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Preview: oceans never listen

oceans never listen

Updated: 2018-02-08T12:14:25.878+11:00


The War on Drugs @ Enmore Theatre


The War on Drugs are a virtuoso display of the wizardry of guitars. Their music is enormous but also full of smaller details. Each song is multi layered and progresses to a point of breaking beauty. It's not really immediate music but it must have struck a chord as their audience keeps growing. I guess that must be the result if you keep releasing such excellent music. Their last two albums are just truly superb, the latest one even winning a Grammy for Best Rock Album. So they now reached the level where they can sell out the Enmore Theatre two nights in a row. I attended the first night on Tuesday night and it was a spectacular night. The only slight drawback being that the set was fully loaded with the last two albums. But of course that's still a pretty great thing considering how great those two albums are. There is the euphoric burst of 'Holding On', the blasting hold of 'Under the Pressure', the boldness and enormity of 'An Ocean in Between the Waves' and the sheer beauty of 'Strangest Thing'. And then so much more. For example the acoustic beauty of 'In Reverse'. And so on and so on. It's quite gratifying to see such music find such an ecstatic audience.

Set List
In Chains
An Ocean in Between the Waves
Strangest Thing
Nothing to Find
Knocked Down
Accidentally Like a Martyr (Warren Zevon cover)
Red Eyes
Thinking of a Place
Holding On
Under the Pressure
In Reverse

Eyes to the Wind

Sydney Laneway Festival 2018


Sydney's Laneway Festival on Sunday was once again an enjoyable experience packed with great music and a friendly vibe. The food vendors have really gone up a notch and the spacious grounds make for a relaxed and fun time. For the first time since 2012 it wasn't totally sold out. Probably because the line up lacked a huge headliner but the programme was packed with quality and variation. Something for everyone for sure. My highlight was (Sandy) Alex G (pictured above). Alex G from Philadelphia released one of my favourite albums of 2017 and it was great to see him live for the first time. His brand of melodic and off kilter rock is quite infectious. I will be very interested to see where his career takes him. I didn't stay for the greatness of The War on Drugs as I am seeing them Tuesday night at the Enmore Theatre. But I did Australia's very own Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever who were wonderful. Their cascading and rollicking guitars with big melodies made for a great way to spend Sunday afternoon. Highly recommended to see them live.

The biggest surprise of the day for me were London's Wolf Alice. I have listened to some of their music but it didn't really appeal to me. A little to basic and A to B. But live they were ferocious and hugely impressive. Great power and huge builds and crashes. Their drummer and guitarists were great but it was singer Ellie Rowsell who really stole the show. What a talent she is. They truly completed a great day for me.

Best Albums Of 2017


2017 marked the return of Canada and one band in particular. That band was Wolf Parade, close to my most beloved band of all time. When they went on hiatus seven years ago I was pretty sad. Three albums and a slew of amazing live shows just didn't seem enough. But they were back and after an EP in 2016 they released a new album in 2017. 'Cry Cry Cry' would turn out to be my favourite album of the year. I can't say it was technically the best as the albums by Fleet Foxes and Kevin Morby were perhaps better but it was MY favourite and I just loved it. The boys were back and how! But Canada was back too. Some artists with a long time between drinks came back with stellar efforts. Feist, Do Make Say Think and Broken Social Scene in particular. Arcade Fire also returned but their album was a major disappointment. Not so Destroyer who delivered the goods yet again.Ty Segall released yet another album and it was wonderful, whilst Father John Misty and The War on Drugs just pushed the envelope a little further. In the hip-hop field Vince Staples and Kendrick Lamar really stood out from the pack. Locally The Smith Street Band released my favourite Australian album. Gang of Youths got all the hype but it was the boys from Melbourne that truly delivered.1. Cry Cry Cry-Wolf Parade2. Crack-Up-Fleet Foxes3. City Music-Kevin Morby4. Ty Segall-Ty Segall5. A Deeper Understanding-The War On Drugs 6. Pure Comedy-Father John Misty7. Stubborn Persistent Illusions-Do Make Say Think8. Big Fish Theory-Vince Staples9. Half-Light-Rostam 10. DAMN.-Kendrick Lamar11. Ken-Destroyer12. Luciferian Towers-Godspeed You! Black Emperor13. Painted Ruins-Grizzly Bear14. More Scared of You Than You are of Me-The Smith Street Band15. Dirty Projectors-Dirty Projectors16. Hot Thoughts-Spoon17. Hug Of Thunder-Broken Social Scene18. Capacity-Big Thief19. The Wild-The Rural Alberta Advantage20. Love Is Love-Woods21. Pleasure-Feist22. Infinite Worlds-Vagabon23. Hang-Foxygen24. Light Information-Chad VanGaalen25. Sleep Well Beast-The National26. A Crow Looked at Me-Mount Eerie27. TFCF-Liars28. Poor David's Almanack-David Rawlings29. Rocket- (Sandy) Alex G30. Life Without Sound-Cloud Nothings31. Popular Manipulations-The Districts32. Memory of a Cut Off Head-OCS 33. Coils-Ramona Falls34. Orc-Oh Sees35. Times Infinity Volume Two-The Dears36. We All Want the Same Things-Craig Finn37. Whiteout Conditions-The New Pornographers38. Moh Lhean-Why?39. Bad Posture-John Andrews & the Yawns40. Out in the Storm-Waxahatchee41. Go Farther In Lightness-Gang of Youths42. Rock n Roll Consciousness-Thurston Moore43. In Mind-Real Estate44. Hatteras Night, A Good Luck Charm-Will Johnson45. No Shape-Perfume Genius46. The Tourist-Clap Your Hands Say Yeah47. Everything Now-Arcade Fire48. Last Place-Grandaddy49. Hard Love-Strand of Oaks50. World Eater-Blanck Mass[...]

Father John Misty @ Enmore Theatre


Father John Misty, otherwise known as Josh Tillman, is the consummate performer. Engaging, passionate, funny and a voice as pure as you would find. And even though this would be the sixth time that I have seen him live I don't think I would ever tire of seeing him live. He is just that good!

Wednesday night at the Enmore Theatre was yet another magical show. Song after song of melody and beauty. This show was a little different from his show just last July. That show was very heavy on his latest album in 'Pure Comedy'. This show differed in starting out with a swag of great songs from his first two albums. Particularly happy with the choice of  'Only Son of the Ladiesman'. It wasn't until the tenth song that we heard a 'Pure Comedy' cut in the shape of the mesmeric 'Total Entertainment Forever'. All in all it was a great set list showing all of his skills as a performer, songwriter and singer. We even received an 'acceptance speech' for his Grammy Award for Best Packaging won during the week. As expected it was cutting and sarcastic and funny. Judging by some of the comments on the internet I think many people misread Josh Tillman. I just don't think they get satire. He is super intelligent and super caring. It's just all done through a layer of sarcasm and comedy. They mistake confidence for arrogance. I welcome it. It's what makes him such a magnetic performer. One never to be missed.

Set List
I Love You, Honeybear
Nancy From Now On
Chateau Lobby #4 (in C for Two Virgins)
Only Son of the Ladiesman
Misty's Nightmares 1 & 2
The Night Josh Tillman Came to Our Apt.
Funtimes in Babylon
Strange Encounter
Nothing Good Ever Happens at the Goddamn Thirsty Crow
Total Entertainment Forever
Bored in the USA
Things It Would Have Been Helpful to Know Before the Revolution
Ballad of the Dying Man
True Affection
I'm Writing a Novel
Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings
Pure Comedy

When You're Smiling and Astride Me
Real Love Baby
So I'm Growing Old on Magic Mountain
Holy Shit
The Ideal Husband

Favourite Films of 2017


The best film I saw in 2017 was one I saw right near the beginning of the year. That film was the memorable and truly moving Moonlight. It was a beautiful, gentle, emotionally powerful film about coming of age and coming out. Great performances matched by stunning photography. It would go on to win Best Picture at the Academy Awards, a win truly deserved. Other films I was moved by were the beautifully observed Manchester By the Sea and A Ghost Story. And Blade Runner 2049 and Dunkirk proved that big budget films could also be emotionally strong and intelligent. My greatest joy in film last year would have to be 20th Century Women, a strong favourite of mine that I believe should have received more acclaim. Two other films that I totally enjoyed, but just missed out on my top ten, were Baby Driver and Get Out.    1. Moonlight, directed by Barry Jenkins.Moonlight is subtle greatness and heartbreaking reality. It is tender, raw, emotional and completely essential. Trust me, this slow burn of a film is a solid and stark reminder of the reason cinema exists. Set in a poor housing estate area of Miami the film is told in three parts as we follow two young men at three stages of their lives. Chiron is picked on by bullies from a young age. His mother is addicted to drugs and he is already questioning his own sexuality. He is befriended by Juan, a drug dealer who tries to give him some direction in life. His best friend Kevin is his true ally. As Chiron and Kevin grow older we follow their struggles and their conflicts. Everything in this film is first rate. Acting is nuanced and heady, music is delicate and effective, cinematography is understated and yet glorious. It deals with finding a place in the world for yourself, overcoming your fears and standing up for yourself. It is incredibly subtle and this only makes the impact even greater. This film is grace and heart personified.2. Blade Runner 2049, directed by Denis Villeneuve.Blade Runner 2049 is a sequel to a masterpiece that holds its own in every single way possible. It is a visual masterpiece that is startling in its design and unique in its execution. It is unlike any film that you will see this year. The first Blade Runner was a Ridley Scott classic, a brave original that has stood the test of time. This sequel takes place in Los Angeles in 2049. The city has become even more doom laden, miles of grey skyscrapers beaten down by seemingly terminal rain. The city has been become a mixture of strange pleasure and stark desperation with replicants seemingly around every corner. Blade Runners are, in this edition, tracking down the previous replicants that have 'gone rogue' Ryan Gosling plays one of the very Blade Runners. His journey is deep into the heart of this society, encountering opposition at every turn and also discovering secrets about his very life. It's a long film that moves slowly but the visuals are so bewildering that it never overstays its welcome. Roger Deakins' cinematography is beyond perfection and Denis Villeneuve proves again that he is an extraordinary director. His use of sound is a trademark of his films and the sound here is outstanding as is the doom laden soundtrack. Gosling is superb as the stoic lead and there are very strong female performances at every turn. It is a complex dark film that is not one for a 'fun' afternoon at the cinema. At times the story is obtuse and convoluted but it's such an exactingly exhilarating ride that I was there for every single moment.  3. 20th Century Women, directed by Mike Mills.20th Century Women is quite simply a very special film. It it teeming with humanity and honesty, filled with beautiful observation and endearing humour. Mike Mils has created a film that is warm and glowing, he is clearly in love with characters. Set in 1979 Santa Barbara it is clearly a strong portrayal of a group of women with different challenges and struggles and ho[...]

Best Live Shows of 2017


In 2017 I was extremely fortunate to witness some incredible live music. I was also incredibly fortunate to travel overseas and do likewise. In fact I visited Los Angeles and Cleveland with the express purpose of seeing some of my favourite artists. Firstly to LA where I saw my current hero in Kevin Morby in a fantastic small venue. That was a great experience. I saw also one of my all time favourite live bands in Explosions in the Sky at the legendary Greek Theatre. What a night that was and also my second time seeing them in the space of twelve months. Then in December I made the journey to Cleveland to see Do Make Say Think. The Toronto band were at the top of my list of bands I have never seen live. And they rarely ever tour so it was a unique opportunity. Suffice to say it was a fantastic show and made it to number one on my favourite live shows in 2017.

1. Do Make Say Think @ Agora Ballroom
2. Kevin Morby @ Terragram Ballroom
3. Explosions in the Sky @ Greek Theatre
4. Explosions in the Sky @ Sydney Opera House
5. Spoon @ Metro Theatre
6. Car Seat Headrest @ Oxford Art Factory
7. Fleet Foxes @ Hollywood Bowl
8. Feist @ Sydney Opera House
9. Father John Misty @ Metro Theatre
10. Fleet Foxes @ Sydney Opera House

Mount Eerie @ City Recital Hall


A Mount Eerie show is always something to treasure. Phil Elverum is an artist of immeasurable talent and spectacular ability. Having seen him twice before I was anticipating something special. But I didn't bargain for the show that we received. A show of such emotional weight that no words can really do it justice. As you might be aware Mr Elverum lost his wife to cancer recently and after a period of expected quiet he returned last year with an album of sadness and beauty, namely 'A Crow Looked at Me'. It was basically a poem of grief and catharsis. Stripping away all artifice and delivering a gut punch to the heart.

Tuesday night at the City Recital Hall we witnessed that music live. For an hour we sat dumbfounded and teary eyed. It was hard going but it was also incredibly beautiful and moving. It was Phil and his acoustic. Standing upright and baring his soul to the world. He opened with 'Distortion', a track from his upcoming new album. It was eleven minutes of aching beauty and startling truth. Then we received some songs from 'A Crow Looked at Me', before giving us four new songs to complete an evening so heavy with sadness but also true emotion and heart. There was true poetry on stage, it was very easy to be swept away by the stark and direct display of overwhelming emotion. He finished, left the stage quietly. There were not many dry eyes in the house.

Set List
Real Death
Forest Fire
Crow, Pt 2
Now Only
TinTin In Tibet

Best Songs of 2017


allow="autoplay; encrypted-media" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="" width="420">Kevin Morby has done it again. For the third year in a row he has taken out my song of the year from his wonderful 2017 album. There was stiff competition, especially from the newly returned Wolf Parade and the powerhouse that is Kendrick Lamar. But Kevin has done it again!1. City Music-Kevin Morby2. King of Piss and Paper-Wolf Parade3. Mary-Big Thief4. Orange Color Queen-Ty Segall5. Third of May/Odaigahara-Fleet Foxes6. Yeah Right-Vince Staples7. DNA.-Kendrick Lamar8. Bike Dream-Rostam9. Baby Blue-Wolf Parade10. On Lankershim-Foxygen11. Drivers-John Andrews and the Yawns12. HUMBLE.-Kendrick Lamar13. God in Chicago-Craig Finn14. So I'm Growing Old on Magic Mountain-Father John Misty15. Holding On-The War on Drugs 16. Keep Your Name-Dirty Projectors17. Cold Apartment-Vagabon18 .Real Death-Mount Eerie19. Passiona-The Smith Street Band20. Bobby- (Sandy) Alex G21. Darkened Rings-Cloud Nothings22. The Embers-Vagabon23. Whiteout Conditions-The New Pornographers24. Pure Comedy-Father John Misty25. Birthdays-The Smith Street Band26. Any Party-Feist27. Isabel-Gold Connections28. New York-Peter Silberman29. Bleeding Blue-Woods30. Anthem for No State-Godspeed You! Black Emperor31. War on Torpor-Do Make Say Think32. Aboard My Train-Kevin Morby33. Shark Smile-Big Thief34. BagBak-Vince Staples35. Mouth Guards of the Apocalypse-Broken Social Scene36. Tinseltown Swimming in Blood-Destroyer37. Incantation-Wolf Parade38. Ordinary Day-The Districts39. Mourning Sound-Grizzly Bear40. No Help Pamphlet-Liars41. What Can I Do if the Fire Goes Out-Gang of Youths42. Thinking of a Place-The War on Drugs43. Day I Die-The National44. Pine and Clover-Chad VanGaalen45. Poison Root-(Sandy) Alex G46. Bodak Yellow-Cardi B47. Recite Remorse-Waxahatchee48. In the Wake-Ramona Falls49. Sky's Grey-Destroyer50. Beacon Hill-The Rural Alberta Advantage51. Darling-Real Estate52. Rhesus Negative-Blanck Mass53. Ravens-Mount Eerie54. The Vanity of Trying-Clap Your Hands Say Yeah 55. Mrs Adams-Foxygen56. Talk to Me-Run the Jewels57. Come To Me Now-Kevin Morby58. Horripilation-Do Make Say Think59. Total Entertainment Forever-Father John Misty 60. Pleasure-Feist 61. Break a Guitar-Ty Segall62. Love Is Love-Woods 63. Wild Grin-The Rural Alberta Advantage64. Can I Sit Next To You-Spoon 65. LUST.-Kendrick Lamar66. Salt-The Districts67. A Light Travels Down the Catwalk-Destroyer68. Internal World-Cloud Nothings69. Up In Hudson-Dirty Projectors70. French Press-Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever71. Run Into The World-The Smith Street Band72. New Religion-Gold Connections73. Big Fish-Vince Staples74. Vanity Pail Kids-Broken Social Scene 75. Sparks Fly-Waxahatchee76. 1998-The Dears77. Airplane-David Rawlings78. Mythological Beauty-Big Thief 79. Slip Away-Perfume Genius80. We've Been Here Before-The New Pornographers 81. Hot Thoughts-Spoon82. I Ain't Got Time-Tyler, the Creator83. Three Rings-Grizzly Bear 84. This Ole King-Why? 85. Wide World-Party Dozen 86. Sisters-Ne-Hi87. Rain in Soho-The Mountain Goats88. Salt Brothers-Strand of Oaks89. The Fool-OCS 90. Cusp-Thurston Moore91. Freedom-Ty Segall92. Trauma-Foxygen93. Minneapolis-Vagabon94. The Rat-Blanck Mass95. Fear is like a Forest-Courtney Barnett and Kurt Vile96. Half-Light-Rostam97. The System Only Dreams in Total Darkness-The National98. We Don't Deserve Love-Arcade Fire99. This Year-Beach Fossils100. Century-Feist [...]

Godspeed You! Black Emperor @ Metro Theatre


Godspeed You! Black Emperor are monumental and monumentally important to me. And I never, ever actually thought I would ever get to see them live. Especially after they went on an hiatus. But there I was last Tuesday night seeing them live for the fourth time. This time at the Metro Theatre and it was everything you would expect. Epic, huge, grandiose, powerful. You get it. Also this time louder than seemingly before. But again, huge. As is their want they would concentrate on their latest album. This being 'Luciferian Towers', the highlight being the impossibly beautiful 'Anthem For No State'. Then they got to the 'hits'. And when you play 'Moya' and 'BBF3' back to back then a beautiful and surreal world opens up to everyone lucky to be in attendance. For nearly two hours nine musicians of considerable talent and unyielding purpose played with a conviction that I honestly believe no other band on Earth contains.

Set List
Hope Drone
Bosses Hang
Anthem For No State
Undoing a Luciferian Towers

Vince Staples @ Enmore Theatre


This was a stunning show in every way possible. Vince Staples is at the top of his game and it showed Saturday night at the Enmore Theatre. The young hip hop artist from Long Beach played to a young and frenzied crowd, whipping them into a state of excitement that never let up. This was my first time seeing Vince and I was extremely impressed. He plays with a very minimalist set. He is alone on stage, so no live music. Just him rapping in front of a backing track. He prowls around stage, rarely standing still. It wasn't until '745' that he stood still and used his mic stand. The entire set was full of high energy and he packed a lot of songs into a performances that didn't go for much more than an hour. No encore either. After he slayed the crowd with 'Norf Norf' he quietly left the stage to thunderous applause. We wanted more so I guess I'm just going to have to wait until next time he tours Australia to see him again.

Set List
Ramona Park is Yankee Stadium
Ascension (Gorillaz cover)
Party People
Big Fish
Rain Come Down
Lift Me Up
Hands Up
Love Can Be...
Little Bit of This (GTA cover)
Ghost (With You. cover)
Lemme Know
Birds and Bees
Big Time
Blue Suede
Yeah Right
Norf Norf

Do Make Say Think @ Agora Ballroom


This show was truly one for the ages. Do Make Say Think have long been at the top of my list of artists that I have never seen. The Canadian maestros tour very sparingly and have never been to Australia. As luck would have it I was planning a trip to the USA and it just happened the band announced a few select dates. They were playing Chicago, a city I love, but they also announced a date in Cleveland. I had never been to Cleveland before so I thought why the hell not. So there I am on a very cold Saturday night seeing one of my all time favourite bands in a city I have never visited before. It was an experience I will never, ever forget. My only regret is that it flew by so very quickly.

The band of nine played an explosive set that was near perfect. A set list that covered a good cross section of their illustrious catalogue. It was an emotional night for me. I loved each and every second. Just a fantastic night of glorious music. Charles Spearin made a nice speech about how much they appreciated playing their music live and how music draws people together. They certainly did this night. The crowd was great, appreciative and attentive. There were so many highlights. I could mention them all but I think my absolute favourites were the incendiary 'Fredericia' and the frantic 'Do'. Then a just perfect encore of the the superbly beautiful 'A Tender History in Rust' and 'Auberge Le Mouton Noir'. What a night. My heart was simply filled with pure joy.

Set List
And Boundless
The Landlord is Dead
d=3.57h (As Far As The Eye Can See)
Her Eyes on the Horizon
War on Torpor
Horns of a Rabbit
The Universe!

A Tender History In Rust
Auberge Le Mouton Noir

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)

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Smith Sreet Band @ Enmore Theatre


The Smith Street Band are a full on passion attack. Emotionally huge and ferocious live. They are truly a great Australian band. Having just released their fantastic fourth album Friday night was a victory lap in front of the biggest crowd that they have played to at the Enmore Theatre. They didn't let anyone down, playing a blistering set for over an hour and a half. It was, to put simply, blazingly good. There was such a huge energy in the room. But the night of the night the room was a happy, sweaty mass of enraptured people.

They ended up playing all of the tracks from their new album and to say they were well received would be a complete understatement. We lapped them up with total joy. It's hard not to when they tear into them with such effort and heart. "Suffer" was simply a perfect opener and the onslaught never let up from there. The beauty of this great band is that they a growing catalogue of great songs they are song along with gusto, whether it's an old cut like "Sigourney Weaver" or a current great like "Passiona". It was all great. I think my favourite was the epic (although aren't they all) "I Don't Wanna Die Anymore". Will Wagner is a true Australian poet and his band are creating quite a career for themselves. Formidable.

Set List
Song For You
Ducks Fly Together
Surrey Dive
I Don't Wanna Die Anymore
The Arrogance of the Drunk Pedestrian
It Kills Me To Have To Be Alive
Get High, See Mice
Young Drunk
Run Into The World
Death to the Lads
Young Once

Laughing (Or Pretending to Laugh) (Will solo)
Sigourney Weaver
Throw Me in the River

Camp Cope @ Sydney Opera House


Camp Cope have come a long way in a short space of time. This fierce Melbourne trio are huge on talent and about a year after releasing their splendid debut album they have graduated to playing the Sydney Opera House. Not the Concert Hall (Fleet Foxes were playing there Friday night) but the smaller Drama Theatre. Still a great achievement for a band that not too long ago were playing very small venues. Friday night was part of Vivid and they managed to cram in two shows in the one night. We went to the first and it was great to be sure.

Perhaps the venue wasn't best suited to their style as we sat and watched, instead of standing and shouting. Still, it was a great experience as the band tore through deep cuts from the self titled album to great effect. Lead singer Georgia has a voice to level small buildings. It is full of character and range and rage and emotion and heart. And the bass playing of Kelly is superb, with her bass basically acting as a lead guitar. It was also a delight to hear two new songs which were both great. The first was an 'ode' to men who think women can't headline or play large venues. I think Friday proved this is far from true. Camp Cope are brilliant living proof. 

Set List
Song for Charlie (Georgia solo)
Song for You (new song)
Flesh and Electricity
Jet Fuel Can't Melt Steel Beams
West Side Story
Keep Growing
Stove Lighter
Footscray Station
Anna (new song)
Lost (Season One)

Allah-Las @ Oxford Art Factory


Wednesday night at the Oxford Art Factory was a night of sweet sounds and floating melodies. Courtesy of the four piece band from Los Angeles that goes by the name of Allah-Las. With three albums under their belt this was the band's first trip to Australia and it was warmly received, playing the first of two back to back sold out shows in Sydney. Allah-las are not cool or hip. That is not hyped in anyway. But to me they are extremely cool. They have that Los Angeles look and sound that screams song craft. Their songs float and romp with lovely understated melodies and great harmonies. Exemplary guitar work is augmented by a joyous attitude to singing and playing. It certainly made for a fun night.

Allah-las can churn through quite a few songs in a set because basically they have few songs that go for longer than three minutes. So if you don't like a song there is always one coming along that you will like. But judging by the smiles in the room the set of songs was a great hit. All three albums were well covered with perhaps the biggest cheer for the glorious 'Sandy' and the robust closer 'Catamaran'. All of the band sing with three taking lead vocals. But it is mainly Miles Michaud taking the lead on most songs. Another great feature was the lead guitar work of Pedrum Siadatian. The man can play a mean guitar. The night was topped off beautifully by a two song encore with some of the audience joining the band on stage. The band didn't seem to mind at all, adding another layer to a simply wonderful night.

Set List
Busman's Holiday
Follow You Down
200 South La Brea
Warmed Kippers
Buffalo Nickel
No Werewolf
Tell Me (What's On Your Mind)
Had It All
Sacred Sands
Autumn Dawn
No Voodoo
Could Be You
Calm Me Down (The Human Expression cover)

Long Journey
Every Girl

Strand Of Oaks @ Newtown Social Club


Thursday night was to be a bittersweet one. It was a total pleasure to see Strand of Oaks for the first time. But it was also sadly my last gig at the soon closing Newtown Social Club. It was so exciting a couple of years ago when the old Sandringham Hotel was transformed into a brand new venue with local and international acts. I had the pleasure of seeing Thee Oh Sees, Stephen Malkmus, Daniel Rossen and many others there. And even though the small venue was often sold out it could never make a profit. So the bottom line won and live music in Sydney lost out. Sadly.

But last night was a good way to go out as the soulful, boisterous rock of Philadelphia's Strand of Oaks filled the room with joyous effect. It was a short set to be sure, but Timothy Showalter's beast of a voice boomed out loud, ably supported by his very tight four piece band. The set was divided between tracks from their last two albums in 'Heal' and this year's 'Hard Love'. I was able to spot the set list before the show and the the encore song was going to be the wonderful 'JM', a tribute to the late great Jason Molina. Sadly for some reason they didn't play it as there was to be no encore. Still it was a night to be savoured as I lamented the loss of a wonderful Sydney venue.

Set List
Shut In
For Me
Kraut Rock
Radio Kids
On The Hill
Rest Of It
Goshen '97

The Mountain Goats @ Factory Theatre


The Mountain Goats are like beautiful old friends who every time they visit they are most welcome. Their wit, heart and humanity are self evident and warmly received. Such was the case again last Sunday night in Sydney. A sold out crowd enjoyed every second and it was certainly a room full of love and warmth. The Mountain Goats have a huge catalogue so naturally there won't always be songs you wish you could hear but there will also be surprises and delights. I do believe their recent albums have lacked greatness but it was still a great night. They actually played a couple of tunes from their upcoming release in 'Goths'. One song was a bit average but I really enjoyed 'Shelved'. I also learned its slang meaning later which added a different perspective to the song.

John Darnielle, their fearless leader, is an extremely erudite and intelligent front man and it's always a treat to hear his mid section of the set when he goes solo. He delivered an old unrecorded song in 'Shower' which was definitely the highlight of the night. Of course the classics came late in the set too, culminating in another spectacular version of 'This Year ', with every single person singing along in full voice. I first saw this band back in 2007 and I stated then that seeing them live was like an old school revival meeting. This opinion still holds true to this day. It's always a pleasure and a great experience to see them live. Always and forever.

Set List
In the Craters on the Moon
Harlem Roulette
Damn These Vampires
Animal Mask
Heel Turn 2
Steal Smoked Fish
Shower (John solo)
The Alphonse Mambo (John solo)
Thank You Mario But Our Princess is in Another Castle (John solo)
We Do It Different on the West Coast
The Diaz Brothers
New Zion
Oceanographer's Choice
Broom People
Song for Dennis Brown
Up the Wolves
This Year

Amy AKA Spent Gladiator 1
No Children
Spent Gladiator 2

Spoon @ Metro Theatre


You could easily make a strong argument that Spoon are the greatest rock band of the last two decades. Their music has achieved a consistent greatness that is committed to songs of bursting rhythm and impeccable melody. Their music has a certain swagger that is intoxicating. Their music is beautifully arranged with hooks that last for days. Thursday night was the first show after releasing their brand new ninth album in 'Hot Thoughts'. In a brief listening time I have become hooked on the new album so I was pretty excited to see them again and hear the new songs live. Plus of course a selection from their impeccable back catalogue.

Well, it a great show. Slightly briefer than their last Sydney show but packed full of all the signature Spoon moments. Jim Eno's subtle drum fills, Rob Pope's pounding bass and Alex Fischl's dramatic keyboards. Then of course there is Britt Daniel. The swaggering laconic frontman with the soulful voice and stylish moves. He is the ultimate in coolness and startling style. They played six songs off the new record. All came at us with clarity and purpose. Especially the title track and the delicate 'I Ain't the One'. But of course there was much jubilation for their many great tunes. 'The Underdog' had the whole place jumping whilst the back to back sledgehammer of 'The Beast and Dragon, Adored' and 'I Saw the Light' was untouchable. As in reality this band is. I am sure when I am long gone from this world the music of Spoon will live on. As a testament to one of the greatest bands in the history of music. No doubt.

Set List
Do I Have to Talk You Into It
Hot Thoughts
Inside Out
I Turn My Camera On
The Beast and Dragon, Adored
I Saw the Light
Don't You Evah
Rainy Taxi
First Caress
The Underdog
Can I Sit Next To You
Do You
Got Nuffin
Rent I Pay

I Ain't the One
My Mathematical Mind

Frightened Rabbit @ Oxford Art Factory


Frightened Rabbit are just one of those special bands that you tend to fall hard for. We have seen them several times now and each time has been a thrillingly great experience. And I'm not alone as Friday night was the first of two sold out shows at the Oxford Art Factory. Frightened Rabbit are a hearts out, emotions high sort of band. Their songs are about life lived and love lost, but they are anthemic and rich in pageantry. So even though in theory it is 'sad bastard music' it is really a joyous live experience. One that is shared equally by the devoted fans who see them live.

Frightened Rabbit were touring off the back of 2016's 'Painting of a Panic Attack', which even though I do enjoy I believe it is not their best work. But naturally the show was stacked with songs from the new album which meant that a potentially amazing show was just merely great. To be sure it was great but songs like 'Get Out' and 'Lump Street' don't stack up to their earlier work. Having said that songs like 'Little Drum' and 'I Wish I Was Sober' were fully effective live. And the crowd were fully into the new material so for most present the show never sagged. But for me it hit peak powers with cracking numbers like 'The Modern Leper' and 'Head Rolls Off'. And then that encore. New song 'Death Dream' was shattering and then there was the one two punch of 'The Woodpile' and 'The Loneliness and the Scream' to finish the night with the crowd whipped into a frenzy. By a band much loved for their passion, effort and unyielding humanity.

Set List
Get Out
The Modern Leper
Woke Up Hurting
I Wish I Was Sober
Living in Colour
Head Rolls Off
Fast Blood
Little Drum
Blood Under the Bridge
Nothing Like You
Old Old Fashioned
The Oil Slick
Lump Street

Death Dream
The Woodpile
The Loneliness and the Scream