Sunday, March 29, 2009

Earth Hour at the Zoo

Earth Hour is an event to bring attention to action againt global warming, starting in Sydney back in 2007. This event is fast growing, with many gatherings much talked about in Melbourne this year. I happened to win a double pass to the event at the Melbourne Zoo, through Faster Louder, and invited Nicole along.

Finding a spot as the sun went down on the grass infront of the band stage, we were confronted with a mass of people with picnic setups and big gathering, including families and birthday parties. First up on stage was New Yorker Mamie Minch, with her full on East Coast accent and blues sound.

CW Stoneking was the main act for the night, with his New Orleans style jazz and blues. And storytelling! Quite entertaining!

The lights dimmed on stage from 8.30pm for the hour, before coming back on for the final song. Sitting out under the stars to jazz and blues, with the lions roaring in the enclosure behind us...what a different Saturday night!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Grand Final Replay

After last night's footy warm up, the Round One rematch between the 2008 Grand Finalists was finally here!

Drinks for Project 2009 was at a very empty Cherry, where Mary and I met Springer for a pre-match beverage. This bar is a late night music venue, and I am sure would be great for that...but clearly not getting any after work drinkers. And given the rude barstaff, I don't think they are up to a crowd where anyone can hear each other!

Springer and I walked down to the MCG, taking in the crowd and the blazing lit up ground, giving little footy jibes to each other all the that footy is back!!

This year, after the dramas and stress of getting tickets to the Grand Final last year, Melissa, Mum and I have taken up Silver Hawthorn memberships. Mainly because Gold was sold out so fast, and this was the next level! A reserved seat in the Hawks section on the forward flank, with access to the Atrium Bar upstairs....and second level priority to tickets if we make the big game at the end of the season. Finding our seats for the year, we have quite a few kids around us, and not as many young, good looking single lads, much to our dismay!! But we are so close to the action, and more play right in front of us than we have scored for years!!

Settling in to watch the Hawks take on Geelong, the game had the potential to be a blow out, or a classic. Missing many of our players from the Grand Final, and with another late withdrawal on the night, and given the emotions of the Cats and their loss last year, it was a big match!

Halftime upstairs at the Atrium Bar, Melissa and I had further beers with Rick and Yussif, before returning to our seats to watch the score blow out to a 42 win lead for Geelong....and then see the Hawks claw back with 6 goals in the last lose by 8 points. 8 little points!! We're not far off the best team in the competition!

More drinks at European Beer Cafe, maybe too many based on my hangover today. Footy's back!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Judd v Cousins

The build up for the start of the AFL season in any year gets pretty big, but it was a promoters dream to have late draft pick, recovering self confessed drug addict Ben Cousins' Richmond line up against his former teammate in Chris Judd's Carlton. Usually a clash that would bearly raise a headline, given recent years performance by both teams, but this proved to be a winner for the League.

After 18 months injury and suspension from the game, with all the arrests, near naked pictures slashed over every newspaper, and the details of his drug rehabilitation fodder for coverage, Cousins had declared himself ready to return. The comeback everyone had anticipated since he was banned, and then picked up by lowly Richmond.

Having snapped up tickets earlier in the month, Dan and I had a few pre-match beers at ...if before making our way to the MCG, along with 87,000 other people! Massive crowd for these two sides in recent years!

We found our seats behind the goals, and settled in for the match. Which soon become an anti-climatic start to the season, with a blow out on the scoreboard t the Blues favour. Cousins featured here and there in the first three quarters....but then tragically limped off with a hamstring injury in the last quarter, and hung his head when he got to the bench in disappointment. Devastating.

This game was a bit of a warm up for me, in terms of concentration and depth perception return after the off season, for our big game tonight. Like the reserves grade last night, and now for the Grand Final replay tonight...bring it on! Great to have footy back!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Bopha Devi

I booked Melissa and I in for a lunch sitting at Bopha Devi, Melbourne's Cambodian restaurant, at the Docklands. Part of the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival, we had the Express Lunch, which included two courses plus wine.

A restaurant I have always wanted to go to, we had pumpkin parcels and rice paper rolls for entree, and then I had the much loved Fish Amok for main. Coconut curry, served inside a banana leaf bowl, this dish revoked memories of Phnom Penh. Melissa has the Kari Khmer curry, which was also very good.

Not the most authentic decor, the walls were adorned with photos of Cambodia, and little Angkor motifs. No Angkor or Anchor beer though!

We the wandered around the shops of newly opened Harbourtown, under the defunct Southern Star - Melbourne's answer to the London Eye...which has been closed down indefinitely due to structural issues.

After watching the 2001 Hawthorn verse Port Adelaide Semi Final, in preparation of the season starting again next week, Melissa and I met Dianna and Tammny at the Vegie Bar for an amazing dinner.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Lily Blacks

Friday nights drinks, after several at work, was at the other end of the city grid via a tram. In the same laneway as Loop in week one of Project 2009, we found Lily Blacks.

Bree, Dan and I claimed stools at the bar, and studied the cocktail menu - but opted for beers in the end. Caroline and her crew were around the other side of the bar, filling up a table.

Taking in the art deco lighting, the cute barman, and the nudie pictures on the toilet walls, we drank a long-feeling week away. I joined Caroline for more drinks, and bar snacks, before calling it a night.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

St Patrick's Day

Wearing green for the day, and feeling a bond with the few other people on the tram, the street and at work, I sat through a working St Patrick's Day...just wrong!

Unable to wait much longer longer, Kylee, Steve and I left the office just a minute or two after 5pm, and jumped on the 96 tram. We made our way to the Dan O'Connell, in North Carlton for their growing tradition of the Party in the Park.

Pints of Guinness were in order first up, followed quickly by much loved Bulmers! We claimed a spot out amongst it, with Maya and baby Noah soon joining us, and then Mary. Irish music, and accents all around us.

Little Noah attracted drunk Irish girls and guys, as we moved to beers, and taking in the festivities and dress-ups around us. We remembered to eat a little late really, and soon it was Noah's, and the rest of our, hometime, on this school night.

I am wearing my hangover today, with pride! It's still a novelty!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Melbourne Kräftskiva

Finding information about a Scandinavian Crayfish Party among the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival pages, Jenny booked us in for the evening, to take Johan along to a little piece of home. Hearing him tell stories about this event back in Sweden, it sounds like a version of Oktoberfest, but with cute Swedes!

On Sunday, after a very lazy day, Jenny and Johan and I made our way across town to Port Melbourne to The Exchange Hotel, and up to the upstairs function room. We were soon served by our Swedish host with scampi (or were they just big prawns?!), potatoes and dill and salad. Beer to wash this down.

In between courses, the schnapps, or closest Aussie equivalent, was served complete with Swedish drinking song to ensure rowdy sculling.

This version of Kräftskiva wasn't quite as rowdy and messy as the stories from the old country, with just 4 Swedes in the room. Quite civilised actually, sadly! But it meant we still went home with a Swede at least! And also allowed for the four to meet, and mingle.

More king prawns as the next course, with another buffer of mint infused schnapps, and then another course of yabbies (or were they just smaller prawns?!). Little chocolate and toffee Dain treats to end the night.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Sound Relief

Between torrential downpours, I left the house yesterday morning, bought a poncho and made my way to the MCG for one of the biggest music events in Australian history. The event, Sound Relief, promised some of the biggest Aussie and International music acts, all donating their time to raise funds for one of the worst natural disasters in Australian history - the Black Saturday bushfires last month.

I arrived to a rain soaked ground, sprinkled with yellow, blue and green poncho-clad music lovers, in time for Molly Meldrum to introduce the first act of the day, Melbourne's Jet. Are You Gonna Be My Girl as their second track had the drenched crowd dancing, setting the scene for the day, and ending their set with Cold Hard Bitch, the opening line apting letting us know that they 'Gotta leave town, got another appointment', being the Sydney gig later in the day.

Nicole and I located each other in the crowd of non-descript rain attire, within the front arena, and saw Dandenong's Gabriella Cilmi do her set. Following this, the big screens crossed to the event being held simultaneously at the sun-drenched SGC, for Coldplay's set.

Mesmerised by the energetic Chris Martin doing Yellow, with yellow streamer filled balloons bouncing over the crowd, then an awesome Clocks, and recent hit Viva La Vida. They were amazing, and I thought at that point, would be hard to top!

Band of the moment, Kings Of Leon then appeared for us back in Melbourne, as the skies opened up again with pelting rain. Playing Closer, and ending their 4 song set with an engaging Use Somebody, the disappointment was felt through the packed front area as the lads left the stage without playing their biggest hit. A mark of respect for the real reason we were all there.

A cross to Sydney for the Hoodoo Gurus set, before Paul Kelly stood solo on stage, to lead the crowd in a sing-a-long to Leaps and Bounds and To Her Door. Little Birdy was them beamed into the MCG from Sydney, including their cover of Six Months In a Leaky Boat, as the stage was prepared for Augie March.

Like at Laneway, Augie didn't wow until One Crowded Hour, which had the crowd singing along whilst hurriedly putting ponchos back on, as dark clouds took over the sky once again. The irony of a rainy benefit rasing money for fire ravaged Victoria was not lost on all those soaked through!

As big fat raindrops started, Nicole and I decided to head under the stand for a food, drink and bathroom break - but stopped for a dance to Architecture In Helsinki from the Sydney gig. Shame they weren't in Melbourne, cos they had the rain soaked ponchos dancing the storm away with Do The Whirlwind and Hold Music - they sounded awesome.

Coming back to the front stage area in the rain, we caught Paris Wells with Bliss N Eso, before the crowd changed over for Kasey Chambers and Shane Nicholson, who did a very similar set to when we saw them at Homebake. Clearly overwhelmed by performing to such a massive crowd, cute little Kasey did The Captain solo.

Much rumour surrounding the next set, which proved to be spot on, Liam Finn confused the crowd with a couple of crazy numbers, with EJ Barnes on supporting vocals, before inviting Uncle Tim and N-Dog (Neil Finn) on stage, with Nick Seymour, for some Crowded House magic. With Weather With You, Don't Dream It's Over and Better Be Home Soon, the crowd loved them, sparking the most excited participation to date from the un-fazed water-logged fans.

Jack Johnson was next, for a chilled, mellow set, which drew another surge of crowd numbers around us. In contract, the new line-up of Wolfmother come out to rock the 'G.

The Melbourne arena was then treated to the performance earlier in the day in Sydney, with Coldplay playing backing band for John Farnham and Your The Voice. Amazingly, he hasn't lost any part of his voice, sounding just as he did in his prime, nor has he lost his fan base, with both crowds joining him in this Aussie anthem.

Toni Collette on the Sydney stage started the proceedings of the 'Special Announcement', leading to a video message from Princes William and Harry. A minute silence followed for those lives lost in the fires, and then Kylie was standing on our stage. She asked that in the absence of a band, the crowd help her with a rendition of I Still Call Australia Home.

And then followed three of the biggest Aussie rock bands, reforming for this event. Hunters and Collectors were first, belting out classics like When The River Runs Dry, Do You See What I See, and iconic Holy Grail and Throw Your Arms Around Me. Awesome, big full on rock, the stadium-full crowd had errupted.

Split Enz were next, with their own set backdrop and split matching suits. History Never Repeats, Six Months In a Leaky Boat for the second time that day, Poor Boy, haunting us this week, and I See Red, all had Tim Finn dancing around on stage. Neil looked happy with the band's effect on the much obliging crowd.

To top off the night, Midnight Oil exceeded all expectations, with our Minister for Environment, Peter Garrett taking back his rock persona with ease. Having stood all day, and with weary peg, I actually sat in the stand for this last set, and whilst I wasn't part of the thronging, jumping front lawn section, the MCG raised itself for this set. Read About It, Blue Sky Mine, Beds Are Burning, and Power and Passion were just sensational, and beyond desciption!

An amazing celebration of Australian music, on such a monumental scale, and as organiser Michael Gudinski told the crowd in closing, something that each of the 80,000 will alway remember being a part of.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Jwow and Cookie

Last night, after thoughts of having a week off Project 2009 after a crazy week, I trammed in from my 'working from home' workstation, to meet up with the crew at Jwow. I had bullied Dan to attend, and found him with Jenny and her entourage.

We had scored a table in the middle of this small wine bar, who had bottled Little Creatures. The place was fairly full when we were at our numbers peak, but soon emptied out, along with our group.

Dan and I decided to go up the street to Cookie, one of the most popular bars in the city, which strangely I hadn't been to. We grabbed a table in the dining section, where I had a rendang curry to die for, before the flirty waiter brought over our bill in a Golden Book titled The Shy Little!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Poor Boy

Last night Jenny and I drove across town, to meet Nicole at the brand new MTC Theatre complex. Architecturally stunning, this complex holds the Sumner Theatre, where we saw Poor Boy.

Starring a grown up Guy Pearce (not the lad from Neighbours anymore, that's for sure!), he played Danny....a ghost. The plot follows two families, one consumed with grieving the death of Danny 7 years ago, and one with a 7 year old boy - who, on his birthday channels Danny, and loses who he is.

Our seats were second row from the front, on the end, so that the swing and tricycle used on set where an arms reach away. The set also featured a band, suspended at the back.

The play also featured the music of Tim Finn, which recognisable songs dropped into the play..sometimes seemingly randomly, based on the smallest reference. Guy held a tune, along with his co-stars, including Abi Tucker. Songs like Persuasion, and Poor Boy, stuck in my head.

The best scene for mine was when Danny's wife, Abi Tucker, believed that the boy was Danny, and danced with him, both boy and ghost. All very Ghost (the movie) like for a moment. The whole cast would often break into song, but without the audience applause at the end of each, which seemed weird. They were certainly crossing over to musical status there many times!

Saturday, March 07, 2009

End Of Fashion

Last night Project 2009 took us to Terra Rosa, a restaurant trying to be a cool bar in the city...not really working. Cosy and cool decor, but they are actually serving proper meals in there, and none of us was fooled!

We finished our one drink requirement, and then walked around to the Spice Market, at the Grand Hyatt. Long line suggests an amazing place, but thirsty and impatient we were considering going elsewhere, when Kate talked our group's way into the place without the wait. We wandered through the catacomb-like setting, and were lead to the top bar, overseeing the array of suits and drinkers.

I left the girls to mingle and drink some more, and made my way up Lygon Street to the East Brunswisk Club, for a much anticipated gig. I met Nicole out the front, ready for The Greasers up first, with Dom from Little Red, to a small crowd.

Next up were Oh Mercy, a band fast becoming a favourite. Alex wasn't particularly chatty with the light on crowd, not giving his introduction to In My Stride... Salvation Jane was great, and Seemed Like A Good Idea with Eliza on backing vocal harmonies.

The headline act was End Of Fashion, and we were very keen to see them again after Homebake. The room started to gain more people, with many hardcore fans crowding the stage. She's Love, winding into Oh Yeah, two of their massive hits back to back. This four piece collection of Aussie rock belted out Dying For You and Fussy, from their new album, and had the crowd hanging for more. The Game was the final song of the encore, showing that this band is a force live.

Monday, March 02, 2009

The Corner Bushfire Benefit

A roast lunch for us at Tramway Hotel in North Fitzroy with Mum and Katrina who came down from Ballarat, to see Melissa and I yesterday. Roast beef to fall apart on your fork, roast potatoes, pumpkin, parsnip, carrot and Yorkshire pudding...yum!

Then I trammed into town, and then out the other side, to The Corner, to meet Nicole and Mary for the Bushfire Benefit. Raising money for the Red Cross Victorian Bushfire Fund, to assist with the rebuilding from the horrors of Black Saturday, last month.

Hot Little Hands opened the day's music, before our main reason for going along, The Basics, played on the side stage.

Having not played a show for some three months, with Kris being overseas for a stint, the lads were back with their harmonies, and banter. Quite a few new tracks mixed in, and their new single With The Ship was very strong, and very exciting! Tracks like Money (Gimme, Gimme), which is still in my head, and Just Hold On from older albums, plus unreleased ones Like A Brother showed the lads have such talent.

Catching up with Wally after their set, for a follow up photo for Jessie, who got one in Glasgow, he tells us he is still tinkering with the track line up for the album... Such a lovely lad, too.

We took in RockKwiz's Julia Zemiro as MC, drumming up support for the raffle, before The Pictures, who were quite good.

The three of us then went upstairs to the rooftop, to contribute to the Benefit sausage sizzle, whilst overlooking the city.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

The Harpoons

Holding up the bar with a post-hangover medicinal at The Great Britain in Richmond last night, I waited for Nicole and Mel to arrive, while the band set up and the little pub started to fill.

Taking a couch in the back room, this band room was filled with dancers once the boys formed TAN. Playing tracks minus vocals, the lads had the most of girls in the room up twisting away to 60s rock tunes.

The four of them returned to stage to play their set, as The Harpoons. This night was for the launch of their 7" single, Faith - which is the song that has stuck in my head since. Bec's voice is disarming, so good.

Other tracks like Swim My Baby, Hey Girl, and Everywhere were catchy and distinct, this little Melbourne band had gained such confidence since we saw them first back in August. Another band to put a smile on your face, without fail!
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