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Album ReviewReviews

[Book Review] The First 21: How I became Nikki Sixx

We all have some skeletons in the closet, but Nikki Sixx has a whole graveyard hiding in his. The First 21 takes you through one bag of bones at a time in a very candid journey through his life. His honesty is to be commended, and I felt his pain on many occasions, as he unfurled his childhood demons and his life living as Frankie Ferrana Jnr.
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[Review] Among The Restless @ Bendigo Hotel – 1/04/2021

It was a case of déjà vu as I made my way to the iconic Bendigo Hotel on April Fool’s Day, the last gig I reviewed pre Covid was Among The Restless and here I was the first gig back checking out these local Melbourne lads again. Launching their new single Wastecase.  I was certainly looking forward to some live music and seeing how the boys have grown in the past 12 months. Releasing music during the lockdown was no easy feat but Among The Restless have done this twice with two killer singles that have been extremely well received. Someone Else and Without You will have you instantly singing along, just good honest rock music with a twist of young musical blood pulsing though them. You can find them on all good streaming services, I recommend you give them a listen.

Cosa Nostra got the night started off right, another Melbourne outfit that is no bullshit rock and roll that will have your head banging from the first note. Headed up with Tony on vocals, he set the tone as he laid back and found his groove, his gravelly voice ripping out the tunes as Juz on lead and Ads on bass fill all the gaps. Rounding out this foursome is Rick on the drums, a hard hitter that complements the heaviness of their music. Josh from Among The Restless even made an appearance during Locked Forever belting it out on guitar while Tony sang through a megaphone which added a great depth to the song.  They pumped out a 45-minute set as the crowd started filing in, drawn by the rawness of their sound. Pub rock at its finest, Cosa Nostra always put on a great show and are a worthy addition to any lineup.

Red Peril filled the next slot as they opened their set with Do You Feel Like A Man, Shinae Demaj on vocals was next level from the last time I saw them play, her voice was strong and bold, holding the long notes with ease. I Don’t Mind, Weak and my favourite Dead Woman Walking were next up, Poul Ramage was blistering on lead guitar as they smashed through their set. Ethan Williams was behind the kit as they played Somebody and I Hold On To Hope, with Shinae belting it out, making the crowd pay attention with her controlled screams, she has an amazing voice and knows just how use it to her full advantage. Diamond In The Dirt saw the crowd started expanding, with rousing applause they jumped into Killing In The Name by Rage Against The Machine, which got the dancefloor jumping and had Shinae blasting out the f-bombs on auto-pilot. It even saw bass player Jesse Cole take a trip into the crowd getting amongst the action. A great song to finish out their set, another great Melbourne band to hit up and give a listen, you will not be disappointed.

The Among The Restless merch desk was a hive of activity as many jumped in to grab the new long sleeve Wastecase tee, featuring the song artwork on the back and song name down the sleeves they are a great addition to their range. It was great to see people repping them, merch is a terrific way to show your support to our local bands after what has been a really tough year.

The heat was really starting to rise as the punters started filling the bandroom, the floor was packed, everyone waiting in anticipation, ready to let loose and start the Easter long weekend off with a bang. Right on time the ATR boys took to the stage opening with their first single Someone Else, they have had plenty of time to perfect this one and singer Rhett James was flawless in his delivery, happily flipping the bird to the crowd as he belted it out. Josh Marra was slapping the bass to within an inch of its life keeping the notes down low pulsing out. Define showcases Lachie Dunn on guitar his shredding skills are exemplary, such a talented musician making the most complicated of riffs look easy. Up next a ripping cover of Dragon’s Rain kept the floor bouncing, and then single number two Without You which saw the smoke machines blowing and the girls crowding the front of the stage. Lachie jumped on to the acoustic for Growing Pains, this ballad gave the fans a minute to catch their breath before the boys leapt into a cover of the quintessential party song Monkey Wrench. This stirred up the pit and had the joint really jumping, everyone extremely grateful for the many fans dotted around the venue. 

Rhett announced that the next song Underground was being filmed for an upcoming music video and you could feel the excitement as the song started, everyone throwing themselves into it with gusto. Guitarist Seamus Glenn showcasing his musical style, playing with so much feeling it was almost dripping off him. Such a professional tight outfit, I cannot wait for you to hear this song it has hit written all over and I think it will be ‘the big one’ for ATR! Another new song followed, Slave Within The Change and let me tell you right now it will blow your hair back, the floor went crazy the mosh piping up, everyone revelling in the new tune.

Next up Needle from Aussie legends The Screaming Jets, a great cover to keep the fans jumping and it sure was getting hot onstage as Rhett ripped off his top and finished the set shirtless. Not that it seemed to worry the flurry of girls up front, they were mighty happy with this new development. The pit went up a notch and the crowd surfers started flowing over the top, great to see everyone really letting loose and enjoying themselves. The vibe on stage was awesome you could see these guys were having so much fun playing live, it really resonated to the crowd and made for such a great feel to the show. Rhett oozes charisma and worked the stage with a dynamic energy, encompassing his bandmates and including them in every bit of the show.

Wastecase, the song of the night was up next, their heaviest to date and one that brings Jaidyn Hale on the drums to the forefront.  His drumsticks an attachment of his body he is at one with his kit, his passion for his instrument is instantly obvious, he really is a pleasure to watch as he pounds the skins. Josh kept the baseline covered, this song is dark and heavy and the mix between the drums and the bass marry perfectly to create that feeling. Taking in the lyrics it is such a well-written song dealing with the tough subject matter and how we are being screwed over by the government. These boys are really thinking about what they are writing, no-nonsense lyrics, they are tackling the real issues and it is great to see. Wastecase deserves every success, it is a blistering song that will have you nodding in approval from the first listen. If you are yet to hear it, what are you waiting for!!

I thought that would see the night out but the rowdy punters had other ideas as chants of ‘Jai – dyn, Jai – dyn’ rang out, and he was more than happy to start a riot on his drumkit and burst into an ear-splitting solo that had the pit up and about incited by Seamus on guitar, giving the whirlpool motion with his hands to the crowd as they took collective deep breath and let fly just as the band burst into a cover of Bulls On Parade. The insanity level went to fever pitch as everyone lapped up the last minutes to go crazy. People were on shoulders and the mosh pit was a whole new kind of madness, but the smiles went for miles as the show came to a close, live music is back and we are damned happy about it.

While Covid may have killed our international musicians from touring it certainly hasn’t stopped our local talent from writing and performing brilliant music. If you do one thing, make it going to see a live show and supporting our Melbourne bands. They are working so bloody hard to keep the scene alive so cough up some of your hard-earned and buy the t-shirt or that ticket and go and have some fun!

If you suffer from FOMO then don’t delay, Among The Restless have lots of gigs on the radar, hit up their social pages to see where you can find them next. Big things are coming from these guys and if the Wastecase Single Launch was any indication It’s going to one wild ride!

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[Review] Tony Hadley @ Forum Theatre, Melbourne 26/02/2020

Music venues do not come any better than The Forum Melbourne, it is steeped with nostalgia and sets quite a fairy-tale feel as you descend towards the stage. I love coming to shows here and hearing the comments from the performers I think they love it too. Tonight it is New Romantic royalty Tony Hadley, of course, we all know him as the former frontman for world-famous Spandau Ballet but this evening he is here flying solo. Giving us a front-row seat to his new album Talking To The Moon and his back catalogue of hits while with Spandau Ballet.

I hit the age demographic square on the jaw and was pleased to be amongst like-minded souls ready for a night of eighties infused tunes and a trip down memory lane. While I think many had their feet firmly stuck in the eighties it made for some very interesting people watching, but when I caught sight of a dynamic duo rocking a double man bag I was quickly brought back to 2020.

Gold Coast youngster Chloe Styler opened the night’s proceedings, she has been on tour with Tony across Australia and was very gracious for the opportunity. Dressed in the prettiest of pink dresses she was accompanied by another guitarist/backing vocalist and they got straight to business. Giving us a 45 minute set of lovely tunes. Chloe’s voice was quite unique and had a memorable tone that everyone enjoyed. Her guitar playing was well suited to her sound and it came as no surprise when she said she had been brought up on music at home from a young age. Her cover of Landslide was a lovely addition to her set and she certainly warmed up the crowd ready for the main attraction.

Kicking the night off with one of my favourite Spandau Ballet song, To Cut A Story Short, who can forget the tartan infused film clip from 1980, thankfully there was not a kilt in sight tonight, just a dapper Tony Hadley sporting a suit and looking a million dollars. Highly Strung then Killer Blow from the new album was up next If you are yet to give Talking To The Moon a spin, what are you waiting for?! It is a brilliant album and you will be well impressed. Tony still holding the long notes with ease, it was such a pleasure to watch him in action, making everything look so easy. He worked the stage like the professional he is, getting the banter/singing ratio just right. Then jumped into a winning trifecta of Only When You leave, Round and Round and I’ll Fly For You, giving all the Spandau Ballet fans something to scream about. The dance floor was full of eighties tragics cutting moves like they did way back when, if it was their only night out for the year they were making the most of it.

The lighting was of the highest standard as was the sound, the two came together to make the perfect setting for Through The Barricades, it is Tony’s favourite song to sing and he had a straight-up double jack to accompany him until percussionist extraordinaire Lily Gonzalez jumped front and centre to sing. Talk about chills! They flew to celestial heights spotlighted in white looking angelic as they sang with such purpose and gave this beautiful song the recognition it deserved. Tony’s voice is like chocolate syrup, rich and smooth, proving that he still has what it takes so many years after the inception of Spandau Ballet.  Another great addition from the new album was Tonight Belongs To Us, there was so much to love about this whole set.  So many terrific songs on the setlist and with Queen currently in Australia we were treated to a fabulous version of Somebody To Love getting the crowd up and about bringing their singing voices to the front.

Tony’s band were brilliant but I feel I didn’t not give them the attention they deserved, but Mr Hadley held my gaze for the entire show, he was suave, sophisticated, and that voice like velvet….. anyway, kudos to all on stage you made the show what it was with your sensational musicianship, thank you. Instinction, Chant No 1 (I Don’t Need This Pressure One) and the one that got all the hands in the air True. Arms swaying from side to side, Tony’s delivery was absolutely faultless, it is a lovers song and I think the couple next to me stepped back in time to their local Blue Light Disco. I get a cheeky snog, but they were next level, get a room next time! True really was beautiful and the show could easily have ended there, our singing voices were exhausted, but lucky for the packed house, Tony had a few left.  LifelIne had the floor bouncing, then with no encore it was straight into the jewel in the crown, GOLD! The lighting turned a stunning liquid amber as Tony belted it out with gusto the floor was pounding, the fans taking over the vocals “YOU ARE GOLD!! ALWAYS BELIEVE IN YOUR SOUL, YOU’VE GOT THE POWER TO KNOW, YOURE INDESTRUCTIBLE”. Such pertinent lyrics in today’s day and age, remember people always believe in yourself.  Tony left looking on with a twinkle in his eye and a smile on his face. He struck a pose looking quite ‘James Bond’ on a few occasions, maybe there is something in that, can you act Tony?!

After the final bows were taken to rapturous applause the fans streamed out of The Forum all enjoying that step back in time for one night, feeling young and free in the music of their youth. There was so much to love above tonight’s show, Tony Hadley far exceeded my expectations, and I am walking away one very happy lady. Do the eighties songs still cut it today, you bet your Sony walkman they do!

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