live music



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One of the most fun events of the year in Sydney is the Mardi Gras parade. I’ve been a regular attendee now since the late 1980s. It is a little bit different every year, as the political and cultural messages shift and change over time and the floats become even more numerous and impressive. With movies like Pride coming out of England in the last year, it is fascinating to see how social and attitudes have shifted and changed within a lifetime.

The Sydney Mardi Gras is a very popular event and so it is a great idea to plan the best vantage points to see the show.

This year I was at the Sideshow which means there’s seating, toilets, a bar and food, ANZ was the corporate sponsor this year. ANZ have introduced the GAYTM in recent times in a bid to secure the queer dollar.

These days I am living in the city, so the travel involved a bus ride up to Central from Circular Quay, duck through the Devonshire tunnel and through to Chalmers St, onto a coach for paid tickets and up to Albion St, (avoiding the hill). All the while observing the colourful characters attempting to scale the challenging Albion St in a bedazzling array of wigs, sequins, feathers and fierce heels.

Unfortunately there was quite a wait to get in at the Sideshow but I wasn’t too worried really. Lately I have taken to bringing fold up directors chairs to these public parades and events which enables seating anywhere at the front on the fence line – a VERY good strategy!

After a while the parade began, Dykes on Bikes opened up, then Boys on Bikes, Indigenous Australians and the 1978ers bused by.

It was getting pretty exciting, I was standing next to six super hot gay men – this was an interesting experience in itself! Men in the parade would spot them and flirt with them and they did the same back. Kind of instant and predatory behaviour – all in good fun though.

There were so many highlights but I got a real kick out of seeing my exes solar powered Sunny Bin wheelie bin sound systems charging down the street – so perfect for events like this.

And stunning Christine McQueen unmistakeable and bewigged at the front with an Asian contingent of marchers.

And my gorgeous client Steven happily sailing by with Northcott, a very important representation in the march.

I LOVE Mardi Gras, so if you’d like to come with me next year and feel the Mardi Gras passion feel free to get in touch.

Mwah and air kisses.

Karen x

 

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There are lots of Jersey Boys but only one Frankie Vallie boasted a recent review of Frankies’ Australian Tour. The Masseuse (TM) invited me along to Frankies show at the Lyric Theatre the other night to see how true this statement was? It had been a show I had been looking forward to seeing for many months.

Anyway, the day arrived and after TM and I got ready we decided to test out Sydneys Light Rail system from my place to the Casino.  It had been a gorgeous sunny day that had changed to a bit overcast. I checked the weather report, Mmmm 70% chance of rain. Ah no worries, no need for a brolly or so I thought. We just made it around the corner to Campbell St Tram stop before the first pitter patters came raining down on our heads, threatening to wreck my blow dry. Bah!

Anyway the light rail was a treat. Fast and easy. we sailed past the Capitol Theatre, Cyrils Deli, Paddys Market, The Exhibition Centre and finally to the the Casino. We had a bit of time so we had dinner and a couple of drinks there before making our way to the Lyric Theatre.

TM and I decided the Frankie Valli audience tended to be an older crowd than we had seen last month at the Opera House. Again, we were asked not to take photos so I don’t have many to show you. Now Frankie is 77 years old, that is quite an age for a performer and we wondered what kind of show we would be seeing?  

The lights dimmed and the band took the stage.  Mmm impressive, an Australian six piece brass section. Ha! I LOVE horns! Two guatarists and a base player. One keyboardist who played other instruments and a drummer. Four backing singers and Frankie. Wow, this was going to be a great show with an rich sound.  Frankie himself is this tiny, frail, old guy but gee what a voice.  In the first couple of numbers, we wondered if he was lip synching because his style is he scarely opens his mouth but yet there is this incredibly powerful sound. In any case we saw him reach behind and play with his pick up a few times and we realised we were in fact seeing a live performance.

Frankie Belted out all his old hits and told a few jokes too. No doubt about it he is an engaging performer. Frankie recounted when Tom Jones is on stage he gets pelted with womens panties and this little old guy taking a forlorn glance around his own barren stage ha ha.  I would have like to have helped out but had at the last minute decided to go commando. Frankie then encouraged the audience to throw cash and credit cards and buy his cd sold outside in the foyer ha ha.

We were treated to quite a show “Walk Like A Man”, “Rag Doll”, “Grease”, “Sherry”, “December 1963”, “My Eyes Adored You” and the 1967 solo hit “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You”. It was a top performance by a real showman. Thanks to TM and we made our way back to Haymarket to once again thoroughly enjoy an intimate evenings entertainment.

In touch with the ground
I’m on the hunt I’m after you
Smell like I sound I’m lost in a crowd
And I’m hungry like the wolf
Straddle the line in discord and rhyme
I’m on the hunt I’m after you
Mouth is alive with juices like wine
And I’m hungry like the wolf

Duran Duran

Mr Groover invited me to take a trip down memory lane the other night to a time when I
was just a youngster and enjoying the sounds of the 80s and er, well *some* of the fashions of the time.

So, Duran Duran were back in town for a one off Sydney concert and I
was lucky enough to go.
The plan was to have a feast at the Nine Dragons restaurant an iconic China Town restaurant before heading down to the Sydney Entertainment Centre and that’s just what we did.

In order to avoid the crowds, we got to the Entertainment Centre early and caught the the support act. We were hoping for a great band or a top singer but it was a rather bizarre choice of opening act to support Duran Duran. Two DJs spinning vinyl donned the stage playing some funky mixes that became quite boring after ten minutes.

Mr Groover leaned over and reminded me of some of the way more fun activities we could have been doing instead of putting up with that dull *yawn, sigh & eye roll* duo.
Most of the details can be found here at http://www.karenthompson.com.au/services just in case you’re unsure of what we were talking about :0)

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Anyway… to cut to the chase, finally Duran Duran appeared on stage and the old hits kept churning out mixed with some new tracks that were not too bad, I guess. I really enjoyed the commentary between songs that the various band members gave about their times in Sydney, they really connect well with their audience. So, it turns out that Duran Duran were the first act appearing at the Sydney Entertainment Centre. And they talked about going to various Sydney eighties venues like the Cauldron and the Manzel Room. I never got to those places myself, I suppose at the time, I preferred to hang out at slightly more cliquey places like The Hip Hop Club, Patches, The Exchange Hotel, Plastic Inevitable at the Playground, The Trade Union Hotel, The Site, The Taxi Club and Propaganda. There I am in the black and white shot (c/- young S the fantastic photography student) in the late eighties in Paddington, have a look at the hilarious alcohol prices.

The Duran Duran audience were a mixture of young trendies, wearing some 80s revivalist fashions, think net and neon colours (thankfully we didn’t spot any bubble skirts or shoulder pads) *cringe*, middle aged flunkies, not to mention a brigade of blue rinse senior citizens that came along for the fun of it.
The band are still in top form and the lead singer Simon Le Bons vocals were just as terrific as in the year 1981. I loved the show and the encore was a exciting finish with the band performing the eighties hits “Girls on Film” and Rio.
As the song Rio was winding down the concert, Mr Groover wanted some winding down himself at my inner city apartment.

I have just made a new addition to my working tools, a rather good new playstation. Mr Groover had made it known he wanted to be my very first special guest to try it out. We made a speedy exit and headed off to feel our way around my lovely new equipment and I am delighted to report to you it all works out splendidly.

It had been with great anticipation and excitement that I looked forward to this show with ‘The Masseuse’ (TM) the other evening.

Now, I have been a fan of Olivia’s way back when she did mostly country music and TM who it turns out is the same fabulous age as me, (Gee, he must come from the year of the cat too)!

So, by now I’ve moved into my swanky new apartment in Haymarket which is my base for entertaining and the home of sensual experiences. I very much enjoy the company of TM so I’d been shopping for some sexy lingerie earlier to model for him later on in the evening.

I was the designated traffic monitor for the evening and we caught the bus for the short trip down to Circular Quay. It was a steamy rainy evening so I grabbed my accomplices hand and we braved the elements, ok so I’m a romantic at heart.

We made our way through the crowds (it was a humid night) and the rain at Circular Quay and on to an early dinner at The East. It was a good thing we arrived early too as we got the best table for comfort AND people watching. We knocked back a couple of drinks, a Blue Hawaii for me and a Bourbon for TM and some fantastically delicious Chinese food and chatted away. The pre-show crowds started to arrive and pack out the restaurant so we took our cue and left for a bit of a wander around the Opera House.

Looking around, it turned out it was quite a dressy affair and I was pleased I got a new frock for the occasion to go with the new sexy smalls and TM looked pretty sharp as usual.

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It is quite a curious arrangement they have organised at the Opera House with the entry though. So, they don’t allow the audience in until the show time, presumably to sell drinks, programs, t-shirts and Cd’s. As a result the crowds mount up and up and then there is this rather wretched and extremely unmusical ;-0 xylophone that warns you it’s time to enter, pretty quickly the xylophone gains pace and becomes almost this mono-tonal xylophone and all the while the frustrated mounted up crowds are trying to enter the auditorium (and get away from the dreadful din).

Anyway, we found our seats next to some Americans and we took a few pictures. Unfortunately they ask you not to photograph or video the performance at the Opera House so I obliged and don’t have so many to show you this time. The pre-show act had a stellar operatic voice and which really showcased the SSO and the Opera House.

And then it was time for Olivia, who was in fantastic form singing like an angel hit after hit of her magnificently successful career. There was A Little More Love, Magic, Xanadu, Suddenly, Summer Nights, You Are The One That I Want, Hopelessly Devoted To You. Sam, Jolene, Banks Of The Old Ohio, Please Mr Please, Have You Never Been Mellow, I Honestly Love You, If You Love Me (let me know), If Not For You, Let Me Be There.

What a voice! I loved every minute of it!

It was time to go and I am pretty sure I spotted Richard Wilkens again in the crush to leave. By now it was cold and raining outside and TM and I hurried home and quickly peeled off our wet clothes and I reckon we did a pretty awesome rendition of “physical” ourselves …lets get animal, animal…

It was a pretty happy adventure when ‘The Masseuse’ (TM) suggested that we take in the Jersey Boys show last weekend. The idea was that we go to the show before we head out for a meal and spend overnight together for the second time in a month. TM seemed perhaps a little shy to suggest going to the show because it has been playing for a while and thought I might have seen it already. He was right, I saw the show early last year when it first opened in Melbourne but I was very keen to see it again and I am so happy he made the suggestion. I suppose, Frankie Valli first appeared on my (oh my gosh i’m a fan –OMGIAF) radar when he had a few hits in the movie soundtrack “Grease”, I LOVE that movie –I must have seen it about 10,000 times!

There were a combination of factors why I wanted to see this show again, the main purpose of my trip to Melbourne was to meet some (working) ladies that I had come to know online. The ladies had organised a luncheon get together and I was so very excited to meet them, really great people — all of them. Unfortunately it must have been the hottest day in Victoria ever and the location for lunch was way, way, across town. Factor in flights, hotel check-ins and taxis including trying to find a taxi back to the Melbourne CBD, well seeing the Jersey Boys show kind of got a bit buried under conflicting priorities, I’m sorry to say.

As TM had arranged the tickets to the show, we decided that it would be a good idea if I upgrade our digs to an executive suite with club floor access so we would both feel all the benefits of being pampered and indulged. We arranged to meet a little earlier than normal so we could have showers and change before heading off to the Theatre Royal. TM had arranged great seats and we beat all the mad crowds in which was great, he did a terrific job of navigating us to the venue only a short walk from where we were staying. I’m glad he did as I’ve come to recognize, sadly that my navigational abilities are as good as my singing *jawdrop *sigh.

The actual Jersey Boys set is this caged, grid metal affair with a urban backdrop, it seemed to be a pretty good visual representation of a struggling New Jersey working class lifestyle wanting to breakout into something better.

We were guided through an introduction to the characters, their strengths and weaknesses and the formation of the band the Four Seasons. The great thing about this musical is the storyline is as strong as the songs. The string of hits is impressive, one after another like ‘Sherry’, ‘Walk Like a Man’, ‘Big Girls Don’t Cry’, ‘Ragdoll’, ‘Who Loves You’, ‘Bye Bye Baby (Baby Goodbye)’, ‘Let’s Hang On’, ‘Can’t Take My eyes Off You’, ‘My Eyes Adored You’ etc, etc. TM and I agreed the show, acting and songs delivery were really tight, probably as a result of delivering to a different audience night after night. I do think this was a better show than the one I saw in the early season in Melbourne. A nice touch at the end of the show the actors and singers fall away and only the band is left. It’s a really, really great band, I liked the horn section best. Ha!

TM and I wrapped up a terrific evening with dinner at a Spanish restaurant in Liverpool St, with TM in great spirits because his Rugby League team Manly Warringah had won the Grand Final and we celebrated with several courses of wonderful dessert in our swanky hotel room.

Oh what a night!

Wow, what a show this was!
As I’m of proud Irish decent (albeit a bit removed as these things go via Liverpool England) I just had to make my way to ANZ stadium the other night to join the many tens of thousands of fans in their excellent entertainment choice.

Now, I was hoping for a nice sit down meal at one of the many restaurants around the Homebush Bay area but to my disappointment, all were booked out. The only option left was to join the hard-core take-away crowd.

So, I joined the enormous queue and muttered three Hail Marys and a Our Father as I awaited my fate to who knows what greasy, artery hardening, grossly wayward offerings were on the menu?

As I made my way through the queue I could see that Dagwood Dogs were the order of the day. Honestly, just the thought of the kind of ingredients that made up these deep-fried yet cold missiles left me wondering what kind of internal damage was being done to the consumer. One can only imagine what Jamie Oliver, the naked chef would have made of it all. Weapons of Mass destruction had nothing on tonight’s dinner! Absolutely Bleurgh!

Anyway, back to the entertainment.

U2 were the main act but I always like to experience the pre show and take in the atmosphere.
Jay-Z the rapper was the special guest and his set was pretty exciting, especially when he did In New York. I enjoyed the later part of this performance more as it became more musical to my ears.
Perhaps I was also feeling less queasy as my digestive system was starting to settle down after the earlier treacherous assault on it via the Dagwood Dog. *cringe*

As the sun went down and lights got brighter the anticipation was growing and everyone was very excited with the thought of seeing Bono and the lads take the stage. I’ve been a big fan for their whole career but have never made it to the show before. So kindly armed with a recommendation from Amy Monroe@Twitter I knew this was going to be a sensational experience. Still in lead up to the show, I played You Tube footage of U2 live at Slane Castle and I did wonder how an international U2 show would compare with that level of Irish tribalism.

The set was just incredible and looked like something out of a Sci Fi movie from the likes of War of the Worlds.

The ground of the ANZ stadium where footy is usually played had been filled in to hold more people. ANZ stadium really was holding a capacity crowd.

The countdown came and went… U2 made their grand entrance with the classic Bowie “Space Oddity”. I guess it was an appropriate mental link to the spaceship theme and that magnificent set.

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U2 played all the usual faves and more, so many excellent songs Beautiful Day, Sunday Bloody Sunday, Mysterious Ways, Pride (In the Name of Love) and Discoteque to name a few.
The crowd on the floor went wild not to mention a very enthusiastic guy a few seats away jumping up and down like Skippy mmm or maybe more like Iggy Pop, who knows?
The encore was so very awesome. Set to the beautiful and haunting “With or Without You” the spire on top of the spaceship now sported a disco ball that projected lights all around the stadium. What an incredible ending, it was such a magnificent sensory overload and provoked such an emotional response.

I can recommend this experience to anyone that likes a great sound awesome set and an atmosphere in an open stadium like no other. I managed to sneak out during Bonos last speech to the fans and hop on to the shuttle bus to the carpark and beat the crowds.

I’m still buzzing and singing their songs to anyone that will hang around long enough to experience my sensational vocal repertoire. Unfortunately I’m a little low on fans at the moment but surely that’ll build up when I get some voice lessons.

Now to plan my exciting camping trip to the Woodford Folk Festival over the Xmas and New Year break.

Merry Christmas to everyone and thanks for reading my blog all year.
I very much enjoy reading other ladies blogs/journals and so this is my contribution to the blogosphere.
I hope you have had as much fun reading my blog as I have putting it together for your pleasure.
Speaking of pleasure hope to see some old friends and make some new ones too in 2011.

Karen x


When you think of Sydney’s Luna Park you tend to think of merry-go-rounds and scary rides but I had the pleasure of seeing one of Australias best home-grown talent last weekend. Mr Communication whisked me away once again, this time to see John Farnham at The Big Top. The evening started off with dinner at a Thairiffic at McMahons Point, which happened to live up to it’s name, especially with being open on a Public Holiday.

Getting back to Whispering Jack, we arrived in time to see his special guest in country sensation Melinda Schneider. I must confess not to be an enormous country music fan, so I was surprised that I enjoyed her performance so much. While Melinda Schneider mostly performs her own original material, she also does some tremendous covers of Doris Day, she even looks a little like her. Perhaps a trip to Tamworth with a special friend to the music festival could be on the cards…who knows?

Finally the lights dimmed and we had the pleasure of a tremedous Aussie talent stepping on to the stage and boy did he belt out some great numbers – 61 years old and geez what a vocalist! The band (many of whom have performed with JF for years and years) were polished professionals as were the back up singers.

All time great Australian pop songs such as Pressure Down, Age of Reason, Touch of Paradise and You’re the Voice were crowd pleasers. In the song “You’re The Voice” there was a brief appearance by four kilted fellows playing the bag pipes… nothing like a Scotsman to get you excited I say.

The crowd loved John so much that throughout the night people were running down and shaking his hand, some with panties and bras in hand. Maybe if I had have been wearing some I could have participated too – but that’s another story.

It was a wonderful evening and the final song was a surprise choice but what an excellent a version of the ACDC hit “It’s a Long way”- boy was that a cracker!

Thanks to Mr C for another terrific evening. I saw Richard Wilkins, and a couple of promoters make an early exit before the mad crush and the lady in the next aisle seemed to be having a wild time as she kept falling over while dancing …whatever she was on made for some unexpected extra sideline entertainment. All that was left to do was fight through the crowd get into the car and head to the Hilton for some rock and rolling of my own.

It’s times like this that you really appreciate the talent that Australia has to offer and how lucky I have been to experience it once more.