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Perth reviews of some live, on stage performances.
Perth has a long list of presented events, entertainment that has been still available t the local community in the middle of Covid 19 now 2 years on.
With the boarders closed for most of 2020 & 2021 it has been a period of local stuff that has kept all the public & industry ticking over. Plus a select few tat have sold out by public demand to make it way out west for a show.
It just goes to be an example how much talent at international level Australia has access to in an entertainment natural resource that is much more than gold.
Birds of Tokyo @ Freo
BIRDS OF TOKYO
@ Fremantle Prison
Another hot day & balmy night in Freo as the boys from Birds of Tokyo fly back into town for a great live idea with a concert at Freo Prison. Thankfully, here in Perth we still have the ability to gather in crowds to see some amazing homegrown talent. So pretty excited to see the boys do their stuff live.
In support ...
(one of the winners of triple j Unearthed last year) opened the evening and proceeded to deliver a very good set. A near nobody who is making his mark gig by gig. Sibbald has such a good a voice and his songs also good. Delivering Dance/electronic with brilliant songwriting who sings in the style of folk/indie/pop. If you haven’t heard of him either online or on stage, do yourself a favour and check him out.
Next up on stage was Dulcie – a four-piece who have been impressing Perth audiences for a couple of years now. This band plays with big smiles lots of energy and joy that makes the shows so enjoyable. They put it all out on stage on show every performance. Dulcie crowd is into energy presented on stage live and people were up and dancing a few songs into their set. Really good set & well done.
Birds of Tokyo
BIRDS of TOKYO
Birds of Tokyo in another sold-out show always rise to the occasion as big band in the land of Oz. Missing out of action for the show was guitarist Adam Spark who was stuck in Sydney with the borders closed again to NSW.
The boys played all of their hits putting everything into their performance and got the crowd into a huge singing along. Birds of Tokyo are international level act that has honed their craft for a decade. Such a cool kick ass band from Perth.
This band originally a side project for Karnivool is as good as you will get in an act anywhere on the planet with a live presence that is inspiring. Special is all you think in the audience of this act in a special event. So proud to know & follow this act since first gig starting in the side bar of the Hyde Park hotel, now a house hold name in Australia.
Tim Minchin & WASO
TIM MINCHIN with WASO
@ Kings Park & Botanic Garden
Tim Minchin helped kick off the Perth Festival on Saturday supporting his album of “non-comedy” songs, Apart Together. This guy is a pretty special artists in any part of the world let alone his simple life began growing up in Perth. He is a very inspiring person on & off the stage with an opinion on most things with an interesting angle. Homegrown West Aussie with a twist of ginger this is a funny entertaining man. A personality, story teller, poet, musician, writer, public speaker, larrikin all wrapped up in one.
Michin is international level no doubt with a stage presence that is of a super hero. An alter ego that could see him creating an avatar character one day in the Marvel universe as a mad marvelous musician. One who can hypnotize & control the bad guys or anybody for that matter with his songs & words in a mix of comical spoken word stupidity.
This show was big build up with a two-hour wait with no support act. I guess the commercial reality of getting the crowd to buy drinks before the show was in play. The regular concerts held in Kings Park seem to do that as the drinks are to the rear a long way from the stage so once the show starts its no buyers just show business.
A Welcome to Country, the West Australian Symphony Orchestra (WASO) filled up the stage, joined by conductor Jessica Gethin and Perth Fest Artistic Director Iain Grandage who took to the grand piano. Minchin intro was playing acoustic guitar.
This was an understated intimate approach with the 5,000 punters on the grassy hillside in the park. His verbal abilities on show in a 10 minute plus interlude in which he name-checked last year’s Highway to Hell Perth Fest showcase event (he knocked it back thinking it would never work), and introduced us to his ‘Glossary of Terms’ including the 60s Batman cave (which may or may not be a sexual metaphor, apparently). Leaving LA eventually followed, culminating in the memorable lyric: “It’s just some really ugly letters/ On a relatively ugly hill”.
More fun followed with anecdotes about hanging with the brother of Game of Thrones star Peter Dinklage in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s flat, and a little jab at Stan Grant, talking down his white privilege. Later in one of the night’s most memorable moments; answering audience questions, Minchin referenced his controversial interview with Grant: he recognized the legendary newsman for the inspirational Elder he is fast-becoming, and it was a heartfelt moment that showed Minchin is humble and as aware of his privileged white upbringing as anyone.
The one-two of Apart Together and I Can’t Save You arrived, making the most of WASO’s amazing arrangements. A rocking guitar solo from Steve Hensby on Beautiful Head delivered a musical moment, before the night peaked on I’ll Take Lonely Tonight, a remarkable “song about not having sex with other people” (other than your wife, that is), which culminated in a huge orchestral crescendo. A highlight on his latest album, Minchin’s flirtations with the minibar of his hotel and waking up to “only the wrappers of Pringles and snickers for which to atone” was a backhander to infidelity – a subject rarely explored in song.
A highlight was the bluesy Talked too Much, Stayed too Long. A lyrical and autobiographical, if it’s not the ultimate Tim Minchin song about being Tim Minchin.
But if Talked too Much may be becoming his theme song, then White Wine in the Sun will forever be the most-loved song in Minchin’s musical offerings, particularly for West Australians given its hometown connections. Once again finishing the encore with it, it produced laughs and joy among the crowd still after a decade later. Fitting finish to a big night of music, laughter and some deep thinking from one of WA’s greatest contemporary talents.
BY THE C
@ City Beach Oval
March 31, 2021
Local radio personality host, Dean “Clairsy”, asked the question …. “who bought tickets for today’s show when they originally went on sale in October 2019?”, the concert way out West was a long time coming.
Icehouse By The C tour favoring the likes of Tim and Tex over acts like Motor Ace and Baby Animals, who joined the headliners on dates at beaches on the eastern seaboard.
Killing Heidi hit stage at 2pm to a growing audience of seated punters. Requirements of large outdoor gatherings under the By The C with all attendees required to bring a fold-up camping chair and get their position, which only added to the relaxed vibe for the day under the sun.
Ella Hooper’s energy is infectious she led her band through a short set that covered the best of the bands stuff.
During breaks between bands, the DJs’ played some the oldie greatest of the 80’s & 90’s.
Tex Perkins rocked up on stage with his backing band rolling into Pay the Devil His Due, a dark country song that was kind cool but bemused the crowd. Old mate Matt Walker mixed in with his 12 string acoustic guitar as they play again on the road together.
Tex is one of the better front men in the land of Oz fronting Beasts of Bourbon along with Cruel Sea which he has been legendary. Most of the best moments have been in smoky sweaty packed rooms & live bars. The big outdoor gig is not really does him justice but no doubt has the charisma, swagger, vocal depth for a good outing on stage. He wins over crowds with hi with plus a pretty special voice. Closing his set with the Cruel Sea classic The Honeymoon is Over.
You Am I
YOU AM I
Lead by long time rock star alternative Tim Rogers’ who sounded like he had a big night before suffering in the blinding sun today as a result.
Rogers brings his A-game with every gig with today he has again. After introducing a new song from their soon-be-be-released new album, Rogers told the crowd, “Usually [a new song’s] the last thing you want to hear – play Heavy Heart,” he teased. “Well, get a load of this song – you’ll forget I ever had a heart, if I ever had one!”
Playing their classics, Get Up, Cathy’s Clown, Mr Milk and Applecross Wing Commander, on stage a few postcodes away where the front man attended school. Closing with Berlin Chair, You Am I delivered like the pros they are.
PM is one of this entertainer that can be dead an boring if it were not for his bag of good songs. With bandmates that have added cool riffs & rocking vibes with beats that pad his songs out really well. X-footballer PM is a 51-year-old front man that is all Aussie.
A set full of his hits, such as Opportunity, Bail me Out, Feeler, Better Days, Always a winner & more. His band always tight with a spot on sound to the original records, which is a testament to them as a pro outfit.
As the sun set on City Beach, iconic Iva Davies and his reinvented Icehouse were the main event to the day as one of the busiest touring bands in the land. The band was full of the big gig vibe kicking off with song We can get together…..the band recorded when they were known as Flowers.
Then cranking out Electric Blue, the live version sounded really good. Hey Little Girl, Crazy and Street Cafe the the big hit Great Southern Land led to a David Bowie cover, Jean Genie. It was a fitting choice for a band so clearly inspired by the man himself.
A big crowd filed out to surrounding area including sand dunes, parklands, car parks, folded camping chairs everywhere. The reduced crowd capacity allowed punters to have their own space in which added a picnic style concert. It was a great day at a venue pretty much perfect for such a concert presentation.
Carl Cox in Perth
PURE: CARL COX
@ Magnet House, Amplifier, Edison Bar
Carl Cox – the man, the myth, the legend, the machine. Oh yes, oh yes! Ain’t no stopping him. In three huge shows over the long weekend, Cox gave Perth a much needed hit of international dancefloor adrenaline and PURE techno, reminding us of the joy of the huge scale parties we’ve been so sorely missing for the last 15 months.
For over 30 years, the revered British DJ has been a drawcard, relentlessly touring the globe, playing clubs and festivals, near and far. Though like most DJs in recent times, he has mostly been playing online from home.
Though as luck would have it, Australia is blessed to have Cox living in our country now. He’s quietly been based just south of Melbourne for the last 15 years, down on the Mornington Peninsula in Hastings, where he owns a big block of land to house his massive record collection, as well as his collection of sports cars and motorbikes (Cox is also a racing fanatic with his own Motorsport team). Hence why we are the one country Cox is able to tour at the moment, and he made up for his lack of gigs by powering through three sets in two days.
Back when things were normal, Cox was touring his PURE techno brand parties regularly. After a couple years break, his visit was originally supposed to be over the ANZAC Day long weekend. He even arrived in Perth, only to have all three of his gigs tragically cancelled at the last second due to our snap lockdown, and had to return home. Big shouts out and respect have to be given to the Habitat crew for persevering through tough times and reorganising the shows, narrowly avoiding a repeatedly tragedy, by getting Cox here in the nick of time, just before Melbourne went back into lockdown.
And after all the delays and anticipation, the wait was worth it, as Cox blew the cobwebs out, and the roof(s) off, with a massive sold out show at Metro City on Saturday night, following another sold out show at The Court, an epic eight hour set earlier that day with his fellow expat partner in crime Eric Powell, bringing their Mobile Disco show to Perth. The finale to cap off a huge weekend, was this Sunday night show at the shiny new Magnet House, including Amplifier and Edison Bar. The man is an absolute machine!
With an early 2am finish time due to the public holiday, things kicked off from 8pm. Many seemed in the party mood from early on – or perhaps they had just powered on through from the previous day’s festivities, making up for a year’s lost raving.
Perth stalwart and connoisseur of many styles James A kicked things off in the main room, before Eric Powell built things up a little, as he has done many times before for Cox, before late addition and dark horse of the event Christopher Coe stepped up for a live set.
While not a well-known name in electronic music circles, Coe is a highly accomplished globe-trotting Irish producer and tech wizard who has worked under the name Digital Primate over a 25 year career. He also currently lives in Melbourne where’s he’s an integral part of the techno scene and was commissioned by Carl Cox to design and build his home studio. He has also teamed up with Cox to form a new label Awesome Soundwave, showcasing Live Electronic Artists. Coe’s credentials were on display, as he ripped through a banging hard, live, pure techno set that just built and built. You can see why Cox likes him.
The main room of Magnet House is really quite stunning after its massive new fit-out, with LED screens and pillars surrounding the dancefloor and a world class lighting rig made up of triangular fluorescent lights that flash and pulse, and can move up and down and rotate.
Good old Amps was getting a solid workout too with Flex in effect. The Habitat head honcho laid out a solid and soulful set of edgy tech house, with a bit of acid in the mix to spice things up.
The rather hard-to-find entrance to Edison Bar made it a bit light on in numbers most of the night, but it provided a nice respite to the other rooms, with it’s clean, retro chic décor and some more upbeat sounds. CNR managed to entice some dancers to bust a move with her bouncy, bassy beats, and Boasey got even more numbers on the floor with some melodic vocal sounds.
Meanwhile in the mainroom. Mot3k made an immediate impact lifting the level with some pure stomping business. The Perth techno outfit were represented by veteran DJ Dazz K. With a huge intro taking over from Coe, the local lad was living his dream opening for one of his DJ idols, and he seized the opportunity, performing a tight, well crafted and proper banging set that was the perfect warm up. Dropping the huge UMEK version of the 1993 classic Dreams by Quench got energy levels so high, that you wondered if there was anywhere left for Cox to take it.
Those thoughts were promptly dashed as the big man himself, Carl Cox, emerged and set about taking things to the next level. With a thunderous and heavy intro, he worked it even harder, taking us even higher, picking right up where Mot3k left off and continued on, bringing the crowd with him, laying down some heavy, driving techno complete with ominous sirens blaring, mind blowing visuals and lasers exploding above the stage.
Two hours seemed to fly by with barely a let up in the marching bass drum beat. Cox guided the mix with trademark liquidity and masterful crowd control. Effortlessly delivering another fine set of pure techno that had the dance floor packed and stomping the whole time. After delivering an absolute battering, he’d pull it back for a bit with a funky beat and get on the mic to hype the crowd.
He’s always ahead of the game dropping fresh tunes that have come his way. Just to mix it up a little near the end he dropped in a bit of cheeky soulful disco with Alan Fitzpatrick & Patrice Rushen’s Haven’t You Heard (Fitzy’s Fully Charged Mix) which was a welcome respite and had everyone whooping and jumping around, as did the familiar sounds of Crystal Waters’ Gypsy Woman, until he slammed it back into a hard beat.
As one raver was heard to say, I wish I could go back and do the weekend again and go to all three sets. As Cox himself said at the end, “I’ve been here for two weeks… Been well fucking worth it!”
The big man straight-up delivered in the way only he can. His passion and endless enthusiasm is an inspiration. Old skool techno, stripped back, with an amazing atmosphere. PURE – it does what it says on the packet.
@ Fairbridge Village
Since its first year back in 1992, Fairbridge Festival has continued to grow into one of the most popular festivals in Western Australia. After having to cancel last year due to COVID, it only felt like there was more demand for its return in 2021, and after selling out almost immediately when tickets went on sale last month, there was a real sense that the experience was one to be cherished by those fortunate enough to have made it there.
Fairbridge is different from other festivals in that it doesn’t rely on big headlining acts to draw in the crowds. The festival attracts punters not just for the music but also for the good community vibes that have become part of its identity. Having said that, the line up at Fairbridge in 2021 looked remarkably different from previous years. With a bill comprised of almost exclusively just Western Australian acts, there were more familiar names on the bill, but that didn’t mean the experience had lost any of its sense of discovery.
With many making the rush to Fairbridge after work on the Friday night, there were plenty content to ease themselves into the evening, getting amongst the action later on in the night. Much of the crowd made their way to The Backlot, where emerging alt-folk rocker Noah Dillon rode on a wave of hits currently getting plenty of spins on national airplay. From his poignant “alright, alright, alright” in Matthew McConaughey to the aggressive, yet tender, That’s Just How I Feel, Dillon had the crowd rocking and rolling along with every word.
Superego followed up with infectious grooves, sparkling synths and bombastic saxophone hooks. A highlight was Outer Body Stranger, which they dedicated to Sampa the Great, who featured on the studio recording of the track. Superego employed a diverse array of vocal effects on the mic, at times thickening it to sound like a robot which worked well with the tracks. As the wind started to pick up later in the evening, the dust blew through the air like smoke, coloured by orange lights that added to the theatre of it all, especially as the group gave props to Pendulum before dropping into an “old school drum and bass” number.
In the light of day, lead singer and guitarist of New Nausea, Albert Pritchard performed at The Backlot sitting down for a change for his solo set of the band’s material including No One Held Me Like It Held Me and Forever is Over at Last from last year’s WAM nominated Fountain of Struth LP. Even if you had caught New Nausea live before, this performance highlighted just how good their songs are. The tone and application of Pritchard’s guitar, synthesiser and his own voice was well considered, letting the tunes sparkle with clarity and class.
There were so many performances happening at any one time at Fairbridge you could wander the grounds and be delighted wherever you found yourself.
The Black Chooks pecked through a set of traditional and modern bush ballads at Mandja.
Gina Williams and Guy Ghouse with Russell Holmes and the Dolce Quartet performed an engaging set on the same stage sharing songs from the road such as the lullaby that was written in Benalla, hence named Benallaby, and a stirring rendition of Moon River performed in Gina’s native Noongar tongue.
Smol Fish were full of heart and sorrow on The Backlot stage with their whimsical, dream-pop-esque ballads.
Diggin The Jig were an eight-piece folk waltz act that had the both adults and kids alike clapping and dancing along in the much welcomed undercover shaded space of Centre Koort.
As far as venues go, The Chapel was hard to beat both visually and sonically. Fairbridge Classics in the Chapel demonstrated how the lush acoustics of the historic building complemented the music even when it was stripped back to just a voice and a piano.
No Nomad brought their funked-up neo-soul, smoky vocals and sparkling keys to The Backlot, and David the sax player even popped on some rollerblades for the song Rollerblade. Now that’s dedication.
The Bambuseae Rhythm Section unleashed their psych flavoured disco funk on the Mandja stage with vocalist Cameron Charles giving definitive Jamiroquai-cum-Michael Hutchence vibes on stage with Stinky Begonia a highlight of their set.
Adrian Dzvuke tore apart The Backlot with standout tracks Baby Don’t You Go and Red Wine taken from his upcoming record. A highlight of the set was I Shoulda Known Better where he was joined on stage by Nelson Mondlane from Superego.
In the Mandja tent there was a percussion party going down thanks to Wasamba!! Carnival Drummers. The massive ensemble beat the crowd into a frenzy as the set progressed, with new drummers decorated with fairy lights streaming in from all directions and onto the stage for an uproarious finale.
Patrons at Gus’ Bar were able to witness the spectacle from across the road with a beer in hand, before The Albany Shantymen entertained them with their buoyant take on sea shanties.
Carla Geneve was a real standout of the festival in a homecoming-like show for her after she first came to our attention as the winner of the Fairbridge Festival Quest 2015, wowing the moshing crowds with a high energy set that included Greg’s Discount Chemist and Dog Eared.
The Junkadelic Brass Band may have had as many members on Centre Koort stage as there were in the audience but that didn’t stop them funking things up well into the night. Sporting eye-catching red suits and more brass instruments than you can poke a trumpet at, they had everyone bopping along to popular tunes like Bill Withers’ Ain’t no Sunshine.
Lachy John returned to The Backlot stage that he first appeared on in 2018 as the 16-18s Craft category winner of the Fairbridge Festival Quest songwriting competition, this time with the support of a full band who helped drive the emotions of Lachy’s folk rock such as We’re Still Here, a reflection on growing up in the Pilbara and the Stolen Generation.
Palo Alto at The Backlot showed off some of the biggest, rockiest sounds of the weekend, belting out catchy choruses that wouldn’t sound out of place on a Pearl Jam or Kings of Leon record.
Hilary McKenna and Torc Ceili kept people out of the rain and toasty warm as they walked and talked the crowd through some fun and easy Irish Céilí favourites at Mandja.
Spirit of Alba also brought a lovely vibe to Centre Koort, charming the audience with easy-on-the-ears tunes including a cover of The Beatles’ Norwegian Wood.
Fairbridge is not all about the music, the Woodshed opened between 10am and 5pm and had those under 12 busy hammering away, making Money Sticks and other crafty items that they could use at the festival as well cause a ruckus at home with.
Organising a festival in the age of COVID requires a massive amount amount of cooperation. Fairbridge Festival succeeded in a unique festival, it was a reminder how fortunate we are to be in Western Australia.
@ Rosemount Hotel
Jeff Martin of The Tea Party fame from Canada who was living in as a local Freo person meeting his partner of 20 years. But WA being the small place it is the need to make a living he consistently travels the country, world when able sponsored by aussie made Martin Guitars with his amazing guitar skills. Most of all his incredible deep manly voice, brilliant songwriting, channeling Jim Morrisson from the doors. Whether performing solo or with a band, Jeff Martin will put on a show he is one of the best at his craft world class.
Martin’s love affair with Australia goes back 25 odd years. He’s now based in Byron Bay, where he lives with his Australian wife and publicist Melissa Barrett-Martin, and runs his own studio, Riverhouse. Check ou his amazing recordings online that are truly inspiring [You Tube]. Martin finally made it west, for an intimate solo tour in support of his new EP, Cinnamon Rose, which is a great sample of his music ; from blues, to ballads, eastern sounds. The man is a rock god like character with a power drawn from his vocals, messages in music mashed with music that is passionate performance.
The Rosemount was nicely full of fans who have eagerly awaited his return to WA. Martin always delivers again & again with a fervor that is intoxicating from a true musical talent with charming character.
was on early, a young girl with a sweet, gentle voice, acoustic fingerpicking, indie, folky sounds. God little set to support a legend.
Lincoln MacKinnon was up next to raise things up another notch. His impassioned rockin’ and rootsy tunes grabbed the crowd’s attention, backed with a second guitar, and later with the addition of some smooth sax, which really lifted the drama of the tunes. Near the end of their set, he dedicated a sombre tune to his uncle, who drowned recently. It was a touching moment as the gentle song built to a soaring, emotional climax.
MARTIN THE MYTH THE MAN
The main event a woman walked out. She introduced herself as Mrs Martin, and said she’d been sent to introduce her husband, for the first time. Doing a fine job, she adoringly called onstage “the most beautiful, handsome genius,” admitting he told her to say that as much.
Starting things off in eccentric style Jeff Martin came out with his old hurdy-gurdy, for an exotic intro, winding the strange, droning wooden contraption. As is his style, Martin looked the part of a mystical shaman in a headscarf, top knot, and white jacket.
Martin then brought out the 12-string acoustic for Coming Home from The Tea Party’s breakthrough album, The Edges Of Twilight. The power and richness of Martin’s baritone voice is always something to behold, and his guitar playing just sensational. He briefly into refrain from L.A. Woman by his spirit animal Jim Morrison’s, The Doors.
“It’s great to be back,” Martin said. “There a reason I’m here, apart from that I missed you… This new EP has been a “labour of love” during challenging times.” But as he pointed out, “If you’re gonna be stuck in a country… What a country to be stuck in!”
He moved on to the first song from the new release, a swampy, sliding, southern blues number, steeped in voodoo – Set In Stone – then dropped in the beat with his foot pedal trigger.
Classic Tea Party tracks got big cheers when they made an appearance. “Let’s go back to Istanbul” introduced The Bazaar, drawing some of Martin’s dedicated disciples forward, enticing them to sway in mysterious ways.
Martin then followed with a touching tribute. An emotional rendition of Requiem from 2001’s The Interzone Mantras, dedicated to Michael Gudinski. Martin praised Gudinski for being instrumental in breaking The Tea Party in Australia, which became The Tea Party’s biggest market outside of Canada, and a home away from home. “So you say life is bittersweet. Know the things you miss.” Never did the song seem more suited, as Jeff belted out one of the best solo performances as a fitting tribute.
There was of course the trademark Martin medley. He’s become fond of mashing up his own material, along with some choice covers in the mix. The Tea Party’s epic Sister Awake, merged into the intricate picking instrumental of Winter Solstice from their 1993 debut, Splendor Solis, and then into his oft played cover of another highly talented Jeff (Buckley), with Hallelujah.
A couple of other new tracks sounded good in the mix – the Latin flavours of Havana, with its Bowie-referencing chorus refrain “Let’s dance!” and a song that he co-wrote in the kitchen with his “pocket rocket” wife, Only Love Can Take You There. Martin then enticed a singalong.
Finishing with a bluesy riffing medley that touched on some classic standards and some Led Zep, Martin said good night, “Thank you very much, I’ll see you next year with The Tea Party.” left the stage to big cheers. Now the Rosemount can say they had Jeff Martin play to make the venue even more cooler or a little deeper in live history.
King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard
@ Fremantle Arts Centre
Interstate touring has started again, and what better way to take advantage of it than having psych rock legends King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard touch down and treat Perth audiences to a vintage performance. They gave punters a night to remember last Thursday, with some excellent support from openers Tropical Fuck Storm and local act Alter Boy.
For sheer theatricality the two openers threatened to overshadow Gizzard themselves. Alter Boy came on first and made an immediate impression. With passionate electronically-treated RnB vocals set across skittering soundscapes, the band bridges the line between hip-hop, rock and performance art. The tunes came alive on stage, like last year’s brilliant swooning single Bad Dream Break In.
Just as laudable as the performances was the band’s commitment to Auslan interpretation on stage for those deaf or hard of hearing. With multiple deaf band members, this group is all about inclusion whether it for the hearing impaired in music and sound spaces, or on the part of religion (to which their name is a crafty nod).
Tropical Fuck Storm (TFS) came on next and delivered a totally different form of catharsis. Whereas Alter Boy’s music was angelic, TFS lived up to their name in delivering a one-of-a-kind brand of lurching, baked-in-the-sun post-punk that borders on noise rock. Frontman Gareth Liddiard, formerly of legendary Drones fame, is a living icon whose unique Aussie-inflected vocal delivery was on point throughout a throat-rending set.
The band kicked off with the sneering riffage of Chameleon Paint and didn’t left go from there. The band’s sound was at times epic (You Let My Tyres Down) and at other times prickly and off-kilter, like on the bass-driven Planet of the Straw Men. The set fittingly closed with Liddiard throwing his guitar on the floor and throttling it, delivering some final death knells from his instrument in a performance that felt like a protracted primal scream.
Following some formidable openers, King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard came on and went straight to business. Banter was kept to a minimum, with the band focusing on the kind of tight and energetic playing that has earned them one of the most devoted live fanbases in music. The band’s latest two releases, KG and LW (no prizes for what they spell together) were a return to the microtonal experiments first introduced in 2017’s Flying Microtonal Banana. Indeed, the eponymous microtonal banana (a yellow guitar with microtonal frets) was wielded with supreme confidence by frontman Stu MacKenzie throughout the set.
Like clockwork, the band played a tight set that did not deviate from these three albums. This was an energetic set of Eastern-tinged, proggy material that simply did not let up. The KGLW theme kicked things off before the band gave a nod to vintage 2017 microtone material with the classic Doom City. The nature of the content made the transitions seamless. O.N.E is the most catchy track from their latest and it went off a treat, and Oddlife got an excellent extended take which saw the band members trade some brilliant instrumental turns. With the departure of second drummer Eric Moore the band’s drive lay in the capable hands of lone stickman Michael Cavanagh, and he did a tremendous job keeping the energy high and injecting clever fills and an often stuttering drum attack that was perfect.
With a band like King Gizzard it can be an unfair knock, but the material suffered a bit from lack of variety, focusing as it did on the microtonal tunes. Thankfully they made the best of it with sterling track selection. There were the sizzling guitar breaks of Supreme Ascendancy, Automation with its pairing of excellent guitar riffage against droning rhythms, Minimum Brain Size with its irresistible vocal hooks, and Ataraxia which had twice the power and volume of its studio counterpart.
But it was on the seventies ballad throwback Straws in the Wind that the band really brought a track’s potential to full fruition live, with a powerhouse performance that saw vocalist Ambrose Kenny-Smith engage in an excellent series of back-and-forth callbacks with the crowd. If King Gizzard needed a song to get your lighters out to, they’ve now found it. The set wound down with Nuclear Fission and its seamless transition into Honey which was a much more amplified version than the original and really had the crowd grooving.
If there was any complaint it was the cool-off from the epic Straws in the Wind and Honey to the full rendition of K.G.L.W., which is a largely instrumental, doom metal infused slab of Gizzard that closes their latest duo of albums. It was a monstrous performance that resulted in a lot of moshing, but it was not as high a peak as Straws.
Overall, this was an excellent set. It had a rather narrow scope, but it milked it to its full capacity thanks to supreme track selection, tightness, and intensity.
@ The Rechabite
Whether touring with his band Something For Kate, or playing his solo material, there’s a reason Paul Dempsey’s shows always sell out fast. For over 20 years he’s been one of the best, most consistent songwriters our country has ever produced, and is a great live performer.
Throw that in the mix with our recent COVID-induced gig deprivation, capacity restrictions and the wonderful new venue that is The Rechabite main hall, and you had the recipe for a rapid sellout and a much-anticipated concert.
With a welcome return in the new Something For Kate album released last year, we’ll hopefully see the band in town soon, but tonight we were treated to a rare solo acoustic set. Covering material old and new, from both SFK and his solo albums, as well as the odd choice cover, Dempsey played a captivating set that reminded us why he’s still such a drawcard on the touring circuit.
Perth-based dark folk songwriter Leah Grant solidly opened by showcasing material from her Vol. 1 EP and the more recently released Keep Quiet single. A great choice of support, she captured the attention of the crowd as they filled the unique venue’s floorspace and multi-level balconies.
With an acoustic guitar and her melancholic, yet powerful voice at times channelling Sharon Van Etten, Grant’s unfeigned ballads consistently soared, proving why this local is one to keep an eye out for.
After a short break Paul Dempsey took the stage in his usual casual manner, an acoustic guitar strung across his lanky frame, launching straight into his set. Immediately the more mature crowd of long-time fans fell silent, transfixed on his every word, many mouthing along the lyrics.
The True Sea from 2016 solo album Strange Loop got things going, and Fast Friends from his superb first solo record Everything Is True was an early highlight.
The majestic, cathedral-like venue really enhanced the atmosphere, with a striking neon backlit stained glass window effect, warm, colourful lighting bathing the room and superb acoustics.
He explained how the new SFK album title, The Modern Medieval, was written before COVID was a thing, and how some things you just can’t predict happening. This introduced new single Situation Room, a highlight from the album, which is up there with SFK’s best, and sounded resplendent in solo form. Another one of his best, Monsters, soon followed.
There was an amusing interlude when Dempsey received a random text. He said “It’s from my friend Dave in Toronto, where it’s a quarter past ten in the morning… and we’re gonna fuck with Dave.” He then proceeded to video call Dave and pan the camera around the crowd, who erupted into a spontaneous chant of “Dave!” “How are the gigs in Canada?” he asked. Dave replied with an expletive. Upon being asked if there was anything he’d like to say to Perth, Dave responded, “I’ve been meaning to talk to you for a long time… But I’m fresh out of shit to say.”
“Oh yeah that’s right we’re at a gig!” Dempsey joked. And he got straight back into it, with an unexpectedly brilliant cover of Downtown Train, a Tom Waits song, made more famous by Rod Stewart. It suited his style and voice remarkably well.
Another fine moment was the classic Captain (Million Miles An Hour) highlighting what an underrated guitarist Dempsey is. And one of his greatest solo tracks Ramona Was A Waitress demonstrated the casual elegance and economy of his songwriting and Springsteen-esque storytelling lyrics.
Sometime Dempsey’s songs and performances are stark, harsh, brutalist, and other times they shimmer with a melodic, gentle, intimate beauty, which this solo acoustic show really showed.
We’ll Never Work In This Town Again was dedicated to two ex-bandmates, Mike and Joe, who are no longer with us, but, as he said, “They’re in this song.”
Known for his brilliant covers, we were lucky enough to get another cracker tonight in David Bowie’s Life on Mars which he made his own.
The sentimental sounds of Bats featured an impassioned cracking falsetto, “Nobody’s ever gonna break your heart again,” bringing the set proper to a close, though only briefly, as he went off to huge applause, and almost immediately returned, saying “Let’s not do the whole…”
He thanked Leah Grant, saying “She’s great. Go see her. Go support local WA talent.” He generously gave us some more, with the big singalong Theme From Nice Guy and a second encore of the beautiful Birds In A Basement.
Paul Dempsey is a national treasure. Catch him whenever you can.
In The Pines
IN THE PINES
@ Somerville Auditorium
The ultimate West Australian boutique festival, In the Pines has never relied on big name headliners to pack out UWA’s Somerville Auditorium year in, year out. Its sold out 28th edition last Sunday exemplified this more than ever, with headline-worthy acts playing all day.
This was evident, as much as anything, in the fact punters were standing up in large groups to watch even the earliest acts. Those used to sitting back on their picnic rugs and enjoying the early arvo acts had to compete with the back of a few more heads and butts than usual, but there was no mistaking the vibe early at Pines #28; whether you were there for early highlights like Gap Year, mid-afternoon treats such as Helta Skelta or staying the course for the headliners, this was a Pines to remember.
Something In the Pines has done a great job of delivering in the past decade is diversity, and 2021 was no exception. Championing marginalised genders were the wonderful Artemis Orchestra, delivering a big band jazz ensemble, while later Phil Walleystack gave us familiar covers to singalong to with Goanna’s Solid Rock and Yothu Yindi’s Treaty sitting nicely next to his originals. Better still, and in keeping with the policy of standout acts all day long, the best on ground performance came early, with Alter Boy at 2:30pm. Confronting, experimental, thought provoking and entirely accessible, this Queer-pop band featuring three deaf/hard-of-hearing members is everything great art should be.
With all songs performed in Auslan, which was worked creatively into the overall performance along with body art and creative costuming, Alter Boy put on a theatrical masterclass, but it wouldn’t work if the songs didn’t back them up in all their catchy, emo-electro glory. We still can’t get Love Machine out of our heads since Sunday, which was arguably the track of the day. They’re the sort of band you’d hope for in a privileged state like WA, and the sound is world class. If you’re looking for our next Tame Impala look no further – expect Alter Boy to be headlining these sorts of festivals sooner rather than later.
Speaking of diversity, there was a veritable smorgasbord of different genres on offer. Those after intense, instrumental post-rock were treated to Dead Jerk early on with their two drummer assault complimented by soaring bass and keys solos – no need for guitars in Dead Jerk.
Later on, Selfless Orchestra dominated. Comprising members of Last Quokka (also featured) and Injured Ninja among others, the Orchestra is an eleven-piece musical hydra that blends crushing guitar riffs with classically-tinged moments of beauty. The band played cuts from their debut album Great Barrier, a concept album about the decline and (hopeful) re-emergence of the Great Barrier Reef. The band had the audience in the palm of their hand, and they were helped by a marine-themed light show courtesy of Beamhacker (aka Josh from Outer Body) featuring visuals by Perth artist Steve Berrick.
Some of the best live production came care of Grace Sanders early. Her unforgettable DISSIPATE was an awesome display of combined technical and acoustic wizardry that featured two synthesisers in its epic finale, as Sanders delivered an energetic performance. Another such highlight came from Your Girl Pho in the late afternoon, adding to her slick RnB sound with a bit of wow factor care of live sax and drums. Dressed to impress (even if the green and purple made her look like a Freo Dockers fan) and with the voice to match, Pho delivered a welcome change of pace with jungle-infused rhythms one moment, then RTR fave Don’t Wanna the next.
Your Girl Pho
There was edgy post-punk from acclaimed goth-rockers Nerve Quakes, who never play a bad show. Punks Last Quokka and Dennis Cometti both justified late time slots with exhilarating sets that got the energy up amongst the Pine trees. Dennis Cometti played to punters hungry for some larrikin kicks, decked out in footy gear and getting the feet moving with fan favourites like WAXIT, Pint Police and On The Sauce.
Quokkas for many were one of the day’s best acts with an angry and politically-charged set. They opened with their best song Privilege and didn’t let up from there as other fan favourites like Wake up Geoff and Colony woke up UWA. And of course, if that old fashioned Perth indie pop sound is your thing, there were memorable performances from the likes of HAIRCARE, Spunloves and an emo-tinged Big Orange all making their mark.
Rounding the night off, and ensuring all corners of the musical spectrum were covered, Odette Mercy & Her Soul Atomics and Superego came next, two drastically different acts that delivered equally in their own right. Odette Mercy was at her soulful best with an array of imminently danceable funk tunes in what was one of the most fun but also musically tightest sets of the evening. Superego brought a different, more urgent energy. Their set started off on the smoother, jazzier end of the hip-hop spectrum but gradually got louder and more ferocious in what was one of the best constructed sets of the day.
Odette Mercy & Her Soul Atomics
Ending proceedings were the earthy tones of blues-rock outfit Dan Howls, featuring Abbe May on guitar. The band looked like a posse of psychedelic cowboys, and May in particular looking like Perth’s answer to Stevie Ray Vaughan (sounding like it too with some ferocious blues licks). Their music fit this bill too: a blend of mystical blues rock tunes which included their standout single King Si.
With an amazing array of acts all day, everyone had different favourites but for us Alter Boy took the chocolates, ahead of Last Quokka, Dan Howls featuring Abbe May, Grace Sanders and a slew of others that were among the highlights. How good is it to go to a great music festival again?
Presets @ Metro
@ Metro City
The special magic of a great, large scale live concert is hard to match. And god knows we’ve all been locked up for far too long. But on Saturday night, we were locked up with all of our people! And The Presets blew the roof off Metro City in what would have to be gig of the year, or even the best since the start of last year, when big touring gigs were still a thing.
There were a few delays with this tour, as The Ice Cream Factory pop-up venue season – the playground wonderland setup on the corner of Roe and Lake Street, usually for a few weeks in December – was postponed and then cancelled, with the planned events being moved to other venues. Thus The Presets had been moved to Metros and split across two nights, with at first 50% capacity, which was then raised to 75%. The Easter Thursday night was a big one, and they returned for another extravaganza Saturday night, filling up Metros again.
The Sydney duo of Julian Hamilton and Kim Moyes time and time again prove themselves to be Australia’s greatest live electronic act. Since bursting onto the scene with their debut Beams in 2005, followed by their classic breakthrough Apocalypso in 2008, released on the influential Modular Records label, they spearheaded the Aussie electro wave of the 00s, running alongside the French sounds coming out of Ed Banger Records. Their brand of high energy electro with a rock and roll sensibility that combines driving synths with stomping drums and Hamilton’s trademark bold, brash vocals, has drawn comparisons to acts like Underworld and The Chemical Brothers.
Their last LP Hi Viz was released in 2018, but they’ve recently released a four track EP with Golden Features, containing a couple of huge new tunes, Raka and Paradise, which were given a live work-out in all their glory on the night.
There was plenty to see for the early crowd turning up, wandering around every nook and cranny of the cavernous Metros. It was pretty sparse numbers at first as people spread out across all the levels, with the front mezzanine bar hosting a stage, as well as the main room, where Namara was banging out some fairly generic party tunes flanked by choreographed dancing girls.
Early on, the rooftop was where it was at. It was a balmy night and perfect for an outdoor beer and boogie on one of Perth’s most underrated rooftop spaces. The music was more appropriate earlier on too with local party starter, Bad Habits. High above the crowd on the balcony, she grooved and spun some lush deep house sounds, including Bicep.
Heading back inside, it had filled up considerably. Elise Keddie was really bringing the bangerz and fired up the big visual screens. A very polished performance, she had great stage presence dancing behind the decks and tore through a killer set of that mid 2000s electro sound, with some Modular faves as well as that French Touch featuring some tracks from the legendary Parisian Ed Banger label, including Daft Punk and Justice. She took it into harder, dubstep territory and mixed in some harder punk rock sounds with Yeah Yeah Yeahs and The Rapture. Meanwhile the spinning neon visuals took things to another level, as the dancing girls returned now in neon glow-in-the-dark patterned bikinis, cutting shapes in front of the giant screens.
It was a great warm up set, and by the time The Presets came on, the crowd was at fever pitch. They entered on Talk Like That – straight into it with no messing about, to take it to peak level.
Martini is newer track that has quickly become a live favourite with its funky, wobbly bassline. But it was the next track where the bass really kicked in, with the more down tempo, swinging sea shanty Ghosts featuring one of Hamilton’s best vocals as he reminiscences of youth lost, “Once I was a very young man, and very young man are none too clever.”
This drove straight into Do What You Want, the lead single from Hi Viz, that sits well alongside the classics. The Presets have such an arsenal of weapons now, readied to unleash.
Then the couple big Golden Features collabs were a one-two punch. The huge certified banger Raka really set things off when the drop kicked in, and the kicker Paradise is a gorgeous slice of classic house, that samples the Australian electronic classic Sweetness and Light by Itch-E & Scratch-E.
This Boy’s in Love was another melodic live fave, before they delved into harder territory with I Go Hard, I Go Home and Youth In Trouble; and worked it into a drawn out Underworld-style techy remix of Are You The One?
Moyes’ live drum kit really gave some tracks huge energy, though when he moved to the stand-up electronic kit, he also triggered a mad array of beats. Hamilton too triggered vocal samples from a pad with drumsticks.
14U+14ME from Hi Viz is a modern day Presets epic, and the slowly building dramatic tune exploded into a bombastic chorus. While it could be joked about that it’s talking about pills, there’s really a deeper global message going on here. This is mature fathers’ rave music.
“Thanks so much Perth. This is our last song tonight,” said Hamilton as he bid us goodnight. The set had seemed to fly by, and the sweaty crowd had more to give. The moody Until The Dark finished the set proper in a big way with Moyes dramatically slapping his synth with his palm and smashing the beatbox with his fist, before waving as they left the stage.
But the crowd were not done with them yet, and started up raucous “One more song!” chant. This got them back out for one last tune, humbly thanking us for a great weekend. They finished things off with the dark analogue synth sounds of Anywhere, the closing track from Apocalypso.
@ HBF Stadium
When The Veronicas burst onto the scene, the identical twin sisters were seen as a bit of a novelty and their shows were originally full of teenagers. 16 years later, the Origliasso siblings are one of the most successful Australian duos of all time. With the release of their latest two albums scheduled a month apart, The Veronicas were on their first tour for six years with promise of the first half of the show being a high energy introduction into the alter ego of the pop stars, before the second half showcases their more vulnerable singer/songwriter roots.
Supathick are a local collective whose members have considerable stage experience in other bands before forming the funk/disco outfit. While they have featured guest vocalists on their recordings, it is the soulful voice of Keely Brittain that joins them when they play live. Supathick are certainly a band that are made for the larger stage with Brittain being a strong presence throughout. The band were suited and booted for the occasion, with a polite banter interspersed between danceable songs like July and I’m There. There is no doubt that Supathick are a polished outfit, but their tunes and performance would be more at home at a WAAPA open day than a rock show.
With the lights dimming and the audio feigning an announcement on an aircraft in distress, The Veronicas arrived on stage holding smoke cannons and wearing PVC bodysuits and boots as their pop star personas were in full swing. Opening with distorted guitars, a high energy romp through GODZILLA kicked out any cobwebs. With the new album having been represented early, The Veronicas could shift most of their focus to their numerous hits. When It All Falls Apart had the crowd singing along early and from that point on, the Origliasso sisters had them in the palm of their hands.
There is a striking similarity in the way that singers move across the stage incidentally, so when they choreographed dance moves during Take Me On The Floor, they were captivating. People made their way out of their seats for Hook Me Up, which was given a more guitar-driven outing than expected. Ending the pop star persona section of the set saw This Is How It Feels worked through at volume and at breakneck speed before the siblings disappeared for a quick costume change.
Returning to the stage with skirts on signalled the singer/songwriter portion of the show, and an opportunity for some newer material to be delivered including the ballad Without You. The band members were dressed in black and stayed in the wings of the stage to be mostly ignored, but the show was never going to be about them. The Veronicas have always been strong vocally, yet they appear to have improved significantly of late. The soft controlled harmony at the end of Everything I’m Not was a testament to this, but it was the encore of You Ruin Me that confirmed it beyond doubt.
Throughout the evening The Veronicas showed that they were grateful for all those that had stuck with them, acknowledged the support of the LBGTQ community over the years and genuinely appeared to be enjoying themselves throughout. While Lisa has carried the show at times in the past, it was Jessica who looked most at home and vocally at her best. Their records can contain a fair bit of filler, but when giving over to their hits, The Veronicas’ live show is simple pop excess at its best.
RTR Music Party
RTRFM Fremantle Music Party
@ Railway Hotel
@Port Beach Garden Bar
@Swan Lounge + Swan Basement
The radio station that supports local music like no other, hosted their annual party in North Fremantle to showcase an eclectic mix of local up and comers (as well as some of the scene’s heavy hitters). A wet and windy night didn’t hinder a sizeable turnout across the four venues, with the multi-staged format giving the event a festival feel. The only downside of being spoilt for choice amongst the 18 acts performing is that it was impossible to see them all.
Of the brightest new bands on the landscape is Lo, the outlet for Lauren O’Hara’s more intimate and confessional songs. Although the subject matter of the songs tend to focus on O’Hara’s insecurities, the live shows are far more assured. The songs are given more muscle when played live, although they do lack the feel of Caitlin Norris’ drumming when she is unable to join them on stage. The songs from the band’s EP Plans For An Independent Future were well represented with Floating getting the biggest response and latest single Disconnect ended the set on a high note. Expect Lo to be higher on the bill for events like these before long.
Cloning played on the outside stage, which wasn’t particularly well-suited to their sound as the guitars were lost in the open air and the vocals were thin. The band’s finest tune How Could You Ever Think I Hated You? was a highlight in a set that could have used more.
DV Stargaze is said to be the result of Clinton Oliver’s lengthy stay in rehab, and has the sound of an artist that has experienced the highs and lows. Oliver’s voice is darker and more jarring than on the recorded versions of his bedroom pop output, yet DV Stargaze make up for this with more cutting riffs and volume. The shoegaze elements were evident but not prevalent. DV Stargaze are armed with a good set of songs that are still finding their feet on stage. They are one to watch.
Fresh from a CD launch the night before, Web Rumors played at a time when the rain had really settled in outside. The weather didn’t stop people from grabbing any undercover area that they could find to hear one of RTRFM’s favourite locals. Em Burrows led the band through synth-pop songs from the album New Tricks and the soulful Movin’ On got many knowing nods and people singing along. There was a whole lot of 80s electro-pop sounds and good vibes from Web Rumors who battled the elements with style.
Timothy Nelson appears to live on the stages around Fremantle, so it was no surprise to see him feature this evening. He chose RTRFM’s Winter Music Party as the vehicle to launch his new outfit Indoor Fins. The debut show for his 70s inspired outfit was played to a packed room and Nelson brought his regular energy (as well as a horrible pair of orange pants). There is no shortage of new wave meets power pop in these retro-sounding tracks like Energy. Tunes like the breakup lament of Too Hard To Leave You benefited from a rock-solid rhythm section that boasted a killer snare sound and stylish bass runs. The high energy and melody infused Indoor Fins may well be Nelson’s best outfit yet.
Ken Paolo filled the stage with backing vocalists and musicians as he walked through his modern RnB and soul tunes. The quietly-spoken singer’s voice was pleasant enough but the originals failed to grab the audience’s attention, while the covers seemed to for the wrong reasons.
Irrepressible indie trio Ghost Care have been regularly pushing tunes out to the public of late and have followed up with regional tours and support slots for touring bands. The result was a road-hardened band who fired from the first note. As people rushed to the front of the room to hear the familiar songs, Oxygen was crisp and clean and IDK showed off their effortless harmonies. No matter how good a time you are having at a Ghost Care show (and I assure you, you are having a good time), the band always look like they are having a better time than anyone. Rarely do a group look to genuinely like each other as much as this trio do. Ghost Care’s set was a fitting end to the night of support to a radio station that have supported local bands for decades.