Thursday, 16 August 2012

Jack White - 25 July 2012

There’s enormous love for Jack White, which isn’t really surprising given what he’s achieved with the White Stripes, Racounteurs, Dead Weather, his various production and promotion roles, and now his solo career. Having said all that, I’ve got to say that I’m not a big fan of his solo album. It has about half a dozen songs that I like, and a bunch of stuff that is perfectly fine, but a bit dull.

And that pretty much drives my opinion of this show. While most people loved it, I thought it dragged through the middle when he played some of the lesser tracks from his solo album and a couple of covers that were of similar quality. Having said all that, a set is always going to be pretty good when it features a countrified Hotel Yorba, Top Yourself (let down by an odd, and very long and rambling, but apparently true, intro), Steady as she Goes, Ball and Biscuit, My Doorbell, Carolina Drama, and the obligatory Seven Nation Army.

There seems to be something about middle-aged people who seldom go to shows that requires them to talk inanely throughout. I got stuck next to a few of them unfortunately, so theres a bit of talking on this. In an odd way, given that their chatter is pretty much incessant, its easier to treat it as background noise, than if they only broke in occasionally.

[Oops, that was embarassing. I forgot I'd set this to go up automatically, with the intention of adding some details later].

Monday, 13 August 2012

Flight of the Conchords

I've already mentioned that this recording was quite hard to process, which is why its taken so long.  Sorry about that, but hopefully the wait will be worth it because this was a great show (in my top three for the year). Unfortunately a lot is conveyed by some subtle facial expressions (and some not so subtle things such as the outfits worn for Devil Woman (see above)) which obviously doesn't come through on the recording. Nonetheless, the songs all work here, and the banter is still pretty great (as is to be expected a lot of it stays the same between shows, at least based on reviews of the other shows).

I imagine everyone knows who these guys are, but just in case - they're essentially a folk comedy duo. But like lots of great niche acts, that description greatly undersells them. Part of the reason is that their act stands up on either ground - the comedy is good enough on its own, as are the songs. They've had a cult UK radio show, and a similarly cultish US TV show, which form the basis for most of the material here. Having said that, a handful of new songs also make an appearance, suggesting another album may not be too far off (it'll be interesting to see how that works in the absence of the broader radio/TV setting that has helped the earlier work).

Crowd noise here is pretty enevitable as the laughs are fairly non-stop (despite the humour being pretty dry). Having said that, its part of the show (unlike the normal jabber) and doesn't often make it hard to hear whats going on. This is a great show.

Too Many Dicks (on the Dancefloor) (with Arj Barker)
The Most Beautiful Girl in the Room
Fuck on the Ceiling
Think About It
Hurt Feelings
Bus Driver's Song
The Summer of 1353
Inner City Pressure
Song for Epileptic Dogs
I'm Not Crying
Rhymnosaurus vs Hiphopopotamus
Carol Brown
Business Time
Devil Woman

Back on the Road
We're Both in Love with a Sexy Lady
Sugalumps (with Arj Barker)

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Shihad (as the Electric Generals) - 24 July 2012

I realised in the lead up to this show that, despite Shihad being quite big when I was growing up, I'd only ever seen them once. It was a good show though - on the General Electric tour, at a point where it seemed the band were on the brink of big things. Of course with hindsight that looks like the band's apex and they're now playing the 2.30 slot at Splendour. There must be a sense in which that hurts, but the band seem pretty comfortable in their skin and happy with their role as one of a small handful of big bands in the very small New Zealand pond.

But I digress.  This show was a 'secret' warm up for their Splendour gig. Jon Toogood made a few jokes about the fact that the Electric Generals was a very poor choice of secret band name. The band whipped through about an hour of greatest hits (they've just released a greatest hits album so they've got more excuse than most). The highlights were to be expected - My Mind's Sedate, The General Electric, Pacifier, and Home Again. The only lowlight (and fuck is it bad) is Sleepeater. It sounds like all the worst things their attempt to make it big in the US was about - songs self consciously designed based on marketing appeal rather than quality. That approach failed and this song is awful.

Most shows by NZ bands feature lots of expats turning up to talk all the way through the show about how they saw the band at a much larger venue in NZ. This show is better than most but still features a bit of talking.

Empty Shell
My Mind's Sedate
The General Electric
Lead or Follow
Wait and See
Home Again
Comfort Me

You Again

Saturday, 4 August 2012

Lawrence Arabia - 4 July 2012, The Toff in Town

This was one of those gigs I went to because I'd heard a little about Lawrence Arabia and it cost bugger all. I arrived about 10 minutes before they were supposed to start and they were already onstage, so the start of the show is missing (I assume that I walked in part way through their first song).

While they had a few good songs (Fine Old Friends in particular) I wasn't particularly impressed.  There isn't anything wrong with them, but I wouldn't go out of my way to see them again, or even turn up early if they were opening for someone.  Having said that, I know that a lot of people like them, and maybe I'd have appreciated it more if I knew some of their music going in.

Update: Now I've listened to this a couple more times the songs are growing on me somewhat. I think maybe their super low-key approach makes it hard to get excited unless you already know the music.  Anyway, if you like Lawrence Arabia this is worth checking out.

The Listening Times
Travelling Shoes
The 03
The Bisexual
Talk About Good Times
Bloody Shins
Bicycle Riding
Lick Your Wounds
Early Kneecappings
Auckland CBD Pt. 2
Apple Pie Bed
Dream Teacher

Look Like a Fool
Perfect Specimen
Fine Old Friends