Archive for March, 2018

The Butterfly Effect at 21st Century Frankston 2018…
March 26, 2018

It was a busy day of events in Melbourne. The Download Festival was making its debut at the Showgrounds, and as much as Daniel Ricciardo might have enjoyed seeing some heavy music, he would probably have struggled to find an excuse to get out of the Grand Prix. Meanwhile, in Frankston, 21st Century was sold out had filled up early.

The Butterfly Effect, with Rival Fire and Osaka Punch,
Pier Live, Melbourne, March 24, 2018…

A large section of the audience seemed to have come out to see opener Osaka Punch, apparently alerady intoxicated and lining the front of the stage. Above them, on stage, the band appeared to have matched their audience’s intoxication, and were bounding around with what seemed like little thought. Silly antics ensued, but, when the band focused for some instrumental songs, they shone. Their closing instrumental, in particularly, literally stopped me in my tracks when I was about to give up on the performance. It would be good to see the band’s carry the dense, varied sound of that instrumental closer through a whole set.

Main support Rival Fire perhaps did not excited those who had come early for Osaka Punch, but played an impressive set. Launching into pop-rock that fit between the opener and headliner well, the frontman sounded at times like Ian Kenny and at others like Mike Sinoda, and along with the rest of the band, put a positive energy into their performance, leaping around the stage, gold chains swinging wildly.

Some people might have found it tacky, but Rival Fire played a self-referential introduction song that was a highlight of their set. The group’s best moments where those where the singer ducked away to play an instrument or series of instruments to loop samples into the tunes. The closer, Bad Man was catchy in a way that wouldn’t feel out of place at a Bon Jovi show.

Anticipation grew in the darkness after Rival Fire’s set ended, and people migrated from 21st Century’s bars down to get a closer view under the sometimes-rotating dancefloor. Tales were shared of previous experiences with The Butterfly Effect, and many joked about feeling much older. No one seemed to be mentioning those shows played with the new singer, though I didn’t remember if any had actually taken place. The last time The Butterfly Effect had played the venues on this tour, we’d still been in awe of the Final Conversation of Kings album, and the shows had been thick with the piped sounds of strings and orchestration. What would we be in for six years later?

Emerging from the thick smoke that had covered the stage, the band emerged from their long hiatus, appearing almost monochromatic with only backlighting, we were taken right back to the first album, opening with Perception Twin before going into even older, heavier territory. When the band had split, it was amidst reports of hostility and conflicting reasonings. Tonight, however, every member of the Butterfly Effect looked to be relishing the chance to interact with one another and their audience.

Clint Boge standing at the front of the stage.After the heavy opening, the move to songs from the more progressive later albums let the band really shine, Clint Boge sliding into the flamboyance he became known for, posing like Christ and leaning over the crowd beneath the stage. The gradual rise of Aisles Of White was a highlight of the night, with main set closer Worlds On Fire taking on raw a new life without the album’s production. Although the encore consists of only one song, an extended, rearranged rendition of Reach gives fans of all aspects of the band a high to leave on.

After such a stellar performance, we were left wondering how The Butterfly Effect had managed to go so long without performing. Watching them pour so much energy into their performance, sounding pitch-perfect yet lively, playing so naturally one could imagine the group suffering without their art. Hopefully, as promised on stage, this is more than a one-off nostalgia tour.

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American Idiot…
March 9, 2018

In the lobby, I suggested some upcoming productions that could go onto our list for future evenings in the theatre. I recommended Red Stitch’s Colder or Melancholia at the Malthouse. One of my companions commented that she does not like to feel depressed when she goes to the theatre.

American Idiot,
Comedy Theatre, Melbourne, March 8, 2018…

All over the darkened set, televisions flicker to life, displaying images of the reign of President Trump: this production will clearly have a new focus of rage from that beneath Green Day’s original American Idiot album, though throughout the show the production uses projections directly onto the set to carry the album’s message of televised political propaganda.

American Idiot cast, photo by Ken LeanforeThe stage adaptation of the story apparently beneath the American Idiot album expands upon the kind of bleak imagery of the Boulevard Of Broken Dreams video clip, but unlike the stylised video, plays it straight. There aren’t a lot of laughs in this show. Rebellious outcasts head from their ‘Make America Great Again’-cap wearing community with dreams of a new life in the city, only to be thwarted by drug addiction, unplanned pregnancy and the seduction of government propaganda.

Nevertheless, the cast and musicians perform the soundtrack well within a simple but effective set, and seeing the songs performed in this way feels a lot like a new, live take on the long form music video. It feels more devoted to its source than other jukebox musical tributes, like We Will Rock You, which can seem like commercial afterthoughts (though I’ve seen quality productions.) Green Day fans should appreciate the experience.

For others, the plot could prove too heavy to enjoy. The three main characters are hard to empathise with, whilst we are left to wonder about the exploits of their female counterparts in the meantime. It is a shame, because some of the talent in those roles shine – Phoebe Panaretos as ‘Whatsername’ in particular brought an unexpected take to Green Day’s music with her vocals reminiscent of Anastacia. Kaylah Attard was also impressive in the unfortunately fleeting role of the nurse, ‘Extraordinary Girl.’

Themes like those explored on stage in American Idiot aren’t new to musical theatre any more (the set and story are kind of reminiscent of Rent – there is even a scene where characters are filmed on stage and projected,) Green Day fans will enjoy being able to sing along and Sarah McLeod in the rotating role of ‘St Jimmy’ this evening elicited well-deserved cheers from the moment she appeared and stalked the stage menacingly. Those unfamiliar with the source material looking for a new musical to enjoy might leave feeling overwhelmed by the grim tone, though some of the big cast numbers like Jesus Of Suburbia are enjoyable, despite the tone.  Hopefully the next Green Day musical can draw inspiration from Warning and capture the punk rebellion with a brighter tone to capture both audiences.  Or maybe that is just wishful thinking…

Green Day’s American Idiot runs in Melbourne until March 11, then moves to QPAC Playhouse in Brisbane from April 13 to 21, and Darwin’s Entertainment Centre from May 4 to 6.

The Guero Tour…
March 1, 2018

Last time I saw Beck, it was with a very folksy backing band. It was a good show, but I was still reeling from Midnite Vultures, and have always been disappointed that I didn’t get to see Beck in weird-pop mode.

Beck, with Meg Mac,
Margaret Court Arena, Melbourne, February 28, 2018…

That strange arrangement that Margaret Court Arena seems to have whereby artists start performing mere moments after the time listed on the tickets for gates to open has come to pass once more this evening. It has meant that Meg Mac and her band performed for a much smaller audience than they might have if they had started once those arriving had had a chance to pass rigorous security measures, buy a drink, and settle in. It was a shame, because those dedicated few at the front of the stage and cheering from the stands enjoyed an excellent performance.

MegMacMeg and the band led them in a clap-along for Grandma’s Hands, a song which showed off not only Meg, but her sister’s skills on backing vocals.  Radio hits like Low Blows and Grace Gold were great to hear live, and the Like A Version cover of Tame Impala’s Let It Happen was the favourite of the audience. It was a good set that made a lot of people vow to catch a Meg Mac headline show, especially for those moments when her guitarists all trade their instruments for even more keyboards.

Luckily, by the time the lights dimmed, the floor had filled up a little more, although there were still large chunks of empty seats in the stands, and sections closed down into ‘intimate mode.’ But the stage was full – crowded with a variety of instruments including an elaborate drum kit, keyboards, and an upright piano, along with seven other band members, all of which Beck himself bounded confidently through, to launch right into Devil’s Haircut. With all hands on deck to recreate the different layers of sound in the song, the band didn’t get much of a break. This was not the Sea Change tour folk show. This was a show for moving.

BeckWith a backdrop of WinAmp Visualisations, Beck and his band tore through a high-energy set with a strong representation of songs from the current Colors album and also from Guero. The Guero songs in particular sounded incredible live. Also surprisingly very effective live were some of Beck’s frequent dalliances into hip-hop territory. Qué Onda Guero and especially new song Wow were unexpected set highlights that let both the audience and Beck himself exhibit their sly dance moves.

On the other hand, an acoustic solo section mid set might have been intended to provide a break, but felt somewhat at odds with the theme of the rest of the show. A couple of covers, followed by a silly local version of Debra did, at least, pave the way for the lone Sea Change offering, Lost Cause, which gradually brought us back to the pace of the rest of the show, to finish the main set on a high with E-Pro.

After a costume change, Beck brought his band back out to finish with with a well received Loser and an extended version of Where It’s At, interspersed with a chance for each one of the touring musicians to be properly introduced and to play a solo. In the end, it was an incredible weird-pop show. But I have still not heard Sexx Laws played live.