Sunday, April 26, 2009

the sartorialist is in melbourne

I'm sure you all know by now that the world's best street fashion blogger, Scott Schuman, is in Melbourne for fashion week or something. He's already been shooting and publishing around Chapel Street. Let's hope he doesn't restrict himself to TrakPran area. 

Thursday, April 02, 2009

lucinda live melbourne

Something happens to country singer songwriters as the get older, more established and famous. For one their songwriting and singing gets more mature, assured and to some extent this results in simultaneously, but paradoxically, more risk taking and less need to be different. A fan can often get the freshness of new material and fresh approaches to old material and the artist can feel relaxed enough to do some cover versions of old standards well.

Another thing seems to happen. Singer / writers seem to want to get in front of a good old bar band and rock out, dropping all but the genetic country influence. Steve Earle. Great songs but last time I saw him it was simply too loud and too rocky with not enough light and shade and not enough slow songs. 

Lucinda Williams last night was a good concert. At times approaching very good but never reaching great. Lucinda herself said several times that the venue was great for sound and that several songs were the best live version they had ever played. I’ve no reason to doubt she was sincere.

But therein lies my problem. It was Lucinda rocking out with a very very good bar band. Too loud. At times her vocals seemed to bump the limits of the headroom on the amps and speakers and there was too much rock. Almost no twang. Sure there was a bit of pedal steel on a few songs but it was drowned under a wall of sound.

No mandolin, no banjo, no lap steel, no piano except for one minor tinkle, no accordion, no Hammond, no fiddle. No fun for me. I got hopeful at one time when the drummer/percussionist dude popped up with a Frottoir. But no luck no zydeco.

Lucinda seemed to be enjoying herself immensely with the band and I’m sure rocking out with a group of boys like Buick 6 is super relaxation for her or anyone. 

Sadly even the encore of about 6 songs were all mediocre covers of Fats Domino, Guitar Slim, a few others and weirdly The Faces, (Rod Stewart), Every Picture Tells a Story. Hell almost any other song of Rod’s album I would have enjoyed. She could toast up Maggie May, Tomorrow Is a Long Time, a Dylan song or Mandolin Wind. Just imagine what Lucinda’s voice could do to Reason to Believe.

Even sadder was their ending an all rock out version of Long Way to The Top. It almost works on the album but failed in concert last night. Geez Lou. You are in Australia. Everyone knows Long Way. Grannies, hipsters, nerds, little kids. We love it. But the backing goes Char-unka Dink, Chunk, Char-unka Dink, Chunk, Char-unka Dink, Chunk. Not the strange sound we heard last night. I, and most other people there last night, have heard a million better versions live.

I love Lucinda, she can proudly stand beside George Jones, Willie, Bob, Neil Young as a singer and a song writer. Last night was a good concert but disappointing. Lucinda please visit Kasey Chambers while you are here and may I even be so bold as to suggest you get her, her dad and brother to get you a backing band and do a few gigs. Show off your voice and lyrics. You’ll enjoy and we’ll enjoy it.

Update: Anne at Cat Politics seems to have much the same view as me.

I do disagree with Anne about Buick 6. I enjoyed their opening set as themselves. Intelligent guitar rock instrumentals almost orchestral at times, with a huge surf/ Dick Dale influence. I could see then drifting into Allman Brothers at times too. I’d buy the CD. Backing Lucinda they reminded me of Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers. Or more likely the time when Bob toured with the Heartbreakers as his band.