Tag Archives: Live Music Review

In Review: Lissie, Live at Northcote Social Club, May 19th 2011

Dear Audy,

Lissie has been enjoying high rotation on my mind-radio thanks to the fantastic performance that she put on last Thursday. I simply love going to see live music and the atmosphere of a pub gig is a lot more to my tastes than joining an enormous audience in an arena.


Lissie played at Northcote Social Club, which is one of my favourite venues. Especially when I am forced to go out in my wheelchair as it is easily accessible from the street. The staff are pleasant and helpful and the crowd usually has no problem allowing a space in the front so that I can see.

Of course, occasionally people will push in front and block my view with the amazing recording that they are making on their mobile phone, but I am not shy about tapping people on the shoulder and asking that they please not do that in front of my face. I was amused and appalled by a few elements of the audience behaviour at this and other recent gigs…but that is another post for another day. Probably a post like this old fave.

Getting back on topic, Lissie was fabulous! She was friendly and funny with her stage chatting, an element that not all musicians are good at but that can add a lot to a show. Her refreshingly laid back appearance and demeanour acted like an invitation for the audience to kick back and, to quote whoever said it first, dance like youtube was never invented.

The atmosphere in the room lit up, fuelled by the electric energy that Lissie generated on stage. She is far from a shy performer. Her vocals are powerful, interestingly melodic and emotionally raw. She sings as though she is putting her all into that moment, into every moment on stage, and the result is far more powerful than when musicians attempt to recreate the exact sound that their music has in its released recording.

When Lissie is performing, she glows. You can feel how much she enjoys what she’s doing flowing out in waves over the audience. It’s this feeling that I go and see live music for, that magical element that can’t be captured, only enjoyed in the moment.

The setlist was a mix of songs from her debut album, Catching A Tiger and a few covers. I wish that I could find a copy of the exact setlist as one of the covers was the highlight of the evening, it was just so much fun! Lissie introduced it as a song that she had heard around the place a lot, she did mention the title and artist, however those details have completely escaped me! If you happen to know the song I am loving and not remembering, please leave me a comment and fill my memory gap.

Other highlight songs included When I’m Alone – her most well known track, Record Collector – a lot of fun to rock out to, In Sleep – one of my favourite tracks from the album, and The Pursuit Of Happiness – a cover that also appears on her album.

Lissie and her band are on their way to Canada, if you happen to be in the vicinity and like to like music, then definitely get yourself tickets and go along to one of her shows.

Overall, the night was a lot of fun, even on two wheels. I caught up with some friends that I hadn’t seen for ages, including my blogging buddy, Carly, who introduced me to Lissie’s music a few weeks ago.

It’s easy to get frustrated at having to go out in a wheelchair when I rarely need it anymore, but it’s a much better alternative to going without it and getting hurt before I even get to the venue, or not going out at all. I have gotten over feeling like needing a mobility device is a step backward, it’s just a part of unpredictability of chronic pain and not worth putting much emotional stock in. Thankfully, I have nice friends who will push me!

I got to enjoy a night out without interrupting the healing of my injury. That is total win.

Love & Living

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  • In Review: Eddie Vedder, Solo Tour, Melbourne, March 24th 2011

    Dear Audy,

    I cannot think of anything that I would rather do than sit in a darkened room and watch Eddie Vedder make masterful music. The man is incredible.

    (click image for source)

    I was a latecomer to Pearl Jam fandom. Back in the days when they were fresh and taking the grunge scene by storm, I was still listening to teenage girl garbage. It was only that I happened to go along with a friend to see them play live, when they toured for Riot Act, that I discovered how mind-blowing their music is and was drawn in by their dynamic, intense and stunningly talented frontman, Eddie.

    I was hooked. I listened to nothing but their back catalogue for months and I haven’t since missed the chance to see them live, they never disappoint.

    Last night, for the first time, Eddie Vedder played in Melbourne without the rest of Pearl Jam. I have been shaking with excitement since I first heard about the tour and bought tickets months ago. It felt like I had won the lottery. Eddie Vedder was coming to play at The Palais (my favourite venue in Melbourne) and I had scored front row balcony seats!

    In The Palais, this section of seating is referred to as “The Lounge” on account of the seats are wider, squishier and more comfortable than the rest of the theatre. Sure, the front row front row is the best place to be close to an artist, however the balcony is the best place to be for the best sound. I couldn’t have asked for better seats! I also couldn’t have been more thrilled that the gig was in a theatre, as opposed to the stadium shows that Pearl Jam usually tours. Stadiums are great fun and all, but really not the best places for sound quality.

    Eddie is nothing if not pure quality. Top of the line rock star. First grade.

    Performing the night before in Sydney. Click image for source.

    I loved the little retro, homey set; old suitcases, a rug and the circular design of the minimal staging helped to create a feeling of intimacy, almost like being privy to a private session between Eddie and the music.

    Oh, the music. If, for some alien overlord’s reason, I was forced to only hear one voice singing for the rest of my life then it would be Eddie’s. Mmmm, so deep, so rumbly, so powerful and distinctly articulate. The kind of voice you hear with your chest, ricocheting off your ribs. A superbly crafted instrument that delivers songs that have aged decades without a trace of waning emotion and always with a new take, a different view, renewed vigour.

    The setlist included some Pearl Jam classics, some tracks from the soundtrack to Into The Wild; Vedder’s only solo album to date and many brilliantly performed covers, including his much loved versions of You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away (The Beatles cover, originally from the I Am Sam soundtrack) and Rockin’ In The Free World (Neil Young cover) – this was a total evening highlight, the crowd went nuts, Eddie went off and the balcony danced under the pressure of a hundred stomping feet.

    The absence of the rest of his band (who are amazing) gave a chance to really appreciate the seemingly endless talent that boils inside this musician. The music vibrates out of his every pore. The intensity with which he strums his guitars and ukeleles, with which he pounds his foot on a cool amplifying box-y-ma-thing, was awe inspiring. Also, inspiring, inspiring; there is something magical about watching someone do what they do and do it so well.

    Eddie teased with mention of an upcoming solo album that he is releasing, all tracks performed with a ukelele. Ah, so rustic. There is something so utterly genuine about a musician who can create masterpieces with only the simplest of tools. The preview he gave is making me drool with anticipation about this album. I. Cannot. Wait.

    Wielding his trusty uke, Eddie gave us a re-inspired version of Better Man – a song that most members of the 1990s and any Pearl Jam fan knows inside out and back to front. His peeled back solo performance gave the song a new feel, a deeper connection to the lyrics, a fresh and fascinating reincarnation. Simply superb.

    Elderly Woman was as moving as ever; this is one of my favourite songs of all time. As is tradition, the crowd lights shine brightly when Eddie reaches the lyric “I just wanna scream…HELLO”. This element never fails to bring a smile to my face as my eyes squint and I feel connected to both the performance and the room filled with ecstatic fans.

    Wishlist never fails to delight and I couldn’t help but bounce in my seat with joy when he strummed the opening chords. Such a sweet, nostalgic song. How I wish I was the full moon shining off a Camaro’s hood…

    The second encore ended with heightened fabulousness. For his final song, a performance of Hard Sun (from Into The Wild) the back drop became an an ocean covered with clouds sporting licks like those of painted surfer waves. The stage filled with smoke, giving another ocean illusion and my grin managed to get even wider. Pearl Jam has long preserved their surfer vibe, they surely have more tracks built on ocean references than any other band and Eddie has long been a surfie, grunge god. He knows his audience.

    Leaving his seat as the song built, Eddie reminded us that “Oh, by the way, I’m a fucking rock star”. He didn’t need to say it, he emanates it. A couple of his signature rocking out poses and the crowd was going insane, myself included. He is a performer with such energy that it can fill arenas and during most of last night, all that energy and intensity that usually has him jumping around a stage was channeled into his music…ah, I’m running out of words for awesome.

    See the full set list here.

    I love the fact that, in this internet era, Eddie Vedder is still an untouchable, ever evolving rock GOD. You won’t find him on Twitter. You won’t find him exploiting himself, or explaining his art. Why should he? Such brilliance needs no embellishment. His in-between song chatting is always amusing and the rare chance to hear him speak feels like a privilege.

    His kind of wonderful simply needs appreciation and by golly, I will be savouring last night for years to come.

    Love & Rock Royalty,

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  • Magical Music At The Palais With Sarah Blasko, 2010

    Dear Audy,

    Hurrah! I finally have the internet again and can enjoy feeling connected again. It has definitely been strange to be unable to log on each day and enjoy reading blogs, staring at inspiring things and chatting to lovely people. Really makes me appreciate that I live in a time when we have the ability to do this at all! Unfortunately, I have been rather flared up for the past few days. I am resting as best I can, using all the tricks that I’ve learnt to try and settle the beast and waiting for my mind to return from being scattered all haphazardly around the place. Fortunately, just before this flare got its cogs turning, I was able to enjoy an excellent night out with a friend.

    Going to see Sarah Blasko has been something that I have been looking forward to for months and I was not disappointed. I have only seen her once before, at A Day On The Green, in a paddock with a picturesque view, on the evening of a 40 degree (Celsius) day, amongst a bunch of people who had been drinking in the sun for hours, as we all waited for it to set. Do you know what happens to people who have been doing that? They go feral, that’s what. T-shirts were being worn as hats. The thonged, mud-covered feet of intoxicated and dancing bogans stained picnic blankets, already covered with spilt beer and not necessarily the property of the IB (intoxicated bogan) in question. Yet, in spite of all this going on around me (and, let’s face it, I was very far from sober myself, caring not that I was on crutches), I still remember how amazing Sarah sounded as her hauntingly beautiful voice rang out into the night and distracted me completely from the mayhem of sitting in some sort of drunk-human-pig-sty.

    She is stunning. Some musicians create using musical notes, others use musical magic. Sarah falls into the latter category.

    I could not wait to see her in one of my favourite Melbourne music venues, The Palais! No sun, no drinking, and pretty good seats to boot. Not to mention good acoustics and pretty lighting. The seats aren’t kind to bottoms, but I can deal with that when it means sitting in a gorgeous little piece of history.

    Sarah’s talent is undeniable, her sound unique and her demeanour adorable. The thing that impressed me almost as much about this performance was the indulgence taken to perfect the costumes and staging as an enhancing element of the show. The band wore white dress shirts, you would not believe how impressed I was by this. Boys playing instruments well, whilst dressed well? You don’t get that often. The effect of these shirts, along with some white-with-the-ability-to-turn-awesome-colours balls suspended from the ceiling and the amazing white-dress that Sarah wore was a visual delight to match the beauty of the music.

    (click for image source)

    I have no idea who designed Sarah’s costume, but I would like to tip my hat to them. What first appeared to be a simple white frock, quickly revealed itself as a work of fabric genius. Sitting perfectly on the figure of this quirky songstress, it moved and flowed with her body as though the very music she was creating was physically dancing around her in delight. The fabric draped from her arms as she raised them, transforming her silhouette into some kind of remarkable snow angel. Every stitch served a purpose, every pleat, every angle, every fold. I was transfixed, as the music flowed through me, so did design wonder and awe.

    The colourful beads adorning Sarah’s chest and head added brightness and life to the costume. More than a simple necklace or headpiece, they worked marvelously to tie the whole aesthetic of the stage together by simplistically matching the balls on the ceiling, those draped from Sarah’s microphone, and, in theory, the bubbles that she told us she had planned, before being let down by a dodgy bubble machine. Ah, the joy I take when an artist (of any kind) pays such attention to the details of every aspect of the way their work is presented. There is much beauty in that kind of passion, along with the wonderful result of taking such time and care. Subtly adding red gloves to add depth and drama to a single track? Detailing genius. Not to mention…I want those gloves.

    I have trouble understanding why more musicians don’t treat their stage as an opportunity for costume design and creativity. It’s nice to look lovely in a pretty dress, but how many opportunities do you get to show off the fabulousness of costuming? Don’t let Lady Gaga put you off, costuming can be done with taste, class, and, you know, fabric.

    The most memorable moment from the performance is Sarah’s bashful giggle as she forgot the lyrics during her cover of Flame Trees, after building it up with a heart-felt introduction about how the track would be farewelled from her set-list after her current tour. I love pretty much every cover I’ve ever heard her sing, but this one is quite spectacular. It gives new feeling and a sensitivity to an old Aussie classic. Unpatriotically, I have never enjoyed Cold Chisel, other than that sense of group nostalgia and camaraderie that is invoked by this iconic music at home parties, late at night, probably when someone’s parents are out of town and the drinks are potent…however, I do enjoy Sarah’s version immensely!

    Before shutting up, I would also like to tip my metaphorical hat to Sarah’s enthusiastic pianist. Dude was so into it, I was concerned for his neck. That’s what I like to see!

    Never heard of Sarah Blasko before? Enjoy this little piece of beautifully complex simplicity, before buying yourself copy of each of her albums!

    Love & Beautiful Melodies,

    P.S. If you are at a show and need to yell out from the audience, something like “I love you” during a pause in the show, it is completely uncool to need your friends to yell in sync with you. But also, very funny when I am close enough to hear your countdown…for the synchronicity and everything…of course.

    P.P.S. Thanks to all for the lovely birthday wishes and hurrah for the variety of mediums these arrived via! I am yet to enjoy and reply to those left on Facebook, but very grateful to everyone who took the time to write to me. I shall reply ASAP.


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  • Regina Spektor: A Reverie Of Radical

    Dear Audy,

    CRPS can be exceptionally crippling, both physically and emotionally. One of the most important things that any pain patient can remember is that having fun and things to look forward to is just as important as doctor appointments, rehab exercises and medication dosages. Music can be a wonderful escape and a brilliant emotional outlet and going to see live music is about the most enjoyable thing I can think of.

    The moment I let my CRPS stop me from planning my life, I lose. What I must keep trying to do is incorporate my pain into my life in a way that still allows me to function so that I can return to work or study. I go through periods when flares cause me to cancel on a lot of social engagements, usually followed by a period of me refusing to make any further social engagements so that I don’t have to go through the stress and disappointment of canceling them. Doing this from time to time can be a good thing, because it gives me time to rest and recover. Taking time out can be a valuable part of my rehabilitation, however, an even more valuable part is the time I spend being involved.

    Wherever possible, I try to adapt going out to have fun so that I can enjoy it with minimal pain. I love going to see live music and, whilst the vibration of the performances (you mean you’ve never noticed that musical performances vibrate? Think about it for a second…what is sound?), usually leaves me buzzing afterward, so does the thrill of the show. Depending on where the musician or band is performing, I have to consider whether the shows will be physically possible for me. If something is playing in an arena, for example, I need to book disabled tickets and go in a wheelchair. I have learnt that regardless of whether I am flaring or not on the day, I cannot survive a) the walking (from car to seat can be kilometres), b) standing during the show (if it’s that type of show) and c) being bumped around in the crowd. If I go in a wheelchair, I almost eliminate the threat of all three and can enjoy myself. A, B and C also apply to going to a pub gig, these don’t always have good disabled access (hello, grotty yet ever popular Corner Hotel) but I have leant that most venues will provide a seat on request. How well you can see from that seat depends on the kindness and understanding of the staff on duty that night (FYI Melbourne, Northcote Social Club is awesome at being accommodating!).

    My favourite type of gigs are the ones played in theatres. Theatres usually have good disabled access, closer parking so that I don’t need the wheelie and are less likely to attract acts that draw rowdy crowds. On Friday night, I was lucky enough to go and see Regina Spektor play at The Palais in St Kilda. I love The Palais – sure, it’s a little run down but it smells and looks like old and pretty and even the back seats all have a pretty good view. The last time Regina came to Melbourne, I saw her at The Regent Theatre, which is by far my favourite with those big comfy seats. I love that an artist whom I absolutely adore has only played venues that I can attend in relative comfort!

    20100430 Regina Spektor at The Palais
    (click photo for source)

    Regina Spektor live is amazing. The only artist I have had the privilege of seeing live who compares in pure talent is Tori Amos (and if you’ve ever watched Tori singing whilst playing the piano with one hand and the organ with the other, you know that’s pretty a pretty big call). Regina is adorable. Her voice is magical, her humour insightful and her demeanour refreshingly shy. It was fantastic to see her playing with a band, a very different experience to the intimacy of seeing her alone with her piano. The solo moments were still there though, along with cute little numbers never heard in her recordings – an aspect that a lot of performers don’t seem to realise can improve their show by gazillions. In this age where we can watch anything on youtube, it’s a treat to see something new. I loved the track she played called ‘The Ballad Of A Politician’ (if memory serves correctly) and a sweet little ditty about hearing the neighbours getting down and dirty to one of her songs. Yep, Regina can even make crude things sweet. She must have candy insides.

    In the spirit of making plans and things to look forward to, I have been on a ticket buying frenzy in the last few days! Luckily for me, both the fun spirit and opportunity have been working together here. I now have amazing, third row seats to see Ian McKellen in Waiting For Godot in less than two weeks. I was shocked that I could get such good tickets so late in the game, but I guess not all of Melbourne is as theatre nerdy as me (in my life before CRPS, I dreamed of running my own theatre company). The idea of watching such an amazing actor, live, right in front of me is as exciting as a visit from Justin Beiber would be to a 12 year old girl. I’m pretty sure, for the entire show, part of me will have to hold back another part of me from screaming “It’s MAGNETO!” but I shall do my best.

    I’ve also managed to score some pretty good seats to see Sarah Blasko at The Palais in October. That’s a lot of time to look forward to it and I like looking forward to things! I missed her last tour and was rather sad, the only time I have seen her live was at A Day On The Green and she was stunning, even across a paddock. Can’t wait to see her indoors!!

    Today was for resting and recuperating, my body is still adjusting to my having attended an inspiring Feldenkrais workshop on Saturday. I learnt oodles, but things take a while to physically settle with my system. I shall write more about it next post, for now I am going to continue to revel in the sweet memories of Regina and bubble with excitement for my upcoming outings.

    Love & Music,

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