Red Koi Reviews

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Archive for the ‘Reviews’ 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 »

Sydney Festival – My bicycle loves you

Posted by redkoireviews on 17/01/2011

This latest physical theatre piece by ‘Legs on the wall‘ draws inspiration from early 20th century Australian vaudeville, with archival footage of the Corrick family projected throughout the show. The troupe are acrobatic, but it’s not a circus act stuffed to overfull with physical stunts. The show is dramatic, but doesn’t follow a traditional plot progression that moves neatly from beginning, middle and end. It makes full use of audio and visual technology, but not in a ‘wow, 3D!’ kind of way. So it’s hard to define and that’s exactly what a great sydney festival show should be like.

The band provides a live accompaniment to the stage and the performance is all the better for it, reminding me of the pianist in movie cinemas that would accompany silent movies and a musical interlude during intermission. Some parts of the show did seem to drag on a little but mostly it had me captured. The characters build through the show as you find out their quirks and oddities, and my favorite was the you man whose energy, anger and frustration in the scene with the horns really moved me.

My Rating 3.5 stars

Second opinion? try stagenoise

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New Years Eve mountain bike riding the Oaks firetrial

Posted by redkoireviews on 01/01/2011

The same friend who too me rock climbing in the blue mountains before Christmas mentioned she and some friends where planning on riding the Oaks fire trail and I put my hand up to come along. The ride starts at Woodford and ends at Glenbrook in the Blue Mountains of NSW, so I could get my bike on the train – no cars required :-). It’s a 30km ride and there is a lot of downhill – just of 1000m vertically. However there’s also around 500m in the other direction – up – so hills where not unfamiliar.

Most of the track is easy to ride fire trail, some of which is steep but not insanely so. At the end there is about 7km of single track -which is mountain bike lingo for narrow bush track you can ride on. This has a lot more in it for the adrenalin glands – you can see why so many riders prefer it. Most of it was ridable for a newbie like me, but some I took at look at and decided to just walk over. I was probably more cautious than usual, because starting a new year in hospital is not a good way to start. It took us about 3 hours to ride with some decent rest tops but most people could do it in 2.5 hour with no real worries.

You do need a mountain bike with nice knobby tires on and front suspension helps a lot, but all 6 of us where on hard tails, so no fancy rear suspension required. If you are some kind of fitness freak you can ride up and then come back down. Not my cup of tea!

My Rating: 4 stars

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Movie review: The Kings Speech

Posted by redkoireviews on 29/12/2010

The Kings Speech” conquers the difficult task of making History personal, emotional and compelling. The film follows King George VI (Colin Firth), who is thrust into throne after his elder brother King Edward VIII (Guy Pierce)  abdicates in order to marry his lover. A terrible childhood has caused ‘Bertie’ to develop a stutter, which makes being a king rather difficult to say the least. We follow his introduction to an unqualified but successful Australian speech therapist Lionel Logue (Geoffry Rush) who after some persistence manages to get Bertie to the point of being able to survive his coronation and then (in the nick of time)  deliver his first war time speech as Britain declares war with Germany.

The film is well scripted and directed, giving you a real surge of empathy for a man struggling to find the courage to lead a country. Firth does brilliantly as a nobleman with a stutter and Rush carries his ice-breaking role as the egalitarian – honest broker – straight man with real ease. You leave having no problem believing that the movie is not simply based on a true story, but that Firth and Rush could indeed have been the King and King maker.

If you go, it’s not necessary to know anything about British modern history, but 10min spent getting at least faintly familiar with what has happening in the world at the time will add an extra layer of gravitas to an already moving film. (Bluekoi have me the 10min history to me and the people around us as the previews where rolling!).

Second opinion on ‘Reviews for the rest of us“.

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Rock climbing Mt York in the Blue Mountains

Posted by redkoireviews on 27/12/2010

Rockclimbing Mt YorkAbout a week before Christmas I went rock climbing with a couple of friends of mine. I’ve done a little rock climbing before indoors at a gym, but not on real rock. It was a blast! so much better with than hanging onto bits of plastic! My friend Amy led the climbs (she’s done this a lot so I was happy to trust her with my life!) while Simon and I took turns to belay. For climbers out there who know the area, we did mezzaluna, noodle and another un-named climb in sector 7 of Mt York. I have to admit – I only made it to the top on the un-named grade 14 first climb that we did. But that didn’t really matter – it was great just making it past every difficult patch. All where ‘sport’ climbs which means some committed bunch of climbers have glued steel bolts into the rock face every 5 metres or so. It is hard work for the beginner – I was sore for a few days after – but soooo worth it.

As an aside, I also recommend the brown rice and vegie pastry turnovers at the bakery at Blackheath – almost as good as the climb! Hopefully I’ll get back out into it with some more climbing with Amy soon.

Posted in 5 Stars, Other, Reviews | Tagged: , , , | 3 Comments »

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.

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RedKoi Revival!

Posted by redkoireviews on 10/12/2010

It’s been a long, long time since redkoireviews posted anything, but 2011 will see it make a comeback! See you soon, Tony

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Control

Posted by redkoireviews on 24/06/2007

ControlOk, I’ve gotten a bit behind in my reviews, but there’s been a lot on. My partner and I went to see ‘Control‘ which is playing as part of the Sydney Film Festival. The film is a biopic – a film where actors play real people to a script based on real events. This one covers the short life of Ian Curtis, lead singer with cult band Joy Division.

I’m not a Joy Division devotee, but we do have the one compilation album floating around our house which gets an occasional listen. However the film adds new depth to the songs, and is a very compelling if sad story of a creative young man wrestling with life and schizophrenia. Director Anton Corbijn has brought out the very best in black and white cinematography. There are dozens of scenes that you could freeze and frame as photographs.

You don’t have to be a Joy Division fan to love this film. It’s beautiful in it’s own right. You’ve missed it as part of the film festival – it sold out. However I’d be totally surprised if this film doesn’t get a decent run in the cinemas later in the year. Keep an eye out for it.

My Rating: 5 Stars

Posted in 5 Stars, Movies, Reviews | 1 Comment »

‘How to argue with an economist’ by Lindy Edwards

Posted by redkoireviews on 23/06/2007

I bought this is Bowral while on holidays, and read the whole thing through as the rain came down around our little cabin. I’d heard good things about this book, and it deserves it. A lot of people in Australia feel like the economy has too high a priority in politics and society, and that it’s hurting the social fabric of the country. This book explains how Australia has made a transition from egalitarian economic policy to free market economic rationalism.

That is useful in it’s own right, but the book goes further, outlining some ways in which to argue against economic rationalists at work or over the dinner table. Some of these arguments were more complete versions of what I already knew, other were completely new. It really grabbed my attention because a large chunk of my work is lobbying politicians and bureaucrats about climate change, many of whom come from an economic rationalist viewpoint.

Lindy Edwards has worked in the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, and in the book her arguments are about using the logic of economic rationalism to defeat it’s own arguments. She takes the view that economic rationalism can be modified and changed to make it ‘good’, rather than throwing the whole thing in the bin. This pragmatist attitude will probably rub the more socialist / lefty readers up the wrong way, but I think her work has a lot of value.

This is a great read about what lie behind the changes in contemporary Aussie culture.

My Rating: 4.5 Stars

PS, I think the next book on economics will be Frank StilwellsPolitical Economy: The contest of Economic Ideas

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Wombeyan Caves

Posted by redkoireviews on 22/06/2007

Wombeyan CavesStill on our holidays in the Southern Highlands, we traveled from Moss Vale down to Wombeyan Caves. In hindsight, the middle of winter may not have been the best time of year to go – we where advised to fill our kettle before going to bed in case the pipes froze overnight! While it was cold, and wet, we managed to get some walking in and we saw three of the caves.

The first one we went through was the Wollondilly Cave. It was a guided tour and was pretty spectacular. It’s quite a large cave with quite good formations, but was overshadowed by the Junction Cave which we saw on the second day. The rain had found it’s way into Junction Cave by the time we went through it, really bringing the cave to life. Seeing tiny, delicate droplets of water at the end of stalactites really gave you a sense of these caves slowly developing over hundreds of thousands of years. the dripping and flowing of water created noises in the caves that turned them from dead, almost morbidly quiet vaults into singing, living spaces.

W e also took the self guided tour of the fig tree cave. Although not as beautiful as the other two, it’s nice too take your time, set up a tripod and take some photos (not that mine turned out very well).

The roads to the caves are a bit rough and are not paved, but we managed ok in a tiny two wheel drive hire car. Just go via Goulburn to avoid the really tight turns.

These caves are as good as or better than the more famous Jenolan Caves, but in a nicer setting and without the bus loads of tourists (at least in winter!).

My Rating: 4 Stars

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