Monthly Archives: August 2013

MUSIC – August 16th – Bastille @ Corner Hotel, Melbourne

I love reading pointless genre descriptions like the ones I saw for Bastille. Brit Indie Synth-Poppers…… South London Pretty-Boy Indie Popsters…… I saw one report saying “they were treading that fine line between Indie-cool and Indie Complete Crossover” !!!!! Yep – I’ve got no idea what actually means either!!! Whatever genre these lads end up getting classed as, it makes no real difference as the crossover appeal is as far fetched as One Direction fans going to a Tom Jones gig!!! And that is near enough exactly who turned up to the Corner Hotel…. (not the One Direction fans….)

What I can say is that at 11pm on a wild, windy Friday night in Melbourne, the Corner Hotel is rammed full to capacity for the debut Melbourne outing of Bastille. There are young, nubile women and slender, gay men by the bucketful, as well as a handful of pissed up British & Irish backpackers paying homage to their counterparts that have already broken back in the UK. There is no doubt a catchy tune that has saturated airplay captures the Australian public’s ears like Ipads in the middle classes. Essentially, after releasing one single and one album, they sold out one of Australia’s iconic music venues – no mean feat – especially for a British band.

There were some singalong moments. There was some bouncing moments. There were some Nik Kershaw style electro-drum moments and there were some other join in on the drums moments, with band members banging out rhythms on skins strategically placed over the stage. You’ve gotta love a random percussion solo! The band is a tight outfit – they are obviously well schooled musicians, and they do produce a full sound, which, for a four piece is quite impressive. They also show their versatility, regularly switching between instruments, between themselves. Strangely enough (for me anyway), the one track that really stood out was a ballad called Overjoyed. The crowd sang along, but the band really nailed it too. It has a great blend of haunting melodies over solitary keys, with multiple synths and that electro snare marching beat – look it up and you’ll eventually get what I’m trying to say, As the band stood together as a foursome at the front of the stage, it was as if they were ready to stand up against the Zulus at Rorke’s Drift (other stand-alone battles are available).


It’s 2013 and Australia still hasn’t fully embraced modern technology. When the Gavin Henson lookalike (think it is the hair more than anything), lead singer Dan Smith, decided to venture into the crowd during their rendition of Flaws – it proved to be a little more difficult than he probably first thought.

It was like watching those news reports when there’s floods happening, with a relay line of people moving sandbags from one person to the next, with that microphone wire!!! One day, in the not distant future, I might see a gig down here with wireless mics, that let singers move about freely, be what they want to be and do what they want to do!!!! I do have to ask though why Mr. Smith thought he had to put on a hoody, especially to go into the crowd. The Aussies aren’t that bad – they’ve got running water and everything nowadays…. (just no wireless mics!!!)

Fair credit to Bastille though, they do put on a decent show. Mr. Smith has a good, solid set of pipes – and is consistent throughout! However, they have only been around 5 minutes and it showed in a set that lasted just UNDER an hour. And that had a couple of covers thrown in and an inevitable encore It kind of told you that they are at the beginning of their musical journey, but it looked and sounded that they have invested in people that know what they are doing in terms of delivering a performance. The sound was excellent and coupled with the blazing lights and strobes, they are no doubt set for bigger and better things down the line. The one criticism I do have is, in that whatever genre they end up occupying, there is all too much familiarity across all of their tracks. You just get that “samey” feel no matter what songs they are doing.

In this respect, the fact they throw in genre defying covers of City High’s, What Would You Do, as well as a hybrid concoction 90s dance classics, Snap’s Rhythm is a Dancer and Corona’s Rhythm of the Night, highlights their need to become that little bit different and offer something that is outside of what their punters expect. That live “point of difference” is what could really push Bastille into a must see event.

Bastille 1

Considering they are on the brink of quite a lucrative sojourn in the music industry, they are quite understated. They will be back and playing much, much bigger venues along the way. Whether they stay understated, humble and down to earth is another question. They seem quite reasonable lads, but so did Bono, pre Live Aid!!!!

Due to the unbelievable amounts of airplay of the poppy, radio friendly Pompeii, it would be a shame not to get a clip of them doing it live. Apologies for the quality, but the lights play havoc with my phone.

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QUIDDITCH – August 10th – Melbourne Mudbash 2013 Tournament

Harry Potter is the biggest selling book series of all time. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you see the world) I have zero interest in it. There were 8 films made of the books, of which I have literally seen zero minutes of. I fully intend not to. I daresay I am not alone in this statistic, but I can guarantee that in the developed world at least, I would be in the minority.  No doubt I will offend many millions of people here and this review is not intended to be the be all and end all of all things Quidditch, but just to give a little insight into this eccentric game (not sure it’s a sport just yet…..)! When the teams competing have names like the Manticores, the Wrackspurts, the Basilisks, Team Amazeballs, the Muggles and Orion College Hunters you quickly realise you have entered a vaguely fictional realm.

At first view, I find myself in the depths of deepest Geekworld, population: voluminous. I see 3 “floating” hoops at each end of a 30 metre field. I see brightly coloured teams, who in all fairness are a far cry from your run-of-the-mill athlete, in fact the majority are a far cry from any athlete at all. The players or Quidditchers or Quidkids, as they might or might not be referred to as, run around the field with a broom between their legs, which becomes the integral facet to the game. The primary object of the game is to get the ball through one of the hoops – simples hey?

There are funky Potteresque names for all these, of which I will include none as it will just confuse you. No-one needs to know the difference between Quaffles & Bludgers really – do they??? It is part lacrosse, part handball, part rugby, part dodgeball and another part that still makes little sense to me at all – it involves someone wearing predominantly yellow with a tail, running around trying their best not to lose that tail. They are chased by one Quidditcher from each team and they seem to be able to go absolutely anywhere they like in order to continue their absconding, and I’m not sure that the role they play is either superficial or focal.

quidditch snitch

There are 4 balls in play at once – only one is used for scoring, the others are used to take players out of the game. When you do get tagged with the non-scoring balls, you immediately have to “dismount” your broom and run back to touch your goal hoop, in order to become “live” again.

There is a headband system that defines the roles of the players. Yellow headbanders chase the yellow guy for his tail. White headbanders get all the glory and are the ones that score the goals/hoops. Black headbanders are the dodgeballers who take others out of the play by hitting them with their ball. Green headbanders are the goalkeepers, but get to be involved in all aspects of play.

Now, I did have to look up the rules of the game to truly understand some of the intricacies, but I couldn’t quite get past this section that appears in the overview:

The “two-minimum” gender rule

A Quidditch game requires each team to have at least two players on the field who identify with a different gender than at least two other players. The gender that a player identifies with is considered to be that player’s gender, which may or may not be the same as that person’s sex. We call this the “two-minimum” rule.
The IQA accepts those who don’t identify within the binary gender system, and acknowledge that not all of our players identify as male or female. We welcome people of all identities and genders into our league.

There’s some real crazy stuff there right there. I’m not 100% sure if I should dwell on this or not, but it kind of raises more questions than it answers I think. There’s a whole boy wants to be a girl thing possibility, and what if Caster Semenya wants to play??? Anyway, let’s get on with the game – here’s how it kicks off:

At times, it actually becomes quite violent, as full tackling is allowed which is surprising as teams are mixed and there is no quarter given in terms of who’s tackling who! I witnessed females getting absolutely poleaxed by quite large males and just bouncing back up and getting on with it! I’m sure there are rules regarding the violent nature of certain tackles, but I didn’t see any “free-kicks” or punishments dished out by the referees at all!

quidditch 1+2Quidditch 3

The ball seems live for the majority of the time, and thus play is continuous. Interchanges happen on the run and the art of the counter-attack is predominant. It is supposed to be a one-handed event too. The broomstick is supposed to be held at all times, although due to the the physical nature of some of the protagonists, it does manage to sit where it’s supposed to, unsupported by human hands.

Quidditch 311

There are inevitably some people that take it far too seriously, but that is true of any sport or pastime. There are some people that no doubt live there lives through this fantasy fulfillment – and the one thing I can always say about these things, is that everybody’s heart is in the same place. The sense of community and togetherness is second to none and it shows throughout the event. There are no egos here, and I guess it’s the sense of organised chaos that contributes to this. To the untrained eye, it’s strange, but that also could be said about most team sports. Everyone involved also has a common interest too – you quickly forget that everyone is a Harry Potter nerd!!!!

There is a Quidditch World Cup. If you are interested in forming a team and going, the International Quidditch Association (yes, honestly!) have just announced today that QWC VII will be held on 5 & 6th April 2014 in North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, USA. South Myrtle Beach is very jealous. The organisers are hoping that more than 4 countries are represented next time round as only the US, Canada, France and Mexico sent teams to the 2013 event.

I am quite amazed that an author like JK Rowling had the vision to invent a whole new sport, no matter how fantasy driven it was. Obviously the imagination is a mighty tool and the conceptualisation it has taken to turn a game for wizards on flying broomsticks into a genuine flat plane activity is incredible. Aside from the fantasy, it is a genuine contest between two willing teams. The sideshow of the yellow tail chasers is perhaps where I draw the line, but I guess there needs to be some sort of ongoing link to its fictional creation. If it gets the more sportingly challenged members of our society more outdoors and active, in an environment where they are most at home, then we should be all for it. People have dedicated their lives to much worse causes!!!



quidditch winners

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BEER SKULLING – August 8th – The Town Hall Hotel, Melbourne

Its winner takes all at the Town Hall Hotel. They came, they saw, they dribbled dodgy Australian lager over their heads – all in the name of spicing up a Thursday night pub quiz!!!


NAME:                     “CRAFTY” CARL THOMAS


AGE:                          NOT AS OLD AS YOU THINK I AM






HOBBIES:                   MACRAME / X-FACTOR


Great examples of how not to do it:

NOW – This is how it should be done – by a lady no less (although it remains to be seen if she really is a lay-deee – I have my doubts, although undoubtedly she is my dream woman)!



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FOOTBALL – July 24th – Melbourne Victory v Liverpool @ MCG

It was simply a pre-season friendly. 95,446 people turned up to watch two teams, have a nice little run-around and do their best not to get injured!!!! Yes, you read that right – 95,446 filled the iconic cricket ground. It was the biggest crowd Liverpool had EVER played in front of, and the all time biggest stand-alone football attendance in Australia – only the 2000 Olympics Final between Cameroon and Spain has attracted more spectators.

Growing up, my hero ended up playing for Liverpool. Before I truly discovered the magnificence that is Newport County, the likes of John Toshack, Emlyn Hughes, Kenny Dalglish and Ian Rush were the players I admired most. When John Aldridge signed for Liverpool from Oxford, after making his name playing for the County, we were just months away from dropping out of league football. As Newport County were left without life support in 1987, Aldo single handedly re-invigorated any pulse of interest I had in those blokes from Anfield. Even though he was from Liverpool and was a red born and bred, he was, and always will be one of us.

A mate of mine always tells the story about a night out in Caerleon, a village full of pubs just outside of Newport. When celebrating a County win, he was looking for a taxi, when one pulled up right in front of him. Out jumped/tripped/fell John Aldridge, a bit worse for wear, who proceeded to throw up all over him. Aldo apologised profusely and told him he would buy him some new clothes. My mate promptly replied “Are you fucking kidding? I’m never washing this shirt again!” John Aldridge is still my, and 10,000 other middle aged Newportonian’s, hero and always will be.

Anyway – I digress. My interest with Liverpool (and the big clubs of the English Leagues) waned quickly after Aldo was sold to a Spanish club in 1989 which coincided with the re-birth of Newport (County) AFC. I never looked back. However, I do still watch and enjoy Premier League football. The atmosphere and history of the game is second to none. Liverpool are still a household name throughout the world, in fact, even though they haven’t won much for nearly 10 years, they are still the 9th biggest sporting brand on the planet. There are a few reasons for this – 14 major trophies during the 1980s and a fanatical following that produces moments like this:

There have only been a few moments in sport where I have been absolutely gobsmacked, like I was during this rendition of You’ll Never Walk Alone. The MCG was a sea of red, scarves held high as the 95,000 strong choir belted it out. As orchestrated as it was, there was still tears flowing all around me in the crowd. Yes, 95,446 people, for a pre-season football match – in Australia! It still amazes me. If I then also said that the cheapest ticket was $AUS 60 (£ 40), then you get my continued incredulity.


The game itself was nothing more than an exhibition. The biggest cheers of the night were when the man nearly everyone came to see, Steve Gerrard (he’s big and he’s f**king hard) jogged over to take the corner kicks. Each section of the crowd erupted as the “World’s Strongest Man” was in their vicinity. [In-house joke – Steve Gerrard has been carrying 10 other blokes for the best part of 15 years!] After half an hour of quite a lacklustre affair, as if it couldn’t have been scripted any better, this happened:

The proverbial roof was lifted off the stadium. The 95,000 could go home happy no matter what the result. Kids will be telling their grandchildren in years to come that they saw Steve Gerrard score at the MCG…. will they? I bloody hope not! But, like John Aldridge is to me, Steve Gerrard is the one shining light in Liverpool colours. Scousers from all walks of life worship the lad. He’s the man that brings hope to the Anfield faithful year after year. And year after year, they are continually disappointed.

The game lacked intensity of any description. The first foul was only committed just short of an hour in. Fair credit to Liverpool who could have been forgiven for not playing their stars, they put out close to their “first” XI. Gerrard was substituted after an hour to rapturous applause. Ten minutes later, the rest of the starting XI were replaced en masse. Suarez managed not to bite anyone in the short time he was on the field, magically created a second goal with the last kick of the game to give Liverpool a 2-0 win. It was what they deserved and what the majority of the crowd wanted to see. No doubt they went home happy.

In his post match interview, Gerrard was asked if the amount of support on the other side of the world surprised him; to which he casually responded with “No, not really, it’s a massive club!” Brilliant. I also found this punter walking around – wonder if he actually knows……..

Liverpool SKRTEL

Liverpool had never been to Australia before. Over 20,000 people turned up for the training session the night before the game. It was reported that the club sold more shirts over the two days the team were in Melbourne, than any other two consecutive days EVER! No doubt, if the American owners have their way, they will be back rather quickly! When 95,000+ turn up to watch a fairly unsuccessful team play against a glorified semi-pro team, on the other side of the world, you have to wonder what would happen if they actually started winning titles and trophies again……. I don’t think I could bear it!!!!

With all the hype surrounding the Liverpool support and the event, I think I may have forgotten to mention that Melbourne Victory also played a minor role in the game!



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