Swervedriver at The Metro 27/9/13

As much as I tried to, I never really loved the shoegazing bands of the early 90s. I  quite liked their  guitar driven sound, laden with effects. But I always found them somewhat same-ish. And, if there are vocals, I like to be able to hear them. In shoegazing, the vocals are just a part of the over all sound. They’re there but I find it hard to make out the words and usually had no idea what the singer was singing about. That was probably part of the point of the genre, but it just didn’t appeal to me that much.

However, earlier this year, Swervedriver announced a concert at The Metro Hotel in Sydney, and as my partner was keen to go, and it was in the middle of my holidays, I was happy to go along and check them out live.

Sadly for Swervedriver, not a lot of tickets were sold. The Metro metro ended up curtaining off the back half of the theatre, to give the sense that it was all quite full. I’d say there were around 600 people there all up, all in their 40’s and 50’s.

We were easily able to find a spot in the front row, and perhaps due to the age of the crowd, no one was pushing against us or trying to jostle in beside us. So, it was a comfortable night with a great view.

I enjoyed the show. The band played really well and it took me right back to the early 90’s. But, I still found it all very  same-ish and had the same problem with not being able to understand the vocals. My partner and the rest of the audience full of die-hard fans seemed to love it.

My partner remembered his camera this time, so shot some cool live videos.


Music is the Language of Us All

Last night I went to see The Cat Empire play at The Enmore Theatre in Sydney. The Enmore is one of my favourite venues in Sydney. It’s just the right size for a concert. You can tap into all the energy from being a part of a crowd, but it’s still relatively small, and you’ll always get a good view of the band, wherever you are. Plus, it’s just fantastic, heritage listed art deco building.

Enmore Theatre

 We arrived quite late, having stayed a little too long at the Bank Hotel in nearby Newtown and unfortunately missed the first song or two of the set. The venue was packed but we were able to squeeze through and find a place about 2/3rds back to the side. Another thing I like about the Enmore is its sloping floor means that even when you do come in late, you tend to have a good view.

The Cat Empire play a fusion of ska and jazz, with a heavy Latin influence. This concert was to promote their latest album, ‘Steal the Light’ which, incidentally has beautiful artwork on the cover by one of my  Australian illustrators, Graeme Base. To be honest, I don’t think I’ll by the album. I find most of their music a little same-ish and don’t feel I need to collect their music. But I also find them incredibly joyful and great fun to see live.

Life for me has been busy lately, and I feel as if I’ve spent most of my time thinking about and dealing with big issues – I haven’t had down time for a long time. But you can’t stay serious when you’re at a Cat Empire concert. No matter how you’re feeling, you can’t help but just push it all away and live in the moment.You feel good just listening to them, and can forget about everything as you dance along with the rhythm.

Here is my iPhone video of them performing “How to Explain”:


When I was 11 years old I had a very cool best friend, with even cooler older sisters who were totally into music. I’d go over to their place after school and we’d sit around just listening to record after record. I wasn’t allowed to use our family record player, so I enjoyed the opportunity to use theirs.

That’s something I think teenagers miss out on today. Vinyl records had substance to them that you can’t get with digital downloads. The record itself was large, and had weight. It had to be treated with care as any scratches would ruin the playback. There was this whole art to dropping the needle at the beginning of the song you wanted to play if you didn’t want to play the whole record through. We had to flip the record over half way through. It took care and effort, and perhaps instilled a different appreciation for recorded music as it wasn’t so easily accessible or disposable.

The album covers had great art on them, that I would study for hours, and sometimes there would be  a lyrics sheet inside, or a fold out booklet.

If I really loved an album, I’d spend some extra pocket-money to pay for a special plastic sleeve to protect its cover.

As preteens, we were of course obliged to have crushes on the members of our favourite bands. One of the earliest bands I remember really loving was The Church. They were introduced to me by my best friend’s cool older sisters.

The Church had some commercial success with The Unguarded Moment, and later with their Starfish album. Under The Milky Way was probably their most famous song. But I don’t think that was ever their focus. They’ve continued bringing out new albums, and developing their sound throughout the decades, with their most recent album, Deadman’s Hand being released in 2010.

I’m not very good at describing music, but I’m going to try to explain some of what I like. The church make great records, but they are completely mind-blowing when you see them perform live. They play long, layered pieces with these almost psychedelic, interweaving  guitar melodies that you  can completely lose yourself in. Steve Kilbey’s vocals are raw, haunting at times and so poetic.

They play in Sydney nearly every year, and I think I’ve now seen them around 30 times. The following video is from their ‘Future, Past, Perfect’ Show at The Enmore Theatre in 2011. It was a great gig in which they played their Untitled #23, Priest=Aura and Starfish albums in their entirety. I was in the 3rd row and it was sensational. This song is Destination is one of my favourite Church tracks, I love how the  guitar builds at the beginning. It’s from the Starfish album of 1988.

Song for Michael

My partner Michael and I love a lot of similar music. We’ve both been  long time fans of Australian band The Church, who first became prominent in the early 80s, but have continued releasing new albums throughout the 90s and 2000s.

We’re also big fans of All India Radio, an Australian instrumental group.

So when Steve Kilbey of The Church and Martin Kennedy of All India Radio, began a collaboration back in 2009 we were pretty excited. We were even more excited when they decided to start doing song commissions.

Michael had his 40th birthday 2 years ago yesterday, and a song commission seemed like the perfect gift.  Along with a group of his long time friends, we arranged this song to be written.



Shut up and Sing – HOLE at Selena’s

Early in 1995 I went to see Hole, perform at The Coogee Bay Hotel in Sydney’s Eastern suburbs. They managed just 3 songs before the gig was cancelled.

It should have gone well. The venue was full and the crowd were anticipating a great night. There was that electric atmosphere of anticipation you often get before a great gig.

But then the band appeared on stage. I think they played just two songs before Courtney Love decided to rant.

When international artists perform in Australia, they often like to tell the audience things they enjoy about the country. I guess its a way of building rapport. Perhaps that’s why Love decided to turn her attention to Silverchair’s Daniel Johns. She talked about how much he reminded her of her husband, Kurt Cobain, and joked about the possibility of hooking up with him. Cobain had died less than a year earlier and Johns was 15 years old. I imagine Love was going through a tough time, but it was starting to get weird.

She continued her rant by attacking Helen Razer, who at the time was a popular DJ on alternative music station, JJJ’s breakfast radio show. Razer had  criticised Love on air, I can’t remember the exact details but I think Love had either missed an interview she was supposed to have with Razer, or had given her the brush off.  I do remember how much Razer had been looking forward to the meeting, she’d talked about it on air for weeks, and she spoke on air about how disappointed she was when it went badly. Love was clearly angry about this, so decided to attack Razer on stage. It wasn’t a good idea as most of the crowd liked Razer, and it turned the mood against the band. People started booing and shouting, “Shut up and sing bitch!” The atmosphere was becoming ugly.

Finally, the band played a third song, but it ended abruptly. Love had dived off the stage into the crowd and lost her shoe. She stopped the song and started yelling abuse, “Give me back my shoe, give me back my f**ing shoe!” Nothing happened and the crowd became increasingly hostile. Eventually someone threw a shoe on the stage, whether it was Courtney Love’s or someone else’s, I don’t know. The shoe hit her bassist in the middle on the forehead. The bassist went down and that was it. The gig was cancelled and we all went home. I can’t say I was disappointed – almost 20 years later I can still confidently say it was the worst gig I’ve ever been to.

Nick Cave – Shivers

My life would be not be as rich without Nick Cave. He has a beautiful voice, He’s a poet. He has a darkness in his voice that speaks straight to the darkest, most painful parts of my soul. His lyrics are brutal and beautiful all at once. Sometimes it hurts to hear him sing.

I credit Nick Cave for the fact  that I’m with my partner, Michael. 18 years ago we met at a party and somehow found ourselves immersed in a conversation about his music, which we both loved. We talked for hours about all sorts of things, but our conversation started with our mutual admiration for Nick Cave. Through that, our connection began to form.

I can’t think of a Nick Cave song that I don’t love, but today I want to share this one with you. Shivers was written by Roland S Howard and  performed by the band he shared with Cave, The Boys Next Door in 1979.  I didn’t hear it until a few years ago, when a group of friends and I briefly formed a band. We rehearsed this decided not to perform it as it left us too raw and exposed. Unlike The Boys Next Door, we couldn’t carry it off. Be warned though, it’s seriously melancholy.

So Long

My next musical memory comes from 1975. My sister and I were given a cassette tape of ‘The Best of Abba’. We loved that tape and played it endlessly.


Our mother had given us a dress-up box full of old ball gowns that she wore in the 1950s. I would wear a pink diaphanous frock, with a matching fabric rose sewn to the front centre and my sister would wear a flowing blue dress with a full skirt that would spread out as she twirled around. We would put on our dresses and dance to the music. My dancing wasn’t very creative back then, in fact it consisted entirely of spinning in circles on the spot, my arms out wide in an attempt to be graceful.

So Long was one of my favourite tracks:

Do you remember your the first music you were given as a child?