Sunday, April 24, 2011

Engine Three Seven and Twelve Foot Ninja @ Esplanade Hotel (2011-04-23)

A free Saturday night in the front bar at St Kilda’s famous Esplanade Hotel always gets quite a big turnout, but when the two headlining bands are Twelve Foot Ninja and Engine Three Seven, there’s guaranteed to be good times ahead for all concerned! These acts have found their way into the hearts of many Melbournians since they released their first EPs in 2008, first appearing at live shows alongside other more established acts, and then gradually making their way to the point they’re at today, where they can easily hold their own at small-medium sized venues. Hell, if this gig had have had an actual price tag, I’m sure they still would have got just as many punters through the door!

Here’s a unique oddity in the history of my recordings (and I’m assuming probably in FMR’s history) – a recording of a gig where I wasn’t actually present! To cut a long story short, I was actually at the Arthouse watching Frenzal Rhomb while Engine Three Seven’s set was taking place; I’d planned to hopefully be back in time for E37 but this turned out not to be the case. Luckily, I’d given my magic box to a friend so he could record the set anyway, and he was actually very lucky on this evening to have permission to plug into the mixing desk! Thus, this is quite a good quality recording. Listening back, I can tell I missed quite an awesome show, although this band never put on any other kind! I can’t really say much more about a gig I wasn’t even at, however, there’s something VERY special at the end of this set. During the St Kilda Festival earlier in the year, the guys put on a special acoustic show in the Gershwin Room. In the leadup to the show, drummer Shane Evans broke his foot, I’m not sure when exactly, but it was obviously close to the show and he was of course unable to play. So what did the guys do? They brought in a large couch, sat down in suits, and played the acoustic set, including the first live performance I have ever seen of Retrospect, a Pearl Jam cover featuring Tim McMillan, and at the end, frontman Casey Dean delivered a song by himself, saying he was hoping to do a solo album in the future. It was quite a special moment and one that I thought would never be repeated, at least in the near future, as I assume his commitments to E37 are quite strenuous these days. However, when I arrived at the Espy about five minutes before Twelve Foot Ninja were due on and got a quick rundown from my mate about E37’s set, I was delighted to hear that Casey had done the song again! Anyway. Here it all is. Enjoy.
(Intro on recording)
Easy Graceful Descent
Automatic Everything
Over Capacity
Adults Only
Have it All
Hysterical Hysteria
Lady Luck
(Casey Dean solo)

Well, luckily I had arrived with just a few minutes to spare before Twelve Foot Ninja got onstage and did their usual. I realised it’s actually been a bit longer than usual since I’ve seen the guys in action (about five months between shows actually can be considered a long time for a band that gigs with such frequency) and I was looking forward to see what they’d deliver. Turns out the answer to that was, “A DAMN GOOD SHOW!” They managed to play everything they’ve recorded and even a couple of songs that they haven’t. However, I was a little bit turned off at the whole “heavy” thing – I really enjoy them as a band that balances out their rock with the odd reggae verse and all that, but with the crazy strobe lighting, the relentless crashy-cymbal pounding beat thing and the crowd behaving the way they were, they just seemed to lean a little too far toward the “metal” side of things on this occasion. I like metal, but Twelve Foot Ninja are better off when they keep things balanced. Anyway, the crowd loved them and the band were getting into the spirit of things so I guess that’s the important thing. It was still enjoyable. The sound on this one could be better, despite the fact that it's a desk recording! Could use a little less vox and more guitar. But oh well.
Mother Sky
Molotov Brother
Beneath the Smiles
Child With No Enemy
Manufacture of Consent
Portrait #1
Portrait #2
Dark Passenger


Friday, April 8, 2011

Gareth Liddiard @ East Brunswick Club (2011-04-07)

For the uninitiated, Gareth Liddiard is the frontman for widely acclaimed Australian band The Drones. Following the album launch tour in November, another run of shows around the country was announced earlier in the year. Having missed shows at Thornbury Theatre, there was no way I was going pass up another chance (after having always seemed to miss his semi-regular solo performances at the Annandale Hotel when I lived in Sydney).
The banter before, between and after songs is almost as entertaining as the songs themselves. The obvious comparison he draws in this regard is another bearded stringed instrument player in a Melbourne based band, Warren Ellis of the Dirty Three. His bitter ramblings rarely miss the mark and in the odd instance that they do, they always provide a laugh.
To the music, there isn't a whole lot to fault. If you've listened to last years Strange Tourist, you know he's just as power and poetic without the backing of his fellow Drones. And there lies the only (minor fault). After hearing that the album launch tour was the LP start to finish, it was to be expected that he would change it up a bit. But I was still a little disappointed to only hear half of it live. What makes this minor more so is the fact that Strange Tourist closer, The Radicalisation Of D, was still includeded in the setlist, on of the most powerful songs I've ever had the privelege of hearing, both live and on record.