Month: May 2013

The Rubens in concert

THE RUBENS WITH WALK THE MOON AND BLOODS.

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It was a chilly May evening when I found myself meandering down the streets of Newtown and Enmore toward the Enmore Theatre. This weekend’s treat- The Rubens with Walk The Moon and other Triple J artists as support. What a fantastic night of music it was! The Enmore was the perfect palace for an event such as this, accommodating to all ages with a sold out floor for the last night of their tour. In the mosh pit, the crowd goes nuts and jumps to the same beat, moves to the same felt rhythm, so even if you didn’t feel like dancing, the floorboards shifted under you and you were consumed by the monster that is concert moshing. This concert’s only difference- everyone was getting in the mood, there was no reluctance here.

The first support act Bloods bathed the restless crowd in straight rock/ indie-punk to start the night- a local band with so much potential and raucous power, they definitely have a grand future ahead of them. Following Bloods came Walk The Moon-

Walk The Moon supported The Rubens as a fantastic band to gear up the crowd. They were interactive and engaging, explaining their origins as being from Ohio, USA and this made them all the more interesting. The band donned war paint before marching on stage and presented their sounds to us with such energy, enthusiasms and vigor- the audience went wild. Sounding slightly less electronic than Two Door Cinema Club, the band filled the pop-Rock genre with tunes you’re guaranteed to have heard from television advertisements. A great band with energy taking the world by storm, both the real world and the virtual world with their recent hits like ‘Tightrope’ and ‘Anna Sun’ becoming YouTube famous.

In due time, The Rubens graced the stage. The audience nearly melted into a puddle of  their own tears as by now, the crowd were getting restless and were occasionally being teased with random cameos by the band members during set-up. Even without strobe lights, the tension was enough to slice the air. Finally, The Rubens opened with ‘The Day You Went Away’ and their signature drum beat and electric guitars and keyboards appeased the crowd. A solid pop-rock band, these guys came out of the Western Suburbs rising to fame through Triple J and so on their home ground, the crowd couldn’t get enough. The played through their self titled album, an album that ran #1 in the iTunes albums and #3 on the ARIA album chart. They then performes two songs not from this album as well as treating us to a new track- ‘Cut Me Loose’ (which did not disappoint) from their upcoming album. For new listeners, The Rubens sound like a soft version of The Black Keys, creating a nice fusion of 60’s Rock and contemporary pop-rock. They have a distinctive sound that is solid, comfortable and successful, as well as tapping into a variety of moods and atmospheres by playing with the limits of tempo and traditional instruments. For new listeners, I recommend ‘The Best We’ve Got’ for a good representation of their sound, otherwise go straight for the tune which pushed them headfirst into the spotlight- ‘Lay It Down’. The night ended with ‘My Gun’, a crowd favourite and we were left satisfied, although not completely fulfilled by the night’s experience; there’s always room for more good music.

By Any Other Name

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By Any Other Name

Cast your mind back to Shakespearean Verona, to an ancient feud of star crossed love, to a rivalry between Montagues and Capulets. However, reimagine this space to paint an image of Capulet ladies and Montague men. By Any Other Name is an adaptation of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet , faithful to the text with all, but a twist- a swapping of gender roles and sexuality. The Long Walk Theatre Company presents this reimagined tale of heartache and tragedy making it relevant to a contemporary society with social commentary and a socio-political agenda.

This production is an eclectic mix of innovation and experimentation. The stage space was used professionally, the lighting and costuming was apt and keenly thought-out. The tension weaved in the room was highly strung and the actors kept up the intensity with incredible passion over the course of the play. Choreographed fight scenes were amazing and in both dialogue and action, it seemed no path was barred. With some stand-out acting, I’d like to commend Sophia Scarpellino (Juliet), Monique Corkin (Nurse) and Annie Schofield (Mercutio) for their energy and enthusiasm in their acting.

By Any Other Name was alive with melodrama and energy. While the concept of a modern reimagining of an old tragedy is a wonderful concept, I feel the execution in the script could have been neater. Staying true to the complete original text, the performance slipped between full Shakespearean soliloquies, then borderlined monologue with contemporary language and references. This was effective to an extent- contemporary social commentary can’t be found in the original text, however there were smaller continuity points which, if edited, could have helped the audience to take the theatrical leap, so to speak. For example, referring to Paris as a male suitor, played by a female actress is an interesting comment in itself, however to then make reference to female sexuality is just a little confusing to keep up with for a long period. Conceptually, the play is wonderfully innovative and experimental and production-wise, the play was very professional, however small discrepancies in the writing unsatisfied.

Warning, explicit sexual references. By Any Other Name  plays at The Sidetrack Theatre in Marrickville from the 22nd of May until the 1st of June. For more information, visit http://www.sidetrack.com.au

Mark Wilkinson

One Sunday, I found myself strolling down the main street of The Rocks Street Fair where lo and behold, I found myself tapping my foot to the tunes of busker Mark Wilkinson. Months later, I’m sitting in the audience of one of his Sydney gigs as he kicks off the promotional tour for his upcoming album. The night was a sell-out, to devoted fans of mixed ages, from university students to middle aged couples.

The atmosphere is one of ease, there are about half a dozen couches and there’s a red glow about the place, the tea light candles just add that extra touch. Glebe Cafe Church was an interesting venue to choose, but it didn’t disappoint. Church by day- community space by night, the high ceilings and intimate space allowed room for him to breathe, and to glorify his music. For the past few years, Wilkinson has been busking in places like The Rocks to raise funds for his new album and now he’s in the later end of production, he’s giving fans a taste of the surprises he has for us ahead. In his repertoire, he played a number of times from his new album, mostly songs never before experienced, so he made the audience feel privy, even smug at the idea of listening to something before its been released, sings like Chasing Rainbows. As well as this, he gave each crowd member an EP, a short selection of songs from the new album, just making the audience hungry for more.

Wilkinson knows how to command a room, his music has a current in an ocean, that is calm at times, then crashes in a wave, a crescendo. As a one-man band, the spotlight sat on him and his acoustic guitar and he lost track of time, playing new tracks and appearing the audience with accepting requests from old songs. His guitar work is exceptional and all his songs are original works, songs proving that he is a great singer/songwriter. Granted, his songs have mostly the same sound, but when aimed at the right audience, aimed this established artist takes flight. He fits nicely within the genre of soft pop, not really experimenting with sound, not really bashing it out on the drums, just standing on stage with a guitar, playing all the soft harmonies himself, crooning feel good songs of love and love lost. Wilkinson sound like a blend of Don Mclean, James Blunt and Tracey Chapman and vocally, he is rather talented. For a bit of context, he perfumes a superb rendition of Tracey Chapman’s Fast Car.

His songs were comfortable, smooth and suave, softly old fashioned and gentlemanly in approach, possible even retro in ambience. The tunes are the kind of soundtrack to a road trip  at dusk beside fields of long, faded wheat. It was nostalgic, if anything. In a sense, his voice isn’t aft all powerful, but it’s strong and confident and commands the audience by controlling tempo and volume, very professional. In this respect, Wilkinson is a true performer. While only busking to raise funds, he’s still a performer and artists like these need to be experienced live. The sound recordings don’t display the atmosphere and mood that a crowded room holds, so a gig like this is registrant worthwhile. For example, Coldplay can transfer their energy and enthusiasm from concert to CD, (obviously your home experience probably doesn’t include confetti, but their sound translates). Performers and buskers don’t seem to be able to make the glorified leap to audio, because there’s an intuitive synergy with the spectator and spectacle.

Wilkinson has two more performances at the Glebe Cafe Church, from the 10th-11th of May, then travels to Wollongong on the 17th of May, then finally leaves for a tour of Germany, Ireland and the UK.
For more information, place visit-
http://www.markwilkinsonmusic.com

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