Sunday, February 28, 2010

Mardi Gras

Being up in Sydney for Mardi Gras weekend would be a bit remiss without checking out what the fuss was about!

Saturday morning, with a bit of a sore head, I made it out of bed and down to The Rocks, to meet Belinda and Bumble for brunch. We found a cafe and got stuck into eggs, outside among the cobblestones. Before long, with the sun blazing, we found our way up stairways, to a rooftop beer garden, for a beer overlooking the harbour.

A couple more pubs along the walk back down into town, including The Australian, and back to the hotel, thirst well and truly quenched! Bumble and I found Jen, and then the we made our way to Hyde Park and walked across with the rest of the crowd to Oxford Street.

The crowd was large, noisy and colourful. And very big. We joined the stream of people down to street side, and realised that unless we had camped out here all day, we were not going to get very close. We found dinner, and then played with the idea of seeing the parade.

Amongst the revelers here, celebrating Gay Pride, were all sorts of people really. Oldies grumbling about it all, and straight couples dressed up in gay garb - what the? This felt insulting, really. I mean, kinda like a kid getting a gift on their sibling's birthday. It's not your day, kids!

After about 30 minutes of the parade, and hearing the Dykes on Bikes go past for ages, and seeing the tops of a couple of floats, we decided to abandon, and headed down to the other end of the city. Drinks at the Opera Bar, with a view of the Bridge and House, was actually impressive enough.

The next morning I incredibly managed to get up early, and got the train out to catch Leils and Vincey, and Zamarah, in their short window of free time for the weekend. Was lovely to catch up. Then, more train system navigation had me meet up with Jess and Andrew. We had coffee in Brighton, and then walked along the beach soaking in the sun.

I was super, super early for my flight back! Lesson learnt!

George in Sydney

We had been tracking the rumour that George was coming out to Australia for months....and upon announcement of shows, plotted and chased tickets for the show. Needless to say, after seats, accommodation in Sydney on Mardi Gras weekend, and flights....oh, and then a Tash style issue with flights, I had dropped the equivalent of a small country's GNP for the weekend just gone. And it was totally worth it!

I met Jenny at our city hotel, and then we figured out our way out to the chaotic outside of the Sydney Football Stadium. Celebrity spotting amongst us as we found our gate, and seats, with Brendan Julian, Kim Wilson and Chris Langford catching our eyes. The anticipation in the bar line, and the general crowd around us was electric.

We found our seats just as the lights went down, the stage show commenced, and the track Waiting played through. With the line 'Here I Am' booming across the crowd....and then, there he was.

Opening with Fastlove and then I'm Your Man, every person in this packed stadium was on their feet, dancing and singing, and adoring George Micheal. And right there, the weekend had paid for itself!

Father Figure and Wham! flashback to 1984 for Everything She Wants were just amazing, with footage of a younger George in giant on the screens behind him. An Easier Affair introduced references to the celebration of gay pride about to engulf the city. Slower tracks had the crowd sit, and for the most part engaged (annoying people talking through a gig will always baffle me), with his story telling lyrics and heartfelt tributes to those he has lost along the way.

Full of energy and groove, Too Funky and Star People rounded out the first set, with an interval as a drinks break. John And Elvis Are Dead played as the countdown to start again was triggered.

Back on stage, George apologised to anyone that was at the Perth show, saying they missed out on a second encore cos he was 'so bloody knackered'. He engaged the crowd, and thanked us all for waiting this long to see him live. Faith was massive, and again showed footage of the man back in the day - whilst he showed that he still has it up on stage. Spinning The Wheel was a further chance of the evening for the crowd and George to take turns with the lines, before Roxanne.

Amazing and Flawless were interactive, and had the whole stadium up and involved. Outside, complete with police dress-up for George was there, before a spine tingling Careless Whisper. Just as in Sweden, he rounded the brilliant night with an encore of Freedom.

Such a performance, wowing the audience, and making this show worth the 22 years wait for Australian stages to see him.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Rolling the Tropfest Dice

On Sunday, Nicole made the trip up to Ballarat so that Michelle and I could take her our for a birthday lunch. Finding Chowder House in Hepburn Springs, we sampled the much reviewed chowder, with it winning the praises of our San Fran Aussie! The Seafood Chowder was my choice, and very filling, and so good.

A hot day saw us wander through Daylesford, before an icecream stop, and drive back to Ballarat. Nicole and I then got the train back to Melbourne.

I joined Katrina, Gina and Maria at Federation Square for this year's Tropfest. A change of venue this year, for reasons undisclosed, meant a different surrounding, much harder seating, and less liquid picnic supplies (being a dry site, boo!). Strange change.

The Telstra Mobile Masterpieces were up first, before things got started on the cross to Sydney. 3 short films shot entirely on mobile phones. Design Crimes was hilarious, and a piss take on the design flaws of people and the community at the moment, targeting particularly those frangipani stickers in people's car windows. This section was won by a very moving film called Missing You. Very sweet, and sad.

With the red carpet and judge introductions going on onscreen, Fed Square had some sound adjustment issues for sometime, as the cobbled ground filled with movie buffs.

Quite a few little films were touching on mental health and suicide, with Happenstance a depiction of an interrupted plan in progress, by a singing bear-o-gram at the door. Cute. Smoking Will Kill You was more mistaken suicidal acts in the form of a smoko break. Every Second Weekend was a tough film about a Men's group discussing their experiences of child access, divorce and loss.

Social commentary come through in these less-than-7 minute films, with How God Works giving us a taste of privilege and sociopathic behaviour, and the eventual winner, Shock, a "tribute" to Kyle Sandilands and the trouble he was in last year for his inappropriate radio calling.

Falling Backwards was very clever, in a violent sequence acted backwards. Animations were also included in the 16 finalists with My Neighbourhood Has Been Overrun By Baboons, One being the use of the signature item, dice, as the characters of the film, and robotic Awakenings.

Another great Tropfest, and celebration of Australian upcoming film makers.

Friday, February 19, 2010

All The Rivers Run

I drove to Echuca and back today for work. One meeting, thankfully with a positive outcome, and a lot of hours in the car, saved only by the iPod!


I did get to have a peek, however, at the Murray River, and at the paddlesteamers of Echuca. This little bustling riverside town is quite the tourist mecca, and just seeing the old shops and the port reminded me of a family trip we made here when I was little.

The 'streamers in operation also conjured up the romanticism of the river, and the life on it portrayed in my head by that old miniseries All The Rivers Run. This is definately a place that needs a proper visit. Anyone up for a weekend on a riverboat?

Beers at the Bendigo office on the way home, and the usual catch up with Pete, brings the week to an end.

A Day On The Green

Last Saturday, a group of us boarded a minibus, and armed with tunes and champagne, made the drive up the highway to Great Western, and the Seppelt Winery. Finding a spot just after the VIP section, with ample view, we set up camp on the grass for A Day On The Green.

First up for the day, was Dan Sultan and his bluesy sounds. He captured the crowd as they made their way in, and impressed with his engaging chatter, and rock tracks. This lad is gaining quite a following, playing around the traps.

Whilst half of our bus had scored VIP section tickets at the front, Bianca, Michelle, Kate, Jo and I had our spread of food for the day, with endless trips to the bar to keep us refreshed all day.

The second act for the day was Tim Freedman, who was my main drawcard for the day out. Opening with Beauty In Me, Tim played a wide range of The Whitlams tracks - which was a surprise given the talk of an upcoming solo album coming up this year. Big tracks featured such as No Aphrodisiac, Thank You (For Loving Me At My Worst), and I Make Hamburgers.

Gough and Kate Kelly were played with light political references. Buy Now, Pay Later, plus a You Sound Like Lois Burdett rounded out what felt like a very safe set here in this country setting.

Evermore were next, who arrived on stage in sparkly jackets....with the backdrop of broad daylight...seemed a little odd. A little too much, for the ambiance of the day. They worked through their set and played to the crowd, getting good reception. Tracks like Running, Light Surrounding You, and Never Let You Go were stand outs, with this years hit Hey Boys And Girls (Truth Of The World) and It's Too Late (Ride On) ensuring they were memorable.

As the sun started disappearing behind the stage, the Hoodoo Gurus were the headline act for the day, with new material due for release shortly. My memory, with all the champers consumption, is a little hazy at this point, but I know they played 1000 Miles Away and their iconic What's My Scene?

A rowdy bus ride home, with more bottles of bubbly shared around, we made it home to Ballarat, for more drinks and silly, silly chats on the decking to the wee hours. What a great day! Almost worth the hangover all week.....

Friday, February 12, 2010

Pink Lake

I drove to Nhill and back yesterday, a full day of driving for work - two back to back appointments in that little town. A long drive, through farmland, and on the other side of the Grampians range this time.

This was taken at Pink Lake, down on the shore, as a stretch break. The lake has a pink hue to the middle, which looks like algae, but is apparently an artesian spring. Just after Never Never Road on the highway, it was a pretty distraction.

I was going to take a pic of the Giant Koala, which has been a landmark for many a footy roadtrip to Adelaide....

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Live Recording Basics

I caught the train down to Melbourne, and made it in time for a few drinks in the Melbourne office, before Mary and I grabbed the car, and picked Nicole up on the way out to Northcote. We had a great meal out in the beer garden of the Northcote Social Club, as we chatting about the anticipation of the gig ahead.

One of our favourite bands, The Basics, were recording a live album this evening, featuring an extra long set. We made our way into the band room, after signing the boards at the front, destined to be the cover of this album.

The boys arrived on stage, explaining the unusual configuration for the recording, and then launched into Rattle My Chain. A host of older tracks for the first third of the set, the boys seemed to be belting through the tracks, without the usual banter, with such nerves!

The joy of tracks like Karolina, Memory Lane and Better, and even rarely heard nowadays the cover of Three Cool Cats. A reworked Looking Over My Shoulder, and Home Again.

The covers flowed much earlier than their usual gigs, Roxanne was in there, and the NKOTB Right Stuff. Old Man was included which seems to be a new live fav for the boys. The nerves of the band fell away mostly as the set neared the 2 hour mark, and a late night for all, but such a treat to get all the tracks in one large dose!

Just a scattering of track from Keep Your Friends Close, which surprised us. And the crowd reaction for The No 1 Cause Of Death Amoung Youth Today was so lacklustre, makes me think there were too many people in the crowd that didn't know the lads' music - I mean, this is the song of the year, surely!

Monday, February 08, 2010

Florence + The Machine

Katie met me in the city, after I put in an afternoon in the Melbourne office, before we met Maria and Gina at Canary Club for sangria and tapas.

We then made our way in the heat to the Palace, and found a spot for the 4 of us along the balcony of the first level, looking down on the stage. The crowd was filling, and despite the humidity inside the venue, there was an air of anticipation. The support was Big Scary, and whilst I didn't see any change from the last time I saw them here, the crowd was much more into them.

Finally, in the swelter, Florence and her band arrived on stage. The very tall, red haired Florence stalked onto stage with long, long legs, wearing a little body suit, and a flowing cape, very goth-like. She opened with My Boy Builds Coffins, Kiss With A Fist, and then Hurricane Drunk - three of my favourite tracks straight up!

Her voice, with no backing, filled this cavernous venue completely, and had the adoring crowd going wild for this London girl with the awesome album. She chatted, she danced, she joked, she drank whiskey, she handed out pieces of her jewelery. So enchanting.

A harp on stage, Drumming Song was amazing, as was Dog Days Are Over, with the crowd jumping upon Florence's instruction - it was clear that she loved the festival gigs she was out here for. A cover of the Cold War Kid's Hospital Beds mixed up the album tracks. She seemed genuinely blown away by the receptive crowd, who were transfixed with her every move.

Encore of You've Got The Love, with Rabbithole (Raise It Up) left in our heads as we returned to the air of the outside city streets, in awe of this incredible talent.
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