Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Of Monsters & Men - 20 July 2012, The Corner Hotel

Of Monsters & Men seem to be the band lots of people are picking as the next big thing. Usually thats the kiss of death for a young band, but these guys seem pretty comfortable and relaxed, and while they can't quite deliver the goods yet, they gave every sign that they will be able to in the future.

The hipsters were out in force for this one, with lots of iphones being held aloft to ensure a steady supply of shaky video with awful sound for youtube. For a band of the stature of Of Monsters & Men at a venue like the Corner its pretty hard to do a light show, but the christmas lights that came on halfway through the first song were really nice, and helped to set the right atmosphere.

Its hard to have much variation in the setlist when you only have one album, and this set was identical to most of the other setlists floating round the internet.  The band were very warm and engaged the crowd in a handful of singalongs, not something most new bands can do, and even fewer can do it successfully, but they pulled it off. 

The encore was a bit more interesting, although the new song Beneath the Bed was affected by some bad noise problems.

These guys seemed like a band on the rise, and have certainly benefited from a pretty constant series of shows.  Hopefully they can back it up for the tough sophmore album.

Dirty Paws
From Finner
Slow and Steady
Mountain Sound
Your Bones
Love Love Love
King and Lionheart
Little Talks
Six Weeks

Beneath My Bed
Yellow Light


Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Simone Felice - 11 July 2012, Corner Hotel

Like I said in the previous post, going into this show I didn't know too much about Simone Felice.  I've got all the Felice Brothers albums he was involved in, but nothing from his time after that.  Given that I was a bit uncertain about whether to go to this show, but the fact it was cheap and Josh Ritter was opening sold it for me.  I'm glad I went.

For a start, Felice's solo (and the Duke and the King) material is great. Plus an artist of his stature doesn't usually have a band of this quality, simply because musicians as talented as these ones are usually snapped up by bigger (read higher paying) acts.  But somehow he's got them.

Felice is also pretty engaging, talking to the crowd between most songs.  Sometimes this can drag, but he managed to get the mix of earnestness and humour about right (ending the relatively serious introduction to You and I Belong with the MC5-esque 'hit it motherfuckers'.  My only real complaint was that, while singalongs are great, they were a bit too concentrated in the encore.  Moving one of those songs to mid-set would have helped things flow a bit better.  It might not be so noticeable here because the set went for about 40 minutes longer than scheduled, which meant my recording ran out part way through the penultimate song.  Normally I don't bother putting up incomplete recordings, but the quality of this set justifies it.

As regular readers will know, I've got a bit of a thing about talkative crowds, but (as for Josh Ritter) the crowd here were generally pretty good.  The only other thing to note is that I've cut out a section after Union Street.  Someone at the front collapsed and there was a bit of break while they made sure he was ok (credit to Simi Stone and Simone for jumping down to help him out).

New York Times
You and I Belong
Gimme All You Got
Summer Rain
One More American Song
Union Street
Radio Song
I Shall Be Released (with Josh Ritter)

Wish You Were Here
Atlantic City
Helpless (with Josh Ritter on backing vocals)
Knockin' on Heaven's Door (with Josh Ritter) - not recorded


Saturday, 21 July 2012

Arj Barker - 14 July 2012, Plenary Hall

I don't usually bother recording comedy shows and the like, but since I was there and had my recorder I figured I might as well. Arj Barker is a pretty well known comedian here (he made fun of how often he tours Australia), so I won't talk too much about him.  The set itself was fairly funny, although I wouldn't necessarily want to pay to see him perform for much longer.

The sound for this is OK, but (as for the Flight of the Conchords set) the dynamic range is a real bitch.  Not only is it huge, but rather than being quiet songs followed by loud clapping (like at an acoustic show) its talking broken by laughing at the end of the joke, which means the dynamic range is huge for small portions of the show.  If that makes no sense to you don't worry, I just want you to know I worked hard on this.

I initially had a go at rating this as I would for a normal show, but since this is quite a different beast it didn't really seem to fit so I didn't bother.  Lastly, since there aren't any songs I've broken it up into roughly five minute chunks of consistent material (so there isn't a break in the middle of a joke).


Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Josh Ritter - 11 July 2012, The Corner Hotel

I remember thinking early in Simone Felice's set that this was in some ways a perfect show - two artists who I didn't really know well when their show was announced, but who I'd now buy tickets for on the day they were released.

Of the two artists I know a bit more about Josh Ritter, and I'd say that delving into his catalogue I'm now a real fan (for those unfamiliar either Animal Years or The Historical Conquests of Josh Ritter are both great).  There was bit of surprise in the blogosphere when Ritter was announced as the opener, as quite a few people thought he was the bigger act.  This was reinforced a bit by the large and passionate crowd that arrived early to see him.  Ritter was clearly warmed by the reception and the respectful attitude of the crowd (talking was minimal).

The set itself managed to mix hits with new material, including an outtake that must surely be destined for his next album.  With only an hour to play there were always going to be a limit to the number of songs that could be played, but that was about the only criticism that could be made (and he mentioned that he planned to return with his band for a full tour early next year).

The quality of this recording is excellent.  A little bit of crowd noise, but not much considering this was an acoustic show.  Girl in the War was played unamplified at the edge of the stage, so I had to crank the volume up for it to be easily audible.  That introduced a bit of hum, but was unavoidable. 

I really can't recommend this show enough (and Simone Felice's set was just as good!).

Monster Ballads
Good Man
Folk Bloodbath
The Temptation of Adam
Rattling Locks
Naked as a Window
Girl in the War [unamplified at edge of stage]
Snow is Gone

Change of Time [how many shows have you been to where the opener plays an encore? although I think the crowd would have torn the place apart if he hadn't come back, we were literally desperate to hear more]


Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Mark Lanegan - 6 July 2012, Ding Dong Lounge

I'm a bit of a Screaming Trees fan from back in the day, but when Mark Lanegan played here early this year I couldn't justify spending $80 to see him.  So when a solo show to reopen the 300 person capacity Ding Dong Lounge was announced for just $50 I jumped at it.

My only worry with this show was that in my experience acoustic shows from normally non-acoustic performers are often great for the hardcore fan, but a bit of a bore for the casual fan.  This show didn't fall into that trap, in part because the star of any Mark Lanegan show will be his voice, and the acoustic setting only helped that.  On the negative side, the crowd was a bit weird.  Early on people in the crowd simply shhhh-ed the talkers, but eventually they gave up.  Because its fairly constant I found it easy enough to ignore when listening to this.  There is one exception to this - the woman (I got the impression she was a very past it groupie) who talked incredibly loudly.  Fortunately her comments are so stupid they actually add a bit of humour to the show.

Lastly, I noticed on a relisten that the set is very slightly different to that on the setlist.  This means that the labels for Phantasmagoria Blues and Gray Goes Black need to be swapped (the order below is correct).  I couldn't be bothered sorting it out myself.

When Your Number Isn't Up
One Way Street
No Easy Action/Miracle
Don't Forget Me
Where the Twain Shall Meet
Gravedigger's Song
Gray Goes Black
Phantasmagoria Blues
St Louis Elegy
The River Rise
One Hundred Days
Hit the City
On Jesus' Program

Field Song
Wild Flowers
Halo of Ashes