So, I’ve been privileged enough to enjoy a few music gigs recently, with some big acts. So I thought I’d share my thoughts and experiences with you. Ready? Here we go…
Iggy and the Stooges
What do you think when you hear the name Iggy Pop? ‘Oh god, he’s still alive’? ‘Surely he’s not still touring’? ‘I bet his gig would be a trainwreck’?
I wasn’t quite sure what my expectations were for this gig. I was familiar with the Stooges’ music, of course, and Iggy is rightly (in)famous. I mean, the guy is a punk legend in his 60’s, who barely made it out alive.
I’m glad to report that he’s just as lithe, snake-hipped, and maniacal as ever. He still exudes charisma, as well as raw, brutal, sexual, energy. Age shall not weary him, nor the years condemn. Although his days of rolling in glass are long over, he still did whatever the fuck he wanted, much to the chagrin of both his handlers, and venue security. He barely made it through the first song before taking his first stage dive, of which he completed about five or six through the evening. In the third song he implored the audience to come up on stage with him, which they gleefully accepted. A seething mass of about 100 people stormed the stage, helping their friends up out of the pit like they were climbing out of the trenches. People swarming, moshing, sweaty, all wanting to touch him, be with him. It was hilarious and yet oddly powerful. And Iggy just didn’t care. He never missed a beat, he never blinked, he never hesitated. He would occasionally stick his microphone down his pants and strut across the stage, with beautiful blonde hair, owning his domain. I can honestly say it was the craziest gig I’ve ever been to.
Even more remarkable in their longevity were the rest of the Stooges. Completely separate to Iggy, who was in his own topless, leather-trousered world, the rest of the band were respectable-looking older men. They looked like accountants, teachers, grandfathers – people you wouldn’t look twice at. But they could still rock, and rock hard they did. They were happy to let Iggy do all the posturing, the strutting, the screaming, the full punk outfit – they just played, and they loved it. It was sad that we couldn’t experience the late, great, Ron Asheton, but no matter. It was still raw, visceral, and we still screamed.
My favourite part is that the drummer and the bassist were the last to leave. They jammed for about ten minutes after everyone had gone, until, at last, the bass player threw his guitar to a waiting roadie, nearly caving his head in. Then he bowed, waved, picked up his glasses, put them on, and went into the night, looking like an accountant working late, catching the bus home. It was brilliant.
They Might Be Giants
They Might Be Giants hadn’t played in Australia for 12 years, and we were very ready to have them back. My husband is a huge fan and I know a lot of their songs through pure osmosis. This gig was also on the eve of my birthday, and it seemed like a fun way to spend it.
It was an incredibly long, joyous, and fun gig, playing all their greatest songs, including very old favourites and some off their new album. I could list them for you, or…
Yeah, I managed to get the last set list! But as I said, it was wonderful. I learned a lot. I’ve never seen a bass clarinet in real life before! We also had an appearance from The Avatars of They, with their own song, He’s Loco.
We managed to get a standing spot right up the front, amongst all the action. I had meaningful eye contact with John L. There was piano accordion. It was everything Giants is all about – funny, light, happy, silly, sweary, and smart. Songs were sung, games were played, and fun was had by all. I didn’t get too squashed, and the venue was nice and intimate. It was the happiest gig I’ve ever been at. I knew a lot more songs than I thought, and found myself eagerly anticipating what was being played next.
The energy in the room was reflected on stage. John F was literally leaping all over the stage throughout the whole show. There were lots of jokes (‘What’s the difference between ignorance and apathy? I don’t know and I don’t care’) and audience interaction (‘Hey you, dude at the front recording the whole show? Yeah, we heard backstage that everyone behind you? They all hate you’). You’d think that flying such a long way to tour, and the fact that they’ve been doing this for years, that they wouldn’t be so up and peppy, but they were. The two Johns put on a hell of a show, complete with two encores.
I also have to give a shoutout to the opening act – Australian electronic artist Pluto Jonze. He set the mood perfectly, complete with retro TVs and a theremin. His stuff is happy and whimsical in a Giants-like way, although not quite outright comedic. Look for his stuff on iTunes, highly recommended.
By the end of the night, my feet were completely dead, my voice hoarse from singing, and it was a lovely kick-off to my birthday celebration, dancing with my husband and having a good time. There was another gig the next night and I seriously considered going along to that, but finances prevented it. I had that good a time. It was lots of fun. The only thing that could have made it more fun would be having a bouncy castle. Maybe next time?
I have enjoyed the vocal stylings of Paul McDermott for many a year – I was obsessed with the Doug Anthony Allstars as a teenager and an avid watcher of Good News Week (the first time). So, when my husband surprised me with tickets to his gig, I was very surprised. As a bonus, I knew that an old school friend of mine, who introduced me to DAAS, would be there so it would be extra awesome.
The format of the show is that Paul would, well, sing with a full backing band, and in between tell stories. This seemed fair enough, but I had no idea what songs he would end up singing. And truth be told, I was slightly disappointed.
Paul explained that the songs he would be singing were ones that came from shows like Good News Week and The Sideshow, 3-minute long ‘filler’ (his word) songs. The songs did showcase his lovely voice well, and the band were very good, but I felt the songs themselves were a little bland. I didn’t engage with them, except maybe one, and I don’t remember it well enough to tell you what it was. Maybe it was because he wanted to sing something else; maybe there were too many copyright hurdles. Who knows.
His little stand-up bits in between were very good, and it was nice to see him carry a comedic show completely on his own, which is rare. He was warm and personable, but hasn’t lost his edge and bite. He berated hecklers and latecomers, and I’m sure that there were some people who felt very privileged to have him scream at them to shut the fuck up. The stories he told were new and unheard, and very funny, although it was frustrating when he spoke about creating and performing famous songs (and public reactions to them) and then he didn’t actually sing them. Most of the songs were nice ballads, so they felt incongruous with the comedic bits, which were more typical of Paul’s past work. It was perfectly enjoyable, but something about it wasn’t quite right.
At the theatre on the night there was another performance scheduled afterwards, so there was no dilly-dallying. After he was done onstage, Paul told us all to come to the lobby if we wanted more. Intrigued, we headed straight there. Paul proceeded to jump into the audience and shoo everyone out of the theatre to the lobby. We arrived in the lobby, where we were urged to sit, and Paul and his band proceeded to perform an acoustic encore. This was definitely the highlight of the night.
I knelt on the floor, sitting on my legs, within centimetres of Paul as he sang. He was singing without any amplification, and it was easy to see how accomplished a stage performer he was – he projected his beautiful voice like a pro, making sure to face different sections of the audience so we could all hear him. It was like watching busking – it was lovely and intimate, and everyone was enjoying the serenade. It was special and unique, and I felt very chuffed to experience it.
All too soon, it was over. Unfortunately my legs had gone numb so I couldn’t stand. Paul was swarmed by an overwhelming majority of middle-aged women wanting autographs, photos, hugs and kisses. I’ve never seen a huge crowd of people focused on one person before, but he handled it like a champ. He never showed any sign of impatience or annoyance, and he was incredibly gracious and accommodating. Me and my friend got our photo taken with him – the culmination of over a decade of singing his songs. The gig was very, very good fun, made all the sweeter by being shared with one of my oldest friends.
Tenacious D were one of the names on my list of must-see bands, and have been for a very long time. Their music has played a surprisingly influential part of my life – their first album was released as I was finishing high school, and helped me laugh with friends through tough times. Their much-maligned second album/movie The Pick of Destiny is incredibly precious to me – not only is it a fucking hilarious movie (I don’t care what anyone says), but my husband and I saw it on our first date. Aww.
When I heard they were coming, I couldn’t resist. I was a little surprised to see that they’d chosen to play the Sydney Opera House – hardly the first place you’d think of when you thought of the D! This juxtaposition was brought into light by a merch van outside on the forecourt, by the water, under those mighty white sails, which was selling the official Tenacious D cumrags. Classy as fuck.
The gig started late, and I was worried that I would be too sleepy to enjoy it, but enjoy it I did. Jack and Kyle burst onto the stage, full of energy. They started off with a few songs from their third album, Rise of the Fenix, which I’m not as familiar with, but it sounded great on the stage. This tour is acoustic, which means that it’s just them and their guitars, and maybe a couple of extra vocalists (one of which was the amazing opening act Sasquatch – a guy in a Bigfoot suit who played great guitar, had a great voice, and managed to accompany himself on the bass drum at the same time. I’m a yeti for love). It sounds like something that could go wrong easily, especially on such a formidable stage as this – the Opera House, with the huge organ embedded in the ceiling high above us. But the D can still rock, and rock hard.
One of the great pleasures of being a Tenacious D fan is watching both Jack and Kyle evolve as musicians over the years. Their first album was awesome, but you could tell how much better Jack’s voice was on Pick of Destiny (no one does vocal noodling quite like Jack). Jack’s voice was a finely tuned instrument on the night – I was truly surprised by how strong and smooth it was, and he can still hit those high notes. Kyle’s playing is constantly getting better, and it was a real privilege to see him work it up close. They are wonderful to watch on stage – they engage with the crowd, and Jack is surprisingly graceful in his movements, high kicks and all.
The Concert Hall is full, and is actually pretty intimate for something that seats a few hundred people. The perfect acoustics meant that we could all hear each other singing along, and the D heard us as well. The songs were still skilfully crafted and wonderfully obscene and fun as hell to sing along to. They indulged us with a couple of songs from Pick of Destiny, even though they are still tied to the context of the film. As the night wore on, they played more songs from their first album, which went down nicely with the crowd. I’m not afraid to admit that I squealed rather loudly when I heard the opening notes of Double Team. The house was united as one when we heard the opening riff of Tribute and we all screamed along.
I can say that one of the more surreal but happy moments of my life was hearing (and participating in) the crowd crooning the words of Fuck Her Gently to each other, and then shouting, in this revered place of hallowed performance, the perfectly resonating cry of ‘THAT’S FUCKIN’ TEAMWORK!’
I have been waiting for over 10 years to finally see the D, and it was everything I hoped for and more. I laughed, sang, laughed more, screamed and applauded, and felt uplifted all over again. I know that some people are of the opinion that obscenity is neither big nor clever, but when it sounds as good as this, and performed by exceptional musicians, it totally is.