Ten Records That Changed My Life… REALLY changed my life.

Ten records that changed my life

Yesterday (8th Jan, 2014) a Facebook friend of mine, Bill Mallonee, posed the following question:

10 life changing records. (I know! It’s impossible!)
Take a deep breath & list ’em in less than 3 minutes.
Don’t over think it.

Well, you know what? I did over-think it. It’s pretty easy to reel off some of your favourite records, like I did here and here, but (being a pedantic git) I felt that if you’re going to describe something as life-changing it had better be something that really did have some particular concrete effect on your existence. So it took me longer than 3 minutes, but not much longer. Here’s a slightly edited and expanded version:

Ten Life Changing Records

Life changing? Life. Changing. Life changing. Records that really, really truly changed my life. Hmm. Not necessarily albums. Nor my favourite, nor the best, nor the coolest records.

1: Johnny Cash‘s first gospel LP (Hymns by Johnny Cash) – My parents had it it and it was probably the first record that felt blissful to me – that showed me how powerful music could be, even before I really became a “music fan”

2: Elton John‘s Crocodile Rock. For some strange reason hearing it on Top Of The Pops was a revelation to me that stupid, freakish, long-haired, ungodly, noisy rock’n’roll music was actually really great. [I know Crocodile Rock, while great, is not exactly the pinnacle of the form, but for me it was the key that unlocked the door.] It was the first record I ever bought and it instantly made me into a “music fan”.Ø

3-5: Larry Norman‘s three albums Upon This Rock, Only Visiting This Planet and Bootleg – My sister borrowed them and they taught me that rock’n’roll wasn’t evil and you could be funny, clever and talk about whatever you wanted [The Ku Klux Klan, Paul McCartney’s Hofner bass, venereal disease, Jesus]

6 – Neil Young‘s Zuma – I heard John Peel play the track Looking For A Love on the little transistor radio under my pillow one night in 1976. I’d never heard Neil Young before but I fell for the sound immediately. I went out and bought the album and it’s still, in my mind, the definitive “perfect electric guitar sound” that I basically strive for in my playing [much of the time, anyway].

7-9: Jonathan Richman & The Modern LoversRock’n’Roll With The Modern Lovers, Patrik Fitzgerald‘s Safety Pin Stuck In My Heart E.P.* & Wild Man Fischer‘s Wildmania!§ – the fact that Marjorie owned these three records that I also loved was a major factor in bringing us together at school in 1977, and we’re still married.

10 – Crowded House‘s Woodface – I’d gradually grown fond of them on the radio (They played Better Be Home Soon, Don’t Dream It’s Over, Fall At Your Feet, Sister Madly quite often on CFMI) when we lived in Vancouver, and finally bought the CD. Marjorie and I felt it was immediately fell for the album in a very, very deep way, particularly the first half, which seemed to representative another kind of perfect sound which we felt we’d been looking for all our lives. Marjorie loved them so much that (to cut a long story

11 – Some other Johnny Cash record – I was listening to him one day at work in the lab about ten years ago [I can’t remember which song but I think it was from his Sun years]

NOTES

Ø I subsequently bought the Daniel and Goodbye Yellow Brick Road 45s and was settling in for a lifetime of brilliant Elton John releases, but I wasn’t so sure about Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting (it was OK, but I could think of better things to spend my 45p on)  and never again bought another Elton John single, or, for that matter, a post-1973 album of his. This was my first lesson in pop disappointment.

* Patrik was the first “folk-punk” guy (to release a record) in the original UK punk scene of 1976-78. I’ve always thought that Marjorie and I don’t have an “our song” in the way that Americans talk about it, but I guess Patrik’s Safety Pin Stuck In My Heart was Our Song!

§ Wild Man’s first, and most famous album, was the double album An Evening With Wild Man Fischer, about eight years before Wildmania!. This was his “comeback album”. John Peel played a track every night and I taped the whole album. I used to go round school singing the songs from it (and to think I say I only became a singer about ten years ago!) and some of the songs became quite popular among my friends. (“My name is Larry, I have a canary”, “I went to a disco in San Francisco” – you can see why).

One day Marjorie told me she’d got the album. I actually thought she was only joking as it wasn’t the kind of thing you’d find in the records shops in Portadown. And I think she was disappointed but didn’t really impress the fact on me. But some time later, when we were closer friends, I found it in her record collection and nearly died! It turned out she’d ordered it from “overseas” (i.e. England) out of an ad in the NME.

I spent years wondering how I could get the first album and I eventually found it in a shop in London. But despite it being, by far, the most famous and well-regarded, it’s nowhere near as good as Wildmania!, which, in my opinion, is where his art all came together in its most cohesive and beautiful form; in short, his masterpiece.

Yuendumu Benefit Gig featuring some of my friends!

My friends at TLC (Truth & Liberation Concern) in Bayswater (Melbourne) are putting on a benefit concert for youth programs in Yuendumu, which is a town in the Northern Territory of Australia. I was asked to perform at this concert but unfortunately I have a prior engagement for that date. It’s for a very good cause and you won’t regret going along! Some of the performers are very good friends of mine with whom I’ve recorded and performed before, namely Victor Stranges & Andrea Kocevska ~ DC


Yuendumu-Poster-banner-web

Yuendumu Benefit Gig

WHEN? Saturday, Sept 21st 2013
WHERE? TLC, 265 Canterbury Rd, Bayswater, VIC
TIME? 6-10 pm

Peter York & The Ordinary Brothers

(with Adrien March)

Steve Messer & Strange Country

Gerry Holmes, Dom Godfrey & Darryl Thompson

Victor Stranges

Andrea Kocevska

Androo Crothers

Ahhhcapella Singers

AND MORE TO BE ANNOUNCED!

$10 entry (supper included)

Please invite your friends too!

“Caring, Acting, Sharing with those in need of a hand up”

Contact:

Jennifer Wallace (click to email)

CLICK BELOW for videos by my good friends Victor Stranges & Andrea Kocevska who will be performing at the concert. 

Review of Marjorie’s album in Strutterzine

“Ireland-born, Australia-based singer Marjorie Cardwell’s In Another World was inspired by the diagnosis of a brain tumour in 2012 so, as you might expect, there are some pretty personal songs included. Fortunately, Marjorie’s sense of irony is firmly in place on an album of retro pop with a generally upbeat feel that’s life-affirming. Cardwell’s voice is the perfect vehicle for these classic 60s-influenced songs and is particularly effective on the bittersweet ‘Not On Your Own’.”

Strutterzine magazine, Jan 2013

 

Strutterzine-Marjorie Cardwell-In Another World-review 2013

Full page

Strutterzine-Marjorie Cardwell-In Another World-review 2013

Marjorie’s review

 

 

 

Nice review of my “In Another World” album in Germany’s Folker Magazine

Positive Review of Marjorie Cardwell's  "In Another World" album, in Germany's Folker Magazine, January 2013

Review of In Another World in Germany’s Folker Magazine

Brief but glowing review in Folker magazine

There’s a nice review of my album in Folker magazine out of Germany this month! It translates, roughly, as follows:

“A Northern Irish woman, now living in in Australia, Marjorie has a great voice, and starts this cathartic album with the soul-stirring, un-self-pitying “Hole in My Head”, in which she addresses her  brain tumor that was diagnosed in early 2012, before embarking on a thoroughly positive album full of energetic folk, pop and rock oriented songs. Wonderful.”

Don’t forget the album is available directly from us  as a CD or download through Bandcamp at www.marjoriecardwell.com – however I’ll let you in on a secret: my CD is currently (Jan 2013) on sale at CD Baby so for a limited time you can get it for a really good price there… http://bit.ly/mccdbaby

Of course, if you prefer, it’s also on iTunes, Amazon and a lot of other download sites as well.

Many thanks to Peter Holmstedt of Hemifrån for passing my album along to Folker magazine!

~ Marjorie x

PS: The original review in German is: 

“Die Nordirin in Australien mit toller Stimme startet dieses kathartische Album mit dem anrührenden, keineswegs wehklagenden ‘Hole in My Head’, in dem sie ihren Anfang 2012 diagnostizierten Gehirntumor thematisiert, ehe sie dann ein durch und durch positives Album voller energiegeladener, musikalisch an Folkpop und -rock orientierten Songs startet. Bewundernswert.”

If you speak German and can help us with a smoother English translation we’d appreciate it!

 

 

Crowded House are the reason we’re in Australia

If it weren’t for Crowded House we wouldn’t be living in Australia. Kinda. Sorta. Pretty much.

Marjorie and I came to the band late, not long before Together Alone came out, when I picked up Woodface somewhere on CD and we instantly realised that tracks such as It’s Only Natural and Fall At Your Feet were a kind of music we’d been yearning for but had never really managed to find except in our own heads. We lived in Vancouver, Canada at the time and when we moved there in 1988 from Northern Ireland we were simultaneously perturbed by the prevailing poodle bands on the charts and heartened by the fact that every time we turned on CFMI classic rock radio while driving we heard the likes of Steely Dan, Van Morrison and other artists who seemed forgotten back home, swept away by the punk that we ourselves had loved and followed.

We were both “pop music literate” and knew that Neil had been in Split Enz. We loved I Got You when it was a hit in the UK. I’d heard Better Be Home Soon in the car on this “classic rock radio” which seemed unique to the New World, and been struck by its Beatlesque qualities. And we both knew Don’t Dream It’s Over, of course, and had admired it vaguely from a distance. And I recalled seeing them once on the MTV VMA awards (see video) and being astounded that they seemed to be a real band, playing real instruments and singing a real song. With a Hammond organ! In the 80s! Ever since then I’d made a mental note to buy one of their albums, but it simply didn’t happen until I picked up Woodface at a bargain price in 1993.

Live in Canada

Sadly, drummer Paul Hester had quit the band just two weeks before we first saw them in Vancouver and Seattle, but they were still a revelation live, a band who played smart, concise pop songs in the spirit of the “jam bands” – they never played a song the same way twice and you never knew what was going to happen at any moment. Neil Finn was edgy in the sense that at any moment he felt the freedom to do whichever option popped into his head, whether it was to morph into a random cover, play an extended free-form guitar solo, swap instruments with the drummer, write a song on the spot based on the support band’s setlist, have the band jam along to a demo CD that an aspiring musician threw onto the stage…

19940506-Crowded House-Paramount Theater-Seattle-6-May-1994-backstage pass-DC CardwellCrowded House backstage pass!

We managed to score backstage passes for their Seattle show. The show was great but being backstage afterwards wasn’t the most exciting of experiences. However, I guess there was a certain thrill of anticipation and the pass itself is quite nice!

I was hacking gently into the hospital computer system at my work and discovered that the network was hooked into a mysterious entity, The Internet, involving such things as “gophers”, a search engine named “Veronica” and something called “email”. Much to my surprise I found that there was an active group of Crowded House fans exchanging information, and that I was even able to set up an email account on my home computer using Vancouver’s Freenet text-based email service. Marjorie and I joined this community, known asTongue In The Mail, and in fact we’re still in it (although it’s been partly superseded by the Frenz forum, which I also use).

Trip to New Zealand

At one point in 1995 Crowded House were about to tour New Zealand and there was a vague feeling in the ranks that they might split up soon and this could be their last outing. I vividly recall saying to Marjorie, “You should

Crowded House-Palmerston North-New Zealand-6-Feb-1995-B-ticket-DC CardwellMarjorie’s Ticket for the show in Palmerston North, New Zealand

go and see them!” while realising that this was completely unfeasible. However, she took me at my word and three days later she was in New Zealand! She’d made arrangements to meet up with various people we’d met online, and she traipsed around after the band. Some of the people she met were close to the band and managed to get her backstage where she met, not only the Crowded House members and Tim, but Mr. and Mrs. Finn senior. This was, needless to say, quite a bit of fun. She had coffee with Mike Chunn (Split Enz bass player) and Dave Dobbyn and generally was made very welcome on the other side of the world. Even back then we felt really old and grown-up, having two children and being well settled down, so it seemed almost ridiculous that Marjorie should be on such an adventure. We’d sometimes play our own gigs at Vancouver’s rock clubs, look around and think “we’re old enough to be these people’s parents and I’m sure they think we’re like old fogies from another era!” Of course, looking back, we were only in our early 30s and nearly 20 years later we’re still running after bands and and still playing to people who now could practically be our grandchildren!

Crowded House, New Zealand 1995 - by Marjorie CardwellMarjorie’s photo of Crowded House in New Zealand

But that’s beside the point. Marjorie had a stopover in Melbourne on her way back to Canada. Neither of us had ever been to Australia before, but Marjorie simply fell in love with this city. Another internet friend took her round to see some of the Crowdie sites, such as Paul Hester’s café and Neil Finn’s old house where he wrote many of the Woodface songs.

When she returned to Vancouver, Marjorie simply said “We should move to Melbourne, it’s really nice!” Of course, this is easier said than done, especially when you have two small kids and an elderly mother-in-law (Marjorie’s mother) who lives with you. But we got the permanent residence visa application forms and had a look at them. We’d already emigrated once so the forms weren’t daunting in the least. We figured out that I, as a medical scientist, would have a reasonable chance of being accepted, but that if you were over 35 you had extra “points” taken off which would effectively scupper your chances of getting a visa.

However, two weeks before I turned 35, I mentioned that if we didn’t do it now we’d never get a visa. So we sent of the forms just so that we could say we’d had a go. Very shortly afterwards we got a letter saying that we’d been accepted into Australia! No interview or anything! And with that piece of paper in hand, we decided we may as well go and see what it’s like to live in Australia.And anyway, Vancouver is “really nice” too, to say the least! It consistently vies with Melbourne for the title of “The World’s Most Livable City” and it’s undeniably beautiful and comfortable. And we loved the Canadian people and had many close friends. So we filled out the forms but didn’t bother sending them.

We moved in 1996, two boys and aging mother-in-law in tow (she’s still living with us 16 years later!) and have never regretted it, despite occasionally longing for real mountains, snow, the smell of cedar and the warm hospitality of Canadians… not that Australians aren’t hospitable, but they’re different.

Move to Australia

We stopped over in Auckland on our way to Australia, and were wined and dined very generously by ex-Split Enz members Paul Crowther and Mike Chunn. (We’d previously met Paul Crowther at a Mutton Birds show in Vancouver’s Railway Club when we popped in after our own gig over the road.)

ENZSO-Melbourne Park-Melbourne-4-Feb-1997-ticket-DC Cardwell

ENZSO Ticket (Split Enz with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra) 1997, Melbourne

One of our ENZSO tickets

As soon as we arrived in Melbourne we heard that there was to be an ENZSO concert in the Rod Laver Arena. Exasperatingly, we couldn’t afford to go but I got a job after only two weeks and the first thing I did was buy tickets. Due to a slight misadventure we arrived slightly late and it was a very bizarre feeling to walk into a packed arena-sized venue and hear a full orchestra playing Six Months In A Leaky Boat with the audience lapping it up!

We’ve seen an amazing run of Finn-related events here in the hometown of Split Enz and Crowded House. The most memorable – sorry, unforgettable – were the warm-up shows for the Sydney Opera House Farewell To The World mega-show in which we got to see Crowded House with Paul Hester two nights in a row, up close, at the intimate Corner Hotel, thus more than making up for having missed out on seeing him with Crowded House before he quit them. It was very much a “who would have thunk?” experience for us.

We saw two more impromptu reunions of core members Finn, Seymour and Hester, one at “Hessie’s Shed” in the Espy Hotel, St Kilda and one at the TV recording of a Neil Finn solo show. And then, tragically, Paulo was gone, his life snuffed out by his own hand in this very city. But that awful incident doesn’t erase our memories of the sheer, joyful, uninhibited exuberance that he personified on stage.

Ticket for Corner Hotel warm-up show, 1996Ticket for Corner Hotel warm-up show, 1996

We got to see another Crowded House warm-up at the Corner Hotel, this time for their comeback tour. And it was surprisingly magnificent! Neither Marjorie nor I have warmed hugely to the two albums by the reunified band (save for about three great tracks on the first one which are up there with their greatest work), but the live shows have been almost as good as ever. And it’s typically admirable of Finn and Co. that they haven’t just done the get-together-and-play-the-old-hits-for-the-money-on-a-nostalgia-tour thing, but they’ve done it as a real band, written new material and simply carried on from where they left off. We may never get another Woodface, but on the other hand, perhaps we will!

~ DC Cardwell

NOTE: This is a quick, rough piece that I wrote as a comment on another blog, but it got too big so I posted it here instead. I may well come back to it , tidy it up and expand (or maybe contract) it later on. It’s also subject to revision by Marjorie if I’ve got some of the facts wrong!

Noel Fielding, Athenaeum Theatre, Melbourne, October 24, 2012 – review by Marjorie Cardwell

Marjorie Cardwell reviews a Melbourne show by Noel Fielding, AKA Vince Noir out of The Mighty Boosh

This is the first time Noel Fielding has been in Australia for nearly 10 years. Since then he has achieved widespread recognition for The Mighty Boosh, as well as his own TV show, “Luxury Comedy” and “Never Mind The Buzzcocks“. Marjorie appears in Noel’s book “The Scribblings of a Madcap Shambleton” in a photograph artistically defaced by Mr. Fielding himself (see below).

Noel Fielding was a revelation last night. Although I’m a big fan, I actually had no real expectations for his solo show, particularly since he had cancelled the night before due to a stomach upset.

I needn’t have worried – he was a delight! He was a pixie full of good humour and energy and it was obvious that he is in that class of performers who transcend the competent to the clearly inspired.

I laughed SO hard even at routines I’d seen before because they were expanded and fresh. The Fly and The Moth had me gaping in wonder and convulsed in laughter at the same time – it’s surprising I didn’t choke on a few flies myself. Monkey Edwards was a tour de force. His Australian special Joey Ramones and Moon were especially endearing and our own Botanic Gardens bats will forever be thought of as ‘fruit dogs’ now!

Noel Fielding is a charming, ageless, delightful, clever, generous, inspired and inherently hilarious creature with the strength and stamina of an ox. I hope Australia sees a lot more of him and he stays off the duck curries.

I could also describe it as a masterful performance, because it was. Very impressive indeed.

Marjorie Cardwell in The Scribblings of a Madcap Shambleton by Noel Fielding

~ Marjorie Cardwell

PS: If  you were also there, or at the Thursday show, we’d love to hear your thoughts!

Kate Allatt – Locked in syndrome survivor!

Have you ever wondered about the story behind my song, “I Am Still The Same”? Well, it’s based on an article I read in a magazine about a woman with “Locked In Syndrome”, which means she had a spinal injury which rendered her unable to move anything except her eyelids. Eventually someone figured out how to communicate with her. She would spell out letters by blinking. Apparently the first thing she spelt out was “I Am Still The Same”, which I thought was very profound. I think the article said that she went on to write a book, if I remember correctly. I’ve tried to find the magazine again but without any success and I didn’t make a note of the woman’s name, unfortunately. So if anyone knows, I’d love to hear from you!

[I wrote the song very quickly and recorded in a somewhat casual, rough way as a demo for myself, but it had a good feel so I left it as it was and it went on to win the Catapult Song Contest in 2011. And then my young friend David McGorlick made the masterful video for it which has recently been selected for the SoCal Independent Film Festival in the US.]

Anyway, a little while back, on Facebook, I met a wonderful woman from the UK, Kate Allatt, who had a similar story but with a big difference. Kate actually recovered from Locked In Syndrome! This is a very rare occurrence but Kate is a very determined woman who doesn’t let anything get in her way and she just wouldn’t let an “incurable condition” like Locked In Syndrome stop her. Seemingly by sheer force of will she made herself learn to move again. She attributes this to determination and the increasingly recognised phenomenon of “neuroplasticity” whereby the brain is able to teach itself new pathways to perform functions when the original neural pathways are put out of action. The first word Kate spelt out by blinking was “Sleep” because she hadn’t slept for two weeks and longed for sleeping pills to help her. And the first part of her body she was able to move was her thumb, but now she’s back to almost full capacity, and, in fact, is far more physically active than most of us!

Of course, when I came across her I couldn’t resist sending her a link to my song on Youtube and she made some lovely comments which made me feel that I had managed to at least capture a tiny part of the sort of feelings that a locked in person suffers.

These are the comments Kate made on Youtube about my song:

Kate Allatt (image from her website)

“I am astounded! Very well done. You have captured my feelings superbly. What a great soundtrack to my books Running Free and Gonna Fly Now! 7/2/10 brainstem stroke with locked in syndrome. The wheelchair, the mirror, I was the same person inside, not a patient number. I was a cripple to look at but the same Kate inside. This video describes my emotions in the early months of ICU. Then the Rocky theme tune best describes my fight back to full life and kids. Thank you so much.”- Kate Allatt (Youtube comments 7 Feb 2012)

I’m glad I saved her comments because not long afterwards, my Youtube channel was shut down suddenly and I had to start again! I checked with Kate today and she said it was fine to quote her.

We keep in touch, and I was chatting with her again today about her appearance on the “The Science Show” on ABC Australia Radio National. You can hear it HERE and I highly recommend it as a nice introduction to her story, only about 9 minutes long but definitely not dull – Kate is NEVER dull!

Which brings me to Kate’s mission… since she made her remarkable recovery, and it’s not very long ago, she has written two books, appeared on numerous high-profile radio and TV shows, and has become an in-demand inspirational speaker. She’s determined to increase awareness about stroke recovery, neuroplasticity, positive care for stroke survivors and locked-in patients, and also in more general terms about the benefits of positive-thinking and determination on health and other aspects of life.

Kate has a very warm and winning personality and for this reason she is really good at getting her point across so you will enjoy getting to find out about her on her website (KateAllatt.com), on Youtube, in her books etc! She also has a blog you can follow.

You’ll be inspired too!

~ DC

PS: for those of you haven’t seen it, here is my song, “I Am Still the Same” which was inspired by Locked in Syndrome:

Also see:

Kate Allat: Locked-In-Syndrome Survivor

“I Am Still The Same” Video At US Film Festivals

TO BE CONTINUED…

DC Cardwell wins Catapult Song Contest… twice!

DC Cardwell took out both the overall winner award AND the judges favourite award for his song: “I Am Still The Same” (see video below).  Presented in 2011 by Underground Talent, and hosted by Replicat Music, Catapult Song Contest had a record 3000+ song entries from over 1500 Australian based musicians.  The contest was judged by a mix of audience votes and industry judging.  Judges included Australia’s most celebrated Music Director – John Foreman, Nova FM’s national prime time drive host Tim Blackwell and Australian Idol winner and multiple Aria charting artist, Natalie Gauci.  Of “I Am Still The Same” John Foreman said:

Fantastic evocative vocal tone and great lyrics. Nice vocal layering builds the song. The song successfully creates an atmosphere that captures the story of the lyrics. The video clip does also help to tell the story. Together with the clip it’s a very moving song.”

As part of the prize, DC won over 1000 free CD pressings from Replicat, over 30 hours of marketing mentoring from Underground Talent, graphic design package from Josi Designs, mixing  from Simon Paul Studios and Mastering from Mano Musica. To see DC’s artist page on the Catapult website go to catapultsongcontest.com.au/artists/dc-cardwell.

BIG news from DC Cardwell [Newsletter 2nd Dec 2010]

DC Cardwell's Some Hope album with CD (200w)

Whew! It’s all happening!


(1) My album Some Hope has been re-released in the US on a small company named Gladyce out of Portland, Oregon. It’s newly repackaged in a beautiful gatefold LP-style cardboard sleeve with new artwork. Sixteen (true!) tracks of pure goodness. The CD is available from Bandcamp, CD Baby and my website (dccardwell.com)

Or you can find it on iTunes or Amazon. [EDIT: Also Spotify]


(2) Possibly even more exciting for me, next week I’m flying to Los Angeles to record some songs for a movie with ace producer/composer/musician Jaymee Carpenter (www.jaymeecarpenter.com).

Jaymee has a very impressive resumé which includes writing music for That 70’s Show and 3rd Rock From The Sun and the Paramount Pictures blockbuster The Fighter starring Mark Wahlberg, Christian Bale & Amy Adams.

“How did this come about?”, I hear you ask, not unreasonably. Well, just a couple of weeks ago a friend of mine sent a youtube link of my song ‘Birthday Present’ to someone else, who then sent it to Jaymee. He loved it, checked out the rest of the album, and contacted me to say he wanted to work with me for this movie project. Which just  goes to show how important it is to get your music out there and for your fans and friends to share it in every way possible!

DC & Victor play Ruby's Lounge, Nov 2010, with Samuel and Chris
DC & Victor, Ruby’s Lounge, Nov 2010, with Samuel on bass

(3) And finally… this coming Sunday, my friend and partner-in-crime Victor Stranges are showing off our new band at www.chandelierroom.com.au in Moorabbin (just south of Melbourne). The show’s at 4pm and it’s free entry to this really cool family-friendly venue! We’ve played there before and everyone agrees that it’s one of the best places around to play in. Really nice vibe, good stage and PA and a nice little bar/shop. It’s at:

Ruby's Lounge 20101117-Chris Haylock-203h
DC & Victor, Ruby’s Lounge, Nov 2010, Chris Haylock on drums

Review of Neil Young at the Sidney Myer Music Bowl, Melbourne, Australia, 28 Jan 2009

The Sidney Myer Music Bowl is a rather wonderful outdoor venue in the
heart of Melbourne’s King’s Domain. A natural amphitheatre with a large
stage and a covered area for those who can afford the expensive seats!
For once, I paid the extra to get up close to one of my major musical
heroes. I was accompanied by my wife Marjie and my son Samuel, both
also Neil Young fans.

But it was just too hot for me to really enjoy this show. I’ve been in
Melbourne for twelve years now, but for a Northern Ireland kid these
40+ days are hard to take, especially when they drag on for too long a
period! And after a long hot day and a scorching walk to the venue,
you’re not exactly in the mood to rock and roll all night long, free
world or not.

I regret that we stayed in our seats under the dome as it was indeed
like baking in an oven, but the heat was also making us feel so tired
that we were reluctant to move back to watch and listen from out in the
open air. I now wish we had, judging from other people’s comments.

I’m a long-time Neil fan (ever since I heard a track from the new album
Zuma in 1975 while listening to the John Peel Show on a little
transistor radio underneath my pillow) and his playing has influenced
me more than any other guitarist’s. Anyone who knows me will attest
that I am a huge Neil enthusiast.

And I’ve only seen him twice before – the last two and a half songs
(don’t ask!) of a show in Vancouver back in the early 90s and his last
appearance here in Melbourne on the Greendale tour, which was really
great but not a typical performance.

I’d read very good things about this tour, with the British leg being
hailed as his best since the famous Crazy Horse shows of the mid-70s.

So I was primed for this to be the “gig of a lifetime”, but it was not
to be – which was probably more due to the scorching weather, my
fragile physical state (for various reasons), poor sound from where I
was sitting, a guy to my left who was not large but somehow took up way
more space (mine) than was justified, and a song selection which was
not to my taste. So I’m surprised to be writing a
less-than-enthusiastic review and I apologise for it, because I think
most people there enjoyed it more than I did.

The Greendale show had been at the same venue, and from our vantage
point then, much further from the stage, the sound was perfect.
Tonight, down near the front, it was rather boxy and unfortunately the
drums were mixed way too loud and reverberant like any crappy bar band,
which was annoying most of the time, but especially in the ballads,
when it was completely ridiculous. I guess the covered part of the
venue (50 years old next month) was acoustically designed for classical
music, but that’s not good for rock’n’roll! And from where I was,
Neil’s acoustic guitar sounded really bad and that spoiled songs that
should have been good, like “The Needle And The Damage Done”.

I thought the backing vocals were spot-on and beautiful, especially
Neil’s wife Pegi‘s, and the playing was generally sympathetic, but I
couldn’t really hear the piano at all from where I was. And as for the
bass, it was pretty much impossible to clearly identify any particular
note, so we just got a general boominess in the lower registers.

Anyway, Neil was full of energy, which amazed me given the extreme
heat. He was wearing a white open-necked shirt and Eric Morecambe style
khaki Bermuda shorts. His voice was sounding fairly strong despite the
acoustics, however at the Greendale show five years ago his voice was
astoundingly good, in fact I didn’t even know he *could* sing like that!

And despite regretting not moving back, it was good to be close enough
to really *see* Neil and observe what he was doing with his guitar.

It was also a treat to see Ben Keith – someone who’s played with Neil
since those far-off legendary days of the early 70s. The full line-up
was Ben Keith (pedal steel, guitar, piano, organ), Rick Rosas (bass),
Chad Cromwell (drums), Anthony Crawford and Pegi Young (backing vocals,
piano and guitars).

An early song was a fave of mine, “Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere”
with its delectable la-la-las. But for my particular taste there were
just too many songs that I find mediocre, with throwaway tunes and
sophomoric homespun cod-religious or philosophical lyrics which are
probably crowd-pleasing but lack the depth of which he is capable. Many
of them had failed to interest me on the original albums and these live
performances didn’t enhance them any. I noticed that Marjie and Samuel
laughed heartily at some of them, and not in a good way!

An exception was “One Of These Days” which I had never liked much but
which suddenly rung very true on this occasion, and I guess it’s
moments like that which make a show worthwhile!

“Four Strong Winds” came across quite well too. The harmonium on
“Mother Earth” was nice, but, well, the song is laughable, really! I
mean, you’d think you can’t go wrong with the tune of “O Waly Waly“,
but the words… This was one which really had Marjie and Samuel
cracking up and who could blame them? (Flame away – we all have our
likes and dislikes and I’ve already stated that Neil is one of my absolute
fave artists so I don’t feel guilty!)

As others have commented online, “Cortez The Killer” was, well, killer,
and the only song of the night where he really let his guitar do what
it does so well – sing. (But you know, even though that song is one of
the best tracks on my favourite Neil album, the sentiment still really
bugs me because he suggests that sacrificing children is OK if you
think you’re going to get some mystical benefit from it. It doesn’t
exactly support his case against Cortez. There – I’ve written a song
about that, but now I’ve said it openly for the first time!)

For me, another highlight of the evening was “Words”. That was the only
song in which Neil played his white Gretsch and I hate to say this,
but it sounded way better than his legendary Les Paul, “Old Black”. I
think the cleaner, bitier sound helped make up for the muddiness of the
PA. I had never really loved this song on Harvest, but tonight the 11/8
time signatures (or whatever they are) sounded perfectly natural and
even swinging. Marjie hated it though!

The finale of “A Day In The Life” was brilliant. It’s a great song that
the Beatles made kinda difficult to cover (although I have a 45rpm
record of Wes Montgomery doing it) but it was good to hear it being
done so well by Neil. He and his band are as capable of doing
cacophonous wig-outs as anyone, as we all know, but they somehow
managed to make the orchestral crescendos sound remarkably like the Sgt
Pepper version! I was sure I could hear the swirling strings but it was
coming out of bass, drums, piano, organ and guitars. For the second
crescendo he proceeded to break all the strings on “Old Black” and thrash the
pickups with them, at great length and to noisy effect. The middle bit
(woke up, fell out of bed) was perhaps a little off, and Nil seemed to
be forgetting the words or forgetting to go up to the microphone, but
the overall effect was unforgettable.

Pegi had utilised the illuminated vibraphone in a pleasantly Motownish
way earlier in the evening, but for the climax of “A Day In The Life”
Neil ran up to where it was located at the back of the stage and hit a
percussive version of the Beatles’ famous piano chord. Not quite as
cute as the Rutles’ “plonk”, but a good way to end.

Review by DC Cardwell (www.dccardwell.com)

FULL SET LIST (thanks to http://www.setlist.fm)

1. Love And Only Love
2. Sea Change
3. Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere
4. I’ve Been Waiting For You
5. Spirit Road
6. Cortez The Killer
7. Cinnamon Girl
8. Mother Earth
9. The Needle And The Damage Done
10. Light A Candle
11. Four Strong Winds
12. Unknown Legend
13. One Of These Days
14. Get Back To The Country
15. Words
16. Just Singing A Song
17. Rockin’ In The Free World
18. A Day In The Life