I went to see Tame Impala!

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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!

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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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The Rise and Fall of The Beatles’ Apple Boutique

The infamous Apple Boutique mural

The infamous Apple Boutique mural

There are some buildings and businesses in Beatles history which are so infamous and essential to their story, the musical associations and memories of which will long outlive the business or building itself. One of these could be the NEMS shop, the Epsteins’ business in Liverpool. AKA the shop where a “Raymond Jones” requested a copy of Tony Sheridan’s (and The Beatles’) ‘My Bonnie’, thus prompting Brian Epstein to discover The Beatles. Another of these in the infamous Apple Boutique, opened in 1967 around the birth of Apple Corps. The boutique is particularly well-known for a wildly psychedelic mural painted on its exterior. It, however, closed up shop less than a year later.

The Apple Boutique was situated on 94 Baker Street in London, and first opened its doors in December 1967. The concept behind the shop was to have everything in the shop for sale. A place of psychedelia, flower-power, gorgeous clothing and hippy-dom in general, Paul described it as “a beautiful place where beautiful people can buy beautiful things” when it opened. It’s documented that there was other reasoning, too, than just setting up a shop for the sake of it. They were told by Clive Epstein (Brian Epstein’s brother, who managed the band for a short while after Brian died) that if The Beatles didn’t spend a whole heap of money almost immediately, most of it would be lost to the taxman. They decided to open a business to spend the money, and decided that if they were going to do so, they might as well create a business about something they all liked. And hence how the Apple Boutique came about…

An invitation to the opening of the boutique

An invitation to the opening of the boutique

The Apple Boutique opened its doors for the first time on the 5th of December, 1967. There was an official opening party, with invitations like the above sent out to various people. These invitations told the invitee to come at 7:46, and that a fashion show will be at 8:16. Wikipedia points out the irony of these exact times, as the Apple Boutique was not exactly known for its organisational techniques (more on that later…) John and George were the only two Beatles who attended the opening, and since the shop didn’t have an alcohol licence, apple juice was the drink served at the night. The boutique was managed by John’s childhood friend, Pete Shotton, and Pattie Boyd’s sister Jenny.

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The Beatles were digging a Dutch design collective called The Fool, at the time. The Fool had painted John’s and George’s cars,and John’s and Paul’s pianos, and had designed the Sgt Pepper inner-sleeve… So it isn’t surprising that The Beatles decided to employ The Fool to help with the boutique. The design collective were given 100,000 pounds to stock and decorate the boutique.

In my humble opinion, the clothes that The Fool designed for the ill-fated boutique were absolutely exquisite! The shop was opened in the height of psychedelia and consequently, the clothes that were designed consisted of extravagant silks, velvet and vinyl of bright blues, pinks, reds, yellows and oranges, strings of colourful beads, bell-bottomed trousers (and sleeves!), gorgeous patterned textiles, crop tops, mini dresses, maxi skirts, kaftans…

Some designs...

Some designs…

More...

More…

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An original design

However, the tags attached to the clothing were made of silk. And the clothes themselves were also made of expensive threads. Due to this, the garments sold at the Apple Boutique were outrageously expensive. The boutique was often extremely busy, but actual purchases being made was quite rare. Theft, however, was alarming common in comparison. And it wasn’t just customers stealing the clothes — staff did, too. The shop was quickly losing money, probably because the entire business was so disorganised. Much like Apple Corps itself…

The expensive tags...

The expensive tags…

In 1968, a film called Hot Millions featured a scene filmed in the Apple Boutique. This scene provides one of the only ventures into the interior of the boutique, and also shows a couple of the designs:

However, the most famous thing about the Apple boutique is probably the mural painted on its exterior.

The mural.

The mural.

Fool member Barry Finch designed the mural for the leased shop, and got a bunch of art students to paint it on the facade of the building. The mural was inspired by a similar painting in Carnaby Street, though the Apple version was much more colourful. The mural gained the boutique a lot of attention, obviously!

However, the Westminster Council had not given The Beatles permission to paint the mural. Nor had the landlord of the building. Due to a bunch of complaints from other spoilsport shop-owners, they were told to paint over the mural. And when they didn’t, they were threatened with eviction. The mural was sadly painted over in minimalist white. Very much a sign of the generation gap.

After the mural

After the mural

Five months into to boutique venture, The Beatles bought up another ’60s boutique called Dandie Fashions, which had been frequented by themselves, The Stones and The Who in previous years. They renamed it Apple Tailoring. It closed down within a couple of months, with the boutique.

Dandie Fashions...

Dandie Fashions…

...into Apple Tailoring.

…into Apple Tailoring.

But the Apple Boutique wasn’t turning a profit. Theft was still way more common then actual purchases, and the shop venture was quickly sending The Beatles into bankruptcy. And so The Beatles decided to close down the boutique. But to get rid of the stock, they didn’t just have a sale or something of a similar ilk. On the closing day, everything in the shop was infamously to be given away. Apparently each customer was limited to 1 thing, but this wasn’t managed… By the end of the day, the shop was completely stripped.

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The building where the boutique was is now knocked down. In its place is now a Beatles memorabilia shop, and a Sherlock Holmes museum.

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Hope you all had a great week, and I shall post soon! Good day sunshine 🙂

 

Things We Polled Today…

A lovely picture of John and Paul!

A lovely picture of John and Paul! Don’t they look sweet? 🙂

Well – I haven’t done a poll in a while, have I? I also have some other things to write about today (i.e. Ron Howard’s upcoming Beatles doco – for which I cannot wait!), but to start off with – here’s a poll! It’s titled ‘Which Beatles’ period is your favourite’ (as you will see further down), and Option One will be ‘the early years’ – the Hamburg/Cavern Club Era (1960) ’till the A Hard Day’s Night sessions (1964), which includes Pete Best/Stu Sutcliffe, the ‘Love Me Do’/’P.S. I Love You’ sessions, the marathon 12-hour Please Please Me session and the With The Beatles sessions, plus the filming of A Hard Day’s Night and their Australian tour. Option Two will be the ‘middle years’ – the Beatles For Sale (late 1964) sessions ’till the Magical Mystery Tour/Yellow Submarine sessions (1968 – there’s a slight overlap, here, ‘cos both the film and album Yellow Submarine fit in with the psychedelia of Sgt. Pepper/ Magical Mystery Tour, but were recorded around the time of ‘Lady Madonna’, which is considered as a part of their back-to-basics-rock-and-roll late material. I consider Yellow to be middle-period, but that’s only my opinion), which includes ‘Ticket To Ride’/’Yes It Is’, the album/film/single Help! (which includes classics such as the title track, ‘You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away’ and – of course – ‘Yesterday’), Shea Stadium, Rubber Soul, ‘Paperback Writer’/’Rain’, the groundbreaking Revolver, the Sgt. Pepper sessions, plus (not-so-positive bits) the introduction of pot/LSD, the decision to stop touring (not that was necessarily a bad thing…) and the ‘Jesus remark’ (which was taken completely out of context). And then, the final option will be the ‘late years’, spanning from the ‘Lady Madonna’ sessions ’till the break-up – this involves India, introduction of Yoko and Linda, the White Album sessions, ‘Hey Jude’/’Revolution’, the Get Back/Let It Be sessions and Abbey Road, plus the mounds of arguments and the split ( 😦 ). If I had to choose, I would vote for the ‘middle years’ – my favourite albums (Revolver, Help!, Beatles For Sale and Rubber Soul) were all recorded in that period – plus the songs I favour – and (not that it matters) I think they looked the best around that period (not that they were bad-looking at any period – except for maybe Paul’s Let It Be beard…)! Oh, and one word: PSYCHEDELIA! But this isn’t a place for me to vote, ‘cos I’m putting it to you. So please choose, and I’d love to see which period is the most popular amongst the people who’ve seen past this large block of text and voted!

 

(And now for some more…)

As most Beatlemaniacs will have heard by now, acclaimed director and actor Ron Howard is both directing and producing a documentary on The Beatles’ touring years (1960 – 1966), which is scheduled for release in late-2015! Ron Howard (who – amongst other things – starred as Richie in Happy Days, plus is the creator behind Parenthood) is a self-proclaimed Beatlemaniac himself, and is being joined by Nigel Sinclair (who produced George Harrison: Living In The Material World); the two (according to Rolling Stone) have been granted access to the Apple Corps archives (I can only dream!), and are sourcing footage/photos/material from fans. For more information, here is the link to the article on The Beatles’ official website, which involves information on how to submit your material for the doco (anyone here got any??). You can find Rolling Stone‘s article (the most informative yet) on the upcoming feature here. And Sky News Australia’s two-bobs’-worth is here – whilst short, it contains a cool news-clip about the event! I cannot wait for this to be released, and I’ll be making sure I’m at the pre-viewing if it makes it to cinemas.

As for some other Beatle-y news, The Grammys’ Beatles tribute has been nominated for six Emmy awards! Let’s hope it wins some, ‘cos (in my opinion) watching Paul and Ringo re-unite is much more interesting than binge-watching Game Of Thrones (not that I’ve ever watched it)… And A Hard Day’s Night has been released on Australian iTunes stores (as of the 9th of this month), but it’s rated M. Why M?? I get that John snorts a bottle of coke (the cola kind…) in the train (‘But they hadn’t even done pot at this point, let alone cocaine,’ I protest), there are a few jokes of a sexual nature (Paul’s comment to the effect of, ‘He [Grandfather] could be in an orgy by now!’, John’s ‘Please can I have one to surge with?’ comment, what John and the girl are hinting at in the ‘she looks more like me than I do’ scene, and the stamp collection), and of course, the smoking – but M? Really?? I also read that the Australian BluRay isn’t particularly good, so I’m glad I got my UK export! Talking of my UK export…IT’S BEING SHIPPED ON MONDAY! I absolutely cannot wait for it to come!

Oh, and a big thank you to my good friend (you know who you are) for recommending an interesting book to me, earlier this year – I just finished it yesterday! But what book am I referring to, you ask? When We Wake, a dystopian novel written by New Zealander-come-Australian Karen Healey! The story is about a sixteen-year-old girl living in 2027 Melbourne named Tegan, who’s about to go on a climate-change-action protest with her best friend Alex and her boyfriend-as-of-the-night-before Dalmar. However, a sniper intervenes, and Tegan is shot dead. Tegan had donated her body to science some time before she died, though. She wakes up (as the first successful cryonics – the process of freezing someone who is dead, and then proceeding to try and revive them – patient) in 2128, and soon enough, she finds herself in the middle of the paparazzi, a medicinal-drug-smuggling plot, a secret – and possibly corrupt – government operation and a devout Christian cult, who want her dead. And of course, Tegan is a hardcore Beatlemaniac – her favourite is Ringo, but the majority of Beatles references are somewhat related to John 🙂 ; yay for Johnny! Sadly, though, George isn’t mentioned… However, I really enjoyed this read, and you can buy your own copy here. Again, thank you, my friend, and hope you’re enjoying the holidays!

And one more thing… if you haven’t already noticed, I’ve changed my sidebar widgets slightly! Please check out my profile, and see if you can guess what songs I’m punning on. Good day sunshine 🙂