HELLO, IT’S US
A vast array of talent will adorn Australian stages in the summer months, writes Iain Shedden
There aren’t many artists in the history of pop who have made their Australian stage debut in stadiums — but then, not everyone is Adele. The English star ended months of speculation recently by announcing that she would bring her world tour down under in February and March. Since then Adele has sold close to 500,000 tickets for her performances in Australia, which begin at Perth’s Domain Stadium on February 28.
It’s a tour that will undoubtedly be one of the highlights of 2017, but there’s a broad cross-section of talent performing in Australia over the summer, surely something for everyone and a rich feast for those with eclectic tastes.
The festival season is well under way and there is plenty of music of all genres on offer over Christmas, the new year and beyond.
The touring Falls and Laneway festivals are two of the biggest attractions of the summer months, with a wealth of emerging and established talent from here and overseas on offer. Falls (Marion Bay, Tasmania; Lorne, Victoria; and Byron Bay, NSW) is bursting with buzz names, among them Childish Gambino, London Grammar, Ball Park Music, You Am I and Bernard Fanning.
Laneway, which begins its jaunt around the country in Brisbane on January 26, has local bands Tame Impala and Gang of Youths alongside international drawcards Glass Animals and Car Seat Headrest.
If folk and roots music is more your thing you might want to dip into the Woodford Festival in Queensland, which runs between December 27 and New Year’s Day. Its rich and varied line-up includes queen of dark cabaret Amanda Palmer, the delightful Melbourne duo Oh Pep!, hip-hop supremo Urthboy and American singer-songwriter and regular visitor to these shores Steve Poltz.
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds had a No 1 album with this year’s Skeleton Tree and their Australian tour next month promises to be another high point of 2017. They begin in Hobart on January 13 and will be joined for most of their trip by Australian experimental outfit the Necks.
Also here at roughly the same time is a singer who has shared a stage and recording studio with Cave, PJ Harvey. The revered English performer begins her tour at Fremantle Arts Centre in Western Australia on January 17.
Arts festivals in Sydney and Perth boast a strong music component (Cave and Harvey are part of the Sydney one). Sydney, which runs from January 7 to 29, also has acclaimed Boston combo Lake Street Dive and local Americana outfit Halfway in the ranks, as well as an all-star show, 1967: Music in the Key of Yes, which marks the 50th anniversary of the Australian referendum on the recognition of Aborigines in the Constitution. The performance on January 17 features Aboriginal performers including Dan Sultan, Leah Flanagan and Thelma Plum.
Perth, February 10-March 5, has Irish singersongwriter James Vincent McMorrow, Amer- ica’s Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats, and the intriguing migration song cycle production Flit, starring English folk singer Becky Unthank, Mogwai’s Dominic Aitchison and singer Adam Holmes, and led by composer and accordionist Martin Green, from the band Lau.
Also in February on the wine circuit a couple of 80s stalwarts, Simple Minds and the B-52s, are joining forces for a series of A Day on the Green performances that begins in Perth on February 2. They also have indoor shows in Melbourne and Sydney.
My personal picks for the next few months are quite diverse. At the top end, the return of Bruce Springsteen to Australia is exciting, a feeling somehow enhanced by reading this year’s excellent autobiography Born to Run, in which he gives of himself as much as he does in a four-hour performance. He’s here, with the E Street Band, for almost a month, starting in Perth on January 22.
The Tamworth Country Music Festival in January gets a mixed press. It’s a genre not to everyone’s liking, but each year, if you’re prepared to seek it out, there is a lot of talent on display, some of it in artists just emerging on to the country and Americana music landscape. The festival goes for 10 days — January 20-29 in the case of 2017 — and that’s a bit of a stretch, but you can see a whole lot in three or four days across a lot of venues.
High on my priority list will be Aussie songwriters William Crighton and Melody Pool on the same bill, likewise Sara Storer and Fanny Lumsden, and Bernard Fanning and Kasey Chambers.
Clockwise from main picture, Adele, PJ Harvey, Bruce Springsteen, Melody Pool and Dan Sultan