Review By Terri Nas
Wednesday night was a wet and soggy occasion(classic Melbourne Summer), and it was baby boomer central as I headed over to Margaret Court Arena to see legendary American singer, Jackson Browne. If there’s one thing I love as much as going to gigs, it’s people watching. As I stood outside waiting for my friend to arrive, I watched the crowd roll in and it occurred to me that never have I been to a gig where a huge portion of the crowd had to enter via the accessibility entrance. These boomers were here for a damn good time, and absolutely nothing was going to get in their way.
Browne is currently touring Australia after having to postpone his tour earlier in the year due to illness. Supporting him on his tour is Australian singer-songwriter, Liz Stringer. This is one home-grown talent that I am admittedly ashamed I have never heard of until now. Stringer has an absolutely incredible voice that has the ability to stop you in your tracks. It’s raw, husky quality is equally matched with refined smoothness and during a couple of her slower songs, if I’d closed my eyes I would’ve sworn I was listening to Christine McVie from Fleetwood Mac. Stringer is a true storyteller and her songs really struck a chord with me. Her song The Metrologist is brilliant and the intensity of the bridge had me holding my breath, waiting for her to come up for air during the fast paced lyrics. I thoroughly enjoyed her entire set, and she now has a brand new fan in me.
Once Liz Stringer departed the stage the roadies did their seamless stage changeover, and it wasn’t long until the house lights would go down in preparation for the main event. The stadium was stripped of light, and Jackson walked onto stage alone under a single spotlight to a huge round of applause. Guitar in hand and decked out in jeans and a blue plaid shirt, he opened the show alone with a moving version of Don’t Let Us Get Sick.
His band of 7 then entered the stage and took us on an upbeat ride Downhill From Everywhere, which then led to For Everyman where the stage was completely bathed in red lighting to really set the tone. Jackson’s two incredibly talented back up vocalists then joined him down the front of the stage to sing Until Justice Is Real, in which he dedicated it to those all around the world fighting racial injustice.
Fountain of Sorrow and The Long Way Around were next on the list until we got to Somebody’s Baby, in which Jackson confessed that it took him 20 years to love this particular song. He also acknowledged with humour, that “a guy with a white beard singing about a baby, is not good”. He then went on to explain that in his mind he doesn’t have a white beard and he’s definitely not 75. Those of us that have begun the ageing process certainly found this hilariously relatable.
Jackson then jumped over to the piano to play his favourite song, a cover of Warren Zevon’s The Indifference of Heaven. We then were treated to a beautiful and moving rendition of For A Dancer, which he explained was written about his first friend that passed away.
The lyrics are completely heartbreaking and I’m sure I wasn’t the only one with a lump in my throat at that point.
Hecklers in the audience started piping up with requests, and The Pretender was one that many called out, which was met with a chuckled response of “we’ll get there”. Jackson opted to play Boulevard next before succumbing to peer pressure and playing The Pretender, which was met with a hugely excited response from the crowd. Jackson explained that he’s actually been in Melbourne for the past week seeing the sights and lapping up our incredible restaurants, and couldn’t help but cheekily stir us about our “great weather” in response to the consistent summer rain we’d had for the past week.
Call It Alone and Time The Conqueror were up next, despite the audience still shouting requests in between. Jackson, in a good natured way said in response “we’re gonna play what I want.” Whilst the odd harmless heckle or request can be funny, when people consistently do it throughout a show it does wear thin and I find myself getting as annoyed as what the performer must be. As we started to navigate to the final leg of the set with more hits, That Girl Could Sing was a great experience with an awesome harmonising guitar battle, and then we got to the classic Doctor My Eyes which the crowd couldn’t help moving and singing along to.
Late For The Sky took things down a notch before the set was rounded out with a finale of his iconic hit, Running On Empty. The crowd were going wild and dancing in the aisles to the legendary tune. Those that weren’t up dancing, were then up out of their seats for a standing ovation at the end of the song. Jackson and his band deserved this overwhelming reception and more. We then went through the usual motions of being wished goodnight and pretending to say goodbye, until SURPRISE! Encore time!
There was no way he could finish up his 2+ hour set without singing an ode to all the roadies out there with The Load-Out, which naturally led into the crowd favourite Stay. There was a lot of audience participation and backing vocals during the entire encore because in fact, yes, we did “wanna staaaayyy, just a little bit longer”.
It was then a final goodnight to the brilliant Mr Jackson Browne and his super tight and talented backing band. Jackson and his formidable talent is a great example that age doesn’t necessarily mean limitations, given that his voice was still just as superb as ever, and I did love seeing him float between his guitar and piano throughout the course of the night. His music has that wholesome ‘Americana’ feel with long instrumentals and meaningful lyrics that reach your heart, which also have the staying power to reach multiple generations. Despite being one of the youngest there and not knowing every single song I thoroughly enjoyed my night with such a talented legend, and judging by the conversations I overheard on the way out, that was the general consensus of everyone that was in the room that night. Until next time, Mr Browne!
Hell is gone and Robbie’s here there’s nothing left for you to fear,
Shake your arse, come over here, now SCREAM!!!
The surrounds of AAMI Park were awash with people, food & merch stands, glitter, and more people, and I excitedly approached the stadium because tonight I had a date. A date with a man that I have loved for a very long time and who doesn’t actually know that I exist. But a date, nevertheless. Enter: Mr Robbie Williams.
It was an expected older crowd who were flooding through the gates and jostling for position to catch a glimpse of the global megastar. Whether you’re a fan or not his music is undeniably catchy, and you will always find yourself at least humming along to his familiar tunes. My partner in crime for the evening is a dear friend who loves Robbie as much as me. I dare say there would be bloodshed between us if one of us had’ve nabbed Robbie for ourselves. We found our seats promptly and despite Robbie not gracing the stage for another 2 hours, the excitement was pulsating within me already.
The first support act for the evening were Lufthaus, an electronic dance duet who originate from Melbourne. They’ve spent a lot of time overseas building their following, and interestingly enough have actually collaborated with Robbie on a number of tracks. They got everyone in the mood with their continuous electro tracks, and they let everyone know how pleased they were to be playing to a home crowd for the first time.
Next on the bill was British singer and former Supergrass frontman, Gaz Coombes. His music is a mix of pop and rock, and people seemed to be really digging it. Gaz and his band were energetic and rocked the stage for their entire set, right up until they exited the stage. It was interesting to note the contrast in the 2 support acts, which no doubt ensured everyone’s music tastes were met.
As the sun dissipated and dusk was upon us, my heart was bursting and the butterflies were in full force causing havoc in my stomach. I knew the arrival of the great man was imminent, and that he was nearby and ready to blow the stadium away. The remaining lights went down, there was movement on the stage and the crowd started to get riled up. We were met with the introduction of Hey Yeah Wow Wow, and as the 3 cubes that doubled as screens started to rise from the stage, There. He. Was. Donning a black sequin suit, accessorised with a white Elvis-style scarf, there was the legend we had all been waiting for. The song was over in no time, and it was then that the instantly recognisable piano riff of Let Me Entertain You began, as Robbie marched down the catwalk stage that led out into the middle of the general admission area. Robbie piped up during the song with “Let me reintroduce myself, I’m Robbie Fucking Williams”. The crowd were completely beside themselves by this point, dancing and singing along to every word. This was my 3rd time seeing the British superstar, and despite being nearly 20 years since our last date, hot fucking damn this man has not lost a thing.
The next song he led into was a cover of Wilson Pickett’s Land of 1000 Dances, which is a party starter at the best of times. There was more audience participation, and at one point Robbie had a little sit down because as he put it, “I’m fucking nackered, I’m nearly 50!” Robbie told us he was going to take us on journey, on a 33-year musical odyssey of his career. The way in which he did this was hilarious and heartfelt with a great dose of nostalgia. Robbie checked in and asked his crowd, “Am I amongst friends, Melbourne? Am I in a safe space to share with you?” The crowd went ballistic in support because yes Robbie, we are here for you ALWAYS.
Next up was one of his early hits Strong, in which he jumped down into the crowd to get up close and personal with his fans. It was hilarious watching this unfold on the big screen as there were a sea of female hands grabbing and groping him from every angle. Come Undone followed, and during it’s musical intro he incorporated a bit of JPY’s Love Is In The Air. This is one of my most favourite Robbie songs, and I was belting it out as loud as I could, along with the rest of my fellow concert goers.
It was then Robbie wanted to take us on a trip back to 1990. On this trip he told us the Berlin Wall hadn’t long come down, Nelson Mandela had been released from prison, a young Australian cricketer was preparing to make his debut (this little tribute sent the crowd wild – R.I.P Warnie), and most importantly in that year a little boy band was formed called, Take That. There were a lot of Take That fans in the audience, and when we were treated with the music video to the band’s song Do What You Like, in which we were exposed to a close up image of 16-year-old Robbie’s arse in the clip, the crowd were THIRSTY. He then went on to play their song Could It Be Magic, in which he bailed on halfway through as he exclaimed “Na, I can’t be arsed!” He then shared a little anecdote of that era, when he went to Glastonbury with a bag full of drugs and champagne and hung out with 2 brothers from a popular UK rock band at the time. This was of course a segway into a cover of the Oasis classic, Don’t Look Back in Anger. Robbie took on the iconic Gallagher stance at the mic as he sung the song and at this point, I wasn’t sure that life could get any better than that moment.
The Take That fans then got what they wanted with a version of Back For Good. Robbie went on to tell us that despite all the struggles he’s had to endure with his career, life, mental & physical health etc, that now he is actually the happiest he has ever been. If you’re someone who has followed his career both on and off the stage, then you know that this is a huge deal. This led into his song I Love My Life. Better Man followed and the audience took it upon themselves to provide backing vocals once again, and I found this song and its lyrics hitting me differently than they had ever done previously.
The upbeat track Candy followed, before a moody and atmospheric performance of Feel with an intricate light show that perfectly set the vibe. After watching Robbie’s new Netflix documentary (which I highly recommend by the way), I realised during the show that songs like Feel, Better Man & Come Undone and their lyrics certainly hit a lot differently than they did previously. The lyrics are obviously raw and confronting and despite following his career for a long time, the doco really was an eye opener into his mental state over the years and the struggles he’s encountered, putting everything into a different light.
It was time to pick the pace up again, as the intro to Kids started to play out. I did turn to my friend and say, “oh my god I wonder if Kylie is in town??” Sadly she wasn’t, so Robbie’s talented back up vocalists rotated the female vocal part of the smash hit. Robbie then ‘had a proper giggle and was quite polite’ as he then led into Rock DJ, in which the crowd were well and truly going off by now. Just to clarify, the crowd were psyched for the show’s entirety, but there were just some songs that amped them up even more. Robbie then departed the stage to indicate the end of the show, however of course he was just playing with us because there would’ve been a riot had there not been an encore.
The stage lights went up again and the music started. It was now time for everyone to stand for the national anthem, as the intro to John Farnham’s You’re The Voice played out. The 3 cubes at the back of the stage rose again, revealing Robbie wearing an Australian Cricket Team t-shirt. John Farnham in all his mulletted glory appeared on a screen behind Robbie singing along, and it wasn’t until Robbie pointedly turned around to show us, that we realised the back of his shirt was emblazoned with WARNE 23 on the back. Cue goosebumps, tears & and an overwhelming response from the crowd for this lovely tribute to an Australian legend. Robbie then singled out a lady in the front row to dedicate She’s The One to. In a hilarious interaction, there was another woman standing there who was so overwhelmed with emotion and was trying to get in on the action too. Robbie’s cheeky banter with them both made it extra entertaining, and I truly envied the woman in which the song was dedicated to.
To top off the night Robbie rounded out the set with his usual finale of Angels. This time he dedicated it to the lady who tragically passed away after having an accident at one of Robbie’s Sydney shows. Once again it was a touching moment, and with a sea of phone lights before him (gone are the days of the old lighters swaying in the crowd), it was a magical sight to behold and be a part of. Robbie and the band then took their bows to exit the stage, but it seemed Robbie was just having too much fun to leave. Long after the band had departed, he hung around singing the start of a few of his songs acapella and then encouraged the crowd to finish it. He of course had to get one last cheeky quip in, and asked who in the audience were Carlton supporters. You can imagine the response that got with a lot more boos than cheers, and Robbie found it hysterically funny and said, “I love asking that, that is fucking hilarious”. He then started singing the first few bars of Better Man in which the crowd continued as Robbie then snuck off stage and into his waiting van side of stage to whisk him away.
“I just wanna Feel, real love” … and Robbie, real love is what you gave us. Robbie’s charisma alone is a show in itself, and his extended interactions with the crowd throughout the night were nothing short of entertaining & hilarious. He also has the uncanny ability to stare straight down the barrel of a camera, and have you believe he is looking and singing directly to you and you only, which is how I felt every time I watched the big screens. I may be bias, but you really can’t dispute the fact that he is a brilliant showman and knows exactly how to get the audience eating out of the palm of his hand. I truly didn’t want the night to ever end, and I was a mix of elation and sadness leaving the stadium with my raspy throat from singing and screaming, and my sore cheeks from the permanent smile that was plastered to my face for the night. The first song to play in the background after the show was finished was Time Of My Life from Dirty Dancing, and the audience were singing along with it even after they’d departed the stadium. Once outside the stadium I could still hear the crowd singing it and thought it was quite poignant, given that each of us really did have the time of our life that night.
If you’ve never seen Robbie Williams live then he definitely needs to be added to your bucket list, as he is one singer even the most minor of fans need to see at least once in their lifetime. We love you Robbie, Australia loves you, and I hope you come back to our shores sooner rather than later!!
There is nothing quite as sexy, quite as quintessentially Melbourne, quite as refreshing as a good live gig. Among The Restless wasn’t just a good gig, but a great one. They perfectly captured the Aus-Rock culture many of us love. Never have I seen an intimate mosh go off so hard, both of my glasses now sit on the Evelyn Hotel’s floor, in pieces.
And what was the glorious, sexy, punchy occasion? Me and a swarm of fans of all ages were gathered in the Evelyn’s fantastic band room to celebrate Among The Restless’ new single; PIXEL JUNKIES. Supported by several other small Melbourne bands; Tudor Club, Mathilde Anne and SCUD. Tonight was an absolute feast for the indie-music senses. I don’t have time to go over every band on this list, as Among the Restless put on one hell of a show and we’d be here for 3 hours (easily), but I highly recommend every single one of these bands. They created an atmosphere perfectly amplified by the purple stage lights, and air thick with the smell of Moon Dog Fizzers. There was something for everyone, from the occasional sad, lyrically wrenching Radiohead-esque moments to high energy tracks reminiscent of contemporaries Ocean Alley, Lime Cordiale or Wallows. I understand why Among the Restless has such a large, dedicated, diverse fan-base. Metal mum’s, Mitski die-hards and Punk teens were all standing shoulder to shoulder, spellbound by the 5-piece’s musical magic.
Torn is such a tasty opener. As a massive 90’s post-Rock fan, I can feel the influence of bands like Sunnydale Real Estate, several Grunge heavyweights, and Pavement. They really have a little bit of everything, and tasty is the perfect word. The bass, the guitars, the driving drums and vocals, all of it fuses together and it melts on my tongue. After opening up with Torn, powerfully enigmatic front-man Rhett James takes to the mic. Dripping with charisma, he spends a lot of the night talking directly to this crowd of hungry fans. We eat up every word, and he knows it. “Stay restless!” He barks the order at us, and we completely obey. Back-to-back bangers No Sense // No Feeling and Ego push the night to an impossibly high level. These songs have a definite ‘kick’ to them, elevating from just tasty to fuelling. I’m nervous – how will they go keeping up this level of energy? But I shouldn’t have had any fear, Among The Restless have the attitude and bite of musicians 20 years their veterans.
Rhett beams at us, “This is the saddest song from our second EP. Written by yours truly, our guitarist Seamus, it’s called Star Crossed.” Magician on the strings, Seamus Glenn coyly smiles and in a shy little voice just says, “stop it.” The love between them is clear, and it’s wonderful. Star Crossed is without a doubt, a crowd favourite. Everyone around me is lost in reckless abandon, and all I can hear is a chorus of “How low! How low!” Faces are red and screaming, the band room is entirely under a spell. It must be an absolute treat for Rhett’s family, who are up visiting from Brisbane. His brother is wading through the crowd taking photos and videos of twenty-somethings losing their fucking minds. “It’s quite emotional actually” and I hear James’ voice crack a little. But immediately he has to lift the mood, “Josh’s bass is fucked and Lachie’s guitar has fallen off, so now I’ve gotta stall. I’ll tell you a story I guess. One time Seamus and I got into Berghain, and we learned how to dance the proper, European way. And then kissed some German guy.” For the uninitiated, Berghain is maybe the most exclusive club in the world, with online simulator games to test if you’re “cool” enough for Berlin’s upper-echelon of club rats. Among the Restless are cool enough for Berghain, confirmed.
Slave Within the Change has to be another crowd favourite, this is the song where the first of my two glasses got smashed. I understood. One can’t not move to the 5-piece powerhouse of masculine love, energy and musical ecstasy.
“We’re gonna play a song we finished like last week, so it’s probably the only time you’re gonna hear it in a long time. One of us wrote this song about an ex-girlfriend who really liked the movies. So, yeah. Stay tuned, it’ll probably come out in a year.” The unreleased track is aptly named Cinema, and I can’t wait for its release. As the ex who really likes the movies, the lyrics are a perfect cocktail of funny, aching, and catchy – the Among the Restless specialty.
For a song no one’s heard, it gets rowdy. People are getting so down and so dirty. Rhett seems genuinely surprised, “This turnout’s fucked hey.” And people cheer, jump in the air and knock over yet another one of my glasses. “I saw someone do a bump before, that shit was lit. Keep it up.” And the drums kick us into Missing Pieces. The instrumentals in this band are fucking ridiculous, shimmery guitars, pounding bass and drums that dance around each other – it’s such a delight.
The 5 piece move offstage to grab stools, and I was very confused. Stool break? That’s a first. But when they come back, the fellas sit down and dish up an acoustic cover of Underground. It’s so beautiful. So beautiful. Rhett’s vocals really shine here. The pipes on this kid are next level, ethereal shit. I’m spellbound, and every inch of me has goosebumps.
The Screaming Jets are Aus-Rock royalty, and as a fellow Novocastrian, my ears immediately perked up hearing their name. In a tribute to James’ close family friend, Paul, they lose themselves in a neck-breakingly good cover of Needle. It’s bittersweet, powerful and shows the importance of community and musical brotherhood. Rest in Peace, Paul.
Wastecase into Someone Else leads us to the absolute showstopping finale of Lucy and, of course, PIXEL JUNKIES. Rhett comes out in full drag, “THIS IS FOR THE MILF’s”, is what I’m 99% sure he said. And god I hope it is. MILF Supremacy. Sporting his outfit from the recently released film clip, the stage littered with props from the same, it dawns on me as they shred through their final number and brand new single; these guys are the embodiment of the Wheatus song Teenage Dirtbag. They’re sweaty, messy with bleached buzzcuts and mullets, but they’re so much fun. They get the girl, they lose the girl, they write an amazing track. Honestly, they capture something so uniquely Australian, so nostalgic and outrageous. Stream this shit, I’m being dead serious. It’s so, so good.
Among The Restless are keeping the traditions of Aus-Rock alive. They don’t take themselves too seriously, they have such loving energy between them. They embody the community, the comradery and the love of music. And god can they play. With a setlist nearly 90 minutes long, they never get sloppy. All of them were born to play their instrument, it seems as natural as breathing. Keep an eye on these guys; I just know they’ll be big.