Sunday, November 26, 2006


If you were to travel to Belgrave by train, it's all of 36 stations from the city. It's only 16 for me and I find that a pain commuting, so I can't imagine anyone wishing to do 36 on a daily basis. The reason for travelling east on Wednesday (by car) was to see the winner of the best Blues and Roots band from this year's Aria awards -The Audreys. The venue was Ruby's Bar and Lounge which according to their own site is located in Weirdsville, proclaiming to be "an oasis in a desert of bogans." It's a trek out of the way, but if you look at their list of bands that have played there, they seem to attract an impressive lineup. In hindsight, it only took 10 minutes longer to get there than heading into the city, however I did pull over at one time as I thought I went too far as the forests began to close in.

Once I found the place there were no problems with parking, while the line extended to just one and I got the now more familiar sheepish grin after receiving my id back as more door staff realise I'm about 5 years older than them. The venue has a stage in the corner with a couple of couches against walls, with tables and chairs scattered throughout. When I arrived Liam Gerner was enthusiastically singing as support and produced quite a good set. The highlight being the scurrying away of some females sitting about 5 metres from the stage, as a unintended burst of saliva descended toward them. The crowd was noticeably young and predominately female, which wasn't lost on my companions as I was continually egged on to display my 'moves'. Thankfully as I was driving there was only limited drinking and besides my 'moves' cover half a postage stamp and would only result in embarrassment.

A couch was secured no more than a metre from the stage and ensured there were no sore knees or feet on this night. I've never ventured that close to the stage and it gave a different perspective to the show. There's no back entrance to the stage, so the band is forced to navigate through the crowd which also makes the encores a little awkward. I hadn't heard too much of The Audreys prior to getting tickets and I'd had the album for about 2 weeks. While there were a few songs that did grab me, I couldn't seem to get fully into it.

One thing that stood out was the amazing voice of Tashaa Coates. It's similar to Sarah McLachlan's with the song of the night being their cover of "Don't Change" by INXS, which actually sounded better than the album version. In addition to standard instruments, the melodica, harmonica, ukulele, reso-phonic, banjo, violin, lap steel guitar and double bass were used which gave a nice mixture of sounds throughout.

"You & Steve McQueen", "Oh Honey", "Nothing Wrong With Me", "Pale Dress", "Banjo and Violin" and a Dolly Parton (*shudder*) cover were other highlights from the night and I was able to appreciate the banjo for more than something played only by slack jawed hillbillies wearing straw hats. The violin, ukulele and harmonica were other instruments that really made songs stand apart from their album equivalents. In all, fantastic songs and really captivating vocals.

I did manage to double up the next night to see them at the Corner Hotel and while the set was identical, the music was just as good. Interestingly enough it was at the Corner where parts of the audience were yabbing away during the set. (I'm still not sure why people do that...) See them if you get a chance, if only to see a ukulele being played.


Monday, November 13, 2006

Reluctant Star?

I went to see Sarah Blasko at the Forum on Friday night. Those who've read previous posts will not find this surprising considering my 'gushing' review of her new album. Despite significant press, glowing reviews and solid sales, unfortunately the gig was only half full. This was a real shame, as the night was exceptional, showcasing a mix from both albums. Her unique and stunning voice surely puts her as one of the best female performers at the moment.

With an 8 piece band, containing a viola (thanks Rich), double bass, cello, piano, drum kit, a couple of guitars and a 'studio rhythm section' a rich array of sounds filled the night, with one of the highlights being the resonating piano sections in 'Explain'. All songs except 'Showstopper' were played from the new album and it was amazing how 'on the money' all the songs were -as if they'd been touring for months.

I got tingles with the openings of 'The Garden's End' and 'All Coming Back', with the latter being the best song for the night. 'The Woman By The Well' managed to get the first ever 'shhh's' I'd heard at a non-jazz gig but resulted in a camp fire cosy type feel. 'Queen of Apology' probably left the pianist with cramp but was impressive how well the song came off, as -from a non-musician- it'd be a difficult one to pull of live. Other highlights from the new album were 'Hammer' with the killer chorus, 'Planet New Year' and my personal favourite 'Always On This Line' (which has a great one-take (I think) video clip).

Fan favourites 'Always Worth It', 'Don't U Eva', 'Remorse', 'Perfect Now' and 'At Your Best' gave any first time listeners a showcase of diverse offerings from the first album. Neither of the covers -'Flame Trees' and 'Don't Dream It's Over'- were played, while being favourites would've perhaps taken away from the main showcase being the new album.

Sarah's voice is amazing with most songs sounding as though ripped directly off the produced album. You couldn't fault any of the performances, although it appears she does struggle slightly with the attention that comes along with it. Having said that, I can't imagine how difficult it would be out there with hundreds of eyes watching and listening to your every move and word. In a recent interview in inpress:

Having "always thought of [herself] as someone who's not an extroverted person at all", Blasko's continually mortified at being spotted by people and the 'encounters' that go with.

which is I guess an unfortunate by-product of success. You just want to do something you love and push it out to the wider audience -which will generally mean endless mind numbing interviews asking 'how was it making this album?'- but once you're more successful, you surrender privacy as you're recognised and assumed to be accessible. Some people can do this, but obviously some are just private people like you and me.

If you have the chance, check out her gigs around Australia, otherwise go get the album!

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Footpath Etiquette?

Sorry, I'm one of those people who always takes the stairs when there's an elevator and, when on foot, tries to get from A to B walking as fast as possible. I don't particularly like waiting for elevators and I don't like the crowded space. (Eg how close is too close or am I not squeezed in enough for that extra person to fit in? It says maximum capacity is 33 people and we have 10, but we're squished!). Ironically, at work we have 4 floors and the majority of people take the elevators. You've got to be kidding! Unless you smoke and developed gangrene like on those anti smoking ads, or waiting for the chance encounter with a hottie from accounting, you've got to take the stairs. Its approximately 200 steps from the car to the desk, any toilet/lunch breaks and I reckon people would be lucky to break 2000 in a day. Thank god I go for a run twice a week now...

I walk not in the 'He really needs to get to a toilet' sort of speed, but a brisk pace. I'll usually find myself at least walking partially on the road as an increasing amount of people seem to think its a one way strip. A regular footpath has enough width for 3 average sized humans and enough for 2 lanes of traffic, but without proper signage I think people are either lost or stupid. Here are some scenarios:

1) 2 in the middle
-Stick to one side (suggest left) or the other but not in the middle. It makes it hard to get around and you're likely to do some line dancing manoeuvres to get around oncoming traffic.

2) 3 straddling in a line
-Its on the onus of the person on the outside right to tuck themselves behind their companion to give way to oncoming traffic. Remember this rule if you're a tag-along with a couple that you've always got to stick on the right. (Even if you're a guy and it goes girl-guy-guy you may need to swallow your macho pride)

3) The single wanderer
-Either drifts from either side with slow plodded steps looking skyward, marvelling at the architecture, looking down punching in a text or counting change. Careful, if you bump into them, you're likely to cause them to spill the $10 worth of 5 cent coins on the ground and will need to help pick them up. Usually ensure you're at least a good 2 metres from their vicinity.

Its funny seeing 2 equally stubborn parties meet when neither decides to give way. Its gold seeing them clash and it usually results in both parties either giving the glare to each other or some astonished facial remark not quite believing that the world doesn't revolve around them and that crowds don't dissipate when they walk not unlike Moses parting the seas.

What I always tend to find is that I'm getting out of the way of other people. It gives me the shits but then I think maybe everyone else has given up and decided they couldn't be bothered getting out of other peoples way too. I think the rule should be if you're in the majority then you give way and if its even then both parties are to give a slight amount of room for each other. When someone does do the polite thing, do the subtle head nod to acknowledge the gesture...