I went to see Tame Impala!

tame impala 3

Tame Impala.

On Thursday the 19th, I had the pleasure of seeing one of my favourite bands live: Tame Impala! The Western Australian psychedelic rock band have been touring their home country in support of their latest album, Currents, and I managed to catch the second gig they played in my city, Adelaide, at one of my favourite venues, the Thebarton Theatre. In short, it was an absolutely amazing night!

Tame Impala are an anomaly in the current music industry: their albums are created by just one member (Kevin Parker), the rest of the band only joining for the tours; they play a unique brand of psychedelia that sounds somewhere between an early Pink Floyd album and a modern dance record; their popularity appears only to continue to rise, despite their alternative credentials. They’ve been a staple on the Australian music scene since their debut EP was released in 2008, and each of their three albums – 2010’s Innerspeaker, 2012’s Lonerism, July’s Currents – have garnered mass acclaim, from fans and critics alike. They’ve been one of my favourite bands for about a year, and I’ve wanted to see them almost since then, after reading a number of rave reviews of their live shows.

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More Tame Impala.

I arrived at the theatre about an hour before the show began, and bought a poster beforehand, but it didn’t seem take long for the support act to take the stage for their half-hour set. The support band were named Mini Mansions, and are perhaps most famous for being the side-project of Queens of the Stone Age bassist Michael Shuman. Their music was similarly psychedelic to that of Tame Impala’s, but bass-ier and more catchy – I really enjoyed it! I had not heard of the band before the gig, but I have since enjoyed listening to some of their stuff.

A little while later, the sold-out theatre finally filled up  and Tame Impala took to the stage! Parker and his band played most of Currents, plus many tracks from Lonerism and a couple from Innerspeaker. I found it mesmerising to see a band I admire so much playing their music live, and it was amazing to hear songs I have listened to dozens of times over played in person!

tame impala 1

As mentioned before, I had read masses of reviews lauding Tame Impala’s live show – not only for their musical chops, but also for their impressive lighting – so I had particularly high expectations. These were well exceeded – certainly, in part, due to their light show! Throughout the gig, lights in shades of every bright colour imaginable flew, throbbed and flashed across the stage and over the crowd, illuminating suitably psychedelic backgrounds projected onto a screen behind the band. The pictures throughout this post are among my attempts to capture their beauty, but I feel they are something that needs to be seen in person to experience their true impressiveness.

Musically, among the highlights of Tame Impala’s show was a version of one of their better-known songs, ‘Elephant’. A stomping, fuzzed-up blues track, the song’s electrifying atmosphere seemed to project onto the audience, the entire moshpit seemingly swaying to the beat. But I felt every song was played well – it is clear that the band consists of incredibly good musicians, and this was perhaps even more obvious live than on their records. One thing I noticed was how close each song sounded to its studio counterpart, a feat all the more impressive due to the lack of 4/5ths of the touring band on each cut’s official version… Both musically and visually, the band were amazing.

It was wonderful to see Tame Impala live – their shows are definitely more than worthy of the accolade they receive! You can visit their website here.

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Rodriguez Report

Look carefully - he's there! My favourite picture that I took of Rodriguez at the show.

Look carefully – he’s there! My favourite picture that I took of Rodriguez at the show.

Me before the gig

Me before the gig

I know every time I go and see a concert, I refer to its respective night as ‘one of the best nights of my life’. But Wednesday night genuinely was one of the best nights in my life. Why? I was lucky enough to see Sixto Rodriguez live! Rodriguez was my first big concert (I have, of course, seen many Beatles tributes before. And I’ve been to WOMAD and the Adelaide Fringe), and let me tell you now, it was a first concert to be very proud of! The atmosphere was amazing, and I swear the live versions of his songs are even better than the versions found on his albums, Cold Fact and Coming From Reality!

For those of you who don’t know who Rodriguez is, you may have heard of a documentary about him called Searching for Sugarman. Searching For Sugarman tells the incredible story of Rodriguez’s career. The basic story is that Rodriguez releases an album called Cold Fact in 1970. It sells something like six copies in the US. But somehow a bootleg of this album found itself in South Africa. Rodriguez quickly became ‘bigger than Elvis’ there, but nobody had a clue about who he really was. In fact, he was assumed to have committed suicide on stage in the 1970s. However, some South Africans found him anything but dead in his Detroit home, and ever since Rodriguez has been a cult hit across the world. But what Searching for Sugarman fails to show is that Rodriguez was also really popular here, in Australia! Not only did Cold Fact and Coming From Reality both make numbers 23 and 24 respectively on the Australian Albums chart on original release, Rodriguez also did two Australian tours in 1979 and 1981. Cold Fact reached number 11 on this year’s charts, too.

My mum and I became Rodriguez fans after our osteopath told us about Searching For Sugarman. Mum watched it (on a plane to Singapore in January) a few months before I did. I must have watched it in around March or April, and I was hooked! So as you will imagine, Mum and I got excited when — a couple of months ago — we discovered that Rodriguez was touring Australia this month…

…But we soon found that the tickets were nearly impossible to get! Scalpers had seemingly bought up big, and there had been no limit on presale tickets. And the ticketing website wouldn’t really work. So we nearly didn’t go. However — exactly two weeks before the concert — I found out that Mum had managed to get tickets! In Gold Reserve! Row M, to be exact. Perfect seats — we could see the stage really well. Rodriguez played the Adelaide Entertainment Centre, which is huge and — as my parents would describe it — ‘a big barn’, so these seats were really precious. Especially for last minute tickets.

Finally, we drove to the the Entertainment Centre. About 45 minutes after we first arrived through the gates (at just after 7:30 pm), the support act began her set. The support act was Jen Cloher, an Australian alt-folk muso who runs independent label Milk! Records with her partner, Courtney Barnett. I listen to a lot of alternative music and watch a music show called RocKwiz on which Cloher has been (and Milk! Records had been featured in an article in my favourite magazine, Frankie), so I had vaguely heard of her, though I assume most of the audience hadn’t. Cloher is in fact too from Adelaide (she now lives in Melbourne), and became a muso after moving to a suburb called Henley Beach when she was fourteen. Apparently she was also a major Doors fan during this period, but she also mentioned The Stones, Jimi Hendrix and a certain Liverpudlian foursome that completely and utterly changed the face of the world (hmm…we don’t know who they are, do we? 😉 ) as some of her favourite artists. I really, really enjoyed her set — almost as much as the actual gig! I liked her voice, probably ‘cos it reminded me a bit of mine — low and a bit different. And she played her acoustic-electric dead hard, which I thought was cool. I must buy some of her stuff at some point. She releases on vinyl, too, which I also think is cool.

There was half an hour between Jen Cloher and Rodriguez, so my parents and I sat ’round talking, and I may or may not have photobombed the person in front of us’s selfie, which may or may not have been found on Instagram the next morning… But then finally, the lights dimmed and Rodriguez’s band walked onstage. And I noticed something. A female bassist! It saddens me that one rarely sees female guitarists/bassists/drummers in the music industry, and as a female guitarist myself, the fact that a female bassist had been chosen for Rodriguez’s (Australian tour) band made me really happy. But not as happy as I was within a few minutes… Soon enough, the crowd went absolutely ballistic, and I could just see Rodriguez being led onstage (he now suffers from glaucoma). His management team (I assume) introduced him, and the crowd went nuts again. Rodriguez started playing a song — which I think is on his second album Coming From Reality (which I haven’t listened to in its entirety) — that I didn’t know. But I certainly knew the song he played third — ‘Only Good For Conversation’ (my favourite of his songs)! (He played ‘Crucify Your Mind’ second.) He obviously performed ‘Sugarman’ and ‘I Wonder’ (after which he said, ‘Well, I wonder — but I really don’t want to know.’), but he played so many other gems too. Other songs of his he performed included ‘Like Janis’ and ‘The Establishment Blues’, ‘Street Boy’ and ‘Forget It’, ‘I Think Of You’ and ‘Rich Folks’ Hoax’ — he even played a cover of ‘Blue Suede Shoes’! His voice sounds just as amazing as it does on record, and he played a really interesting technique of guitar. His actual instrument was interesting, too. The drummer and bassist were both fabulous, and I was particularly blown away by the dude who played lead guitar. He played an overdriven Fender the entire night (occasionally with a wah-wah pedal) and wow, was he good! He played a lead guitar line in place of the orchestrated bits on Rodriguez’s songs, which I think made the tunes sound even better than they do on record. My favourite example would have been the added solo in ‘Sugarman’. Flawlessly stunning work, in my opinion. I don’t think I stopped smiling and stomping my feet the entire night. And if I were to sum the night up in one word? Amazing. Completely, utterly, mind-blowing amazing. After about an hour of performing, Rodriguez was lead off-stage.

But there was an encore set! Rodriguez played ‘Can’t Get Away’ and some different (and better takes) of ‘Fever’ (not The Black Keys’ song!) and ‘I’m Gonna Live Till I Die’ (I usually dislike Frank Sinatra, but I liked this version very much). The crowd (including myself) all stood up and danced and sang. And then, somewhere between 10:30 and 11:00 pm, my amazing night was over. It was somewhat of a difficulty actually getting out of the Entertainment Centre (and through the post-gig traffic), but it was definitely worth it. I took plenty of pictures, so here they are:

Me before the show (again)

Me before the show (again)

The stage before the show

The stage before the show

Rodriguez!

Rodriguez!

Rodriguez again

Rodriguez again

And to conclude, my experience of seeing Rodriguez live was absolutely amazing. I don’t think I’ll ever forget my experiences that night. Thank you, Rodriguez, for providing me with a wonderful night out.

40th post! Hurrah! What a journey these past 5 months have been.. Stay tuned for a post on my favourite Beatles quotes and possibly a post on seeing A Hard Day’s Night at the cinema (only a week ’till I get to see it on the big screen!). Right now, I’m listening to the White Album. ‘Till next week, though, good day sunshine 🙂

Beatles Song of the Post (and a few other tidbits)

I don't know if I've posted this image before (I think it's one of my headers), but I love these pictures so much! Reminds me of the album they are used to promote, '1' -- the first Fabs album I ever bought, and my key to the wonderful world of The Beatles...

I don’t know if I’ve posted this image before (I think it’s one of my headers), but I love these pictures so much! Reminds me of the album they are used to promote, ‘1’ — the first Fabs album I ever bought, and my key to the wonderful world of The Beatles…

Well, the final school term of 2014 has begun, and 7 weeks left of this school year! Yay! I have a really big History assignment impending, so I apologise if I don’t get to post as much as I’d like. I also have my Grade 3 violin exam coming in two weeks. These next couple of months are going to be very busy. But The Beatles (and this blog) will not be neglected! I also have another exciting event coming up in a couple of weeks, too, which I’ll write more about at the bottom of this post. The weather is really, really hot here in Adelaide today, but it’ll get to a good 15 or so degrees above this in January, so I guess I’d better get used to it. But to sum up this paragraph, everything finally seems peaceful and round in my mind, and to quote The Beatles, “It’s getting better all the time!” For once, my pessimistic nature seems to be taking a back seat… 😉

So today, I was going to do a relatively detailed post, but I’ve got some other stuff to write about too so I decided just to write about a featured Beatles song. And because it’s so hot today, I’ve decided to feature (drum roll please, Ringo)…’Rain’! (Yeah, I know — it is obviously not raining here, but there are lines in this song that refer to the sun…)

‘Rain’ isn’t even remotely well known, yet it’s still one of the most influential songs ever released (IMO). Only The Beatles could do that! It was, in fact, the B-side to ‘Paperback Writer’ (both gorgeous songs), though some say it was actually a double-A-sided single. It was (slightly obviously) written by John (HE’S SINGING IT), and he, er, rather obviously, is singing it. I read somewhere that he sang much of the backing vocals as well, though according to Wikipedia Paul and George also sang a track each. Apparently (again according to Wikipedia), it has been often hailed “The Beatles’ finest B-side”. Well, The Beatles’ B-sides are actually a lot of their best songs (‘This Boy’ is, in my opinion, a far superior song to ‘I Want To Hold Your Hand’. I considerably prefer ‘You Can’t Do That’ to ‘Can’t Buy Me Love’. ‘Yes It Is’ is a B-side, and whilst I love ‘Ticket To Ride’ about equally to it, it is still absolutely exquisite. Not to even mention ‘I Am The Walrus’, ‘Revolution’, ‘Old Brown Shoe’….), so I really do not know how one could choose a finest B-side. So let’s just say its one of their finest…

Some claim that the song was about LSD, and others claim it is about the horrible weather that John saw when he was touring Australia. I — being Australian — obviously think it would be cool if one of my favourite songs is written about my country, but I honestly don’t care if it’s about acid or not. I guess we’ll never know what is the right story, as John never commented on what the song was about. But anyway… The song is notable for being the first exhibition of BACKMASKING! And I guarantee you that no satanic messages were involved 😉 … Both John and George Martin have claimed that they created it. John claims to have accidentally discovered it whilst listening to a tape of the song whilst he was “stoned out of his mind”, and George Martin also claims that he discovered it whilst playing around with the tapes and thinking it would be fun to do something with John’s voice. Geoff Emerick backs up John, but who knows? John played his 1965 Gretsch Nashville (rhythm) guitar, Paul used his Rickenbacker bass for the first time, George used his Gibson SG and Ringo played, well, his Ludwig drums. Talking of Ringo’s drumming, ‘Rain’ often cited as Ringo’s best drumming performance (including Ringo himself). Quote Ringo: “I think it’s the best out of all the records I’ve ever made. ‘Rain’ blows me away…I know me and I know my playing…and then there’s ‘Rain'” The song just has an amazing rhythm track, full stop. Be sure to listen to it with good-quality speakers and/or headphones!

This song was also one of the earliest examples of the music clip. As you may or may not remember from my earlier post Six Ways The Beatles Changed The World, The Beatles basically invented the music clip, and were using promo films as early as late 1965, but at that point were really just miming their stuff in black-and-white. Though you could technically say that ‘Penny Lane’/’Strawberry Fields Forever’ were the first true music videos (they are truly amazing — look them up), ‘Rain’ and ‘Paperback Writer’ were the first songs that had proper music clips. The Beatles are filmed wandering around the grounds of a British mansion called Chiswick House IN COLOUR, and yeah, they mime, but there you have it! To quote George, “So I suppose, in a way, we invented MTV.”

So there you have it — a profile of one of The Beatles’ finest songs, from my favourite Beatles era. (The music from that era is — excuse cliche — too completely and utterly beautiful for words.) Hope you learnt something!

And my news… I’M GOING TO SEE RODRIGUEZ LIVE IN TWO WEEKS! Some of you may have heard of a guy called Rodriguez (or Sixto Rodriguez) and/or a documentary called Searching For Sugarman. Story cut short, Rodriguez was an American folk singer (slightly Dylanesque) who sold about six records in the US, but was “bigger than Elvis” in South Africa. (He also sold quite well here.) He was actually thought dead by most of his fans until he was found by some South African fans in the ’90s. And next month he is touring Australia! We only managed to finally get tickets a couple of days ago, as most of them had been bought by stupid scalpers. But anyway, I’m really excited, and you’ll be sure to get a post on the gig! I’ll leave you with my favourite Rodriguez song now, so good day sunshine until next week! 🙂