15 December 2013

2013 Live

I reckon live music has a power that can never be replicated in a recorded format. The subtle change; the missed beat; the forgotten lyric- each can contribute to an instant where the listener feels they are part of a unique moment of time. A mesmerising confluence of imperfection and perfection- fleeting and lasting at the same time.

I particularly love seeing the interaction within a band when they appear oblivious to the audience. (Funnily enough, this video of the Verlaines- who played tonight with Astro Children, Trick Mammoth and Surf City- has just such a moment late in the clip, even though it is not “live”).

Anyhoo . . . instead of trying out fancy words (“Confluence”?? FFS), here are four tracks of artists from live performances I have had the joy to experience this year. All of them moved me for different reasons and in different ways. All of them were brilliant and left me wanting more; and all have remained firmly embedded in my memory since.

We spent about three weeks in Sydney just after Christmas last year. Lots of cool stuff to do, including some free events as part of the Sydney Festival. Isaac and I got to go to an amazing free concert in the Royal Botanic Gardens- the Daptone Super Soul Revue. Kindly fellow bus patrons guided us to the correct place, wandering through town and discussing the oddities and variance of NZ/ Australian vocab. A warm night; close to the stage; fantastic performers. Perfect.

We knew nothing of Charles Bradley before this, apart from the promotional material for the show. And what a show.

Charles Bradley- Why is it so hard?

Happy coincidence (perhaps a confluence of events?) and a bit of planning meant I got to stay in Wellington for an extra couple of days for this one. (I went to see the Phoenix on the Sunday, and the intro for then coach Ricki Herbert was met with silence by the crowd- a sad beginning of the end for his coaching tenure). Fun though the football was- actually joining the feverzone for the first time – this gig was far more memorable. Probably less than 1000 people there, which meant an intimate feeling show. Despite Chan Marshall really never speaking to the audience except through song (and hey, that’s what I was there for), it was a very close, engaging and personal performance. One of the best of the year.

Cat Power- Cherokee

Familial connections acknowledged- for raw, visceral and intelligent live music, this was totally a favourite. A packed Chicks Hotel for their album launch, Astro Children played the best set I have seen from them. The crowd propelled by thumping, just-in-control drumming; drawn in and thrown out by, in turns, beguiling and brutal vocals; and all enveloped in swirling, droning, pulsating and melodic guitar. Excellent gig; excellent album worthy of many listens.

A bit hard to choose one track, but went with this. (Here a close second). I love how it builds in pace. Live it started faster than on the album, but still (just) managed not to careen off the stage and create carnage on the dancefloor. Joyous chaos reigned supreme anyway.

Astro Children- Eden

Back to where the year started for live music. The night was darkening but still warm. We could see bats silhouetted as they flew above the stage.
Also performing at the Daptone show was the wonderful Sharon Jones. A true privilege to see her live- owning the stage and bossing the audience; shimmering in her blue-sparkle dress; carnal, human and humorous all at once- just as all good (soul/funk) music/life should be. The final numbers, with Charles Barkley and the rest of the revue, were almost rapturous. Heady stuff indeed.

Sharon Jones- 100 Days; 100 Nights

28 November 2013

1969: Harry Bipthday Trebor 27 November

Hilarious 10 year old humour.

Rob has the symmetrical joy of turning 44 today. I can find pleasure in many numerical patterns, but the simplicity of double digits is always pleasing.

I want to live to 99.

After that it is triple digits, and that is a bit creepy.

Anyway let's get into it, some years since my last post. Is there anybody out there?

In recent years, Rob has become a big fan of "the boss". I kinda missed it all- apart from the " born in the USA" stuff from 1984, which was ever present for the latter part of that year. I was a youthful 16/17; Rob a baby faced 14.

So, in a fraternal spirit of birthday wishes, here is a very early track from Springsteen- happily from 1969; weirdly a big white boys rhythym and blues wig out; but still . . . Not too bad.

Steel Mill-Jeannie i want to thank you (Live)

It is always a bit grim when the end arrives for a such an influential artist as Lou Reed. It nearly inspired me to start the blog again at that time; but it seemed too bleak to use death as a motivator for anything really. Like many, it meant a week or two of reflective (and instructive) listening to the Velvets and Lou. (Oddly, growing up in Dunedin, I was a bit late to knowing much about them, despite the fact that I found out later many of the flying nun bands I loved then cited the velvet underground as a key influence - the so called "thousand bands" launched by the Velvets. Strangely- for me at least- Nico - a very unpleasant woman according to Germaine Greer, among others, (see my comment at the bottom of this article) played at the very first orientation of my university time in 1986- And I missed her, not knowing the significance.)

This is another track from 1969 . . . patience people - so far they are both long songs with long intro's. So very 1969.

Velvet underground- Sister Ray (Live)

Ok. I know Elvis has already appeared in this blog, so this will only be an oblique reference, but one in keeping with the 1969 theme. In 1984, the marvellous and disturbing Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds released their first single- a cover of the magnificent Elvis track from 1969 "In the Ghetto". In keeping with the wonderful and unsettling from Nick, here is a beautiful track from the macabre, hilarious, and quite wonderful "murder ballads" album from 1996, featuring the magnificent PJ Harvey.

Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds (featuring PJ Harvey) - Henry Lee

And finally, from Vol.9, here is- frankly a bit of a shocker, but Rob seems to like a bike.

Billy Sans- Bicycle Morning

Happy birthday brother, and may there be many more. Let's eat weetbix at Wembley one day.