Monthly Archives: February 2014

MUSIC – February 21st – The Spirit @ Spotted Mallard

I’m not a musician; it’s more than likely now that I never will be, so I won’t get that chance to strut my stuff in a band. I’m definitely not qualified to make a judgement on what individuals want or even should get out of making music. However, I have no doubt though that if the question was asked whether you wanted to make money or make people (or yourself) happy then the majority would obviously want to reap the financial rewards, instead of self-satisfaction – however, I could be, and probably am, wildly off the mark.

So, what really makes one of the most exciting live bands in Australia call it day less than a year after their debut album hit the airwaves to rave reviews. King Cannons were not a flash in the pan. Their live shows got better and better – they played as though their livelihood depended on it, which probably has some truth to it. It showed more importantly in that their local following was rapidly growing in numbers; I regularly saw King Cannons t-shirts around Melbourne and heard their tracks on National radio. Their last live show was on the bill for the Byron Bay Blues & Roots Festival, headlined by Paul Simon, Robert Plant and Ben Harper to name but a few. In August last year a simple and straight to the point press release announced the band had split up due to “musical differences”.

It was with great anticipation that Luke & Mikey (featured in the clip above) had teamed up with a new female bassist and drummer to form the four-piece “The Spirit”. This was their debut show at the curiously named Spotted Mallard. I had heard a few snippets of tracks that had been previewed through social media and not surprisingly they sounded a lot like stripped down King Cannons numbers. In essence, I was expecting more of the same from the live show, and no doubt so were the majority of the 250+ that were in attendance too.

The Spotted Mallard is an old ballroom dance studio. It’s has parquetry floors and chandeliers; and dinner tables! The majority of punters were sitting – not a great feel for a night of rock and roll!!! In a way though, the music suited the venue nicely. The Spirit proved that you can take the remnants of a punk rock band that channeled Joe Strummer and Bruce Springsteen and turn them into REO Speedwagon. Musically they are gifted. The drummer, Ryan Mano, is quite possibly the best drummer I have seen around Melbourne since I’ve been here. Mikey Ting tinkles the ivories like few others do today and Luke Yeoward is an ideal front man – charismatic, gruff, burley, tattooed, with rocking vocals to boot. Phoebe Neilson on bass adds some glamour but little else. The Delta Goodrem wannabe has the unerring habit of echoing most other bass players in the fact she remains virtually motionless and rooted to the spot on stage. Give me John Entwistle, Rob Bryers or Flea any day!!!

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I maybe being harsh here, as it was their very first show, but the 30 or so punters that left after only a couple songs are testament to the fact that this is not a poor man’s King Cannons. The similarities end in the fact that Luke had been writing the majority of the songs, no doubt, intended for King Cannons, and they have developed as part of this forum instead. There are elements of King Cannons that do show through and for me these are the positives. There is just too much of the “Americana” driving rock that goes nowhere and does little to get me excited.

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I saw a quote from Phoebe recently that said “we have all come at this with the intention of going hard or going home”. I don’t see how you are able to go hard if you are so “middle of the road” you can’t find the edge. The Spirit – as yet – have no edge. However, saying this, their sound is crisp and their songs are well crafted, but there is nothing to distinguish their sound from the masses of other middle of the road pub rock you get everywhere. I hope they can develop their sound deeper, and can come up with something that makes them somewhat different and makes them worth investing in. I miss the King Cannons (can you tell?) but The Spirit aren’t the answer to fill the hole that has been left (perhaps The Bennies are though……)

The question I posed at the start remains – if you want to make your mark and be successful, you need to stand out from the crowd, not bury yourself in the midst of it and hope that inspiration and good feelings shine through. The Spirit are a solid outfit that have so far produced some nice pop songs. I mentioned earlier that when King Cannons played it was though their livelihoods depended on it. That couldn’t be further from my thoughts with The Spirit. They will find their place as time goes on, but in the long run it will more than likely be missing myself and 30 or so others!!!!

 

 

 

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CRICKET – January 31st – T20 – Australia v England @ MCG, Melbourne

I’m not really sure why I bothered. But after the humiliation I, as well as 60 million others, suffered during the Ashes and the One Day Series, out of pure loyalty I blindly decided that there was a glimmer of hope that England could pull their proverbial finger out and manage to put together a performance that somehow resembled an International standard cricket team. Australia also seemed to be short on troops as they had recalled 39 year old Brad Hodge, and again put faith in a 20 year old spinner who had played as many first class games as I have!

I think I was being more optimistic than the wife’s “be there in 5 minutes” spiel, if I truly thought England may actually conjure a win in this game. This was reflected in the crowd, as out of the 65,000+ that turned out, I would guess that less than 5% were there to support “The Old Dart” – a far cry from the Test matches. This lead to a rather muted atmosphere; in amongst the breakdancers, Mexican Waves, pyrotechnics and the now obligatory plethora of beachballs, there was very little to get excited about – unless you were 12 or had had 12!!!!

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England won the toss and elected to bat; and they actually started off quite well. Donning their Super Mario Brothers uniforms again (what happened to the sexy dark blue numbers?) – even the Aussies wanted to give them a helping hand when the self-proclaimed “Big Show” Glenn Maxwell dropped Alex Hales, in what can only be described as more simple than a 2 piece jigsaw! Soon after though England lost two quick wickets and were still going okay at 38/2 off 5 overs. When Hales was caught at 3rd man, Morgan then ran himself out when his bat bounced in the air after he had grounded it, diving over the line. Strangely enough, if it had been Morgan’s feet that did exactly the same thing he would have been safe!!!

England continued to lose stupid and irrational wickets regularly and if it wasn’t for Broad & Bresnan steadying the ship to put on 34 for the 8th wicket, I could have been in the pub a lot earlier than I actually was! Bresnan’s dismissal summed up the tour – when stepping across his stumps trying to paddle down to fine leg, he smacked the ball, crashing it into middle stump!!! England failed to score a 6 during their innings, even with the dramatically reduced boundaries.

When Australia went in to bat, the lack of any cohesion or competency from the English bowlers came to the fore. Australia waltzed to the small target with more than a quarter of the available overs to spare. George Bailey smashed 60 off just 28 balls and hit 3 maximums!!! The lack of any pressure or control from Dernbach and Tredwell, at times bordered at the extreme end of ineptitude. In fact Dernbach’s bowling truly is embarrassing. He has gone for 92 in just 7 overs – he is supposed to be the “death bowler” – the only death he is contributing to now is his own International career. The fact that he also bats at 11 really should surely indicate that there has to be better options out there. Not mentioning any names here, but where the frig is Ben Stokes??????

The fielding was not much better to be honest. Bopara dropped catches and Hales didn’t show enough fleet of foot to get into position to catch another. Mind you, if you are constantly getting tonked into the crowd it doesn’t really matter whether you can catch or not.

It’s sad to think that this is near enough England’s best T20 side (Kevin Pietersen excepted), and they have been smoked like a kipper by an Australian team that is on the whole a pick up side, withoiut 6 or 7 of their first choice players. Ashley Giles has been touted as the next Director of Cricket for the ECB. If these past 7 ODI and T20 games are anything to go by with him, then there is no hope for the future of English cricket. The quicker the whole set-up is cleansed of Flower, Giles, Gooch & Saker, the better. It has been a sad tale of despair; quite a few players have been found out – some may never play International cricket again. A lot of luck over the past couple of years has papered over some very big cracks. The fall out could be horrific – if the stiff upper lip brigade have their way, then it may well be business as usual!

I totally expect England to bring the curtain down on this tour with another disastrous loss on Sunday. The bigger the humiliation, the bigger the urgency for change. Roll on the flogging.

SECOND TWENTY-20 MATCH

ENGLAND 130/9 lost to AUSTRALIA 131/2 by 8 wickets

Australia win the series 2-0

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