So we’re back with Volume 2 of our journey into Music and what has led each of us to enjoy the tunes we listen to today. This time we’re heading out of the comfort of home and off to the local “virtual venue”, getting some virtual beer spilled on the Levi’s and maybe even queuing for some virtual merch!! Attendance at the venue has swelled to sell-out proportions too – this month we have David Ashman, Jesse Cotton, Jarrod Cotton, Luke Thomas, and Troy Goostrey joined by Andrew O’Callaghan, Chris Marshall and Belinda Gibson all on debut.
Let’s forge on with the question’s and responses – I hope you enjoy!
1. Who is the best live act you have seen?? Where was it and what made them special??
David: One of the first big live acts for me that was up there in terms of best was R.E.M. in their prime early 90’s. But I must admit, Radiohead in Melbourne in 2005 is probably the greatest for me. A band just completely in sync with one another and not like N-Sync in the way they went about things. Thome Yorke apologised because he said his voice was fucked on the night but his voice sounded alright to me. Holy shit! What a unique sound they can produce live from five of them on stage.
Jesse: To be a good live act to me, you have to be technically good, play/sing with passion, make gigs feel like each one is unique and find the right balance with audience interaction. Based on that, I’m going to give the “best live act in my gig-going life” award to Pearl Jam over Muse.
However, the best live performance I’ve been to was in 2005, but it’s mainly for the circumstances surrounding it. I was living in London at the time, and had a spare weekend so decided to spend it elsewhere. When looking for places to go, I noticed that R.E.M. were playing in Vienna that Friday, but it had already sold out. I thought nothing more of it, but decided to fly to Vienna anyway. I was just walking down a street not too far away from the venue, and this guy stops me in the street and starts asking me questions in German. I ask him if he spoke English, turns out he was trying to offer me an R.E.M. ticket. At half the cost. It would’ve been rude not to help the guy out, so I took the ticket off his hands. Doors to the gig weren’t opening for another hour, but seeing I was nearby I walked to the venue to check it out. There was a small lineup, so I joined it. When doors opened, the first 100 people in that line (including me) got into this tiny section right at the front. It felt weird, being by myself, surrounded by people I don’t understand, while also being a couple of arms length from Stipey.
Jarrod: For a while my favourite concert was Smashing Pumpkins at the Entertainment Centre touring Mellon Collie. Siamese Dream, the album before this one is on my Mount Rushmore so I think I caught them at their peak. Billy Corgan (with silver pants and newly shaved head) and one of my all time favourite drummers Jimmy Chamberlain blew the audience away that night. Really didn’t think anyone would top that, but….This got usurped by Radiohead at Rod Laver Arena touring Hail to the Thief. Looking back this concert had around a three year build up for me. Radiohead had already peaked as a straight rock band in Australia with Ok Computer with multiple entries in the Hottest 100. They decided next (probably to the chagrin of their record company) to release Kid A, which was a complete departure musically from what had made them famous. I loved them before but this experimentation with composition, sound and technology got me really interested. Next album was Amnesiac and then Hail to the Thief, all three had no comparison in my mind to what other bands were doing at time. So by the time we were due to see them I was so intrigued and hyped to see how they could recreate this triplet of albums live. I really couldn’t believe that they had exceeded my expectations after all of this lead up. I was so dumbfounded and amazed that I remember saying afterwards that this was our generation’s Beatles. That sounds bold, even writing it, but I still stand by that statement today.
Luke: Radiohead at Rod Laver Arena – the best quality sound I have ever heard come off of a stage – five blokes at the top of their game. Also met my now wife that weekend. Pretty solid 48 hours.
Troy: I’m taking some liberties here and providing 3 answers!! I have one clear fave of all time, with the image to the left to assist!! But I feel two others must have a shout out to do this question justice. So best overall show I’ve seen so far was a bit of a surprise concert – little publicised show – by De La Soul at the Adelaide Fringe in February 2011. They played in a tent for about 150-200 people in the original Gluttony precinct (next to Tandanya) and each and every person there seemed like a massive fan as everyone was right into it, signing and jumping about – wooden bench seating helped enhance the vibe too! Intimate venue which made it special, with a truly sensational atmosphere as everyone was so close to the stage. Then even better to have a chat and share some hot chips with Trugoy (Dave) and Maseo after the gig!!
To branch out into Arena and Stadium shows though, I’ll throw in Bruce Springsteen at the Adelaide Entertainment Centre (2014) and Coldplay at Etihad Stadium (2016) (now/currently Marvel Stadium) to cover those categories. The Boss was 64 or 65 when I saw him a five years back and he played non-stop for well over 3 hours straight, putting acts half his age to shame. Such a range of hits and he put 110% effort into giving the fans what they came to see – sent shivers down my spine when “Born to Run” was belted out. So glad I finally got to see him and he’s not in one of the next two answers now!!
As for Coldplay, I’m not a massive fan of theirs, but Sandra and I were keen to see them and a number of her family members were all heading over to Melbourne to see them on their “A Head Full of Dreams” tour so we grabbed tickets too… and I’ll say anytime Coldplay are back in Oz, we’ll be checking the calendar to see if we can make another show. They were absolutely awesome Live!! Anyone who hasn’t seen them – even if you’re not their biggest fan – get to one of their arena shows. They didn’t disappoint with the wide catalogue to choose from, endless energy and great stage presence, plus the whole experience with visuals and audience participation – a really memorable show.
Andrew: Tricky to answer this, so I have divided it into venue size:
Stadium: Dire Straits Brothers in Arms show at Footy Park (1984). First big concert for me.
Arena: Red Hot Chilli Peppers at Entertainment Centre (2002). John Frusciante was still playing with them.
Chris: Toss up between Chisel’s Last Stand at the Apollo, Adelaide, 1983 and Foo Fighters last year (2018) at Coopers stadium. Two flat out rock bands, just…rocking it! Chisel totally kicked arse, and as a recent emigree from the third world (England) I barely knew their back catalogue of songs/albums, but that didn’t matter. No frills, no pyro, no stage production, just a sweaty, vodka-fuelled, big-bollocked performance by an accomplished rock band saying farewell to their fans. Pure excitement, pure adrenalin and emotion, mind blowing musical virtuosity…and those voices; Barnes and Moss. Barnes with the angst and edge (and when he still had the full range…hitting those high notes pitch perfect), inducing goosebumps. Moss, the velvety blues hues and syrupy vibrato. Chalk and cheese, but put em together in those wonderful harmonies, and….psshhhccckkkk-blam (the sound of yer brain exploding. NB, yours might sound different). Only expletives suffice from here on so best leave it there!
Fooeys…was lucky enough to see them just after the release of their first album when really, at that point, you were just going to see the Nirvana drummer’s new band. This time (2018), you were seeing the best rock band around. The key word for this show was “fun”. They still rocked (seriously rocked!), but their performance “let you in”, providing a rare insight into the band and it’s distinct family/fraternal feel. With that back catalogue, every song was a killer and a crowd pleaser, plus they did the coolest thing…segued songs together 4 or 5 at a time, so it was relentless! The sound for an outdoor show was flawless, and fucking MASSIVE! Plus, got to see Dave Grohl play the drums, something he didn’t do back in the 90’s gig. It doesn’t get better than that.
Honourable mention goes to the Sabbath show in 2013 at Adelaide Entertainment Centre. Firstly, momentous given they are irrefutably, indisputably and empirically the best band ever in the history of the universe (a sentiment echoed by all of The Deer John’s, especially Andrew). Secondly, the best sound I’ve ever encountered at a live gig. We must have hit the sweet spot, front centre, just back from the mosh pit. It was amazing, crystal clear, brilliantly mixed and ENORMOUS! The bass and kick drum were experienced audibly AND and viscerally, threatening at times to take over your heart and use it as a metronome. Guitar, so dirty and heavy yet clear as a bell, kicking an endorphin rush. Vocals subtly astride the mix…perfect. War Pigs live by the the same band that recorded it 43 years earlier; tick that bucket list!!
Finally, must tack on Macca (Paul, not Ronald) in 2018 at the MCG. Ex-Beatle, best selling song writer/performer in history….this needs no further embellishment.
NOTE: To illustrate the caliber of these performances, I had to rule out Ozzy Osbourne, The Who, Muse, Soundgarden, Pink Floyd, Faith No More, Mr Bungle, The Used, Dire Straits (although they were quiet dire), My Chemical Romance, Tool, Alice In Chains, Green Day, Iron Maiden, Placebo, Rob Zombie, G’N’F’N’R, Acker/Dacker, Sonic Youth and…the Kop End at Anfield singing “You’ll Never Walk Alone”.
Belinda: My best live act would have to be my first. 8th March 1995 – Pearl Jam supported by The Meanies on their Vitalogy tour at Memorial Drive. They started out with Release. I remember it being completely dark and them starting to play. When they got to the line “Can you see us now…” all the lights came on to a huge cheer from the crowd. This was also my first experience of ending up in the bottom of a mosh pit pile. Luckily a security guard pulled me up. They let me stand on the side of the sound mixing tent to watch the rest of the concert. I still don’t know how we ever managed to reconnect with friends after those shows when we didn’t have phones!
2. Which artist/group would you have loved to see live & why, but have missed the opportunity as they are no longer together/no longer with us??
David: Bloody good question Goose. The best one so far and why it has taken a while to think about this one. There is of course The Beatles and Led Zeppelin that I would love to see play in front of my very eyes. Maybe a later band like Soundgarden so I could have heard Chris Cornell shredding his voice. That would have been bloody awesome. I have to think about another thing that is great about concerts. Bands that care to put on a David Bowie sound and vision experience that makes your mind blow like in a Tenacious D movie.
I think I would have loved to have seen Pink Floyd. After I saw their shows on the old trusty VCR even after Roger Waters had left, I would have loved to have seen a live show of theirs. I think they kind of invented the whole experience of lets just do something different then just sitting or standing in a baseball stadium. I remember getting the Pulse video and stretching the VHS tape to the Beta Max. Hearing and seeing Shine On You Crazy Diamond wherever, would have been a big buzz to me and send a shiver down the spine.
Jesse: I’d be surprised if The Beatles aren’t at least on most people’s short list here. Of course, they would’ve been great to have seen live, although not many people got the opportunity with their live career only lasting 6 years, albeit at a pace that would make Mike D’Antoni proud. And even then, how much would you really experience The Beatles with a stadium full of screaming girls drowning out their amps which would be about on a par with the equipment the Teaswillers had at Ash’s parents’ New Years Eve gig. So in a way, everyone missed out on them.
Equal first with The Beatles is Greg playing live in a wine tent at Barossa Under The Stars headlined by Joe Cocker. After aout half an hour of singing, Greg’s voice sounded like someone put a peg on the pimply teenage “I dropped your taco” guy from The Simpsons, and he had a full hour here. Then, one of the other acts pulls out, and lo and behold, Greg now has 2 hours to fill. What’s he going to do? Pull out an original or two. A bottle of Mt Franklin. A loose tie. And a grandpa cap. Brighter days are gonna come and brighten up our lives.
Jarrod: Nirvana at the first Big Day Out in 1992 would’ve been awesome! I was in year 12 at the time with no money to splurge so it didn’t align for me, but knowing what I know now and how important their music has been for me personally this would be on the shortlist if I owned a “special “ Delorean. They would have only included songs off of the first two albums but in saying that the band were at a stage in their career before the fame became tedious and serious drugs took hold. Great gig I’m guessing.
P.S. Greg Welden and his flying guitars at Barossa under the Stars came under serious consideration for this category. This doesn’t make the cut because it would have come under the comedy genre. Anyway I have had two Tomcats fighting outside my window so I guess I’ve come close to what it would have been like.
Luke: I would happily part with my left nut to travel back in time and see Dire Straits circa 1983, Alchemy Tour. Mark Knopfler on fire in that era, with a cracking band around him.
Troy: I’m going to go with Prince for this one, or whatever variant of his name/alter ego you prefer!! I’ve heard from others who had seen him live, his shows were unbelievable. Sandra and I looked into costs and tickets for his Sydney Opera House show in 2016 but it just didn’t work out at the time – and who knows if we’d have been lucky enough to get a ticket anyway. Little did we or anyone know what fate lie ahead for him in the months that followed. Sadly, I’ll never be able to make the choice again to try and catch one of his shows, so props to anyone who did manage to see him live.
Andrew: A toss up between The Beatles and Jimi Hendrix. Beatles for being the Kings of songwriting, Hendrix for being the king of guitar
Chris: Weird answer to this, coz it’s the inimitable Ozzy Osbourne, and I’ve seen him live twice with his own band (88 in the UK, 98 at Thebby) and twice with the reformed Sabbath (2013 and 2015, both at the Entertainment Centre). Here comes the BUT: I never saw his “Blizzard of Ozz” band, his first solo outfit, featuring the late Randy Rhoads. Music history is littered with exceptional and innovative guitar virtuosos; Berry, Hendrix, Clapton, Townshend, Page, Blackmore, Van Halen et al who all revolutionised guitar playing in contemporary music. As brilliant as they each were, they’re eclipsed by the shadow of the young 20 year old plucked from obscurity by Ozzy to front his new solo outfit after being slung from Sabbath. Only 2 studio albums, 1 official live album and countless bootlegs survive his untimely death in a plane crash in March 1982. He was rare in the rock world; not remotely interested in the trappings of fame and debauchery that came with the gig, he was a musician and NOT a rock star. So devoted to his instrument, even when on tour at the very peak of Ozzy’s new found fame, in every town he’d seek out the best guitar tutor and go take some lessons! He grew up in and around his mum’s music shop/teaching studio, and by 14 he WAS the guitar teacher, such was his proficiency. A voracious appetite for all styles of music, he mastered all of the technically weird and wonderful stylings and scales of classical music and fused them into his own brand of playing. He was, and still is, peerless. Every song on those 2 albums are guitar masterpieces; listening to them now is still both thrilling and sad. When I heard of John Lennon’s death in 1980, needless to say I was shocked and appalled. When I heard of Randy’s death in 1982, I was disconsolate and devastated beyond comprehension…I’ll never get to hear a new Randy Rhoads song, and I’ll never get to see him play live!
Belinda: I would have loved to see The Cranberries live. I missed the chance to see them in Adelaide as they were here the same week as my first Pearl Jam concert! (4th March 1995) On their next tour they didn’t come to Adelaide and unfortunately that was my last chance.
3. Which artist/group would you still like to see live & why (and may still yet get the opportunity to see them if the planets align!)
David: I could come out here and just say this straight away, there could be some time for The Knopf. Dire Straits could get back together and rock out. But I must admit I need JF to make a comeback. Oh hang on, he already has. Give it up Johnny. You too Kiss. And you too U2. Actually I reckon the Police would still be able to tour again, supported by Macca! There you go, I can see at least one Beatle in my life. Sir Paul can back up Sting along with the Knopf. What a trio.
Jesse: This is an easy one.
The first time I had been overseas to the USA in 1998, Radiohead decided to play in Adelaide. That’s okay, there’ll always be another time.
Next time Radiohead played in Adelaide was 2004. Luke Tiger and I were flying around the world and I could have either come home and gone to Radiohead the night I landed, or fly back to London. I chose the latter. Surely I’ll be able to see them in London anyway, right? They never toured in the 18 months I was there, and when they toured Australia again in 2012 as a big enough band to not have to play in Adelaide, tickets sold out in the blink of an eye. I thought time might actually be running out here, so I got tickets from a guy through ebay for some over-the-top price, and I was heading off to Melbourne. Or so I thought. The guy cancels on me, can’t remember why but I’m sure what he said wasn’t the truth anyway. One of these days, Radiohead, one of these days…POW right in the kisser.
Jarrod: Broken Bells – James Mercer’s (The Shins) collaboration with Danger Mouse. It is only really a side project and the last release was a couple of songs in 2015 so the chances are slim of them touring Australia but, never know. I really enjoyed both albums and also The Shins at Thebarton (not the Barton) Theatre were really polished, great music/ liveshow. I really think Broken Bells live would be worth seeing.
Luke: Can’t say anything is jumping out at me at the moment. Always keen for a Pearl Jam show, and must say I’m looking forward to U2 later in the year, more because I am interested in seeing the Joshua Tree played in full than anything.
Troy: Another question I need to provide 3 answers to unfortunately. I just can’t do this justice with the one name!! First to come to mind – and I’ve missed a couple of recent opportunities to remove from my list – is Sting. I only really started to appreciate Sting – and then rediscovered The Police – following buying a DVD copy of a show he did on the evening of September 11, 2001 at his estate in Italy. The songs, sound, and setting of that show I fell in love with and with it set against the backdrop of the world changing events which occurred that day, you can just tell from watching the show it was a really special event. Soon after I went back through all his previous work with more attention to detail and appreciation for his artistry. I’ve also since added his solo albums plus some Police albums to my vinyl collection too, all that is left now is to see him live.
Then, with my love for Hip Hop I have to admit I’d like to catch Dr Dre. “The Chronic” was a classic album for the genre, not to mention his work with N.W.A. prior to that, plus the many and varied collaborations and productions over the years. I suspect with his billons of dollars secure from the sale of Beats Audio to Apple, he won’t be playing anytime soon. But I can live in hope that he’ll hit the road again one day and maybe, just maybe I can see him live.
Finally, a bit of a left field more modern answer too. In the last decade, the work of Frank Ocean has intrigued me and although I haven’t spoken with anyone who has seen him live, he’s on my list. His “Channel Orange” album would be in my top 5 from this decade we’re about to close and he’s certainly someone I’m keen to track down on a future tour.
Andrew: Muse – their live shows sound great, and their intensity is great.
or possibly Hall & Oates. Legends.
(Editor note: Thanks Andrew, stoked you enabled me to get some 80’s big hair on this post!!)
Chris: Tricky…so many to choose from, so I had to add my own criteria to narrow it down; it must be someone I’ve never seen before. The Cure. I’ve never seen them before, and frankly, I’d love to see them…get mown down in a hail of bullets for crimes against music. Once that particular blight has been expunged from the musical landscape, then I’d love to see a reprise of “Scruffbag and the Guv’nor“, having missed it first time around. Hopefully they’ll come out of retirement and fulfill that dream. Beyond that, I’d love to see Queens of the Stone Age. The selfish bastards timed their show in Adelaide last year with my overseas trip so I missed out. Josh Homme is a genius with a totally unique voice and sense of melody, quirky and clever, and their songs are eclectic, wonderful and head-bangingly good. I know quite a few people who went to last year’s show and, without exception, unanimously lauded it. One particular friend who accompanied me to the Foo’s gig last year and was equally as enamored as myself, told me that the QOTSA was even better! Say no more.
Belinda: The first artist that came to mind for this one was Elton John. Obviously I could have had the opportunity to see him at the end of this year. Silly me waited to check if Dad wanted to join me, he wasn’t as keen as I thought and by the time I went to get tickets I was too late. I guess there’s always a chance to pick up some tickets from the scalpers… or given its an outdoor event just find a spot somewhere nearby.
And that’s it! Volume 2 complete and I hope you had as much fun reading so many and varied answers as I did as I was receiving these responses. Great work!!
Now I’ll get thinking for Volume 3 to hit the stands in another month or so…