Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Kings of Leon 27th March 2009

This gig comes with a long story. It all started in November when I purchased my ticket the day they went on sale. They were selling fast, but I scored a GA ticket to the Wellington show without too much stress. Then I sat back, looking forward to the gig on the 27th. As plans started firming up for my RSNZ Fellowship trip to Australia I became relieved to see I would be returning on the 26th from Broome, in time for the gig the next day. Then plans changed, the Broome trip had to be extended and we were heading home on the 27th. Reluctantly, I sold my ticket on Trade Me in February, prior to heading off, consoling myself that at least I could then spend the money on a nice bottle of whiskey at duty free. However, one afternoon soon after having sold the ticket, Kath (my partner) is looking in her diary and goes, Oh, so you’ve got Kings of Leon – 27th March and I’m like – No, February isn’t it? The day I get back from Broome, that’s why I sold the ticket. But, of course she was correct and I’d just made a prized stuff-up. Dick.

Anyway, shoot forward a month, the Broome trip is finished. A nice new bottle of Dalwhinnie whiskey sits in the cabinet, it’s a week out from the gig and burning desire to get down there takes over. Back onto Trade Me, this time looking to buy a ticket rather than sell one. Score, a buy now ticket comes up for a reasonable price (in fact less than what I had sold my ticket earlier) and bang, I buy it and I’m off to the gig. Crazy.

So, the gig…I really was looking forward to this gig. I had seen these guys twice before and I especially remember seeing them after they had released Youth & Manhood, brilliant and fresh, a great sound. That album was my album of 2003. Of course, these days they are more polished and less hick-ville, but the music while a bit different, is equally as awesome. I was therefore looking forward to hearing the new songs live. Luger Boa kicked off with a few tunes to warm up the crowd, they are doing a good job at getting themselves out there and making a positive impression as a new kiwi band.

9pm, Kings of Leon hit the stage. I was at the gig with my friend Janelle and she’d asked what I reckon they’d open with. My thinking was either Red Morning Light or Closer. Closer it was, a pretty slow song, but those opening notes are so distinctive – you knew this was the Kings. This followed immediately by the next song off the album, Crawl. They do seem to fit together nicely. The boys were in good form, musically the sound was well balanced and clear. Their interaction with the crowd was pretty minimal, but enough – Caleb Followhill part way through getting the seated crowd to get on their feet. The set list was a great mix of older songs – California Waiting, King of the Rodeo, The Bucket, Fans with plenty of songs off the new album. A live filming for MTV saw Sex on Fire and On Call come through as crowd pleasers. The 4 song encore included the only moment of the evening where things just seemed to go out of sync for a moment, Knocked Up just not gelling like the rest of the evening’s songs, though the perfect song, Manhattan, made up for any glitches. Still they finished up after over an hour and a half, leaving the hot sweaty crowd happy they came and I for one was stoked to be there.

Monday, February 16, 2009

David Byrne - Live at Michael Fowler Centre 13th Feb 2009

The reviews following David Byrne’s recent world tour have been so ridiculously good I couldn’t miss the opportunity to see it for myself. With so much hype, I was bracing myself to be disappointed. Instead, this gig exceeded all expectations. Byrne and his band hit the stage all dressed in white and he then chatted to audience for a couple of minutes before launching into Strange Overtones, from the new and exceptionally good, Eno collaboration Everything that happens will happen today. Byrne’s voice was crisp and strong - the sound was good, the band was tight, the three backing singers superb and then there were the dancers. The whole show was highly choreographed, with the dancers coming on and off, moving mic stands, dancing with the backing vocalists, interacting with Byrne as he sang. At one point David Byrne fell backwards into the expectant arms of the dancers, nicely fading out a note as he did so. A further classic time was the ‘dance’ sequence on chairs during the singing of Life is Long.

The gig mixed old and new – exceptional tracks off the new album like One Fine Day, were preceded or followed by older tracks, in this case the crazy I Zimbra and Help me somebody. Timeless Talking Heads tracks like Once in a Lifetime and Life During Wartime really got the crowd pumping. Encore tracks Take me to the River, Born Under Punches and Burning Down the House left the venue ecstatic. The band returned for a third and final encore to play the calming Everything that happens will happen today, to top off an absolutely outstanding Top 10 gig.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Big Day Out 2009

My 9th Big Day Out demanded the wearing of my Big Day Out '94 T-shirt and armed with goodies for the day I headed off from my favourite parking spot to see what the day would produce. Small queues greeted me and as gates opened, it would be fair to say people didn't pour in. Still crowds built as the day went on.

An Emerald City
First up on the Green Stage was Bionic Pixie - at times reminiscint of an electro Ting Tings - this robo pop had plenty of lyrics about plastic this and that. It had its moments, though they were few. Bang! Bang! Eche! were next on the local produce stage and the local B-net winners gave it 100%, impressive chaotic rock. Watch for these guys. After catching the tail end of Quay St. Social Club on came An Emerald City in the dance tent - how impressive were they? I knew nothing much about them but the heady mix of heavily Asian-influenced fusion rock was one of my enjoyable surprises of the day. A brief look through the fence at The Wellington Ukele Orchestra ended as I headed off to see The Naked & Famous, who I totally rated.

First mainstage act I caught was The Black Kids, the lead singer has a voice remarkably like Robert Smith of The Cure and the band's sound is not unlike the Go! Team, though more pop, less chaos. Pretty tame stuff, but moments of promise - Not gonna teach your boyfriend how to dance was a good finish. Elemeno P then showed why they are one of New Zealand's top pop/rock bands, finally getting the crowd moving with some classic kiwi tunes like Urban Getaway, 11.57 and so on.

The Ting Tings drew an enormous crowd to the top field and I was keen to see how they would pull off their songs. As a two-piece I thought they'd have their work cut out, but they pulled off a great set of songs from their 2008 album such as We Walk, Shut Up and let me go, Fruit Machine and the crowd favourite That's not my Name.

I went next to the mainstage again and caught Pendulum doing their stuff on the mainstage. A fusion of rock & drum and bass these guys threw themselves into it and the massive crowd they pulled were well pleased. Not really my scene, but what they did, they did well. Following Pendulum came TV on the Radio - this was what I was looking forward to the most, Dear Science being my best album of 2008. Expectations were high and I suppose that's always dangerous, bits of the set were lost to me at times but some songs worked a real treat A Wolf Like me was brilliant, as was Staring at the sun and the songs off Dear Science seemed to be carefully chosen for the live performance. An important band, great to see, maybe would have been even better in the dance tent?

TV on the Radio

The Datsuns then hit the stage to blast out a range of great retro-rock tunes. Four albums in and the hype disappearing, I still love these guys. I then went up to the Green Stage to see My Morning Jacket - these guys were one of my other big draw cards for BDO. The album Z was one of my favourites a few years back and though the album Evil Urges has it's moments, it doesn't quite have the same appeal. Still, live the songs came through well, even if the stage presence was less than engaging (it took me a while to work out the lead singer was actually on the stage - with guitar, to the right). He did do a cape, vampire type thing later on?! Some people would hate the singers voice and the bands blend of alt-country-rock. Not me, I rate them. They were better than the Mint Chicks, who again disappointed me - though less than the other times I have seen them. I always go expecting to be blown away, the hype that follows their live performances is well known, I always leave wondering when I might just give up on them. There were some gems, and I did enjoy Blue Team Go at the end, before the overstayed their welcome and got cut-off. Cue The Black Seeds who led the crowd through a fun set of new tracks off Solid Ground along with some older favs. Predictable, but solid.

Artic Monkeys took the mainstage at 8pm and fired through a similar set to the Tuesday night's gig and appeared as comfortable on the festival stage as they did at the Town Hall. A great show. Then came my big surprise, Neil Young. The guy has never done much for me, despite the adoration he demands. However, he stormed through a bunch of hits like Cinnamon Girl and Hey Hey My My, wooed the crowd with a great acoustic set which included hits like Heart of Gold. You knew you were witnessing something special, fan or not.

Neil Young - Heart of Gold ( a snippet)

To end the night I went with half of BDO to witness the irresistable antics of The Prodigy - these guys produced huge sound with killer tracks that the crowd loved Breathe and Spitfire went off. I didn't catch it all as I really wanted to see the reformed Headless Chickens and managed to finish the night listening to songs like George, Gaskrankistation & Choppers. These guys really created ground breaking music back in their day - but they were looking old!

So ended the day - nothing completely mindblowing but everything consistently good and this made for a great Big Day Out.

Artic Monkeys Live

The Wellington Town Hall played venue for my first gig of the year, the highly anticipated performance of The Arctic Monkeys. Two albums in, following the initial explosion of interest on MySpace, these boys are riding the crest of one very big wave. This show, a sideshow before their Big Day Out billing, was to be supported by Collapsing Cities and DJ Zane Low, however on entering the venue a sign greeted us stating, Due to unforeseen circumstances in Fiji, DJ Zane Low is unable to be performing this evening, the Nadi deluge having caused travel issues.

Collapsing Cities hit the stage soon after doors opened and presented a varied and promising set. With hints of a less well dressed Interpol, Collapsing Cities won over the punters and delivered a satisfying support slot.

Quick work from the roadies saw Arctic Monkeys on stage soon after 9pm. The audience was amped, but void of the real munters who can spoil a show like this for many. Everyone was in good spirits and enjoyed a great set by the band who rattled through an array of tracks from their two albums, judiciously peppering them with new tunes which all sounded like they would carry the band to a promising third album. Great stomping tracks like This house is a circus and Bet You look good on the dancefloor were positioned beside sing-a-long tracks like Fluorescent Adolescent. A solid set was followed by a two track encore which included a cover of Nick Cave’s Right Red Hand and ended with Do Me a Favour, with a great grinding finale. A top night.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

The Summer Ahead

This summer is cranking up to be one of the greats. The line-up for BDO in January is huge, with Artic Monkeys, TV on the Radio, The Prodigy, The Datsuns and old time favs The Headless Chickens guaranteed highlights - can't wait. The highly anticipated gigs of February include David Byrne, playing Brian Eno in Wellington. Talking Heads were a huge part of the defining music of the 80's and the closest of been to seeing them was when I caught a bit of Phsyco Killer drifting across the fields from another stage at Glastonbury 1996. A much anticipated gig. Also in February is King's of Leon. I've seen these guys twice now, but the last two albums have been superb and hearing these live is a must. Then Home Grown in March will be a huge celebration of kiwi talent and the fact that Head Like a Hole are reforming for the event will hugely add to the day. Roll on the summer gig season!

Photo Credit nzmusic.net.nz

Archive: The Breeders Live (12/10/08)

Been a long time since the gig but it was another good night at The San Francisco Bath House, always a great venue...up close and personal. I first saw The Breeders at BDO '94 just after the release of Last Splash and it was mind blowing. The latest gig, follwoing the release of Mountain Battles, was obviously more intimate than the BDO main stage, and there was certainly plenty of anticipation - thankfully The Breeders largely delivered. Their sound is as relevant as ever and the chaos of the tracks appreciated as they interspersed tracks from Pod through to Mountain Battles with plenty of banter. Was hoping for Pixies Gigantic but had to live off hearing the classic tracks like Cannonball and Divine Hammer. Big Question though, when is the Pixies reunion hitting NZ shores?

Archive: Shihad Live at Wellington Town Hall (29/8/08)

This was always going to be a great gig, Shihad playing their hometown is always soemthing to behold. Luger Boa warmed up the night with an awesome crisp set of punk-pop-rock tracks which really went down well. The white suit of the lead singer seemed too cabaret, but the stuff delivered was quality...watch this space

Mint Chicks were next and I was well amped for this, unfortunately the sparks just didn't ignite. They were down to 3 band members and I struggled to identify the songs (new or just unrecognisible?). Too bad really as I'd been looking forward to this for a long time.

Shihad took to the stage and started with 'Home Again' - pure class. Things never looked back as they cruised their way through tracks off the new album mixed with old favs Alive, Comfort Me, Pacifier, even an acoustic Run thrown in the mix - the encore of ScrewTop and YouAgain, complete brilliance.