Saturday, January 31, 2009

Ryan Adams & the Cardinals at the Forum - It's Magick

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If ever an artist started on the right note, the instantly crowd pleasing first up rendition of When the Stars Go Blue, had to be it. Certainly for me it was special as that song is one of my favourite songs from Gold and I was really hoping the Cardinals would play it last night. Not only did they start with "Stars" they followed that up two other favourite songs, Two from Easy Tiger and Let it Ride from Cold Roses.

Even songs I am not all that taken with, sounded fantastic given the Cardinals treatment, though there were few of them. In all it was a perfect Ryan Adams concert, as we were also treated to a spooky, spine tingling version of the Oasis song Wonderwall, the twisted romance of Come Pick Me Up - an oft requested song - the exquisite Sweet Carolina, La Cienega Just Smiled, another favourite from Gold, Rescue Blues, Why do they Leave from Heartbreaker, Everybody Knows and Magick, the sole rocker from the Cardinals latest CD Cardinology.

The stage, as we've become used to with Ryan Adams, was dark, hence the poor photo quality, and it was hot, hot hot. All that didn't matter in what became an engrossing and mesmeric show. The Ryan and the Cardinals set lasted for two hours and covered twenty two songs. Everyone was in a good mood, including Ryan who was quite exuberant.

We managed to get a booth in the first rank and shared it with a lovely group of young people. It was a relief to be able to sit down, or up as we were forced to sit on the top of the seats in order to see the stage.

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The amazing interior of the Forum Theatre

The show was jam packed, so the temperature in the theatre rose with the number of people coming in. Those standing at the front were provided relief with someone spraying them with water. Ryan made a wry remark regarding this, asking how one became a water squirter.

Before Ryan's set we were forced to watch a totally inappropriate support act, who went by the name of The Clip Clop Club. A bunch of old guys, they opened their set with a rendition of Rawhide. I ask you, how ridiculous is that! They also did a song called Kylie's Arse and a version of I've Been Everywhere Man except the lyrics detailed all the drugs and alcohol that had been consumed by the narrator. I'm not a big fan of humorous ditties. These guys, though technically quite competent, were quite crass. Who knows who chose them as openers for Ryan Adams.

In conclusion I really think last night's show - the Cardinals part anyway - was one of the best shows I've ever witnessed and the best Ryan Adams concert I've seen.

Let's hope his retirement from music doesn't last too long and that he'll be back soon to entertain his devoted Aussie fans. According to Ryan Aussie fans are the best.

As for the G10 camera at concerts - the jury is still out. Considering the low light conditions and the distance I was from the stage, I suppose the photos are alright - not really my best, but the best I could do in the circumstances

Set list for those that are interested:

Ryan Adams – Forum 30/1/09

On Stage 9.20

When The Stars Go Blue
Let It Ride
Fix It
Everybody Knows
Come Pick Me Up
New York, New York
Improv- Theres No Lykans Here (Ryan fooling around)
Improv- Bassmax (Ryan fooling around)
La Cienega Just Smiled
Freeway To The Canyon (Neal Casal)
The Sun Also Sets
Oh My God Whatever, Etc
Rescue Blues
Natural Ghost
Born Into A Light
Oh My Sweet Carolina
Grand Island (Neal Casal)
This Is It
Easy Plateau

Finish 11.15

Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Heat Is On

Melbourne at the moment is experiencing an intense heat wave - several consecutive days of over 40° Centigrade, which is not likely to be relieved until Saturday. The media is making a big fuss about it, but really it is the season after all - we generally have a few 40°C + days every summer. Fortunately it is a dry heat which is more bearable than high humidity. We’re still in drought; no rain has fallen for weeks.

Fortunately we had an evaporative cooling system installed last year, which has finally justified its purchase. It makes all the difference, cooling the interior of the house very effectively and allowing one to get a reasonable night’s sleep.

The heat, in another sense, is also on the Autumn Racing Carnival with the first of the Group One races of the season to be run on Saturday (weather permitting). If it’s too hot I sure hope the races are cancelled for the horses’ sake.

But if they do in fact go ahead, the Lightning Stakes is certain to be a great race. Both Apache Cat and Weekend Hussler will be competing in it, along with several other smart sprinters.

At last one can get some idea of the likely star performers of the autumn after the races last weekend. On Friday night Light Fantastic returned to racing and even though he was unable to catch the winner, Lucky Secret, his run was very impressive.

On Monday, Australia Day, I watched the racing from Caulfield on my computer and was delighted to see Time Thief take the prize in the Zedative Stakes. Rostova blitzed her rivals in the fillies Blue Diamond Prelude in only her second start. She certainly has the potential to become a superstar of the turf and is the hot favourite for the Blue Diamond Stakes, to be run on 21st February.

Fravashi, Typhoon Tracy, Von Costa De Hero and Irish Lights also put in eye catching runs.

, whose return I was keenly anticipating has been retired to stud after being found to be lame or still suffering from the injury that put him out of contention in the spring.

Tomorrow evening is the Ryan Adams and the Cardinals concert at The Forum. It’s a sell out show, so no doubt will be hot, hot, hot in more ways than one. I’m getting excited. After all, Ryan Adams is my favourite artist and it may be my last chance to see him for a while. He recently stated that he is leaving the Cardinals and taking a step back from music. He has been diagnosed with
Ménière's disease, which is a disorder of the inner ear that can affect hearing and balance and can eventually cause deafness in the affected ear. I imagine it would be a difficult ailment for a performing artist to cope with, especially a musician.

Reports so far of the Cardinals Australian tour have been very positive with Ryan and the band being in good spirits and putting on great shows.

Anyway, even though the show is billed as general admission, standing only, there are booths with seating a fair way back from the stage. I don’t really feel up to being crushed in the mosh pit at the front, so will endeavour to arrive early enough at the venue to score a first rank booth.

And I’m really keen to find out how the new Canon camera performs in concert mode.

Will report back on Saturday, hopefully with some decent photos.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Autumn 2009 Racing Carnival & Rodney Crowell Australian Tour

As usual it seems hardly any time has passed since the end of the Spring racing carnival than the 2009 Autumn carnival is upon us. Well, not really straightaway, but it’s getting close.

The first group one race of the season, the Lightning Stakes, a sprint over 1000 metres, is only a little over a week away and will star Weekend Hussler vs Apache Cat.

But before then, some of my favourite Aussie racehorses will be resuming in the next few weeks, Light Fantastic and El Segundo, both returning from injury forced spells, are scheduled to run in the Group 2 Carlyon Stakes tomorrow evening at Moonee Valley.

And of course there are all the emerging two year olds who will be vying for inclusion in the Golden Slipper the richest two year old race in the world.

So far a few have caught the eye. There’s Phelan Ready who won the Magic Millions 2yo Classic a couple of weeks back and the Gai Waterhouse trained filly, More Joyous who is currently favourite for the Slipper after a stunning win in her debut race at Rosehill last Saturday. Gai has a good record in the Slipper, so it’s quite probable that one of her youngsters will win or at least place in the race.

As well as the new generation two year olds there are some very smart three year old colts and fillies that will be back shortly. I’m eagerly anticipating the return of Sebring, Samantha Miss, Time Thief, Whobegotyou, Northern Meteor to name a few. And let’s not forget the older generation. Tuesday Joy, Viewed, Mentality, Forensics, Zarita. are a few that spring to mind.

So bring it on!

Music News

In music news – Rodney Crowell is to tour in April. I don’t know if he’s ever toured here before, but he will be very worth seeing. He’s an excellent songwriter with an idiosyncratic style. He was a long time member of Emmylou Harris’ band and also was once married to Johnny Cash’s daughter Roseanne, herself a stunning singer/songwriter.

There goes the budget again!

Tickets on sale January 30th through Ticketek

Fri Apr 10 / Sat Apr 11 - Byron Bay, East Coast Blues & Roots Festival
Sun Apr 12 / Mon Apr 13 - Canberra, National Folk Festival
Wed Apr 15 - Sydney, The Factory
Thu Apr 16 - St Kilda, The Prince
Fri Apr 17 - Kyneton, Harmony Row Winery
Sat Apr 18 - Fremantle, West Coast Blues & Roots Festival

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Cat Photos with the G10

I've finally managed to get some decent photos of the cats with the G10.

Both Lizzie and Willy celebrated birthdays this month, Lizzie turning 13 on 5th January and Willy was 5 years old on the 18th. Capricorn cats!

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The beautiful Willy posing in the backyard

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Ms Lizzie dozing off in the garden

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Just so he doesn't feel left out, the old curmudgeon, Timmy putting his best paw forward.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Sweet Anticipation – Musical Delights in the Offing

This morning I queued at a Ticketek outlet in order to get a ticket for a second Leonard Cohen concert on 10 February, the sales for which opened today. Nu Country had given me a Ticketek gift voucher for Christmas, so as soon I heard that there was to be a second concert, I instantly determined to use the voucher for this, as I’d earlier eschewed buying a ticket to the first concert on the grounds it was too expensive.

I did very well, getting a front row seat on the floor at Rod Laver Arena – whoopee!

By all accounts it should be a fantastic concert, and as I discovered at the John Mellencamp concert last year, the floor area is the best place to be.

The Ryan Adams concert on 30 January is the first of several shows I’ve booked over the coming few months. I have tickets to Lucinda Williams at Hamer Hall on 1 April – 4 rows from the front! - general admission tickets to Kieran Kane, Kevin Welch & Fats Kaplin, at the Corner Hotel on 4 March, and Old Crow Medicine Show at the Forum on 13 March.

So there’s a lot to look forward to in the future.

I have yet to try out my new Canon G10 camera in a concert situation, but I have been snapping the odd photo and practising with RAW conversions.

The below photo is of lichen on a terracotta roof tile. B had removed tiles from the roof as we are having solar panels installed today. I thought the lichen on the tiles would make an interesting textured photo. The camera captured the lichen in amazing detail – far better than could be discerned with the naked eye.

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I also rather like this dramatic photo of a gladiola stalk. The gladiola, which is in flower in our front garden, has a brilliant rich orange colour, and the camera has captured this as well as the fall of light on the foliage.

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Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Trying Out My New Camera

Yesterday I purchased yet another digital camera. This time I went for a Canon G10 on the advice from a friend. The idea was to get a high quality compact camera that could produce high resolution photos. I occasionally get asked for copies of my musician photos and they always want high rez shots, which my dear little Panasonic was incapable of producing. So, I thought I should buy a new camera.

Anyway I tested it out today in various situations and overall I'm very pleased with the results. The true test will be when I go to the Ryan Adams concert at the end of this month. Can it give me good crisp concert photos in low light situations? We'll see...

Anyway, below are some of the photos I snapped today.

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A Chinese dog statue in Spring Street, Melbourne CBD

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Fuscia in the back garden using macro function

Actually I think the Panasonic does better macros than the Canon...

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Raindrops on roses - ha! _ Panasonic Macro

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Detail from fire place surround in the living room

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The Devil Devil wood carving from the Solomon Islands that lives on top of a stereo speaker in the living room.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Ringing in 2009

Well so far in Melbourne the first day of the brand new year is gloomy - weather wise - rather chilly with rain threatening every so often. A complete contrast to last year when it was a sizzling 40 degrees Centigrade.

In fact summer hasn't been anything to write home about with an intemperate coolness, rather than warmth dominating our days. I felt ridiculous still wearing winter clothing well into December.

I had a quiet New Year's Eve - stayed at home and chilled and went to bed early.

This morning I've been lounging in bed reading a biography of Townes Van Zandt which was given me for Christmas. A timely day to start the book as Townes died on New Year's Day in 1997.

One of the joys of New Year's Day is putting up the new calendar.

I always buy a calendar every year. Last year it was Matisse, this year it's Edward Gorey's Neglected Murderesses.


A sample page...Nurse J Rosebeetle who tilted her employer out of a wheelchair and over a cliff at Sludgemouth in 1898.

I shall enjoy looking at these neglected murderesses all year as I love Edward Gorey's mordant wit and gothic sensibilities.

Anyway, to all readers of this blog, my best wishes go out to you for a very happy New Year.