Live Review: College Fall At The Broken Hill.

There’s a division between the cover and original bands in this town. A lof of people on the original scene are against covers in a big way. The thought of making money from playing other people’s music, to crowds that aren’t always interested unless you play ‘Run To Paradise’ or tunes of that familarity, is not something appeals to many local, original musos.

However, in pubs that don’t normally count as original venues, there can be songwriters going through 3 hour gigs, playing 3 sets. Often part of the Champion Agency stable, who book a lof of pubs around town, acts like College Fall, Nathan Gaunt and Leena often combine orginals with covers. Covers increase towards the end of the night, when pub goers (not necessarily music punters in this case) are intoxicated. and answer the call for requests by9 shouting obvious (the afore mentioned choirboys song) and the not-so obvious for an acoustic act (Rage Against The Machine).

Sundays this month, sees College Fall do a residency at the Broken Hill Hotel In Vic Park. A pub which was one of those old cassic pubs, that were dodgy, that your trendy mates would go ‘ew’ and would never drink there, has been renovated into one of those ‘we’re going to try to be trendy like the Brisbane’ types. Only the pub went to far and forgot, while it’s near South Perth, it’s Vic Park.

The inside is a bit arificial, the beer garden is actually quite nice.

Anyway, ‘The Fall opened their first set with the two main songs off their ‘Three Letters’ album – the songs were ‘Gravity’ and ‘Built An Empty Home’. Both very autobiographical, honest songs, these were songs that the two core members of CF wrote about each other as part of a concept album about their love life.

In between originals they dipped into the covers, playing a nice version of a Cyndi Lapur 80s song ‘Time After Time’ which can be found on an early College Fall Demo.

Switching between male and Female vocals it made for a variation on pop songwriting, which can be a little vanilla flavoured, in the sense it’s not hugely original in the song structure or sound. However tunes win the day in this case, and the strong pop songwriting of the duo won over more fans tonight, evident by the selling of a few albums in the break.

Set 2 held more covers and originals – including Musto playing songs from his previous bands, The Nordeens and Showbag.

A nice way to spend Sunday Afternoon. Enjoy a sunday session at pubs like this with some quality original music. Don’t be ashamed to call for Chisel or Crowded House either. Or Rage Against The Machine. Yes, this acoustic duo, do a cover of RATM’s most famous song ‘Killing In the Name Of’. Needs to be heard by Rage fans, it’s definitely an unique version.


Farewell – The Avenues

Farewell – The Avenues
Review/Photos by Dylan McArdle
If you’d asked me three or four years ago who my favourite local band was – I probably would have answered without hesitation “The Avenues”. While there’s been many strong pop/rock bands on the scene, The Avenues had something that made them stand out for me; perhaps it was Cain Turnley’s sweet vocals or Andy Lawson’s ability to let loose with the guitar on stage.

Having not played in some time, I’d kinda figured the band had gone the same way as Cain’s previous band Cartman and was in extended hiatus until I found out about Saturday’s CD launch.  Unfortunately, The Avenues weren’t ready to take on the world (as it said in the Amplifier newsletter) as this was also their farewell show. Given that, it was a show I had to make it down to.

Andy Lawson
Andy Lawson

Cain Turnley
Cain Turnley

Shaun Sibbes
Shaun Sibbes

Steve Parkin
Guest vocalist Steve Parkin

(click thumbnails for larger images)

Unlike previous CD launches, there were no support acts under obscure aliases, but instead we were treated by a great performance from a band I’d not seen before – The Preytells.  A combination of strong vocals and tidy guitar work means that this indie pop act is one I’ll definitely look out for in the future.

But as good as The Preytells were (for those inside to see them), the night belonged to The Avenues.  Some CD launches and farewells are all about getting guests up on stage to join in and this was no different, but it was the way it was well organised that made it special. On the older Avenues tracks, the “current” lineup made way for Tom Craig and Nic Jonsson and it felt like we’d gone back in time – especially hearing classics like “Company” for the first time in who knows how long.  The band members, new and old, were far from rusty too and I think the pre-launch practice sessions must have paid off.  It was like they’d never been apart.

For a band with a decent number of original tracks – a couple of familiar covers in “History Never Repeats” and “Taxman” were also highlights of the set.  The later featured another favourite of mine – ex Autopilot front man Steve Parkin on vocals.

It was fitting that after an hour or so on stage that the last song of the night was indeed strongest track – “Gold and Grey” and as I remembered from times before Andy Lawson cut loose on stage.  Sadly though, this would be the last time and despite the fact the band never really archived everything it could of done their career did end on a particular high and memorable note.

The Avenues Setlist

For the complete gallery of photos from the night, please visit:

Live Review: Bob Brozman @ Fly By Night Club (2008-09-20)

Live Review: Bob Brozman @ Fly By Night Club (2008-09-20)
Review by Leo Abbs

The Fly By Night is one of those venues where people can be seated, standing or sitting on the floor. Tonight it was the seated vibe. All eyes were on the man on stage, surrounded by an array of instruments. The man was Bob Brozman.

“It takes 5000 years to get good at music,
but you only get 80 or 90.”

When you put like that, you realise how much there is to learn about music. A gig with Bob Brozman is not just a live performance, it’s a music lesson too. He’s an incredibly talented musician with his musical training taking him all over the world, and for him to say that it takes that long to get good at music is a little baffling. He sounded pretty amazing from where I was.

When it boils down to it, Brozman is divided into two broad musical categories – Blues and World. Yet he would have to be the weirdest blues performer I’ve seen. I say that in a good way. He’s definitely got a unique sound. Any person who like the blues,or even just consider themselves a songwriter, would be advised to check this man out next time he’s in town. While he sounds good on record, it’s in the live setting, where he excels.

‘Hey Kids, have you ever been to a gig where I guy talks so much?’ He said

Maybe you haven’t, but so much of what he said between songs, was like I said before an education in music.

He played an array of instruments, some of which I’ve never seen played on stage. And perhaps in this current tour which has taken in 53 countries, he’ll probably find a few more to learn and next time – hopefully we see him again – he’ll probably be playing them on stage.

Another thing of note in this performance. He left the stage in intermission and went to the merchandise stand, talking to fans in the crowd as they asked him about his music and which CD’s they should buy. How often do you see a touring act do that? Most of the time they’re too busy hanging backstage.

All in all, we had a gig, a music lesson, a talk and experienced some unique music by a true individual.


Live Review: Rocket Science @ Norfolk Basement (2008-09-12)

Live Review: Rocket Science @ Norfolk Basement (2008-09-12)
Review/Photos by Dylan McArdle

Some bands come to down with a lot of hype, and other bands…well they make their noise on-stage. I’ve been a big fan or Melbourne rock band Rocket Science for a long time and as such I was eagerly awaiting last weekends shows, especially after hearing the new album.  And they didn’t disappoint.

It’s always nice to walk into the venue and instantly hear some you like and that was the case on Friday night at the Norfolk Basement when opening act The Shake Up had already taken the stage.  Sure, they are a no-frills punk/garage rock band, but they were very catchy and entertaining.  The boys looked like they were enjoying playing and didn’t care if the crowd was still kinda sparse.  It was nice to see some dancers in the crowd share the bands on-stage energy.  I would have bought their two track CD if they were selling it minus their T-shirt, but luckily for me their downloadable from their MySpace site.  Definitely a band I’ll look to check out again.

Tame Impala are one band making some noise over in the west and it was no surprise to see them on the bill now they are signed to Modular Records.  Once a side project of fellow up-and-comers Mink Mussel Creek, these guys are now a formidable act in their own right.  They not only have the retro look (almost to match the surrounding they were in), but the sound too and just that right amount of reverb coming through the speakers.  And they’ve been around long enough to sound polished and the building crowd appreciated this.  Singer Kevin Parker has a really great voice. As usual, they left their best track (Half Full Glass of Wine) ’till last and I know these boys have a bright future ahead of them (especially with a debut release coming up).

Kevin Parker - Tame Impala
Kevin Parker – Tame Impala

Roman Tucker - Rocket Science
Roman Tucker – Rocket Science

Now I’ve seen Rocket Science plenty of times before so I knew what to expect.  Crazy vocals and stage antics from lead singer Roman Tucker and powerful keyboards set them apart from other rock bands, not to mention the theremin as well.  But it’s been a while since they’ve last toured and to be honest Roman has stepped his performance up, a lot.  I don’t think I’d seem him leave his post behind the keyboard much, but this time when he wasn’t playing he was strutting his stuff at the front of the stage and off stage too.  I guess there’s nothing like a bit of crowd venturing and Roman did this during Six Foot Four early in the set and later on he let loose on Modern Life.  It was easy to see why he was sweating so much, and I’m actually quite surprised he didn’t hurt himself.  He did manage to tear a whole in the arse of his pants though!

With such a showman up front, the rest of the band kinda pales in comparison but it is important to note that there was a new guitarist on stage – Micky Heartbreaker. He may have only being playing in the band 3 or 4 weeks but he looked like an old hand and considering he’s been playing with Kit and Roman in side project The Ransome Brothers.

As with any good album tour show the band played the best of the new record and the best of what they previously had to offer – and there was no differing from the formula here.  It was a thoroughly good set, high on energy and intensity.  After the hour or so set there was an encore – short but sweet with a couple more songs that had some of the crowd asking where On Robot was.  For me – my ears hurt, my feet were sore and I’d sweated heaps more than I’d like but bloody hell I’d enjoyed myself.  This was one of the best live sets I’ve seen this year, not quite as good as Shihad @ Capitol a couple of weeks back but not far off.  It was a worthy performance from a band that’s earned their reputation as a mighty fine live band.

Live Review: Wormhole/TTOL/The Wilderness/ Sans Sangria

Wormhole / Tangled Thoughts of Leaving / The Wilderness / Sans Sangria
Railway Hotel (44 Tydeman Rd, North Fremantle)
Friday 30th November 2007
Review by Leo Abbs

The Railway Hotel is the latest venue to give original music a go, and it certainly has a lot of potential. It has a fantastic indoor band room with good viewing capacity, a large stage, comfy chairs and also an outdoor stage. Tonight’s show was inside, but I’m told the outside area is used regularly as well.

Sans Sangria were first up to bat tonight, and they were late to start, due to their drummer, which cut their set short. Which was a shame as their set proved to be quite interesting. Early on, they played some of Graham’s Knapp more country flavoured tunes, with the band filling out the sound, in a refreshing and original way. Later in the set, it was apparent Knapp has a love of Radiohead, with some similar styled vocals.

Overall this band tended to lean towards experimental pop/rock or Post-Rock, and they weren’t afraid of trying different ideas, with hints of hip-hop in the vocal delivery in one song. They also ended with with Graham swapping instruments with the bass player, Justin, who lead the band through an instrumental.

The Wilderness were the most conventional band on the lineup today – but in no way were they boring. They play rock’n’roll that has a blues element and is heavily driven by the organ. At times the organ reminded me of the Doors. After seeing them do well in the Campus Bands, it was nice to be able to see them again.

Tangled Thoughts Of Leaving or (TTOL for short) were amazing. They are a unique beast in this town, there’s no one quite like them. They play crazy progressive rock, led by some amazing piano playing. It’s been almost a year since I last these guys, but they blew me away tonight. Playing only 4 songs in a 40 minute set, their musicianship was top notch, with Aaron on Synthezier sounding brilliant. There were less vocals this time, obviously they are leaning towards a more instrumental side, not they had much singing in the first place…

Playing after TTOL, Wormhole always were going to find it hard. However it was there gig, so they had a decent crowd, not huge, but enough friends to make it worthwhile. On CD, Wormhole come across as more orchestral and classical, but tonight they definitely sounded like a 70s Prog Rock band. They’ve added a keyboard player to the lineup, but he was drowned out in the mix, and with their excellent guitar harmonies, you almost wonder why they’ve needed the keys. They played along to the a projector screen, but from my seat towards the back of the room, the screen was partly hidden as it was displayed at the side of the stage.

Overall, a solid night’s worth of music and it appears we have a bloody good venue on our hands. Check out a gig at the Railway soon. Recommended!

Live Review: Dave Hole

This gig was a special treat.

Being able to see one of the best slide guitarists in the world, at a fantastic outdoors venue – the inner courtyard at the Fremantle Arts Centre.

Tonight was the first in a series called The Sonic Sessions. First I must tell you all, that doors open at 7, and it starts at 8pm on the dot. Don’t make the same mistake we did of thinking it would start later, like we did.

Dave Hole was sitting on a chair on stage, holding his fender guitar, being asked questions by Lucky Oceans. After a while he opened the questions up to the audience.

‘What’s your favourite music to play?’ was an early question.
‘Blues?’ He replied, confused by such an obvious question.

When you hear Hole play, it’s obvious he’s in love with the blues. Which he did very soon after. Watching this man play, is quite mind blowing. I’ve seen plenty of talented people play slide guitar in the last few years – John Butler, Jeff Lang, Dave Mann…and none come close to watch Hole let rip with his unorthodox slide technique.

A more interesting question was ‘What did you study?” obviously a guy thinking he studied music, and Hole replied
“Physics. You need to know a lot about physics to play guitar.’

As for guitar questions, we learnt that Hole uses open tunings (which is common for slide guitar) and his favourite is Open D.

Dave Is a seriously amazing musician. Any fan of the blues or guitar playing, should check out this guy next time he’s in Perth.

Live Review: Cinema Prague @ Capitol

Cinema Prague Return Show
Saturday 1st September 2007
Review By Leo Abbs

It’s been a long time since Cinema Prague last played a show. Their last show was in August 1998, a Sunday Show at Mojo’s Bar in North Fremantle. They finished our their set that night, saying ‘We’ll back soon.’

That was over nine years ago! A Funny definition of soon, but it was bloody fantastic to see them on stage tonight.

The atmosphere beforehand was like a reunion. Over the years people have talked about the days of Prague, and many local punters have described them as the best local band ever. WA music’s best kept secret? Well tonight we had a chance to see if they were good as we remember, and for those who hadn’t seen them, a chance to see what the fuss was about.

With such a big build up, it was a fairly low key beginning to their set. There was no big introduction, they just started playiing. They began with a number I didn’t recognise: ‘George’s Blues.’ It seemed an odd choice to begin with a lesser known tune. However, many people seemed to be loving it.

‘I thought they were Jazzy?’ My friend said to me during the punkish parts of the song.

Which sums up the confusion of trying to explain Prague to someone who’s never heard them before. While the vocals are punk-influenced, there’s parts of funk and jazz, with a fair dose of rock, and you can hear a Zappa influence too. A very unique band.

Then then out came the three piece horn section, to play on the track ‘Hangman’ from the Meldatype album. The three horn players returned a number of times during the set to play on various Meldatype numbers, doing a great job.

The band covered good ground tonight, playing songs from all parts of their career. After Hangman, it was time to play some songs of the Zasph EP in ‘Legoman‘ and ‘Jump For Joy’, the latter summing up what half the crowd seemed to be doing.

The most obvious factor tonight was they were without bass player Rex Horan. With Rex being such an important part of the Prague lineup, many people were skeptical in the lead up to the gig. However, Roy Martinez (from Dave Mann Collective and others) did a great job of filling in. He is an awesome bass player. In the end, you could say it was about the songs, and the crowd were having a ball hearing them, Rex or no Rex.

Prague charged through the set, with tracks such as ‘Boogie’ (featuring a mention of ‘bacon and eggs’ which is a common theme in their songs), ‘Clean Sheets’ and ‘Rose Sun Pea’. Soon they announced that their next single was to be ‘We are the Moo Moo’. This track has already been released to radio, and had been heard during the week on RTR and JJJ.

The highlights came towards the end of the set, when they played ‘Dumped Again’, with Roy nailing that wicked bass part, and ‘Finale’ off Nordensost. Only it wasn’t to be a finale just yet, because they came back for a two song encore with the horns in tow, to play ‘Say It’s The Day’ and ‘Terms’.

One of the best gigs I’ve seen in ages.

Live Review: Superengine Album Launch

Superengine – ‘Shadows Meet’ Album Launch
The Bakery
Sat 25th August 2007
Review By Rohan Hewson

Blackmilk did what they seem to do too much, which was playing first. They deserve to be playing a lot later to a lot more people… anyway, they were good. At least, their last couple of songs were. The Autumn Isles played their usual pop/rock, with the guitar rock side of things coming mainly from Aiden and his axe. He showed up in Superengine later, which is a fair swap considering Alison plays keyboard in the Isles. Oh, and cowbell… Superengine could use a bit more cowbell themselves.

The Tigers were the art rock band of the evening, which combined with the fair-sized crowd there was by then, meant their first song sounded like a continuation of their soundcheck for a couple of minutes. They got loud eventually, though, and they’re worth paying attention to. They’ve been playing for something like 10 years now, and there isn’t another band in Perth that sounds like them. As for Faith In Plastics: it was good to see them playing again as usual, after their gear got stolen at another gig a couple of months ago. Apart from that, nothing much to report.

Superengine finally have their album ‘Shadows Meet’ out, after five years… I’d say it’s worth the wait. It’s mildly surprising they managed to fit 10 songs onto one CD, considering their tendency to write 10 min jazz-pop epics, but they managed it. Plenty of the songs are shorter than that, though… gotta give the radio something they feel like playing.

Their set was as much of a production as the songs; they wore matching clothes, and when the house music stopped they came on stage and started playing one by one. They left the same way at the end, too. They had even more instruments than usual, including a vibraphone and plenty of guitars – in one song, Renee was joined by Elliot the trumpet player and Aiden the Autumn Isle. The songs themselves sounded the same as always, somewhere between 4 min of bouncy pop and double that of instrumental epic.

If you’ve heard one Superengine set you’ve probably heard them all, but it’s a good’un and so was this gig.

Go get the album.

Live Review: Felicity Groom and The Black, Black Smoke

Felicity Groom and The Black, Black Smoke
Friday 17th August 2007
Review By Leo Abbs

It was only a matter of time before Felicity Groom would form a band to compliment her soulful Indie/folk tunes. One of the most promising acts in Perth at the moment, it says a lot about Felicity as a solo artist, that she could such a formidable band to play with her on stage tonight.

After an extended sound check, the band rolled into a casual, but fantastic sounding intro, with Felicity introducing her band, which consisted of Andrew Ryan (Adam Said Galore/Fall Electric, Alex Archer (Kill Devil Hills), Vanessa Thornton (Jebediah), and Ian Chater (The Bank Holidays).

Then she picked up her acoustic guitar and their career as a band together began. Unfortunately the vocals were inaudible for the first song – the band drowning out their vocalist, who was more used to singing over a single steel string guitar.

Adjustments were made to the mix, and you could hear her voice during the next two songs, then the rest of the band disappeared leaving Groom with Archer on lead guitar. The subtle addition to the song was well done, but The Kill Devil Hills fans in the crowd (err.. me) must have been hoping for his violin playing.

Andrew Ryan came back to the stage to join Groom in a duet, the male/female vocals sounding fantastic, with great variety between both and the pair working well together. Groom also took time to play perhaps her most well known tune to date, ‘Take You Home’ breaking a few hearts in the process.

The entire band rejoined their vocalist on stage for the run home, and as the set ended, you felt that they were closer to reach the stage, where they would gel in a sense of being a true band. It still need some work, but the second last song (the one with that mini harp) was the closest they got all night to perfecting the sound that would suit as the music behind Groom’s voice.

With such talent on display tonight, it made for an impressive debut gig.

Live Reivew: Next Big Thing 2007 – State Final

NBT State Final
Sat 28th July 2007
Review by Rohan Hewson

Desert Radio, a two piece from Dunsborough, played first up for the second night in a row; the timing gods hadn’t smiled on them obviously. Anyone who didn’t get there early missed out, though; they played upbeat, surfy, bluesy songs, like a mixture of Black Keys and the Cruel Sea, and did it excellently. One band that definitely should have placed.

The Bullet Holes didn’t get through their semi, but got the wild card into the final. How they didn’t get through instead of the Chemist is a mystery to me; those two bands weren’t too different, but the Bullet Holes were streets ahead in terms of songs and just flat out rocking; the Chemist were good enough, but didn’t grab me as much. And the Bullet Holes got robbed again, not placing at the end of the night. Surely this band deserved better. Ah well, them’s the breaks I guess… there are only so many places.

The HowlinNovocaines ain’t gonna win any prizes for originality, that’s for sure. They make up for it with their crazy frontman, though, which is more than likely how they came third. The music was little-to-nothing new, but damn it, they were fun to watch. When you can’t sound original, at least look it… they pulled that off OK.

Will Stoker and the Embers had been previously quite impressive in the heats, but played a fairly loose, slapdash set on the night, which was somewhat disappointing. The Spring Collection played a very similar set to the previous night, except their fans were much less annoying this time… maybe drowned out in the larger venue. They didn’t place, but did win an award for best headgear… no, I kid. It was the songwriting award.

As for the Harlequin League, playing last once again, they could have phoned in their set and still probably won it. Between their own gigs, and members playing in Mile End or 2005 winners the Fault (who they sound a lot like), they were the most experienced band of the night, and it showed – they’ve played these songs a lot before. It looks like this band are going places. Congratulations to them and all the bands.