After postponing shows at the desperately undersized Toff in Town, New York’s polarising and sultry songstress Lana del Rey made it to Australian shores and delivered the first of two nights at the far larger Palace. Whilst her voice didn’t always hit the mark, del Rey is an engaging and beguiling stage presence. However a set that clocks in at barely 50 minutes is a poor return on a $75 ticket – particularly for a patient fan base who in some cases had waited since the morning to secure prime position.
Full Gallery: Lana Del Rey
With a crowd dress code treading the line between Carnivale and the Gay Mardi Gras, I rocked up in my jeans and T-shirt to watch Lady Gaga’s 2nd Melbourne show on her Born This Way Ball tour.
Full Gallery: Lady Gaga
Her songs are everywhere, her face is everywhere, her image is painstakingly manipulated – albeit by herself – and as an irregular punter at pop gigs, it’s hard to know what to expect. Being bored though does not seem to be a possibility as the curtain drops to reveal something akin to Castle Grayskull.
St Michael’s Uniting Church is packed to the back pews tonight. This magnificent building in the heart of Melbourne plays host to another Heavenly Sounds session, featuring one of the few Australian Idol ex-contestants who doesn’t only get a gig at Carols By Candlelight.
Lisa Mitchell delivers a quiet, reflective set to launch her current offering Spiritus. Mitchell is backed at different times by a band, an a capella trio, or a combination of both.
Full Gallery: Lisa Mitchell
After playing to around 80 people at Melbourne’s Bennett’s Lane jazz club on Monday night – in what was a genuinely “secret” secret show – US megastar Prince decided to close out his Australian tour with one final tour afterparty at Melbourne’s Hi-Fi Bar. The instructions were clear (and completely ignored by all): $25 on the door, no one lining up prior to 11pm, doors open at midnight.
Arriving at 10:20pm, the line snaking from the Hi-Fi’s velvet rope was already around the corner into Collins St, and some 90 minutes later it was back to Elizabeth Street. Rough estimates by those in the crowd put that at over 5000 people trying to get into a venue expected to take in around 700. Undeterred, few left the line as the first dribble of punters were let in.
No photos from Prince tonight, but a killer show deserves, at least, a few lines written about it.
After Prince’s first Australian shows in 8 years had finished up in Sydney, and the reviews were hitting the press, it was interesting to read a mixed bag of amazement, bewilderment, and at times criticism.
One of the main charges levelled at Prince, the 2012 edition, is that his show was ‘self indulgent’ . To head to a Prince show and expect anything less is like turning up to a Britney Spears show only to be shocked that she actually mimes. With no support act, the sold out Rod Laver Arena crowd sprung into action when the rolling 80s videos on the overhead screens stopped and purple thunderstorms crackled into action.
In the centre of the self styled ‘Love Symbol’ shaped stage, guitarist Andy McKee delivered an acoustic instrumental version of Purple Rain which captivated the crowd, before returning to beneath the stage. Replacing McKee on the stage was the man himself, his (rather generously credited) 5’2” frame, accentuated by customary stillettos received the reception you’d expect, and ripping straight into Gold the little man with the big back catalogue brought the funk.
Flanked by his NPG backing singers, and backed by an incredible band, Prince announced Melbourne was about the witness the Jam of the Year, and delivering the song of the same name it was difficult to argue.
Having reportedly rehearsed over 100 songs for the tour, it was still the ubiquitous Prince hits that kept the crowd on their feet. Let’s go Crazy, 1999, Delirious, Little Red Corvette and Raspberry Beret all featured in the first half of the show, but it was the middle block of songs: Cream, Cool and Sometimes It Snows in April that would prove the night’s highlight. Without a planned setlist as such, Prince’s live show suffers at times from peaks and troughs – there’s no gradual change of gear but rather immediate tempo and energy swings. The almost 5 minute long single note intro to Love They Will Be Done, where Prince takes up the bass guitar duties, is tedious – though the song made famous by Martika in the 1980s delivers on all fronts once it’s allowed to kick in. (more…)
It had been almost 12 years to the day since I’d last seen English singer songwriter Beth Orton in Melbourne. In 2000 she’d played at the Prince of Wales in St Kilda, touring her 1999 LP Central Reservation.
This time around, the venue was in the city – the iconic but slightly tired Athenæum Theatre. With a short, entertaining and quirky support act from Vermont native Sam Amidon, Beth took to the stage casually around 9pm.
Armed with a couple of guitars and a grand piano, she delivered a well chosen selection of tunes from her as yet unreleased new album to accompany those tunes from the past.
Whilst perhaps not in the league of another British female singer/songwriter PJ Harvey, whom I’d seen only 5 days prior, Orton still managed to captivate the sold out crowd with her storytelling and genuine on stage persona. Music and songwriting has never been a competition anyway. Well…much.
Opening with two back to back offerings from 1996′s successful Trailer Park, Touch Me With Your Love starts off and draws a warm response.
Kicking off her shoes and standing barefoot at the microphone, Orton pulls the audience in with the quite brilliant She Cries Your Name.
There’s a good mix of old and new tonight, and it’s all delivered by Beth Orton – along with the help of some onstage guests – with her trademark warmth and unmistakable voice.
What a superb year 2011 was for brilliant singer songwriter PJ Harvey. Yet again, she managed to release a great album that met with high critical accalim and showed up in plenty of “Best of 2011″ lists (including mine, incidentally).
Let England Shake is a masterpiece, and unlike anything else released last year. As a complete piece of work though, how would it weave its way through her other work in a live setting?
Equally important was how the crowd would react at the magnificently opulent Regent Theatre, a venue more used to hosting overblown Andrew Lloyd Webber musicals than a 2 night stint by iconic songwriters.
It was nothing short of a triumph. Opening with the title track of the album, and delivering every song from it throughout the 90 minute set, this was the perfect setting for a show that sat somewhere between a concert and a recital. (more…)