Review: Hein Cooper and Patrick James at The Basement, 4 March 2016

Originally posted on Music Insight:

Sydneysiders were treated to a special performance by singer-songwriters Hein Cooper and Patrick James on Friday night. The Basement, with it’s old world jazz club setup, provided the perfect venue for the intimate show.

Despite a slight delay with soundcheck, the crowd was in high spirits and were happy to chat amongst themselves. Cooper warmly greeted the audience before getting stuck into his opening number Polar Bears, written about his little brother.

“This is a really special day because someone in the room has released an album – and it’s me,” said Cooper afterwards, referring to his debut album The Art of Escape.

Using loop pedals and a synthesiser, Cooper delivered songs like Curse My LifeLuna Sky and Overflow with confidence and a musical approach all of his own. Strumming his way into our hearts with track All My Desires, the folk-rock musician hit the half way mark in style as he stated, “This is a song about all the shit I don’t have, that I want.”

Cooper even managed to squeeze in a cover he’s been working on. “Who’s seen the Twitter feud between Kanye West and Deadmau5?” asked Cooper – a perfect anecdote before kicking into his acoustic rendition of West’s Runaway.

Leaving us with title track The Art of Escape, Cooper graciously gave thanks to his partner in crime at the end of his set.

“Enjoy Patrick James – he’s a bloody legend!”

With that, Patrick James hit the stage accompanied by his band – all commanding presence and lushes locks. The ever upbeat and folksy track In New Light was our first taste of what we could expect from the Port Macquarie native the rest of the night.

“How you doing, Sydney? Thanks for coming out tonight,” said James.

Long time fans cheered when they heard the familiar sounds of track Bugs and were even given the chance to sing the lyrics back to an ecstatic James.

“I’ve recorded 20 different versions of this song, and this is the one I’ve loved the most,” he said.

James later demonstrated his musical prowess in Kings and Queens as he hopped on the piano to give us a smooth love ballad, captivating the audience as some stood eerily silent, taking it all in.

Makes Me StrongerAll About To Change and Message followed, but the highlight of his set was a cover of John Farnham’s Two Strong Hearts, and judging by the delight of the attendees it was theirs, too.

The crowd demanded an encore, which James generously gave with a cover of The Killers’Runaways – somewhat of a theme on the evening.

It’s rare when artists sound just as good, if not better than they do on their respective albums, but Cooper and James handled the task effortlessly.


Review: The Maine at the Factory Theatre


Originally posted on Music Insight:

Not even a scorching hot first day of summer could deter Sydney fans from seeing The Maine live at the second show of their Australian headline tour on Tuesday night. The tour was held in support of their new album American Candy, released earlier in the year.

The moment you walked through the doors, Sydney’s Factory Theatre enveloped you in a cool frosty hug, breathing new life into all those who had perspired most of it outside. The venue had ample space, which filled up pretty quickly once the show was about to start.

Sydney’s alt-rock quintet Far Away Stables revved up the audience with an electrifying performance all of their own – despite some initial technical difficulties. Next up were fellow Sydney-siders With Confidence whom had the crowd eating out of the palm of their hands, surprising everyone with an unexpected cover of The Killers’ Mr Brightside.

When it came time for The Maine to hit the stage, they didn’t disappoint. The night was filled with straight up rock tunes, hilarious anecdotes and frontman John O’Callaghan’s life philosophies – which we suspect had more to do with the beer he’d been downing throughout the night.

This is our first headlining tour here [in Australia], so thank you!

Kicking off the show with Another Night On Mars, O’Callaghan stood centre stage in all black, his Rolling Stones tee proudly on display as he sang, “What’s another night on Mars, with friends like ours, anywhere is home.” We were then hit with a raucous version of track Right Girl from their 2010 album, Black and White.

Despite looking a little jet-lagged, the boys were in great spirits. O’Callaghan enthusiastically greeted the crowd saying, “Thanks from the depths of our souls for being here tonight.”

The band played a collection of songs from all five of their studio albums, but old favourites, Everything I Ask ForMiseryI Must Be Dreaming and a solo acoustic version of Into Your Arms performed by O’Callaghan generated the most noise from the crowd.

As the Arizonians took a bit of breather, O’Callaghan took the chance to thank fans for their enthusiasm and devotion over the years. “This is our first headlining tour here [in Australia], so thank you!” he said.

Upbeat tracks like Diet Soda SocietyEnglish Girls and Am I Pretty? from their most recent album, American Candy had the masses dancing and singing along, sometimes drowning out O’Callaghan’s vocals – much to his delight.

The band invited everyone to come say hi after the show before rocking out to title track American Candy.

This may have been the five-piece outfit’s first headline gig down under, but their stellar performance has left Aussie audiences with an urge for more.

Review: Mike Waters, Oxford Art Factory, 12 June 2015

Mike Waters

Originally posted on Music Insight:

Many talented local and international acts have played at Sydney’s Oxford Art Factory, and now Melbourne’s Mike Waters has added his name to the list following the launch of his debut EP Life last Friday night.

Before the indie-pop singer-songwriter graced the stage, fellow Australian musicians Jake Howden and Ed Wells warmed up the crowd with their original songs and surprising renditions of Carly Rae Jepsen’s Call Me Maybe and Chet Faker’s I’m Into You.

Opening with new tracks Shiver and Dirty Bones, Waters’ decision to start with lesser known songs surprised all but worked in his favour, with his memorable acoustic sound immediately entertaining.

Between songs, Waters took in his surroundings, impressed by the overall atmosphere of the place. “[This is] such a cool venue, I’ve never played somewhere like this before,” he said.

For those who haven’t been to the Oxford Art Factory’s Gallery Bar before, it’s a warm and inviting venue with its eclectic collection of vinyl records stitched together on the ceiling like an odd fishing net, large leather booths and dimmed red lighting – perfect for an intimate gathering on a cold winter’s night.

Looking relaxed in his beanie, tee and jeans, Waters hooked the crowd with Daisy, a light-hearted jam featuring wistful whistling and brutally honest lyrics about unrequited love, before slipping back into unknown territory with unreleased number My Own Worst Enemy and Set Sail.

A fan of English band Daughter, Waters executed a stripped back version of Youth – just a man, his vocals and guitar – an ideal arrangement for the cosy room.

Delivering an emotionally driven performance of Dreams, Waters revealed, “I wrote this song about my mum before she died.”

With grief and irrefutable hope, he sang, “Don’t be sad just think of me and smile / Go live your dreams as I’d been living mine”.

Continuing on with the deeply personal theme, Waters launched into Heavy Hand, a song about helping a friend through depression. His use of a loop pedal however reminded everyone of another famous ginger with an attachment to his guitar and layered arrangements.

At times, Waters’ vocals were in jeopardy of being lost in the overall chatter of the crowd, but he effortlessly pulled rank with buoyant well-known track Gambling Man before closing the night with ballad Girls Like You and homesickness-infused Feels Like Home.

The humble musician has an nonchalant approach to his stage presence, letting the music lead you to where you need to be, generating deep sentiment with his lyrics and a joyous thrill with his impeccably strummed guitar.