music review

Yours & Owls @ Stuart Park 01-02/10/16

First seen on AMNplify!

Back for its third annual run, Yours & Owls Festival really stepped up its game, delivering 40 artists across two stages last weekend. With the backdrops of the Illawarra escarpment and North Wollongong beach, Stuart Park was no doubt one of the most luxurious festival locations in NSW, maybe even Australia.

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Yours and owls

Yours & Owls | Britt Andrews

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The focus of course wasn’t just on music. There was a huge range of food and retail stalls, several art installations, a projector tent for a live screening of both footy finals, the charity Project Forever markets and a panopticon rave prison. When Foucault makes an appearance at a festival, you know there’s something truly unique happening. (more…)

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Gang of Youths – Let Me Be Clear (EP Review)

Following their debut record The Positions from 2014, Gang of Youths have returned with a new EP Let Me Be Clear dropping on Friday 29th July aka TOMORROW! AMNplify was lucky enough to get a sneak peek and here’s what we thought.

.Gang of Youths Let Me Be Clear Cover Art - assorted images depicting the band and other mundane items such as cars, a kitchen sink and oven, and more.

What starts off with a piano melody that gives you a feeling like you’re about to be taught an important life lesson soon feeds into a slow, deliberate build of a marching beat and sincere strings, culminating in the musical manifestation of The Good Fight, literally. David Le’aupepe’s desperate vocals crash against cymbals and wretched guitar, scratching at the final question of “Will someone tell me why I need all this stuff?!

If you want to bit hit in the feels, this is the song to listen to. Have no fear though, there’s a certain hopeful quality to everything the Jung Kim and Joji Malani do with those guitars. It sets a precedent that Gang of Youths mean business. They aren’t afraid to have a bit of fun while they take on some tough concepts in Let Me Be Clear.

Native Tongue is a feel good piece detailing the gorgeous evolution of relationships. Every instrument thrums with delight to be a part of something so beautifully messy as getting to know someone and being honest with them. There’s an element of tonal clash reminiscent of Silversun Pickups but Gang of Youths’ sound has evolved in a totally different direction.

.Gang of Youths group photo.

With a jovial introduction promising an anthem both Strange Diseases and A Sudden Light bring hope to any listener from the base beauty of normality. The chords are clear, drums uplifting, Dave’s imploring voice seems to yield a kind of release. The realisations in the lyrics seem to free us all. There are definitive hints of Arcade Fire and even The Middle East.

Slowing it down with Still Unbeaten Life, acoustic and electric blends with all manner of sounds. The horns and harp in particular stand out, an intricate combination of layers showing nothing but good certainty and clarity of purpose. This track is a relaxing yet complex. You could listen to it over and over.

The EP also features a bonus track, Both Sides Now. It’s a raw track, a seemingly “uncut” insight into David’s mind and ultimately relatable for anyone listening.

A number of meaty tracks to sink your teeth into, with thoughtful lyrics and time to process the concepts explored, Let Me Be Clear suggests nothing but more good music to come. Pick up a copy as soon as you can!
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Connect with Gang of Youths!

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Cherie Currie @ Manning Bar 27/05/16 (Live Review)

First seen on Amnplify here

This was the first time touring Australia for Cherie Currie, iconic lead singer of The Runaways, and, for a long time, the other half of Joan Jett. At the tender age of fifteen, Cherie performed David Bowie covers until she found out Joan Jett and Kim Fowley was looking for a singer for the first all-girl rock band. The flame burned fast and hot for The Runaways, fizzling out within three years of its inception but forever immortalising these queens of noise. In 2010, a little of the band’s history was documented in film form, with Dakota Fanning portraying a young Cherie opposite Kristen Stewart’s Joan. Decades later Cherie finally graced our shores performing some of her old band’s hits, some covers and debuting tracks from her forthcoming album, Blackheart.

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Cherie Currie Live at Manning Bar Sydney

Cherie Currie by Peter Dovgan

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Hot Sweets kicked off the show with a short and—you guessed it—sweet 20 minute set. The vocals were very much in the spirit of late 70s, early 80s rock. Vanity Riot followed up with a punch wall of sound and wailing vocals backed by some really stellar pick work on the lead and rhythm guitars. But the crowd really only cared about one person and that was the rock queen herself, without a doubt.

Cherie Currie and her band took the stage with zero fanfare, launching into a rousing rendition of American Nights. Cherie was nothing but vibrant on stage, power in every step and every syllable. That remarkable voice was a thrill to hear in person. Full of funny anecdotes in between songs, she regaled the crowd with funny quotes like, “I do like Black Sabbath. I just don’t write like Black Sabbath!” Cherie had nothing but praise for Suzi Quatro, demanding she be immortalised in the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame before The Runaways since she was such an incredible influence paving the way for them.

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Cherie Currie live at Manning Bar Sydney

Cherie Currie by Peter Dovgan

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Possibly the most striking moment in the night was when Cherie stopped to do her David Bowie tributes. Upon introducing them she referred to Dakota’s re-enactment in The Runaways, in which the fictional Cherie was pelted with food for being so extraordinarily out there. After exclaiming, “I fucking ran that show!” Cherie was overcome with grief for the late pop icon and master influence on her. Tears interrupted her utterly heartfelt cover of Lady Grinning Bare, which transitioned into an exhilarating performance of Rebel Rebel. Later Cherie confided it was the first time she had cried since his death earlier this year.

Lacking a barrier between stage and pit, the set was intimate and Cherie took advantage of every second, thrusting the microphone in front of as many punters as possible. One girl with lilac hair seemed to be an expert at memorising lyrics and the only one confident enough to actually project into the mic… Cherie came back to her again and again. She definitely made a few people’s nights with her passionate crowd engagement.

See Peter Dovgan’s full gallery here!

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Connect with Cherie Currie!
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Official Website
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Facebook
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Twitter


Setlist:

American Nights (The Runaways)
Rock & Roll (The Velvet Underground)
Rock n Roll Rosie
Dear Mum (Shameless)
Is It Day or Night? (The Runaways)
Roxy Roller (Nick Gilder)
Heartbeat (The Runaways)
Queens of Noise (The Runaways)
California Paradise (The Runaways)
Midnight Music (The Runaways)
Believe
Lady Grinning Soul (David Bowie)
Rebel Rebel (David Bowie)
Do You Love Me? (KISS)
Cherry Bomb (The Runaways)

Little May @ UOW Uni Bar – Thursday 5 April 2016 (Live Review)

First posted on Amnplify here.

The Sydney-based indie/folk trio kicked off their Australian album tour at University of Wollongong’s Uni Bar. For the Company is their debut LP and was released in late October last year. After opening for the likes of Dallas Green of City and Color, they are headlining their own tour with a range of dates across the nation. Liz Drummond, Annie Hamilton and Hannah Field began their musical journey together as a covers band without the Little May title, testing out their original songs on pub crowds as though they were also covers. Drummer Cat Hunter and bassist Mark Harding fill out their sound from quiet folk to a sort of indie rock.

Little May - photo by Josh Groom

Liz Drummond, Little May – photo by Josh Groom

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The Duk has Peked

The Australian electronic music duo of Adam Hyde and Reuben Styles returned to the homeland fresh from a tour of over 20 dates across North America during January and February. This was my first experience of a live DJ set (beyond the perfunctory performances offered at your average night club) and I have to admit it is a must-see, must-experience. Before I tell you about the main attraction, there are two artists who deserve a mention or two (or three or four…)

Photography courtesy of Patrick O'Hara (more…)

Limitless era is looking up for Tonight Alive

Hailing from Sydney, Tonight Alive returned to local venue, The Metro, for an “intimate live album preview” according to the venue’s Facebook event. Limitless is due for release in 5 weeks and to say the band and the fans are excited is a massive understatement. Tonight Alive is undergoing a transformation towards a larger audience, securing their first commercial radio time with the track Drive, the third single from the upcoming album.

Photos courtesy of Sian Sandilands. Check out the full gallery HERE.

D At Sea opened, just one man and his acoustic guitar smashing out a very quick chilled set. The playlist in between sets included such classics as Blink-182’s I Miss You and, to the entire crowd’s utter delight, John Farnham’s You’re The Voice, which triggered an anthem-like response. The lights went dark and lead guitarist Whakaio Taahi, rhythm guitarist Jake Hardy, bassist Cam Adler and drummer Matt Best entered to the sound of Jenna McDougall’s disembodied voice singing the intro to To Be Free. She ran on stage in Adidas track pants and I was momentarily confused as to whether I was at a rock show or a rap concert, especially with the addition of lasers. While it may have been jarring at first, Jenna effortlessly conveyed who she was as the band’s front woman, barrelling through 3 tracks before stopping to introduce them all:

“We are Tonight Alive and, if you don’t know what we’re about, we stand for personal expression and emotional freedom.”

Full of power poses and spinning roundhouse kicks, Jenna spent most of her time dancing on top of a narrow riser the ran the width of the stage, her voice impeccably clear and bright. The crowd was all too willing to sing the lyrics for her whenever she pointed the mic their way (which was often). Jenna also recognised some audience members who’ve been coming to their gigs since 2008.

Photos courtesy of Sian Sandilands. Check out the full gallery HERE

Five tracks in and the boys left just Jenna and Whakaio sitting on the edge of the riser with an acoustic guitar. They played Closer on request. Jenna dedicated Breaking and Entering to their record label, Sony Music, in an attempt to dispel some preconceived notions about being on a major label and to thank them for being “like a family”. Afterwards Jenna left Whakaio to adjust something. The crowd chanted for a solo and Whakaio played a few bars of Blink’s I Miss You to elated cheers. When it came to introducing the third acoustic track, The Other Side, Jenna cheekily replied to the audience, “Oh, you don’t want to hear this one? I’m so sorry!” and played it anyway.

They didn’t bat an eyelid when a man dressed in a Spider-Man morph suit made it on stage. Whakaio, Jake and Cam were full of a bro-type camaraderie, each of them trying to include Matt as much as possible. There was a moment where the three boys perched on the corner of the drum riser and jammed together while Jenna did her thing up front.

Even though they left the stage before doing an encore, they didn’t waste much time teasing the audience. It was barely a few minutes before a roadie was on the drum kit to play the intro recording to How Does It Feel.

Overall, the band is filled with such energy and electricity; I anticipate this new Limitless era will be something worth seeing

Connect with Tonight Alive!
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Limitless will be available on 4th March!

Set list:

To Be Free
The Fire
The Ocean
Hell & Back
Bathwater
Amelia
What Are You So Scared Of?
Closer (acoustic, played on request)
Breaking & Entering (acoustic, dedicated to Sony)
The Other Side (acoustic, extended unreleased version)
Human Interaction
Don’t Wish
Wasting Away
Listening
The Edge
Drive
How Does It Feel
Lonely Girl

Shuddering before Nightwish’s beauty

Originally posted at Amnplify, check it out here.

In the last 20 years, the Finnish symphonic metal band has produced 8 studio albums and toured around the world multiple times. In 2013, Nightwish brought the Imaginaerium tour to Australia and I had the good fortune to see it. To this day, they remain one of my favourite live acts. This is really saying something as they lost vocalist Annette Olzon in between booking the tour and actually making it here. Annette features on both Dark Passion Play (2007) and Imaginaerium (2011), the albums that first got me into the band, so I was understandably nervous about her replacement, Floor Jansen. This was a waste of nerves though. Needless to say, Nightwish had a lot to live up to after 3 years of waiting for them to return.

Photo of Nightwish at Enmore Theatre

Check out Gwendolyn Lee’s Gallery HERE

First things first, Teberah – a Tasmanian heavy metal quartet – opened to an already crowded Enmore theatre. They rocked a dialled back version of 80s Guns N Roses aesthetic, offering some suitably loud music and a lot of enthusiasm to rile up the audience for Nightwish.

The headlining set began with the customary recording of Hans Zimmer’s Roll Tide, to which the band entered one by one. They immediately launched into an animated Shudder Before the Beautiful, the opening track to tour album Endless Forms Most Beautiful. From the first note they were impeccable, even with Kai Hahto drumming in Jukka’s place. With Marco Hietala and Emppu Vuorinen continually crossing to Tuomas Holopainen’s side and Floor’s power poses to bolster her already remarkable vocals, there was always something happening on stage, even if it was just Kai an blur behind the impressive drumkit. Tuomas by comparison, would hunch over the keys with his eyes shut and shoulders tensed, like he was just a conduit for the music to flow through.

Nightwish-95

View Gwendolyn Lee’s photography HERE

Two thirds of their show was an even spread across 15 years worth of tracks, particular “golden oldies” include: She Is My Sin, Ever Dream, crowd favourite Nemo, and Ghost Love Score for their instrumental track. The inclusion of While Your Lips Are Still Red was an interesting choice. The song is not officially associated with Nightwish as it was written by Tuomas Holopainen and Marco Hietala for the Finnish film Lieksa! Towards the end of the track, Floor lent her voice to support Marco. 6 tracks from the tour album featured, most notably the 2nd and 3rd chapters from The Greatest Show on Earth, the band’s longest song to-date at almost 24 minutes.

It was such a pleasure to see them come back and perform something they’d all worked on together in a studio as well as on tour, as opposed to only tracks from previous incarnations of the band. Floor and Troy Donockley have carved out a place for themselves both in the hearts of their bandmates and in the fans they perform for.

 

Connect with Nightwish!
Official Website
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Set list

Shudder Before the Beautiful
Yours Is an Empty Hope
Ever Dream
She Is My Sin
My Walden
While Your Lips Are Still Red
Elan
Weak Fantasy
7 Days to the Wolves
Storytime
I Want My Tears Back
Nemo
Stargazers
Ghost Love Score
Last Ride of the Day
The Greatest Show on Earth

Lzzy and the boys brought the literal Halestorm to Australia

Via AMNplify, see the original post here.

It’s no coincidence that, two days after Grammy award-winning band Halestorm took the stage, Sydney was hit with hail stones the size of fists not to mention a tornado or two. This was the four-piece band’s first tour Down Under after playing together for nearly 13 years and with 3 studio albums under their belts. Rock n’ roll is far from dead and that’s what they were here to prove.

Manning Bar wasn’t too crowded when doors first opened. The opening band Bellusira, part Australian, part Kiwi and two parts American, set the scene with loud and heavy sound and a genuine thrill to be on stage. Frontwoman Crystal Ignite talked about her abusive and bullied upbringing and how that gave her the strength to pursue music, which gelled well with the tracks from their most recent album, The Healing. By the time they left the stage, the bar was packed and the crowd was ready for the main act.

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Halestorm @ Manning Bar, 13/12/2015. Check out Peter Dovgan’s full gallery HERE!

I had no idea what to expect when Arejay Hale strode on stage and took his seat behind the sparkling gold Pearl drumkit. Josh Smith, bass player, and Joe Hottinger, guitarist, joined him and Arejay immediately started in on the intro drum solo of Sick Individual with his sister, Lzzy Hale, taking centre stage after an appropriately dramatic pause.

Right from the beginning, they were gonna do whatever the fuck they wanted.

They seamlessly segued into Apocalyptic, also from the newest record Into the Wild Life, and it was awesome to hear the crowd singing the lyrics alongside Lzzy. Joe shredded the guitar solo to pieces and the song ended on just Lzzy’s voice, leaving the perfect set up for her to address the crowd. She apologised for how long it took Halestorm to finally make the trip here and listed the rules for the evening:

We are here to have a fucking good time and,
When I say “scream”, you fucking scream!

This was again another flawless transition into the first track from the new record, appropriately titled Scream. Josh’s bass and Arejay’s drums were wonderfully heavy, Joe ripping up the guitar and Lzzy generally just running amuck with her powerful vocals and custom Gibson. As with the record, Scream bled into anthem track, I Am the Fire. The crowd sang along with – if possible – more enthusiasm. Lzzy asked the crowd if we liked it heavy, to which there was nothing but screams of agreement and there was yet another track from the new record. The emphasis on the most recent record was pretty obvious but broken by a crowd favourite from The Strange Case Of…: Love Bites (So Do I).

I don’t want to continue commentating the setlist so I’ll leave it down below and tell you that these musicians were flawless. (The sound guys could probably use some practice with their levels though,Lzzy’s guitar drowned out her vocals every time she played. If it weren’t for the crowd singing along I wouldn’t have heard most of the lyrics.) Their thirteen years on stage together showed in the well-oiled machine that was their set. You could see how much they care about their fans, making eye contact with anyone and everyone they could see.

Midway through the set, the boys left Lzzy alone on stage with her keyboard and guitar. She addedBeautiful With You to the set list in front of Dear Daugher at the request of “girl with the glasses”. During this touching dedication, she then declared her new go-to answer to the question of “If you could have any super power, what would it be?” was to know everyone’s names and wouldn’t they “freak the fuck out?”

Every time Joe stepped forward for a particularly thrilling bit of guitar work, I could see him mouthing something. I know it wasn’t lyrics because there was no singing going on. I can only assume he was counting time? He and Lzzy had a terrific rapport of ridiculous facial expressions throughout the show. It was great to see their onstage chemistry unfold especially as, towards the end of the set, Joe crossed over to share Lzzy’s centre stage mic and the two faced off in a mock challenge.

Arejay’s energy blew me away. By the end of Apocalyptic he’d already jumped clear over the kick drum and landed behind his sister brandishing his drumsticks in one hand and the Horns in the other. The photographers scrambled to get evidence – it was the first time Sydney had seen his antics – but the crowd soon grew to expect this kind of enthusiasm from Halestorm’s drummer. Not one to fade into the background, he was every bit the frontman to Lzzy’s frontwoman.

He was especially riveting during the longest, most impressive drum solo I’ve ever been able to pay attention to. Arejay even got the crowd involved, clapping and chanting along, before his bandmates reclaimed their instruments and they launched into a heavy rendition of Mayhem. Not long after, he smacked himself in the head and roadies were popping on stage in between songs to hand him a tea towel (“Yes, you are bleeding”) and then an ice pack.

I should mention I was right in front of Josh the whole time and he was every bit the classic bass player, understated but dynamic. His presence was undeniable.

In the words of Lzzy, we’ve opened the door to Halestorm, we can’t stop them from coming back. And I absolutely wouldn’t want to. The night was incredibly inclusive; all the fans were friendly and the band made everything feel like the family reunion you always wanted to have. The sooner they return the better!

Sick Individual
Apocalyptic
Scream
I Am the Fire
I Like It Heavy
Love Bites (So Do I)
The Reckoning
Rock Show
Bad Girls World
Mz. Hyde
Amen
Beautiful With You (unplugged with just Lzzy on the keys)
Dear Daughter (mostly unplugged again)
New Modern Love
Arejay’s Drum Solo
Mayhem
It’s Not You
I Get Off
Freak Like Me
I Miss The Misery

Connect with Halestorm
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