Reviews

Zac Brown Band @ the Hordern Pavilion 1.4.15

Seeing the Zac Brown Band on stage for the first time was quite an experience for me.  With 8 band members it was hard to know where to look and who to photograph.  The Zac Brown Band are comprised of Zac Brown (lead vocals & guitar), Chris Fryar (drums), Clay Cook (numerous instruments), Coy Bowles (guitar & organ), Daniel De Los Reyes (percussion), Jimmy De Martini (violin & vocals), John Driscoll Hopkins (numerous instruments) & Matt Mangano (bass).

Zac Brown

Zac Brown

There is no doubting the musical talent of the band and their popularity with the fans.  Last night’s performance was after a sold out concert in Melbourne and this one, if it wasn’t a sell out  would have been very close to being sold out.  I know of fans that headed in to line up early in the morning so they could be first in and close to the stage.

Zac Brown

Zac Brown

With 4 studio albums released over the past seven years The Foundation (2008), You Get What You Give (2010), Uncaged (2010) and Jeykll + Hyde (to be released this month) and the Grohl Sessions EP (2013) there were plenty of choices of great songs to include in the set list.  Surprisingly last night’s set list included a number of covers which a country band would not usually perform including an awesome performance of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” and Metallica’s “Enter the Sandman”.

The Zac Brown Band were fantastic on the night and whilst they didn’t perform some of my favourite songs they performed most of their hits including “Sweet Annie”, “Toes”, “Colder Weather”, “Chicken Fried”, “Goodbye in her Eyes”, “Free” and “As She’s Walking Away” (minus Alan Jackson who was guest vocalist on the You Get What You Give album version).   Other songs performed at the Hordern Pavilion that night included Charlie Daniel’s Band’s “Devil Went Down to Georgia”, “Whiskey Gone”, “Day for the Dead”, “Heavy is the Head”, “Keep Me In Mind” and “Knee Deep”.

Zac Brown Band performing The Devil Went Down to Georgia

Zac Brown Band performing The Devil Went Down to Georgia

There was a brief moment when during a long instrumental as part of the introduction of the band members that I felt they lost the audience as I could see and here a lot of them talking. It didn’t take long for them to reconnect to the audience though.

I can’t put my finger on what exactly makes the Zac Brown Band so appealing.  They have great harmony, their lyrics are meaningful, the music is amazing and the number of different instruments that they play throughout the night adds to their appeal.  All the band members seem passionate abut their music and it shows on stage by how much they seem to be enjoying performing.

Jimmy De Martini

Jimmy De Martini

It was my first time shooting at the Hordern Pavilion and as a venue I thought that it was great.  It didn’t seem to matter where anyone was sitting or standing they weren’t far from the stage.  It was a great atmosphere and the lighting and sound were awesome.  In fact it was the first time that I recall being there since The Police performed there in 1980!

John Driscoll Hopkins

John Driscoll Hopkins

Zac Brown

Zac Brown

Anyone heading to the Byron Bay Blues Festival will be in for a treat as the Zac Brown Band are performing there on the 3rd April, 2015.

Originally published in the Get Shot Magazine 2.4.15

Missy Lancaster – Til I Figure it Out

With the release of Missy Lancaster‘s first EP approaching, Missy contacted me about taking the photos for her EP cover and promotional photos for posters etc.

The photos were taken in Missy’s hometown of Picton.

The title of the EP is “Til I Figure it Out” and is available on Itunes – “Til I Figure it Out”

Missy IMG_0610 Pre Filters copy

Missy Lancaster

 

Missy IMG_0688 copy

Missy Lancaster

 

Missy IMG_0752 Square copy

Missy Lancaster

 

Missy square crop V02A2972 copy

Missy Lancaster

 

Missy V02A2893 original Crop copy

Missy Lancaster

 

Missy V02A2903 copy

Missy Lancaster

 

Missy V02A2948 copy

Missy Lancaster

 

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Missy Lancaster

 

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Missy Lancaster

Missy’s EP is definitely worth listening particularly the title track “Til I Figure it Out” which is about growing up and making decisions on what do to with your life before you really know what you want to do. For someone as young as she is Missy Lancaster is very talented.

The track listing is:

1. “A Story”

2. “Til I Figure it Out”

3. “I Got to Know”

4. “Just You Wait”

5. “Invincible”

Missy Lancaster co-wrote three of the songs with Drew McAlister and one with Peter McWhirter.

My favourite track is “Just You Wait” which reminds me a lot of Carrie Underwood in her earlier years.

The official video clip  for “I Got to Know” can be seen on Itunes – Video Clip

You can keep up with everything that is happening with Missy’s music career by liking her Facebook page.

I am available for photo shoots for promotional purposes, CD covers and behind the scenes on music videos at very reasonable prices.  If you are interested I can be contacted by email malcolm@fireflyphotos.com.au or on my Firefly Photos Australia Facbook page by clicking on this link.

 

 

 

Mahalia Barnes & Joe Bonamassa

Ooh Yea! — The Betty Davis Songbook is the new album collaboration between Mahalia Barnes, her band The Soul Mates and blues guitarist legend Joe Bonamassa.  The crowd at the Factory Theatre were recently treated to a performance of the 12 track album which highlighted the vocal talents of Mahalia and the sophisticated guitar playing skills of Joe Bonamassa.

Mahalia Barnes

The collaboration between Mahalia Barnes and Joe Bonamassa worked a treat as they powered through songs made famous by Betty Davis during the 70′s including “Steppin’ In Her I. Miller Shoes”,If I’m In Luck I Might Get Picked Up”, “He Was A Big Freak”, “Game Is My Middle Name”, “Ooh Yea!” and “Walking Up The Road”.

Joe Bonamassa

Joe Bonamassa was no stranger to the crowd and they were mesmerised by his playing ability and how he could make his guitar talk.  It was my first time hearing Bonamassa and I left the Factory Theatre knowing why he has so many fans including the guy standing next to me who drove all the way from Canberra and back that night just to hear him perform.  I am sure that a good proportion of the crowd, and it was packed, were there to hear this legend.

Jade McCrae

The back up singers on the night were talented in their own rights and included Juanita Tippins, Jade McCrae and Darren Percival.

Jimmy & Mahalia Barnes

Mahalia Barnes has certainly inherited her fair share of talent from her father, legendary Australia rocker Jimmy Barnes who joined her on stage to sing Walking Up the Road.

Darren Percival

Darren Percival,  The Voice runner up in 2012 again showed why he is was so popular on the show and would have been a worthy winner.  His vocal skills are matched by his passion for performing and putting so much emotion into every song.

Mahalia Barnes & Joe Bonamassa

Mahalia Barnes can belt out a song just as good as her father and sings with a passion that can’t be denied.  It is easy to understand why she is so often described as a powerhouse singer.

Lachy Doley

The Lachy Doley Group not only supported Mahalia on the night but were also part of her band for her set and played on the album too.

If you would like to sample a song before you buy the the album then click on the link to download a free copy of Steppin’ In Her I. Miller Shoes

Details of future gigs will be posted on Mahalia Barnes’ website

 

Originally Published in the Get Shot Magazine 23.2.15

 

 

Diana Rouvas and C Major – The Basement 20.12.14

This was a gig that I had been very keen to attend and I wasn’t disappointed by what I heard on the night. Based on the reaction of the crowd no one else at The Basement that night was disappointed either.
For those that don’t know, both Diana Rouvas and Carlos ‘C Major’ Velazquez were contestants on the voice with Diana Rouvas reaching the top 8 in 2012 and C Major competing up to the top 16 in 2014 under the tutelage of fellow Latin performer Ricky Martin.

Diana V02A6329 copy

Eric Aranda, Diana Rouvas & C Major 2 The Basement

Diana Rouvas and C Major have teamed up to perform the Summer Acoustic Sessions with shows in Sydney, Newcastle and the Central Coast.
C Major opened the night with his blend of R & B/Latin and R & B/Soul. His music has an infectious style which complements his outgoing personality that shines through his music. His set included a mixture of original songs including “I Am Major”, “Is This What you Call Love”, “After Party” and “Brand New” from his debut album I Am Major and also a new song “You Are”.

C Major 2

C Major @ The Basement

The set also included a few legendary songs which C Major covered flawlessly including John Legend’s “Ordinary People” and “Used to Love You”, Stevie Wonder’s tribute to Bob Marley, “Master Blaster” and “Knocks Me Off My Feet” along with David Paich’s “Georgy Porgy”, Beyonce’s “Crazy in Love” and the final song of the set, Black Street’s “No Diggitty”.
With this set list C Major was able to demonstrate why he so respected for his voice and keyboard wizardry. As a performer C Major is quite a professional and interacted easily with the crowd.

C Major 1

C Major

Diana Rouvas performed the second set of the night and every time I hear her voice I am amazed at how powerful it is. With a very impressive range that I doubt many singers can cover she wowed the audience right from the opening song “My Morning” and mesmerised them for the balance of her set with her vocal talent. Diana was assisted on stage by the very talented Eric Aranda on guitar who also shone during a few guitar solos.

Diana Rouvas

Diana Rouvas

Diana Rouvas’s songs included her originals “Never Said Hello” which was recorded by Diana in the USA with Rufus, “I Can’t Make You Love Me”, “Stevie”, “Heads or Tails” which Diana wrote when she was only 17, “Overcome”, “Be A Man About It” and her debut single “Heart of Goodbye” from her forthcoming EP.
The covers that Diana Rouvas performed where quite special and included Bonnie Raitt’s “I Can’t Make You Love Me”, Jessie J’s “Bang Bang”, Beyonce’s “Love on Top” and T Bone Walker’s “Stormy Monday”.

Diana Rouvas

Diana Rouvas

Diana was joined on stage for a few songs with her younger sisters Leah & Amanda singing harmonies for her. Both of Diana’s parents have been involved in the music industry and listening to the three sisters it’s obvious that they were all blessed with the same genes responsible for vocal ability.

Diana Rouvas, Leah Rouvas and Amanda Rouvas

Diana Rouvas, Leah Rouvas and Amanda Rouvas

Of all the performers that I have heard live, Diana Rouvas is at the top when it comes to vocal ability and I could listen to her sing every night!

The price of the admission to the show at The Basement was worth it for just for either one of Diana Rouvas or C Major and excellent value for the two of them.

Finale

Finale

There are a few more Summer Acoustic Sessions that you can catch Diana Rouvas and C Major at over the next few months.

15th January @ Brass Monkey in Cronulla
16th January @ Lizottes Sydney DeeWhy
22nd January @ Lizottes Newcastle

 

Originally published in The Get Shot Magazine 5.1.15

Grew Up ‘Round Trucks

Saturday night at Rooty Hill RSL, the home of country, and thanks to Total Country, was the first performance of the Grew Up ‘Round Trucks tour which is the outcome of Jayne Denham and Travis Sinclair teaming up together.  They have performed together in the past but this is their first joint tour.  These two artists have been dubbed the two biggest country rock acts that cheer on the truckies.

Opening the night was Travis Sinclair and he  is no stranger to the trucking industry as he did grow up around trucks and still drives them in between gigs.  I’m pretty sure he said that he is carting yoghurt around these days!

Travis Sinclair

Travis Sinclair

Travis Sinclair has released three albums to date;  Diesel Boy (2011) and Rhythm of the Highway (2008) Rush (2005) and the crowd were treated to a few songs from each one including one of my personal favourites “Kick the Kenny” along with “Midnight Run“, “Diesel Boy”, “Heavenly Body, “Boundary Rider”, “Eating up Bitumen”, “Flag” and “Rockin the Rig”.  The set also included some classic covers including everyone’s favourite Slim Dusty’s “Light on the Hill” Steve Earle’s “Hillbilly Highway” and Brooks and Dunn’s “Independent Trucker”.

Although I was first introduced to the music of Travis Sinclair by my truck driving neighbours about 6 years ago you don’t have to be a trucker to like his style of music.  Whilst his music has a distinct style and is largely based around life on the road it still appeals to a much larger audience with it’s catchy lyrics and a beat that is hard not to like.

To the delight of the crowd, Travis was also joined on stage by his son Wyatt-Silas for a song.

Travis Sinclair with his son Wyatt-Silas

Travis Sinclair with his son Wyatt-Silas

Fans of Jayne Denham were treated to an energetic performance by Australia’s answer to Gretchen Wilson.

Jayne Denham does not hold back.  Six weeks ago she broke her foot during a performance and despite only just having had the plaster removed this week she was still bounding around the stage in her usual energetic style.

Jayne Denham

Jayne Denham

To date Jayne Denham has released 3 albums; Sudden Change in Weather (2008), Shake this Town (2010) and her latest Renegade (2013).  Whilst the major of the set were songs from Renegade including the title track “Renegade”, “Beyond these City Lights”, “Cowgirls MIA”, “This is Rodeo” and “Addicted to Diesel” there were also a few classics from her previous albums.   A Jayne Denham audience would have left  disappointed if she hadn’t of performed “Trucker Chicks”, “Shake this Town”, “Chick Ute”, “Country Girl with a Rock N Roll Heart” and “Mad Professor” from her first two albums.

Jayne Denham

Jayne Denham

The stage was certainly full of action for “This is Rodeo” with six dancers from the Barker Dance Studio in Glenbrook joining her on stage to perform a choreographed dance routine.

Jayne Denham also did a rousing medley as a tribute to some great aussie performers including  the Divinyls“Boys in Town”, Jimmy Barnes‘  “Working Class Man“, and ACDC’s “Black is Black”

Travis and his Band

Travis and his Band

For the encore Jayne Denham was joined on stage by Travis Sinclair and some younger members of their families to perform the lovely song “Grew Up Around Trucks” which is also on her latest album.

The crowd at Rooty Hill was a little smaller than I had expected but then considering that it was a long weekend, school holidays and the NRL grand final weekend I think that they did quite well and no one that was there left disappointed!

Penelope Somerville

Penelope Somerville

Both Travis and Jayne were supported by the same talented band for their sets and the line up was Jake Sinclair – guitar,  Andy Payne – bass, Glen Farina -guitar, Paris Jefferees– drums, and Penelope Somerville – fiddle.

The tour will continue with a gig at the Blazes in Tamworth on Thursday, January 22 with more to come in the next twelve months.

 

As published in the Get Shot Magazine

 

Gary Allan Live at the Enmore 25.9.14

There was no mistaking Gary Allan as he walked onto the stage right on time at 9.45pm in his designer ripped jeans, boots, tee shirt and leather jacket. But it wouldn’t matter what he had worn or when he walked out on the stage, the crowd were there in numbers to hear the award-winning outlaw singer-song writer live in Australia for the first time since 2008.

Gary Allan

Gary Allan

I always wonder how artists that have been as successful as Gary Allan has been decide upon the songs for their set list. With so many hits to choose from including 26 Billboard singles and new music to showcase it must be a difficult job to decide what to play.

Gary Allan had a set list of 21 songs including the opening song “Tough Goodbye” from his Set You Free album (2013). Other songs in the set included “Feeling Like That”, “Right Where I Need to Be”, “Man to Man”, “Pieces”, “Smoke Rings”, “Get off the Pain” and “It Ain’t the Whiskey”.

Gary Allan

Gary Allan

Included in Gary Allan’s set were stripped back acoustic versions of “Songs About the Rain”, “Radio”, “California”, “Every Storm”, “Bones”, “Man of Me”, “Airplanes” and “Bullhorn

The crowd was kept happy when Gary and the band returned to perform “Runaway”, “Best I Ever Had” and “Dark Whiskey” during the encore.

Gary Allan

Gary Allan

Not only does Gary Allan have a longer than usual set list but he performs with an eight piece band of highly talented musicians.

Gary Allan was well supported by the Mavericks and Blackjack Billy. Chugg Entertainment and Rob Potts certainly know the artists that will be well received in Australia and I personally hope that they continue to bring artists of this calibre out to Australia.
Gary Allan is worth seeing live and if you are quick you can still catch him in Australia again on the 1st October 2014 at the Palais Theatre St Kilda, VIC and they are also performing at the Deni Ute Muster being held on the 3rd/4th October 2014 in Denilquin

 

You can keep up to with the band on his website or like his Facebook page.

Blackjack Billy @ The Enmore Theatre 25.9.14

In March this year I and a lot of other people were blown away by the Nashville band Blackjack Billy when they exploded on stage at CMC Rocks the Hunter. Six months later after a minor change in their line-up and the release of their first album Rebel Child they made a welcome return to Australia.

Blackjack Billy

Blackjack Billy

I was fortunate enough to be able to see their gig at the Enmore Theatre where they supported Gary Allan. Their unique style of redneck rock definitely appeals to the Australian country music fans and many that I spoke to had come primarily to see them again.

Noll Billings

Noll Billings

I was curious to see if the change in line up from a five piece band to four piece band would have any impact on their music and I was pleasantly surprised that they sounded just good as they did as a five piece band. The current line-up is the Noll Billings on vocals and acoustic guitar, Rob Blackledge on bass and vocals, Jeff Coplan on guitar and vocals and Brad Cummings on drums and vocals. It’s unusual that all members of a band are vocalists but it works well for Blackjack Billy.

Noll Billings

Noll Billings

They opened their set with the very catchy Blood Sweat and Beers which featured on both their Get Some EP and is also the new album. It was followed by a mixture of new and old songs, “Sugar Cane”, “Slow Dancing Under the Sheets”, “God’s Country”, “Working on You”, “Born to Ride” and “Sneaky Jesus”.

Jeff Coplan

Jeff Coplan

The set was rounded off with “Drinkalong”, “Get Some”, “Got a Feeling” and finished off with their signature song “The Booze Cruise“. Not too many of the crowd didn’t know the works to the “Booze Cruise”! All 11 songs performed on the night are on the new Rebel Child album.

Jeff Coplan

Jeff Coplan

Not only are each of the band talented musicians and vocalists but all songs were also penned by the band members.

Noll Billings of Blackjack Billy

Noll Billings of Blackjack Billy

Blackjack Billy’s music is high energy and infectious and coupled with the stage presence of Noll Billings it is easy to see why they have attracted so much attention both here and in the USA.
You can catch Blackjack Billy supporting Gary Allan again on the 28th September, 2014 at Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre, QLD on the 1st October 2014 at the Palais Theatre St Kilda, VIC and they are also performing at the Deni Ute Muster being held on the 3rd/4th October 2014 in Denilquin

Jeff Coplan  - Airborne

Jeff Coplan – Airborne

You can keep up to with the band on their website www.blackjackbilly.com or like their page on facebook page

Noll Billings

Noll Billings

Off The Wall

Earlier this year Jason Jackson asked me come along and to take a few photos of his Michael Jackson tribute show “Off the Wall 35th Anniversary Spectacular” at Bankstown Sports Club.

 

Jason Jackson - Off the Wall

Jason Jackson – Off the Wall

 

This is the 3rd show that Jason has asked me to photograph and each show has improved on the previous one. Every show has a bit of everything in it, amazing dance routines by both Jason Jackson & his Dangerous Dancers, great soundtrack, costumes, lighting, authentic props, fireworks, aerialists, contortionists and even pole dancing.

Jason Jackson & The Dangerous Dancers

Jason Jackson & The Dangerous Dancers

Jason has carefully selected his Dangerous Dancers for not only their dance skills and but also for their professionalism. The talent of his dancers is amazing to watch. His dancers were Jodie Kanner, Kristina Dickinson, Leizel Igadna, Chloe Galea, Terence Ignatius Castro, Bravo Rimba, Chris Cino, Cyrus Henry and Michael Borazio.

Jodie Kannar

Jodie Kannar

Rachel Papalia of Pole Perfect (Facebook Page Link ) performed a stunning routine that illustrated her flexibility and core strength.

Rachel Papalia

Rachel Papalia

Melise’ Avion who appeared on Australia’s Got Talent with the Other Superman showed amazing skills in the air and Emma McPherson impressed everyone with her agility and balance.

Melise' Avion

Melise’ Avion

Emma Macpherson

Emma Macpherson

Having had the opportunity to work behind the scenes with Jason & his team for a number of years I have now seen how much hard work goes into each show and the degree of professionalism displayed by everyone involved. Months of training is undertaken by the dancers to learn the dance routines for each show.   Hours and hours of design and sewing have gone into every costume that Jason Jackson and his Dangerous Dancers wear.

Jason Jackson

Jason Jackson

This particular show celebrated the 35th Anniversary of the release of Michael Jackson’s Off the Wall Album but was not limited to songs from that album.

The show featured choreographed dances to 23 of Michael Jackson’s songs including “Rock With You“, “Off the Wall“, “Burn this Disco Out“, “She’s Out of My Life“, “Don’t Stop Till You Get Enough” from the Off The Wall album and also some of the classics such as “Bad“, “Thriller“, “The Way You Make Me Feel” and “Blame it on the Boogie“.

Prior to being involved with Jason’s performances I was not huge fan of Michael Jackson but my involvement has made me realise how talented he was as a performer. I now look forward to seeing Jason Jackson’s shows.

The Off The Wall Show

The Off The Wall Show

If you haven’t seen one of Jason Jackson’s shows yet then I highly recommend that you do as it is quite easy to believe that you are at a Michael Jackson show.

There are 3 shows coming up that you book tickets for now:

27th June 2014 at Castle Hill RSL, 28th June 2014 at Evan Theatre, Panthers and the 13th September 2014 at Bankstown Sports Showroom. Full details are available on Jason Jackson’s website (link) with a link to enable you to purchase tickets.  Jason also has a page on Facebook (Link).

 

Diana Rouvas @ Gingers 9.5.14

Ever since first hearing Diana Rouvas on The Voice in season 1 (2012) I have been waiting for the opportunity to see her perform a show of her own and last Friday night I had that opportunity when she performed to a sell-out crowd at Gingers.

Diana Rouvas

Diana Rouvas

If you don’t know Gingers it is a very intimate venue in Darlinghurst and is attached to the Oxford Hotel.  The stage, whilst small, had enough room to accommodate Diana and her seven piece band which comprised back-up singers Rob Edwards, Paula Baxter and Tabitha Ojeah (all awesome singers in their own right), Eric Aranda on guitar, Steve Marin on drums, Cesar Marin on bass and Ben Sekali on keyboard.

The lighting at Gingers is very dim and makes it difficult for photographers but the ambiance it created suited Diana’s performance and allowed the audience to focus solely on her without distraction.

Diana sml  V02A5002

Diana Rouvas

Supporting Diana was blues singer Aaron Lyon who sang a few of his originals for half an hour prior to Diana’s performance.  Keep an eye out for him as he is one to watch too with his well written and sung ballads.

Diana opened with one of her originals, “My Morning” and proceeded to wow the audience as she played a set of songs that allowed her to showcase her obvious talent.  Original songs included “If I Never Said Hello” which was recorded by Diana in the USA with Rufus, “Heads or Tails” which Diana wrote when she was only 17, “Steavie”, “Heaven”, her new single “Heart of Goodbye” which is quite a catchy song.  To me it has a 70’s /80’s sound to it which I quite like and I can see it appealing to a wider audience. “Wait for No One” was another original  by Diana Rouvas and it’s about her career and the advice that she received from her then boss about making things happen and not waiting for someone else to do something.

The covers performed were Bonnie Raitt’sI Can’t Make You Love Me”, David Ryan Harris’sSweetest Berry”,  Donny Hathaway’sI Love You More Than You’ll Ever Know” and the final song  was T Bone Walker’sStormy Monday”.  There have been many covers of “Stormy Monday” but this was the best one that I have ever heard.

Diana Rouvas is a passionate and emotive singer with a voice that most singers can only dream of having and is backed by a very tight and talented band. Special mention needs to be made of Eric Aranda’ s guitar solos which were another highlight of the night.

It’s been a long time coming but Diana is currently working on her EP and I can’t wait for it to be released.  Her current single is available on Itunes.  You can keep up with future gigs by following Diana’s page on Facebook

Diana Rouvas

Diana Rouvas

Andrew Strong @ Taronga 14.2.14

It wasn’t that long ago that I attended an Andrew Strong gig and he just keeps on getting better each time I see him.  Last night’s show was no exception as Andrew Strong ensured that everyone had a great time and before too long most of the crowd were on their feet dancing.  There was a small glitch with the lighting which necessitated an unplanned break early into the set but that was quickly resolved and after that the lighting was excellent. The sound was also great and could be heard easily from everywhere in the concert area.

Andrew Strong @ Taronga Zoo

The performance was at Sydney’s Taronga Zoo as part of the Twilight At Taronga Summer Concert Series which is a picnic style setting – bring your own picnic and blanket or you can buy something to eat there if you prefer.  If you are thinking of going to a concert there make sure you are early as the best patches of grass disappear quickly.  The only concern is that it is outdoors and the weather could pose a problem however we were fortunate that the rain held off.  Umbrellas are discouraged so bring a rain poncho just in case.

Andrew Strong with Dancers @ Taronga

Since the last gig Andrew Strong has added some dancers to the show and they added to and improved the overall visual appeal of the show. With a band of this size (8 musicians and singers plus up to 4 dancers) you need a large stage to fit them all comfortably and last night was the perfect venue.

Andrew Strong Dancing the Night Away

With the beautiful Sydney harbour behind the stage, pleasant weather (the rain held off) and being Valentine’s day it was fitting that there were also two public marriage proposals on stage.  I am happy to say that both proposals were accepted.

Andrew Strong and back-up singer Val

Andrew Strong and his band not only performed hits from the Commitments movie such as “Hard to Handle”,” Mustang Sally”,” Land of a Thousand Dances”,” Show Me”,” Try a Little Tenderness” and “Treat Her Right” but also Steppenwolfe’s  “Born to Be Wild” and The Spencer David Group’s “Gimme Some Lovin’”.

Andrew in the spotlight

Andrew at Taronga

The concert went for 2 hours and which seemed to go way too quickly for my liking as it was a totally enjoyable and relaxing night.  I will be keeping an eye out for future visits to Australia by the Irish singer to Australia as his concerts are worth attending.

This review was also published the Get Shot Magazine

Lee Kernaghan & The Wolfe Brothers – 16th November 2013

If I had to use one word to describe Lee Kernaghan it would be Entertainer.  He is an artist that knows how to best use his time on stage and thoroughly entertains the audience with a performance that has a bit of everything from Lee Kernaghan originals to Slim Dusty classics to Jerry Lee Lewis songs on the keyboard.

Lee on the Keyboards

The audiences love him and with The Wolfe Brothers backing him on stage you are guaranteed a great night.  Lee creates a party atmosphere including the streamers fired out over the audience.

Although the tour was to promote his latest album Beautiful Noise Lee performed hits from most of his albums.  Unlike a lot of other artists, Lee encourages participation by the audience and invited the River Oak Cowgirls on stage during “Boys from the Bush”.  The girls were more than prepared and had their own lyrics printed on a sign. Lee also encouraged the fans to take videos and photos so he obviously recognises the power of social media as a form of advertising.

 

River Oak Cowgirls on stage with Lee Kernaghan

The Wolfe Brothers and Lee Kernaghan seem to have really created a great team that work well with each other on the stage.

Nick Wolfe and Lee Kernaghan

Dan Conway is another artist who has come to light through Australia’s Got Talent (2011 Series Finalist) and he also played guitar for Lee Kernaghan for the entire set.

The Wolfe Brothers and Dan Conway

Lee Kernaghan and the Wolfe Brothers performed their own version of the country classic, “Lights on the Hill” which was written by Joy McKean and made famous by her husband Slim Dusty. The song, when originally performed by Slim Dusty actually won the first Golden Guitar Award way back in 1973.

The crowd loved “Ute Me” from the Beautiful Noise album and  Lee encouraged even more audience participation offering a free “Ute Me” singlet to any females that took their top off near the stage – there were quite a few volunteers so a few singlets were given away.

Crowd Pleaser

The fans just lapped up the performance and seemed to know all the words to the songs performed.  Other songs of note that Lee performed were the title track from the latest album “Beautiful Noise”, “She’s my Ute”, “Great Balls of Fire”, “Outback Club”, “Dirt” and “The Way It Is”.

Brodie Rainbird

Lee Kernaghan seems to have worked out what his fans like and just continues to produce hits.  His albums are backed up by great live performances such as I photographed tonight and he is the “Entertainer” of Australian Country Music.

Lee Kernaghan

 

The Wolfe Brothers – 16th November, 2013

After being blown away by the performance of The Wolfe Brothers at CMC Rocks the Hunter earlier this year I purchased both their debut EP and debut album to listen to on the drive back from Hope Estate.  As good as the recorded music was I was still itching to catch another live show.  With the band hailing from Tasmania I didn’t think that I had much of a chance but not long after CMC they caught the attention of Lee Kernaghan and were invited to tour with him on his Beautiful Noise tour.  Not only are they the support band for Lee Kernaghan but they have now also become the backing band for his own performances.

The Wolfe Brothers

 

It is been a whirlwind year for the band that were runners up in Australia’s Got Talent in 2012 and have now been nominated for 4 Golden Guitars –  APRA Song of the Year (“The Girl, The Bottle, The Memory”); Group or Duo of the Year; New Talent of the Year; and Australian Top Selling Album of the Year (It’s On) at the 2014 CMAA Country Music Awards.

I managed to catch their performance in the Diamond Auditorium at Blacktown Workers Club on the 16th November, 2013.

Nick Wolfe

Despite having a very busy year touring, the band members, brothers Nick & Tom Wolfe, Brodie Rainbird and Casey Kostiuk have not lost any enthusiasm and create a real and exciting presence on stage with their own style of country rock.

In their set they performed most of the songs on their debut album It’s On including “One Way State Of Mind”, “Wake Up”, “The Girl The Bottle The Memory”, “It’s On”, “Lovin’ In The Summertime” , “All We Wanna Do” and “Bad Man Outta Me”.

All too soon the set was over but luckily there was more to come when they returned to perform with Lee Kernaghan. The band’s performance was very polished and thoroughly enjoyable with many fans waiting around after the show for autographs and photos with the band members.

Tom Wolfe

I can see the Wolfe Brothers having a long and successful career in the music industry.  With a debut album brimming with quality songs all written by band members fans can look forward to more quality music being produced.  The songs were all written about personal experiences and the audience seemed to connect well with the band’s lyrics and style.  I was particularly impressed with how the band engaged the audience with insights into the situation or experiences that led to the songs being written.

If I were asked to describe the band I would say that they are an exciting close knit band with their own unique style of country rock.  The Wolfe Brothers are a band to watch and I can see them attracting international attention before too much more time has passed.

Tom Wolfe and Brodie Rainbird

 

The Beautiful Noise tour is nearing the end but there are still two more chances to catch the band performing before it finishes for the year.  You can catch them at either The Mingara Recreation Club on the Central Coast on Friday 22nd November 2013 or at The Cube, Campbelltown Catholic Club on the 23rd November 2013.

The Apprentices – Rooty Hill RSL 27th May, 2013

The Apprentices

Collectively, Makaylie Foodey, Kaylah Anne, Georgia White and Hannah Smith are known as The Apprentices.  These young ladies were handpicked by the well respected and the very much in demand record producer Rod McCormick to create The Apprentices as a means of helping young artists reach a wider audience.

All four of them have superb voices and show a maturity beyond their years.  This was their first show that I had the pleasure of attending and The Waratah Room at the Rooty Hill RSL was the perfect venue to showcase the ability of The Apprentices and the quality of their music.

Each of the group are accomplished singers in their own rights and they each performed a solo set of 10 songs during the show with group performances between sets.

Georgia White was the first to perform a solo set which including 4 Non Blondes“What’s Up, Carrie Underwood’s “I Told You So”The Wreckers’ “Crazy People” and some amazing original songs  that she wrote or co-wrote “Cry Cry Cry”, “Mesmerise” and “All the Wrong Reasons”.  Georgia’s voice, especially on “Cry Cry Cry” and “All the Wrong Reasons” can transport you back to the era of Patsy Cline.  It was a very polished performance by very talented young woman.

Georgia White

All four artists were back on stage to perform the Beatles’ classic “Come to Together” which was well received by the audience and demonstrated how they can perform together as a group.

Kaylah Anne was next to perform her solo set and opened it with an original song “Wild Side” from the Apprentices’ debut album which was released at the Tamworth Country Music Festival in January, 2011.  Kaylah then performed my favourite song from The Wreckers “Leave the Pieces” followed by Rod Stewart’s “First Cut is the Deepest” and then another original from the debut album “Four Leaf Clover”.  Kaylah’s talent continued to shine as she performed her own song about the regrets of a young girl “Losing What I Never Had”.  I really enjoyed Kaylah’s version of Kasey Chamber’s “Guilty as Sin” and Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy”.  “Deadweight” from the latest album was my favourite song of Kaylah’s and I can see her with a big future in the music industry.

Kaylah Anne

Next to perform a solo act was Makaylie Foodey who has not only written her own songs but has recently co-written a song which appears on Gina Jeffries latest album.  Makaylie opened the set with her first single “Butterflies” and then continued to impress as she performed another 9 songs from Katy Perry’s “Waking Up in Vegas” to Fleetwood Mac’s “Go Your Own Way” to Tracy Chapman’s “Fast Car”.  Makaylie also performed her own songs including “Light a Match”, “Take it Back” and “Walk on By Again” which are a country/pop blend of music and highlighted not only her vocal talents but her song writing ability.

Makaylie Foodey

The Apprentices then performed their own version of the Doobie Brothers’ classic hit “Listen to Music” before Hannah Smith commenced her set.  Hannah is a big fan of the Dixie Chicks and included great versions of “Good Bye Earl” and “Travelling Soldier” in her set.  It was a varied set and included a number of original songs, “Blood is Thicker than Water”, “The Ghost of You” and “Losing Faith”. “Losing Faith” is about dealing with her grandmother’s dementia and it’s a prime example of her song writing skills whilst also showing a maturity not normally displayed by someone so young.   Hannah finished her set with Dolly Parton’s “Coat of Many Colours” and another of my favourite songs, Gretchen Wilson’s “Redneck Woman”.

Hannah Smith

The final song performed by The Apprentices was Cindy Lauper’s “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” which was a fitting song to finish the performance with as they genuinely seemed to be enjoying themselves throughout the show.

The Apprentices 2

Overall, the performance was one that would encourage fans to see them again and buy their music, I know that I did and have since listened to the Light a Match album quite a few times.  They may have to consider changing their name in the near future as I think that they have already  served their apprenticeship and are streets ahead of a lot of performers their age.

For further information visit their website

I can be contacted through this website or by email malcolm@fireflyphotos.com.au  if you need any promotional photos, live music photos or reviews.

Andrew Strong and the Commitments

For those of you that don’t know Andrew Strong, in 1992 at the age of 16 he was the lead singer in the Alan Parker’s movie The Commitments. He had a powerful voice back then and nothing has changed.  It has now been 21 years since the release of the movie and Andrew Strong has hand picked musicians to join him on a tour of Australia.

Having seen Andrew Strong perform on a previous visit to Australia I couldn’t wait to see him perform again and despite the 2hr mid week drive each way to The Entrance Leagues Club I was determined to see him perform.  I wasn’t disappointed!

Andrew Strong @ The Entrance Leagues Club

Before the current show at the Entrance he had already performed in Fremantle, Darwin and Coffs Harbour with many more towns to come.

The Entrance Leagues Club is a small venue which quickly filled and I doubt if anyone in the audience was disappointed with the performance.  Andrew is such a powerful singer and he sung all the classics from the movie including “Mustang Sally”, “In The Midnight Hour”, “Dark End of the Street”, “I Thank You”, “Show Me”, “Treat Her Right” and “Hard to Handle”.

Andrew Strong

The stage was jam packed with all 8 members of the band including a female back-up singer who sang “I Never Loved A Man” and a few of the other female lead songs from the movie.  It was a shame that Andrew didn’t bring the original “Commitmentettes” (Angeline Ball, Maria Doyle Kennedy and Bronagh Gallagher) but not having them there did not detract from the quality of the show.

Great to see that Andrew still enjoys performing the songs from the Commitments

It wasn’t only Andrew who enjoyed himself

Any new or even established artists that need to develop a stage presence and learn how to work the crowd should go to a few of Andrew’s shows as he had the audience eating out of his hands and screaming out for more at the end of the night. Andrew is one of the few artists that I never tire of listening to!  His music has a timeless quality about it and he sings it so passionately.

Andrew Strong in action at the Entrance Leagues Club

I enjoyed the gig so much that I have already purchased tickets to see him again in Sydney later this month.

Andrew’s Website is http://www.andrewstrong.com/

The support acts on the night were Mark Cashin and the Lil Hussy’s https://myspace.com/markcashinband and the Blues Angels https://www.facebook.com/pages/BluesAngels/128130360530913

McAlister Kemp @ Wallacia Hotel 17.8.13

One of the newest venues for country music in the west of Sydney is the recently renovated Wallacia Hotel.   I headed out there not long ago to see a live performance by McAlister Kemp who are huge in stature and sound.   If I had to nominate a country band that will make it big then this would be the one.  Drew McAlister and Troy Kemp share the vocals with their powerful voices.   Their songs really appealed to the crowd who didn’t take long to get up and dance in front of the stage.

There is a perception amongst those that do not really know country music that it is quiet and boring.  If this is what you think then I suggest that you head out and catch one McAlister Kemp’s gigs and that view will still be dispelled as the band belts out some huge country rock numbers.  On the night they played all their hits “Country Proud”, “All Kinds of Tough”, “Hell Yeah”, “It Don’t Buy You Love”, ”Blue Collar Nights”,  “It Don’t Buy You Love” and “Hard Work”.  The crowd were also treated to the unveiling of their new single “Harder to Tame”.

It’s not only the audiences that they have won over with their music and lyrics but also international stars.  McAlister Kemp not only supported Alan Jackson when he toured Australia but were also invited to the USA to perform by Big & Rich.

Both Drew and Troy are accomplished songwriters and their lyrics resonate with the country music fans as they write about life and the issues that we all face.

The band’s appeal is not limited to a specific generation as the young and not so young members of the crowd were singing along to the hits all night.

They have released two albums so far All Kinds of Tough (2010) and Country Proud (2012).  A new album Harder to Tame will be released in January 2014 to coincide with the Tamworth Country Music Festival.

Their music sound and style appears to be heavily influenced by American country music which I personally really enjoy.

 

If you are looking for a great night of entertainment then this country rock band may be just what you are looking for and they may just change your perception of country music.  They are loud and energetic and have quickly learnt how to engage the audience.

Future gigs and announcements can be found on their website http://www.mcalisterkemp.com/

As for the Wallacia Hotel, the food is great and the outdoor entertainment area is huge with plenty of it undercover.  As an entertainment venue it has a huge potential with my only suggestion being that they need to remove a post that is in the middle of the stage.  It really divided the stage in two and made it difficult for the audience to see everything.

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