Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Paul Weller: Melbourne

I thought I might have been being greedy and wasteful, going to see Paul Weller in Melbourne. It cost a bit, and I'd already enjoyed a great night in Adelaide the week before. Perhaps I should have been satisfied with my lot. Having said that, the quality of the Adelaide gig probably encouraged me to think that it was the right decision to travel across. What the hell, you're only here once.

Without any shadow of a doubt, it turned out to be money very well spent.

We got to The Forum pretty early, and entered as soon as they opened the doors. We had a pint, caught up with some people we knew, and then milled around the empty space. We contemplated sitting down for the show, but we couldn't help ourselves. Being early meant we could get up to the stage without any problems, and we started our evening about four people deep. Given that a few people's desire to push in was greater then my desire to fight (zero), we ended up about seven deep. No problem, we're all friends. I did take exception to one individual though. He was the antithesis of your typical Paul Weller punter; dirty, smelly, hairy, and there on a free ticket with his horrible missus. I don't mind a bit of contact in the close-quarters of a gig crowd, but this plank was out of order. The two of them were pushing in, lurching all over the place, annoying everyone and, once I'd reached breaking point, I gave him an almighty shove. This was followed by a few verbals and, although the apeman was threatening all sorts, he didn't touch me (or look at me) again all night. Tosser.
On the positive side, I met a top bloke from New Zealand who had travelled over with his wife especially for the gig, all booked and paid for a day before Weller announced he would head over to NZ after his Australian tour. He didn't care; he was made up just to be at the concert.
The show was brilliant. Loads of different songs from the Adelaide performance: Peacock suit, From the floorboards up, Paper chase, Echoes round the sun, Scrape away, and one of my all time favourites: Strange town. Heady stuff. It was good and loud, and the crowd were into it. It wasn't too mental where we were but there was plenty of good natured bumping and swaying, clapping and singing. So many Weller fans, most of which have been listening for 30 years or more. Pretty green, Start!, That's entertainment, even Art school, for god's sake. You can imagine the good vibe. And it's not all about yesterday - most of the material from the last two albums holds up very well. There was barely a flat spot in the whole performance. Maybe when the great man's chewing gum slipped from his mouth and onto his guitar...
After a prolonged wait for a third encore that didn't eventuate, we emerged, a little sweaty and a bit knackered, from the theatre. Blokes were selling knock off t-shirts in the lane outside; I decided not to bother. The pub on the corner was shut so it was back to the room and time for a cup of tea.

Deep down inside I wished I was going again tonight...

Set list- Oct 26 2010
1. Peacock Suit (Heavy soul)
2. 7 & 3 is the striker's name (Wake up the nation)
3. From the floorboards up (As is now)
4. All I wanna do is be with you (22 dreams)
5. Andromeda (Wake up the nation)
6. Strange town (single - The Jam)
7. Into tomorrow (Paul Weller)
8. Paper chase (new song)
9. Up the dosage (Wake up the nation)
10. Aim high (Wake up the nation)
11. No tears to cry (Wake up the nation)
12. Shout to the top (single - The Style Council)
13. That's entertainment (Sound affects - The Jam)
14. Trees (Wake up the nation)
15. How sweet it is (cover)
16. Fast car/Slow traffic (Wake up the nation)
17. Pretty green (Sound affects - The Jam)
18. Start! (Sound affects - The Jam)
19. Echoes round the sun (22 dreams)

1. Art School (In the city - The Jam)
2. Come on/Let's go (As is now)
3. Scrape away (Sound affects - The Jam)

1. Pieces of a dream (Wake up the nation)
2. The changingman (Stanley Road)

Saturday, October 23, 2010

One week down

At least I have a view from my window ... nice, isn't it?

I returned to work this week. It's not been the shock to the system that I expected, in fact it has been pretty easygoing. People have been kind, as well as genuinely interested in how I've spent the last six months. I have gently rebuilt my relationships, my routine, and I have come to grips with a new role.
It all seems just the same as when I left it. The only thing that might have significantly changed is me. Which was sort of the idea behind running away for such a long time.
There's been no frustration, no panic, and no grumpiness. Long may that continue. Time will tell.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

One of those nights...

Sometimes it all falls into place.

A few weeks back, I received a text message from Ronnie Taheny, asking me if I would like to support her at an upcoming SCALA performance evening. It was to be her last Adelaide performance until early 2012, as she is soon off to Scotland and will then (I guess) return to her Frankfurt base. I almost never turn down a gig, and I certainly wasn't going to pass up the opportunity to showcase my songs while on the same bill as the impressive Ms Taheny. I said yes immediately.
As the evening grew closer, it seemed as though the gods were conspiring against me. I almost never catch colds and the like, yet one week before the performance I was struck down with a headcold. It had me coughing and spluttering throughout most evenings, and my voice sounded like I was channeling Jack Nicholson. Great. If that wasn't enough, my thumb decided to split open, through dryness, and the pain centred exactly at the point where the thumb applies pressure to the pick. Double-great. Also, I was back in my day job, which kind of gets in the way of the music mindset...
I continued my usual schedule of rehearsal, rasping through my catalogue of songs and wincing while strumming. Hoping against hope that I would get well soon.
The evening arrived. I wasn't a lot better, but I was resolved to show some backbone and just get on with it. The show must go on.
Perhaps I was inspired my recent attendance at the Paul Weller gig, or perhaps it was the fact that this was a bit of a special evening, I don't know - but tonight was a night I will remember for a while.
A healthy crowd turned up early, and it was pleasing to see a couple of enclaves of David Robinson invitees ensconced in the midst of the audience.
Peter Wilson was first up, playing his own brand of pop/folk/punk songs through his amp, sounding a little like an Adelaide Billy Bragg. It was the first time I'd seen Peter play, and I hope I will see him again soon.
I hit the stage second, feeling good and ready to rock. My ailments didn't seem to affect my performance at all - my voice felt alright, and my thumb was pain-free. I launched into my set and, as usual, the whole performance seemed to pass far too quickly. Seven (and a bit) songs, all done and dusted in just over 30 minutes. All of my newer numbers, with a few of my favourites thrown in. The crowd seemed into it. I did my best to mach schau and played, sang and chatted with enthusiasm. It was a shame (for me at least) that I had to finish. I felt pretty groovy as I stepped from the stage.
Feedback from friends and punters was positive, and I got the feeling that I'd gone down well with the masses. Someone splashed out and bought a copy of A Drop in the Ocean; it's always pleasing to sell an album.
Ronnie played last, and it was great to sit down amongst friends, have a beer, and watch one of Adelaide's best exports strut her stuff. She played for an hour, trotting out many of my favourite Taheny songs.
I left Higher Ground a very happy man indeed. A great night.

If every day as a musician was like today, I'd never do anything else...

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Paul Weller: Adelaide

I went along to the Entertainment Centre on Sunday night, the last day of my rather wonderful extended break, to see Paul Weller. Weller is one of my major influences, and I'm not ashamed to say that I have been a fan for many years - ever since I first heard The Jam back in the late 1970s. I appeared on a Paul Weller tribute CD a few years back which was a great moment for me, as well as being a lot of fun. The track I chose to cover was The Place I Love, from the classic All Mod Cons album.
I've seen him once before; on the Isle of Wight in 2008. That gig was fantastic, the stuff of legend. I wasn't sure how he could top it.
I think, however, that on Sunday he just about did.
Lean, confident, happy and, above all else, accomplished - Weller looked at ease throughout the evening. This was no doubt helped by the wide-ranging talents of the band, and the collective good vibe that was exuded. They roared through a set list that was largely rooted in the last two Paul Weller albums, but featured classics from The Jam and The Style Council, as well as from other solo efforts.
At the tender age of 52, the newly-married Weller gives the impression that he is a man enjoying life, bringing his mod classics to life in front of passionate, informed audiences.
And I am off to Melbourne to see him again next week!

Set list- Oct 17 2010
1. 22 dreams (22 dreams)
2. Push it along (22 dreams)
3. Andromeda (Wake up the nation)
4. 7 & 3 is the striker's name (Wake up the nation)
5. Into tomorrow (Paul Weller)
6. Sea spray (22 dreams)
7. All I wanna do is be with you (22 dreams)
8. That's entertainment (Sound Affects - The Jam)
9. Aim high (Wake up the nation)
10. No tears to cry (Wake up the nation)
11. Shout to the top (single - The Style Council)
12. Up the dosage (Wake up the nation)
13. Broken stones (Stanley Road)
14. How sweet it is (cover)
15. Trees (Wake up the nation)
16. You do something to me (Stanley Road)
17. Empty ring (22 dreams)
18. Pretty green (Sound Affects - The Jam)
19. Start! (Sound Affects - The Jam)
20. Fast car/Slow traffic (Wake up the nation)
21. Moonshine (Wake up the nation)

1. Wake up the nation (Wake up the nation)
2. Pieces of a dream (Wake up the nation)
3. Art School (In the city - The Jam)
4. Come on/Let's go (As is now)

1. The changingman (Stanley Road)
2. Porcelain gods (Stanley Road)

Sunday, October 17, 2010

The Lecter Factor

Over the past few days I have watched all of the Hannibal Lecter films. Some are better than others, but the concentrated experience of viewing them all (special features included) was a worthwhile pursuit. I watched them in a strange order that didn't follow the chronology of either the film releases or the central character. It made sense at the time...
I kicked off with Manhunter, the original, pre-Anthony Hopkins adaptation of the Thomas Harris novel Red Dragon. It was made in 1986, and is a pretty good effort. In a few small ways it is better than Red Dragon, made some 16 years later. I watched the 2002 version second. Overall it is better than its predecessor.
Silence of the Lambs came next, for many people the definitive Lecter film, and I followed up with the enjoyable, but overblown, Hannibal. Hopkins and Jodie Foster make the first film great, and it should come as no surprise to find that I agree with those who say it is the pick of the bunch.
I finished my marathon with Hannibal Rising, an OK film, but missing the vital ingredient that made the others, including Manhunter, so good.

A pleasant way to while away a few afternoons, helped along by a dish of fava beans and a nice Chianti. No liver though; I'm a vegetarian.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Nose to the grindstone

I am headed back to work on Monday. It's been five and a bit months since I was last there, and the break has been brilliant. I've been much busier than I expected, and there's plenty of stuff that I am still trying to get to. I haven't read as much as I would have liked (damn you, Ulysses!), haven't written enough music, nor have I learned many new culinary skills. But these are all things that can be worked on.
Having said all of that that, the house and garden are about as well organised as they have ever been, I've been to England, written a number of articles for magazines, and toured the Flinders Ranges on my bike. I've performed a few times, and become better acquainted with my recording studio. I've watched loads of films, and listened to plenty of music. The household technology has advanced, with most appliances and applications integrating successfully. It's been a hoot.

Salad days, indeed.

I'm not sure if this blog will continue. We will see.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Reading List

I am still wading through James Joyce's Ulysses. It is a great read, but it is taking time.
I was hoping to read loads of books while on leave but it just hasn't happened. Here's a list of some recent (and not so recent) acquisitions that are still requiring my attention:

1. A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
2. The Art and Music of John Lennon - Peter Doggett
3. The Modfather: My Life With Paul Weller - David Lines
4. With Nails - Richard E Grant
5. Tragically I Was an Only Twin - The Complete Peter Cook
6. Dream Catcher - Margaret Salinger
7. Skinheads - John King
8. All of my Moomintroll books - Tove Jansson
9. The Trials of Lenny Bruce - Collins and Skover
10. Finest and Darkest Hours - Kevin Jefferys

I suspect there's more to be added to the list. But these will do for now. I might need to hire someone to read them for me...

Friday, October 8, 2010


As I type, the last strains of the Let It Be album are fading into nothingness. Earlier today I decided to listen to every 'proper' studio Beatles album in chronological order. There's 13 of them, if you include Yellow Submarine and Magical Mystery Tour, and don't include A Collection of Beatles' Oldies... But Goldies! Around 11.30 this morning I stuck Please Please Me into the CD player, and have been listening ever since...
I did take a break. I spent five hours playing Beatles covers with a couple of mates. What a great way to spend a Friday night. I'm sure there's room in Adelaide for another Beatles band, and we are just the guys to do it. Keep an eye out for The Nowhere Men. We rock. And we roll.

I guess you could say it has been a Beatles kind of day.

Tomorrow is John Lennon's Birthday. Happy 70th birthday John. Rest in peace. I miss you.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Back in the groove.

Well, here we are then. A week has passed since I last updated this site. Time flies when you're keeping busy.
I guess I've been a little "off" with music for a few weeks. I was happier living the Farmer Giles life, pottering around in the vegetable garden and shed. Such is life. The shed and associated bombsite are looking a lot better. I was strong; I managed to get rid of quite a bit of stuff to friends, family or hard refuse. The inside requires work, but I'm hoping for a productive day on Saturday.
Enough of the mundane aspects of my life. Although, depending on how you look at it, I guess it could all be considered mundane.

I have finished the music and lyrical theme for I Never Noticed. I just need to bed down some decent lyrics.
The Metro was great fun on Tuesday night - I played a song I haven't performed live for ages, Happy Acres. It went down well..
I am rehearsing Beatles' songs with friends tomorrow night for another project.
Yours Truly (Ken & I) will be reuniting and playing in December; I am trying to tee up some gigs for this year's fun and games.
I have been booked to appear on Arts Breakfast on the 16th of this month. I always have a good time at Radio Adelaide and am looking forward to doing it again.
It looks like I have arranged two daytime shows at Goodwood for the end of November.
I have two (two!) Paul Weller concerts to look forward to in the next few weeks. I am hoping for inspiration...
The biggest and best news is that I am playing at Higher Ground on October 21st. Ronnie Taheny had generously asked me to support her at the SCALA showcase she is headlining. I'd better get on with some rehearsing!

Back in the musical saddle. Good times indeed.