Thursday, December 18, 2014

Not A Review Of The Very Excellent Nick Cave, Melbourne, December 2014




I'm not reviewing Nick Cave from last night because I was just a punter... and yet today as I made another punter's coffee, sentences like this drifted through my mind...

"Counterpointing the gorgeous simplicity that is Nick Cave's lyrics, vocals and piano of, say, The Ship Song, were other songs of a more chaotic nature. I would loved for it to have been Stagger Lee (he was never going to play that one), but it was probably Higgs Boson Blues or even something more fucked up, in which each performer seems to go off into their own crazy world for a while and do their own fucked up thing... Warren Ellis hunched and terrorising a small stringed instrument, making it squeal and cry and howl; Nick Cave might also have been howling, or hitting some random metal things; somewhere some kind of crazy bell and keyboards and strobing lights and savage lyrics that make sense in a darkly supernatural way. It's crazy, cacophony for sure, but it's the most wonderfully harmonious and exciting cacophony you're ever likely to hear..."

Back in the real world: And here is your soy chai latte.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Grease The Musical, Regent Theatre, Melbourne, Review


                                                                Photo by Jeff Busby

Grease, The Musical
Regent Theatre
10th December, 2014

Reviewed by Lee Bemrose

The latest in an increasing number of musical reviews by someone who doesn't usually go to musicals, but sometimes seems to quite enjoy them when he does go to them, if they are good.

Mention Grease and most people will probably think of the 1978 movie starring John Travolta and Olivia Newton John and which holds number one position as the biggest movie musical box office hit of all time. It's interesting to note that the original stageplay was produced seven or so years before that, and in its early days was apparently a much different creature - rougher, edgier and with a lot to say about the development of American teen and pop culture.

But the movie cleaned up Grease and turned it into a kind of shiny cartoon, and this stageplay is basically a faithful reproduction of that shiny cartoon. As much as I enjoyed this production, I'd be really keen to see one more faithful to the original concept.

If you don't know the story, it's a romance about teenagers Sandy and Danny who meet while on holiday. The romance ends when the holiday does, only for it to be reborn in a different form when Sandy unexpectedly enrolls at Danny's school, Rydell High. Danny's a greaser with a womanising reputation to uphold, and Sandy's a bit of a goodie-two-shoes. No one thinks they are right for each other. Danny snubs her whilst still having feelings for her, until Sandy has an epiphany; maybe if she tarts herself up and acts tarty like the other tarts, Danny will fall for her properly. She does indeed tart herself up and Danny does indeed fall for her properly. The end.

Not ever having paid much attention to the storyline or the message, I was a little surprised by what the story was saying. Nothing here about being individual. Nothing about staying true to yourself. Everything about bowing to peer pressure and blending in. The realisation that Grease was saying that true love is only possible when you tart it up a little had me and my plus one, The Dreaded One, bursting into song on the way home: "You're the tart that I want, you are the tart I want, ooh, ooh, ooh..."

But Grease as it is here is not really about the story or the message; it's about the music. The music provides a very efficient distraction from the message because it's mighty fine music. This is a slick production oozing with talent, and there is no way of not smiling, seat dancing and maybe even singing along on occasion.

The songs are such a star that the show starts with an instrumental medley of what we are about to hear, just to whet our appetite. To us ancients in the audience, these are very familiar tunes.

The show proper gets off to a clunky start with the teacher treating the audience like her class and teaching us the rama lama ding dong part of We Go Together. I reckon there's only ever about 10 percent of an audience who wants to join in segments like this, with the rest of us just wanting to sit back and be entertained. The director knows this too, which is why revver-uppers appear through the audience to try to get things going. Very awkward segment that went for too long and didn't add anything to the show.

While I've got my negative pants on... Bert Newton as DJ Vince Fontaine... hmm. A cynical person might suspect that Mr Newton was not hired for the part based on his acting talent so much as the name of a national treasure being the drawcard for a certain demographic. There was no attempt to become the character, he was just Bert Newton saying the lines of another character. When the energy of the show was humming along and the Radio WAXX DJ booth rolled out it was like burning up the quarter mile only to hit quicksand. But hell, at the end he seemed to enjoy being up there on stage and the old dears probably got a kick out of it so whatever.

Just a second while I take off my negative pants... there... and put on my positive pants.

The good bits were very good indeed. Songs like Born To Hand Jive (John Paul Young still has the stuff) and Greased Lightning are loads of fun and are done here so well. Lots of infectious fun. As is the very funny Beauty School Dropout... hilariously kitsch. Slower, emotional songs like Sandy and There Are Worse Things I Could Do were also done to perfection, the latter revealing an unexpectedly vulnerable side to the hard, sassy character Rizzo. Lovely.

The encore closing the show was lots of fun and the entire, large cast had clearly enjoyed themselves. My only gripe here was when John Paul Young cheekily sang the opening lines of Love Is In The Air... And. Didn't. Keep. Going. Very funny, you utter bastard tease.

Apparently the very early productions of Grease went for a raw, rough production, the very opposite of what we have here. It's a stunning spectacle of a show that looks and sounds great, and for the most part you'll enjoy yourself almost as much as the performers do. (Just don't think about the message too much).

Now playing at the Regent Theatre, Melbourne.
For more info, go to the Grease website.


Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Some Girl Kissed A Girl I Know

Jesus - previous post an awesome song by the genius that is Tom Waits, followed by a Glee version of a Katy Perry song... WTF?

This parallel universe blogging is due to the funny story an acquaintance told me recently. She was at a club, having a great time. A girl approached her and asked if she could re-apply this acquaintance's lipstick. Said acquaintance thought it was a cute offer and said sure. Said acquaintance closed her eyes and pursed her lips, whereupon Lipstick Grl proceeded to totally pash Purse-lipped Acquaintance. Apparently there were equal parts tongue, utter shock and mooshed lipstick in the encounter. That's lots of tongue and lots of shock, and a LOT of mooshed lipstick, in case you are wondering.

Reminds me of another lipstick-in-a-club story involving yours truly, but that's another story. Might post that tomorrow with another astonishingly unexpected music clip.

Monday, December 08, 2014

Hold On

I've posted this clip here before. It's Tom's birthday today, I believe. He's 65 and doesn't like to fly, so in all probability I will never experience him playing live unless I go back to the U.S. Bummer. First world problem, for sure, but bummer.

Nick Cave next week which will be amazing. Another of the boys I like to sing out loud to.

For now, listen to this song and watch this clip. So fucking sweet and sad and just beautiful. Tom has said that he likes beautiful melodies telling him terrible things. Maybe that's true, but he also likes to tell us beautiful things to sweet melodies.

Sunday, December 07, 2014

the broken pencil

but when there is no more funny shit,
no more laughter,
no more silly,
too much serious,
too much conflict,
too much hate,
not enough love,
not enough compassion,
not enough sharing,
of too much food,
of too much shelter,
of too much stuff,
you find yourself
in the dark
alone,
silently screaming the question:
what is the fucking point?

no surprise
that there is no answer,
because there is no point.

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Alyx Dennison at Catfish On Gertrude Street

Just saw this local performer again tonight. Amazed at her talent again. So impressed with her singing, song-writing and her affinity with kookiness. She is very funny, and this was a good thing to do on a wet Wednesday night.

It was a short tram ride up the road to a place across the road from our cafe, and so many places were full. Food was being eaten, music was being heard... life was being lived.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

That Thing We Have

Yesterday The Dreaded One and I spent the day drinking and eating and laughing. This might seem like an unremarkable thing - and when you think about truly remarkable things like black holes in space and the very concept and bigness of the universe, it is pretty mundane.

But it's been a long time now, (30 something years? Get outta here!) and we still don't feel the need to dilute each others company with the company of others. We love the company of others, when they're the right people, but equally, we're happy to just hang out with each other.

I never really tire of looking at The Dreaded One. She is amazingly pretty. She stands out in a crowd, has her own very individual sense of style, and it's stylish. I feel very lucky.

But it goes deeper than that. We spend all day long working together in a potentially volatile environment. Dealing with customers and food and deadlines and the myriad other issues we have to deal with all day long (and the days are long), we probably should encounter more friction than we do. There is friction but we try to make it fleeting and just get on with things. And I like to listen to her as well as look at her.

Then we come home together. Often I will walk home from the cafe. Sometimes I stop off for a beer, staring out through a window and letting my mind wander. Then I'll come home and jokingly ask how The Dreaded One's day was.

And then it's the weekend. Yesterday we spent the day drinking and eating and laughing. Just the two  of us. Often I think she is immune to my sense of humour. She's had a lot of time to get used to it, and lately it hasn't even been around much. But it was there yesterday and she laughed genuine laughter. We still seem to enjoy each others company.

I don't know exactly what it is, but I like that thing we have.