Red Koi Reviews

See what I've seen, hear what I've heard

Archive for the ‘Music’ Category

Sydney Festival – Paul Kelly A – Z night 2

Posted by redkoireviews on 24/01/2011

I’ve come to like Paul Kelly fairly recently, but after seeing him once live at a free gig in the Sydney Rocks area bluekoi and I kept him on our mental list of performers to come back to. Since then I’ve become very fond of ‘How to make Gravy’ and ‘Careless’ to name a couple. So last year bluekoi got me tickets to see him perform on of his series in the ‘A to Z ‘ series. The concept is simple; Paul performs 100 of his songs from A to Z over four nights. This means every night you get a sample from across his career and styles, some hits and hidden treasure. So while I thrilled to hear some of my favorites I also got to hear some wonderful tunes for the first time.

The series is something more than just a song list. He’s re-arranged many of the songs that where originally performed and recorded with a full band into pieces that me solo, performed with his nephew Dan Kelly and occasionally with a clarinet. That makes the set more intimate, tending to make the quiet ballads even more personal and emotionally engaging, and morphing some of the energetic numbers into something more reflective. Very occasionally I was missing the punch of drums or the power in a bass, but mostly I was captivated by the man and his voice.

I hope I get old like Paul has; with dignity and a life pickled with people and poetry.

I didn’t even get through intermission before buying the CD set and book. I’m now enjoying both.


Posted in 5 Stars, Festivals, Music, Reviews | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

U2 360 Degree Concert at ANZ Stadium Sydney

Posted by redkoireviews on 15/12/2010

U2 play the ANZ stadium, Olympic Park U2 was the first band I became a true fan of – I bought their album “The Joshua Tree” on LP and listened to it repeatedly till I knew all the words. So when Bluekoi called and said she might be able to win a free double pass to their 360 degree concert at ANZ stadium in Olympic Park, Sydney I was excited.  But I kind of expected that the show would be all of there recent stuff, which I haven’t bought and am  not a big fan of. So when they played a healthy selection of songs from “Rattle & Hum”, “Joshua Tree” and “Achtung Baby” I was surprised and stoked. The ANZ stadium is not my first choice for music venues, it’s so bloody vast! Nonetheless you couldn’t help being excited by the sheers scale of the thing. I decide to hire some binoculars, and that turned out to be the best decision of the night – without them you have to rely on the screens and that just isn’t the same.  The light show / techno-gadgetry and stage in the round was designed to impress but was not what I enjoyed about the concert.

Bluekoi is not a huge U2 fan (unbelievable I know!) so I offered up the second ticket to my sister. She loved it as well and we had a happy night singing along. The support act was Jay-Z, some American rapper and ‘not to my taste’ which made me feel old. The age range of those attending was huge – ranging from those in their forties who probably still play “under a blood red sky” through to teens who where not even born before U2 produced a few chart topping albums. Amazing that they have held together so long.

Overall a top show for a old favorite band of mine.

Posted in 4 Stars, Music, Reviews | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Esbjörn Svensson Trio (E.S.T.)

Posted by redkoireviews on 20/01/2007

ESTAnother great Sydney Festival find. I didn’t know a single thing about E.S.T. but booked on the strength of the write up in the Sydney Festival guide. I wasn’t sure what to expect – EST are one of those bands that writers find difficult to describe. But whatever expectations I might have had where well and truly blow away.

EST are a Swedish three piece – piano, double bass and percussion. Their music is closest to Jazz, but they borrow from a range of other styles to meld a quite unique sound. They use some technical wizardry to change the sound of their instruments, or to create the impression of another instrument accompanying them. I’ve seen that kind of thing done before, but EST keep the black boxes tucked away, and use them them as a extension of their instrument rather than a sound gimmick. The result is some highly atmospheric music. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in 4 Stars, Festivals, Music | Leave a Comment »

The Adventures of Snugglepot & Cuddlepie and Little Ragged Blossom (A Musical)

Posted by redkoireviews on 14/01/2007

SnugglepotThis musical is based on the book ‘The Adventures of Snugglepot and Cuddlepie” by Australian author May Gibbs. John Clarke (one of Australia’s best satire comedians) wrote it while Neil Armfield from Company B Theatre Company directed the production. It’s part of the 2007 Sydney Festival.

The story is a classic Australian children’s book, and the play sticks pretty closely to the original adventures of the three main characters as they make a journey towards a human city. John Clarkes satire comes through more as an overlay on top of the existing story, rather than being a 100% satirical plot. Think of it a bit like the Simpsons – the kids love it on one level but there’s jokes in it for the adults as well. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in 3 Stars, Music, Reviews, Theatre | Leave a Comment »

‘Keating’ the musical

Posted by redkoireviews on 01/01/2007

KeatingSorry for the delay – chistmas madness! This was our last performance at the Belvior St Theatre for 2006! “Keating!” is a musical satire and biography of former labor Prime Minister of Australia Paul Keating. The songs chart the political life of Paul Keating, and the various other politicians that he fought, defeated and was eventually defeated by.

It’s a great comedy that works really well in a theatre built for plays, but musical spectaculars. The band was a lot better than I thought it would be. And just because it’s a musical, don’t think the music is going to be flowery schmaltz – this has everything from blues to hip hop. I thought that Terry Serio did a so so Bob Hawke and a better John Howard. Mike McLeish had his work cut out for him as Paul Keating – almost every song had him in it. Casey Bennetto wrote the musical and performs in it as a hilarious Alexander Downer and John Hewson.

There’s a speech Keating made while he was Prime Minister at Redfern, about the unjust treatment of Indigenous Australians over the last 200 years of white occupation. It’s still fondly remembered by Labor party stalwarts, and in this musical, the whole speech is set to music, pretty much verbatim. It’s one of the few serious(ish) numbers and I liked it a lot.

A great way to finish off the year – Well done Company B!

My Rating: 4.5 Stars. For another review, see the smh.

Posted in 4 Stars, Music, Reviews, Theatre | Leave a Comment »

Jazz meets the Symphony with Lalo Schifrin

Posted by redkoireviews on 08/05/2006

Jazz meets the SymphonyLalo Schifrin has been doing ‘Jazz meets the Symphony‘ for a while now. In this case, he’s brought together James Morrison (trumpet), Christian McBride (bass) and Gordon Rytmeister (drums) together with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra.

Schifrin either wrote or arranged the whole performance, and he’s done a great job. The Orchestra can feel like a bit of a support act when the soloist’s get carried away, but generally the Jazz musicians and the SSO work well together. I really liked the first half, but thought the Tribute to Bix in the second half was just too long, and too brassy for my liking.

The audience seemed to contain a lot of James Morrison fans, who seemed to think the Opera house was joking when they said no cameras. I thought Christian McBride was a better, more interesting performance than Morrison.

Despite the music being full of rhythm, the audience stayed stock still for the entire performance. Maybe it’s the effect of the concert hall, but I think I would have enjoyed it more in a smaller, more jazz friendly venue. Something serving wisky, and with red velvet.

Apart from the Mission Impossible theme at the end, a great night out:

My Rating: 4 stars

Posted in 4 Stars, Music, Reviews | 1 Comment »

National Folk Festival

Posted by redkoireviews on 22/04/2006

Folk Festival Street SceneThis was my third visit to the National Folk Festival held in Canberra. The festival runs over Easter, from Thursday night through to Monday night. The Festival is much more than four days of fiddle playing (Thank god). Aside from a wide range of music there is also dancing, food, stalls, poetry, art and a long series of workshops aimed at getting the punters a bit more involved.

Involvement and participation is one of the hallmarks of the folk festival. The session bar is full of people who turn up with some kind of instrument and join in with a bunch of others on some jig or tune. Every day there are singing workshops, most of which are not aimed at experienced musicians. I attended a singing workshop on African songs, and participated in a “pigeon ancient Croatian viking massed song thingy” in the words of the ‘spooky men’s coral’ who organised it. Great fun. There are also an array of instrument workshops for the more musically inclined, as well as dance workshops covering anything from traditional Irish set dances to Zydeco / Cajun. There is a whole tent dedicated to ‘blackboard’ performances, where anyone can put there name down to perform a few tunes. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in 4 Stars, Festivals, Music, Reviews | 2 Comments »

Gilbert & Sullivan

Posted by redkoireviews on 10/02/2006

Music by MoonlightThis “Best of Gilbert & Sullivan” was part of the “Music by Moonlight” series at Sydney Olympic Park. A cut down version of the Sydney Opera and Ballet Orchestra performed with singers from Opera Australia. The songs where picked to tell something of a story about the renound composers, and where introduced with a little but not too much information.
The performers where obviously having a great time, and that lifted the already excellent renditions. I went to “Symphony in the Domain” this year and while I like Gershwin more than Gilbert and Sullivan, this was a better performance.
The atmosphere was also better. It was less crowded and with fewer consversations during performances. Smokers were relegated off into an area right at the back, and the organisers had the sense to have a no-chair section at the front and a high chair bit at the back.
My main complaint (and it’s a biggy) was the food. I’m vegetarian and there was not one savoury, vegetarian food item. And because it’s Olympic Park, the food stalls are pretty much it. Food aside, a pleasant night out.
My Rating: 3.5 Stars

Posted in 3 Stars, Music, Reviews | Leave a Comment »

Tan Dun – The Map

Posted by redkoireviews on 04/02/2006

Tan DunThis performance brought together the Sydney Symphony Orchestra and Composer / Conductor Tan Dun. The first piece, Paper Concerto, used paper instruments to excellent effect. The piece is haunting, atmospheric and gives your imagination plenty to work with. Placing some violinists in the audience boxes made the music appear to come from everywhere. This is innovative, elegant new classical music, and I loved it.
The second piece was The Map. It’s worthwhile reading a bit about this piece, which was inspired after Dun met a ‘Stone Man’ musician in China whose stone music was dying out. The piece uses video recordings of indigenous chinese musicians as part of the musical and visual compostion. The eastern musical techniques combined with western instruments create a stunning kind of fusion classical. I think I liked this piece even better than the Paper Concerto. The Map is also a good example of why live classical can be better than at home with your CD. The use of multi-media simply wouldn’t carry into your lounge room.
My only complaint about the performance was the audience. I hate coughing and other bodily noises, especially in delicate productions like this one.
My Rating: 4.5 Stars

Posted in 4 Stars, Music, Reviews | Leave a Comment »

Symphony in the Domain

Posted by redkoireviews on 21/01/2006

GershwinThis years Symphony in the Domain has focused on the work of George Gershwin. The Sydney Symphony Orchestra where excellent, as was conductor and pianst Wayne Marshall.
The melodies derived from musicals where a bit of a rush for my liking – better to keep the whole songs in tact.
Sharing the perfromance with 70,000 other people makes this more of a social event and less of a musical one. Conversations, smoking and being half a kilometre from the musicans are all pretty standard for this kind of outdoor event, but they do detract from the event. Like reading an abridged Shakespere, accesible but not as good as the original.
Oh, the 1812 overture was played again with a few lame fireworks and bangs, as is (apparently) the tradition. Yawn.
My Rating: 2.5 Stars

Posted in 2 Stars, Music, Reviews | Leave a Comment »

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