Monday, December 20, 2010


I saw Bon Jovi last night at Sydney Football Stadium. I am as surprised as you all undoubtably are. No, not my usual choice of music and certainly not a huge fan, but I have enjoyed their music over the years. I do love my Rock n Roll and well, let's face it, Jon Bon Jovi is very easy on the eye! So when my sisters and brother-in-law invited me along, the sisterly thing to do was to join them!

I am really glad I did, it was an excellent concert. We had great seats, thanks to Karen! The stage had three giant screens that made viewing even better - although we did have a pretty good view of the stage anyway! There were two usual sized screens either side, but a gigantic one behind the stage - amazing as you can see from this photo. This photo also shows how well you could see the actual stage, and yeah, how hot Jon still is!

They really performed a huge range of songs, and whilst I did not know all them off by heart, there were only one or two I did not know. What surprised me, was how very good they were. Now, I did expect them to be great, but this surpassed all expectations. I have seen a LOT of concerts, especially huge RnR acts like U2, The Police, Prince, Paul McCartney - and this was up there with them - that was what surprised me!

The crowd were a mixed group - not as many bogans as I thought, LOL!! Not too many mullets to be seen, although plenty of women in high heels - which amused me as the rain started to pour. Ever the rock snob - I feel if you do not dress appropriately for gigs you should not be let in! The night was amazing, and before the storm clouds rolled in, the full moon added to the amazing lighting by the band, and made for some interesting photos as you can see below. But then the rain hit, and it disappeared. I have been to many outdoor gigs that had rain, but I have to say Sydney certainly put it on last night, it was the heaviest and the longest amount of rain I have endured in a concert, but it did not matter as we were having a ball, as Jon said, like singing in the shower with 40, 000 people, hmmm I'll take singing in the shower just with you!

Sambora and Bon Jovi carried the band for sure, although the remaining members certainly did their best to keep up. Sambora's guitar roared through (see first photo below) and Bon Jovi's singing astonished me, especially a rousing rendition of Cohen's Hallelujah (in the pouring rain no less- see seond photo below). They also performed a 'jukebox' hit in the middle of audience pleaser Bad Medicine - Roadhouse Blues (The Doors) - this was awesome!!! The band really seemed to be loving every minute of our attention which is always great to see. (see final photo below) Mal and I also noticed the religious undertones to most of their songs, something that I had not considered up until then. Very subtle, but there nonetheless. We went to the chapel of Bon Jovi, got down on our knees and prayed, and it was divine!!


2010 brought the usual array of music, theatre, film and dance. I have been rather slack in updating the blog of my attendance. Here is a quick look at the year that was.

The Man in Black : The Tex Perkins/Johnny Cash Show
This was an amazing start to the entertainment year (early in Feb at the Civic). Perkins embodied Cash as only he can. He really was born to play The Man in Black. He owned the stage and had the audience in the palm of his hand. The "Tennessee Four", his backing band and Rachel Tidd as June Carter-Cash were fabulous and a great support, but really the night belonged to Sexy Tex, raw, honest and authentic - just like the real deal!

The show incorporated a story with dialogue, that was sometimes a little clunky, however it really added to the atmosphere and the history of the evening. But, really it was about the songs. They played everything ranging from Big River, Get Rhythm, Five feet high and rising, Jackson (a personal favourite), Boy named Sue, Ring of Fire and a fabulous rendition of the Nine Inch Nail's cover, Hurt (Cash's last big 'hit'). The show ended with a rousing encore, a medley of the best songs they had played. No one wanted it to end - if it is still touring and you get a chance, 'do yourself a favour' - and check it out!

Hoodoo Gurus - West Leagues Club (May 14)
I love the Gurus, seen them probably more times than any other band, but not for a long time.
However, this was not the best of venues - not really set up correctly for a decent band to play and full of awful people - who either went to the club all the time so were like there or like the Footy anthem version of the Gurus! Yikes, made for an interesting night.

They were very good, but not great - we'll blame the venue I think!!! They played just about everything you would want them to - many tracks from Stoneage Romeos, which pleased me greatly. Was a great trip down memory lane.

Christa and Dick Hughes - Lizotte's (July 16)
This was an amazing gig - smokey, bluesy, jazzy. Dick Hughes is a reknown jazz pianist and in his 80s, his daughter Christa grew up singing with her Dad, but moved to Rock and sung with Machine Gun Fellatio and also MC'd Circus Oz for many years. This was a far more restrained (sort of) performance than these past acts. She has a sassy Bessie Smith sort of voice, which suited the jazz and blues played by her dad. They made a funny and endearing combo, his amazing playing, her wit and bravado.

Always a great night at Lizotte's, the food and company were fabulous. I was sitting back enjoying the show, sampling my yummy dessert of ice cream and sipping my wine, thinking well, life just don't get much better than this!

Inspirations 2010
Inspirations did not have the greatest of choice this year. However what we did see was of a high quality. The year began with Witches of Eastwick. This local musical was quite well presented. The actor who played the Jack Nicholson character was charismatic as you would expect. The songs and dancing were upbeat and catchy. Some of the supporting players were fabulous, but some were not, overall, it was a good, fun night.

The Age I'm in (early April) was an interesting dance/dramedy piece. A group of actors/dancers spoke about age. There was also film content shown on portable screens by the actors and they also mimed (sometimes with great humour) comments by regular people of all ages who had been interviewed on age and aging. This was amazing, different and well worth seeing.

May was Michael Gow's Toy Symphony. A play about a writer overcoming his demons, by going back through his life as a point of discovery. The main character is suffering writer's block, but much more than that as we begin to look back at his life beginning at school, where he acted out fantasies in his head to get by - these are played out beautifully, shockingly and suprisingly on the stage- adding to the pathos and overall humour. A very small cast played the myriad of characters in this play, popping up out of trap doors and unexpected places, adding to the misplacement of the main character and indeed the audience. It was quick moving, and entertaining, but could go as quickly from hilarity and slapstick to maudlin and rawness. I thoroughly enjoyed Toy Symphony.

July brought We Unfold from the Sydney Dance Company. This was a minimalistic modern dance, beautifully staged and choreographed it did feel a little bit too repetitive towards the end. The stunning music accompanying it was well worth the admission and enhanced what would have been a let down I think. It was a symphony, Oceans, by Italian composer, Ezio Bosso. The music was composed to describe the emotions and fluidity of the water and the dance choreographed to represent that. Definitely not the best I have seen from SDC, however a pleasant evening.

Metropolitan Players presented The Boy from Oz in August and whilst an amateur presentation I felt it was very good. The actor playing Peter Allen was brilliant and engaging. As was the young actor playing young Peter Allen. As always, the supporting case was so so, some great, some not so. The actress playing Peter Allen's mother a stand out. The singing and dancing were very good, but I wondered how good the professional production would have been. Highlights were Don't cry out loud, Rio, and I Still Call Australia Home - complete with a children's choir singing backing vocals - not a dry eye in the house!

A day in the life of Joe Egg (August) was an amazing play about a couple struggling to save their marriage, whilst bringing up a daughter with cerebral palsy. Funny, sad and very dramatic, this was excellent. The acting, especially that of the main male actor was superb. Certainly very intense at times, and a little drawn out in the second half, but was quite amazing.

Carl Caulfield's Shakespeare's Fools (Playhouse, September) is probably my favourite of the year. A great introduction to Shakespeare for the uninitiated and a lot of fun for the 'fans'! This was the 'story' of the comedic muses Shakespeare drew from in his comedies. Shakespeare himself, played wonderfully by Caulfield, was a character but took a backseat to his fantastic fools! There were jokes, music, and jigs - the jigs were particularly amusing and fun. Lots of toilet humour - well toilet humour from that period in time! All the acting was great and everyone had a grand time.

I thought The Wharf Review was disappointing this year, much shorter and a little short on the all rounded jokes. I thought given the year in Australian politics the team would have had a field day, but not so. However, "Julia Gillard" as Little Red Riding Hood was hilarious and it was still a great evening, just did not live up to expectations.

The final Inspiration for the year was the play 2039, another Carl Caulfield. Set in a dystopian future with levels topped by celebrity it made you think just how the next 30 years or so could pan out. It was not pretty! Told with humour and passion and with a young, talented cast, 2039 was enjoyable. The second half dragged a little, but it gave us all a lot to think about!

Melbourne 2010
I had two trips to Melbourne this year.
The first was to watch my Brother-in-law race his boat in Frankston and then my sister and I drove to St Kilda for an extended stay. During this time we attended a great F1 - even saw Simple Minds play (in the rain!). They were great as were our gorgeous boys in the fast cars! We pretty much ate our way down Fitzroy Street, Acland and the beach front. And shopped out Chapel Street. I also checked out the amazing Ron Mueck exhibit at the NGV. It was a fun, relaxing trip!

The other was in September, shorter but busier. I spent a short week looking at the city's architecture and gardens, taking lots of great photos. I also visited the ACMI for the Tim Burton exhibit, which showed memorabilia and film and drawings from his long and crazy career. Entering to the Edward Scissorhands costume and a large topiary was quite magical and I was impressed to see so much of his work on display. I really did not want to leave the exhibition, it was interactive and had lots to look at. I also visited the NGV to look at a selection of European masters that were touring, amazing but too many people shlepping through made it a bit of an icky experience. However, always great to see amazing paintings in the flesh!

I also saw the Titanic exhibition while I was there, not a huge Titanic fan, I was impressed with what they had and how it was set out, a lot to look at (mind you a lot of twised steel and broken glass and cutlery) and very interesting items. The experience was made all the more real by being given a boarding pass as you entered with the name of someone who had been on the ship - you could see what they would have experienced. I was a young lady travelling with her father on a jewellery buying expedition, first class of course. At the end of the exhibit, you could find out whether you had survived, quite a haunting thought - I did, but 'my father' did not...sad!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Steve Kilbey

I had the extreme pleasure of attending a unique event on Thursday 4 November. The event was part of Maitland Library's "Look who's talking" series, and was at Maitland Art Gallery.

This evening was unique for many reasons. It was early (6pm) on a Thursday night - whilst others were shopping, and attending to mundane and routine things, we were in an art gallery sipping champagne and waiting for none other than Steve Kilbey, writer, poet, musician and frontman for The Church...amongst other things as we were soon to find out.

Around 6.30 the crowd filed up the stunning, marble staircase to a contrasting modern room. It had a handful of large examples of expressionist paintings on the wall - dark reds and maroons splashed over the canvas lending an austere vibe to the gathering anticipation. The most impressive one being the backdrop for the makeshift stage in this lovely old building.

Librarian and the 'vision' behind these events, Keryl Collard rose to make her introductions and Steve Kilbey strode to the stage. He was immediately warm and amusing - saying amongst all the talents Keryl had mentioned, she had failed to mention he had taken up ballet - all in jest, but a warm round of appreciation tittered from the crowd.

He spoke briefly about Maitland and how The Church had driven through here in their touring days; and of their love of the second hand clothing store and how in the early 80s, paisley - their chosen form of shirt - was passe and very easy to find. These stores were the place to find old gems that no one was interested in...well not yet anyway! As a lover (always and still) of paisley I was delighted to hear such a story - it is my favourite type of print. He laughed about the huge pile of paisley shirts in his room, and how when the Hoodoo Gurus started they paid much much more for their paisley than he ever did!

He then picked up a 12 string and went through a small acoustic set talking, singing and entertaining us - he is true showman. For anyone that saw his (unrehearsed!?!) speech at the Aria Hall of Fame and wondered was it put on, or was he drunk - the answer is absolutely no. What you saw there, is what we got at the art gallery...and then some.

He was funny, self-deprecating, honest and sincere...yet still cool with that whiff of rock and roll edge. He spoke about his childhood, his parents, his love of Marc Bolan and T-Rex (he even did a T-Rex cover), how seeing a poster of Marc Bolan in his local record store changed his life. How he desperately wanted a bass guitar, after seeing a band playing in their garage in his local neighbourhood - he (with some mates) climbed a fence and snuck a look for a moment - his first taste at 'live' music, and he loved how the bass player stood and played. His father took him to buy one and the shop owner said he didn't seel bass guitars, rhythm guitars are all the rage - which, as he said, is hilarious as there is no such thing. So he managed to find a Paul McCartney replica, and begin his career as a bass player...classy! I have always been fascinated by bass playing lead singers, as that really is two different threads being played together - it must take a whole lot of talent to pull that off well.

After the short set, he put his guitar down and pulled out his reading glasses and his biography - this was on sale for the evening. He told the story of the young man who wrote the book - how he got his masters by doing so, he read parts of the book out with parts astonishment, parts interest, and mostly parts...taking the piss!!! The young author was American and a fan of Steve's, like Steve has been of Bolan. They had met (apparantly, Steve could not really remember) during Steve's 'tired and emotional' stage - his words. And then some time later when he approched Steve to write the book.

Steve spoke honestly about the three stages of his life - 'rockstar', the 'tired and emotional' drug taking years and the 'elder statesman' period he is in now. He read passages with humour and self deprecation, we heard about his younger years, early stages of the band, and a fabulous over wrought introduction by the author about his first experience of The Church live - all with added quips and asides by Steve - not only did he have us all in the palm of his hand, he had us in hysterics. I am unsure what the author (no idea of his name, it was only mentioned once I think) would think of this very Australian pisstake - but it made for great entertainment and Steve knew it.

When talking about his drug addiction he said he was lucky, he could have ended up a cliche, hanging dead on the back of a hotel room door in Hong soon as the words came out of his mouth he went a little grey, recalling the news of the suicide of James Freud that day. The Models were contemporaries and also inducted at the Aria Hall of Fame when The Church were, he mentioned how much he admired them in that infamous speech. He went on to talk about his fish that were named Colin and Sean for Sean Kelly and Colin McGlinchey - which was James Freuds' real name. I think wanting to escape that subject he went on to say he was good with peoples real names - anyone could ask him and he would know. He was like a little kid regaling in a new trick as people called out names - mostly lame names that everyone knows, like Bob Dylan etc, but it was a fun moment.

A little while later, he picked up his guitar again , strummed a couple of chords and began one of my two favourite stories of the evening. He said he was staying with his then Swedish girlfriend at his mothers' holiday home in Forster, and it was a balmy night and he was playing around with A minor chords on a keyboard on her back verandah looking up at the night sky. We all knew immediately what song he was referring to...the moment was delicious!! He was worried, was the song any good - his girlfriend replied yes, and did it sound too much like While my guitar gently weeps, well sort of but not too much was her other reply! He taped the song and threw it at the back of his songs, demos etc. Some time later (I suspect possibly a few years, he did not say) he brought it out for the group, it needed a middle hook, but they recorded it and thought it was ok, but not great or anything. It remained on a tape with a pile of other demos for the record company to sift through.

He then moved on to some salacious stories about record company executives that were sad, funny and scary. The stupidity of them and his distaste for them were raw. They found this demo and loved it immediately, the darker hook and middle section were added - he said as a joke, yet they remained. The song was recorded and was an immediate hit, the biggest of his and the bands career. Everyone said they always knew it would be a hit, but the only people who really did were the record company.

He began to play Under the milky way and it sent chills down your spine - it felt so intimate to hear such a stunning song after such a personal antecdote, like you were gazing into the realm of greatness and rawness and beauty. He got to the line "Lower the curtain down in Memphis" he paused and asked should he add Maitland, after a brief conversation with us, he resumed and added Maitland, he also paused in a few other spots to add observations and short antecdotes about the music, lyrics etc...too be honest I cannot remember it all, I was transfixed. Part of me was like just play the song, part of me knew this was very special, a performance never to be repeated, only for that night...again, delicious!!!

After such a moving performance, he put his guitar down and picked up a book of his poetry - he is fascinated by Ancient times, Greece in particular, the gods and their mythology - you can hear this in some of his lyrics and most certainly in his poetry. I read his blog from time to time, it is mostly his poetry and prose and he is prolific, but reading something is ok, hearing the person that wrote it read it as it was meant to be heard, is something else altogether, especially the prose - on paper prose is simply words, out of the authors mouth a rhythm and reason forms that makes much more sense.

He played a few more songs and then asked for any questions. This is always a bit dodgy, and as always there were dicks that formed 6 sentences into 2 awkward ones, sounding like pretentious twats (Steve probably called them geezers later - he used that word a lot, it amused me!!!). And then someone from the back yelled out "how did you get off Smack!?!" He was lovely and indulged all this rubbish. However there was one simple question he seemed to really like and it formed my second favourite moment of the evening. What comes first lyrics or music? He proceeded to tell us all about how he writes. It was brilliant. He says he is not a great musician, it never came easily to him, he used to try and put music to lyrics and it never worked. He said the music always came first and it could be laboured. Either just him and the guitar, or laying down parts on his 4 track early on. Once he or the band got the sound they wanted he would go off with the music and words would come to him, easily by the sounds of it. He said chords, keys, melodies etc would make him feel a certain way and then the words would follow.

After the final question, Keryl got up to wind the evening up, but he was keen to play a final song. I think he could have chatted and played and read all night, and we, the audience would have been perfectly fine with that, but I suspect the gallery had a time they wanted us all out by.

So the final song, my personal favourite, Unguarded Moment, was what he played. I wanted more for sure, but this was a perfect way to end a perfect evening. I even liked that he changed the line 'cameras for eyes' to 'iphones for eyes' - always cutting edge, always contemporary.

Oh and I must mention, he looks really good!!!

My photos are not great, but enjoy....

"So hard finding inspiration"...this evening inspired and lifted me, and was a complete sensory overload in the best possible way!!!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Elvis Week 2001

I've been thinking about Elvis this week - this week that is in Memphis - Elvis Week. I was lucky enough to be in Memphis for Elvis week 9 years ago. I would like to say it was organised that way, but to be honest it was a pure and utter fluke. I was touring from New York to New Orleans and we spent the night in Memphis on the 16th of August!!!

We had arrived in Memphis early, checked out the Mississippi delta and Memphis tourist centre. I had Paul Simon's Graceland going in my head all morning, mainly the lyrics..."The Mississippi Delta was shining like a national guitar", hmm not sure when Paul was there, but it looked more like a murky cesspool of dirt and garbage. We then headed to Mulberry Street and visited the Lorraine Motel, a sombre experience to see where hopes and dreams were assassinated. I felt physically sick, looking up at this very basic motel and thinking about King. But we were not there long, there were other kings to think about and we arrived at the Graceland complex late morning, before lunch.

The tour of Graceland was optional, you could do other things, I was tossing up what to do, right until we arrived. It's not that I did not like Elvis, I thought it was a bit cliched to visit, but once you arrive via Elvis Presley Blvd, well, you just HAVE to visit! The fact that this very day was the anniversary of his death did not click with me to much later during the day.

So, I am purchasing my ticket at the counter of the operation, and I was thinking, well this is going to be a laugh. I had to wait almost an hour, there were a lot of people there, but not that many that I thought it warranted an hour wait. There was plenty to do, I grabbed a burger (what else?) at one of the three 50s/60s styled diners around the complex and then hit the shops. I was keen to purchase the tackiest Elvis souvenirs I could lay my hands on - these simply did not exist in the complex. As I was to realise as the day proceded, this was the slickest show I would ever attend. Priscilla and Lisa Marie have done The King proud.

I took in the atmosphere, there were buskers, of all ages and race, doing the Elvis thang, some were good, and some not so, but it added to the building anticipation. Ever the cynic, I was surprised to find myself becoming quietly excited. The shops had some cool stuff to purchase and I made a mental note of what I might purchase after the tour. Soon my time was up and I joined the short queue for my group. I was given headphones which would have an audio guide leading me through the tour, and I was soon taken to the small buses that took us from the complex side to the actual compound. All of this was timed impeccably.

We entered the gates at Graceland, and I had goosebumps, the cynic was gone, I was really impressed and excited at what lay ahead. I had been born again Elvis and I loved every bloody minute of it. The gates were beautiful and the gardens and grounds tastefully done. The buses parked near the house, but under the shade of some trees, you had to step out a bit to see the house.

It was so small! I could not believe it, well large for a house, but much smaller than you would imagine. I guess in its day (especially when you see homes in that area even now) it was a mansion, but by todays standards most definitey not. Nonetheless, it was impressive, I mean it was Graceland. I had seen some amazing pieces of architecture during my trip, but this gave me shivers (ok the Chryslar building made me cry, but I was just off the plane, a very long plane journey, and driving from JFK to Manhattan, and seeing that stunning work of art deco in the night sky did me in!).

We had a short wait and were guided to the stairs, another short wait and in we went. Each group is timed (I forget how much) so as not to have too many people in the house at once and to also give them enough time to sufficiently look at everything. You never felt crowded, they were not trying to get more people through and make more money - trust me, you could have easily doubled the people and it would not have been even remotely squishy. But, doing it this way, enhanced the experience, you felt - at times - like you were the only person there.

Inside the home you were not allowed upstairs - people still live there, and when home family, eg Lisa Marie, stay there and I suppose, no one really needs to see the bathroom. Plus, when Elvis was alive, certain rooms upstairs were off limits even to family and friends. Everything is perfectly preserved, you really expect Elvis to pop out - not because you wished he was not dead, but because you felt transported back in time.

Most of the rooms were not so tacky, a little over the top in their oppulance for sure, but not tacky. The living room had a fair bit of glass, very large white lounge suites, peacocks in stain glass going into the music room where you saw a TV and grand piano, also a lot of gold accessories and deep blue curtains. The dining room was more of the same with a large Chandelier, cabinets of silverware and Noritake china and the large dining table set with silverware and floral arrangements.

The kitchen was very brown, lots of wood, very 70s, brown wood walls, brown wood cabinets, brown carpet, even the tooster had brown wood panelling. It kinda hurt your eyes, I imagine it was very advanced for its time. Then down some stairs (mirrored I think) to what was the basement. It had been turned into a Pool room and TV room. The Pool room had fabric on the walls and gathered on the ceiling and the same on the lounges which had an odd effect. There were cushions, other chairs and nick nacks in other patterns and colours, but because of so much material they blended in. Many a game of pool played by Elvis and friends I imagine. The TV room had three TVs, and a black, navy blue, yellow and white decor. Along with a very eerie white ceramic monkey and a glass ceiling. It also had a jukebox in the wall and a white leather bar.

And then there is the Jungle Room, nothing quiet prepares you for the Jungle Room. Complete with fake stone waterfall wall, green shag carpet (looking like grass) on the floor, walls and ceiling, fake fur chairs and lounges, coffee tables made from tree stumps, and various other wooden carvings. Apparantly Elvis felt comfortable there and it reminded him of Hawaii, it looked very uncomfortable to me! It was also great for jamming and recording, due to the carpeted walls and ceilings which made it absord sound well.

Then, there were a few small rooms with memorabillia, some suits, jewels, hobbys, books (I noticed a copy of Gibran's The Prophet and a whole pile of spiritual readings. We then moved outside to Vernon's office, which looked like people may still be working there, certainly very brown and 70s but files and documents open and so forth. As you leave the house and are in the grounds you see peacocks, horses and a small playground with swings etc in it.

We were taken to a very large garage - the cars are housed elsewhere on the complex side of the road - this has turned into a showroom of music memorabilia. You first go down the hall of gold - this has to be seen to believed, it is a hall of gold and platinum records, with cabinets towards the end holding other awards, including his three Grammy awards. This was truly spectacular, and if the house was not enough, this was surely worth the ticket alone. The hall moves into small rooms divided by subject - movies, 60s, 70s, priscilla, his charity work. I saw costumes, guitars, jewellery, photos, posters, books, sheet music, magazine covers, authentic merchandise, dolls and so forth. There was a wall of cheques he had written for people he knew and some people he did not know who needed help. There was a cabinet of guns and badges and certificates and keys to the city from many places.

And then there was the racquetball building, a 2 storey structure on the grounds. You enter into a lounge area with brown leather lounges, upright piano, stereo and so forth, there is a small gym and then the racquetball court. But, the court has now been turned into a home for his Vegas costumes - oh my!!! My favourite period, his concerts playing live as you arrived, Viva Las Vegas indeed.

You leave via the meditation garden - actually very beautiful, the pool and of course the graves. The graves were crowded, once you hit here the tour stops and the structure breaks down a little, as you are allowed to spend as much time as you like here. People mingle and on a day that was the anniversary of his death, an emotional mingling it was. I felt sad and touched and thrilled and overwhelmed and stunned at the afternoon I had spent. But I when I finally made my way to the grave the sight of two very tough looking dudes, huge with tats, crying like babies over his grave, I got the giggles and had to move on for fear of being tossed out!

I moved out to the front of the house, waited for the shuttle bus and made my way back over to the complex. I felt like something had shifted, I was connected to Elvis in a way you only can be having walked a mile in his to speak. From that day on I knew Elvis would hold a special place in my heart and he does. I bought myself a hound dog wearing a cape with blue suede shoes and some other bits and pieces and decided against seeking out the tacky souvenirs you could apparantly purchase back in town.

Before leaving the complex, I toured the plane museum and even walked through the Lisa Marie - again, very 70s, a lot of vinyl and velvet inside and pretty compfy looking for an old small jet.

The evening took me to Beale Street, it was a buzz and we went to an Elvis Impersonator contest before dinner - pretty funny, but also some great singers. Beale street itself was entertainment without going into any club, street musicians, all the stores open, plenty of restaurants and cafes, street vendors selling food and drinks - I had the best frozen strawberry daiquiris there. Found a cool restaurant with jazz playing, had Voodoo Chicken for entree and Cajun Chicken for main - yummo, wandered the street some more, then checked out BB King's Blues Club - it was a happening place, but it was getting late and I had had a big day.

I headed back to the motel with a few others, we were all tired and overwhelmed, Memphis was amazing, you felt the blues beat the entire day, it sung to you in a way that cannot be described, but visiting Graceland was indeed a highlight, one I will never forget. If you are ever in Memphis, do not hesitate, you will love Graceland and be as impressed as I was. I went to sleep that night feeling tired, and a little bit sad that the King had left the building for good, but pleased in the knowledge that his legacy can continue with this mighty attraction.

Friday, July 2, 2010



I can only recall 2 major events in 2000. The First was Culture Club and the Village People and Psuedo Echo. It was Saturday 26 February at the Sydney Entertainment Centre. It was a strange mix of crowd and an interesting concert. Psuedo Echo were indeed the standout of the group - truly!! That did not mean the others were bad, just Pseudo Echo were really good...really!! It was like their music was ahead of its time and time had caught up, cannot explain it anymore than that, but there you have it. The Village People were the dodgy part of the concert, they sounded ok, looked ok and were just a little bit too old and too sad, having said that it was The Village People (well possibly only some of them!) and we did do the YMCA!!!! Culture Club were good, but I was disappointed, they should have been better. George's voice was excellent, but this is a man who really does have a better than excellent voice, so that was a shame and it seemed the band just did not have their stuff together, it was worth seeing, but a shame it could have been better!!!

The second was The Cure, Saturday 14 October, also Sydney Entertainment Centre. This was the second time I had seen The Cure and this was a shockingly bad concert, possibly the worst I have even been to. I really like The Cure and adore Robert Smith, but I suppose I gravitate more to their popier tunes, and as much as I appreciate their more goth/let's slit our wrists and cut our throats tunes, I would prefer the 'healthy' mix of both, which is what I got at their previous concert. This concert, was goth, goth, goth all the fact it was too much goth for the goths. Each song, drearily melded into the next, you really could not tell which one started and which one ended, I was bored out of my freakin' mind! I looked around and noticed a lot of empty seats (that had not been empty earlier) and a hell of a lot of goths ASLEEP!!!! I even went for a walk part way through the concert (something I would NEVER do) and noticed lots of goths in the foyer, chatting and drinking....very bizarre. They did not play a single hit, expect for A Forest. I have no idea what was going on, none of them seemed too happy to even be on stage, I know Smith co-wrote a lot of the songs and some original members were no longer in the band, possibly he was not allowed to sing them, I dunno, after 2 hours and no end in sight, we left, no idea how long it went on afterwards and what we missed out on, all I can say it was a real shame!


2001 was another quietish year. Caught Henry Rollins in April at the Civic, it was one of his spoken word tours and baring the odd bit of misogny (expected anyway) he was pretty good.

Saw the legendary Russell Morris at Wests in June, he was great, very entertaining and sounded good too. Sweet, sweet love still stands in my mind today, love that song!

In August I was in the US, and whilst I had a fabulous and entertaining time, the things I write about in this blog were few and far between. I saw a mini concert of Melissa Etheridge - quite excellent - as part of the Today Shows summer concerts. Had a tour of 30 Rock and saw the Saturday Night Live stage amongst other cool this day I still remember the perky guide that led the tour, I swear to god a female version of Kenneth on the show 30 Rock - that Tina Fey she knows her stuff!!!! I stalked Lauren Bacall and Woody Allen (I knew where they lived) but no sightings...although I did meet a Woody impersonator in a bank, that was funny. I saw Robert Sean Leonard (Dead Poet's Society and House) in The Music Man - come on I am a Librarian touring America, what else would I see???? It was excellent, and I had fabulous seats, front row, middle upstairs. I hung around the stagedoor of The Producers a lot, but to no avail, tickets could not be gotten for love nor money. I attended church in Harlem, if we had cool, swingin' churches like that over here, I might just be able to find god!!!!

I toured Graceland, that was like a religion in fact, incredibly cool - one of the best days of my life (and I was not that much of an Elvis fan before). I sucked in all the talent at The Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, watched Shamu NOT kill anyone at Sea World in Florida, had my photo taken with Eyore at Disney World, saw Hitchcock in 3D at Universal Studios and also spent time with astronauts at Cape Canavaral. That only tips the iceberg of the trip, but pretty much sums up the entertainment aspects that I would write about here on my blog!

And I think I saw U2 in November, I have seen them about 3 or 4 times now and each blends into the other, which sounds bad, but is not. They are THE best band to see live, no other comes close - no matter how bad your seats are, you feel like Bono is singing directly to you.


Mary and I enjoyed The Vagina Monologues at the Civic in April, we laughed A LOT and only blushed a little bit!

Diana and I saw Alex Lloyd and a young Eskimo Joe at Newcastle Workers Club (or whatever it was called that year). Alex was amazing (ha!) and Eskimo Joe excellent, you could tell they were going to be stars.

Bell Shakespeare hit town as usual in June, Richard III and I think my favourite production by the company, we had close seats and I am still working out how the blood appeared on an early victim!!! Excellent stuff!!!

Oasis came to Newcastle in October- unbelievable. I loved, loved, loved them, still do, but let's face it they shat on themselves didn't they? It was a great night and I loved every minute of it, truly a night to remember. Favourite songs, She's electric, Champagne Supernova!


Saw a good little play at the Pan Theatre in town early Feb, a David Brown play on Lenny Bruce. Our seats were close so it was ultra intense. It was a long time ago, but I was very impressed, although Brown's plays are usually very good!

Karen and I took Dad (or he took us?) to see The Rolling Stones in Feb also - the Basketball Stadium (unsure of exact name) at Olympic Park. It was a blast, Dad is a huge fan and subsequently we are too. We prefer the earlier bluesy songs and they delivered. It was a range of songs from old to the more 'modern' ones. Keith was soooo Keef and Mick had energy that was boundless, I also thought Charlie was very refined and cool. I truly cannot remember many songs, but I recall hearing some old dude really getting into some album track (from Sticky Fingers, not a hit, cannot remember the title) and thinking boy, he must be enjoying himself, and it was Dad, that was pretty funny. The Stones can sometimes be a cliche but they really were great, and give a great show, to deliver what they did at their age is phenomenal, I know we all had a good time, and I know Dad especially did!

Amanda and I attended the Grand Prix in March - my second, we had a ball in Melbourne and enjoyed the race, cannot remember who won, probably Schmumi!

Saw The Violent Femmes again in April at Newcastle Workers Club, as always they were fantastic, always a good night out!

And on the basis of their performance with Culture Club, we saw Pseudo Echo at Club Phoenix at Mayfield, what crack up, they were really good!!!

On Friday 12 September I finally saw Lou Reed, in Newcastle at the Civic no less!! The first time I lined up for tickets and was first in line - I was impressed with myself that day!!! Lou was incredibly cool and sung everything and anything, it was on the back of his Raven stuff, so a lot of Poe to be had, but that was ok. He had a Tai Chi master on stage with him, which was a little disconcerting at times - we were close, but he sung great. Perfect Day (and Sweet Jane) was my highlight. He also had Antony from Antony and the Johnsons as a back up singer, he had the most sublime voice, as we all now know!

A few weeks later a group of us trotted over to the University and saw a performance of The Breakfast Club, the play - it was excellent, most enjoyable.

Last performance of the year was reserved for the funky cool of Prince. Friday 24 October at the Sydney Entertainment Centre and he rocked the joint, think I was on my feet for much of the night, he played everything and was loving every minute of it. This was the second time I saw him and he was as good, if not better, LOVED his purple guitar.


I finally saw David Bowie on Friday 20 February at Sydney Entertainment Centre. I have been a fan of Bowie's for a long time. My first experience of him was the Ashes to Ashes filmclip on Countdown and it kinda scared me - I don't like clowns, they scare me! The first vinyl I bought with my own money was Let's Dance. Now I went with Nolene (and Vince) who is a first grade fan and seen him a zillion times!, so I was in the minor league, but I still had a marvellous time. He was the consumate performer, gorgeous, entertaining and delivered - what more can you ask!!!!

Karen and I saw Swan Lake early August, it was fabulous, it was the St Petersburg Ballet of course, and I was amazed. Our grandmother took us to a lot of similar things when we were very little, and this was our first time back at the Ballet, it was lovely!!

Late September saw me back at my old stomping ground, The Cambridge. I dragged Amanda and Rachel, who quelle horreur, had never been, I think they were a little concerned about the venue. We scored the hot seats (that back in the day we rarely got), top table at the front upper section - woo-hoo!! There was a local dude first, name escapes me, but he was great. Then the gorgeous Dave McCormack, I loved Custard, but had never seen them, Dave was funny, cute (VERY cute), entertaining and talented, he had the audience in the palm of his hand, singing all his ditties and just being Dave. He also did this pisstake of A-Ha's Take on me, which was very funny, but was one of those you had to be there moments! The main act of the night (although I would say Dave was more enjoyable!) was Tim Freedman, this was a retrospective night, just him, his stories and a grand piano - it was great, but after Dave, a little serious!

Early October brought me a first, Ultra Swing Lounge. I have mentioned them many times previous, but this first time WAS the best. The three leads are magnificent swing singers, and not only did they sing in the style, they had a Ratpack attitude to go with it, jokes, martinis and charisma. There were stories, songs, dancing and a Swinging Big Swing Band. I remember they started singing in front of a red curtain (you had no idea what to expect), and then you heard the big band (not so big sounding at that point) and then the curtains pulled back (went up??) and the band stood up and nearly deafened us, it was exhilarating and fantastic. They were all authentic and great, and somehow each time I have seen them, they have never lived up to that very first moment, the band always good, never quite packed the punch they packed that night! Nevertheless, do not miss out on this experience if you have never seen them, it is still worth it.

Later in the month the family attended Star City and were thoroughly entertained by Ben Elton's We Will Rock You. The singers, the songs, sets etc were fantastic, although I recall Dad being disappointed Ben was not there!!!

Mary and I headed off to Melbourne in November for a shopping/girly weekend, but also to see The Producers - ok it was not Broderick and Lane in NY, but it was pretty stunning nonetheless. The sets were amazing and the songs fabulous. I adore Mel Brooks, he is a true genius and has a damn good sense of humour, baudiness and all! Tom Burlinson and Reg Livermore were the leads with a cameo by Bert Newton who was hilarious. The humour is great, but really it is the songs, Springtime for Hitler is one of those bizarre little ditties you just cannot get out of your head!

I was not back long and Vince, Nolene and I headed off to The State Theatre to see Elvis Costello. A long time fan I was excited to see him, he was great and although we had seats towards the back of the theatre, his charisma reached and touched you all the same. It's great to see musicians you have respected for years and have them deliver.



Mary and I saw Chris Jagger at Honeysuckle on Saturday 5 February. Chris IS the brother of Mick and looks amazingly like him and is a blues musician. We were very impressed with Chris, he was fantastic and along with the most wonderful boogie woogie piano player had us jiving away all night

In March I saw REM for the second time, again at the Sydney Entertainment Centre. Mary and Amanda came along for the ride, it was sublime and stunning and that was just Michael Stipe, ha ha! This was their tour without Bill Berry, but you would never have known (poor Bill). They were tight, played every song you can imagine and then some and left us feeling happy and shiny (but no, they did not play that.....thankfully, it is the one song I can live without hearing!). Oh and some f-wit kept spilling beer down my back all night...crowds just are not what they used to be...

May took us back to Ultra Swing at the Civic, and as always a stunning night that just transports you to another time and place...sigh.

Amanda and I headed to see The Finn Brothers at the Civic on Sunday 17 July. We are both huge Crowded House and Split Enz fans and it was a great night. I do like some of Tim's solo work, but Neil is the genius and writes the perfect pop song, sometimes Tim takes over and is just a little too much, but he showed great restraint on the night and I did not get too antsy with him. It was not long after Paul Hester had committed suicide so there was a haunting tribute to him and we all shed a tear for a lost friend.

Saturday 10 September saw us back at the Civic for our annual Bell Shakespeare dose with Measure for Measure. I cannot recall this one, but I think the beginning of some less than ordinary productions.

Saturday 12 November was a historic night for Keryl and I, we saw The Goodies stage show, ok it was just Tim Brook-Taylor and Graeme Garden live. Bill Oddie was off doing his bird watching show in England, but they had a live (read pre-taped) cross to him. It was them, looking old but still feisty and funny, telling stories of making the show, amusing antecdotes and recreating a few skits and songs...yes we did do the Funky Gibbon. It was not a long show, but it was a great trip down memory lane and one I am glad we took. Bill was my favourite though, so a shame not to have seen him.

A week later we hit the Cambridge for a celebration - 20 years of The Porkers! It was a crazy night, and mostly a new crowd of people and not too many familiar faces, but we got in and kicked it up and had a blast - they played all the oldies and some new stuff, and still knew how to rock and ska it out! The Porkers are probably one of the bands I have seen the most live and that is over the 20 years, if you like ska music, they are to be seen, always fun and I have many a memory of seeing them at The Cambridge, Tatts, and The Palais amongst others.


I saw Madame Butterfly at the Sydney Opera House on Saturday 21 January. It was a fabulous production and one of the finest operas I have seen. I was impressed and Rosario Dawson (swoon) was the lead. It was a magnificient afternoon and incredibly moving, I am such a sucker for these sad operas and always shed a tear or two.

February brought Billy Connolly to town, and we had a family evening and all had a grand old time, laughing and trying not to wet ourselves. If you only see one comedian, see Billy...

Keryl and I had a sublime evening of classical music, Mozart in fact, back in April. I love hearing classical music live, watching the orchestra, seeing the musicians expressions, listening to each part and just meditating to their beauty.

May was busy with Ultra Swing and Circus Oz and as always they both delivered. Later in the month Mary, Keryl and myself saw the play, Doubt. It is a thought provoking piece, if you have seen the Meryl Streep movie you will know what I mean and the play is more subtle than the movie. Had us discussing the options for a while. The month was rounded out with the thumping groove of the reggae master, Afro Moses. Giving Bob a run for his money, this gorgeous man can not only sing fantastically, but beat the drum pretty darn hot too!

June was another busy month, with an Arabian ballet of 1001 nights - fabulous costumes, dance and hypnotic music. The following weekend was Split Enz at Sydney Entertainment Centre - their reunion tour and we had seats close to the front, we all (Karen, Mal, Amanda and myself) had smiles on our faces all night, they just kept churning it out, song after song, all having a grand time on stage. The month was rounded out by the travelling comedy festival (so so) and Merchant of Venice (Bell Shakespeare).

Porgy and Bess came to the civic in late July, an American company and stunning voices, I was in my element at this as it is one of my favourite operas. And I adore the Gershwins...I have always said if I had to pick ONE song that I could only ever listen to (and if you know me, you would know how incredibly difficult that would be) I would pick Rhapsody in Blue! So we got lots of cotton pickn' songs, It ain't necessarily so and ....Summertime....oh my!!!!

The next opera was in November and the highly anticipated Anthony Warlow/David Hobson version of Pirates of Penzance. Anthony was originally scheduled to play the pirate king years ago when he had cancer and had to pull out, so finally the time had come to revisit. He had a modern Johnny Depp/Captain Jack Sparrow twist to the king, but it worked. And Hobson was a perfect Frederick. Great, funny performances in a great, funny opera. Was a true delight!

November brought more music...U2 at the ACER arena, for a spectacular night under a November sky that threatened and at some point delivered rain. The boys were in fine form and Bono surprised us all (well ok me) by singing the Pavarotti parts of Passenger...I was beyond impressed and felt shivers up my spine. U2 always deliver and I think this was their finest concert. A few weeks later we were at the Belmont 16s to see Mondo Rock - ok not as spectacular, but still fine. Ross Wilson cut it on stage after all these years and I was excited to see James Black - my fav (after Julia - who I want to be!) from RocKwiz - up there on keyboards. You forgot how many songs you knew and it was a good night, although could have done without the middle aged boozed up bogans who seem to frequent that club.


LA TRAVIATA - Saturday 3 February - Sydney Opera House

This was great, one of the better opera's I have seen, opulent staging, great music and acting. Totally enthralling.

DUNGEON BIG BAND - Sunday 18 February - Lake Macquarie Performing Arts Centre

The venue is incredibly ordinary, but I would not expect anything less from Council given their track record with architecture. It was the first time I had seen anything there, and the place has been open for a few years. The only good thing about it is that it is a 5 minute walk from my house. However, the Dungeon Big Band were fabulous, they had some singing but it was mostly great instrumentals, cannot remember actual songs but I recall they selected less popular ones, although most I did know. I would see the Band again in a flash, not so interested in going back to the Centre....although I did just last year and performed my singing exam in one of the back rooms.....a totally disasterous event....the less said the better.

ALCINA - Saturday 10 March - Sydney Opera House

This was not one of our better choices, who knew Handel did Opera? On paper it sounded quite amazing, a baroque opera, set on a magical island with amazing set design and dance interludes etc etc. I mean, who does not love the is a beautiful instrument you just do not hear enough these days? Well, I now know why, an hour or so of harpsichord and indeed baroque is gorgeous, after that, fingernails down a chalk board and this Opera goes for over 3 hours!!!!!!! It was a looooooong afternoon.

The set was amazing, beautiful, a lot to look at, but the story was slow and dreary, the singing lovely but sleep inducing and the dance whimsical. At least in each of the breaks (there were 3!!!) we could go outside and look over the harbour and let the cool breeze wake us up. Look it was pretty and sweet, but just stretched out way too long and the music too repetitive and sleep inducing!

ULTRA SWING LOUNGE - Saturday 31 March - Civic Theatre

I have reported on Ultra Swing before and as always amazing, great music, set, singing, humour - the whole package, wish I lived in the 30s and 40s, life would have been grand!

MACBETH - Saturday 23 June - Civic Theatre

This was the worst ever Shakespeare I had seen, the few years prior to this Bell Shakespeare were irritating me, John Bell did not seem to have as much to do with the company, Anna Volska less roles and the great actors that seemed to act within the ranks were no longer in the plays. This year was always going to be a breaking point, it is just a shame it had to be Macbeth.

Macbeth is my favourite Shakespeare, it was the first play I was introduced to and I fell in love...I mean, how can you not, witches and mystery, trees that walked (So Lord of the Rings), Lady Macbeth (a truly delightfully evil character with OCD nonetheless!), gorgeous Macduff, plus murder and betrayal and all the things that make Shakespeare wonderful.

So the witches emptied their plasic shopping bags of bits and pieces into a pissy looking cauldron!!! Plastic shopping bags, I nearly fell over the balcony! Yeah, we had marvellous seats upstairs, front row middle. The staging left a LOT to be desired and the acting was shocking. The sound was not great and a lot of dialogue could not be heard and then there was Lady Macbeth!!!!

One of the strongest roles for a woman and she gave the weakest, patheticist (is that a word?) interpretation I have ever seen, I was appalled. I recall Mary texting during the performance and Keryl falling asleep.

LA LA LUNA - Friday 3 August - Civic Theatre

This was one of those plays you take a bet on and in this case it paid off immensely. A one man 'silent' play about what happens when the light globe that lights the moon goes out! The moons caretaker has to resolve this problem! It had slapstick, juggling, magic, and almost circus like sensibilities. One of the most amazing things I have seen, probably ever, and the guy doing the show was magnificient, a real throw back to classic vaudeville.

WILDE TALES - Friday 10 August - Civic Theatre

This was a range of Oscar Wilde plays aimed at Children and beautifully delivered.

KING LEAR - Sunday 19 August - Playhouse

This was a local production and pretty good, some of the acting left a little to be desired, but I believe I enjoyed it more than Bell's productions!

UNDERLAND - Saturday 1 September - Civic Theatre

This remarkable Sydney Dance Company Ballet was inspired by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds and featured their music. It was truly amazing, and stunning and visceral; and at less than 60 minutes, not nearly long enough. Keryl and I were transfixed and I adored how they interwoved great songs with both modern and classical moves.

SHOUT - Saturday 8 September - Griffin Duncan Theatre

This was a lot of fun, we had been lucky at work to have a preview of some of the songs prior to the show opening, so knew to expect something special. Sure, it was an amateur production, but the talent and enthusiasm certainly made up for that. The songs and costumes were magnicifient, had us all rocking in our seats!

GONDALIERS - Saturday 13 October - Sydney Opera House

Another Opera Australia Gilbert and Sullivan production and whilst not as slick and fabulous as Pirates of Penzance, this was still a great afternoon of Opera.

DICKENS' WOMEN - Tuesday 23 October - Civic Theatre

My goodness - this was an evening to behold!!! Miriam Margolyes and her one woman show about the women in Dickens' novels. She was breathtaking, haunting, formidable, funny, clever and purely stunning. Miriam encompassed each and every character with love and humility, bravado and amusement. She was a force to be reckoned with and it was an achievement of brilliance and I love Dickens I was in heaven.

CROWDED HOUSE - Monday 5 November - Sydney Entertainment Centre

This was their reunion tour, although without Paul it seemed a little wrong I must be honest. After seeing them arrive - by chance - that afternoon, we were pumped and had fabulous seats also, so close you could almost touch Neil...sigh! It was a great night and they played all their hits but some new stuff, Amanda and I loved it, but I really missed Hessie....'tis the truth!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Carole King and James Taylor Troubadour Reunion

LOCATION: Sydney Entertainment Centre

DATE: Tuesday 6 April, 2010

WITH: Vince and Nolene

I lived and breathed with these amazing musicians last night and it was beyond magnificence.

To be honest, when Vince originally asked if I would like to attend this all those months ago, I did hesitate. I have always loved the songs of Carole King and indeed her singing but tended to prefer others singing her songs; and James Taylor I could take or leave and the tickets were insanely expensive. However I did have Carole King's latest (2007?) album of live songs and it just made me smile and I had recently seen a live show Taylor had done recently and his warmth and humour amused me greatly. And who can knock back amusement and smiles along with songs you know and love???

I am so, so, so pleased I decided to go to this!!! I went in with no expectations but hoped to hear One fine day. I love the opening piano hook and it is a great song (although The Chiffons do sing it much better than King) and they did not do it, but I did not mind. The night was pure magic.

Both Taylor and King were on stage together the entire time, about an hour the first half, a short 20mins break and then at least another 90mins, maybe more with encore after encore. I have been searching the net all day for a set list, but to no avail, yes the concert was last night, but I have a small recollection of order and probably only remember half the songs - this says more about my shocking short term memory than the concert of course. Mind you I could have been like the loser in front of me, spending more time on his memeallaboutmephone...oops I mean iphone, but then he probably has the set list today :)

So, it was mostly Carole on piano and Taylor on guitars, 1 electric and 1 acoustic, both ordinary looking, and he played incredibly well as you would expect. I read somewhere once that when guitarists keep changing their guitars it is more about look at what a wonderful guitar collection I have and maybe you will not realise I am not so good at playing, that amused me! Taylor was the antithesist of this. They were backed by the band that played with them at the Troubadour all those years ago; Danny Kortchmar on guitar (amazing), Leland Sklar on bass and Russell Kunkel on drums. This familiarity helped enhance the music. There was another keyboardist and three backing singers. The stage was spare, the lighting just right and occasionally the odd 'slide' with images or photos. See, in this cookie cutter world of image and technology, this is most unusual. Let's face it when you have their talent, looks, image and the cover of high drama is not needed!!

Seeing Taylor and King perform together was powerful, these are people who know each other very well, loved being around each other, meld easily into one when singing and just appreciate and are in awe of each other at the same time.

And James (in his early 60s) looked gorgeous, that smooth voice has not changed a bit over the years, he might have lost his hair (who cares!) but that face and those beautiful eyes shone through. His grace and humour was warm and welcomed, with funny insights, comments and love for his audience, band members and of course Carole. Someone yelled out "I love you James" and he replied he loved us all too and I thought to myself, hmmmm, thank you!!!

But Carole - for me - stole the show, in her late 60s (68 I believe) she looked fabulous and natural and was having a blast on stage. Her voice was a little more gravely than when she was younger, but to me, this gave her an edge of knowing and stunning that only enhanced her music. The smile on her face never left, she was loving every single minute and so was I. When she sung I was in the palm of her hand and realised although her voice may not be as good as Aretha, The Shirelles and all those fabulous people she wrote for, her interpretations (that only she would know best, having written the song and all!!!) made the songs all the more richer, and hearing them live was like hearing them for the very first time.

I do remember the evening started with Taylor's Blossom, he also sang favs such as Carolina in my mind, Fire and rain, Sweet baby James, How sweet it is to be loved by you, Mexico, Steamroller, Copperline. His playing and phrasing were sublime and smooth, he enjoyed playing the tunes and chatting to the audience and band about them in between. He was humbly amusing and quite witty, something a little unexpected I think.

Carole had a grand time, she belted them out, and was awe inspiring. As laid back as James was she was right there and in your face, this worked well. Although she also spoke to us between songs, she had less to say and let's face it when you begin a song with I wrote this and it was covered by The Beatles, what more can you say? That song was Chains and a perfect example of the type of song she writes, the audience rocked out with her. Her songs ranged from the ones she wrote for others and the big hits. Her range, although known, was beyond amazing, the woman is a musical genius. She sung I feel the earth move, It's too late, Smackwater Jack, Sweet Seasons, So far away and Beautiful. Sweet seasons and It's too late were standouts, love the piano riff in the later and the rhythm and movement of the other.

When Carole sang a song James played and sung back up and vice versa. But, some songs were done as duets and they were show stealing. Carole's first hit, Will you still love me tomorrow, was beautifully sung, as was an intimate version of the Everly Brothers (also written by Carole) Crying in the rain - James on guitar and Carole on a stool next to him, snuggled up close...sigh! They also did Up on the roof, reworked as they both had done differing versions of it and ended with a bizarre version of Locomotion. To be honest this was the weakest link of the evening and a shame to end it there. I think it was because of Kylie, in fact when she mentioned another song she had written was covered by Kylie Minogue a collective groan was heard through the audience, however it was a bit of fun and for a song originally written for Little Eva, the oldies in their 60s rocked it out!!!

But the standouts of the evening - for me - were 2 songs I kind of thought (before the concert) I could take or leave. They are indeed GREAT songs, but you know sometimes you just hear a song way too many times to appreciate any more. That's how I felt about these songs until last night and I am not too old or ashamed to say both brought to tears and they both certainly gaves me shivers - you know the right kind, when something touches your very soul and gives you meaning and hope!!!

The first was You've got a friend, originally written by Carole, but given to James and he made it his own. Listening to their duet of it towards the end of the evening was insightful, touching and beautiful. The sentiment of the lyrics and simplistic tune, overdone for all these years suddenly seemed fresh and new and full respect and understanding was renewed.

The other was fairly early in the show, (You make me feel like) A natural woman. It was a powerful moment. Originally written for Aretha Franklin, whose version is amazing, this more laid back version, seemed to speak to me specifically last night. I heard the lyrics like I had never heard them before and they just sung to me, man, I want some of what ever (or whoever) she was having when she wrote that, oh yeah!!!!!!! The lyrics to the 2 verses of that song are perfection, anyway, without getting too personal, I was incredibly moved by her performance of that.....and isn't that what live performance is about. I am so pleased I had the opportunity to epxerience these magnificent musicians and the magic they created on stage last night.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

OSCARS 2010 (2009)

I love The Academy Awards, ok, I do love any kind of ceremony, but nothing comes close to the Oscars.

It's hard to explain without sounding silly, sentimental or strange, but they are sort of like my religion.

I love them mostly because I love film - not movies or blockbusters but real cinema. The type of film that challenges you, makes you think and transports you to another place or headspace, preferably not via a bluescreen or by asking you to leave your brain at the door.

I like a lot of different styles of cinema and they range the entire era and genre of film. I love silent film, particularly the films of Chaplin. I love films from the 30s and 40s, most especially Screwball Comedies with fast talking women and smooth talking men, Manhattan apartments and cute dogs. I also like film noir, westerns, Hitchcock and Frank Capra. The 50s and 60s also have some great films, mostly extensions on what I mentioned in the 30s and 40s but also musicals, b-grade sci-fi and foreign films, particularly those of Fellini. The 70s were gritty, real and the original independent era with stellar actors like Brando, DeNiro, Nicholson, Hackman, and Pacino at the forefront and directors like Altman, Coppola, Scorsese, Kubrick and Polanski shining through. The 80s were about my teen years so often chock full of guilty pleasures like Ferris Bueller's Day off, Ghostbusters and Jumping jack Flash and a really great range of excellent dramas like Reds, Sophie's choice, Kiss of the spiderwoman, The last metro, My beautiful laundrette and Betty Blue. Independent film and foreign film rule the 90s for me and there are just too many modern day classics to mention. From 2000 onwards it is harder, it is more about the director and the script and what I call modest film - the ones that often slip under the radar but pack a real punch. The last 10-15 years has also seen a huge rise on documentary as feature film - sometimes I think I like more docos than actual films.
There are so many brilliant films, just too many to mention....possibly another post for another day.

So when you look at The Academy Awards they hold the most history, they have been around the longest and therefore include the chance that they just might decide to showcase that history within the ceremony. What I mean is they may pay homage to a genre of film, roll out an older actor or actress to present or just have some sort of golden age of Hollywood moment - and as a film buff, it would be insane to miss out on viewing that. Think about the spectacular moment post 9/11 when Woody Allen (my favourite modern director) surprising everyone by turning up to do a magnificent homage to New York Films, a surprise like that is more than worth the night's viewing. Having said that they are often a flawed couple of hours - think of who wins against who loses (I mean Forrest Gump over Pulp Fiction - I have a fabulous cartoon on my study wall of Tarantino with a gun to Gump's head - fantastic!!!!) and how bloody long it took for Scorsese to win one and people who never won one - Alfred Hitchcock!!

For the record - my favourite moments from the past decade or so are (in no particular order):

  • Roberto Benigni and his absolute joy
  • Woody Allen presenting a Post 9/11 'bit' on films of New York City (actually this is probably Number 1, mainly because it was a genuine surprise and beautifully presented)
  • Billy Crystal hosting (every single time)
  • Whoopi Goldberg arrivals as host (both times)
  • The anniversary shows with the 'class' photos
  • Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway last year
  • Cher winning for Moonstruck
  • Jack Nicholson grinning in sunglasses in the front row - it's never quite the same without him
  • Martin Scorsese finally winning best director (for one of his lesser films!)
  • Uma....Oprah, I actually thought it WAS funny, but then I love Dave!!
  • The Lord of the Rings sweep

Yeah, the fashion is fun but it is really the ceremony and the surprises that I love, so much so I have a media ban for the day, and for the past decade have taken a day off work to ensure that ban is met. The nutty (but hey I have no children and am always focused when I am at work, so I am entitled to ONE day!) reason behind this is the year that Russell Crowe won was spoilt by a staff member (I was working at HQ at the time) with a incredibly loud voice blaring that he had won, I was furious and outraged at such a display of insensitivity (although, not entirely surprised) that I left early before anything else was ruined and have done so ever since, LOL!! Tomorrow is actually my RDO, so no A/L this year. To date every year, a close friend will ring me part way through to tease me and ask if I want to know who won best actor, it makes me laugh every year!!!!!!

As you can see I could go on for ever about Film and The Academy Awards, but I shall spare you all from complete boredom and give you my predictions!!!!!

I have been trying to pick winners for since the late 90s and I hope to beat my personal best of last year when I choose 20 out of 24.

OSCAR PREDICTIONS 2010 (for 2009)

Best Picture

Hurt Locker - this is the only main category I am not 100% sure of. I most certainly do not want Avatar (or more likely James fucking Titanic Cameron) to win. I do think Inglourious Basterds should be right up there, but Hurt Locker is what I have locked in. (with 10 categories and different voting it will be interesting to see how this one pans out)
Kathleen Bigelow all the way - only the 4th woman to be nominated, come on academy let's settle this one right now!!!!!!! Shame for Quentin as IB is his masterpiece to date (sure I loved Pulp Fiction better) but this is a cinematic masterpiece and the direction needs to be honoured, however this year I feel it for the women!!!!!
Leading Actor
The dude abides....if this means nothing to you, then shame on you!?! Jeff Bridges pretty much has this pre-stamped, not just because this subtle yet messy performance is note perfect but because he has a career, decades long chock full of subtle, yet messy performances. My favourites are The Fisher King, Fearless and the aforementioned Big Lebowski. I think it is a shame Colin Firth is up against Bridges, but hopefully Mr Darcy will have opportunity to shine again, as this year it is Jeff all the way.
Leading Actress
At this point it is Meryl (whom I love and adore) against Sandra Bullock (who is one of those actresses who is normally just there, not great, sometimes bad, often amusing, but never shines). Meryl is divine as Childs, but if she wins this year that puts her unenviably close to matching Katharine Hepburn's record of 4 wins (for acting) - a record I do not believe should ever be broken. Plus the academy really loves to reward younger actresses - my money is with Sandra.
Supporting Actor
A great selection of character actors, and this year it has Christolph Waltz written over it, expect a classy and witty speech.
Supporting Actress
This is often the wild card genre - Marissa Tomei anyone? However it looks certain to be Mo'nique's year and I shall stick with her.
Animated Feature
Up it is, heart, story, characters, fun and poignant. I did love Coraline, but as I had read Gaiman's brilliant book it did not surprise, it was note perfect. Up was also note perfect but DID surprise.
Art Direction
no freaking clue - I suppose Avatar.
Going with Inglourious basterds.
Costume Design
Young Victoria looks pretty gorgeous, although it does seem wrong to vote against a movie about Coco Chanel!
Documentary Feature
I have had the pleasure or should I say displeasure of viewing the very distressing film The Cove (about the senseless slaughter of dolphins in Japan) and feel it would appeal to the academy.
Documentary Short
Going with the one about the 2008 earthquake in China, China's unnatural disaster.
Film editing
Usually matched to best film, so going with The Hurt Locker.
Foreign Film
The devilishly wonderful Michael Hanaeke deserves a golden boy, so going with The White Ribbon
Star Trek because it needs an Oscar and the make up WAS cool!
Original Score
Up had a great soundtrack.
Original Song
Has to be T-Bone Burnett and The weary kind (from Crazy Heart)
Short Film Animated
Always go with Aardman and Wallace and Gromit, so money is on A matter of loaf and death
Short film Live action
Kavi is about child slaves and a hollywood topic at the moment, so let's give it a go!
Sound editing and Sound Mixing and Visual Effects
Avatar for all three
Screenplay adapted
As much as I would love my man Nick Hornby to get an Oscar, my money is with Up in the air, a much loved film with not much chance of getting anything else
Screenplay original
Inglourious Basterds all the way ---- go Quentin, we do love you!

I hope you all have a wonderful day doing whatever you are doing tomorrow, I will be chilling with a glass of champagne and enjoying the ride that is The Academy Awards.

Saturday, January 30, 2010


I have stashed away a whole bundle of tickets in a hard to get place, so am relying on my diaries which are not always up-to-date or readable and will attempt to do year by year with brief notes. This is more for my records than your pleasure, but will welcome any additions from those who attended programs with me, Cathy xoxo

SPICKS AND SPECKS SHOW - Tuesday 8 January, Civic Theatre

This was a grave disappointment - they tried to be Rockwiz and take audience members from the Newcastle audience (you can just imagine). What works in cool Melbourne with real rock fans does not work for an ABC audience in Newcastle - it was more than embarassing. It was fun to see Myf, Adam and Alan in the flesh and it was not all bad, but the audience participation -something I have never been a fan of in any way, shape or form (I am paying YOU to entertain me, not the other way around!!!!!!) - just spoilt it. The things that make S&S are the guests they have on and the repoire between them all, not necessarily the music or the questions.

THE POLICE - Thursday 24 January, ACER Arena

This was brilliant, although I was initially worried. A huge fan back in the day I adored The Police and have all their records/tapes. Sting still sounds ok, but what about the others, can they pull it all off, especially in such a large arena. I need not have been worried. We had great seats which was pleasing and after a very bizarre support of Fergie (what the fuck??????) they came on. The feeling in the air was electric. Boom straight into Message in a bottle. What I loved the most was it was just the three of them on stage (all in their 60s), looking great and sounding fantastic!!! No extra guitars or keyboards to pad things out - not needed. The set list was beyond impressive, although I missed Canary in a coalmine. Every song a hit, every song you knew - I was on air for days after. Set list is as follows (thank god for the net!)

  • Message in a bottle - fabulous
  • Synchroncity II - a surprise, it had been a while and I had forgotten that song even existed, shame!
  • Walking on the moon - good (overrated)
  • Voices inside my head/When the world is running down - nearly crapped myself, LOVED these, sooooo fabulous
  • Don't stand so close to me - reworked, ok
  • Driven to tears -great
  • Hole in my life - we went off, goes without saying!!!!
  • Every little thing she does is magic -another overrated song, but went over well
  • Wrapped around your finger - highlight of the night - HAD to be seen to be believed, Copeland recreated the percussion in this in a magical cavalcade of mastery and perfection, he lept from drumkit to percussion set like a pro and the percussion set was unlike any I had ever seen, how ONE man created that sound (EXACTLY like the record) with all those instruments without ever missing a single beat, I will never know, honestly the most amazing thing I think I have EVER seen on!!!!!
  • Can't stand losing you/Regatta de blanc - woo hoo
  • Roxanne -the one song I could have done without, but was pretty good, excellent lighting used with pulsing reds
  • Encore of King of Pain (glorious), So Lonely (yeahhh!!!) and Every breath you take (and amusing comments from Sting re people who STILL do not get this song and think it is a love song. tsk, tsk)
  • Encore 2 of Next to you - How bloody cool to end with that, could not get it out of my head and that is a very good thing!!!!

THE CLUB - Wednesday 5 March - Civic Theatre

This was an unexpected one, as scored some freebies and it was brilliant. Love all Williamson, most especially the early stuff and had seen a local version of this many years ago, this had the old dude from Blue Heelers in it (never watched that show, not a fan of Australian 'popular' drama) and I was concerned, but he was fabulous. Worth seeing and funny how all the 'politics' in it have not changed a bit over the years.

WAITING FOR GODOT - Saturday 29 March - Playhouse

Never seen Godot and let's face it, it can be a boring play. This was a great version with fantastic and mesmerising performances, the second half still ran a little long, but all in all was excellent.

CIRCUS OZ - Saturday 19 April - Civic Theatre

My second time back in Oz and again a magnificent treat - one of Krista's (MGF) last performances as MC - she was formidable and always had me transfixed, as an MC should, not sure how they will go without her. A lot of scenes and stunts recreated from last time- but still a pleasure to watch, that feeling when your heart is in your throat is amazing, they are amazing. Love the acrobatics, especially with the musical instruments. Some new stunts and all in all a great show. I suppose the only thing was not having the feeling of seeing them for the first time (which obviously is a one time thing) - such a pleasant surprise and a wonderfully stunning feeling.

KEATING, THE MUSICAL! - Saturday 24 April - Civic Theatre

What can be said about this, that has not been said before. The most unique, amusing and fantastic thing I had seen in a long, long time. We had excellent seats, close up (3rd row I think). The music was tight, the style of song suited the theme perfectly and the lyrics hilarious and plain clever. The acting, dancing and singing note perfect. People you had forgotten about, phrases and situations brought back to the fore. Perfect as Keating was...perfect :) Serio as Hawke (and Howard) possibly better. My sides hurt, the tunes ran in my head, I just did not want it to end, BRAVO!!!!!!!!!!!

THE HAPPY PRINCE - Friday 13 June - Playhouse

Was for children, but we had a blast - just the right length, beautifully staged, with performers, puppets, shadow puppets, and so forth. Just hit the right note of humour and melancholy as the book does. I really enjoyed this production.

AS YOU LIKE IT - Saturday 28 June - Civic Theatre

This was a great performance and almost sold me again on Bell Shakespeare (until this year!).

YEAR OF MAGICAL THINKING - Saturday 19 July - Civic Theatre

I had been waiting in anticipation of this when I first heard it was coming to Newcastle with Robin Nevin directed by Cate Blanchet. I had read the memoir by Joan Didion when it first came out, being a fan of her writing and all. She is America's Helen Garner - honest, spare and brilliant. It is the memoir of dealing with her husband's (writer John Dunne and brother of Dominque, whom I adore and miss terribly - at least they are together now) sudden illness and subsequent death and almost simultaneously a similar situation with their daughter. Whilst it sounds a bleak and awful sumise (and at times it is) this is the most beautifully and honest written book. I was curious to see how it would translate on stage (I felt it could be done) as a one woman show. I was thrilled at how raw and honest yet so warm and appealing it was. Nevin was a tour de force, we were laughing one minute and choking back tears the next, it was never cliched or hooey, always smart and highly intelligent, the book and the woman were lovingly recreated. I have heard someone is adapting Garner's The Spare Room in a similar fashion, I hope so. Both should be read as companion pieces - masterpieces of great female literature!

STEVEN BERKOFF - Wednesday 27 August - Civic Theatre

Acclaimed British actor did 2 (or 3??) short plays in this one man show - he was convincing and held the audience in the palm of his aging hand, as you would only expect. He did deep and scary Poe, a hilarious english take on drunks and their dogs and I thought a third, but just cannot recall. Was a joy to see the master at the top of his game - amazing!

THE PRODUCERS - Friday 19 September - Civic Theatre

I love this play, I loved the movie, Mel Brooks is my hero! I have seen excerpts of the Lane/Broderick phenomonen on TV. It was on when I was in NYC in 2001, you could not get tickets for love nor money, I hung around the theatre just to soak up the fabulousness of it all. Mary and I saw the aussie production in Melbourne a year or so earlier - it was magnificent. This was not, in all honesty, it was not too bad, but against the forementioned pedigree, it never had a hope in hell. Lovely Melinda Smith the newsreader as sexy Ulla (although she did not do too bad to her credit) was never going to pull it off. If you had no knowledge of the above, you would say they did a good job and I suppose they did. I knew it was a bad move when I got the tickets, always trust your gut!!!

THE PITCH - Saturday 27 September - Civic Theatre

All I can remember is laughing a lot at this funny local play about pitching a movie idea!

THE WHITLAMS - Saturday 4 October - 16s

Have seen The Whitlams a few times before and Tim Freedman do a solo show also. They are a great band, but lets face it, it's all about Tim. The 16s is always a 'challenging' venue to go to, Bogan City I call it, lots of boozed up, ageing bogans, mostly behaving innapropriately...I digress!!!

This was a best of tour and that it was, every song you want. My favs are I Like Hamburgers and You sound like Louis Burdett. The place was rocking and jumping, had a great time. Peter and Mary attended, I believe Mary was heavily pregnant with Luke!

ULTRA SWING LOUNGE - Saturday 25 October - Civic Theatre

As always a classy event to see, but each year it seems to dip a little, nothing like the first time I saw them (that review will be coming soon so stay tuned). The big band was good, the singing and dancing good and if you had never seen them before you would be blown away. They seem to downsize ever so little each year and it needs to be a big thing - it is swing after all. The new guy was pretty good, incredibly young, but I missed the blonde guy - his humour was better than the others, and whilst his voice was certainly the weakest, his showmanship was probably the mind, I will still see them every time...better than most things you see!

THE RED SHOES - Saturday 15 November - Civic Theatre

My recollection of this Ballet is very hazy, suffice to say I remember enjoying the performance of this classic ballet movie.

ROGER MOORE BOOK LAUNCH - Tuesday 18 November - Hayden Orpheum Cinemas, Cremorne

Very exciting to see 007 in the flesh in this special event which was a promotion/book signing for his memoir. He looked good for his age (late 70s I think) and was interviewed by the wonderful David Stratton. They showed Bond clips and he spoke about film, acting and all sorts of things. He was very engaging and a delight to see. It was not a long event, but really worth it to see a screen legend in the flesh.

And then there was the Hayden - I had never been there before and was instantly in love. The set of cinemas are refurbished in Art Deco style with lavish lighting and colour and curtains and so forth - to be seen. Very grand and lush - owned by none other than Mike Walsh. The main cinema has a beautiful old organ which comes up through the stage floor and is played prior to the film. The gentleman who plays it is fabulous and played a selection of Bond themes leading up to Roger arriving. Then it disappears below as he is playing and the floor goes back across the pit seemingly missing the top of head (while he is still playing) by mms. Again to be seen!

MONET EXHIBITION - Thursday 27 November - Sydney Art Gallery

This was most disappointing, the paintings were lesser paintings (and not good ones) and the other impressionists gathered in the exhibition were few and far between. Got the thing done in around 30minutes.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010


LOCATION: Civic Theatre, Newcastle

DATE: Friday 23 October, 2009

WITH: Mary, Keryl

What a blast this was, my first Wharf Review, not sure why I have not seen one before, but cannot wait for the next. So much happens, what talented, clever and witty people they are. All the politics (and other bits, but mostly politics) were set to fast, flashy music - things you would know. The first section was the Rudd Government and others set to Harry Potter, incredibly clever and very funny. My ribs and cheeks hurt from the get go, not a person was spared, past and present.

I would do no justice is trying to retell any of the gags, but they were funny. There were Supremes numbers, a bit of Cohen, standards, you name it - the songs chosen and the lyrics changed suited each position. There was film and sight gags, lots of dress ups and great singing and playing. I for one will be back this year.


LOCATION: Civic Theatre, Newcastle

DATE: Saturday 22 August, 2009

WITH: Keryl

This was the most wonderful program from the Sydney Dance Company, a contemporary piece with mixed styles of dance. It began most dramatically with a muscular dancer in a classic suit high up on a swing above the Civic stage. He was miming to a very theatrical but jazzy song. It was lush and sexy, amusing and cheeky, contemporary yet classic and you knew immediately this was not going to be an ordinary evening of dance.

I have not attended much dance, and have a preference for classic ballet; I would find it hard to believe anyone could not have enjoyed this. The group were a range of sizes, shapes and styles, male and female; their costumes were stunning, bold colours, muted tones, very modern yet at times with a classic edge. They danced to dramatic jazz and classic style music, nothing I really knew, yet at once very familiar and listenable. The stage design was spare and the lighting just right, there was humour and pathos and loads of talent. I did not want this
to end, it was perfect.