Due to the rural brethren arranging the meet spot I went to Federation Square. The night was surprisingly warm and mild for this time of year enabling me to sit outside with a $6 pot of Stella . By 6:30 pm the country cousins were just entering the Tulla Freeway and I was wishing I had ordered a Guinness and by 7 pm they had parked and were strolling into Transport, (beware arty FLASH web site) which I'm told is trendy and cutting edge.
Cutting edge means sharp on prices and badly tuned doof music on small inadequate but ubiquitous tweeters masquerading as speakers. Not a good start to a night of music. [no points to readers who can detect a theme lately or can see where I might be heading here]
Anyway seeing as the wind was only occasionally strong but still warmish we skulked outside and found a defunct speaker and propped at a table with Stellas and some food. Unfortunately I ordered a huge plate of Tapas $17 which contained some nice bits, olives, grilled capsicum, lettuce , bread but also some items I do not eat, grilled baby octopus and mushrooms. Luckily the rurals are more sophisticated than me and they managed to scoff a few baby octopii and mushies. But really it was more like an anti-pasta than a proper tapas. After a few more beers it didn't matter so much.
After spending a lot of time finding the well hidden toilets in Transport we shuffled over the road to the venue - The Forum. If you haven't been to the Forum click onto a few of the pictures, like this one, or this one, or this, to get an idea of what it is like inside or from the outside.
We were a bit early and were pleasantly surprised to discover that there was booze on sale inside and seats. The usual suspects were gathered to the fray, boomer guys with balding heads, pony tails and earings, the women in either stuck in 70's hippy gear or trying hard with jeans and jackets, with the odd feet on ground person who just arrived from work in a suit and tie. Plenty of room inside, didn't look as if it would be a sellout at 8 pm.
The opening act was some young guy who looked about 16 playing guitar in a fast and flash way. Amongst other competent stuff he knocked out a few versions of some Beatles songs which seemed to go down well with some of the punters. Luckily he seems influenced by Leo Kottke and John Fahey, so when he pulled back the speed a bit it sounded sweet. I didn't catch his name but he said he was off to Byron.
After he went off there seemed to be about a 3/4 full crowd. I'd say break-even crowd. Given that on that same Tuesday night in Melbourne there was a choice of Keb Mo, Hothouse Flowers, Daniel Lanois and Los Lobos, it seemed to me the gigs would appeal to the same markets and that the promoters were segmenting the market and giving punters an impossible choice. So I'm guessing attendance at all those Tuesday gigs were down. My country pals had seen Lanois the previous weekend up at the Palais in Daylesford and pronounced it a good show.
Wandering around during the first act we attempted to find the sweet point for sound. Seemed to be up front, leaning on the stage middle.
Los Lobos arrived. Loud. Tight. Wall of sound. Huge bass thump. Sounded a bit muddled up in the seats, standing down the front was clearer but very loud. The sound tends to wander around in that huge cavern up the front at the Forum. As usual I thought the sound could have done better.
Anyway. Good concert. Not great because of sound muddle. Highlights. Anything where the accordion featured. A very good version of Kiko, vocals clear, accordion clear, atmospherics clear. The real highlight you ask? End. Crowd demands encore. Band comes back to encore and launches into a loud, chord, riffing, rolling version of, guess what, Cinnamon Girl. Crowd, well me at least, go beresque, band plays tribute to Neil at end of song. No La Bamba.