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

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 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.

Archive: The Breeders are coming (30/4/08)

It's great news, the Breeders are on their way. While I'd love for it to be the Pixies, The Breeders will give some satisfaction til taht day arrives. I have seen the Breeders before at the first NZ Big Day Out in '94. That was after the release of Last Splash and songs off both that album and Pod were combined for an energetic set of fresh alt-pop tunes. 14 years on, their music has stood the test of time and I'm sure the gig at SFBH will be a real treat...looking forward to it!

Archive: Wilco Live (8/4/08)

I can still remember the excitement on hearing Wilco were on there way to NZ, I had to pinch myself! Then the wait, the wait...and finally here I was waiting for them to hit the stage. When they did, man did they deliver! A two hour set with a collection of great tunes from songs off Sky Blue Sky such as Impossible Germany, to hits off previous albums, Jesus Etc., Heavy Metal Drummer, Company on my Back, Shot in the was a greatest hits set that left no one wanting. The musicianship was superb and Tweedy's interactions with the crowd were relaxed and good humoured. The sound too was great, awesome clarity that did the band the justice they deserved. This is definitely one the top5 gigs ever. So pleased to be there!

Archive: QOTSA vs. Smashing Pumpkins (7/4/08)

It was a great excuse for a road trip with a few mates...QOTSA and Smashing Pumpkins. This was one huge double bill, two of the greatest acts of rock hitting our shores. Smashing Pumpkins were my bread and butter through university and I'd seen them '94 at the first Big Day Out, I was looking forward to a good show. QOTSA I was a bit of a late comer to, but been drawn into the magic of their stuff. Well, there was no mucking around on the night with no support acts and QOTSA hitting the stage early in the evening to deliver a blistering hour long set. It was fantastic, with songs from the recent albums mixing with older tracks and all of them tight as. We lapped it up and were left breathless at the end of it...completely brilliant. The same couldn't be said for Smashing Pumpkins, they certainly had their moments with early tracks like Hummer hitting the spot. But, after a while some of the songs started to merge into being barely distinguishable from one another and after two I was ready to go home. Still, great to see!

Archive: Iron & Wine at the SFBH

The venue had sold out weeks ago for Iron & Wine's first visit to Wellington and San Francisco Bathhouse provided the intimate venue appropriate for such a treat as Iron & Wine. The evening was warmed up by Rosey Tin Tea Caddy, who provided a delightful 45 minute set of twee-pop, the vocals and musicianship appreciated by the punters. A quick 10 minute change saw Iron & Wine hit the stage, first as a striped back trio with Sam Beam accompanied by his sister on vocals and the steel guitar. The Trapeze Swinger was the opening track, followed by Cinder & Smoke and Resurrection Fern. Beam's vocals were pure and sublime and this trio of songs was for me the highlight of the evening, confirming his voice is the magic in the music. Songs from The Shepherd's Dog dominated the rest of the evening, though treats like Jezebel and Sodom, South Georgia were dabbled throughout. The band merged songs together seamlessly moving from one to the next. Songs such as Each Coming Night, Peace Beneath the City, On your wings, Lovesong of the Buzzard all demonstrating the strong musicianship, but in some ways losing the beauty of Beam's voice. House by the Sea was great as was Boy with a Coin, but for me Wolves (The Shepherd's Dog) was the highlight of the full band selection, with a lengthy free-flowing jam. Beam returned for an acoustic encore of one song to top off a fantastic night.

Archive: Reflecting on 2007 (11/3/08)

Ok, so I before I launch into what is going to be a stunning month of music in March (Iron & Wine, Smashing Pumpkins with QOTSA, Wilco) I thought I'd do an overview of 2007, from go to wo... It all started with BDO and what a great day it was. Easily Muse were the highlight but Tool was amazing, the complexity of their songs is unrivalled. Kasabian also managed their afternoon slot with energy and guts - fantastic. Palmy turned on the gigs over the year and I was stoked that the live venue Bar Mode delivered some stunners including The Brunettes, So So Modern and Cornerstone Roots. Wellington drew me to San Fransisco Bathhouse to see great international acts the likes of John Butler Trio, Calexico, The Lemonheads and Gomez. All were fantastic, although John Butler seems to be getting a bit too into John Butler I think, a messianic complex looms. Palmy also put on a few free gigs and seeing Kora, The Feelers and The Black Seeds free at various venues was all good - keep up the good work Palmy. Of course as previously added Bloc Party was the gig of the year by a long shot, better than Bob Dylan, easily, better than Crowded House and even the reunited Supergroove, no problem at all, better even than the Datsuns/Shihad Wellington gig. Yes, it was totally amazing. So that was 2007 and with BDO '08 under my felt already 2008 is shaping up well... watch this space.

Archive: I made a tough call, then I caved (19/2/08)

Ok, so there I was giving all the reasons why I shouldn't be going to the Pumpkins gig when deep down I knew I really wanted to go, so then I started thinking of all the reasons why I should go to the gig - like hey, they were my favourite band before I converted to Radiohead and there's a bunch of mates going down, so it'll be a great night and listening to the albums again, oh the memories of the 90s, when Pumpkin ruled supreme, so many memories...why not live it LIVE!! Anyway, I bought a ticket and I'm off. See you soon Billy & Jimmy!

Archive: I made a tough call (12/2/08)

So Smashing Pumpkins are on there way with QOTSA and what a gig that will be, however, it so happens the gig falls between Iron & Wine (15/3) and Wilco (24/3) meaning a third trip to Wellington in 1 week. Now, I am a committed gig-goer but even this starts heading into pretty expensive territory, esp. given tickets are $99+ for Pumpkins... and the other fact is, I have seen them before in '94 following the release of Siamese Dream. So, I'm letting it go, reluctantly :(

Archive: BDO 08 (21/1/08)

Well Auckland turned on a scorcher despite weather forecasts of showers, it was just blue skies and heat, plenty of it. It was a great BDO and despite being somewhat ambivalent about the lineup, the day lived up to its reputation as being the greatest music festival NZ has on offer. I started the day with White Birds & Lemons, which delivered a stellar little set. The band was tight and the vocals superb. Well worth keeping an eye on. Floated around witnessing Die!Die!Die! perform with energy and sound that was spectacular. The Checks too were a pleasing surprise. I'd avoided their album after luke warm reviews but the set they put on made me think otherwise. I was really looking forward to Liam Finn, his album being a highlight from last year and still on high rotate. He was a clever bugger, the way he virtually performed solo with loops, and percussion accompanyment, but it was a mixed bag in the end and I think more suited to a more intimate venue. Still, great to see. Then came Tiki Taane. I was totally amped for this and from the opening song with his Dad you knew you were watching Tiki carve new territory. Great support from the Shapeshifter crew, but why this wasn't in the Boiler Room I don't know. Kate Nash came next, the next Lilly Allen apparently. She was fine for a summer afternoon and good music to catch up with Tristan to. I then drifted over to the mainstage to see Spoon, who I had heard nothing of. They seemed in good form and put up some great little pop gems, maybe worth some further investigating? Billy Bragg bitched about his sound levels but still peeled a good mix of old and new tunes, including my personal favourite There is power in a union, Go Billy! Following the same theme, but not the timetable, was Tom Morello under his Nightwatchmen monkier, solo political raves ala Billy Bragg, plenty of good content but not exactly groundbreaking. I then decided to make for the D before it got closed off, listened to a couple of Pluto tracks before being completely blown away by Arcade Fire, the highlight of the day. I heard someone describe them as a travelling circus, nicely put. How the 10 of them on stage manage to coordinate to make such glorious noise I don't know. Songs from Funeral were better than those of Neon Bible, by a long shot. Shihad then came on to deliver a set of new tempters and old favs, including Screwtop, what a treat. Bjork, the crazy pixie, came on and stunned the crowd with an awesome selection of tracks from Volta and early albums, standout was Hyper-ballad. Finally, Rage Against the Machine hit the mainstage with unequalled energy and songs as relevant now, as they were 10 years ago. It was hit after hit, through songs like Calm like a bomb (my fav) to the final track of Killing in the name of. Just awesome. Caught a few tracks of Supergroove before heading home. I saw them at BDO '95 and still think they have some of the best songs ever in NZ music, it was a great sing-a-long to end the night.

Archive: Iron & Wine and Wilco (12/2/07)

Iron & Wine are coming to play at The San Fransico Bathhouse in Wellington in March next year. Honestly, this is the greatest news when combined with the fact that Wilco will be playing a couple of weeks later at The Front Room. These are two of my favourite bands and I just can't believe they are both on their way...roll on 2008

Archive: Crowded House vs. Supergroove (11/1/07)

Last night I had the absolute pleasure of seeing two great kiwi bands, reunited, at the TSB Arena in Wellington. While I have every respect for Neil Finn and the rich catalogue of songs that Crowded House can peel out, I gotta say Supergroove stole the night. The enthusiasm, energy and quality of the music - so strong a decade or so on - was something to behold. I left the gig knowing I'd seen a dsiplay of kiwi talent that would rival anything any country could deliver!

Archive: BDO 08 Line Up (4/10/07)

So the first announcement is out for BDO08. Pretty happy with first lineup, esp. Bjork, Rage Against the Machine, Arcade Fire, Phoenix Foundation and LCD Soundsystem. I'm hoping the second announcement will include Smashing Pumpkins...we will see.

Being up in Auckland for a conference is great for the fact that I got to go to Real Groovy records for an extended period of time yesterday morning. I was there for the doors opening at 9 and got in as the skies opened. Aaaah, what a place...CDs everywhere, vinyl, posters DVDs, a heavenly experience. So, given the BDO lineup I thought I'd progress from having Bjork on tape (old school, but Debut & Post were the travel tapes from the mid '90s) to CD. Managed to score 4 of her back catalogue for dirt cheap, along with a couple of outstanding Beck albums. So many to put back...ah well...fiscal responsibility wins out in the end (sort of).