All Tomorrow's Parties, Brisbane Riverstage
The All Tomorrow’s Parties full day festival in Brisbane was held at the Riverstage, surrounded by the Brisbane River on one side and nudged up against the Botanical Gardens, a lovely location for this music festival generally aimed at, and certainly attended by, a more mature audience.
We arrived on a hot summer’s afternoon to a venue with little shade to catch most of soul / jazz / guitar legend James Blood Ulmer’s performance, who played a very personable and enjoyable bluesy set.
It must have been disconcerting for the artists performing early in the afternoon, as the majority of the audience directly in front of the stage were standing in the limited available shade. This meant most were gathered primarily to one side of the stage, as the sun moved across the sky.
The heat was still evident when the avante-jazz trio The Necks took to the stage to play an interesting set-long jam, as is their want. I have seen these guys a few times now and they never disappoint. With only upright bass, piano and drums The Necks create a myriad of sounds and textures. My second favourite set of the day.
After The Necks we retreated to the shade of the hill amongst the smokers to catch Robert Forster and his band play a collection of songs from his solo career and a few old Go-Betweens favourites. A very nice set of lovely songs it was too, with Robert in fine form, and slowly the crowd in front of the stage, and in the venue, continued to grow.
Spiritualized were on next and as the sun finally started to provide sufficient shade for the audience to fill out the ampitheatre the band launched into a selection of their psychedelic guitar tunes, with a few minor hits thrown in for good measure. With a seven piece band, including a two girl “choir” the band put out quite a sound.
Then it was back into the fray (to some extent, at least) to catch the set I had been waiting for.
The Saints were to play their debut album I’m Stranded in its entirety. Surely this album (and most certainly the single, widely accepted as the first punk single released) are part of the backbone of Australia’s alternative music scene.
The sun was setting, the bats were flying above our heads and there was anticipation in the air. I wasn’t too concerned when The Saints didn’t open with this signature tune, but it was soon evident that, in typical “fuck you” punk attitude, they were just playing a set of their choosing, which included a few tracks from their debut.
To my ears and heart it was a bit of a lacklustre performance, although it seems fair enough that the band wouldn’t maintain the aggression and attitude after over 30 years. Chris Bailey’s delivery missed the sneer-ey attitude of yore. Ed Kuepper thrashed at his guitar, but from my standing position his sound was criminally way too low in the mix.
There was no interaction between these two famously antagonistic personalities, and as the set progressed, during many of the moments when he wasn’t singing, Chris Bailey was repeatedly and over-dramatically gesturing towards Ed Kuepper in a weird deferential way. I couldn’t get my head around it.
The Saints set had a few highlights, but it didn’t meet my admittedly rather high expectations, especially after hearing the excellent reports from their Pig City show last year. They didn’t even play the song I’m Stranded? To their home town?? But they did choose to play the cover version track Kissin’ Cousins??? Go figure … and maybe go see The Laughing Clowns.
But don’t take my word for it, Bob over at That Striped Sunlight Sound was closer to the stage and has some great photos of many of the bands from the latter half of the day, and he loved the Saints show …. Check out Bob’s blog entry here
And then it was time for the headline band, and the curators of the festival.
The impeccably dressed Bad Seeds graced the stage to a roar only outdone when a very dapper looking Nick Cave also emerged. Undoubtedly the king of alternative music in Australia with a backing band containing members with successful solo careers of their own or members of many of the most famous bands this country has produced including The Triffids and The Dirty Three, many of the band still have successful international careers, a testament to their devotion to both Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds legacy.
The passage of 30 years hasn’t dampened Nick Cave or his band, in fact if anything he just keeps getting better as an entertainer.
They played tracks ranging from the new album Dig, Lazarus, Dig and even stretched back to the second album, From Her To Eternity, with the inclusion of my favourite track, Tupelo and a huge collection of hits from between these periods.
With the sonic mayhem of Warren Ellis (of The Dirty Three) and the strong foundation provided by career-long musical partner in crime, Mick Harvey, the Bad Seeds were brutal and beautiful.
The hour and a half long set was barely long enough. Long live the king!
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds - Tupelo
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