Live From DC’s, S02 Ep18: DC Cardwell live online with special guest Tony Sables

Our good friend Tony Sables​ joined us on lead guitar for our 19 Sep 2015 free online concert. It was very impromptu even by our standards! I’d been bugging him for ages to come and join in, but this day he happened to come over for a visit when he heard we were moving to Tasmania. And we decided to do the show right away, as you do!

Something by George Harrison

I knew Tony was pretty handy with Beatles guitar parts so here he is on our version of George Harrison’s Abbey Road standard,  “Something”

The Mighty Mondo Quinn

Our mutual friend Mondo Quinn was watching the show and both he and Tony had recently been to see “The Manfreds” (a modern reincarnation of Manfred Mann featuring several original members including Paul Jones & Mike D’Abo).

So, as a tribute to Mondo, we did this ramshackle version of one of their biggest hits, Bob Dylan’s “Basement Tapes”  classic “The Mighty Quinn”

So… thanks to all who watched and a special thanks to Tony! More videos to come as I get time to edit them, but things are pretty hectic with our big “overseas” move coming up!

<!– Go HERE to watch the show: NMBlive.com/dccardwell –>

 

Thought You’d Heard All Of The Basement Tapes? Think Again!

What an incredible body of work Dylan has put out, and he (or his record company) continues to do so at an ever-increasing rate, both new material and, with the Bootleg Series, a large archive of previously unreleased music. And for fans, almost all of it is precious in one way or another.

The Basement Tapes

Marjorie and I fell in love with the original Basement Tapes when we got the album way back just a few years after it was finally released on LP, a staggering eight years after it was recorded. I know, it doesn’t quite seem the eon that it did at the time. In 1975, 1967

Bob Dylan-basement-tapes-Bootleg-Series-Vol-11

seemed almost antediluvian!  And these recordings, made by Dylan and the band in the basement of their Woodstock abode, Big Pink, and in various other domiciles, had become the stuff of legend. Some of the tapes had been passed around as demo tapes for other artists to cover, and had found their way into the hands of collectors, eventually being released on what is considered the first ever bootleg, The Great White Wonder.

I’ve been listening to that original release again very recently and it’s still amazing. Sure, you have to have a certain appreciation of absurd humour to appreciate most of the original songs, seemingly composed on the spot in many cases. And it’s not glossy, it’s jammy, offhand playing, although it’s actually a lot more sophisticated than the home-recorded circumstances might have suggested.

The Basement Tapes Complete: The Bootleg Series Vol. 11

So now we have SIX CDs of it to look forward to!

Newly discovered tapes have added to the archive, and the compilation has been overseen by Garth Hudson and Canadian music archivist and producer Jan Haust.

The original release focused on original songs, but this hugely expanded release ranges from traditional folk, country, blues and gospel to more recent and contemporary songwriters such as Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, even the likes of Bob Crewe and Curtis Mayfield.

I actually found out about this when I reloaded the fascinating and ground-breaking iPhone app: “Bob Dylan: The Bootleg Series“, which originally only dealt with the recent expanded Self Portrait release. The app takes the old art of liner notes to a new level, being an extensive compendium of photos and information about the music, and the ability to play the songs while reading about them.

Bob_Dylan_and_The_Band_-_The_Basement_Tapes

Cover of the original 1975 Basement Tapes album

Anyway, as I was saying, I went back to the app last night and discovered that there’s a new song on there! “Odds And Ends” from the upcoming expanded Basement Tapes! How cool!

There will also be a 2-CD condensation for the more casual listener: BOB DYLAN- THE BASEMENT TAPES RAW: THE BOOTLEG SERIES VOL. 11

Listen to the preview track, courtesy of Rolling Stone, at the link below from Dylan’s official website:

http://www.bobdylan.com/us/news/bob-dylans-basement-tapes-complete-bootleg-series-vol-11-set-november-4-release

And look at the mouthwatering track listing!

New Beatles solo covers – check ’em out!

Hi – DC here!

We came back from a trip to Ireland a few weeks ago and on my return I decided to focus on updating my Youtube channels and adding some more videos.

I have new original songs in the pipeline but people on Youtube seem to love covers so I’ve been knocking off a few and plan to do more as it’s kinda fun and easy 🙂

My latest two have both been Beatles’ solo songs.

Just yesterday I filmed this version of John Lennon’s “Love”

And last week, after seeing the George Harrison documentary by Martin Scorsese, I recorded this ukulele version of “Here Comes The Sun”.

I hope you like them. Please share on Facebook and via email. And if you’re on Youtube, I’d LOVE you to subscribe to my channels so you can hear about each new video I upload.

Here are the links to our three channels.

Thanks for watching & listening!

~ DC

PRESS
“Melbourne’s DC Cardwell is a singer-songwriter that should appeal to fans of Neil Finn and David Grahame, and he has the ability to excel on both the slower, acoustic numbers as well as the up-tempo pop gems. You’ll only need to go a few tracks into Some Hope to realize this as the beautiful, gentle opener “I Am Still the Same” and the lovely, spare “Birthday Present” are followed by the catchy power pop of “Peace and Love”. Aside from these three, there are plenty of instant classics to go around like the breezy “Way With Words”, the harmonica and handclaps of “A Minute of Your Time”, and the jangly “Tom is Everybody’s Friend”. 16 tracks in all here, so it’s quality and quantity.”  Steve, Absolute Powerpop

“DC Cardwell creates a heart felt acoustic gem here, full of wonderful melodic hooks and a Ray Davies styled vocal. The gentle minor chords and harmonies that open “I Am Still The Same” are both brilliant and poignant. “Birthday Present” is another example of solid composition and a revelatory Harrison styled guitar break. Some of the mid-tempo ballads (“The Quiet Ages”) are like magical combinations of both Paul Simon and McCartney.”  Aaron Kupferberg, Powerpopaholic

“I have a great respect for your songwriting and style. You have a unique delivery that for the uninitiated conjures the vocal prowess of Thom York blended with the edge of John Lennon and a tip of the hat to Bob Dylan.”  Doug Mitchell (Recording engineer/producer),

 ReverbNation       Twitter       Artist Website       other

The Adjectival Bob Dylan

Today we have a guest host – our son Samuel Cardwell posted this on Facebook and it’s too good not to share with the world!

___________________

This morning my father and I were talking about how rubbish it would have been if people had kept calling albums things like ‘With the Beatles’ and ‘The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan,’ and I got to wondering what it would have been like if Bob had kept using ‘The + Adjective+ Bob Dylan’ formula throughout his long career. I think it would have gone something like this:

 

  • The Hillbilly Bob Dylan (Bob Dylan)
  • The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan
  • The Political Bob Dylan (The Times They Are A Changin’)
  • The Sarcastic Bob Dylan (Another Side of Bob Dylan)
  • The Dreamin’ Bob Dylan (Bringing It All Back Home)
  • The Growlin’ Bob Dylan (Highway 61 Revisited)
  • The Surreal Bob Dylan (Blonde on Blonde)
  • The Garagey Bob Dylan (The Basement Tapes)
  • The Countrified Bob Dylan (John Wesley Harding)
  • The Weird-Voiced Bob Dylan (Nashville Skyline)
  • The Desultory Bob Dylan (Self Portrait)
  • The Optimistic Bob Dylan (New Morning)
  • The Cinematic Bob Dylan (Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid)
  • The Desultory Bob Dylan Vol. 2 (Dylan)
  • The Married Bob Dylan (Planet Waves)
  • The Divorced Bob Dylan (Blood on the Tracks)
  • The Collaboratin’ Bob Dylan (Desire)
  • The Shrill Bob Dylan (Street Legal)
  • The Evangelical Bob Dylan (Slow Train Coming)
  • The Devotional Bob Dylan (Saved)
  • The Hymnal Bob Dylan (Shot of Love)
  • The Reggae Bob Dylan (Infidels)
  • The Downhill Bob Dylan (Empire Burlesque)
  • The Regrettable Bob Dylan (Knocked Out Loaded)
  • The Forgettable Bob Dylan (Down In The Groove)
  • The Revitalised Bob Dylan (Oh Mercy)
  • The Giddy Bob Dylan (Under the Red Sky)
  • The Musicological Bob Dylan (Good As I Been To You)
  • The Musicological Bob Dylan Vol. 2 (World Gone Wrong)
  • The Bleak Bob Dylan (Time Out Of Mind)
  • The Pre-War Bob Dylan (“Love and Theft”)
  • The Languid Bob Dylan (Modern Times)
  • The Cajun Bob Dylan (Together Through Life)
  • The Joyeux Bob Dylan (Christmas in the Heart)

___________________

I think that list of Samuel’s is pretty much spot-on but does anyone have any other suggestions?

Bob Dylan at Slane Castle, Dublin,1984 - photos by DC Cardwell

New DC Cardwell Album “Some Hope” Now Available!


The first reviews of my new album “Some Hope” are coming in!

This is my first “proper” release, and it’s available at Bandcamp, CD Baby and also from my own website, www.dccardwell.com. It’s in a very nice gatefold cardboard, vinyl-style sleeve and is basically a 16-song summation of my career so far.

You can also download it from iTunes, and amazon.com. (EDIT: and Spotify]

~ DC

Cover of DC Cardwell’s “Some Hope”


“DC Cardwell creates a heart felt acoustic gem here, full of wonderful melodic hooks and a Ray Davies styled vocal. The gentle minor chords and harmonies that open “I Am Still The Same” are both brilliant and poignant. “Birthday Present” is another example of solid composition and a revelatory Harrison styled guitar break. Some of the mid-tempo ballads (“The Quiet Ages”) are like magical combinations of both Paul Simon and McCartney.” – Aaron Kupferberg, Powerpopaholic

“Seriously I have a great respect for your songwriting and style. You have a unique delivery that for the uninitiated conjures the vocal prowess of Thom York blended with the edge of John Lennon and a tip of the hat to Bob Dylan. Bravo DC!!” – Doug Mitchell (record producer/engineer)

“DC Cardwell helps to prove my theory that the closer you get to Antarctica, the happier your songs sound… everyone from Crowded House to Midnight Oil, seems to have a knack for sweet melodies; and DC is no exception.” – Bruce Greenberg, LIVE365.com

“Exceptionally fine songs, DC. Who knew that depression, bitter irony, loneliness and mistrust could be so much fun? I’m not saying that sarcastically. You dig deep with such gentle and humorous resignation it’s impossible not to enjoy the bitter truths you unearth. I can’t pick a favorite song. They’re all my favorites.” – Christopher Morse (songwriter/publisher)

“An album filled with publishable songs and potential television soundtracks perhaps for the likes of shows like ‘Friends’ or ‘That 70’s Show’.” – Donna Greene (Global Thunda Network)

PLUS: Other Recording In Los Angeles

As well as my own self-recorded “Some Hope” album, In December I had the immense privilege of recording in Los Angeles with Jaymee Carpenter of Holliston Stops fame. Jaymee is known as a successful music supervisor, film/TV composer and producer and has two songs in the new film “The Fighter” starring Mark Wahlberg and Christian Bale. We recorded six of my songs, five of which are for a film which will be released in late 2011/early 2012. The movie is being produced and directed by some very notable Hollywood people including Michael Garcia, former Creative Vice-President of HBO, so it’s a wonderful opportunity for me and my music! I’ve made a little mini-documentary about my experience in L.A. which you can see RIGHT HERE, and in it you can also hear some of the music we recorded for the movie.

More from The Band

Treated myself to the Last Waltz Box Set today. Enjoyed disc 1 so far – really nice stuff that’s not on the original album or in the film. 

I downloaded it years ago from N#$^%er or some such place, but it sounded really weedy and disappointing, but it must have been either the bootleg version or badly ripped because the sound quality on this set is fine.

This Wheels On Fire” is the most rollicking, least creepy version I’ve heard. And the live version of “The Weight”  is great. Muddy Waters swinging through“Caldonia” is also great fun.

The Band really were amazing for a big 70s rock band. They could play many rootsy styles of music with great authenticity, especially blues-based and New Orleans styles. Imagine any other major rock act of the time having to back up Muddy Waters, Paul Butterfield, Van Morrison, Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan, Bobby Charles, Dr. John etc, and doing it with such aplomb.

Considering that they were known for getting away from the whole white-blues-rock thing and creating original music that in some ways reached further back, and in other ways pointed the way forward, they were soundly based in the rock and roll form. As is also clear from the early 60s Hawks material on the “Musical History” box set.

Three discs to go!

Any new Robbie Robertson guitar solo is a joy and we never get sick of that squeaky thing he does on his Strat. Do you think he means it? Everyone lauds him for it, but maybe he can’t help it and it really annoys him! 😉

~ DC

DC’s 15 Albums In 15 Minutes

THE RULES:  Don’t take too long to think about it. Fifteen albums you’ve heard that will always stick with you. List the first fifteen you can recall in no more than fifteen minutes. Tag fifteen friends, including me, because I’m interested in seeing what albums my friends choose. (To do this, go to your Notes tab on your profile page, paste rules in a new note, cast your fifteen picks, and tag people in the note).

Here goes – I tried to resist this latest question doing the rounds on Facebook, I really did! I think the last note I wrote was my top 20 albums. And I think I did my top 10 once as well. What will they think of next? Your Top 17?

This time I’m limiting it to “rock and roll” in the good old, 70s, wide sense of the term. And Hank Williams. Albums that really touched me, moved me, and each in their own way influenced me profoundly. I allowed compilations, but not multi-artist compilations. And one album per artist, with John and Paul cheating to get in by simply managing to make two of the greatest “solo albums” of all time. No Bob Dylan, which is really really really really silly, but I somehow forgot him until the 15 spaces were filled. And same goes for Bowie (David, not Lester or Zowie). And The Rolling Stones. No NZ representatives because Split Enz and Crowded House never quite managed to make a perfect album (for me – no flaming please – oh well – go ahead!) and, well, Mutton Birds and Dave Dobbyn did but I had to draw the line at 15 and the people in this list are all earlier formative influences. And nothing Australian or Irish. Oh crap, I forgot The Finn Brothers first solo album “Finn”, which IS perfect. And ABBA, although the perfect compilation only exists as a CD-R in my collection. And The Band! And Kate & Anna McGarrigle! And Richard & Linda Thompson! And Zep! Who said it had to be 15 albums?

Oh, and Hank Williams gets in just because he’s Hank.

01 – The Beatles – Revolver (of course)

02 – Hank Williams – 40 Greatest Hits (natch)

03 – Elvis Presley – The Sun Sessions (well like duh…)

04 – Al Green – The Belle Album

05 – Aretha Franklin – 30 Greatest Hits

06 – Neil Young – Zuma

07 – Larry Norman – Only Visiting This Planet

08 – Rezillos – Can’t Stand The Rezillos

09 – Buzzcocks – Love Bites

10 – The Alpha Band – The Statue Makers Of Hollywood

11 – Paul McCartney & Wings – Band On The Run

12 – John Lennon And The Plastic Ono Band – John Lennon And The Plastic Ono Band

13 – Stevie Wonder – The Original Musiquarium

14 – T-Bone Burnett – Truth Decay

15 – Sam Phillips – Cruel Inventions

For a more comprehensive (but by no means exhaustive) list of some of my fave artists, allow me to cut and paste from my fabulous MySpace page (which incidentally is at http://www.myspace.com/dccardwell)

Sam Phillips, The Beatles, Ringo Starr, George Harrison, Paul McCartney, John Lennon, George Martin, Neil Young, Al Green, T Bone Burnett, The Alpha Band, The Clark Sisters, The Rezillos, The Kinks, The Staple Singers, The Mutton Birds, Bob Dylan, Hank Williams, Elvis Presley, Aretha Franklin, Crowded House, Neil Finn, Tim Finn, Phil Judd, Split Enz, Nick Lowe, Dave Edmunds, The Heptones, Jackie Mittoo, Wild Man Fischer, Toots & The Maytals, Johnny Cash, Iris Dement, Ann Peebles, The Band, The Beach Boys, Larry Norman, Lester Young, The Meters, Gillian Welch, Sloan, Buddy & Julie Miller, NRBQ, Andrae Crouch, The Fall, Thelonious Monk, Andy Pratt, Loudon Wainwright III, Ace Of Base, Stevie Wonder, Arcade Fire, Dave Dobbyn, Billie Holiday & Lester Young, The Drifters, Wreckless Eric, Rodney Cordner, Django Reinhardt, Mark Heard, Gil Askey, Kate & Anna McGarrigle, Led Zeppelin, Lefty Frizzell, The Rolling Stones, Rick Nelson, Ivor Cutler, Roy Harper, The Undertones, The Mighty Clouds Of Joy, Edwyn Collins, Vince Guaraldi, Blossom Dearie, George Jones, The Strokes, U2, Van Morrison, The Beach Boys, The Modern Jazz Quartet, The Pogues, Randy Stonehill, Nina Simone, Chuck Berry, Madeleine Peyroux, Al Bowlly, Ray Charles, James Brown, Jimmy Reed, The Everly Brothers, Gram Parsons, Elvis Costello, Velvet Underground, David Bowie, Bobby Womack, Jonathan Richman and The Modern Lovers, ABBA, Richard and Linda Thompson, Frank Black and, of course, his Fabulous Pixies, The Mills Brothers, Duke Ellington, The Byrds, The Rutles, Elmore James, Buzzcocks, Booker T & The MGs, Randy Newman, Ella Fitzgerald, Marc Bolan and T-Rex, Louis Armstrong, The Dixie Hummingbirds, Television. Let’s face it, there are too many great artists, writers and producers to list but I especially like to listen to a lot of soul music including music from the Stax and Atlantic labels, Motown, 70s soul, doo-wop, be-bop, early rock and roll, ska, reggae and New Orleans R&B.

This “20 Album” thingo off the top of my head (by Marjorie Cardwell)

One of those Facebook questions doing the rounds…

Larry Norman – Only Visiting This Planet
Led Zeppelin – Houses of the Holy
Bob Dylan – Blood On The Tracks
Buzzcocks – Love Bites
The Beatles – Revolver
Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers – Rock’n’Roll With The Modern Lovers
Alpha Band – Statue Makers of Hollywood
Elvis Presley – Gospel Album
Al Green – Belle Album
Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong duets
Sam Phillips – Cruel Inventions
Hank Snow – The Day Tragedy Struck
Hank Williams – Greatest Hits
Ricky Nelson – Greatest Hits
George Jones – Greatest Hits
John Lennon – Rock and Roll
Neil Young – After the Goldrush
Django Reinhardt and Stephan Grappelly – best of
The Harder They Come – Soundtrack
American Grafitti – Soundtrack

 

SEE ALSO: DC’s Top 20 Albums

DC’s Top 20 Albums

[From Facebook – occasionally I give in and respond to these things…]

Here we go again… how did this happen to me!

THE RULES: Think of 20 albums that had such a profound effect on you they changed your life… dug into your soul. The ones that you know backwards, forwards, up, and down, and are now a part of you. Then when you finish, tag 20 others, including me. Make sure you copy and paste this part so they know the drill.
____________________________________

I thought this would be hard but I found it surprisingly easy to think of 20 that were pivotal in my life, at least as far as music goes. Only a few have affected me in non-musical ways.

And it was actually easier to put them in (roughly) chronological order of when I first fell in love with them, which I guess indicates how important they were to me. No modern music at all, because there is no good music any more. You kids don’t know squat.

I applied the usual rule of one-album-per-artist.

And as is often the case, black music and pre-rock music of all genres is woefully under-represented because there’s less of a focus on albums. My actual listening habits are very, very broad. I love all genres, and hate most music.

– DC

01. Larry Norman – Only Visting This Planet
02. Led Zeppelin – IV
03. Neil Young – Zuma
04. Bob Dylan – Bringing It All Back Home
05. Buzzcocks – Love Bites
06. The Beatles – Revolver
07. Al Green – The Belle Album
08. Hank Williams – 40 Greatest Hits
09. Alpha Band – The Statue Makers Of Hollywood
10. Aretha Franklin – 30 Greatest Hits
11. Elvis Presley – The Sun Sessions
12. Various Artists – 20 Reggae Greats
13. Stevie Wonder – The Original Musiquarium
14. Charlie Parker – some old “Giants Of Jazz” LP
15. Ella Fitzgerald – The Cole Porter Songbook Vol. 1
16. Sam Phillips – Cruel Inventions
17. Crowded House – Woodface
18. The Mutton Birds – Salty
19. Dave Dobbyn – The Islander
20. The Strokes – Room On Fire

SEE ALSO: Marjorie’s Top 20 Albums

DC’s Review of CROWDED HOUSE at The Forum, Melbourne, 2nd Dec 2008

[Originally on Facebook Notes] Here’s my belated review of the recent top notch Crowded House show in Melbourne, Australia. I’m writing this nearly two weeks after the show, and forgetting a lot of the details, so if anyone has a recording of the show I’d love to have a copy!

BACKGROUND

Crowded House are known for their unpredictable shows with improvised music, banter and on-the-fly audience interaction, and Tuesday, 2nd December at Melbourne’s Forum Theatre was a classic of the genre. (Although I have to admit I came late to them and have only seen them live a handful of times – I do, however, have numerous live recordings and videos so I am still qualified to make this statement!)

This was the first of two Melbourne warm-up shows for the band’s appearance at Sydney’s Homebake Festival. The house was packed.

For those of you who are not already fans of the band, I should mention that they split around 1996 and sealed their career with a massive free farewell concert outside the Sydney Opera House, which was also preceded by two wonderful warm-up shows at the Corner Hotel in Melbourne which my wife Marjie and I had the pleasure of attending.

Leader Neil Finn subsequently embarked on an interesting but slightly disappointing (to me) solo career, releasing two albums on his own and one with his brother Tim, interspersed by other projects such as a Split Enz reunion tour and a collaboration with musicians such as ex-members of Radiohead, the Smiths and Pearl Jam.

In the meantime, their much loved drummer and manic funny man, Paul Hester, sadly took his own life a few years ago, leaving a big gap which seemed impossible to fill. However, to many people’s surprise, Neil reformed the band a couple of years ago the new Crowded House are producing new songs and albums and generally acting as a vital unit, unlike some play-the-hits-take-the-money-and-run nostalgia merchants.

New drummer Matt Sherrod (ex-Beck) does his job admirably from a musical point of view, and wisely doesn’t try to emulate Hester’s humour and stage presence.

Original bassist Nick Seymour and guitarist/keyboardist Mark Hart (who joined as a fully-fledged member around the recording of their last pre-split album) are also back in the fold.

THE VENUE

Melbourne can lay claim to being the band’s spiritual home as they formed here and were based here for most of their career. The Forum Theatre is a fascinating place in itself, with ‘stars’ glowing from its ceiling, and faux architecture and Roman statues visible in large balconies to each side of the stage, giving the illusion of being outdoors in an exotic locale.

Apart from diners at the back of the room, most of the audience were standing fairly well-packed in front of the stage. Marjorie and I were around ten rows of fans back from the stage, and the sound was very good and, as usual at Crowded House shows, not too loud. The drums sounded natural, without that annoying, larger-then-life quality that you get too often nowadays.

THE ENTRANCE

The band came onstage with the house and stage lights down, wearing those miner-style camping lamps that you put on your head. They played the first song, ‘Locked Out’, like that, so that you couldn’t really see their faces. I think some stage lights also swept across the audience. It was like a low-budget version of something Neil Young might do. Quite artistic, really, and it actually felt faintly moving that they might have been implying that they wanted to see the audience rather than being seen by them.

When they discarded the lamps and the stage lights came up we could see that they were wearing the trim, dapper suits that they seem to have taken to this century. Neil’s hair hasn’t got any rulier. Nick was almost shaven-headed.

A little later Neil revealed that he had cut his forehead (very slightly) taking the lamps off after the first song, and he and Nick joked about how rock’n’roll that was. They said that there was a fine line between rock’n’roll and stupidity, and I think it was Neil who wondered if there is a line at all. Someone said that rock’n’roll was stupidity with lamps attached.

They talked a bit about which shops they had searched in that day for the lamps, and of course it was endearing to know that it hadn’t been some kind of long-hatched, professionally staged stunt.

Once the lights came up we could see a fabric backdrop painted to look a little like wallpapered walls with framed paintings of various members of the band, along with a couple of slightly weird androgynous nudes. Probably Nick’s work, but I’m only guessing.

THE HELP

The band have often used auxiliary musicians over the years, with Neil’s son Liam recently holding down guitar duties, Eddie Rayner out of Split Enz playing his baroque keyboards in their early days, and I recall Jools their female roadie playing keyboards occasionally. Tonight Neil’s younger son, Elroy, lurked in the shadows playing acoustic and electric guitars for many of the songs. He sported a beard not quite as fulsome as his older brother’s, and an immaculately coiffed hairdo which could probably absorb quite a few bullets if necessary.

Rather more visible was Don McGlashan, who used to be the leader of the sadly defunct Mutton Birds, and must nearly equal Neil Finn as a beloved New Zealand singer-songwriter and all-round national treasure. Marjorie and I adored the Mutton Birds (BTW, you can see our names on ‘Flock’, their Greatest Hits CD!) so it was rather strange, and in fact unsettling, to see him up there as a general musical dogsbody and not get the chance to sing any of his own compositions. We had assumed he would be the support act, but no, that was the enjoyable but unremarkable Anika Moa.

Anyway, as I mentioned, Don was at least visually quite prominent, with a modest elevated home behind Nick stage left. He had a small electronic keyboard close to hand, a guitar or two, a little gourd-like mandolinish thingy, a toy piano, something like a fluegel horn, and of course, his trusty euphonium. When I spotted its comforting form I yelled in Marjorie’s ear, “Don’s got his euphonium!” and she nodded in enthusiastic acknowledgment. However, a minute later she yelled back in my ear, “I thought you said he’s got his wee podium!”

Don also popped up over on the Mark side of the stage playing the real keyboards once in a while.

THE MAIN SET

The review in Melbourne newspaper The Age* referred to the set as ‘fan-friendly’ and indeed it was. There was only one indisputable classic in the entire main set, ‘Fall At Your Feet’, and that didn’t come until near the end.

I guess I should fend off arguments by stating that ‘World Where You Live’, the second song, is a near-classic, but not quite of the same mass-recognisability as ‘Weather With You’ or ‘Don’t Dream It’s Over’ (which didn’t get an airing tonight).

The audience didn’t seem to mind the five new songs they played, although I have to say I found them a little dull, rather like some of the lesser songs on ‘Time On Earth’, the band’s first post-reformation album, which had started out as a Neil solo album. I expect they’ll grow on me, though.

‘Lucky’ was the title of one of the new songs and they attempted to throw in a bit of The Kinks’ ‘Lola’ but they didn’t really know the chords – there’s one to practise for next time! Another impromptu cover was ‘You Sexy Thing’, one I’ve heard them do before.

One of the greater songs on ‘Time On Earth’ was ‘Don’t Stop Now’, which to me was a little flat on this occasion. Nick seemed a little uncomfortable playing the keyboard bit at the beginning while holding his bass, and the whole thing never quite took off. I’ve seen them do it before perfectly successfully though – I guess it might have been just another thing to iron out on the warm-up show.

Pineapple Head segued into a cover of The Beatles’ ‘The End’ which was rather nice.

Neil referred to the fact that he had dreamed the previous night about being in bed with Ed O’Brien and Phil Selway out of Radiohead. Those two appeared on his ‘Seven Worlds Collide’ project a few years ago, and are scheduled to play with him again when he revisits the concept next year.

When Paul was around it seemed that almost all the banter and humour originated with him, but now Neil and Nick are almost as chatty as ever without him. Nick was famously very much against splitting the band, and you get the impression that he’s very happy indeed to be up there again. Perhaps the fact that he had become a father a few weeks previously also had a bearing on his cheerful demeanour. He talked with fondness about going that day to Bernard’s Magic Shop on Elizabeth Street which he used to visit as a child but realising now that all the toys and tricks were really crap.

At one point Neil managed to rib Nick, as he often does, about the Seymour Family Singers, his family’s band which he was in with his parents and siblings when he was growing up. Snippets from such classics as ‘Three Little Maids From School’ ensued.

The normally taciturn Mark actually went up to the mike and opened his mouth as if he was going to speak, but then changed his mind. Later on, though, he actually did come up with a few words, as I recall.

I was particularly happy to hear a couple of my favourites, ‘Not The Girl You Think You Are’ and ‘Whispers And Moans’, and the opening bars of both were greeted with warm recognition from the audience, suggesting that I am not the only one to hold those two songs in high regard. They also revived the great ‘Chocolate Cake’, which was preceded by a series of samples that featured in the Woodface recording of the song. Afterwards there were some allusions to Obama and his recently announced ‘Money Team’ but rather than give an unqualified vote of confidence to their ability to get the world out of recession, Neil circumspectly said, “we’ll just have to wait and see”.

Before the gig Marjorie and I had noted a person at the bar dressed up in fancy dress as 1965 Bob Dylan or John Cooper Clarke (take your pick) with elaborate yet immovable hair. During ‘Love You Til The Day I Die’ this creature joined the band, played a lively guitar solo and was introduced as Davey Lane from You Am I. There’s a tradition around here for people to chant “The Best Cold Beer Is Vic” at a certain point in this song, but tonight Neil had to do it himself with hardly any help from the audience, and he seemed a little disappointed. I think it was originally a Paul Hesterism, but perhaps someone can help me out with the story. The phrase itself is a slogan for our local king of beers, Victoria Bitter.

THE FIRST ENCORE

In the first encore we were treated to ‘It’s Only Natural’, another big fave of Marjie’s and mine, and it was good, as always, but they didn’t really play that odd but lovely riff properly at the beginning, and, as in all the Woodface Tim/Neil songs, Tim’s backing vocals were sorely missed. I’ve seen shows before where Mark did a reasonably good job of replicating them, but at this show they were very weak indeed and one had to sing them oneself to achieve anything approaching the desired effect. I guess this is what ‘warm-up’ shows are for!

Neil asked the audience if they had any questions for the band and then found a loose microphone on a lead and asked the audience to pass it around to the speakers. He asked us to police ourselves and was duly impressed by the orderly fashion in which this was done, and even more so by the fact that the microphone returned intact at the end of it all. (Not quite as cute as a tale I once heard of Don’s euphonium being crowd-surfed from soundboard to stage with a few detours in between.)

One guy mentioned that his wife was about to have a baby and had to miss the gig because of it. He requested that Mark think of a name for it if it turned out to be a girl, and Nick if it was a boy. He said he was serious and the name would actually be used, but Mark cruelly came up with ‘Atticus’, which he had heard on some TV program the night before. Neil made up a snatch of a song “Attaboy Addicus”. Nick asked what the surname would be (I forget) and came up with the very boring but much kinder suggestion, ‘Emily’.

Then some guy answered Neil’s earlier question to the audience about when the back balcony had got walled up by saying that when Neil played solo there in such-and-such a year it was still open, and after that gig he and his band had gone home and learned to play ‘Private Universe’. This, of course, was a cue for Neil to invite him and his friends to come up on stage and play the song, so they guy got up but the other two members took a while to materialise. So in the meantime some other enthusiastic bloke got up as well. I toyed with the idea of doing likewise but two things stopped me: (a) I don’t really like ‘Private Universe’ and (b) I wasn’t sure that I could succesfully climb up on to the stage. Of course I regretted it afterwards.

Eventually the other two guys materialised and with the help of the real band they played and sang the song. But for me the highlight was the young girl who clambered up unnoticed by Neil and proceeded to play along on Don’s euphonium! Audience participation is commonplace at Crowded House shows but I bet this was a first!

They finished the first encore with ‘Weather With You’, again suffering from sheer lack of Tim, but benefiting from Don playing enthusiastically on his little toy piano held up to the microphone and rather effective for it. This is yet another perfect singalong song, but as I’ve noticed before, there are two versions of the chorus, both of which resolve differently. Generally the audience doesn’t know which version is happening at any one time, and the thing collapses each time the resolution is reached and half the people sing a different thing from the other half. However Neil made much of the fact that, for the first time ever, we actually managed to get it right! That’s a hometown audience for you! He got us to run through it again both ways just to make sure.

THE SECOND ENCORE

Neil began by playing a lengthy drum solo while Matt wandered over to the keyboards and started making sounds. Neil attempted to get a rendition of Paul Hester’s ‘This Is Massive’ going but it didn’t really work out. Apart from this musical allusion, I don’t think Neil mentioned Paul at all, even though he was a Melbourne man and it would have seemed very natural to talk about him here. Neil regularly paid tribute to Paul frequently on the earlier tours of the reformed version of the band, but tonight he didn’t and afterwards I was absolutely amazed to realise that I had gone through the whole concert barely consciously thinking of him at all! I guess that’s a good thing in that it means that Matt is doing a great job on drums, but I almost felt guilty when it dawned on me.

Then it was ‘Fingers Of Love’ which Marjorie absolutely hates. I don’t mind it too much but Marjie’s detestation always rubs off on me a little so that I can’t really enjoy it.

Then they sang a live favourite, their version of Nick’s brother Mark’s ‘Throw Your Arms Around Me’. An audience sing-along classic if ever there was one. We were happy that Neil gave Don a verse to sing, and he sounded truly magnificent. Only made me more cross that he didn’t get to sing any of his own songs!

Neil was clearly wanting the night to go on for ever and said that he couldn’t think of a way to end it so he gave Matt a drum solo. Parts of it seemed to me to be modeled along the lines of Led Zeppelin’s ‘Moby Dick’ so I was wishing the band to come in with that riff, but they had worked another Zep riff into ‘Chocolate Cake’ earlier so perhaps they didn’t want to overdo it!

Nick treated us to a rendition of ‘Hector The Safety Cat’ which must be some old Aussie public information film. I don’t think Neil had heard that one before.

Then they finished the night with ‘Better Be Home Soon’ – always a good way to end it! Throughout the evening the band seemed genuinely moved by the reception they got, and Neil specifically said that he didn’t want it to end. The show had lasted almost three hours and after a wildly received bow or two from the entire ensemble, Nick concluded it by warmly thanking his hometown of Melbourne.

– DC Cardwell 2008

Neil Finn – some banter from the gig

SET LIST (compiled from some other versions posted on the web – may not be entirely accurate but thanks to the kind anons from whom I pinched it)

1. Locked Out
2. World Where You Live
3. Isolation
4. Turn It Round
5. Pineapple Head/The End
6. Amsterdam
7. Don’t Stop Now
8. People Are Like Suns
9. Chocolate Cake
10. Not The Girl You Think You Are
11. Heaven That I’m Making
12. Lucky/Lola
13. Fall At Your Feet
14. Whispers And Moans
15. Love You Til The Day I Die
16. When You Come

_______________

17. It’s Only Natural
18. Cars Collide
19. Private Universe
20. Distant Sun
21. Weather With You
_____________

22. Neil Drum Jam/This Is Massive
23. Fingers Of Love
24. Throw Your Arms Around Me
25. Matt Drum Solo
26. Better Be Home Soon

_____________________

*Our son Samuel had mentioned to me the review in The Age but I couldn’t find it, and after I’d thumbed through the paper for some time Marjorie revealed that she’d used a few pages to wrap the Christmas Cake as it baked in the oven. She was kind enough to save the relevant article after the cake came out, and now I know that newsprint can survive such ordeals unscathed. I’ve heard of ‘half-baked’ reviews before, but I have the ‘completely-baked’ one in front of me as I type. It looks just fine.