Saturday, May 02, 2015

A Summer Of Music In Melbourne

I am always in awe as to how very lucky we are to live in Melbourne, and have so much music available to us, virutally all the time. Even between my past work schedule, I have managed to fit in a range of amazing gigs for this half of the year already.

St Kilda Festival's last day of music featured The Basics and San Cisco. I got to the beachside stage ready for our favourite local trio, and took a patch of grass in the sun to listen to their new tracks, sprinkled with some old ones.

The set opened so strongly, with new Time Poor and Lucky Country delivered with punch, political comment, and musical gusto.

Older favourites like Just Hold On, Have Love, Will Travel, and Rattle My Chain featured, as well as live regulars like Three Cool Cats and Rain. The set by the water ended with a cover of Neil Young's Old Man.

Nicole joined me on the hill, and we stood in the mass of crowd for San Cisco. Not knowing many of their tracks, Nicole dutifully informed me that many of those they played were new, about to be released on an album. All the kids around did go crazy for Fred Astaire toward the end, though.

The next gig was a warm up show for Something For Kate, before some festival sets. Announced pretty quietly, Carlos managed to grab up tickets for the small Howler bandroom. Missing Stephanie from the stage line up, the "boy band" as Paul referred to them at one point, played many of the Leave Your Soul To Science album. One of the last songs of the night was Paul giving us his own version of Michael Jackson's Billie Jean - wowser, that man can make any song sound incredible!

My next gig of a pretty amazing run of live music was First Aid Kit, at the Palais. Introduced to them whilst over in Nauru, I was keen to hear these two Swedish sisters voices sour in this venue. And that they did! They also introduced me to many of their tracks from previous releases, which I am very keen to hear more of.

Songs like Stay Gold, Silver Lining, and Shattered & Hollow were as incredible live as they are on the album. The girls chatted throughout the set, which added character and charm to their already impressive act. Introducing their Triple J Like A Version cover, they mentioned that after this challenge they now play Jack Black's Love Interruption all the time. So they should, it's awesome!

Back to the Palais in St Kilda the following night, Nicole and I saw Chet Faker. These shows were an extra run, after his win with song of the year in Triple Js Hottest 100.

Again, an artist that I was keen on because of his album release last year, this gig opened me up to many of his past releases and sounds. Chet made comment at one point, saying that maybe many people had come along to hear their favourite track that night, but he hoped rather that they would discover their new favourite song. It certainly made me seek out further albums of his.

From out seats on the balcony level, we could see as he set up layer upon layer for many of the tracks - a serious artist at work.

Opening with Melt and then Release Your Problems, he then played the song he said started it all, a cover of Blackstreet's No Diggity, which was very impressive.
At one point he confessed that this venue was not his choice for these shows, which matched my thoughts as the reverb of his bass tracks seemed to hum through the historic theatre - it would have been better played in the old Palace in the city (now closed down to make way for apartments) where the crowd could have stood and danced throughout.

Another cover of the night he dedicated to his father in the audience, which was a near-unrecognisable, but yet amazing Moondance by Van Morrison.

He rounded out with more from his latest release, with Gold and 1998, with the older Cigarettes And Chocolates tossed in.

Chet took the stage solo and at the piano for the finale, the song everyone had been waiting for, Talk Is Cheap. In a pretty stripped back, and understanded version, it seemed like a hat tip to those who had indeed discovered more about him and his music than this one release.

Next, in March, I joined a group to see the Buena Vista Social Club, in their final world tour, at Hamer Hall. A musical teleporting to Cuba was delivered, with brass jazz and funk for several hours. Dancing, and pure musical joy, was dished out!

As a farewell tour, they included many ributes to past and present members of the band, with old footage and photos, which added to the charm of the evening.

84 year old Omara's presence on the stage for her numbers were easily the highlight of the show, and he singing alongside her husband in the band, was just gorgeous. This was such a fun night!

Finally, in this incredible run of music in Melbourne, Nicole and I went along to Hamer Hall again, for Paul Kelly and the Merri Soul Sessions. Apart from Sound Relief, I actually haven't seen Australia's greatest songwriter live before. The Merri Soul Sessions was an album release with a collaboration from a number of Aussie artists, such as Vika and Linda Bull, Dan Sultan, Clairy Brown and Kira Pura.

Kelly curated the set with each and every artist combination for tracks. Many of the songs of the first hour were from this new album, and the second hour featured the classic Paul Kelly songs such as How To Make Gravy, Songs From The Sixteenth Floor, Look So Fine, Feel So Low, and Give In To My Love.

The encore included Dumb Things, and ended with all six artists, with Emma Donovan from the support act behindhand, singing Meet Me In The Middle Of The Air, a capella. So beautiful.

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