Ainslie Wills

Saw a great gig last Thursday, Ainslie Wills at the Toff, and thought I’d tell you about it. So here goes.

Ainslie Wills is awesome. She always has been, and she’s only getting better. Her new material is more accessible, more groovy, while still maintaining her classic style. And of course her old stuff has always been great, an alt-pop-jazz exploration of what can happen when someone with a musical imagination is allowed free reign on instruments and sensibilities usually reserved for mainstream music.

Her band is phenomenal – tight, warm and classy, with a hint of electronica thrown across a melange of acoustic virtuosity.

I hope they get very big indeed.

Now to the supports.

Richard In Your Mind

These guys are fantastic. Whole buncha sitar, psychedelic grooves, and trippy vocal duets. They’ve won the award for lets-get-crazy. Lead singer is a little guy with a big vibe, wispy beard and professor glasses. Standing next to a big hippy bassplayer with dreads. Crazy short-haired depeche-mode look-alike plays the harmonium. Dyed-in-the-wool 70s long-haired muppety guitar player. Gyrating lolling grinning tub-thumper pumps out hypnotic trippy grooves.

In a word – that’s entertainment.


Jamal was fun. Trippy electronic grooves, solo carni-style doof-dancing, lush instrumentation and great swathes of intriguing live computer-triggered tones. I dig where he’s coming from.


Went and saw Ben Salter at the Retreat last night. Amazeballs.

This guy can sing. And play. And move you to tears.

He’s just got that poet gentleman ruffian thing down pat. But he doesn’t try and force it down your throat.

His tunes are an interesting stylistic mix of trad Irish song, contemporary folk and melancholy heart-wrench. And they grip you from the moment he opens his mouth. Along with his layered effects and sophisticated guitar-playing, he presents a compelling solo act.

The effects were an interesting touch for someone of his genre mix – along with the loop pedal which he used to layer up swathes of random bird-like guitar tid-bits, he also employed a harmoniser pedal to create 3-part harmonies from his voice. And he used them to great effect, sometimes continuing the random guitar over an entire section of he song, switching the vocal harmoniser in and out to give emphasis to certain words, and building the sound to massive crescendos before allowing it drop back to just his voice.

All in all a stellar performance, as his album due out in a week and a half will attest – “The Stars My Destination”. You can check him out here.

A lot to be inspired by there. I hope you enjoyed reading about his performance as much as I did describing it to you!

Love Simon

It was all very surprising.

I’ve always thought that the festival of White Night a bit of a waste of time. Not to mention bad for the environment, with all that power used, and for what?

That was until I went there.

(null)My friends and I showed up at Melbourne Museum, expecting a bunch of drunken teenagers and barrier control. Instead we witnessed a beautifully calm and serene expression of visual bliss, accompanied by haunting music and a peaceful, respectful audience.

My bad.

I’m sure there were other sites that were a lot more crowded and chaotic, but this was magnificent. I’m happy to say we probably got the best of it.

I’m glad I was wrong about this festival.

Once we had finished dancing and singing and laughing and drinking and twirling and running and gazing and filming and smiling, there was nothing left to do but head into the city to find more. Kate, Travis, my partner Anita and I had long since lost the rest of our friends, but as we set off on foot to discover more of this delicious feast for the senses, we knew we had discovered something that had wowed us all – and that brought us together. No amount of cheap beer in a sports bar, the only pub we could find nearby, could put a dampener on that.

When Anita and I returned home, we found all our digital clocks had been reset by a power failure.

Perhaps too much current from White Night?

IMG_7981What an awesome time Adelaide, and it ain’t over yet.

First stop was the Sting/Paul Simon concert – super amazing. Sting has still got it – he put on an amazing show, commanding the stage with his blissed-out, yoga-infused presence while bawling with the power of a rastafarian godfather and hammering out fat fast grooves on his bass and various guitars. His drummer, the newly discovered incredible Vinnie Colaiuta managed to put a tasteful drum solo in every song – while making it seem natural. I know, crazy right? Just a powerhouse of radically stunning fills and colours all while staying out of the way of the other performers. Think The Police drummer Stewart Copeland, but with twice as much daring.

IMG_7995Paul Simon himself was also great – but in a different way. At the age of 74 (to Sting’s 66), he was feeling his way a bit more gingerly about the stage, coaxing his band in a gentle rather than fiery fashion. His voice had lost a bit of its focus and clarity, but still commanded the band through those timeless songs with an impact that was powerfully emotional to all, if the reactions of the people around me were anything to go by.

IMG_7986Also great was Sarah Blasko as support act – although somewhat diminished by the fact that she didn’t have drums and bass in her lineup, only sporting a guitarist and pianist, her lovely vocals and strong songs shone through as usual. Having clearly been instructed to not overshadow the main act with too big a sound, something I don’t necessarily agree with, she was forced to try and woo a largely indifferent crowd in a massive outdoor space with her small band. Her guitarist cleverly pumped out synth lines, and the pianist held down the charming sounds of her well-crafted, idiosyncratic sound with style, leaving her to croon away in her often-mournful but always beautiful manner.

IMG_8023Now to our performance. We had a great gig at Vinyl last night – good vibes and awesome wallpaper. The place looks like a 60s tropical wonderland with vintage patterns everywhere, palms in the bathroom and incredible unique food – try a Patatas Australis or the Kangaroo Baloney Sandwich.

Thanks also to the amazing Banjo Jackson who supported us, great songs and sweet sounds on acoustic and electric guitar, combined with the incendiary cuteness of his young daughter who begged to be picked up with her little dog during soundcheck, and waited patiently for her Dad during his set, jumping down straight after he finished saying “quick, quick” and running up for a hug.

After the gig we headed to the Garden of Unearthly Delights – an Adelaide Fringe Festival institution, consisting of incredible sideshows, mad gigs (Shaolin Afronauts last night) and frolicing happy punters. It goes for the duration of the Festival, home to the world-famous Spiegel Tent, numerous tenacious buskers and all sorts of circus gladness.

Now for a big party for Dad’s 70th birthday, and big surprise there!

Hope you’re all well wherever you are!
Love Simon

About to go and see Paul Simon live! This is a life-long dream for me – this guy was one of the first artists I ever listened to, and who inspired so much of my songwriting style.

In a few hours I’ll be listening to him onstage with Sting. That blows my mind.

Also supported by Sarah Blasko – she’s fantastic too!

I’ll be sure to post some photos! Playing at the Coopers Brewery in Adelaide.

Love Simon

If you love big-band latin-jazz this is an awesome live recording with a four-piece percussion section, crazy solos and giant overdubs with batás and vocal harmonies.

Check it out and hope you enjoy!