One of the greatest songwriters of our, or any time, gives the Enmore crowd many reasons to Smile.

As a musician, producer and songwriter, Brian Wilson redefined the possibilities of a pop song. His recorded legacy will stand up in history. So many of his songs are timeless, yet time hasn’t always been so kind to him. The mere fact he is able to take to the stage at all is a minor miracle in itself.

When Wilson does take to the stage, and sits behind the keyboard where he spends the bulk of the night, the crowd erupts. The adulation is humbly waved off and he says “Okay here’s the deal, you sit back and relax and we’ll take care of business!” before launching into ‘Californian Girls’. There are few people that can afford to have such a classic used as a mere loosener. But this just isn’t like any normal show, this is a rare and privileged chance to hear some of the best regarded songs of our era performed by the man who wrote them.  While on the surface the themes and concepts are pretty simple, cars, surfing and girls, the music that accompanies them is vividly complex and rich. Such was the depth of the musical mastery Wilson was able to create on his own in the studio, it takes ten people on stage to recreate it live.

A song made famous by Barry Mannilow, which was written about Wilson, contains the line “I wrote the songs that made the whole world sing”, and it was certainly the case tonight as most of the utterly elated crowd sang along to these words that mean so much to them.

While a prompter screen at the front of his keyboard is a clue to some of the damage he has suffered during his lost years, Wilson remains bright and alert throughout and offers numerous introductory asides for the songs. ‘The Little Girl I Once Knew’ was “In my top five favourite songs I’ve ever written, but we released it and it never even made the charts” and ‘Surfer Girl’ introduced as “the first song I ever wrote”. At one point he urges anyone in the crowd that has a cigarette lighter to get them out before belting into ‘I Get Around’. A brilliant version of ‘Heroes and Villains’ described as “a chance for the band to show off their singing”.

The most uttered comment of the night was “the band are amazing”, and they truly were. His backing group, The Wondermints, containing in their ranks a mixture of long time lieutenants and hot young bucks, all giving Wilson and his music the upmost reverence. The size of the occasion not lost on Dewey Bunnell of touring partners America who when invited up to assist with part of what has to be one of the most epic encores the Enmore has ever witnessed (‘Good Vibrations’, ‘Johnny B Goode’, ‘Help Me Rhonda’, ‘Barbara Ann’, ‘Surfin USA’ and ‘Fun Fun Fun’) spent his whole time on stage taking photos with his phone of the magic unravelling around him.

A bow and then one final send off “We’ve rock and rolled all night and now we are going to leave you with a little love message – ‘Love and Mercy’” bought to a close a heartening night showcasing some of the best moments of music ever made.


The floors of the Metro were sparsely populated for Melbourne lass Pikelet, but made the most of her time with some intriguing guitar and gadget wonky pop.

The crowd swelled immensely in time for the Texan headliner, who had bought along his backing band The Grogs for his first visit to our shores since 2004. Banhart bounded out with a grin and graciously individually introduced the band as his first order of business before they got things going with ‘Long Haired Child’. There were extravagant arm movements and bad dancing aplenty contributing the whole ‘gosh darn’ pleasant vibe permeating through the room.

The band weren’t mere backing musicians, with the drummer giving an intro worthy of a TV evangelist “here’s Devendra coming at you with some words of love” for the jaunty ‘Baby’. An intimate solo bracket followed, of just Banhart with an acoustic, no fuss, low lights and it resulted in big cheers. Banhart’s between song banter ranged from the almost sermon-like ‘I take everything as a sign from God’ to rants against smokers, to observations on Eddy Murphy’s Raw to reminiscing about things that took place at “an intersection in San Francisco”.

So while you have this uniquely entertaining and endearing individual – who everyone had been waiting years to see and with people hanging of his every word – he was diluted somewhat by his egalitarian belief in sharing the spotlight with his bandmates. Everyone got a turn singing, songs gave way to jams, and we even got “a reggae song played by white people”. While the set was enjoyable enough, it all just got a bit ‘holiday resort’ in its tone, which for a big room of folks on a simmering summer night probably isn’t such a bad thing, really. But I was left to ponder how good a smaller venue, solo scenario would have been to showcase this idiosyncratic individual, though I ‘spose he at least got shirtless for the encore, if you are into that sort of thing.

Girl Talk – Feed the Animals”

Hearing Feed the Animals is like listening to ten albums at once. Girl Talk – or Gregg Gillis to his mum – creates excitable party music by the seamless and meticulous melding of numerous samples into eminently danceable pop-tastic blasts. Feed The Animals contains more than 300 samples ranging from hilarious hair-metal, hands in the air party anthems, riff-filled classic hits to bad-ass rap, yet Gillis comfortably sees disparate genres snuggle warmly side by side for the common good of getting’ down and has pretty much made the ‘shuffle’ button obsolete.

Jack Ladder – Love is Gone

The lady’s left, the heart is broken, love is gone – what’s a poor feller to do? Grab his hat and guitar and head to New York. The Big Apple has given formerly folksy lad Jack Ladder some pomp, sass and soul. He’s always had the compelling, deep rich voice and the ear for the classic songwriters; this newfound worldliness has seen him take great steps to becoming one. Love is Gone is a whopping great swaggering leap forward from Ladder’s 2005 debut, showing a new level of assuredness with his music and song writing and lyrical truths that are just that much more universal.

Rolo Tomassi – Hysterics

Sheffield-based, sibling-led sensations Rolo Tomassi have unleashed an album that is destined to be played at objectionable volume in teenage bedrooms the world over. This is a band that would just go completely ape-shit live and they’ve managed to capture that unrestrained, throbbing manic energy onto tape. Its all-jarring tempo changes, searing riffs and the throat-grating curdling wail of scorching singer Eva Spence. Throw in a bit of misdirected angst to spice up the lyrics, add the unrelenting urgency of effusive youth let loose on all manner of instruments and you’re left with a pretty damned exciting debut

Amaya Laucirica – Sugar Lights

You don’t always need a TV show to unearth Australian talent. It just took a move from rural SA to the big smoke of Melbourne for Amaya Laucirica’s talents to be discovered and realised. Laucirica sings with a languid, unhurried breathiness and a stark honesty, with the songs providing a glimpse into quite a transient and troubled heart. While some of the lyrical matter may be rustic, the musical accompaniment is anything but, with Mick Harvey assisting the spirited and haunting arrangements. Sugar Lights is an ultra-assured debut combining an illuminating and delectable display of influence and insight.

An investigation of the important and iconic album covers for the photography issue of Kluster.

A short 50 second battle hymn escorts us into Institut Polaire’s debut album; leaving us with a mariachi blast at the door before the lovely, sprawling ‘Leaving Her Shook’ drags us in. “A history book that was yellowed like the teeth of the dead” is the first of many lines that stick with you through the hazy strumming. It has taken the band six years to get an album on the shelves, and you can see why when you hear all the musical craftsmanship that goes into their songs. Currently numbering seven members, Institut Polaire have made their mayflowers utilizing everything from banjo, accordion and trumpet to embellish and accompany the ‘twang on the breeze vocals and strolling song structures.

The sounds are so well constructed that no tone or mood ever dominates, with each element only adding to the occasion. Keyboards tinkle teasingly ahead of ascending verses, handclaps and harmonies pop up to push along an already pleasing chorus. Throw in sone lush female backing vocals and some cheeky riffs and this album will indeed take you on an adventurous voyage. They sing “A mild form of fame is all we’re after” and this impressive debut will go a long way to making it so.

Early Summer is the second album from Melbourne’s Amaya Laucirica and it solidly builds on the sounds found on her impressive debut Sugar Lights. Laucirica’s striking voice has that almost rustic inflection that sits comfortably above some snap and twang, yet on Early Summer layers of keyboards, piano and strings add more weight, tension and ambience to the music. This album also sees a wider vocal range exhibited, with restrained, breathy tones and affecting moments of yearning and lament arising as Laucirica delves lyrically into some emotional introspection. While the voice is very much immediate and illuminating, it is no mere torch singing, as Laucirica and her band of Andrew Keese, Richard Martin, Andrew Cowie and J.P. Shilo have crafted some wonderfully dense and complex arrangements to accompany it. A promising step forward from an emerging talent that your love for will still be strong after Early Summer has gone.