Live Reviews: Taylor Swift, My Chemical Romance, Jessica Mauboy, Stevie Nicks, Elton John

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Taylor Swift – Brisbane Entertainment Centre

Taylor Swifts‘Speak Now World Tour’ has travelled across the globe and after 12 months it has finally wrapped up Down Under selling out multiple nights across the country. Taylor is one of the rare live performers who don’t just sing but can play multiple instruments, dance, interact with the crowd perfectly and can connect so emotionally with her songs because she has written them all. Opening with ‘Sparks Fly’ from her third studio album ‘Speak Now’, a massive stage is revealed with fireworks announcing the arrival of Ms Swift who pops up at the end of the runway. She launches into a two and a half hour production featuring drastic set changes, multiple costume changes, aerialists, fireworks, confetti, a slick band, a lot of breathtaking choreography and even a wedding ceremony. Throughout the show she plays a few different guitars, a banjo and a piano just to prove to anyone who ever doubted her musical ability. The real highlight of the show was when Taylor ran through the crowd during ‘Speak Now’ to the sound desk at the back of the arena where she played three songs on a rotating tree. This allowed everyone who attended the show a close up look at the starlet before she ran back through the crowd during ‘You Belong With Me’. The setlist was mainly made up of songs from her latest album ‘Speak Now’ but she did perform old favourites like ‘Our Song’, ‘Love Story’, ‘Fifteen’ and ‘Fearless’. It would have been great to have seen Taylor perform ‘Teardrops On My Guitar’which was her first breakthrough hit as an artist. She however treated the Brisbane audience to her first ever live performance of new single ‘Safe And Sound’ from The Hunger Games soundtrack. Her vocals were perfect the whole way through the show and her band was immaculate with a flawless production which captivated the whole crowd. The finale saw Taylor float above the crowd on a balcony with confetti falling from the roof giving the audience that perfect finale memory before the curtain closed on the nights show. If you missed out on this amazing show or you just want to simply relive it all over again her ‘Speak Now World Tour’ DVD is now available through music retailers. 5 Stars

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My Chemical Romance – Eatons Hill Hotel – 24 January 2012

My Chemical Romance have not been on our shores since 2007 when their Welcome To The Black Parade Tour dominated our shores. After pulling out from Soundwave 2010 the band have finally made their way back for the national Big Day Out festival. While being in the country for the festival the band announced they would be performing three intimate sideshows. Brisbane was the first stop on this tour and the crowds came out in numbers to welcome them back. They opened with ‘Na Na Na’ from their latest album ‘Danger Days’ and proceeded into a ninety minute set of mainly old songs from the bands previous albums. Lead singer, Gerard Way, commented “It looks like we have mostly old school My Chemical Romance fans so let’s give you all what you want”. Highlights included ‘Cemetery Drive’, ‘Cancer’, ‘Planetary’, ‘Helena’, ‘Teenager’, Welcome To The Black Parade’, and ‘Im Not Okay’. The band left the stage briefly and returned for a huge encore including new single ‘The Kids From Yesterday’ and ironic closing song ‘Famous Last Words’ which finished off what could not be possibly a better setlist. When watching the band perform live and interact with the crowd you can clearly see that they love performing on stage with Gerard Way bopping side to side. The band didn’t bring any theatrics or costumes with them like past tours but instead focused on producing a fantastic rock show which they delivered. Gerard’s vocals were perfect and sounded very similar to the recorded version, which is always great to hear. Support act Closure In Moscow put on a lukewarm performance with minimal movement on stage and awkward crowd interaction. The songs were decent but they should re think their on stage dynamics. This was a show for true My Chemical Romance fans and what a show it was.

Jessica Mauboy & Stan Walker – Caloundra RSL – 28 January 2012

Jessica Mauboy and Stan Walker joined forces on a track called ‘Galaxy’ which became one of the biggest songs of the summer and it was no surprise that when they toured the country most of their shows were sell-outs. When ‘The Galaxy Tour’ reached Caloundra the concert hall of the RSL was packed with a wide range of ages ready for a night filled with pop and urban music.

First on stage was Stan Walker who opened with an odd choice of ‘Amazing Grace’ and then went on to perform songs from his new album ‘Let The Music Play’. His performance was fairly boring as it was mainly slow songs and wasn’t until towards the end of his set when he performed ‘Choose You’, ‘Light It Up’, ‘Loud’ and new single ‘Music Won’t Break my Heart’ that the audience got up to dance and have a good time. Stan is very humble and likes to talk a lot between each song which gave the performance an intimate feeling. He produced a lot of laughs when he gave us a demonstration of him performing ‘My Heart Will Go On’ from ‘Titanic’ grasping onto his back up singers as if he was on the stern of a boat. He focused a lot on perfecting his vocals and therefore he sounded amazing and really proved why he deserved to win the competition in 2009. Overall this was a lukewarm performance and I have seen him better live in the past but this was majorly down to his choice of song structure.

Next up was Jessica Mauboy who didn’t mess around and went straight into her smash hit single ‘Inescapable’ wearing a breath taking dress which floated in the smoke and wind. She performed all her hits including ‘Running Back’, ‘Burn’, ‘Been Waiting’, ‘Get Em Girls’, and ‘Saturday Night’. As well as songs from her latest album ‘Get Em Girls’ and even a acoustic performance of her cover of ‘Time After Time’ by Cyndi Lauper. Jessica’s vocals are superb and she uses a lot of vocal acrobats to prove to everyone that she can sing and knows that she can. Throughout the show Jess has three quick costume changes which always keep things interesting. The whole crowd were on their feet for the entirety of the performance, dancing and singing along. During the encore Jessica and Stan joined together to perform a few duets including ‘What Happened To Us’ and the single which made it all possible ‘Galaxy’. It was a fantastic live show with both performers showing us why they are at the top of their game. They both stayed after the show for over an hour signing and having photos with all their fans which left everyone leaving with big smiles on their faces.

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Elton John – Brisbane Entertainment Centre – November 30 2011

It had been over four years since Sir Elton John last toured Australia so it was with no surprise that when he announced his 2011 Greatest Hits Tour that the tickets sold out. Opening the show tonight were the newest additions to Elton John’s touring band, Croatian cellists Luca Sulic and Stjepan Hauser. They performed their renditions of Rock Classics like ‘Smooth Criminal’, With Or Without You’, ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ and ‘Highway To Hell’ to an amazed sold out crowd by using only two amplified cellos. Their self titled album ‘2 Cellos’ is available online through ITunes and in store at Sanity. Brisbane was the first stop on the Australian leg of the tour and with the announcement of him battling a case of bronchitis the crowd stared at each other with astonishment because his voice still sounded perfect. It was noticeable that he was ill though in between songs when he talked and regularly had a drink and reached for his tissues. But being the professional that he is the show went on and he gave an incredible performance. The setlist included all of his greatest hits ‘Bennie And The Jets’, ‘Daniel’, ‘Rocket Man’, ‘Goodbye Yellow Brick Road’, ‘Candle In The Wind’, ‘Crocodile Rock’ and ‘Your Song’. He also received many standing ovations which Elton lapped up with him circling the stage praising each corner of the arena after nearly every single song. During the encore Elton went to the front of the stage to sign an item for each person who was at the front, which left the rest of the arena green eyed with envy. Elton John’s band sounded very tight and perfected giving those famous studio version songs that special live sound. This was a fantastic live show that was not to be missed and I for sure wont be missing out on seeing him next time he is back.

Stevie Nicks – Brisbane Riverstage – December 3 2011

Stevie Nicks is a living legend in her own right; she is the lead singer of Fleetwood Mac and has been entertaining audiences with her quirky stage presence for over 43 years. Nicks released her seventh studio album ‘In Your Dreams’ in February and has conducted a worldwide ‘In Your Dreams Tour’ which she brought to Australia during November and December. The Australian tour was supported by former Westlife member Brian McFadden as well as Dave Stewart from The Eurythmics who co-wrote and produced this record with her. Both McFadden and Stewart performed very enjoyable sets showcasing their greatest hits with Eurythmics classic ‘Sweet Dreams’ turning The Riverstage into frenzy.

The venue for the show was very intimate which gave all Patrons at the show a perfect vantage point no matter if you were in the gold or platinum sections or at the top of the hill in the general admission area. Nicks opened the show with her 1983 hit single ‘Stand Back’ but after the conclusion of that song she told the audience that “Tonight will not be a greatest hit show, I am here to promote my new record, something that I believe in and am really proud of”. Most of the setlist did come from the new album but she did perform many of her greatest hits including ‘Rhiannon’, ‘Landslide’, ‘Gold Dust Woman’ and what she announced as Fleetwood Mac’s ONLY number one single ‘Dreams’ which came as a shock to most of the audience.

Stevie Nicks is a fantastic storyteller, that why her songs are so captivating and she brings these songs alive in such a magical way which many performers cannot. So in typical Stevie Nicks fashion she was telling many anecdotes and one was about new song ‘Moonlight (A Vampires Dream)’ which was written about Twilights ‘New Moon’ in Brisbane during her last tour. She told the audience about how it was after that song that she decided that she wanted to return to the studio to record her seventh solo album and if it wasn’t for that piano in her Brisbane hotel room she would be home right now and not touring. For that particular show Nicks seemed very emotional and grateful towards the crowd. She remarked on security’s strict no standing rule in the seated zone saying she thought the audience hated her. She was very chatty throughout the show but it made her even more loveable and made the concert even more memorable.

Nicks voice sounds so much better live compared to the recorded versions and she looks even more beautiful and full of energy in person. However she did seem very nervous as she was always fidgeting with her sequins on her microphone stand. The show was sequinned well together with a fantastic video montage behind her throughout the show, three costume changes and an amazing live band who kept taking the audiences breaths away with their raw talent.

This show was one not to miss. Stevie Nicks knows how to put a fantastic show on and has the ability to make her audience want to come back for more.

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