Monday, 31 December 2012

Wilco - Brooklyn '09

You may have noticed that things have gone a bit quiet around here. Hopefully I’ll feel a bit more motivated in the new year, but for now here’s something to whet your appetite for Wilco’s upcoming tour. It’s a complete show made available through their website using the ‘donate what you want’ model. The cause at the time was the Haiti earthquake and donations were directed to Oxfam. Why not make a donation, or even better set up an automatic payment (folks like Oxfam much prefer a regular payment of even $10 per month since it lets them plan ahead).

To the show – this was on Coney Island in Brooklyn, and features guest appearances from Feist, Yo La Tengo, and Ed Droste from Grizzly Bear. As usual the band mixes up the setlist, playing songs off every album except AM.

Wilco (The Song)
I Am Trying to Break Your Heart
A Shot in the Arm
At Least That’s What You Said
Bull Black Nova
You Are My Face
One Wing
Handshake Drugs
Deeper Down
Impossible Germany
Take Me Out to the Ballgame [the show is in a baseball park]
Jesus., etc
Sonny Feeling
I’m Always in Love
Can’t Stand It
Hate it Here
I’m the Man Who Loves You

Heavy Metal Drummer
You and I (with Feist)
California Stars/You Never Know (with Feist and Ed Droste)
Spiders (Kidsmoke) (with Yo La Tengo)

The Late Greats
Hoodoo Voodoo (with Feist and Ed Droste)

Sunday, 30 December 2012

Robert Plant Ticket

I've got a ticket to Robert Plant's performance in Melbourne on the 3rd of April that it looks like I won't be able to attend. It's in the floor section (now sold out) Row O. It cost me just shy of $160 including booking fee and I'm asking for $130 for it (plus postage costs, if any - happy to meet up around Melbourne CBD). If anyone is interested send me a message.

Pearl Jam - Soundboard Remasters Series

There's a bit of a feast or famine thing with Pearl Jam, in that since 2000 they've released official soundboard recordings of virtually every show they've played, but prior to that it can be tough to get decent quality recordings. To make life easier the folks over at We Got Shit have remastered what they consider to be the 14 essential pre-2000 soundboards. The two key questions are whether these are great shows and whether the quality is decent. So far I've only listened to the Rotterdam '93 recording, since the early days are usually the hardest shows to find in good quality. I've got to say that the sound is stunning. This is absolutely perfect quality. If the remaining recordings are on a par (and I'm now planning on getting them all) this series will be a major boon for Pearl Jam fans that want the key recordings from each period, but not every single show. With regards to performance quality my favourite shows (Atlanta '94, Berlin '96, Melbourne '98 are there) so that's promising. Overall, this looks like being a must-have for Pearl Jam fans.

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Blondie - Sidney Myer Music Bowl

I recorded this, but a) it didn't turn out well, and b) it's officially available. So if you want this one you'll be able to get it in decent quality, but you'll have to pay ($30, which seems a bit steep to me, but there's 15% off for Christmas).

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

New Blog - BNE Live

Being the self-obsessed type, I like to keep an eye on the traffic coming here. I recently noticed some coming from a new site - BNE Live. Turns out its a taper from Brisbane with quite a catelogue of stuff. I haven't had a chance to download anything yet, so I can't comment on the quality, but it looks like a place to keep any eye on.

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Best of 2012: Books (Part II)

Just My Type: A Book About Fonts

I quite like documentaries that follow on a small topic and reveal the interest in it. That’s a harder trick to pull off in a novel, but this book does it. As the title suggest, this is a book about fonts. It’ll explain to you the difference between serif and sans serif, why comic sans is so despised, what the most commonly used (and misused) fonts are, where they all come from, and why you should care. That’s the books really trick, by the end I really did care.


I went through a phase around the start of the year of reading graphic novels. I figure it’s a big enough genre that there must be some good things to find. And there are. I read lots of things that I only knew from crappy movies, but were actually really good. But my favourite is Crécy by Warren Ellis. It describes the Battle of Crécy and the events leading up it. I’m surprised it hasn’t been made into a movie yet, because, as well as having a good storyline (with the added bonus of being faithful enough that you can learn a bit of history), its also incredibly violent. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this as an entry point to the world of graphic novels, but once you’ve read a few this is a good one to get.

The Maze Runner

I saw the Hunger Games movie this year. It seemed like a good (but not very original) idea poorly developed. I figured the books would probably do a better job, but having read all of them I can tell you: they don’t. So if you want to read some young adult fiction (some people might be a bit embarrassed, but there are some fantastic novels, the label usually just means they have main characters that are young adults) The Maze Runner is a better choice. A young boy wakes up in the centre of a maze. There are lots of other boys there – apparently they have been arriving at regular intervals for some time. Beyond that you (and they) don’t really know a lot. The book is one of those where every time something is revealed some new mystery immediately follows. The key to these is whether the author manages to end the whole story in a satisfactory way. I’ve only finished the first two novels in the series so I can’t answer that, but at this point its substantially better than some of the more well known titles in the genre.

Tearing Down the Wall of Sound

I imagine that Phil Spector is a tough subject to write about. Widely regarded as mad even before his manslaughter conviction (the book was written during the retrial) and equally widely regarded as a genius, capturing both sides sympathetically but accurately is tough. This book covers Spector’s musical contributions in detail, but isn’t afraid to fully cover his poor treatment of women (which was really just an example of his poor treatment of everyone around him), and his infatuation with guns. Although the book had to be careful, given the retrial hadn’t been completed, my impression was that it was a surprise that Spector hadn’t killed someone already (accidentally or otherwise).


Each century has had one great US president. The most recent (and least well known in the international consciousness) was Franklin Delano Roosevelt – FDR. FDR had to deal with both the Great Depression and World War II. He instituted the welfare state (slowly eroded since his death), ended prohibition, served longer than any other president (which will only ever change in the unlikely event of a constitution amendment to allow presidents to serve more than two terms) and brought the phrase ‘brain’s trust’ into our language. All of this while he was largely confined to a wheelchair (struck by polio as an adult, he could walk with assistance when necessary). One of the most interesting things I got from this book was that, despite being the greatest US president of the 20th century, as an invalid with (probably) an open marriage he wouldn’t have even been considered as a plausible candidate in the last fifty years.

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Emmylou Harris - 10 November 2012, The Palais

It feels like this show happened a long time ago, but I guess its only been a few weeks. The intervening period has been packed with shows, and I figured this would be one that only a handful of people would be interested in – hence the delay.

I usually check out the setlists being played to get an idea of what to expect and Emmylou Harris had been playing a greatest hits set of late, which suited me fine. But she changed it back to promote her ‘latest’ album (which is actually quite old now). Although lots of folks seem to like it, I can’t say I’m a fan. In particular, while heartfelt, Darlin’ Kate makes me cringe.

Nonetheless, there were plenty of hits, and some of the non-hits, in particular Bright Morning Stars, were great. Despite that, this show just didn’t really satisfy. I was actually surprised when it ended because everything seemed so low key. The show wasn’t bad, it was just flat.

The sound is pretty good. The usual occasional talking (not really intrusive) and a guy near me who kept yelling ‘WOOAAAAAHHH’ like he thought she was a horse he wanted to slow.

My Songbird
Six White Cadillacs
Orphan Girl
Making Believe
Hello Stranger
Hickory Wind
Green Pastures
My Name is Emmett Till
Get Up John
Red Dirt Girl
Two More Bottles of Wine
Luxury Liner
Prayer in Open D
Darlin’ Kate
Every Grain of Sand
All My Tears
Bright Morning Stars
The Ship on His Arm
The Pearl
Together Again
Born to Run

Old Five and Dimers Like Me
Pancho and Lefty

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Neil Young - Studio Jam

To celebrate the announcement of a Neil Young and Crazy Horse tour I might put up a couple of things to get people warmed up (for anyone that missed out I’ve already posted his never-released-on-cd album Time Fades Away). This is a 30 minute plus jam posted on his website to announce the fact he was back in the studio with crazy horse. It kicks off with, what sounds like, the start of Fuckin’ Up, but quickly turns into a more generic jam. About halfway through they turn it into Cortez the Killer. I haven’t heard the latest album, but it contains a couple of very long tracks that they’re playing at every show (usually Neil Young setlists don’t vary at all, this time he’s mixing up the encores a bit, but still expect to hear long jams every night), so this might give you an idea of what to expect if you go to see him.

Monday, 3 December 2012

Best of 2012: Books (Part I)

At this time of year everyone comes up with end of year lists to fill space. There are a bunch of shows to come so that’s not problem here. But I do find lists like these irresistible reads, and occasionally useful ways to find something new I wouldn’t otherwise discover. So, in the first of a series of ‘Best of’ posts: The Bests Books I Read This Year (Part I).

Can You Feel the Silence?

I don’t actually read that many music bios (three this year), mainly because they are often really dull. There are few things I don’t like about Clinton Heylin (in particular that he can’t help but include himself in the story), but his books are well researched, well written, and interesting. Van Morrison is a particularly interesting subject because he has been so secretive, produced so much good music, but also failed to have the late career resurgence that many of his peers have experienced. This book goes some way towards explaining that. However, it never really manages to get inside the mind of Van Morrison. That might be too much to ask, given how reserved Morrison is, but it does make it hard to understand some of his actions (Heylin can only speculate). This is almost the definitive Van Morrison biography by default due to the absence of competitors, but if you’re interested in his work this is offers lots of interesting insights.

The Book Thief

I was initially going to rate the books on this list, but after putting The Book Thief at number one I couldn’t get any further. The book is quite long, but a very easy read (well narrated by Death). It focuses on a young girl in a small German village during the second world war. I’ve given quite a bit of thought about how Markus Zusak manages to have written a book with such a lot of potentially depressing content that is actually fairly light (I was tempted to write whimsical, but its heavier than that; really this is a book that’s hard to describe). My conclusion so far is that he’s a genius.

Crooked Little Vein

Warren Ellis is better known for his graphic novels, and so far this is his only novel. The phrase usually used to describe these types of novels is ‘the underbelly of America’ (other common phrases include ‘bizarre’, ‘drug-fuelled’ and ‘hilarious’). If you’ve read anything by Chuck Palahniuk (if you’ve read anything by Chuck Palahniuk you’ve pretty much read everything by him) you’ll be familiar with the type of story. I won’t try to describe the plot because it sounds stupid, and the novel isn’t that, but it’s a good little read.

We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed with Our Families

This is the best book I didn’t finish this year. I decided a while ago that I wasn’t going to waste my time finishing books I didn’t like. But that wasn’t the reason I stopped reading this one. It was because I found myself actually dreading having to read it because of the stream of horrific violence outlined in the book, and the staunch desire of everyone that could do something to stop to avoid doing so.

The book is about the Rwandan genocide that occurred over 100 days in 1994. During this time somewhere between 500,000 and 1,000,000 people were killed. This book does a fantastic job of outlining how and why this happened, and perhaps more importantly, how easily it could have been prevents or substantially reduced, and how determined some western governments were not to have to intervene. This is a hard book to read, but even if, like me, you only manage the first half, it’s a valuable experience.

Team of Rivals

I love politics. In a world where we generally like to assume we are civilised creatures, politics remains a realm where we have no such pretences. And elections! The very apex of the political process. Excitement abounds. Obviously this years big election happened in the US (no not the biennial congressional elections, although those too are fascinating). So I read a bunch of books on US politics (as an aside: if anyone tells you that the electoral college system is extremely complicated they’re not telling the truth). This book is supposedly the definitive biography of the presidency of Abraham Lincoln, with a particular focus on his cabinet (the ‘team of rivals’). For mine, the book focuses a bit too much on the nominating process; that’s necessary to set up the ‘team of rivals’ bit, but it took nearly a third of the book for Lincoln to receive the Republican nomination. As interesting as it was to learn about Lincoln, it was probably more interesting to see how the two main US political parties have changed so much, and to learn that, as much as Lincoln is revered as the ‘Great Liberator’ he was very much a man of his time (he assured Illinois voters that, while he opposed the spread of slavery, he supported Illinois’ laws prohibiting intermarriage and preventing African-Americans from testifying against whites in court).

Friday, 30 November 2012

Dave Dobbyn - 14 November 2012, Corner Hotel

The advantage of seeing big names of New Zealand music in Australia is that they tend to play much smaller venues than they would in their home country. The downside is that the shows are usually packed wall to wall with obnoxious ex-pats. This show had the former, but not too much of the latter, which made it more enjoyable than these things sometimes are.  It also helped that Dave Dobbyn is currently touring a greatest hits release, which offered an ideal opportunity for Australian audiences to reacquaint themselves with his impressive back catalogue, given he hasn’t toured here for nearly 20 years.

It didn’t hurt that he’d also brought an impressive band with him (although it doesn’t come through much on the recording, the bass player was particularly good). While Dobbyn frequently commented on how much fun he was having, this show didn’t really manage to move from very good to great. I can’t put my finger on what it needed, but something extra from the band or the crowd could have lifted this. Even so, this is a good show that’s worth a listen.

The first couple of songs here have a bit of occasional distortion (I think these recordings have a bit more power than the stuff I did a while back, but in future I’ll reduce the input volume to try to remove the distortion). After that the sound is really good.

Lap of the Gods
Hanging in the Wire
Pour the Wine
Rain on Fire
Beside You
Just Add Water
Outlook for Thursday
Be Mine Tonight
Devil You Know
Love You Like I Should

Blindman’s Bend
This Town
Welcome Home

Harvest Festival

Hadn't really thought about the fact that when I update the post the date on it doesn't change so it doesn't move to the top. Just a reminder that I've been periodically adding bands to the original post (Beck will be in the next few days, not sure about Sigur Ros, but if you can't wait try - Fan Made Recordings (mp3 and lossless no less!)).

In case you're wondering, there isn't any reason for that picture other than I saw it somewhere else recently and it reminded me of liking that film when I was growing up, no idea if it still stacks up.

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

War on Drugs - 13 November 2012, Northcote Social Club

I’ve already raved about the greatness that is the War on Drugs, so I won’t repeat that (actually that’s a promise I can’t keep - . But I did mention that the only letdown at their Harvest set was the fact the crowd wasn’t that into it. That wasn’t a problem at the Northcote Social Club – the band had sold out the venue (I’ve never seen it so full) and the crowd were strangely intense and focussed. The band repaid this with a set drawing from both their albums, and finishing up with a 12 minute version of A Needle in Your Eye #16 (sometimes drawing out songs like this can just result in a boring meandering, but the band are pretty adept at hypnotic jamming when the mood takes them). Some people might have been disappointed by the fact there wasn’t an encore, but the two songs listed for the encore ended up being played in the main set, and really, the band probably couldn’t have done much to top the way they ended their set anyway.

There’s a little bit of distortion in the recording, but not much (the band were really really loud). Likewise, there’s a tiny bit of talking through bits of it, but not much. This was an amazing show; I’m hoping they make a return trip next year.

Your Love is Calling My Name
The Animator
Come to the City
Comin’ Through
Best Night
Taking the Farm
I Was There
Baby Missiles
Black Water Falls
Buenos Aires Beach
Arms Like Boulders
A Needle in Your Eye #16

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Radiohead - 16 November 2012, Rod Laver Arena

I had meant to put this up a bit quicker, but there was a bit of noise on the recording that I tried to fix. That ocassional talking is the main reason I've rated this night lower than the following one - really they were both great in different ways, but the recording of this isn't as good as night 2.

For me, this show started off a bit slow, and I didn't really get into it until Myxomatosis. Thom's voice is also a bit flat on ocassion, but warms up as the show goes on. The obvious highlight is Karma Police, given that its a 'hit' (as much as Radiohead has hits) and was unexpected, but there are a bunch of songs that are at least as good.

Lastly, I can't help but mention the person liked Feral a lot more than they should. Its either funny or disgusting depending on your perspective.

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Kasey Chambers & Shane Nicholson - 27 October 2012, Regent Theatre

This was a while back now, and I nearly forgot about it to be honest. The show is fine, but not great. The songs from new album are really good. If anything, I don't think the older songs (particularly Kasey Chambers' ones) are as good - or at least they don't fit well with the style they're playing now.

As usual, quiet shows are hard to record; this one is a bit hollow, but otherwise not too bad.

Adam and Eve
Wreck and Ruin
The Quiet Life
Rattlin’ Bones
Familiar Strangers
Still Feeling Blue
Trick Knee Blues
Famous Last Words
Bad Machines
Jimmie Rodgers Was a Vampire
Not Pretty Enough
The Captain
Barricades & Brickwalls
The House That Never Was
Flat Nail Joe

Troubled Mind
Sick as a Dog

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Radiohead - 17 November 2012, Rod Laver Arena

Final night of the world tour, and while the band didn't play anything completely leftfield, there were lots of songs that have only made infrequent appearances on this years setlists. Unlike last night, Rod Laver filled up on time and the band only came out five minutes late (also like last night there was quite a lot of room in general admission, which must really annoy everyone that missed out on tickets). It's hard for me to judge the quality of some parts of this, because the visuals are almost a show in and of themselves (I'm not sure whether You and Whose Army? was amazing, or if it's just the memory of the somewhat creepy super extreme Thom Yorke closeup).

The sound for this is really good (a bit better than the first night because I did a better job setting levels and had less talking around me). I've also started converting a few tracks to mono where someone on one side is talking a lot (the Beck recording from Harvest has someone talking almost throughout and I think this trick might save it).

The only thing left to say is that hopefully we don't have to wait eight more years (or nearly 15 if you're in New Zealand!) for another tour (they must nearly have a full album of songs ready with The Daily Mail, Staircase, Supercollider, Ful Stop, Identikit, and These Are My Twisted Words (if they wanted to go back to an older unreleased-on-an-album track)).

Lotus Flower
There There
The Daily Mail
The Gloaming
Kid A
How to Disappear Completely
Weird Fishes/Arpeggi
Ful Stop
You and Whose Army?
Paranoid Android

Exit Music (for a Film)
These Are My Twisted Words
Pyramid Song
Planet Telex

Give Up the Ghost
True Love Waits/Everything in it's Right Place

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Harvest Festival - 11 November 2012, Werribee Park

After missing out on Harvest last year and hearing all the rave reviews of it I was pretty determined to go this year. Then the lineup was announced and, other than Sigur Rós, I either wasn’t that interested, or had already seen the bands. I ummed and ahhed and finally bought a ticket at the last minute. Good decision. I finally get what people are on about when they talk about lineups not mattering that much at some festivals. Having said that, with the benefit of hindsight, if there had been lots of bands I really loved on the lineup I would have inevitably missed some and/or much rather have seen them headlining than playing crowd pleasing sets. And crowd please they did, Beirut in particular seemed to know exactly what people wanted. While his show at the start of the year was good, this was great.

My only serious criticism of the show was the amount of sound that bled between stages – the quiet bits of Sigur Rós’ set weren’t quite as ethereal when Crazy P are thumping away in the background. Hopefully next year they’ll be able to organise the stages slightly differently and/or slightly reduce the volume limits. Having said that, it wouldn’t deter me from going next year.

Rather than put up a post for every set, I’ll just update them here as I do them.

The War on Drugs -

Having only discovered this band recently I’m already pretty obsessed by them. I think it’s pretty safe to say they’ll be on my ‘Best Albums I Bought This Year Because I’m Not a Fancy Reviewer Who Gets Free Albums and Can Do a Best Albums Released This Year’ list, and they’ll be soundtracking a lot of my summer. Their set at Harvest was pretty early in the day, so the crowd is small. At the time I didn’t enjoy the set that much, but listening back to it, it’s actually really good, it was just weird having such a small crowd who weren’t really focussed on the band.

The quality of the recording is good. The band switched from setting up their instruments to starting the set without any warning, so I had to organise my recorder as they began. This caused a bit of russling, but after that the sound is very good.

Your Love is Calling My Name
The Animator
Come to the City
Comin' Through
Baby Missiles
Best Night
Taking the Farm
I Was There
Arms Like Boulders

Silversun Pickups -

I’d heard a lot about Silversun Pickups, but never heard their stuff before this. They were OK, but I wasn't blown away. Part of the problem was the amusing/obnoxious people in front of me. You can hear quite a bit of their conversation on the recording, although you might find listening to it irretrievably loses you a couple of points of IQ (you can hear their views on peanut butter, Will Douglas (“he’s so tall and muscley”) and appropriate cars for a mid-life crisis (a manual convertible, but not automatic). On the other hand, their drone is pretty constant, so it’s mostly easy to filter out.

Skin Graph
The Royal We
Bloody Mary (Nerve Endings)
Busy Bees
Little Lover’s So Polite
Mean Spirits
The Pit
Panic Switch
Dots and Dashes (Enough Already)
Lazy Eye

This ended up being Beirut’s final show of the tour, after the remaining performances were cancelled. Listening to this, and thinking back, Zach Condon looked tired, and complained of jetlag a bit. But this was easy to overlook at the time, because, despite what subsequent events might lead you to suspect, they played a really great crowd-pleasing festival set. As has been the case for all of these recordings, there’s a bit of crowd noise, although not as much as Silversun Pickups, or even the Beirut show at the start of the year.

Santa Fe
Scenic World
The Shrew
Elephant Gun
Postcards from Italy
East Harlem
Serbian Cocek
The Rip Tide
A Sunday Smile
After the Curtain
My Night with the Prostitute from Marseille
The Gulag Orkestar

Lots of people were really excited to see Beck, but I wasn’t one of them. I never really got into him when he was big in the 90’s (I didn’t hate him, the stuff I heard was fine, some of it good, but not good enough to make me want to go out and find more), and nothing has really changed since. Which in some ways makes him a perfect festival act for me – get to hear the hits, and if its no good there are lots of other things to go see.

But it was good. The hits generally got played (although, to his obvious annoyance, he wasn’t allowed to play E-Pro at the end of the set because of hit time limit), and a bunch of others made an appearance. It was fun, but I don’t know if it was enough to convince me to go to a headlining show.

I’ve done a reasonable bit of messing round with this to limit the amount of talking you can hear. There is still quite a bit, but lots less than there was. There’s also some weird interference that I’ve never had before. I don’t know what caused it, and hopefully it won’t happen again. Having said all that, the sound is good overall, just a couple of occasional annoyances.

Devil’s Haircut
One Foot in the Grave
Soul of a Man
The New Pollution
Think I’m In Love
Modern Guilt
Qué Onda Güero
Strange Addiction
The Golden Age
Lost Cause
Soldier Jane
Gamma Ray
Where It’s At

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Harry Hookey - 27 October 2012, Regent Theatre

I don’t usually bother with opening acts unless they’re someone I know or have heard good things about. That’s undoubtedly a bad thing since it means I miss out on discovering great new bands (I stumbled on Fire! Santa Rosa, Fire! by turning up early for a St Vincent show). Similarly, I turned up early for Kasey Chambers and Shane Nicholson, solely because there wasn’t a start time listed. Also fortunate – because I wasn’t sure if they were coming on early or it was an opener – I started recording when the lights went down. The good fortune was that Harry Hookey, who opened the set, is an amazing singer-songwriter. Quite how he’s managed to escape serious attention so far can only be due to the fact he’s still young and hasn’t yet released an album (just an EP). Despite that, he has the full package, a great voice, great songs, and a budding stage presence (at times he was clearly a bit in awe of the fact he was playing such a large venue, but I hope it’s something he has to get used to).

The sound for this is good. There is a tiny bit of chatter at times, but he generally managed to keep the crowd sufficiently interested that this was minimal. I’ve done my best to figure out the song titles, but wasn’t able to get everything. Anything in quotation marks is my best guess, mainly to prevent there being blank song titles. I’ll update this if anyone knows the official titles, or if they get revealed when he next releases something. This is a guy to watch out for.

‘Lovin’ Touch’
Rolling Wheel
Audrey’s Song
Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright
‘Let Me Die in My Own Bed’
Salvation Jane

Monday, 12 November 2012

Billy Bragg - 30 October 2012, Prince Bandroom

...and the second Billy Bragg show mentioned earlier. This was a late addition to the tour, given the demand in Melbourne. I had assumed that this would be like his other shows (acoustic and focussed on Woody Guthrie), but this was more like a 'normal' Billy Bragg set, which was fine with me. The only problem was that I'd set the volume levels for an acoustic gig, and he played the entire set electric. While that didn't compeletely ruin the recording, there are a number of spots (usually audience applause) where the mics max out.  Annoying, but the show is really good so hopefully you can deal.

Given this is the third  Billy Bragg show I've put up in the last few weeks I don't have too much more to say. I still don't like Yarra Song or Waiting for the Great Leap Forward, but this set included a broader range of his songs, and really benefited from it. I don't know if there are any hardcore Billy Bragg fans downloading these, but if there are there are a couple of treats here. After a talk about traditions he states that he's going to start a tradition of every tour playing a once and then never playing it again. Having had a listen to a recording on his phone he plays 'I Saw a Big One Last Night' (quotation marks because he says it doesn't have a title). The song isn't going to be one of the greats of his catalogue, but with a band it could be good little punk song. The second treat is a cover of Gram Parsons' Sin City with Jordie Lane (the opener who had recently appeared in a theatre production as Gram Parsons).

Other than that, the set includes lots of the hits, and an enthusiastic crowd. It was a very good show, but the sound problems bring the rating down a bit.

The World Turned Upside Down
To Have and to Have Not
The Price I Pay
'I Saw a Big One Last Night'
Ingrid Bergman
Way Over Yonder in the Minor Key
Tomorrow is Going to Be a Better Day
Greetings to the New Brunette
Must I Paint You a Picture
Never Buy the Sun
Sin City (with Jordie Lane)
The Saturday Boy (with Seven Nation Army/Smoke on the Water riffs)
The Milkman of Human Kindness
Levi Stubbs' Tears
I Keep Faith
There is Power in a Union

Tank Park Salute
Yarra Song
Waiting for the Great Leap Forward
A New England

Friday, 9 November 2012

Gomez - 22 October 2012, Corner Hotel

[A little note: there is a ton of stuff coming up, so shows might either start coming thick and fast or I might have no time to do anything, hopefully the former]

Most of the best gigs I’ve been to this year have been when I couldn’t be bothered, but had already got a ticket. And what better reason to not bother than a Monday night show from a band I’m not a huge fan of, but wanted to see once (or at least I did before this show). Sure enough, really not wanting to bother, and got a stunning show.

The band’s Quinceañera tour (literally ‘one who is fifteen’, thanks Wikipedia) includes a bit of fan participation even before the shows, with the ability to request songs. I’d read an interview where they said it was a waste of time to request the hits, since they play those every night, so I requested songs I thought should be hits, but don’t seem to get played much. I’m not sure how many other people bothered, but three of the five songs I requested got played.

Although I heard someone complaining about the crowd, I didn’t they were bad, particularly for a Monday night (who plays a Sunday/Monday double header?!?). There was a bit of a lull through the middle of the set, where they seemed to lose the crowd a bit (you can tell on the recording because there’s a bit of talk for a while, whereas early on there isn’t any). Given they were including a few rarities, I thought they managed to pace the set nicely. As a casual fan I managed to enjoy the show a lot. Enough that I’m now a bit of a convert, and will definitely go see them next time they tour (which, admittedly, isn’t likely to be anytime soon).

The sound for this is mostly outstanding. That mid-set lull brings it down slightly, but for the most this could almost be an official recording (big call I know, but check it out, I’m very pleased with myself). This is one of a small handful of shows I can recommend for download regardless of whether you were there or not.

Bring It On
Shot Shot
I Will Take You There
Rhythm and Blues Alibi
Meet Me in the City
Get Myself Arrested
The Place and the People
We Haven’t Turned Around
Revolutionary Kind
Bring Your Lovin’ Back
Ruff Stuff
Whippin’ Picadilly

Tijuana Lady
Devil Will Ride
How We Operate

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Billy Bragg - 19 October 2012, Hamer Hall

Urgh, two Billy Bragg gigs to put up and they suffer from opposite problems – one’s too quiet and the others too loud. This is the quiet one and as regular flyers will have heard me complain the killer is the dynamic range. Having said that, while this could probably be a bit better, it’s a lot better than the other quiet show, like Ryan Adams.

As far as I’m aware this is the only Woody 100 show outside of the UK. The Woody 100 shows are celebrations of the fact that this is the hundredth anniversary of Woody Guthrie’s birth, so the set is exclusively Woody Guthrie material (not all from the Mermaid Avenue albums). The gem from the non-Mermaid Avenue albums was Slipknot, a song about lynchings Guthrie witnessed growing up in Oklahoma. It was also interesting to hear Bragg speak extensively about each of the songs, providing detail about why they’d been chosen for the albums, or what they revealed about Guthrie.

The three encore songs were a bit of a letdown. Never Buy the Sun is a new song and Waiting for the Great Leap forward is a rewriting of an old song, both are fairly hamfisted jabs at the current state of affairs in England. Yarra Song is an outtake (released on the Australian version of England, Half English), that, while being a bit of a crowd pleaser given the local subject matter, isn’t really a great song. Putting that aside, the Guthrie portion of the show was both interesting and entertaining, which is a bit of feat really.

As I mentioned, the sound had to be cranked up to make everything audible, which results in a very faint bit of static. Hopefully nothing to worry most people. However, there was also a buzz throughout the show. I’ve got no idea why no one fixed it, but they didn’t. It’s drowned out during the songs, but can be pretty annoying during the discussions. Nothing I can do about that one unfortunately.

Against the Law
She Came Along to Me
The Unwelcome Guest
Ingrid Bergman
Way Over Yonder in the Minor Key
Black Wind Blowing
Don't You Marry
Dry Bed

I Guess I Planted
I Ain't Got No Home
I Was Born
My Flying Saucer
Pretty Boy Floyd
Go Down to the Water
Another Man's Done Gone
All You Fascists

Never Buy the Sun
Yarra Song
Waiting for the Great Leap Forward

Monday, 5 November 2012

The Black Keys - 1 November 2012, Sidney Myer Music Bowl

Having cancelled their last Australian tour with just a few days notice, the Black Keys finally made it back to Australia. They've managed to slowly work their way up from pretty small venues to now playing Sidney Myer Music Bowl. And while it's hard to begrudge them their success, I was a bit worried that their new fans would be the type who go nuts when the singles get played, and are then obnoxious for the rest of the show. Going in with low expectations seems to be a surefire way of guaranteeing a great show, and this was no different.

The band focussed on their latest two albums, throwing in three tracks from Attack and Release, and just two from their earlier albums. While I would have liked a more varied setlist, the new stuff is good enough to be able to sustain a concert (talking about a varied setlist, whats up with playing the same setlist every single night?).

The addition of two more musicians didn't seem to add much, and (surprisingly) the half of the show featuring just the two of them sounded more powerful.

Soundwise, I'm slowly getting better at recording very loud and very quiet shows, but its hard and I've not got it down yet. The sound for this is generally good, but at the opening of the set when the crowd is going nuts and the announcer is yelling theres some distortion. And likewise as things get loud towards the end. This is still a good show, but be warned that the sound isn't perfect.

Howlin’ for You
Next Girl
Run Right Back
Same Old Thing
Dead and Gone
Gold on the Ceiling
Girl is on my Mind
Your Touch
Little Black Submarines
Money Maker
Strange Times
Sinister Kid
Nova Baby
Ten Cent Pistol
She’s Long Gone
Tighten Up
Lonely Boy

Everlasting Light
I Got Mine

Saturday, 3 November 2012

Regurgitator - 12 October 2012, The HiFi

I have to make a shameful and most un-Australian confession – I am an immigrant. This means I didn’t grow up listening to Regurgitator, although I was aware of them growing up. That little fact made this show one of the strangest that I’ve been to, because the whole thing was built on a massive wave of 90’s nostalgia, rather than anything to do with the music. It’s the feeling of having to listen to the hokey bands your Dad listened to in the 70’s. It fact that music I listened to growing up is now the subject of such a blatant nostalgia trip.

This was all highlighted by the fact that Tu Plang, the first of two albums to be played in their entirety, might have sounded like the future of music in the 90’s, but is now pretty clearly a dead end that never lead anywhere. The crowd loved it, but there wasn’t much of musical value. Things picked up with Unit, the second full album, which had a core of songs that have managed to age well. The band ended the show with a handful of new songs, and a cover of Devo’s Girl U Want.

I’ve got to admit that the sound for this isn’t great. The crowd, and in particular some people next to me, were pretty loud. Unfortunately for them their conversations come through pretty clearly, and are sometimes quite funny, in a mindless kind of way (they’re probably no worse than anyone else’s concert conversations, they were just unlucky enough to get recorded). I thought about not putting this up, but its nowhere near as bad as the other recordings I haven’t put up, and there might be some interest in this from Australians looking to relive their youth.

I Sucked a Lot of Cock to Get Where I Am
Kong Foo Sing
G7 Dick Does the Electro Boogie
Couldn't Do It
Miffy's Simplicity
Social Disaster
Music is Sport
Pop Porn
Young Bodies Heal Quickly
Blubber Boy

I Like Your Old Stuff Better Than Your New Stuff
Everyday Formula
! (The Song Formerly Known As)
Black Bugs
The World of Sleaze
I Piss Alone
I Will Lick Your Arsehole
Modern Life
Polyester Girl
Mr T
Just Another Beautiful Story

Game Over Dude
All Fake Everything
Bong in my Eye
Nothing to Say (with Senyana)
Girl U Want

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Wilco - 28 April 2010, Wellington

This is one that I didn't record, but the person who screams at the band before She's a Jar [update: phew, not that person at all] requested it over at the Wilco forum The recording is pretty good quality, and while it isn't the best show they played that tour and doesn't feature a tons of rarities (Magazine Called Sunset was a nice surprise though), there are a bunch of songs that don't get played too often recently.

For hardcore fans, its also worth noting that, as far as I'm aware, this show hasn't been circulated at all. I got it from the person who recorded it, and have offered it around a few times, but without any interest.

Wilco (The Song)
Bull Black Nova
You Are My Face
I Am Trying to Break Your Heart
One Wing
A Shot in the Arm
At Least That's What You Said
Muzzle of Bees
One By One
She's a Jar
Handshake Drugs
Impossible Germany
California Stars
Poor Places
Spiders (Kidsmoke)
Sonny Feeling
Magazine Called Sunset
Heavy Metal Drummer
Jesus, etc.
Hate it Here
I'm the Man Who Loves You

Thank You Friends
The Late Greats
I'm a Wheel

Friday, 26 October 2012

Stephen Malkmus - 3 October 2012, The Corner

At some point during Stephen Malkmus’ set I remember thinking that he could be much bigger if he wanted to (all he’d need to do is make sure Pavement songs filled half the set, and play a more focussed set). But a fundamental part of the success he has had (including with Pavement) is because he wouldn’t do that (deep huh?).

Anyway, the point of that is that he doesn’t play a lot of Pavement songs, and he doesn’t play a focussed set. Instead, he frequently talks in a ‘funny’ voice, plays a lot of new material, and a few not even released yet songs. Like I said, to ask for anything else is probably asking for him to be someone else, but it does mean that he played more for his enjoyment than the crowds. The most exciting point came at the end of the encore when he played a cover of Dragon’s Are You Old Enough?, followed by Summer Babe. It might be churlish to wish that the whole set was as good as that, but there it is.

The sound on this is pretty good. Malkmus frequently addressed the crowd while wandering round, or stepping away from the mic, so I’ve tried to crank the volume up at those points to make it audible, but sometimes its just too faint to work.

Brain Gallop
All Over Gently
Dark Wave
Flower Children
Asking Price
Stick Figures in Love
Forever 28
Blind Imagination
Houston Ladies
Long Hard Book

Jenny and the Ess-Dog
Speak, See, Remember
Are You Old Enough?
Summer Babe

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Billy Bragg - 20 October 2012, Readings Bookstore

This was quite a Billy Braggy weekend for Melbourne, with him playing a show of Woody Guthrie material, another of his own, an appearance to support a local union, and this instore appearance (Readings is an independent Melbourne bookstore, which explains some of his comments during the set).

The store was packed with people, including a large number of families who had brought their kids along. The appearance kicked off with a 15 minute Q&A session, and while the questions could have been a bit more interesting, they really only served as a jumping off point for Bragg to offer his thoughts on the topics of the politics of the left, nationalism, flag waving, and of course Woody Guthrie. For casual fans the between song banter at this shows is probably more revelatory, since its more structured, but for hardcore fans there may be something more interesting.

The appearance concluded with a six song set of Bragg classics and one Guthrie song. The set was more hit than miss, but Woody Guthrie’s legacy won’t be particularly helped by the song Dry Bed, which most children’s bands would have dismissed as too trite. Similarly, the updated version of Waiting for the Great Leap Forward removes any nuance in the original, and replaces it with an attempted jab at the current British Government that manages to be both hamfisted and a less funny than intended.

On the other hand, the rest of the set showed what Bragg can do when he doesn’t tackle political topics head-on. Sexuality and England, Half English, in particular, hit the mark.

Because of the Q&A session at the start I cranked the input volume up for this recording. That worked well, but means that any movement on my part leads to a lot of rustling. This only happens a couple of times, and doesn’t drown out what is going on. Other than that, the sound is a pretty good representation of the event – the mike for his guitar didn’t do a good job picking up much, so his voice tends to be slightly too loud, but that’s what it was like on the day.

Yarra Song
The Price I Pay
English, Half English
Dry Bed
Waiting for the Great Leap Forward