Dec 5, 2017

Feist @ Sydney Opera House

Feist is the complete performer. Amazingly talented and wonderfully charismatic. She hadn't been to our shores for a while, but what a welcome return it was. Sunday night at the Sydney Opera House was the last date of a world wide tour off the back of her latest and impeccable album in 'Pleasure'. In fact she would play the album in full and in order to begin the show. I love the album so this was a distinct pleasure. Particular highlights were 'Any Party' (complete with audience participation) and 'A Man Is Not His Song'. The album is quite varied with beautiful ballads and some up tempo rockers which allowed Feist to display her considerable talents as a guitarist. Many songs were lengthened with long outros as she sparred with her very talented band on stage. There were also many asides between songs where Feist could display her charm and humour. She was also pretty stoked to be playing the iconic Opera House. I think it was a big thrill for her. Plus her mum was in the audience!

After the 'Pleasure' part of the show she leaped straight into her hefty back catalogue, such as the joyous 'My Moon My Man' and the bouncy 'I Feel It All'. We wanted more and we got it, pushing the show well past the two hour mark. 'Mushaboom' was delivered solo and '1234' was given a strip backed rendering with the writer of the song (Sally Seltman) joining mid song. She didn't really want the night to end so she returned for a solo version of 'Intuition'. Giving an enraptured audience extra pleasure and smiles that I'm sure lasted for days.

Set List
I Wish I Didn’t Miss You
Get Not High, Get Not Low
Lost Dreams
Any Party
A Man Is Not His Song
The Wind
Baby Be Simple
I'm Not Running Away
Young Up
My Moon My Man
A Commotion
Sea Lion Woman
The Bad In Each Other
Caught a Long Wind
I Feel It All
Let It Die

Mushaboom (solo)

Intuition (solo)

Oct 15, 2017

Fleet Foxes @ Hollywood Bowl

My last spectacular show on a recent visit to Los Angeles was to see Fleet Foxes at the iconic Hollywood Bowl. What a night it was. As I was late to the party I paid top dollar to get aseat close to the front but it was so worth it. Their new album 'Crack-Up' is easily one of my favourite albums of the year and even though I saw them back in January at the Sydney Opera House it was a great pleasure to see them again. Their melodies of true beauty floated on the air on a beautiful Saturday night. They were working to a strict curfew so there was no encore but it was a great set with a great mixture of old and new. A superb way to finish an amazing trip.

To complete the night the support was none other than the greatness of Beach House. Say no more.

Set List
I Am All That I Need / Arroyo Seco / Thumbprint Scar
Cassius, -
- Naiads, Cassadies
Grown Ocean
Ragged Wood
Your Protector
The Cascades
On Another Ocean (January / June)
Fool's Errand
He Doesn't Know Why
Battery Kinzie
Tiger Mountain Peasant Song
White Winter Hymnal
Third of May / Ōdaigahara
The Shrine / An Argument
Blue Ridge Mountains
Blues Run the Game (Jackson C. Frank cover)
Helplessness Blues

Oct 8, 2017

Kevin Morby @ Teragram Ballroom

In recent years Kevin Morby has become an artist that is massively important to me. He is creating music that resonates hugely with me. Soulful, emotionally honest lyrics paired with great melodies. A great voice matched with great guitars makes for music that makes my heart soar. In fact in 2015 and 2016 his songs topped by favourite songs of the year. 2017 showed he is not slowing down at all. He released 'City Music' in June and it will easily sit at the higher end of my favourite albums of year. So luckily for me whilst I was recently in Los Angeles he performed a show. Luckily for me it was a wonderful and complete night of great music.

Morby played the Teragram Ballroom, a recently new venue in close proximity to the downtown core of Los Angeles. A medium size venue it was the perfect setting for Morby to shine. Sold out, the room was wonderfully behaved enjoying a stellar night of sublime and touching music. Most of the set would be drawn from 'City Music' and last year's amazing 'Singing Saw'. Although there was still room for older great tunes like 'Harlem River', which was quite epic. His guitarist Meg Duffy is a great player who actually performs lead guitarist role with Morby basically taking the rhythm guitar parts. Such as on opener 'City Music' and its wonderfully distinctive lead riff.  Personal favourites were the buoyant 'Aboard My Train' and the tonally gorgeous 'Parade' Morby also took to the piano such as on songs like 'Destroyer' This also provided a great close up view of his delightful 'City Music' suit. Morby would also give us a Townes Van Zandt cover and a solo acoustic rendering of the important and timely 'Beautiful Strangers'. The encore would complete the night wonderfully with 'Dorothy' just the perfect way to close a superb night. I feel quite lucky that Kevin Morby is making such incredible music and even luckier that I was fortunate enough to see it all live.

Set List
City Music
Aboard My Train
Harlem River
I Have Been to the Mountain
All of My Life
Come to Me Now
Downtown's Lights
Colorado Girl (Townes Van Zandt cover)

Beautiful Strangers (solo)

Dry Your Eyes
Cut Me Down

Oct 7, 2017

Explosions in the Sky @ Greek Theatre

Explosions in the Sky are essential to my life as a music fan. Their music is ecstatic and triumphant. Seeing them live lifts that experience to a whole other level. So much so that I recently traveled to Los Angeles to see him. Well not just them, I had a whole week of other delights planned. But they were the starting point for the trip. I had actually seen them live earlier this year at the Sydney Opera House. Of course they were spectacular. So to see them again was a distinct pleasure.

Luckily it was at an amazing venue. The beautiful Greek Theatre in Griffith Park. It's a gorgeous venue in a great setting. I was right down the front too. I arrived just in time to see Holy Fuck open and they were pretty great to be sure. But the men from Texas were the draw card and they let no one down. Just a soaring mass of power and beauty for over 90 minutes. Guitars crashing in joyous unison that creates an atmosphere that is serene and effortlessly sublime. Then they close with the all conquering 'The Only Moment We Were Alone'. A song that I could hear until the end of time. It comes crashing down, the stage goes into darkness. The band thank us and leave. I walk away stunned and enraptured by what I had just witnessed.
Set List
The Birth and Death of the Day
Catastrophe and the Cure
Yasmin the Light
Logic of a Dream
Greet Death
Human Qualities
Disintegration Anxiety
Your Hand in Mine
With Tired Eyes, Tired Minds, Tired Souls, We Slept
Colors in Space
The Only Moment We Were Alone

Jul 25, 2017

Father John Misty @ Metro Theatre

Josh Tillman, aka Father John Misty, is many, many things but above all he is a spectacular live performer. Captivating, mesmeric, witty, passionate. He has it all. He is also now a regular visitor to our shores, this tour being his fourth in the last five years. Sunday night he and his quality band played to a sold out Metro Theatre crowd and for nearly two hours he captivated us all with his brand of erudite folk and rock.

His third album 'Pure Comedy' was released earlier this year to great acclaim. It's a more sombre, considered affair, but ultimately a beautiful recording full of depth and wonder. This show would open with four songs from that very album including the title track. They sounded great and it was such a pleasure to hear them live for the first time. The show flowed beautifully mixing in old tunes with the new material. The band, now numbering six, was great. They provided a backdrop to the talents of frontman Tillman, who is very hard to keep your eyes off. He also provided a 'Q and A' before the encore and let us know that he would be back in February next year. Considering how great this show was that was great news indeed.  

Set List
Pure Comedy
Total Entertainment Forever
Things It Would Have Been Helpful to Know Before the Revolution
Ballad of the Dying Man
When You're Smiling and Astride Me
Strange Encounter
Nothing Good Ever Happens at the Goddamn Thirsty Crow
Funtimes in Babylon
Nancy From Now On
Chateau Lobby #4 (in C for Two Virgins)
A Bigger Paper Bag
When the God of Love Returns There'll Be Hell to Pay
True Affection
Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings
I Love You, Honeybear

Bored in the USA
The Memo
Real Love Baby
So I'm Growing Old on Magic Mountain
Holy Shit

Jun 4, 2017

Bill Callahan @ Sydney Opera House

Bill Callahan is quite simply understated greatness. The American singer songwriter doesn't possess the flair for the dramatic. What he does possess is a great voice that resonates strongly. It is deep and powerful. He also possesses the great ability to write great songs that have stood the test of time. Bill has been plying his greatness for over twenty years. Firstly as Smog and more recently under his own name. It is always a great pleasure to see him on stage.

Bill was here in Sydney as part of Vivid and he played 4 shows over two days in the Drama Theatre of the Sydney Opera House. We went to show three on Saturday night and were beautifully entertained for just on an hour and a half. The set list was a good spread of Callahan material with a little bit from most eras. Bill plied his acoustic through out, with Matt Kinsey joining him on electric guitar. It was a gently mesmeric performance, devoid of artifice and self indulgence. It was a performance playing servant to the music. And what great music it was.

Set List
Jim Cain
Ride My Arrow
River Guard
Rock Bottom Riser
Too Many Birds
I Gave Up Good Morning Darling (Red Steagall cover)
Riding For the Feeling
I'm New Here
Say Valley Maker

May 29, 2017

Fleet Foxes @ Sydney Opera House

It's been a while. Five years to be exact. Fleet Foxes gave us two brilliant albums and visited us twice. First a rapturous show at the Metro Theatre and then a triumphant night at the Sydney Opera House. Then they disappeared. Josh Tillman left and became Father John Misty and Robin Pecknold ventured into University study. 2017 signaled a return. After much anticipation a song was released, the epic 'Third of May/Ōdaigahara' and soon after a new album was announced. So this was exciting news enough. But then Vivid Sydney announced that Fleet Foxes would be their headline act, playing over four consecutive nights in the Concert Hall. These were planned to be their first live shows in five years and although they eventually played a couple of small shows in the US before arriving it still felt like new territory for everyone lucky to attend. We secured prime seats for the Saturday show and then settled in for the excitement to come.

It was a fascinating show. A blend of old and new. Like any show where you hear songs for the first time there is a strange mix of excitement but also unfamiliarity. In their time away the Seattle band have grown into something else. The new songs are more experimental, multi layered and multi dimensional. Most were aided by a string section and also a brass section, which added a further layer. Of course these songs still contain the hallmarks of beautiful melodies and harmonies but they take strange twists and turns, giving plenty for the listener to chew on. My favourite was probably the afore mentioned 'Third of May/Ōdaigahara' but I also loved the back to back of  'Mearcstapa' and 'On Another Ocean (January/June)'. Some of the new songs though can still be uncomplicated such as the quiet and soulful 'I Should See Memphis'. Naturally there was great joy when old classics were brought out such as 'White Winter Hymnal', 'Ragged Wood' and my favourite, that beast of a song in 'The Shrine/An Argument'. After a short break the band returned for a surprisingly long encore which included Robin going solo and the apt closer in 'Helplessness Blues'. So ended a night which gave us plenty to ponder on. A taste of new songs, a return to older ones. A happy reminder of how great Fleet Foxes are and how nice it is to have them back.

Set List
I Am All That I Need/Arroyo Seco/Thumbprint Scar
Cassius, -
- Naiads, Cassadies
Grown Ocean
White Winter Hymnal
Ragged Wood
Your Protector
The Cascades
On Another Ocean (January/June)
Fool’s Errand
He Doesn't Know Why
Third of May/Ōdaigahara
The Shrine/An Argument

I Should See Memphis
Tiger Mountain Peasant Song (Robin solo)
If You Need To, Keep Time on Me
In the Morning (Bee Gees cover)
Blue Ridge Mountains
Drops in the River
Helplessness Blues