31 January, 2005

birds of song, birds of beauty

Once upon a last Friday, mindlessmunkey and Mr Eduardo decided to go and see Augie March play a live gig, at a brand new venue in the Northern Suburbs. (In fact the decision had been made some days earlier, but came to fruition on the aforementioned Friday.) The Venue in question was the Northcote Social Club, which is the name the lovely-man-who-owns-the-Corner bestowed upon the former Commercial Hotel, when he decided Northcote was a fine spot for a new, rockin live-music venue. And right he was.

If you haven't heard of Augie March, you don't know what you're missing. (That, of course goes without saying.) They are an Australian band of five members, at least two of whom hail from Shepperton in rural Victoria. They are, in this munkey's not very humble opinion, the finest band to have arisen in Australia for a very long time. Combining old-fashioned folk-based rock, gentle balladry and intricate instrumentation with the most beautifully poetic lyrics this side of Leonard Cohen, their music ranges from barely-whispered echoes of musical tenderness, to all out ear-drum-blistering explosions of aural beauty.

The Northcote Social Club Band Room, smoke-free and holding just 300 people, is the perfect venue for their stylings, and the band's occasional live insecurity disappeared as the mirthful five took to the stage and delivered a relaxed, tight and engaging set. Frontman/songwriter Glenn Richards - occasionally prone to on-stage crankiness and excessive personal perfectionism - was in particularly good form ...laughing, joking and making light of the occasional hic-up, while allowing his voice to soar freely among the exquisite tangle of sounds that is Augie March.

Add to this the wonderful company of the soon-to-be-jet-setting-to-Spain Mr Eduardo, a meeting with Ms Kaz and Ms Lisa (two-thirds of a band called The Curious Few, who I will hopefully be checking out soon) and one of the best darn Chicken Parmas ever ...and it was all-round a great evening.

Saturday night involved a BBQ at Ms Sheila's, the purpose of which was to meet Ms Anne, a distant relative-by-marriage who is currently over from Huddersfield, Yorkshire, England... from where hail patermunkey, Ms Sheila and Grandma Ashton. It was wonderful to have a leaf off our antipodean family-tree float down to spend time with us. Both Grandmas Ashton and Miller came to honour the occasion, and we were also honoured by visits from Cousin Craig and Ms Susan, as well as Cousin Mark and Ms Annie: seven months pregnant and glowing like a beacon.

On Sunday, the family showed Ms Anne around the Dandenongs, with munkey (having stumbled his way through the area several times on various excursions with Madame Mu, Mother Gomati and Mr Mikey) as designated navigator/tour-guide. We found our way to Grant's Picnic ground, where our friendly Pommie took delight in feeding the rosellas, before a walk through the old giant Mounain Ash forest. Further walking took place at the Alfred Nichols Memorial Gardens, a place it would be rather nice to purchase and reside in... you know, when I win four consecutive lotteries in 2007.

The obligatory tea of scones with jam and cream followed, before a close encounter of the kookaburra kind. Then patermunkey deliberately ignored mindlessmunkey's directions, as a thinly-veiled excuse to drive down the enormously steep hill into Belgrave. This quite possibly contributed to Electroboy being violently car-sick. However we all made it home in one piece, and after a lovely counter-meal that evening we bade Ms Anne adieu, wishing her a safe trip home.

As a final note, I would like to say (rather unpatriotically) I am awfully glad Mr Lleyton didn't win the tennis last night ~ snotty little soapie-star-shagging turd. Hooray for hulking, surly Russians with dry wit and dashing facial hair!

One of these came from the Victorian wilderness and wrote Strange Bird. The other is a strange bird from the Victorian wilderness. Can you guess which is which?


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