first chance to truly shine as they solo. It’s also apparent at this stage that this will be one of those gigs that goes for ninety minutes but only features about seven or eight songs, as the band jam and songs melt into the fabric of each other and back out again. ‘More Than A Wedding Day’ is next, and Chesnutt explains it is his favourite of the album, being the song that comes closest to describing his recent redemption and acceptance of family responsibilities and dedication to his craft, followed by ‘Where Is All The Money Going?”, which allows Chesnutt to flaunt the range of his vocals and once again lead the crowd in a sing-along. “Even a whisper is powerful,” he declares, “Because everyone in this room is united right now.” Never a truer word.

One of the most monumental roars I’ve ever heard in the Hi-Fi brings the singer back for an encore, and as he walks through the audience shaking hands and hugging strangers, there’s not a face in the house that doesn’t have a big goofy grin plastered across it. Cody Chesnutt is a man who knows how to deliver.