As 97.3FM Music Director, you can bet Louise Poole has seen a lot of concerts this year. Well, actually ALL of them.
Whether it’s Guns ‘n’ Roses and Greenday or Adele or Culture Club, from classic rock to non stop pop Louise has got the most varied music tastes of anyone we know.
So we thought we’d grab her picks for the Brisbane’s Best Concerts of 2017:
10. Lorde, ‘Melodrama World Tour
Brisbane Riverstage, Thursday November 23
To be honest, Lorde’s concert was personally one of the biggest surprises to me of the year. Sure, I’ve listened to her two albums and enjoyed them, but I suppose I never really fell head over heels in love with them. So, when I went along to the Brisbane Riverstage, on a rainy Thursday, I kind of expected to leave early. And I was completely wrong. Despite having already heard the albums, it’s like I was truly hearing Lorde’s music for the first time.
She’s like a book that you just can’t put down. The enthusiasm and energy, the raw emotion, her incredible ability to turn a phrase, her music is simply breathtaking. Watching Lorde live is truly an unforgettable experience. There are no backing singers. All the vocals belong to Lorde herself, and the rich, captivating power of her voice. A unique wall of sound that I suspect may be pioneering a new wave of synth pop. And in all the hundreds of gigs I’ve seen in my career, I can’t think of anyone who seemed more joyous about being up on stage than Lorde – and that joy is utterly infectious.
9. A Day On The Green Disco with KC & The Sunshine Band
Sirromet Winery, Sunday December 17
The last gig of 2017 certainly delivered in full retrolicious goodness at A Day on The Green. I usually say that the A Day on The Green concerts at Sirromet Wines are absolutely perfect for a Summer’s picnic on the grass complete with a stunning sunset and an awesome show – but this time the Disco themed line-up of the afternoon turned Sirromet Winery into one big early Christmas dance party. So. Much. Fun.
It’s not often that you know the words to every song at a concert. But with a line-up of Marcia Hines, The Village People, Sister Sledge and KC and The Sunshine Band it was the soundtrack of our youth!
Marcia Hines remains one of the finest voices in Australia and the vocals and harmonies of Sister Sledge were divine. And while The Village People themselves may have had mixed reviews while touring Australia, I found them fun to watch if you don’t take it too seriously. And if you don’t think about how culturally inappropriate it is that some of the Village People stereotypes still exist now in 2017 (I’m looking at you ‘Indian’).
Plus, headliners KC and The Sunshine band absolutely knocked it out of the park! Every song was a crowd pleasing hit. KC’s self-deprecating humour certainly endeared him to the audience, at one point calling himself ‘your mother’s version of Justin Timberlake’, and the ten-piece Sunshine Band (including a 4-piece horn section) combined with KC’s infectious melodies triumphantly delivered one of the stand out performances of the year.
8. Dixie Chicks, ‘MMXVII World Tour’
Brisbane Entertainment Centre, Saturday March 25
The expectations were high for The Dixie Chicks first Australian performance in over a decade and they did not disappoint. Their high energy fun-fest had the capacity Entertainment Centre crowd on their feet instantly. And the pace didn’t slow. These women are immensely talented, flipping between instruments like Banjo, Violin and Guitar, and changing their musical genres effortlessly. There were many standout moments including their cover of Nothing Compares To You by Prince, their version of their duet with Beyoncé – Daddy Lessons and the incredibly raucous Goodbye Earl.
It wouldn’t be a Dixie Chicks show without politics, and we definitely got the message that they aren’t fond of the current US president. Of course, they’re no strangers to opposing the patriarchy. In 2003, the US public backlashed against them when they said they were ashamed George W. Bush was from Texas. However, the fallout from this led to one of their biggest hits and the biggest show stoppers of the night – Not Ready To Make Nice.
Watching them on stage in 2017, with the benefit of hindsight, you can’t help but feel for what these courageous women went through during that period. They were the pioneers of unpopular public opinion, pre social media (I’m not counting MySpace) and a victim of the 24/7 news cycle’s focus on sensationalism to keep you watching. Simply, their comment was 10 years too early. In 2017, much worse things are said every day to much less fanfare.
7. Guns n’ Roses, ‘Not In This Lifetime Tour’
QSAC Stadium, Tuesday February 7
My 14-year-old self would be proud to say that she finally got to see Guns ‘n Roses perform the epic rock anthem November Rain live, at a concert that was 24 years in the making.
The Not in This Lifetime Tour was the first time that the original line up of Guns ‘n Roses had ever played in Brisbane, and they certainly turned up the volume for the river city. A near capacity crowd lined the benches at QSAC, a sea of black t-shirts emblazoned with the iconic Gunners logo, eagerly awaiting the return of legendary front man Axl Rose and one of the greatest guitarists of all time – Slash.
Although crowd energy was high, and Guns ‘n Roses literally started with a bang (fireworks), the first half of the show felt a little lagging. Axl Rose’s voice still sounded as strong and commanding as always, and he tried on more hats than fashions on the field, but it wasn’t until Slash’s epic guitar solo, which worked in the theme from The Godfather, when the show really hit its stride.
From then it was a string of hits – Sweet Child O Mine, November Rain, Knocking on Heavens Door and a stunning cover of Wish You Were Here by Pink Floyd before busting out the big guns of Paradise City to keep us singing on the bus ride home. One to tick off the bucket list – because it’s highly likely we’re never going to see Slash and Rose back on stage together in Brisbane again.
6. Shawn Mendes, ‘Illuminate World Tour’
Brisbane Entertainment Centre, Wednesday November 29
I’m certain the loudest crowd of the year was at Shawn Mendes’ Illuminate World Tour. As soon as the first note was strummed, and the light struck the giant disco ball suspended from the roof, the screams erupted.
I had no idea Shawn was this popular with teenage girls, but I should have – Shawn Mendes taught himself to play guitar by following YouTube tutorials and became the most popular musician on Vine (the now defunct 7 second video social media app) by uploading cover songs. At just 19 years old he’s already become one of the most successful singer-songwriters in the world. All it took was opening the show with There’s Nothing Holding Me Back for me to want to jump up and scream with everyone else.
What a talent. His vocals and lyrics both reminiscent of an early 00’s John Mayer (think Room for Squares or Heavier Things). Mendes once said: “I want to create anthems for people. I want to create anthems for big moments in their lives…” And that’s exactly what he’s done. 2 hours of anthems for us to enjoy.
Stitches, Mercy and Treat You Better were the big singalong moments of the night, as well as some impressive covers of Ed Sheeran and Kings of Leon. But the true magic lay in the soulfulness that wooed the crowd in ballads like Don’t Be a Fool.
If you haven’t heard his album Illuminate yet, seriously do yourself a favour and go listen to it today! I can’t wait to see how his music and shows evolve over the next few years.
5. Little Mix, ‘Glory Days Tour’
Brisbane Entertainment Centre, Friday July 28
Two years in a row Little Mix have made my top 10 lists – In 2016 they brought their Get Weird tour to the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre, a gig that won a place in my heart because of their focus on female empowerment. But in 2017 they really excelled. The larger venue of the Entertainment centre meant they could bring a bigger production down under – complete with better visuals on bigger screens, more backup dancers, pyrotechnics and confetti – Not to mention their outstanding vocals.
These women shine at making empowerment anthems. And it’s heart-warming to see an audience that primarily consists of teenage girls (and their mums/grandmas), idolising the women of Little Mix, who promote kindness, self-confidence, self-empowerment and equality. The goosebump moment coming when Little Mix dedicated Secret Love Song to all their LGBTIQ fans “please don’t ever be afraid to be who you are”.
4. Human Nature, ‘Ultimate Jukebox Tour’
Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre, Monday February 13
It’s a rite of passage for any Australian who visits Las Vegas – You must go see Human Nature perform at The Venetian. Which I must admit does seem a little counter intuitive – Why go all the way to the USA to see an Australian boyband in Vegas? But that’s exactly the point. Being a former Australian boyband who have managed to reinvent themselves into one of the most popular Vegas residencies over the past 8 years is no easy feat. Vegas is full of the best performers of the Entertainment industry and these 4 boys from Australia, who happily take the mickey out of their own boyband past, have transformed into some of the finest performers you’ll ever see. I’ve been singing their praises since I saw their Vegas show in 2015, and I was expecting their current Australian tour to just be the same as that. But I was wrong. It was better.
Living in the US certainly hasn’t changed the boys down to earth self-depreciating style of Aussie humour and that’s what makes them so endearing. Their Brisbane show gave them the chance to showcase their full-blown Australian-ness in a way that US audiences may never completely understand. From a mock segment about Toby Allen’s stint on Dancing with the Stars where they use the audience as contestants to do both The Twist and Whip & Nae Nae, to a ‘Grease 6’ audition that featured a filmed cameo from Olivia Newton John, to a throwback bust-your-gut laughing boyband medley of not only Human Nature songs but also NKOTB, BSB and NSync, ending with the guys pretending to slip a disc.
But all jokes aside, Human Nature are in extremely tip-top shape. They must be. In just over 2 hours they busted out at least 50 songs (I lost count at 48 and I know there’s more I forgot to write down). Everything from Etta James to Justin Timberlake, it was a celebration of soul, pop, rock, doo wop, disco and modern hits. They even nailed the choreography to their cover of Bruno Mars’ Uptown Funk. The experience they’ve gained in thousands of Vegas shows is clear. Their harmonies are flawless. Their backing brass band delicious. Human Nature really did put the Vegas in Brisvegas.
3. Justin Bieber, ‘Purpose World Tour’
Suncorp Stadium, Monday March 13
Love him or hate him – everyone has an opinion on Justin Bieber. He may be the most polarising pop star of our current generation. But one thing is irrefutable – the boy puts on a damn good show.
Last time he performed in South East Queensland his visit was plagued with bad publicity – from showing up almost 2 hours late for a show, to ‘decorating’ the side of a Gold Coast hotel. This visit we’ve were presented with a much more mature Bieber. One who has grown as both a person and an artist. That’s a transformation which won over a 40,000-strong crowd at Suncorp Stadium.
Confession time: I’m a #Belieber. I’ve been a fan since the first album. I’ve been to every show. I even defended him in his ‘lost’ phase: Imagine what you would be like, as a teenager, with unlimited money and unprecedented fame? And it is soooo good to see him become the man he is now. Delivering authenticity and depth in his music, as well as perfecting his pop machine performances!
I can’t fault Beiber’s Purpose Tour – except to say I would’ve loved a longer version of Love Yourself, or maybe a couple more songs off his Believe album. The pop powerhouse complete with fireworks, lasers, smoke machines and an incredible group of backup dancers was choreographed to perfection. The first truly unscripted moment coming the form of a cough. As Bieber admitted to suffering from Jetlag before hacking up a lurgy, on mic, in the middle of one song. But this made him even more human. And made me realise just how much of the vocals he was actually singing vs the backing tape. Turns out quite a lot. And extremely well.
2. Bruce Springsteen, ‘Summer ’17 Tour’
Brisbane Entertainment Centre, Tuesday February 14
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: DO NOT pass up the chance to see Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band the next time they visit Brisbane. Actually, see them every time. No two shows are ever the same. This is the magic of a Bruce Springsteen show. Most of the setlists are improvised on the spot. One show you could be treated to an entire run through of one of his iconic albums, the next is composed entirely of audience requests from signs they made. Imagine just how many songs those musicians are always keeping in their back pocket! And the skill they have in being able to switch to playing any of them in the instant Springsteen picks up the sign and shows it to the band. And you certainly get your moneys worth for the performance duration as well. It’s not uncommon for him to perform for 3+ hours on stage. If you’re looking for a greatest hits performer, maybe Springsteen isn’t for you, but if you love spontaneity and listening to some of the finest songs and finest musicians in the world then you’re going to love a Springsteen show.
In the February 14th Valentine’s Day edition that I saw we were treated to a 12-minute arrangement of New York City Serenade complete with eight-piece string section, and a selection of love songs like Janey Don’t You Lose Heart, Rendezvous, Be True, Back In Your Arms and the rarely performed Secret Garden from the movieJerry Maguire.
Which brings us to the crème de la crème, the numero uno, the undisputable music royalty, and the biggest controversy of the countdown…. I’m going to crown two Number 1’s for 2017.
1. Adele, ‘Adele Live 2017 Tour’
The Gabba, Sunday March 5
It was dubbed Brisbane’s biggest concert ever – 60,000 people, 2 nights, 1 British superstar. The people of Brisbane had high expectations for the Someone Like You hitmaker and Adele did not disappoint.
The Gabba turned out to be the perfect venue for a ‘360 degree’ concert. There wasn’t a bad seat in the house as she walked the stage, clocking up at least 5,000 steps on the pedometer strapped to her ankle (by her count), the enormous circular screens above the stage, capturing her performance and setting the mood with footage from her music videos. Impressively, they synced up the pre-recorded vision of Adele and her live vocals perfectly.
Adele makes that big voice of hers look effortless (even if she does apologise in advance that the key change might make her burp), the perfect blend of soul, heart break and inspiration and makes her exquisitely crafted pop ballads soar across an audience that’s hanging off every word.
But the incredible vocals aside, it was really her down to earth British charm that made her so endearing as she confessed to the Sunday audience: “I swear a lot. And when I look at the size of these venues I get very nervous, and when I’m nervous I really swear. So, I’m really sorry if you’ve got kids here. Don’t swear to be mean but do swear to have a laugh – it’s good fun.” And swear she did. Like a trooper.
It’s hard to select a favourite song because all her hits were included – from the show-starting Hello, to Chasing Pavements and Hometown Glory from her debut album 19, to fireworks bursting from the stage in the anthemic Set Fire to the Rain, the confetti filled explosion of Rolling in the Deep, or the gut busting singalong finale of Someone Like You, where Adele confirmed to the audience a second time that she was in fact married. A secret she managed to keep for five years!
Adele certainly made full use of being in a huge stadium as giant inflatable balloons bounced their way around on the fingertips of the eager crowd, and in a move more sport than song, Adele even fired off a t-shirt cannon into the crowd with a twenty strapped to it so we could have a drink on her. The evening ended with a million handwritten notes exploding into the air via confetti cannon – thanking us for being there. Well Adele, it was our pleasure. Thank you for coming. Brisbane welcomes you back anytime.
1. Paul McCartney, ‘One on One Tour’
Suncorp Stadium, Saturday December 9
Imagine the weight of expectation placed upon the shoulders of Sir Paul McCartney: 50 years of hits; One of the fathers of the modern pop song; 25 years since his last Australian show, A Beatle!!! Expectation that he surpassed to deliver not just one of the greatest shows of 2017 but of all time. A tick off the bucket list for a capacity crowd, aged 9 to 90, at Suncorp Stadium that’s for sure.
The 75-year-old effortlessly performed a three-hour set comprised of work from every different incarnation he’s ever had. A flashback to The Quarrymen, a flash forward to FourFive Seconds (a song he collaborated with Rhianna and Kanye West on), The Beatles, Wings, his solo career – It doesn’t matter what era of McCartney you grew up on – Your favourite song was in this show.
When he performed And I Love Her I thought to myself ‘this is worth the price of admission alone’. And then he performed Blackbird, and Something, and Back in the USSR and I found I was saying it for every song! Because for a music fan like me, there is almost no better experience than hearing a true artist like Sir Paul play those songs that have personally meant so much to you during your life. Wings Greatest Hits was one of the first cassettes I ever owned as a young girl. I can still see me playing it over and over on the 70s brown portable tape deck. I grew up on Jet and Band on the run. And I Love her, Yesterday and Eleanor Rigby were some of the first songs I ever learned to play on an instrument. Let It be and Hey Jude helped me through times of sadness in my life. And Mull of Kintyre reminds me of friends now passed. This is the legacy Paul McCartney has given to all of us.
But Sir Paul was more than just the memories. His voice is still exquisite – able to belt out all his hits; His guitar work – outstanding; His storytelling – charming. And by the time the fireworks were exploding from the top of the stadium in frenetic bursts during Live and Let Die everyone knew that this was a once in a lifetime show that they never wanted to end.
Criteria: To eligible for the list, the concert must have taken place in 2017 and be a standalone show (not part of a festival).
What do you think of Louise’s top 10 (or… 11)?