15 December 2013

2013 Live

I reckon live music has a power that can never be replicated in a recorded format. The subtle change; the missed beat; the forgotten lyric- each can contribute to an instant where the listener feels they are part of a unique moment of time. A mesmerising confluence of imperfection and perfection- fleeting and lasting at the same time.

I particularly love seeing the interaction within a band when they appear oblivious to the audience. (Funnily enough, this video of the Verlaines- who played tonight with Astro Children, Trick Mammoth and Surf City- has just such a moment late in the clip, even though it is not “live”).

Anyhoo . . . instead of trying out fancy words (“Confluence”?? FFS), here are four tracks of artists from live performances I have had the joy to experience this year. All of them moved me for different reasons and in different ways. All of them were brilliant and left me wanting more; and all have remained firmly embedded in my memory since.

We spent about three weeks in Sydney just after Christmas last year. Lots of cool stuff to do, including some free events as part of the Sydney Festival. Isaac and I got to go to an amazing free concert in the Royal Botanic Gardens- the Daptone Super Soul Revue. Kindly fellow bus patrons guided us to the correct place, wandering through town and discussing the oddities and variance of NZ/ Australian vocab. A warm night; close to the stage; fantastic performers. Perfect.

We knew nothing of Charles Bradley before this, apart from the promotional material for the show. And what a show.

Charles Bradley- Why is it so hard?

Happy coincidence (perhaps a confluence of events?) and a bit of planning meant I got to stay in Wellington for an extra couple of days for this one. (I went to see the Phoenix on the Sunday, and the intro for then coach Ricki Herbert was met with silence by the crowd- a sad beginning of the end for his coaching tenure). Fun though the football was- actually joining the feverzone for the first time – this gig was far more memorable. Probably less than 1000 people there, which meant an intimate feeling show. Despite Chan Marshall really never speaking to the audience except through song (and hey, that’s what I was there for), it was a very close, engaging and personal performance. One of the best of the year.

Cat Power- Cherokee

Familial connections acknowledged- for raw, visceral and intelligent live music, this was totally a favourite. A packed Chicks Hotel for their album launch, Astro Children played the best set I have seen from them. The crowd propelled by thumping, just-in-control drumming; drawn in and thrown out by, in turns, beguiling and brutal vocals; and all enveloped in swirling, droning, pulsating and melodic guitar. Excellent gig; excellent album worthy of many listens.

A bit hard to choose one track, but went with this. (Here a close second). I love how it builds in pace. Live it started faster than on the album, but still (just) managed not to careen off the stage and create carnage on the dancefloor. Joyous chaos reigned supreme anyway.

Astro Children- Eden

Back to where the year started for live music. The night was darkening but still warm. We could see bats silhouetted as they flew above the stage.
Also performing at the Daptone show was the wonderful Sharon Jones. A true privilege to see her live- owning the stage and bossing the audience; shimmering in her blue-sparkle dress; carnal, human and humorous all at once- just as all good (soul/funk) music/life should be. The final numbers, with Charles Barkley and the rest of the revue, were almost rapturous. Heady stuff indeed.

Sharon Jones- 100 Days; 100 Nights