Before I head off to another concert tonight I figured I’d best put fingers to keyboard and write about last Saturday’s gigging. As a child of the 80s, I couldn’t resist the lure of the Totally 80s show touring around the country. I probably wouldn’t see any of the acts on their own, but put them all together and I knew I was in for a fun night.
Unfortunately Stacey Q was unwell, so she didn’t perform. I didn’t mind too much, as “Two of Hearts” was never one of my favourite tracks. That left Men Without Hats to open up the show. They were such an 80s guilty pleasure, with the songs always outshining the vocals. I didn’t expect those vocals to be quite as terrible as they were though. Lead singer Ivan Doroschuk’s offbeat energy certainly entertained though. And their performance was mercifully quick; they played the two big singles “Pop Goes the World” and “The Safety Dance” before exiting the stage.

Those short sets were just what I was hoping for at a show like this. Give the people what they want and move on. Maynard F# Crabbes, who you may remember from numerous TV and radio gigs in the 80s and 90s, kept the night running like a well-oiled machine, introducing acts and then sending them on their way in his bold gold suit. It worked a treat, especially forbands like Real Life and Wa Wa Nee whose material I was the least familiar with. Unlike so many of the crowd, I was too young for the pubs and clubs in the 80s, so I don’t have the same memories they did of dancing until late to their songs.

Real Life, or at least lead singer Richard Zatorski, were the first to fly the Aussie flag. I loved the theatre of his performance; the big hit “Send Me an Angel” was everything I hoped it’d be.

When Paul Gray stepped down from his spot in the house band and moved into the spotlight, punters rose to their feet and filled the sides of the venue where they could dance and sing. They seemed to know every word to every Wa Wa Nee song, and I found myself watching their elation a little more than the performance. I will give Paul Gray props for bringing out the only keytar of the night.

The first real stand-out performance of the night for me was Katrina, minus her Waves. Here is a performer who sounds every bit as good as she did decades ago, and she has the energy to match it. She made delivering a high-energy number like “Walking On Sunshine” look easy. However, I was a little disappointed that “Love Shine a Light” didn’t make her two-song set, especially since Maynard had mentioned her Eurovision win. I didn’t know the track she opened with, and while it was good I couldn’t sing along.

Limahl of Kajagoogoo was thoroughly charming, but his voice couldn’t quite sustain the notes it once could. Thank goodness for Robyn Loau, who supported him through those challenging highs of “The Never Ending Story.” “Too Shy” was also loads of fun, even if it didn’t sound quite as good as the record.

I expected to hate Paul Lekakis’ set. I was never a big fan of “Boom Boom (Let’s Go Back To My Room).”But he was incredible. I may have been more than a little won over by that body, which looks like it hasn’t aged a day since the 80s. And that face. Add some high energy dance moves, both by Paul and his leggy female backing dancers, and what’s not to love? He was the real surprise package of the night.

I think Berlin might have had the longest set of the night, but I didn’t begrudge them that one bit. Again I knew just a handful of songs – “No More Words” and “Take My Breath Away” – and they performed them both flawlessly. Terri Nunn has such an impressive voice. She oozes charisma and really engages with her audience. And the band is tight. I was a little surprised to hear one of their songs was brand new, but when a band is as good as Berlin there’s no real reason to stop and simply rest on nostalgia.

Martika was the closer, and the artist I’d most looked forward to. I remember being infatuated with her ever since I heard her poppy cover of “I Feel the Earth Move,” a track that my dad hated because he felt it was far inferior to the original. Martika is another singer who has lost nothing over the years. The way she danced around the stage, yet delivered stellar vocals, puts the Britneys of the world to shame. I was anticipating “Love Thy Will Be Done,” a song I heard Prince perform so beautifully just a few months ago. She dedicated her performance to the man who penned it for her, noting how much we all miss him. She sang it beautifully. As she segued into the refrain from “Purple Rain,” I had to wipe a couple of tears from my eyes. We stayed in Minneapolis for the following song, “Martika’s Kitchen,” another track written by the Purple One. I’d forgotten just how much I loved this playful song, and how well Martika raps. “Toy Soldiers,” the last number of Martika’s set and the night, closed out this nostalgia-fest beautifully.

While there were some lowlights, Totally 80s was an incredible night which proved many of the iconic acts of the decade are every bit as good as they once were. Hopefully the promoters will put together another bill of 80s favourites next year, because I’d love to do it all again.

No comments

If you’re off to Splendour this weekend, make sure you don’t miss Illy. This home-grown rapper is in fine form at the moment, which you can hear on his latest single “Papercuts,” a collaboration with Sydney’s Vera Blue.

“I’ve been holding on to Papercuts for a while, and I’m really excited that it’s finally coming out,” Illy said in a press release. “It’s a different vibe to anything I’ve done before. I love that about it. A lot of rap music’s been uninspiring lately. I wanted to make an album that didn’t sound like anything else out, and bring back those big moments and big songs that make albums stand out. I can’t wait to share the rest of this one.”

“Papercuts” is likely to feature on Illy’s fifth studio album, which he’s currently working on with M-Phazes. No doubt Splendour attendees will get a sneak peek at some of the other tracks from that release.

No comments

Good honest pop-rock is something we just don’t hear enough of at the moment, so I’m pretty excited to hear “Time,” a new single from the Yarra Valley’s Shaun Black.

There’s more than a hint of blues in this track, which is Shaun’s first single. He sings with a whole lot of soul and plays the guitar like nobody’s business. The song’s lyrics are also so relatable for many of us in this fast-paced modern world.

“This song is about something we all seem to not have enough of,” Shaun explained in a press release. “In today’s world full of smartphones and deadlines I think we all feel at some point in time that we need to get back in touch with ourselves and our own lives.”

What do you think of the song?

No comments

When the Veronicas topped the singles charts last week with “In My Blood,” I was too swamped with paying gigs to cover it. Now they’ve repeated the feat, I thought I’d better make time to note their achievements. Will the sisters equal their longest reign at number one, achieved with “You Ruin Me” in September 2014, and stay at the top spot for another week?

Last week’s number one album, Wings of the Wild by Delta Goodrem has slipped to number two to make way for another homegrown Aussie act, The Avalanches. Sixteen years after the release of their celebrated debut album Since I Left You, the Melbourne electronic act has snared their first number one with the follow-up, Wildflower.

Another former one, Ripcord by Keith Urban, has shown it has real staying power. It has remained at number seven this week, 10 weeks after its debut. The always popular Hillsong United has risen to number eight with their latest release, Of Dirt And Grace – Live From The Land.

Here’s a closer look at this week’s top ten singles and albums.

Top 10 Albums
1. Wildflower – The Avalanches
2. Wings of the Wild – Delta Goodrem
3. California – Blink-182
4. 25 – Adele
5. Lemonade – Beyonce
6. The Getaway – Red Hot Chilli Peppers
7. Ripcord – Keith Urban
8. Of Dirt And Grace – Live From The Land – Hillsong United
9. Blank Face LP – ScHoolboy Q
10. Views – Drake

Top 10 Singles
1. “In My Blood” – The Veronicas
2. “One Dance” – Drake feat. Wizkid & Kyla
3. “This is What You Came For” – Calvin Harris feat. Rihanna
4. “Treat You Better” – Shawn Mendes
5. “Can’t Stop the Feeling!” – Justin Timberlake
6. “Too Good” – Drake featuring Rihanna
7. “Don’t Let Me Down” – The Chainsmokers feat. Daya
8. “Me Too” – Meghan Trainor
9. “Don’t Be So Shy” – Imany
10. “We Don’t Talk Anymore” – Charlie Puth feat. Selena Gomez

No comments

I’ve long been a fan of Henry Wagons’ slightly unhinged style of Americana folk. He’s served up another winner with his latest song “Head Or Heart.”

“Nashville is a town full of some of the finest in music and booze. A musician’s paradise! It’s the perfect storm for getting in a real mess. ‘Head or Heart’ is a song about that time of the night when it becomes difficult to decide between your rational mind, or what’s below the belt. The head or the heart,” Henry explained in a press release.

The clip has got just the right sort of spontaneous feel to suit the song. It sees Henry on a music-making frenzy, shaking the foundations of a fully stocked garage along with the band that helped him put together his recently released solo album After What I Did Last Night.

Henry Wagons is currently touring around North America. He’s set to announce some Aussie dates soon.

16 & 17 July 2016 – Vancouver Folk Festival, Vancouver
21 July 2016 – The Flying Steamshovel, Rossland
23 July 2016 – Vinomania Secret Wine Party, Edmonton
24 July 2016 – Interstellar Rodeo, Edmonton
25 July 2016 – Secret Show, Edmonton
26 July 2016 – Ironwood, Calgary
29 July 2016 – Live From the Divide, Bozeman
30 July 2016 – Red Ants Pants Festival, White Sulphur Springs
3 August 2016 – Music City Roots, Nashville
5 August 2016 – Hill Country Live DC, Washington
6 August 2016 – Hill Country Live NYC, New York City
11 August 2016 – Dakota Tavern, Toronto
12 August 2016 – Pearl Company, Hamilton
14 August 2016 – Interstellar Rodeo, Winnipeg

No comments

After taking much of 2015 off and almost disbanding, The Bon Scotts are back with a cracking new single “Main Street.”

It’s a politically charged look at the racism that so often masquerades as patriotism these days, and the way society needs conversations, understanding, and empathy rather than anger and ignorance. It asks the poignant question “Can either side be part of the solution when they often seem to be the root cause of the problem?” The video was shot by the band in their hometown of Coburg at a race rally this May.

This is the first song to come from the band’s upcoming new album When I’m Lonely I Still Think Of You, which should drop next March.

No comments

With her debut album This Paradise in stores today, it seemed the perfect time to share Lucy Roleff’s new single “Aspen” with you.

This is such a beautiful song, delicate and haunting. I’ve heard it classified as chamber folk, which is a pretty apt descriptor if you ask me. There’s something almost spiritual about it.

If you love this song, and you want to hear more, make sure you get This Paradise, which is available on CD, vinyl, and for digital download from today. Lucy will launch the album at The Gasometer in Collingwood on July 28.

No comments

With a weekend looming, most of us are probably feeling pretty good about life. “Firetrain,” the latest single from Adelaide muso Todd Sibbin is the perfect accompaniment to those good vibes. With its hand claps and bold trumpets, this optimistic number is a real winner.

Todd describes the single as “being about putting out psychological fires, both the ones you create yourself, and the ones others create for you.”

“Firetrain” is just one of the excellent songs on Todd Sibbin’s new album The Bottled Ship Got Freedom, which is available now.

No comments

With a loyal fan base and plenty of buzz, Runaway Weekend could well be the next big thing. When they released the video for “Déjà Vu,” the title track from their debut EP, recently it garnered 20,000 views in just a couple of days.

I love the way this band plays with light and shade. The song is so epic and dramatic in places, but delicately restrained in others. I’m doubly impressed that Runaway Weekend have written, produced, and recorded this song and the others on their EP themselves. It’s got such a professional sound that we don’t normally see from acts just starting to play with production.

“We really hope that people can find something of themselves in our music and if they do, hopefully they can also lock themselves away in it to escape from reality for a bit, like we do with our favourite bands,” the guys from Runaway Weekend explained.

“At the end of the day we’re just some teenagers from Adelaide who want to affect people, we want to make people feel something, be that utter happiness or realisation. Through our music we want to touch people, like we’ve been touched by artists and if we can do half as good a job as the artists we admire, we’d be totally complete.”

Runaway Weekend are currently touring their EP. You can catch them at Wrangler in Melbourne on the 16th of July and Producer’s Bar in Adelaide on July 18.

No comments

With the release of their latest single “Young Gun,” Sydney quartet Burn Antares continue to show they’re like no one else on the modern musical landscape.

There’s a sweetness in frontwoman Grace Farriss’s vocals which is beautifully tempered by the song’s big crunchy chords. It’s a throwback to the heady heyday of glam and psychedelic rock, but it somehow manages to sound fresh rather than dated.

“We typically spend countless hours creating our songs, being very clinical and harsh with ourselves but with Young Gun, it was quite different. We went at it with open minds and experimented a lot more with sounds in the studio and generally had a bit more fun with it,” Grace explained in a press release. “I think the end result is a great reflection of the process and the vibe was captured perfectly by our producer Tony [Buchen].”

Is “Young Gun” the cure for what ails you this Thursday morning?

Image used with permission from Rare Finds

No comments