Tag Archives: 2010

Metallica, Muse and U2. A review.

So, following on from my rants about the year in music, I went to a heap of big concerts this year.

Faith No More, Metallica (twice), Muse, U2

Add to that; Children Collide, Regurgitator, Big Day Out, Illy, Little Red/Sparkadia, Grinspoon, and you have a pretty good year of music!

But over the last month or so I went to 3 of the big ones.

Metallica

I have never seen them live before. I always wanted to be in the Snake Pit back in 1993 but couldn’t afford it. So I made up for it in 2010 by seeing the Kings of Metal, twice. The first time was standing up on the floor about 5 metres away from James Hetfield. What can I say? AMAZING. They are the ultimate professionals. Their stage setup is great, with the audience surrounding them as they pelt around the stage non-stop giving every angle of the arena a piece of the ‘talica. Their music was the biggest highlight. They varied their setlist for both of the gigs I went to, playing old and new stuff and only ONE ballad. (you know the one)

The 2nd time I saw them I was up in the upper level of Acer Arena, but having the front row was great as I got an excellent view of their on-stage shenanigans and the sound was probably better than the first gig. They even played Last Caress and Leper Messiah which went OFF.

It’s bloody awesome to be able to see a band that you have been idolising for 20 years finally in the flesh and soak in your favourite songs being played RIGHT THERE. That’s the key to seeing live music. It’s LIVE. It’s happening. Awesome shows

Muse

Having seen Muse twice already at the Big Day Out’s of 2007 and 2010 I thought I’d know what to expect from these giants of UK rock. I had tickets to see their headline show in 2007 as well, but couldn’t make it, so I was dead keen to finally see them do their own thing on stage.

First, their stage set-up was great. We had seated tickets (that’s what I get for letting old fart mates get tickets!) and were seated almost side of stage. 3 big skyscrapers were positioned on stage and I wondered whether we’d be able to see anything at all.

Yeah, I shouldn’t have worried. The sounds of ‘Uprising’ began and huge cloths dropped off the towers revealing the guys lifted up off the stage on individual platforms. AWESOME.

Matt Bellamy is a real showman, which is funny because he hardly spoke for the whole gig. Dom (drummer) said a few things on the mic, but that was about it. Matt had the clothes (think mirror-ball jacket), the moves (spinning around during Plug in Baby or  shining light over the crowd) and the attitude.

Overall the show was good, but not as great as I’d expected actually. They played most of the hits. Their stage show was great, but I was a little disappointed with the constant filler music between songs, including the symphonic songs from Resistance . Too many extended intros and pissing around between songs. They didn’t play Bliss or MK Ultra, 2 of my favourites and they could have easily fit them in if it weren’t for the theatrics. I’m all for a stage-show and some theatrics are good, but not at the expense of more songs. 15 songs in an almost 2 hour set? Not enough when you have 5 albums worth of material. I think they probably almost played the same amount of songs in their Big Day Out sets.

EDIT: In fact, I confirmed this. They played 15 songs at the Sydney Big Day out 2010 as well!

Of course there were massive highlights. Starlight absolutely went off and Knights of Cydonia to finish was massive. They are a tops band, but in retrospect I actually think I enjoyed their Big Day Out shows more than their headline.

U2

Is there a bigger band in the world than U2? I mean, I know The Rolling Stones are still kicking around, but they’re too crusty to count any more. LaLa had seen U2 3 times previously and made sure that I came along to the 360 degrees tour outside at ANZ Stadium.

Firstly, I was stoked to be at grass level in ANZ Stadium. I have seen many a footy match in there, including the great Socceroos vs Uruguay game of 2005 and to actually be in the centre of that massive stadium was a big thrill. Then I saw the stage. Holy crap! It was the biggest stage I’d ever seen, and I remember the Guns n’ Roses stage from Eastern Creek!

We made our way up closer, around 25 metres or so from the stage and settled in for Jay-Z, who was the support for the Australian leg of their world tour (Muse did their US leg!). Jay-Z had an impressive setup. I counted 12 people on stage including a sweet looking bari-sax and other horns. The drummer was elevated and it looked very cool. We caught half of their set including ’99 Problems’, ‘H to the Izzo’ and ‘Empire State of Mind’. He was ok. I am not much of a fan, but it was good to see him live for a little.

At 9pm U2 made their way, slowly, walking up to the stage. The tension and atmosphere were great as they made their way up. No theatrics to their entrance! I felt myself getting quite excitement at seeing Bono and the boys in the flesh after all these years. Beautiful Day was their 2nd song and it set the tone for an extremely fun and entertaining set. Bono didn’t do his expected preaching at all other than to comment on the release of Aung San Suu Kyi which was commendable. He also noted that more than 2000 Burmese are still detained for their political beliefs which is a good point.

They played ‘Sunday Bloody Sunday’ and ‘Pride’, my 2 favourites and rolled out 24 songs in their 2 hour set. They just played hit after hit and for the old blokes that they are, it was great to see!

Vertigo was a highlight of the night as the ever-evolving stage move the big screens from the top right down to just above the band’s heads and rotated lights all the way around (hence 360 degrees!).

The massive tower that rose up from the middle of the stage had a disco ball on it and both this and a lower ball spun during the encore to an amazing effect over the packed out stadium. It really looked spectaular.

Clearly, this was the best and most elaborate stage I had ever seen. The music was very solid and you really couldn’t fault anything from the night. They did play a number of songs that I had never heard of, but then again I am not a huge fan so I wouldn’t expect to know them all.

Needless to say, U2 fans were happy and they’ll surely return to the next show in 4 years!

I might as well…

….and just for the hell of it, here’s a pic from when the Gurge hit the Maram Bar in Canberra in August.

Quan, Ben, Pete. They rocked it. They always do.

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The 2010 Music Round-Up

Hi kiddies!

It’s that time of the year again. Time to round up the last 12 months of music and collate some sort of obligatory list that gives you all my musical impressions.

It’ll either make me come off as a music-snob, a music-nerd or a music-wannabe-nerd-snob. Take your pick 🙂

As any avid reader of my blog would know (Hi LaLa), I delight in making the end of year Top 10 Album list. I also delight in ranting about the music that I love. Note that the music I love generally gets played on the one and only Triple J and usually blasted through my car radio (thanks LaLa) or through my speakers at work.

I also like to play whole albums when I can, either at work, at home on the weekends or in the car on the way to Sydney.

Although playing whole albums gets to be a harder and harder task nowadays. Firstly. They’re too freaking long! Who has 45+ minutes to listen to an album from start to finish. Who listens to an album from Song 1 to song 10 in one sitting?

We all know that if you like the first 4 or 5 songs on the album you’re going to play them at a ratio of 4:1 over the rest of the album.

Regurgitator have taken the right approach. Screw ‘The Album’. There is no place for 10 track albums in todays society. Flick out a few songs as you write them here and there and let the public digest them regularly rather than waiting 3 years for 3 great songs, 3 decent ones, 2 ok ones and 3 fillers.

Having said all that, I love albums. Actually, let me rephrase that… I love GOOD albums. The albums that you CAN listen to from start to finish and not want to change to some schlock 90’s grunge. That is the all important criteria here (thanks to Triple J’s Zan for the inspiration).

So here we go. The List, in no particular order because it changes in my head every 15 minutes.

Children Collide – The Theory of Everything

This 3 piece Melbournian band takes me back. Yes, all the way back to 1991, reminding me of a little band known as Nirvana. The talented blonde erratic guitarist lead singer. The long haired tall bassist with strange moves. The hard-hitting drummer. It’s all there and these guys aren’t a one album wonder. Their sophmore album is every bit as good as their debut, if not better. They play a mean live set and they consume everyone in their path. These guys should be huge, but ironically their path to hugedom entails appealing to the commercialist public which probably means losing their edge. I’m happy for them to stay on the edge. It’s where they sound best

Tame Impala – Innerspeaker

What can be said about this band that hasn’t been said by everyone else that has picked them in their Top 10 list? Tame Impala have taken a direct path to stardom.

Sign an international deal with Modular before you even release anything. Check.
Release a debut self-titled EP to critical acclaim. Check.
Cover a corny 90’s pop song (Remember Me) and land in the Hottest 100. Check.
Support the hottest new US act’s tour around America (MGMT). Check.
Release debut album and win The J Award. Check.

This year has been their year with a psychodelic, 70’s-esque wah-fest album that somehow feels right at home in 2010. I love the way this album feels when I listen to it. It surrounds you with warm colourful sounds that make you wish you were old enough to appreciate the first time this sort of music came out. Listen if you haven’t..

Angus & Julia Stone – Down The Way

This one is too easy to pick. Yet another Australian band that is making it massive overseas and at the same time making us proud to own them. Haunting alternate vocals from the sibling duo give this album a dual layer of listenability with each one’s vocals adding something different to their song.

The words, the melodies and those damn fine voices make this an unforgettable album which somehow eclipsed their debut. Getting to see them live at a festival in London was also pretty damn special.

Sia – We Are Born

Oh Sia, your album title is poignant as it is like you have been born again. Your time with Zero 7 and your more soulful jazzy days have passed and you are re-born as a pop queen with amazingly catchy melodies, pulsing beats and very cutesy video clips. You’ve reshaped yourself and I defy anyone to be upset by that. I admire your will to turn against your record company and make the album you wanted. Surely they would be regretting their decisions now.

I love the fact that Sia does what she wants, says what she wants but still comes out smelling like roses.  Highlights of this album have to be ‘Bring  Night’ and ‘Clap Your Hands’ (both favourites for my kids), but the whole album has a happy feel to it.

Yeasayer – Odd Blood

This band came out of nowhere for me. I heard snippets of  ‘Ambling Alp’ near the start of the year and thought it sounded cool. Sort of an MGMT-esque, electronic/rocky pop sound. And then ONE came out and we all blew our collective loads. 4 months later I would be front row at the Latitude festival in London watching their amazing set. One of the real highlights of the year for me and a fantastic album to boot with enough good vibey catchy tunes to keep you coming back

Mark Ronson & the Business International
– Record Collection

I was a minor fan of Mark Ronson from his previous album but I was never convinced that he could pull off an album of music that I would listen to. I was wrong!

This album pulls amazing melodies, marching band drums and smooth lyrics together to make a completely addictive album. ‘Bang Bang Bang’ and  ‘Lose It (In the End) are standouts on this album that makes you feel good when you listen to it. He collaborates with some random artists on this album as well.  Ghostface Killa, Simon Le Bon, The Drums, Boy George. He doesn’t hold back. Somehow this mish-mash of songs just works.

Eddy Current Suppression Ring – Rush to Relax

I discovered this band about a century after everyone else. A small stage at Homebake in 2009 whilst Powderfinger drew the majority of the audience in the main arena.  There we were, my mate and I, about 3 rows back watching a front man(with a glove) singing in fits and starts while jumping about the stage in some sort of spasmodic fashion. A guitarist with an intense love of speed riffs and a non-plussed bassist banging out fast rocky punkish 3 minute songs.

I was blown away! 2010 saw a new album from this Melbourne 3 piece and it picks up from their previous work. Edgy, raw and ready rock that has to be seen to be believed. Anxiety ranks as one of my favs of the year, but you can listen to this whole album again and again and feel like you are there…without the glove.

———————————–

Now, I know that’s only 7 albums, but I have a confession to make. I didn’t listen to a whole lot of albums that blew me away this year. I listen to the radio predominantly. If I hear a couple of songs from the same artist that I like, I source the album. These are the 7 that I really enjoyed from this year.

I also enjoyed Koolism, Two Door Cinema Club, Surfer Blood, Little Red, LCD Soundsystem, Illy, Gorillaz and Vampire Weekend, but couldn’t say that I listened to their albums enough ALL THE WAY THROUGH to include them in the list.

So should I be making more of an effort to listen to full albums, or should I just keep listening to Triple J, letting them create a compilation album for my listening pleasure?

A lot of Top 10 Album lists have included albums from The National, Arcade Fire, Kanye, Deerhunter, Sleigh Bells and Parades to name a few, but a lot of it just isn’t my bag…. ESPECIALLY Arcade Fire, which was ironically selected as the No. 1 album by Triple J listeners.

I just don’t get them at all. I sat through their set whilst waiting for RATM at the 2008 Big Day Out and I was less than inspired. Is something wrong with me or do others share in my ‘meh’ feeling for them?

Almost time to think about my voting for the Hottest 100 as well. I think that will be an easier list to collate….


Footy Footy Footy!

Can you feel it?

It’s March. Autumn. There’s a nip in the air.

The sound of leather on willow is fading into obscurity and instead there’s the sound of grunting men, the smell of deep heat and the crinkle of the Daily Telegraph.

Footy season is BACK BABY!

Can you believe that it’s been 5 months since that fateful and heartbreaking day in October last year?

We’ve endured one of the most boring summers of cricket ON RECORD and now the season is finally here.

Is there any game greater than Rugby League?

I think NOT.

And it all begins with a blockbuster tomorrow night. The Dragons take on the Eels at Parramatta Stadium.

And guess whose favourite blogger will be THERE. Yes indeedy. Me, my big inflatable finger, my 2009 Grand Finalist jersey and my Blue and Gold forever son will be front and centre (as long as on the try line and 3rd row in counts) for the big clash tomorrow night.

I am soooo pumped for this season and it seems that the pressure building for the Eels this season is almost unbearable. Will they crack under the pressure (again), or will they simply blow the opposition away like they did in those last 12 games in 2009?

I am nervous, excited and positively BUSTING to see what happens when it all kicks off.

Of course there are 15 other teams that the Eels will have to shrug off before October this season and here’s Mick’s Quick Guide to the 2010 NRL Season.

Listed in the order I think they will finish.

1. Parramatta Eels Parramatta Eels

Seriously, is there any doubt that the boys from the west can’t go all the way this season? There are 2 vital pieces to the success of the Eels. Confidence and Positivity. As soon as the Eels lose either of these their heads drop and the chance of beating any team goes down the drain.

We have to play like we know how to. Throw the ball around. Run with flair. Take that chance. Chip that kick and back your ability to catch the opposition off guard. It is one of the things the Eels are famous for.

Our team is almost intact from last year except for the noticeable loss of Todd Lowrie, Kevin Kingston and Joe Galuvao. Throw in Tahu, Poore and Shackleton and you have more than made up for it. A fit Hayne, Ben Smith and Eric Grothe will also keep us confident through the thick of the season. Injuries are inevitable but we have debutant Tom Humble in the wings, as well as Krisnan Inu, Anthony Mitchell and Jonathan Wright ready to make their impact. THIS is the year my friends. It has to be.

2. Melbourne Storm Melbourne Storm

They are still the most dangerous team in the league. They prove that year after year . In fact 4 consecutive years in the grand final proves that. When you have Slater, Inglis, Cronk and Smith running at you, you need to pull out the drop drawer performance. Ironically it was the Origin ravaged Storm team in 2009 that started the Eels roll, but you can’t bet on playing them when they’re down cause they quickly get back off the mat.

I think this might be one of their last years in the top ranks of the game, but whilst Slater and Inglis are there you can never write them off. Come finals time, it’s a different ball game. I hope they make way for another team this year. I think that team will be…

3. Bulldogs Canterbury Bulldogs

The rivallry of the Eels and Bulldogs in the 80’s is back. Judging by the most amazing game of football I’ve ever seen last year in the Preliminary Final. The Bulldogs have bounced back so fast from their disastrous 2008 season that the only way they can go is up and I think this year they will see an all Sydney Grand Final against the Mighty Eels.

Kimmorley continues to impress in his twilight years and along with a solid forward pack they’re ready to pounce.

Don’t get me wrong. I hate the Bulldogs with a passion, but I think they will have a big big year.

4. South Sydney Rabbitohs

The Rabbitohs have been seemingly in a ‘re-building’ phase for a decade, but it’s about time for them to show everyone what they’ve got. I think this season will be a massive year for them to go along with their massive forward pack. They’ve recruited ex-Bronco Dave Taylor to add to Sam Burgess and the front row is ready to explode.

I still can’t get past the Rabbitohs being easy-beats. It seems that they have been for as long as I can remember, but it’d be nice to see them in front of the 8 ball for once and make the top 8 easily. I think the top 4 is a definite possibility.

5. Gold Coast Titans Gold Coast Titans

They have a bit of a hodge-podge team. Players from all over the place that have taken a while to gel. They also can’t seem to play without Preston Campbell, but they’ve recruited bad-boy Bird and he could make a big difference to their confidence.

I like their never say die attitude and I think they’ll have another successful season. I just can’t see them getting past week 1 or 2 of the finals though.

6. Wests Tigers Wests Tigers

They’ve bought Tuqiri and Jason Cayless. 2 excellent buys for what could be a turning point season for the Tiges. They really should have made a better fist of it last year but their run home was disappointing (to Parra’s glee!)

I am looking forward to a big season from Benji, as long as he doesn’t break his toe, lung or little finger. If Farah can actually perform week to week, it will help as well. Just look out for when they click. They could push for a top 4 spot.

7. St.George-Illawarra Dragons St. George-Illawarra Dragons

The perennial chokers of the league must feel like they are starting again. They had a massive 2009 and finished minor premiers, only to hit the Eels juggernaut in Finals Week 1. They never recovered. I think they’ve got massive potential in their team, but sometimes they just don’t seem to know how to use it. You’d think Mr. Bennett would help with that and maybe this year he’ll lead them to the top again.

I have a feeling that a depleted forward pack and injuries will plague them, and is Soward goes down, so does the team.

8. Sydney Roosters Sydney Roosters

As much as I hate to say it, I think the Roosters will sneak into the 8. It will be a tight finish with the Panthers but I reckon Todd Carney will have a massive season. He always showed so much promise in Canberra, but too many trips to ‘All Bar Nun’ and the ‘Moose’ ruined what could have been a beautiful friendship. They landed the wooden spoon last year, probably due to coaching issues (see ya Freddy0, but I think hard nose Brian Smith will drag them off the bottom this year and give them a finals appearance straight away.

9. Penrith Panthers Penrith Panthers

They always seem to under-achieve, the Panthers. I compare them to the Eels a lot. They have a lot of talent, but somehow it just doesn’t seem to work sometimes. They also ride on confidence and if they win a couple, they’ll start to look promising.

They’ve got Jennings, Kingston (from Parra), Laurie (from Tiges) and Civoniceva in their roster. Jennings is clearly a freak and should be up there with the Hayne’s and Inglis’s of the league. He can only get better this season and they will surely upset some big teams, but I think they will just miss out again.

10. Manly Sea-Eagles Manly Sea-Eagles

Seriously, who really cares about this team? This pack of highfaluting silvertails from the north shore seemed to think they just had to turn up in 2009. Then it all fell apart for them and not least for Brett Stewart. They still have the talent to make a finals tilt, but with their over-sized houses, wallets and heads I don’t think they’ll make it out of the tunnel in time.

11. Canberra Raiders Canberra Raiders

Yes, I have a soft spot for the Raiders having lived here for 20 odd years. The thing is they will never reach those lofty heights of the 80’s and 90’s when Daley, Meninga, Clyde, Walters and Stuart ruled this town. I wish they would, but can you see Tongue, Purtell, Duggin, Harrison and Herbert being household names? I don’t think so.

The other problem they have is that they just can’t win outside of Canberra. It seems to be their continual problem. Year after year they pull out big victories against quality teams in the frigid weather of Canberra, but then they head to Townsville and can’t spank the Cowboys in their backyard.

Hopefully this year will see some reversal of fortune because I would love League to be a buzz-word in this town again one day.

12. Brisbane Broncos Brisbane Broncos

The mighty all fall eventually. The Broncos have had their day and no amount of Lockyer magic will save them this year. They will drop out of finals contention and Brisbane people won’t even notice.

Mind you, I’ve said this before and then somehow they manage to claw their way back into the race. They’ve still got Folau, they’ve bought Tim Smith and Corey Parker can play, but somehow, I just think they’re not going to have enough fire power.

13. North Queensland Cowboys North Queensland Cowboys

Another year and what could be the last chance for the Cowboys to hold onto Thurston. He may be a tool but he’s still a top footy player and the Cowgirls have been riding on his plaits for  a few years now. They still have some decent players to give them hope though, with Sam Rapira looking the goods, as well as veteran Luke O’Donnell and Willie Tonga. Oh, and I guess we can’t forget the other Willie who has flipped the bird to Sydney and gone up North.

If Willie remembers how to play, Thurston stays off the drink and Ty Williams scores some tries they might have a chance, but somehow I reckon. No.

14. Newcastle Knights Newcastle Knights

Things just go from bad to worse for those keniggets. (Thank you Monty Python). First they lose the greatest player of all time (Joey Johns), then they lose a couple of coaches and then 2 players get done on drugs charges. All the while they just can’t seem to get any consistency on the paddock.

Oh, and let’s not forget that Gidley injured himself in the All-stars game and will miss 4-6 weeks from the start of the season! I wouldn’t be surprised if they’re looking at the wooden spoon early in the season, but I expect things to pick up as the season warms up.

If coming 14th means they pick up very much. I only expect they’ll win a handful of games.

15. New Zealand Warriors New Zealand Warriors

Those players across the ditch never give up trying and you have to admire them for that. 2002 seems like such a long time ago for this team that is so desperate to win they’re willing to part with millions of dollars to get $onny Bill Williams back into League (please no). The bonus with a team like the Warriors is that they have a whole country of talent to pull from and they really should be able to find some great up and coming talent. Apparently there’s a guy called Kevin Locke that plays on the wing and he is toted to be the next big thing.

We shall see.

I don’t expect them to have much of a season though. Maybe you should be looking in your backyard for talent, rather than over in French Rugby.

16. The Sharks Cronulla Sharks

It still puts a smile on my face to picture Ricky Stuart coaching such a shocker of a team as the Sharks. Maybe if the coach just shut up for long enough the team might be able to concentrate on playing, but as usual Stuart is too busy writing columns and complaining about everything to do with Rugby League.

The team itself has recruited wildly in the off season. Not that you would notice. None of them are particularly noticeable signings. Luke Douglas? Paul Aiton?

Sure, they have picked up a couple of younger players from my beloved Eels (Kelly, Gardner and Wright), but it will take a few years for these guys to make an impact in the top grade.

I actually want the Sharks to go better, for their players and their fans, but whilst Stuart is at the helm, they can languish with the spoon for as long as possible.

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There we go.

THE definitive guide to the season.

Let’s not refer to this post in October though. No point looking to the past…

Enjoy!


Goodbye Naughties. Hello Tennies!

Right, so the naughties are gone, and to be honest? It’s been one hell of a set of 10.

What a tumultuous decade it has been for me. Great things have happened. Bad things have happened, and ultimately my life has been shaped in ways I would have never expected back in 1999. Wow. 1999 feels like a lifetime ago.

10 years ago I would never have expected that in the following decade I would have 3 kids, buy 2 houses, separate from my wife, travel to the USA for a year, return to Australia to find a new life with a gorgeous wonderful woman and then settle back into the house that I originally bought 5 years earlier.

But that’s what has happened. Who says 10 years go fast when you can do that many things. The Mick of 1999 feels like another person, but so does the Mick of 2004 and the Mick of 2006. I feel like I have evolved so many times in the last 10 years but I have to remind myself of the changes that I have been through.

I believe that everything in life happens for a reason, beit good or bad. You can’t lament over the bad times in your life, but you are allowed to bask in the good times. I am a definite proponent of the ‘glass half full’ theory in life. Bad shit is going to happen all the time, but you can’t dwell on it. Similarly, you can’t change it. You can only use it to your advantage, because Yes people, every cloud DOES have a silver lining. As corny as it is, everyone can find something good out of a bad situation. It may not be straight away, but eventually you’ll find it. As small as it may seem.

Everyone thinks of their New Years resolutions at this time of year. There’s the obligatory promises of less food, more reading, less TV, more gardening, but what about just wanting more of the same? What if our attempts at changing our lives are just putting more pressure on ourselves to change what is probably already working. Of course we all change, but that change happens everyday, not on January 1st.

One thing that I would like to do is blog more. I was pretty lacklustre in the blog-o-sphere last year as can be seen from these hastily compiled statistics:

The graph above show that my 2009 blogging was pathetic. So much so that I had 2 blog free months, which was a first in my 6 years of blogging. Time to pick up my game!

I hope your year has started well, and that any ambitions, goals or dreams you have are fulfilled in the next set of 365.

Time for me to get off my arse and actually make things happen!