Thursday, 30 January 2014

Best of 2013 - Concerts

Looking back it's been a pretty great year for concerts. The particular highlight for me has been bands either making their debut tour of the country or returning after a long absence. Probably the only semi-regular visitors that made the list are Yo La Tengo and Paul Kelly/Neil Finn. One final point, I've included links to the recordings (if I did them) but this is a list of the best concerts, regardless of the quality of the recording.

Weezer  - Palais 17 January

Weezer's Blue album show at Sidney Myer was pretty bad - as usual the sound was awful and the crowd were mediocre. The Pinkerton show at the Palais, on the other hand, was fantastic, and this is coming from a casual fan attending a show clearly aimed at the fans. Rather than kicking off with a hits set, they mixed in a bunch of rarities, all of them well played and getting a raptuous response. The Pinkerton set was also good and the sound at the Palais (as normal) was pristine.

Childish Gambino - HiFi 23 January

Childish Gambino (aka Donald Glover) proved to anyone who thought that this was going to be a comedy rap act that, not only was he deadly serious, but he has more energy and performing chops than acts that don't have to juggle an incredibly successful television writing and acting career. There are starting to be rumours that he may be making a return visit soon. This show sold out in minutes, so if the rumours turn to reality, make sure to get in quick.

Waterboys - Hamer Hall 30 January

Low expectations always help to make a good show and, even though I knew there was more to the Waterboys than The Whole of the Moon, I didn't realise just how deep their catalogue is or suspect that, unlike many of their peers, they retain the ability to put on a hell of a show. Obviously the cover of Purple Rain was great (and unexpected), but I particularly liked hearing all the originals that I'd somehow missed, despite their greatness. Plus it didn't hurt that Mike Scott seemed to have a genuine soft spot for Melbourne that went beyond 'It's great to be in [insert name of city]".

Divine Fits - Corner 4 February

Divine Fits' album A Thing Called Divine Fits made my best albums of 2012 list, and their Laneway sideshow demonstrated that they could easily transfer that to the stage (as if anyone could doubt this of a band featuring both the vocalist from Spoon and Handsome Furs). My only disappointment was that Japandroids were side stage but never made an appearance.

Paul Kelly & Neil Finn - Palais 4 March

At the time I said that this would be one of those tours that people would find hard to believe had happened. Back in the day we would have had to let our imaginations run wild about what they actually sounded like, but now we can listen to bootlegs (and, of course, the official CD/DVD from Sydney) to know that these shows were magical. These shows were great from start to finish, but it's hard not to single out their solo performance of each others songs (as Neil Finn said, Paul Kelly really owns Into Temptation now).

Bruce Springsteen - Rod Laver 24 &26 March

These were both phenomenal shows and it's great to see him returning in 2014 (with Tom Morello and Steve Van Zandt in tow). These are both very good recordings of outstanding shows with very varied sets. It'll be hard for him to top these, but if he even makes it in the ballpark they'll be great shows.

Matthew E White - Northcote Social Club 3 June

This was a show I only reluctantly went to, but it turned out to be great. Matthew E White is probably best described as a soul singer, but that doesn't really do justice to where he fits in the musical world. Probably best to just download this and hear for yourself.

Milk Carton Kids - St Kilda MeMo 8 June

The Milk Carton Kids are an amazing bluegrass band that bring to the table the extra bonus of being incredibly funny at their live shows. Unfortunately this isn't a great recording, but I'll be putting up a soundboard recording from around the same time in a few weeks.

Yo La Tengo - Hamer 18 October

I saw Yo La Tengo on their last tour and wasn't particularly impressed, but this set was really great, even if Hamer Hall was probably an optimistically large venue. The quiet set/loud set format was a good way of letting them showcase their diverse back catalogue, which they did with great success. Anyone that missed out will get another chance to see them when they do a full Australian tour in a few months.

Neutral Milk Hotel - Forum 15 & 16 November

Lastly, Neutral Milk Hotel. I never thought there would be even the faintest chance of seeing this band. But not only did they turn up in Australia, they out on some great shows. With only two albums (and some b-sides and outtakes) to choose from, there isn't a lot of variety in the sets, but the songs are all great. The next big challenge is whether they choose to release any new material.

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Johhny Marr - Corner Hotel, 4 January 2014

I saw Johnny Marr way back at 7 Worlds Collide in 2009. He was good, but only sang two songs, so it was hard to make too much of it. And although I like the Smiths, I'm hardly a massive fan. But I figured that he was someone to see at least once, so I trundled along to this show. It ended up being really good, the two key things I was concerned about (the quality of his voice and the calibre of his solo material) turned out not be issues at all. Even though he played 10 songs off his new solo album, The Messenger, none of them were weak, which is pretty impressive really. Plus of course there were a bunch of Smiths songs, all done really well.

The audio quality here is really good, consistent with the best I've done. Hopefully this one doesn't get missed because of how much stuff is going up at the moment

The Right Thing Right
Stop Me If You Think You've Heard This One Before
Sun and Moon
The Crack Up
New Town Velocity
The Messenger
Say Demesne
Generate! Generate!
Bigmouth Strikes Again
Word Starts Attack
I Want the Heartbeat
How Soon is Now?

Please, Please, Please, Let Me Get What I Want
The Hop
I Fought the Law
Getting Away with It
There is a Light That Never Goes Out!0c0hAAKA!WPTS2s0ZZCsIO6J46cBoTQ

Monday, 27 January 2014

The Phoenix Foundation - Big Day Out (Auckland), 17 January 2014

These guys don't have a big following in Australia, so there might not be too much interest in this recording. If that's the case it'd be a pity because they're a really really good band, and this is a pretty decent recording.

Despite not being a band with a bunch of radio hits or a huge following, they put on a really good show that engaged the moderately sized crowd in attendance. The set mixes songs from across their entire career, and they even throw in a new track (a bit ballsy at a festival, but it's a really good song [Bob Lennon & John Dylan] and didn't lose the crowd). It'd be nice if these guys came across at some stage, hopefully a few people will check this out and go along if they do.

40 Years
Bitte Bitte
Orange & Mango
Bob Lennon & John Dylan
Bright Grey
Sideways Glance

Sunday, 26 January 2014

Best of 2013 - Music (Part 1)

Pretty late to put up a best of 2013, but here they are nonetheless. First up is my best albums of last year. Like the 2012 edition, this focuses on the best albums I bought last year, regardless of when they were actually released.

I bought lots of really great albums last year, so I've split this list into two random parts.

Belle & Sebastian - Push Barman to Open Old Wounds

This two CD set pulls together the various B&S b-sides and rarities (of which there are many). The band clearly produce more quality material than fits of their records, because the quality here is high. They've also just released a new CD pulling together all the outtakes etc released since this one.

Divine Fits - A Thing Called...

Hard to go wrong with a band featuring Britt Daniel & Dan Boeckner. I wasn't initially sure what to make of this record since it doesn't quite sound like what I'd expected, but judged on it's own terms its a really great album (and their show at the Corner was great too).

Handsome Furs - Plague Park

After getting into the Divine Fits album I went out and grabbed some Handsome Furs and Wolf Parade records. My favourite (at least so far) is Plague Park. There's probably only one or two albums that I've listened to more times, which is a reflection of the fact that this is such a focussed album that maintains itself incredibly well.

Mahalia Jackson - Newport 1958

And now for something completely different. Mahalia Jackson is one of the great gospel singers and this is one of her most famous albums. The songs are beautiful, her voice is amazing and the crowd are enthusiastic. If you only own one gospel record this is the one to go for.

Mutton Birds - Salty

I'm a big fan of the Mutton Birds/Don McGlashan (I've posted a nice recording of his 2012 solo show and will be putting up a good recording of his show with Dave Dobbyn a couple of months back). Salty is the band's second album and, although it maybe doesn't quite reach the heights of their self-titled debut, tracks like The Heater, Wellington, and Queen's English ensure that this is still a classic.

Otis Redding - Otis Blu/Otis Redding Sings Soul

I think some of Otis' live recordings made last years best of list, but in my opinion if you only own one album, this is the one to go for. It might not contain his most famous song, but it does have the original version of Respect, Shake, I've Been Loving You Too Long, and his cover of the Rolling Stones' Satisfaction (which Keith Richards said sounded the way he had originally intended it to).

Waterboys - This Is the Sea

The Waterboys show was great, and this is their best known (and arguably best) album. That's in large part because of the presence of The Whole of the Moon, but every track on this album deserves five stars.

Cloud Nothings - Attack on Memory

I wasn't particularly impressed by their Laneway show, and the sideshow was damaged by forces beyond their control, but this is still a great record.

Sharon Van Etten - Tramp

I'm not very good at picking what songs/albums/bands will prove to be successful. I would have put money on Sharon Van Etten's Serpents being a big hit, with it's catchy tune, great lyrics, and sing/yell along chorus (Serpents in my mind!). But I would have lost that money. Hopefully her next album will have something that sends people back to discover her back catalogue, because this is an album that deserved a much wider audience.

Paul Kelly - A to Z Recordings

The accompanying book made my best books list and the recording is just as good. This approach is much better than just putting out a massive 'best of' box set like most artists do. It really makes me wish I had a long road trip coming up so I could listen to it from start to finish.

Saturday, 25 January 2014

Dave Dobbyn & Don McGlashan - Thornbury Theatre, 28 November 2013

Like I said earlier, lots of concerts to sort out, including a few old ones. Finally got round to sorting this one out, and it's actually really good. I was a bit late getting to the venue, so there is a tiny bit of russling as they come onstage, but things are sorted by the first song.

The setlist wasn't what I would have gone for, but it is pretty varied and includes a lot of great songs. The crowd was fairly small, but enthusiastic. Lots of New Zealanders I suspect, which usually means people looking for a taste of home, but not actually interested in paying any attention. Fortunately, this crowd is boisterous, but focussed on the music.

If you like this one, I also recorded Dave Dobbyn and Don McGlashan's last solo shows in Melbourne. You can find them via the links on the right.

Beside You
Queen of the Night
Up Above the Rain
Last Year's Shoes
It Dawned on Me
White Valiant
Song of the Year

Blindman's Bend
While You Sleep
Kingdom Come
Toy Factory Fire
Girl Make Your Own Mind Up
Maybe the Rain
Bathe in the River
Anchor Me

Dominion Road
Welcome Home!4VE3jRgI!v3YOhWZg401bgF1fddH_PA

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Arcade Fire - Big Day Out (Auckland), 17 January 2014

Soooo many shows to process and put up (plus lots more that I'll be recording in the next month or so). This is the first show Arcade Fire have performed (outside promotional shows) for their new album, so it might be interesting for fans. I was interested to hear the way they managed to incorporate the new elements from Reflektor into older songs. Unfortunately, there was a bit of wind in the early part of their set and I was moving around a bit to find a good spot, so there's a bit of occassional russling that dies away after a few songs. This was a really great set, but the recording isn't super, I'm hoping to get something better at one of their upcoming shows.

Ready to Start
Flashbulb Eyes
Neighbourhood #3 (Power Out)
Joan of Arc
The Suburbs/The Suburbs (Continued)
Neighbourhood #1 (Tunnels)
Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)
My Body is a Cage
Keep the Car Running
Normal Person
Rebellion (Lies)
Here Comes the Night Time
Wake Up!tcNWBDwZ!CojmOW5uiwJ7dgopeIk16A

Monday, 20 January 2014

James Brown - Soul Train

Something a little different for the new year. This is James Brown on the Soul Train show back in 1973. I prefer his early material (grab Live at the Apollo for a taste of early songs in a live setting, but this one offers a mix of earlier soul songs and later funk). Although James Brown still had some great years to come, it's fair to say that this catches him at the peak of his powers.

Hot Pants
Get Up (I Feel Like a) Sex Machine
Get on the Good Foot
Soul Power
Make it Funky
Cold Sweat
Try Me
Please, Please, Please
Say it Loud, I'm Black and I'm Proud
Super Bad
Papa Don't Take No Mess
My Thang
The Payback
Damn Right, I Am Somebody!IM82AT6Y!HGVtkEIttphnsZeMGWzH0Q

Friday, 17 January 2014

Greg Johnson - A Collection

One good source of free albums is sampler put out by bands and record labels to help promote themselves. These are often good ways to find out about new bands, I stumbled upon Japandroids on a sampler from their record label and have gone on to buy stuff from their label mates from subsquent samplers.

This one is from Greg Johnson, a New Zealand singer-songwriter who writes quite a few catchy songs. There are only seven tracks, but that's probably all you need to figure out whether you want to bother with any more of his stuff or not.

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Arcade Fire - Coachella, 16 April 2011

Had this one sitting round for a while, but realised I should probably put it up before Big Day Out starts. This is a nice soundboard from their last tour in case you want to catch up on that stuff.

Month of May
Rebellion (Lies)
No Cars Go
City with No Children
The Suburbs
The Suburbs (Continued)
Crown of Love
Neighbourhood #2 (Laika)
We Used to Wait
Neighbourhood #3 (Power Out)
Keep the Car Running
Wake Up

Ready to Start
Neighbourhood #1 (Tunnels)
Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)!sdUXFCIL!fQ2vVVvwK5ZJ79VuabZnBA

Friday, 10 January 2014

Brian Jonestown Massacre - Palace Theatre, 20 December 2013

[Normally I'd put a picture here, but Google are insisting that everyone use Google Drive so that they can control all your pictures. Man I hate them. Anyway, for the time being just imagine a picture here]

I came pretty late to the Brian Jonestown Massacre (like lots of people I discovered them through watching Dig!, if you haven't seen it, it's one of the greatest rock documentaries ever made), so this was the first time I'd seen the band. They put on a pretty good show, but the absence of the extreme intraband tension resulted in them seeming very uninterested and aloof. Nonetheless, they play the songs well and I always think it's pretty petty to complain that a band was better when the members were completely dysfunctional.  Anyway, the sound for this is pretty good and it features both of the songs released for the tour.

Whoever You Are
Got My Eye on You
What You Isn't
Day, Weeks and Moths
When Jokers Attack
Open Heart Surgery
You Have Been Disconnected
Not If You Were the Last Dandy on Earth
Prozac vs Heroin
There's a War Going On
That Girl Suicide
Oh Lord!xYEx3AyB!PsNStDWuOFF1frhBIb95GA

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Leonard Cohen - Rod Laver Arena, 20 November 2013

This is the third time Leonard Cohen has toured Australia since he came out of retirement. I saw a show on the first tour and it was a magical experience (that's a pretty overused term, but people who have seen him will know what I mean). This time round the magic has faded slightly, partly because the crowd no longer feels the need to be as attentive, so there was a bit of blabbing around me. Despite this, these shows are still a lot better than most of what gets dished up, particularly by 'nostalgia' acts.

Even though I like his new album, Old Ideas, the run of three new songs at the end of the first set was the weakest portion of the show. They aren't bad songs, but when put in the context of his best work, they don't really match up. Other than that, this is a really good show, the sound is excellent (he seems to have some of the best sound people going round), his singing and the band's performance are excellent, and the setlist (despite never varying much) is very good.

Dance Me to the End of Love
The Future
Bird on a Wire
Everybody Knows
Who By Fire
Come Healing
Lover, Lover, Lover
Tower of Song

Chelsea Hotel #2
The Partisan
Alexandra Leaving
I'm Your Man
A Thousand Kisses Deep
Take This Waltz

So Long, Marianne
Going Home
First We Take Manhattan

Famous Blue Raincoat
If It Be Your Will
Closing Time

I Tried To Leave You!FI8BUAJR!NeAzWSpK_jli0Vs_aczIFA

Sunday, 5 January 2014


Just a quick word to say that I've updated a couple of old posts with new material. Pearl Jam's 2013 Xmas single has been released. I've added it to the Xmas singles post as well as adding a link just for each of the two new songs for anyone that has already downloaded the old singles.

Also, just in time for their Australian tour, Okkervil River have released a new addition to their Golden Opportunities series. A link to Golden Opportunities 3 is in the original Golden Opportunities post (along with links to the other two EPs if you haven't got them yet).

Saturday, 4 January 2014

Pearl Jam - Best Live Shows

Like I said a while back, everything you could ever want of live Pearl Jam is easily available on the net. The downside to that is wading through it all and trying to figure out where to start and where to go after that. To help out I've produced this list of my favourite Pearl Jam shows and links to where you can get them. Since they've been around for a while there are some differences between 'eras' so I've tried to cover them all.

Rotterdam '93 (the Ten era)

I've previously mentioned the wonderful JWB Soundboard Remasters series, which features remastered versions of 14 great pre-2000 shows (all of the other pre-2000 shows link to these remasters since they sound better than the versions I orginally discovered). For some reason the band had a love affair with the Netherlands in the Ten era, invariably playing great shows there, and often professing their love for the country and desire to relocate there. By the time the band returned for their second run of European shows they had added some new songs to the setlist that would go on to appear on Vs., and replaced the Beatles' I've Got a Feeling (official version on the Japanese version of Ten) with covers like Fuckin' Up and Sonic Reducer that continue to feature today. Of course, if you'd rather hear the part of the tour, the Soundboard Remasters has five of those shows too.

Atlanta '94 (the Vs/Vitalogy era)

This is probably my all time favourite Pearl Jam show. It probably helps that I first got a copy of this way back in the mid-90s. The show is on the Vs tour, but the band play three songs that would end up on Vitalogy (Whipping, Betterman and Satan's Bed). For hardcore fans the highlight of this show is an ultra rare complete performance of WMA, sometimes things like this provide a good demonstration of why the song is a rarity, but in this case the performance is fantastic. The remainder of the set are songs that still feature regularly on setlists now, but the performances are all phenomenal and the audio quality is perfect. If you only want to download one Pearl Jam show, this is the one I'd recommend.

Berlin '96 (the No Code era)

Waaaaay back in the day I used to go to a record store in the nearest big town which was about the only place it was possible to get bootlegs (this was before downloading from the internet). It was always a bit hit and miss, but that probably made it more exciting when I got hold of really great recordings. And this one was fantastic. No Code might not be everyone's favourite Pearl Jam record, but it stands out to me as a time when they experimented a bit and, generally, it worked. As always this set mixes in some older stuff. Now, when every show is officially released, the setlist probably doesn't look as interesting. But back when it was hard to find shows that hit the sweet spot of fantastic sound quality (this was broadcast on German radio) and amazing performance, this was a widely lauded show.

Melbourne '98 (the Yield era)

Another show I owned as an actual bootleg, this was broadcast over the radio (my version still has some of the radio commentary, but I think the version linked to has it removed), so it is pretty widely bootlegged.

Seattle '00 (the Binaural era)

This was the final show of the Binaural tour, the first one where the band released official bootlegs for every show. The audio quality of the shows from the European leg isn't great, but by the US leg they had largely sorted it out. This show was also noteworthy because it was the first time the band played such a long show that they were forced to release it on three CDs. The set itself is solid, and features some songs that were relatively rare at the time, but are more commonly played now (or it might just be that any time they get played we have access to a soundboard quality recording).

Boston/Mansfield '03 (the Riot Act era)

For mine, this is the worst Pearl Jam era. But just like Neil Young in 1986/87, there's something interesting about seeing how a band copes when they are doing things tough, and in Pearl Jam's case, it wasn't even that bad, just an album that wasn't very good. This was the third show in the Boston area and the band had promised to try to play every song in their catalogue over the course of the shows. To help out in that regard, this show (the final one in the three show run) features an acoustic set prior to Sleater Kinney's opening set. On top of this, the band plays a normal length main set, meaning this is another very long show. There are plenty of rarities (although, like all the shows it was played at, Arc is not part of the official bootleg).

Gems & Rhinestones (Australia '09 tour compilation - the Backspacer era)

I've only listened to the Backspacer tour shows I went to, so while I'm sure there are some great ones out there, I'm not in a position to recommend one. Instead, I'd recommend starting off with the Gems & Rhinestones compilation, which culls the best material from the Australia/NZ tour to form a set designed to sound something like a normal show. This tends to go more for rarity value than quality in a couple of cases, but in the main this is a really great way to hear what the Backspacer era sounded like.

If you're wondering why there isn't anything from the Riot Act tour, it's because I mainly listen to the Gorge boxset. Finally, for anyone who just wants the previous Australian shows, they're all available at Rearviewmirror (who also have compilations covering the Australian Riot Act tour and the Australian Pearl Jam tour) and We Got Shit.

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Yo La Tengo - KEXP, 18 January 2013

Oops, I meant to publish this a few days ago, but forgot to take it out of draft.

Yo La Tengo are on their way back to Australia early next year to play another of their quiet/loud shows. The first time I saw them, way back in 2010, I wasn't all that impressed, but their recent show was great. There doesn't seem to be too many soundboard quality recordings out there (at least that I could find), but here's a short KEXP performance promoting the current album.

I'll Be Around
The Point of It
Before We Run!ZQlkHByD!AQ7c8GiQvwAUtmzYUZNHcA

Franz Ferdinand - Forum Theatre, 14 November 2013

Another show by a Harvest refugee. I think a lot of people (me included) didn't think Franz Ferdinand deserved to have second billing for Harvest, but this show demonstrated that they can put on one hell of a show. The new material is really good and of course the older songs got a great reception. There's a bit of talking, particularly during the encore, but overall this is still a pretty decent recording.

The Dark of the Matinee
No You Girls
Evil Eye
Do You Want To
Walk Away
Stand on the Horizon
Can't Stop Feeling
Brief Encounters
Darts of Pleasure
The Fallen
Take Me Out
This Fire
Love Illumination
Goodbye Lovers & Friends

Right Time
Treason! Animals