Random Play by Graham Reid


Now hear this . . .

First the good news for people like me: there is a cure for tinnitus. They are a trio from Japan called Boris and they play at such volume that your tinnitus will disappear in an instant.

The bad news is you'll be stone deaf. But you will have had a very good time.

The little that I knew of Boris before I saw them in a small, well attended room under the Opera House in Sydney -- where they have been invited by the Vivid Live curators Lou Reed and Laurie Anderson -- was that they had released about 20 albums or something, were kind of space drone rock and that . . .

Well, it is the first concert I have worn earplugs to. And they were being provided on the night.

That said, when Boris (A double-necked guitar! Cool!!) embarked on their low rolling sonic space flights over repeated guitar figures they were hypnotic (and you could listen without earplugs) and exotically mesmerising.

Then there was the other that I dared listen to in blasts of maybe five seconds at a time which was bruisingly effective --- but almost guaranteed to ensure hearing loss or impairment.

I have a bit of both already so was happy to shove the plugs in. I liked them -- a lot.

Curiously Boris played after their almost polar oppostite: Rickie Lee Jones who brought boho beat, quasi-folk-jazz and an apparently cheerfully under-rehearsed and spontaneous trip down her (slightly damaged) memory lane.

She too has been invited by the Lou'n'Laurie team -- who are in town for a fortnight so you can catch up with Lou doing Tai Chi lessons in a park and so on. But at a press conference notable for Reed's dry humour, it was conceded the loud music was Lou's idea and the quiet came from Laurie.

There is plenty of loud music -- but also a night of quieter sounds (Blind Boys of Alabama and others).

And, as I mentioned previously, Metal Macine Trio played live on Sunday night. (For other details see here)

I'm going to pop along and see Lou do his radio show with Hal Willner, catch up with Laurie giving a talk on something, poke my nose into the photo exhibition Lou has curated (all free) and a few other things.

It's drizzling today but I'm still up for Cockatoo Island and the art installations -- but much as I liked Boris I doubt I'll go see them again tonight. Might buy an album though, then I can adjust the volume.

One of the delights of this trip has been meeting an English journalist flown here to cover the festival: he has no idea who Lou, Laurie, Boris, Rickie Lee at all are and his only knowledge of Australia is of blond girls posing in some exotic location.

He's off surfing at Bondi today (another first for him) but I thought: how refreshing it must be to have absolutely no preconceptions about any artist and just take them and their work at face value.

On the back of that press conference, maybe you'd take Lou Reed to be an especially droll stand-up comedian.

Finally: I mentioned the YHA I am staying in last post and someone baulked at the cost. May I say this, this isn't some threadbare youth hostel. It opened brand new six months ago, has superb facilties . . . two kitchens that I can see, very large and comfortable lounge, at least a dozen new internet portals (on which you can catch up with "news" from home) . . . and of course this Big Dig archeological site which is in progress.

History right under your feet.

I maintain that given its location -- four minutes to the MCA, five to Circular Quay -- it is pretty reasonably priced. Seems spurious to make a comparison -- as someone did -- with what they paid somewhere in '93! (That would be . . . 17 years ago!)

But I did enjoy the comment that maybe I was suggesting -- via the cost per night basis here and Wellington -- that Sydney was twice the value of the capital.

Hmmm. I wonder if Lou'n'Laurie, Boris, Rickie Lee, My Brightest Diamond, Marc Ribot and David Hidalgo and others are all playing the capital in the next week or so?

So, a genuine question: What do people think you should realistically expect to pay per night in a state of the art youth hostel right in the centre of a huge city? I'd be curious to know.

About 300 drachmas?

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