Kunt and the Gang

Sahara Bar & Restaurant, Melbourne, 11 April, 2013

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There was no gang. Just Monsieur Kunt armed with an iPod filled with cheesy backing tracks to songs that tackled the big issues: the role of imagination in pre-Internet masturbatory practices; the relative merits of using the anal orifice as a vagina; the moral dilemma posed by using pictures of a deceased girlfriend as the pretext for Onanism. Get the picture?

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Kunt is not exactly a sophisticated wit, yet his puerile brand of English humour manages to compel and repel in equal doses. The small, but enthusiastic crowd lapped up his shtick with gusto, especially on ‘Fucksticks’, which, as its composer informs us, is a minor Internet sensation. In turns, homophobic, misogynist, and racist, Kunt manages to appear disarmingly charming, and is never less than totally committed to his act, which consists of zany dance moves, fatuous monologues and, of course, the aforementioned pop tunes on which his reputation rests.

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Kunt goes a long way towards confirming the theory, mostly held by women, that the possession of a penis is detrimental to one’s mental health. In short, Kunt is a demented cross between Benny Hill with Frank Booth (the villain with Tourette’s syndrome from Blue Velvet). I know I shouldn’t like him, but songs like ‘I sucked off a bloke (and didn’t like it)’ just put a smile on my dial (not because I’m homophobic, but because I really hate that Kay Perry song).

Oh, Fucksticks! Check him out at your own risk.

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds

2 March 2013

I hate concerts at Melbourne’s Meyer Music Bowl. Unless you’re in close proximity to the stage, the sound sucks, and the view is almost non-existent. So, I had no intention of forking out a hundred bucks to see Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds strut their stuff under the starry summer sky, as much as I love their music. As fate would have it, a friend gave me a free ticket to the performance at the last minute, so I hauled my sorry ass to the much maligned bowl and joined the assembled throng of goths, ghouls and suburbanite posers gathered on a walled off expanse of grass on the edge of the city.

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As expected, the view was shite, and the sound from the back of the crowd was an indistinct rumble. Nick started with songs from his new album, which I’d heard a few times during the proceeding weeks. It’s not the stone cold classic he thinks it is, but it’s not an unmitigated disaster, either. I think he’s going for a new sound, or a new approach to composition (a lot of the tracks sound like they’ve been built from loops). The music draws me in. The band are joined by the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and a children’s choir. I gradually move forward, politely winding my way through the crowd towards the source of the sound, towards the bright atmospheric stage lights, drawn like a moth to the the goth’s flame. The sound improves dramatically. I feel the visceral thump of Martin Casey’s growling bass guitar, and hear the spooky sounds of the diminutive cherubs. The orchestra are on fire, especially once Nick plays the old tunes. I think he plays most of the new album before launching into an incendiary set of old classics — Red Right Hand, Tupelo, Deanna, the Ship Song, and so many more. His stage patter is droll, laconic, so very Melbourne. He is the prodigal son bellowing and bleating under hometown skies. The orchestra turn From Her to Eternity in a completely different song. They inject a heightened sense of drama to the tune. It sounds like an unearthed gem from Bernard Herrmann, it’s spiky, foreboding and a testament to the Orchestra’s ability to rock out.

Once Nick sends the kiddies to bed, the Bad Seeds step up a notch, and deliver a stunning run of their greatest hits, culminating in a bad ass rendition of Stagger Lee. Nick pulls out all stops and executes his demented preacher shtick with aplomb, prancing and strutting around the stage, bringing down the wrath of Satan with aggressive gesticulations, finger pointing, and scissor kicking. Age has not wearied him, he’s intense, a hard working man on top of his game. I forget where I am. Cave’s charisma is palpable, and his home crowd fans give him a conqueror’s ovation.

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I’ve had a good time despite myself, and I wander through the city streets transformed, against all expectation, by the power of Mr Cave’s transcendent poetic musings on the mysteries do life, death and love.

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Caroline Nin

March, 15, 2013

The famous Spiegeltent is packed on this balmy summer evening. The audience is mostly old and grey, stuffed into every nook and cranny. The house lights dim, the piano and double bass fill the space with melody, as the chanteuse steps into the spotlight and sings a suite of songs, mostly about love and loss, mostly drawn from the repertoire of Edith Piaf.

Caroline Nin is a consummate performer, a master of the art of cabaret, and an exquisite interpreter of the little sparrow’s songbook. She prefaces each number with evocative explications of the French lyrics. She expertly delivers these mini dramatic monologues, which are so much more than literal translations of songs, to set the scene, and create a context for each number for those who do not speak French.

She’s sexy, sassy and supremely confident. Her accompanists are nothing less than brilliant, totally in tune with their mistress, they don’t miss a beat. They know when to hold back, when to pause, and when to put the hammer down. Nin sings most of the best known Piaf tunes — La Vien Rose, Je Ne Regrette Rien, Padam, Mon Dieu — and airs a few lesser known gems for the aficionados.

Nin channels Piaf’s spirit without being a slavish imitator, or a cheap impersonator. And she has the most gorgeous accent — she speaks impeccable English with a chic, Gallic grace. What’s not to like?

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