Sydney Morning Herald photo of the band Moriarty
That very wordy and massively “m-”oriented headline above has as its link to my open mic adventure a post that I put up a little over two years ago in relation to a fun and interesting moment at the Ptit Bonheur la Chance open mic in Paris regarding the “French” band Moriarty
. I wrote at the time about one of the regular musicians at that open mic whose name is Wayne Standley, and whose daughter is the lead singer of the band Moriarty
. And I wrote about how a friend of mine at the time sang Moriarty’s biggest hit, “Jimmy,” in front of Rosemary Standley’s father without knowing that was who he was. Well the story has come around again, in another interesting, fun and evening amazing way.
I see Wayne just about every week now, as we both continue to attend the Ptit Bonheur la Chance open mic. And when he learned I was going to be in Australia this week, he told me that his daughter was performing with Moriarty in a few dates in Australia, and as it turned out, the band was playing in Melbourne last night at The Famous Spiegeltent, at the Melbourne Arts Centre. Wayne also told Rosemary, and she put me on a list to get in to watch the show.
That was really cool, and it turned out that the Spiegeltent was a few stops on the tram from the racetrack where I do my day job, so how could I not go?! Of course, the only thing that might stop me was the open mic at the Acoustic Café scheduled for last night, in another nearby part of Melbourne. And this is, after all, my open mic adventure.
But I really enjoy the songs of Moriarty that I have heard on the radio in France – frequently – and the videos I have seen, and I thought this would be a fabulous opportunity to see – and potentially meet – the band, and continue the Moriarty moments on the open mic adventure. The adventure, after all, is all about adventure and not getting stuck in too much of a pattern in life. Moriarty, you might say, is a little about the same – given that the name of the band comes from the character, Dean Moriarty, in Jack Kerouac’s novel “On the Road”….
The band started out doing traditional blues and rock ‘n’ roll, but with the departure of some members, specifically a drummer, they went more acoustic and more vocal oriented. (Last night after the show when I mentioned to the bass player, Zim, about how fabulous it was that I did not need to use my earplugs during the concert, he said that was something they always insist on, that the decibels be lower than what most bands pump them up to in order that people may actually listen to the music, hear the music without destroying their future capacity to hear anything….)
Founded in 1995 amongst a bunch of friends from Paris who mostly came from a multicultural mix – three of them now have one or two American parents – their music naturally gravitated to American music. That’s who they are. But they were actually in Australia first of all to play in the Womad festival in Adelaide, and although the band cannot really be described as “World Music,” it is definitely eclectic, and the influences range from just about everything to just about everything else. With a strong dose of country, blues, pop, but even, as the radio personality – no name, sorry – who introduced them last night said, “Depeche Mode.”
So I showed up last night to find a GIANT line up of people waiting for the doors to the Spiegeltent to open, as the few chairs and the rest of the standing room only areas of the venue are served up on a first come first served basis. I was surprised there were so many people, as I was unaware of Moriarty being well known in Australia. In fact, they are not that well-known, but they have toured here before, and one spectator I spoke to said she had seen them three times – ie, each time they came.
There were also a number of people from France. But there was a very healthy number of Australians. Another couple of spectators, also from Austraila, who stood behind me in the line told me that they had never heard of Moriarty, but they gladly paid the $45 for the tickets because they knew that in general the shows at the Spiegeltent were very good.
Indeed! The Spiegeltent is this kind of theatre-in-the-round building that travels from city to city, and originally came from Belgium in the 1920s. It reminds me most of a kind of circus tent, or even carrousel, but it is filled with mirrors and brocaded columns, wood, canvass and glass. The stage was small, but all spectators had a pretty close up view, despite that the room was packed. How many? 500 people? 700? I can only guess.
I ended up finding a nook right beside the stage that allowed me the freedom to do some videos without obstructing anyone else’s view, but it was not the best vantage point to see the band straight on and get the full feel for the stage antics. Still, it felt like a privileged position as I could grab lots of images from the side and behind and get a backstage kind of feel to it.
I have now written almost a 1000 words building up to this and saying nothing. But what can I say, really? Watch the videos and listen. The band was simply fantastic. The show was complete with lively stage presence and patter and antics and a very talented multi-instrumental group of musicians.
They are also very international, as I said, and a funny moment came during the show when a an Australian woman standing next to me turned to me and said, “Why do they all have American accents?” She was no doubt surprised and feeling somewhat invaded when I responded in my “American” accent and told her because they had American parents….
Anyway, Rosemary’s voice, I would just like to add, which I had heard only on the radio or Internet in the past, is absolutely superb, rich, and strong, and she and the other band members all have great stage presence. I can see why they have gone so far, but they deserve further recognition and success – let’s hope the hits keep coming. They are in no way a “traditional” music band, with some very avant garde touches and a newness and nowness to the band.
I also saw just how professional every one of the band members is, when they all went out from the “tent” after the show to meet with their fans and stand around and talk and sign autographs and copies of their latest CD. I spoke to just about all the band members, and Rosemary and I talked for quite a while – much of it about her father, Wayne. Wayne it turns out, has also played and recorded with the band – and that’s the next thing on my list I’ll want to see. But when I see and hear Rosemary, I cannot help but hear and see the Wayne influence in the background, and I imagine the upbringing….
So, now that I’m well above a thousand words, you can see that I have no regrets about missing an open mic myself last night…. I learned a lot, and had a great time. And, by the way, I also went along to this concert with my friend and fellow Paris-based F1 journalist, Adam Hay-Nicholls, who has joined me in Paris to see Wayne Standley and me play at the open mic – and Adam has also done a nice – but more sensibly short – item on the concert, in his new cool blog, the F1 Social Diary.