5 November 2007

the Shins...Friday 10th August 2007 Enmore Theatre Sydney

This is a review I wrote after seeing the Shins, thanks to the lovely Felicity who couldn't make the gig to review it and so kindly passed her free ticket on to me. It was an excellent night; before, during and after the show and the Shins are one of my favourite bands; their music really means a lot to me so I'm grateful I had the chance to see them


To say I was nervous about seeing The Shins live would be an understatement.

It’s almost like finally sitting next to that guy on the bus you’ve had a crush on from a distance since highschool and maybe, just maybe, even exchanging a few words. Will it live up to the expectation? All that time spent with the stereo or ipod blaring, forming a far better soundtrack for your life than you could have ever come up with. Is it too huge a task then, for them to live up to the colossal ideal you have in your head after three glorious melody-and-harmony-laden albums that all but served to define the precocious and awkward stage known as your 20’s?

Let’s add to the mix some unsavoury whispers I caught on the wind by friends and acquaintances about some of their live performances last time they swung onto our shores; and I was more than a little relieved to have missed any performance that potentially could have shattered the comfort I took in the sounds of these four guys who look just as dorky as I feel most of the time.

Imagine my uncertainty then as I approached the Enmore on Friday night, armed with nothing more than a few drinks under my belt and the fervent and fragile wish that the little flame inside me that burns merrily along to James Mercer’s oft-absurd lyrics (I still can’t decipher what he’s on about half the time) and earnest melodies would not be dampened by an inferior live performance.

My kind readers, I do not need to elaborate further about my utter misapprehension other than to say that thankfully, any fears I had prior to these four guys ambling on stage on Friday night went unfounded, for to put it simply…they were pretty darn good.

More than once was I frozen to the spot, mouth agape and confused as to how Mercer could (vocally) sound so great live when let’s face it, sometimes on the records he sounds like he’s barely going to make some of those notes. Shocked was I to see that the glue that binds the Shins together in the flesh seems to be keyboardist Martin Crandall who nicely fills and plumps up the songs, continuously taking them well into technicolour territory. What would they do without him in a live show, I shudder to think.

Even more shocked was I to hear them playing a good balance of songs from all three albums. You would think that the older nuggets would get more enthusiastic responses from a crowd that has had years to digest them, not so…even the newbies like ‘phantom limb’ slipped comfortably in between their older siblings with the confidence that they had every right to be there, and rightly so.
We smiled, we clapped, we smiled some more, I profess to a couple of hand-on-the-heart moments (well, it was ‘new slang’ and ‘gone for good’ how could I not?). We laughed and sung our guts out (‘girl inform me’) and we watched, a little overwhelmed as they thrashed away with ‘kissing the lipless’.
The endearing thing was that the Shins seemed just as pleasantly surprised by our reactions as we were by watching them.And lastly, as though you needed any other hallmark of a truly remarkable gig; it felt like they only performed for about 25 minutes.

Seeing their bashfully pleased faces on stage at the end of the show made me think that maybe it’s not a 20’s thing for me anymore, maybe we are still bored and slumped over our desks in geography, only this time the dorks are way cooler and more likely to say something really interesting to you on the bus.

3 November 2007


After being here for a month and a half, my general feeling about London is that it is rather underwhelming. I don't know what I expected. In terms of an enormous city it has not let me down, Sydney was becoming microscopic to me and I relish the feeling I get from being one tiny drop in an ocean of people.
This city has however rekindled my long-lost love of art and for that I am grateful, there is so much of it here and the smaller independant galleries are of a much much higher calibre than a lot of the re-hashed po-mo drab that made me lose my faith in art back in Sydney, so that's something, right?

Funny thing is I had never given some more established artists much thought at all, but seeing them in the flesh it suprised me how much I was moved by someone like Renoir or even Monet. Turner: Rain,Steam & Speed

Have completely fallen in love with Turner and to think there are many more things I haven't gotten around to seeing yet.

The interiors of the big galleries here are something else to behold; rooms are painted bold and rich colours, often wallpapered. For a city that has a reputation of being ridiculously expensive, at least the art is free...a good thing too as you need multiple viewings.

Whistler: Nocturn in Blue & Gold
Seeing the Greek marbles at the BM broke my heart and I was suprised by my bitterness and hot angry tears. If I have it my way I will not give the British Musuem one quid from my wallet. I liken it to Tesco's: it's your one-stop museum shop...you want mummies? roman relics? abyssian lions? greek marbles? the rosetta stone? decorative arts and jewelery? it's all here under one roof...thousands and thousands of years of human history, triumph and achievement...though a lot of it not attained by honourable means. It is easy to brush that aside when faced with the enormity of it all.

My biggest crush so far is with the V & A*, from the first moment I stepped inside I fell in love. I shudder to think how many hours, days, weeks I could spend wandering around the rooms.
It's nice that. Walking into buildings to see what the Brits have and there are literally hundreds of rooms. For someone who is escaping her very small shoebox of a city (I love you Sydney, but I need to stretch my legs a little) it's exhilarating to be faced with a Colossus like London.

And yet...art aside...I inately feel there is more for me elsewhere, it's a matter of trial and error I suppose...you keep searching until you find a place that meets all of your needs and inspires you.

I hope I am proved wrong wrong wrong by London, but to be fair it isn't much of a stretch culture-wise, it's just so much bigger than Sydney and I guess for now that is enough.

*They have a library assistant position vacant at the V&A, if there is a god are they mocking me with my potential dream job? Of course I will apply if only for the peace of mind that I did actually try to reach my ideal job, even if I don't get it.

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