Musical Updates (long post!)

A lot of people have been asking me what’s happening in my life and I’ve been too busy to post here until now, so here goes…

15 March – Eclectic Festival – DJ Dexter, Teenage Fanclub and Badly Drawn Boy (read advert)
This was at Kings Park, the same venue as for George, but the difference couldn’t have been greater. For one thing, the English/Scottish majority ethnicity was quite obvious – that’s quite unusual at a Perth rock event which is usually a mix of locals and Southern Europeans. I arrived late so missed all the earlier acts, but got to see DJ Dexter (Avalanches) cutting up Missy Elliot, 50s rock, System of a Down and Daft Punk in an unbelievably cohesive mix, complete with the local ducks who spontaneously forming a dancing troupe.

Teenage Fanclub, a Scottish heavyish-but-mellow band, were next off the bat and performed a very respectable set – I’d only heard ‘Sparky’s Dream’ before, so I was quite impressed. Worthy picks included ‘Don’t Look Back’ and ‘I’ll Make It Clear’.

Badly Drawn Boy were next, and started the concert by insulting the audience because he felt like a piece of shit (his words) and because they didn’t applaud him at the start his first appearance in Australia. He definitely had a lot of talent and ability and I think his band were amazing for being able to cope with his temperamental antics (including throwing two cigarettes and other objects into the lake, keeping in mind Kings Park is an A-class reserve). That all being said, it was enjoyable.

22 March – Massive Attack at Belvoir (also read inthemix review by someone else here)
This will go down as one of the best concerts I’ve ever been to. I went with Steven to Belvoir (which is 36km from Perth and an open-air venue with both an amphitheatre and a larger grassed area next to it – the latter was used). The support act was noticeably absent, but that wasn’t such a big deal… Steven actually missed a Glory game to come, so he was listening to his pocket radio almost as much as the surroundings 😛 Anyway, they came on, all 9 of them (including their guests) holding hands across the stage, and 3D asked us for a minute’s silence to remember the women and children currently being bombed in Iraq, before launching into an amazing live set starting with “Future Proof” off their new album. Highlights were definitely Angel and the live version of Group Four, which is *nothing* like the album version and doesn’t even sound much like Massive Attack! It was all very impressive with guests including Horace Andy and Shara Nelson as well as a full live band on guitars, bass, keyboards and drums, and a constant 3d-style news ticker with random current news headlines, weather, military statistics and other assorted information which added to the whole backdrop. Overall, stunning. I hope they come back.

4 March – Samsara dance party featuring Endorphin – Metro City

I refuse to describe this as a “rave” despite the initial advertising (propaganda?) surrounding the event – at least I didn’t go expecting one. Musically, the DJs were pretty good and the Indian dancers accompanying them were pretty amazing, and Endorphin’s 2 hour set, entirely of his own material, was excellent. Monsieur Chapus and his young sidekick seemed to genuinely interact well with the crowd, and highlights were three new songs, one of which brought out two dancers, one dressed as George Bush in military gear, and the other with a face mask of John Howard. Overall, a lot of fun 🙂 It wasn’t a standard Endorphin gig – more at the “heavy trance” end of things with some even harder stuff mixed in – and we got the AM/PM version of Satie (that French piano piece).

The rest of the venue was happening too – although mostly the advertising fell short.

Good – The reiki massages. I got one, initially sceptical, but it was amazingly good and I felt quite relaxed and complete for a while 🙂 Also some of the people I met during the night who were genuinely nice, caring people (including one of the reiki massage staff who I caught up with later on in the evening). Also the pulp juice stand, which sold Java-Juice-like concoctions which went down really well.

Bad – The event finished at 4am instead of the advertised 6am. Several of the advertised attractions simply weren’t there (eg crystals and meditation). The pulp juice stand was there but only sold four of the advertised varieties. The cigarette smoke in the venue was so excessive that it took my nose/throat 2 days to recover.

Weird – The “happy high herb stall” with alternatives to pot, speedballs and ecstacy (a herb called damiana in a dropper bottle) which looked like the real thing and, definitely with the “mull mixes”, were more expensive ($12 for a 30g bag). I had this nagging suspicion they wouldn’t live up to the advertising so didn’t try them.

As the event shut early, basically stranding me in the city until the first trains left on Saturday morning, I ended up wandering around with a backpacker from Brisbane who, oddly enough, seemed to know all the local Aboriginals and street gangs. I think the weirdness of that hour and a half compounded everything that happened before it 😛

6 March – Ben Harper with support Jack Johnson at Belvoir

This was a really excellent gig with a great vibe…

But first, the riot…

…the only problem was the venue! Belvoir is in wine country in the middle of nowhere 30km out of town on the Great Northern Highway. As Route 95 only goes somewhere important if you take its final destination 2,000km away into account and realise that any sane person would fly, it makes sense that it is a 2-lane road with no kerbs, so tailbacks were immense. There is just one entry from the road into the carpark (and there’s no public transport from the city, and it’s $40+ by taxi), and at Ben Harper there was also one entry gate with…one attendant. This particular concert insisted on checking ID from everybody – yes, all 14,000 people. By two-thirds way through the support act, only 3,000-4,000 were inside, and the crowd was getting restless and booing and stomping loudly. The situation deteriorated rapidly with a crowd of several thousand very angry people vs one fence. People were openly discussing collaborating to take down the fence and storm the venue. My confidence wasn’t inspired by the two bouncers running away before the inevitable, one fence came down.  and about 400 people got in without being checked. At this point the attendant, who was only about 19 and looked scared as hell, started letting through anybody who waved a ticket at him through the gate. Poor guy. I didn’t envy him. I later saw more than a few inebriated ~15-year-olds waving at people from inside the licensed area – I don’t think they meant any harm, more than likely they benefitted from the chaos rather than contributing to it. This whole fiasco was poor planning at its absolute worst and, to add to it, the water provided was about 30°C and putrid. I’m told the event resulted in a health and safety review of the site and they have never held an event that big ever again.

Back to the music
Jack Johnson sounded good, although I only really caught the last two songs. Ben Harper then came on almost transparently (normally there’s a sizeable changeover time) and took over, with covers of Jack Johnson and Bob Marley as well as lots of original stuff off the range of his albums. There was a really great vibe about the whole thing and one of the least aggressive crowds I’ve ever had to deal with. It’s clear Mr Harper and his band, who were all multitalented, respected the crowd they had, and they kept saying as much. There was reggae, funk, blues (with Ben on lap-steel), soul and both acoustic and electric rock. One of the encores was a solo acoustic cover of the Verve’s “Drugs Don’t Work” where the entire crowd sang along. He didn’t make any spoken anti-war statements but made his stance pretty obvious in his choice of songs which advocated peace and harmony. One surprise was his open sanction of bootlegs of the performance – in fact after one song he asked anyone who had recorded it to send him a copy! So, yeah, a great night out 🙂

And setlists:

Massive Attack

1. Minute’s silence for women/children of Baghdad
2. Future Proof
3. Everywhen
4. Risingson
5. Black Milk
6. Angel
7. Special Cases
8. Butterfly Caught
9. Name Taken
10. Teardrop
11. Mezzanine
12. Hymn of the Big Wheel
13. Safe from harm
14. Inertia Creeps
15. Antistar
16. Unfinished Sympathy

17. Group Four (extended, rewritten)

Teenage Fanclub

1. (95) About You
2. (97) Start Again
3. (95) Don’t Look Back
4. (97) Your Love Is The Place…
7 (95) I’ll Make It Clear
8. (95) Verisimilitude
9. (97) Planets
10.(01) I Need Direction
11.(95) Mellow Doubt
12.(97) Ain’t That Enough
13.(02) The World’ll Be OK
14.(97) Take The Long Way Round
15.(97) Can’t Feel My Soul
16.(95) Sparky’s Dream
17.(90) Everything Flows
18.(91) The Concept

On Friday I went to see Jimeoin, seeing as he shares my nationality and that, and took Dad and Steven – but to be honest I thought (and found out Steven agrees) that the support act, Akmal Saleh, was better 🙂 He’s an Egyptian-Australian and had a totally unique take on current events and people which had the entire theatre roaring with laughter. Jimeoin is funny, but in the sort of way that reminds me of the Nirvana line “Here we are now, entertain us”. I’ve been told by various people that quite a few of the things he did during his 65-minute-long show, he does pretty much every time. Dad, who it was really for, did enjoy it though.

On Monday, Steven and I went to see Henry Rollins – he easily upstaged even his 2001 appearance at the Regal in our opinions, and was onstage talking continuously for 2 hours and 45 minutes. For those who don’t know him, Henry Rollins’s spoken word events, while hilariously funny at times, are not comedy – they are in a class of their own from a guy with very strong views on everything who, through a presentation of a mixture of truth, reality and bullshit, is able to make a point that sticks with you. The point he kept coming back to was that mediocrity and apathy were the biggest enemies facing society today. The fact he can sell out the Perth Concert Hall and yet so relatively few people have heard of him probably speaks volumes.

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