Wednesday, July 27, 2005


Interpol @ Splendour 2005

The Splendour In The Grass festival was an unusually organised event with an eclectic mix of genres and styles and no obvious flow to the line-up, but what a weekend it was, with many new exciting bands, some old favourites, and beautiful weather all weekend.

The Futureheads were the second band to play, at the far too early hour of 2pm. They played an extremely strong set of many of the songs from their brilliant new album "Decent Days and Nights" which was well received by the audience in attendance. Their angular guitars and four-part harmonies were a fun start to the festival, although they deserved a much later slot. Appearing very happy to be playing in Australia, they even got everyone involved in a sing-a-long with their interesting take on Kate Bush's song Hounds Of Love.

Bizarrely enough, due to the fact that we bought our tickets at the last minute from some friends who couldn't make it to the festival, we seemed initially unable to find any accomodation in Byron Bay, apart from the absurdly over-priced caravan park. But my beautiful and talented wife found a spa retreat on the outskirts of Byron Bay, a 7 kilometre walk from Belongil Field where Splendour was held. So after enjoying The Futureheads we had several hours until the next bands we wanted to see, so we drove back to Azabu for a spa and to prepare for the weekend ahead.

We arrived back at the festival with the plan of just wandering between the different performance areas and catching what we would. Decoder Ring were playing a slightly more uptempo version of their beautiful electronic dreamscapes, with entrancing images projected on the screens behind them, all of which well suited the smaller mix-up tent perfectly.

Mercury Rev were the biggest disappointment of the festival for me, if only because I was expecting better things of them. I really want to like this band, but if this show is indicative of their live shows, then I'll just keep waiting until the day when I am in the same city at the same time as The Flaming Lips . Jonathon Donahue continually pranced around the stage like a ponce, feigning conducting the band who, although very tight and professional, seemed bored and the show lacked any emotion.

The Living End played a really well received show, although guitarist Chris Cheney too often likes to show off his widdly-widdly rockabilly prowess on the guitar (think of a younger Brian Setzer). But the crowd sing-a-long to "Prisoner Of Society" was possibly the most raucous and enjoyed moment of the night.

Ryan Adams was just a boring pratt who annoyed many of the punters with his constant moaning about the sound and he spent much of his time sitting bent over his guitar and regaled us with his prowess at tuning a guitar. After we had wandered off apparently he threw a hissy fit and stormed off stage early.

But being bored and annoyed so quickly with Ryan Adams, we made our way over to see Har Mar Superstar, just out of interest. OK, i get the joke. So it was off to the muddy corner of the Tipi Circle to catch some of the set by Byron Bay dj Scoot@, who played a great set of dance music with a nice touch of guitar loops.

The last band for the first night were the rocking Queens Of The Stone Age who arrived on stage to the strains of "Who's Afraid Of The Big Bad Wolf" and then proceeded to blow away the supertop with a career-spanning set.

We arrived back at Belongil Fields on Sunday for the main reason we had come to Splendour - the trifecta of Doves, Bloc Party and Interpol.

We had already seen Doves in Brisbane on Thursday night where they played an amazing and long show, with lots of friendly bantering with the crowd and they were obviously happy to be back in Australia. Their set at Splendour was like a mini version of this show but was no less enjoyable - it had been at Splendour 2002 that we had first seen Doves, so it was great to hear them under the Supertop again.

As some wandered off for beer or a toilet break, we made our way closer to the stage for Bloc Party. Their blend of indie-guitar-dance music was a fun experience, and even though the band have sold out so many of their shows worldwide, there was still a great sense of joy in their performance. They played many songs from from their debut album "Silent Alarm", and as an inflated beach ball (ubiquitous at these festivals, it seems) bounced on stage, Kele kicked it deep into the audience mid-song, much to the enjoyment of the crowd, who were joining in and singing along.

Finally it was time for Interpol, who played a very cool set, which included some of their more uptempo songs. A special moment was when another inflated beach ball made its way to the stage, only to be ignored by the band and finally retrieved by a roadie.

Interpol were my highlight of the festival, followed closely by The Futureheads, but I also really enjoyed Bloc Party and Doves.

We caught some of the set by The Finn Brothers, Neil and Tim Finn of Split Enz and Crowded House fame, but nothing could live up to the three bands we had just witnessed although the crowd in the Supertop seemed to be enjoying the show.

Moby closed the Supertop, but by that stage we were already on our way back to Azabu for a heated spa under the stars, reliving our favourite moments of the weekend and washing away the sweat and mud.

Special mention must also go out to the Church Of Two Hands And A Chicken who provided a weekend of weddings and exorcisms, preaching and whipping.

Check out radio station JJJ's web site for their Splendour review, full of audience comments and photos.

The gig I'm looking forward to next is Sigur Rós - next Friday.

Doves - Some Cities

Bloc Party - Banquet

The Futureheads - Piece Of Crap

Interpol - Interlude

Monday, July 25, 2005

Marlena Shaw

Chess Records Studio

This months Mojo magazine CD celebrates Chess Records.

Leonard and Phil Chess were already the proprietors of several Chicago nightclubs when they bought into the Aristocrat label in 1947. Initially, most of the material which came from the label was jazz or jump blues but this all began to change with the arrival of Muddy Waters. Following his first hit, 'I Can't Be Satisfied' the brothers bought out their other partner and in 1950 renamed the label Chess.

Marlena Shaw was born in Valhalla, New York in 1942 and started performing at a young age (she was 10 when she appeared at the Harlem Apollo with her uncle). Her jazz roots explain her identifiable scatting sound on this track which she cut for Chess subsidiary Cadet in the mid-'60s. From there Shaw went on to sing with Count Basie and release several albums on Blue Note before being rediscovered by the acid jazz generation in the '90s.

Marlena Shaw - Liberation Conversation

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Doves, Bloc Party, Interpol ...


having initially missed out on tickets to splendour in the grass, because they sold out in 24 hours, we decided to see doves in Brisbane. but then we managed to score some tickets to splendour anyway, so now i'm gonna see them twice this week. cool!


Bloc Party


The Futureheads

Queens Of The Stoneage

Mercury Rev

and heaps more

woo hoo! just gotta get through 1 more week of work ...

Doves - Black And White Town

Bloc Party - The Answer

Interpol - NYC (via epitonic)

Friday, July 15, 2005

The Baddies

The Baddies

The Baddies have been rocking Sydney for over 10 years, playing unashamedly 'old school' punk with the tightness of accomplished musicians, yet always with a Coopers or two at hand.

The Baddies have a history which stretches back to the early days of the punk and post-punk music scene in Canberra and Sydney. Paul Heyward played in the Young Docteurs and John Morris played in Club of Rome and the Moral Majority during the late seventies and early eighties.

The band have been accused of playing support spots at gigs so they can perform while still sober enough to do so proficiently, and also ensuring sufficient time for a few more beers before the bar closes. Guitarist and lead larrikin Paul Heyward plays using a cordless radio pick up on his guitar, so he doesn’t have the guitar lead limiting the distance he can stand from his amplifier. This leaves him free to wander around the crowd, over to the pool tables, up to - and even onto - the bar. Sometimes Paul takes his guitar for a walk out of the pub, across the street and finally back up onto the stage without missing a note. Meanwhile bass playing vocalist John Morris and drummer John Butler Terry Van Stee keep a constantly driving accompaniment.

Paul is an old friend of mine from when I was living in Sydney, and we spent many late nights playing records and guitars and drinking Coopers, and occasionally other beer. I saw many The Baddies gigs and always had a fun, and usually drunken, time. The Baddies live set consists of a mix of British Punk classics and original songs. The band have also released their debut album “The Baddies Worst” which consists entirely of original material and "The Cannon" an adaption of "Canon in D" by Johann Pachelbel.

I’ve posted a link to their video too where Paul is playing his very groovy Galanti Grand Prix guitar, an italian beauty from the 1960's.

If you're in Sydney and get the opportunity, check them out.

The Baddies - In The Mood

The Baddies - In The Mood (The Video)

Thursday, July 07, 2005

The Triffids

Day Of The Triffids

The Triffids were formed in Perth in 1980 by singer/songwriter David McComb, his guitarist/violinist brother Robert and drummer Alsy MacDonald. Initially influenced by the Velvet Underground, Patti Smith, Kraftwerk, Television and early Talking Heads, McComb's songs drew heavily on the stark desolation of his rural upbringing, incorporating elements of country and blues to paint haunting portraits of isolation and longing.

Shortly after the addition of Martyn Casey and keyboardist Jill Birt, the band recorded its 1983 debut Treeless Plain for the Hot label, followed a year later by the EP Raining Pleasure.

Heralding the arrival of steel guitarist "Evil" Graham Lee, 1986's Born Sandy Devotional was the Triffids' creative breakthrough and this is the album which the posted track comes from. After recording the low-budget follow-up In the Pines in a wool-shearing shed in the Australian outback, the group signed to Island to issue their 1987 major label hilight Calenture. 1989's The Black Swan was well received, but the success wasn't overwhelming, which disappointed the the band to the point where they soon after dissolved.

Martyn Casey went on to become a Black Eyed Susan and a Bad Seed with Nick Cave amongst other things.

David McComb went on to work with the Black Eyed Susans before mounting a solo career with 1994's Love of Will. McComb died only three days after a car accident on February 2, 1999.

The Triffids - Wide Open Road