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 viachicago.org. 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


Thursday, 18 October 2012

Beach Boys - 31 August 2012, Rod Laver Arena

Reunion tours are fraught with danger, particularly where some key members of the band don’t participate (even if the reason for this is that they’re dead). So to some degree it wasn’t a surprise that this show didn’t sell that well. Fortunately, some heavily discounted tickets meant that the venue was nearly full, and the crowd was treated to an exceedingly long, and surprisingly good show.

First a confession, I’m a bit of a heathen when it comes to the Beach Boys, in that I’m not really much of a fan of the ‘good’ albums (Pet Sounds and Smile), but I really like the early surf stuff. This show covered the whole gamut of their career (fairly easy to do when you play a 53 song set) so everyone should have had something to like.

The surprise for me was the quality of their voices.  For a band whose success was based in large part on their high harmonies, the effects of aging could have been devastating, but the voices and performance were both great. The band also did a good job of incorporating a song each by Dennis and Carl Wilson (via studio vocal tracks) without it being either too schmaltzy.

And really, could anyone complain about a show that concluded with this run of songs – Sloop John B/Wouldn’t It Be Nice/Good Vibrations/California Girls/All Summer Long/Help Me Rhonda/Rock & Roll Music/Do You Wanna Dance?/Surfin USA/Kokomo/Barbara Ann/Fun, Fun, Fun.

Having said all that, I did want to mention something I’ve noticed with ‘classic’ acts. They seem to think that video screens are for showing generic stock footage (in this case of surfing) or screensavers from Windows 95. When you’ve got as much footage as these guys must have, why not use it to illustrate your history and make the statement that your career has been big that you are a historically important act. Just an idea.

A final note: I spent a lot of time wondering whether to mention this, since it makes me look like a real bitch, but it’s so obvious in the recording I figured I couldn’t not.  Sitting next to me were a family with an intellectually disabled girl. She was clearly having a good time, which was great, but she also made a lot of noise at odd times (joining in with the count in, clapping to her own rhythm). At times this might be a bit distracting, but hopefully it won’t take away from the overall enjoyment of a good show.

[Given this show is long I’m going to put up Set 1 and Set 2/Encore separately, to allow me time to process it all. Keep an eye out for a link to the second part to be put up in a week or so]

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Kate Miller-Heidke - 16 August 2012, The Corner

Middle-aged women you are my kryptonite. If kryptonite was really noisy, a bit overweight, had a bad sense of humour, and rather than killing Superman, just really annoyed him. Apparently whatever radio station they play where middle-aged women work has played a few Kate Miller-Heidke songs, so my middle-aged foes figured they might as well go along, have a bit of a natter (middle-aged women don’t talk), and get drunk on Chardonnay and G&Ts.  Then scream when the one song they knew started. Then go back to nattering. Aaah yes, this is hate.

But I digress. Kate Miller-Heidke is music your mum would like, but you shouldn’t hold that against her, because she’s actually very good. It’s just that your mum went to the show, and as everyone knows, your mum is really annoying. Most of the set was made up of the new album Nightflight, which is good, because the album has a bunch of great tracks. Her cover of Eminem’s The Real Slim Shady felt a bit gimmicky, but the segue into Kanye West’s Monster (that phrase would make the ladies titter) worked better, and highlighted the power of her band.

Having spent an excessive part of this bitching about middle-aged ladies, its fair to say that their drone doesn’t come through on the recording as much as it did at the show, since they were standing behind me. I’m not sure if it was just their lack of interest, or it applied to the whole crowd, but there also seemed to be a degree of apathy among the audience. None of this stopped Kate Miller-Heidke from putting on a really good, professional show, but it might hinder your enjoyment of the show.

Saturday, 13 October 2012

The Steam Engine

There are a few shows on the way, but in the meantime I thought I'd mention that I've just stuck up a link to a new site I found: The Steam Engine. The site is mainly focussed on My Morning Jacket, but there is a long list of other bands for download (including some good Wilco, a nice Radiohead show from this tour, and a Jason Isbell era Dribe-By Truckers show that I've downloaded). Check it out.

[Update: Just as I recommend them their website goes down. Hopefully it'll be back soon. Actually it way my fault, the link was wrong, it's fixed now]

Friday, 5 October 2012

Wolfmother (opening for Smashing Pumpkins)

As I mentioned I also got this one. Wolfmother suffered the normal opening band fate of polite interest. It didn't help that the 'banter' was painfully awkward. That's a pity really because, while there nu-Led Zeppelin schtick is never going to take them far, the new songs they played actually suggest this new version of the band might be able to make the most of that. On the other hand, songs like Love Train are closer to Spinal Tap than Led Zeppelin. Hopefully they get the balance right on the new album.

White Feather
California Queen
Love Train
Keep Moving
Long Way to Go
Joker and the Thief


Thursday, 4 October 2012

Smashing Pumpkins - 2 August 2012, HiSense Arena

Various recordings of this show have already been released, so I assume most people who want this already have it. Nonetheless, I figure I might as well put it out there since I recorded it (I also recorded Wolfmother’s opening set, which doesn’t seem to have been released by whoever recorded the main set).

This show was a real example of the power of expectations. I’d checked out some of the setlists from earlier in the tour, so I knew that they were going to open with the entirety of the new album. I’d also heard the various stories about what a complete tool Billy Corgan can be (a friend who saw them last tour told me that the encore of the show he went to consisted of Corgan demanding the crowd sing him happy birthday; and then do it again; and then left). So my expectations were pretty low.

As expected the show started with the Oceania album. Some reviews I read said the crowd were pretty restless, but where I was people were surprisingly respectful (not enthusiastic though). That could be because the Oceania album is actually pretty decent. It won’t go down as a highpoint of his career, and the show would have been better if he’d played less of it, but it isn’t a complete dud either. Having said that, the biggest cheer of the night was probably when the crowd realised he was playing Space Oddity, meaning Oceania was done.

From that point the crowd were much more enthusiastic as he churned through the hits (with a two rarities thrown in for the diehards). I mainly went to this because I figured Billy Corgan is someone I should see once (this is not the Smashing Pumpkins), but the show was actually better than that.

The Celestials
Violet Rays
My Love is Winter
One Diamond, One Heart
Pale Horse
The Chimmera
Space Oddity
Tonight, Tonight
Bullet with Butterfly Wings
Soot and Stars

Ava Adore
Cherub Rock