Sunday, August 31, 2008

Footy Almanac 2008

One of the best things I did in 2007 was a write a little article for my friend Paul Daffey. I assumed that the piece, about a game between the Fremantle Dockers and Collingwood at the MCG, would go onto Paul's website. It did. You can indulge us all by reading it here.

In fact the article formed part of a book, the Footy Almanac 2007, edited by Paul Daffey and Gentleman John Harms. The Almanac collected a lot of amusing, insightful writing about season 2007 from a wide range of blokes, most of whom, like me, are not professional writers.

The good news is that Paul and John have kicked on again for 2008. Here's the cover of this year's edition.

The 2008 Almanac will be out in late November, distributed by Penguin Books. I will have a piece in this one, too, about Fremantle against Richmond at the MCG. So does this make a Penguin author? The pressure is on...

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Paul Weller Melbourne 2008

Another Saturday night, another festival of geezer. Paul Weller worked his way through power supply problems to open his Australian tour at the Forum in Melbourne. Highlights included Changing Man, Eton Rifles and Too Much to Dream Last Night from 22 Dreams.

The sold out crowd matched him year for year, pound for pound. We aint getting any younger, folks. But unlike Morrissey or even Jarvis, Weller has not picked up a younger following. It's not surprising really since his song these days tends have a retrospective glow about it. The urgency of Eton Rifles or That's Entertainment (you want an anthem for a generation, I'll give you an anthem for a generation) is pretty much gone. However, I wouldn't pension him off quite yet. Each of Weller's phases has been so distinctive who is to say whether some other incarnation is not just waiting up the road. At least he is being true to himself. And 22 Dreams floats up enough possible threads for future action to keep us guessing.

One thing that puzzled me to the point of slight fatigue was the endless swapping of guitars. What gives, buddy? A rack at the back of the stage held around a dozen or so. Two battered acoustic guitars, two Telecasters, at least two semi-acoustics and others I can't exactly recall. Between songs seemed to be devoted to achieving Olympic records for guitar switching. I know the back catalogue offers a range of tones and textures (and he's the Modfather, he could what he damn well likes, thanks), but come on. Does Keith Richards change his guitars like this? 

Kim Salmon was recently explaining a how frustrated he became watching  the guitarist of a brand name band who needed a different instrument for every song the guy played. Kim made the point that a good guitarist should, within reason, be able to get the sound out of the guitar that he or she needs. A guitar player, like a writer, should develop their own voice, so that when you hear the sound, you know who's making it. Is it the tradesman, or is it the tools?

Michelle had a different take on all this guitar business. She says Weller's guitar fetish is like Carrie Bradshaw's craving for shoes. It's about showing off what you have got, impressing everyone you know with your vast collection of desirable items. I can't argue with that.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Robert Forster

Last night Michelle and I saw Robert Forster at the Toff in the Town.

At The Toff Robert played two sets and was in fine form throughout. A fistful of new ones salted with the best of his own and Go-Betweens' back catalogue. Plus Quiet Heart, written by Grant McLennan.  

The performance had a bristling freshness about it. His band included bass player Adele Pickvance, the implausibly talented Glen Thompson and a drummer who looked like he would have trouble getting into most licensed venues. 

The Australian has this nifty video.