Totally Biased Fan Review: John Flanagan String Band at Merri Creek Tavern, Northcote, Saturday 1st September

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I finally got to see John Flanagan LIVE!  In an interesting move, the first half of the gig was dedicated to a favourite band of the String Band, Stray Birds which most people in the crowd hadn’t heard of, but they were good songs and each member of the band contributed in presenting a story about the now broken up band and their music. It was a unique tribute, considering that most tributes these days are to dead rock and country stars or megafamous bands that are too pricey to go and see.  Good music is good music and it doesn’t really matter about the fame level. Everyone in the band was in good form and played and sang with a high energy and joy level. Their passion for the music was obvious.

However, after a short break and some departures from the band, John started to sing the songs that we know and love from the songwriter that we know and love – himself. It was great to hear all the songs that I have been spinning on his cds. I would have loved to have heard a few more of his songs, but a night only lasts so long. The venue was sold out and we were all pretty jam packed into a small space but time went fast and my leg recovered after some quick stretches at intermission.  With standing room only, there was no room for air guitar, though I was tempted!  I only managed a few pics as it was hard to get a pic without someone’s head in the way. It was good to see that someone of John’s talent was able to have a sellout crowd on a busy Melbourne evening. The average age of the crowd was late twenties to thirties, which is great.  Together with John’s parents, I think that I was the oldest person in the room and I loved every minute of it.

John sounds as good LIVE as he does on record. The band were all cool, very polished and they were having so much fun. They were as crammed on the stage as we were in the room but it didn’t really worry anybody that much.

The folky, bluesy, easy stylings of the band made for a very relaxing Saturday night. I had been waiting for a long time to see this mob in the flesh and I wasn’t let down a bit. All the songs were great, we all left wanting more and rest assured, the next time that I see a gig on in my vicinity, I will be going to it.

Thanks for the music, the stories and the laughs. It was a cool night.

 

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Totally Biased Fan Review: Michelle Walker – Backbone

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Michelle has already had successes off this album with Jack and Jillaroo and the duet with Tyson Colman which is also on his album, “Couldn’t Live Without You”.  Backbone is the current single and title track.

All of the tracks are different and Michelle’s sound is a little bit different to most female singers in Australian Country….it has a unique timbre to it and it allows her to explore different octaves almost within an octave!

If you look at the 79 different types of country music, she just about covers every kind on here, with the amusing “She’s got Class”, the earthy country songs, the up tempo ones, the twangy ones and bluesy ones. She covers a few bases.

I really like What I Love, especially lyrically.  Burning Up Inside sounds like she could be Melissa Robertson’s twin…..they could interchange songs here…or maybe a duet….now there is an idea! I think that she might go an octave lower than Melissa on this one  though.  Some nice piano on here too.

I didn’t find too much production information on this, but it works very smoothly and it is a very natural sounding record. Nothing is forced or over technical.

I love the duet with Tyson, but I am a bit biased there, I am a big fan of his. The opening track is an interesting track vocally. Not many people would be able to pull that one off.

A lot of the songs seem to be saying that she loves what she does and she doesn’t worry about what people think anymore about what she is doing – on or off the stage or record.  Songs like Trying to be Me, What I Love and When I take the stage, seem to reflect that.

I don’t think that Michelle has anything to be worried about. I can imagine the fans lapping this one up and enjoying every song.

Homeward Call is full of awesome fiddles and it is a real yee haa song. Tamworth audiences will go crazy for that one.  It is the best song to end the album with.

I think that there is something for everybody here, no matter what your country music tastes are.

Tracks:

Trying to Be Me

Jack and Jillaroo

Phoenix

Backbone

We’ve got something

Summer’s nearly Over

She’s Got Class

What I love

Burning up inside

Couldn’t live Without You (with Tyson Colman)

When I Take The Stage

Homeward Call