Celine leads stellar line-up of live shows

THE biggest-selling Canadian artist of all time, Celine Dion, will be returning to Brisbane for the first time in a decade, playing the Entertainment Centre on July 30.

With limited tickets left for his November 10 show at the same venue, English singer Sam Smithhas also announced a new show the following night, with tickets available now. Visit frontiertouring.com.

Country superstar Shania Twain has proved she’s still the one fans want, with demand encouraging promoters to announce a second show, also at BEC, on December 6. Visit livenation.com.au.

Free music in store

Did you know some of Brisbane’s best independent music stores are also home to some of the city’s best all-ages shows? On March 2, Tym Guitars will host Brisbane’s Turnpike and Burning Circuits, which features Regurgitator’s Ben Elyon guitar and Tim Rix and Cameron Rickettson bass and drums respectively. Check Tym Guitars’ Facebook for more details.

Whole new ball park

If you missed out on tickets to beloved Brisbane indie-pop band Ball Park Music’sfirst over-18s show at the Tivoli, in Fortitude Valley, news that they have announced a new show at the same venue for next Sunday should put you in a good mood. Incidentally, their new album – Good Mood – has just been released a week ahead of schedule.

Dave’s not here

It’s been just over two years since David Bowie left Earth for his home planet, but there is some good news for those still feeling blue about the Thin White Duke’s departure. Parlophone has just announced 180g vinyl reissues of some of Bowie’s best-loved albums – Low, Heroes, Stage, Lodger and Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps) – will be available from Friday.

Spotify top 10

  1. God’s Plan, Drake
  2. I Fall Apart, Post Malone
  3. River, Eminem ft. Ed Sheeran
  4. Finesse (Remix), Bruno Mars ft. Cardi B
  5. IDGAF, Dua Lipa
  6. Let You Down, NF
  7. Never Be the Same, Camilla Cabello
  8. Meant to Be, Bebe Rexha ft. Florida Georgia Line
  9. Silence, Marshmellow
  10. Rockstar, Post Malone

Fans fume at sky-high price to meet Kylie

KYLIE Minogue will launch her upcoming fourteenth studio album Golden with a handful of intimate shows across the UK and Europe.

For any Kylie fan, it sounds like heaven – a chance to see the pop princess performing in venues that hold mere hundreds of patrons, rather than the arenas she usually packs out.

But while the venues may be small, the price tag is not.

Fans eager to attend Minogue’s London concert at the exclusive Cafe De Paris have baulked at the price for a Meet & Greet ticket to the show, which includes a photo opportunity with the woman herself.

That’ll set you back £965 – or just over $1700 in Aussie dollars.

Regular tickets to the show are going for £110 ($AU 194), while those who’d like early entry to the venue to get a good spot up the front will have to pay an eye-watering £265 ($AU 468) for the privilege.

As word spread that those who want a brief meeting with Ms Minogue will need to shell out close to a thousand pounds, fans took to social media to voice their anger – many tweeting Kylie directly:

Minogue’s certainly not the first pop star to cash in on fans’ desire to get up close and personal with their idol. Miley Cyrus charged fans $US950 for meet and greet tickets to her Bangerz tour, while Justin Bieber charged $US650 for a brief photo opportunity at his Believe tour.

Meet and greet tickets seem a less popular offering here in Australia, where upcoming tours by pop divas Shania Twain and Celine Dion both come with high-priced VIP ticket offers – without a chance to meet the singers.

$999 for a ‘Signature VIP’ ticket to Dion’s show will give you a seat in or near the front row, as well as a gift bag, digital photo book and ‘limited edition lithograph’ – but no face time with Dion.

The ‘Ultimate VIP’ ticket to Twain’s tour will give you a front-row seat, tour gift, VIP pass – but not a meeting with the country pop star herself. Oh, and it’ll cost you $1,249.

For those with the cash to splash, here’s what a 965-pound ticket to Kylie’s London show will get you, according to the UK Ticketmaster website:

-One seated ticket on the balcony to see Kylie live (ticket face value £100)

-Pre-show Meet & Greet with Kylie

-Individual photo opportunity with Kylie

-Red carpet entrance into the venue

-Champagne reception

-Bowl food and canapés served pre -show

-Complimentary drinks pre-show (beers, selected spirits and soft drinks)

-Merchandise item designed exclusively for package purchasers

-Souvenir Kylie tour laminate + lanyard

-Designated check-in with our on-site concert host

… Better make the most of your bowl food and selected spirits.

Stop right now! Posh crushes fans’ hopes

IT’S like history repeating (and not in the way fans were hoping). After getting us all excited last week and sending the internet into a frenzy, reports the Spice Girls may be going on tour have been quashed yet again, by Posh Spice herself.

Victoria Beckham clearly has a lot of love for her bandmates and while the meeting definitely means something is in the works, unfortunately that won’t necessarily be making new music or touring together.

“I’m not going on tour. The girls aren’t going on tour,” she told Vogue UK during a preview of her autumn/winter 2018 collection in New York today.

In 2012 the girls reformed for a special performance at the London Olympics and this generated a heap of buzz that they might get back together.

But while each of the girls have, at various times, denied they would ever don the big hair and sparkly outfits again, it’s Beckham’s dedication to her fashion line that seems to yet again be taking priority.

This year she celebrates a decade in the fashion industry, with a brand that has clearly cemented itself as a favourite on the runway and a winner for the singer-come-designer.

“This is what I do.”

While Beckham and the other girls won’t disclose what’s in store for the Spice Girls’ future, the media has speculated that if a tour doesn’t eventuate, there may be talks with the Royals about a possible performance at Harry and Meghan’s upcoming wedding.

They performed for the British royal family at 1997’s Royal Variety Show and have remained friends with the Prince of Wales as well as his sons.

This technically falls under the ‘reunion’ classification and would definitely warrant a meeting with former manager Simon Fuller. A one-off performance, even at the private wedding, would mean a ridiculous amount of publicity for the girls (and their side ventures).

“There’s something so strong in the message of what the Spice Girls stood for. What is that in the future? What does that look like? We were just bouncing ideas around. Brainstorming,” Beckham told Vogue.

Another idea doing the rounds is a potential sequel to the 1997 film Spice World.

“Is that what you really, really want?” Beckham quipped.

“I remember that movie. I was so upset when they made me wear that tight little army dress. And Harper Beckham, who’s only watched Spice World once, says, ‘Mummy, I love that bit when everyone’s in the really cool clothes and you’re in the tight little army dress!’”

While Beckham is reserved about what she will and won’t do with the reunion, she did say, “You know, there’s so much bad stuff going on, and the Spice Girls were about fun and celebrating individuality. I think there’s so much that the brand can do, and it’s such a positive message for young kids.”

Ed books ‘first crush’ Missy for tour

MORE than a decade after falling in love with Missy Higgins, Ed Sheeran has booked her to open his massive Australian stadium tour next month.

The world’s biggest singer songwriter and his family were holidaying in Australia when he was 13 and he saw a concert the Australian pop star performed at the Sydney Opera House.

He revealed in a 2012 interview aired on Nova that Higgins was “one of my first biggest crushes” and he “fancied her a lot” when he was younger.

The Scar star said she was flattered equally by the crush and his love of her music.

“I love the thought that a 13-year-old Ed Sheeran was listening to my music. It’s so cool,” she said.

“He’s the biggest singer songwriter in the world and while I don’t think anyone would dare claim influencing him, it’s really lovely when somebody tells you your music has inspired them in some small way.”

“I am so stoked to be doing this tour because I am such a fan and I have never seen him before.”

The centrepiece of her stadium set for the Sheeran tour will be Futon Couch, the new single which tells the story of how she met and fell in love with her playwright musician husband Dan Lee.

He was the flatmate of a friend in Broome she was visiting and when he walked into the loungeroom where she was sitting, she just knew.

She laughed when asked how quickly they were “kissing against the kitchen sink” referencing a lyric in the song.

“I was sitting on the futon couch and I think he was making noodles for lunch and we just got chatting. I started going to my friend’s house much more frequently for cups of tea and hoping Dan was there,” she said.

“Then his band were playing at a friend’s wedding the next week and he asked me to duet with him so over the next few days we rehearsed that KISS song I Was Made For Loving You and fell in love in the process.

“It was a pretty raunchy performance, him wearing leopard print tights, no top and make-up and I was wearing a blonde wig and fake snakeskin leggings — it was an ’80s themed band — and we were jumping all over the stage and all over each other.

“There had already been kisses against the kitchen sink for a couple of days.”

Higgins said her husband has long asked her when she was going to write a song for him.

As she delved into the heartbreak of long, lost relationships for the songs of her upcoming fifth album Solastalgia, Higgins realised she better write a “straight-up, holding nothing back love song.”

“A few of the songs for the album go into past relationships and talking about what went wrong,” she said.

“I thought people were going to think my relationship with Dan is in tatters when they heard them so I had to write a song about him to show that’s a big part of my life, being in love and being happy.”

The Ed Sheeran tour kicks off in Perth on March 2, with limited tickets still available. Higgins plans to release her new album in early May.

Spice Girls reunite for world tour

THE Spice Girls are preparing to return to the stage in a reunion tour of the US and Europe, according to reports.

According to gossip site TMZ, Mel “Scary Spice” Brown, Victoria “Posh Spice” Beckham, Geri “Ginger Spice” Halliwell, Emma “Baby Spice” Bunton and Melanie “Sporty Spice” Chisholm caught up with Simon Fuller, their former manager, last week to discuss preliminary plans for a possible “world” tour.

There is no indication, at this stage as to whether or not they’ll come to Australia.

The tour is expected to kick off in the UK later this year before heading to the US. According to sources there is no plan to record or perform any new music.

The women fuelled rumours about a reunion a few days ago when they shared pictures of them together on social media.

On Instagram Mel B posted the photo along with the caption: “These amazing women have helped me become who I am, so to all the girls out there remember ‘friendship never ever ends’!!!! Boom”

Bunton shared the same photo, seemingly dropping a hint that something was in the works. She wrote: “Great catch up with my girls! #bffs always, the future is looking spicy!”

In addition to the photo of the five “Spice Girls”, Beckham also shared a picture with Fuller sitting in the middle, saying “Love u all so much!!! X Such a great say! Thank u Simon! X VB”

While other group members have been keen to do a reunion for some time, Beckham was initially not keen. It seems she has since changed her mind.

Fuller, who created the Idol franchise, also managed other big music acts including Amy Winehouse, Steven Tyler, Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood. Regarded as one of the most influential people in the entertainment industry, Fuller is said to arranging the tour because he enjoys working with the group.

TMZ reports they are also looking at “merchandising opportunities” in connection to the tour.

‘There is a finality to all of this’

PINK Floyd founding member and creative lynchpin Roger Waters is already more than 70 dates into his Us + Them world tour, and if he’s experiencing any fatigue he surely isn’t showing it on stage.

As the houselights at Brisbane Entertainment Centre fade, the sound of seagulls echoes through the venue as a video of a solitary figure sitting on a beach with her back to us projects on to the giant screen behind the stage.

While the stadium fills, eerie vocal chants and bird squawks are replaced by the unmistakable soundscape from Speak to Me, and as the “I’ve been mad for f—ing years” sample plays over the speakers, Waters – dressed in his ubiquitous black T-shirt and black jeans – and his band take to stage and launch straight into Breathe, with vocal duties adeptly handled by guitarist Jonathan Wilson, the “resident hippie in the band”.

As a giant animated sphere traverses cityscapes on the screen behind, Breathe seamlessly transitions into One of These Days and Time, which includes a reprise of Breathe. To describe vocalists Jessica Wolfe and Holly Laessig – from indie-pop band Lucius – as backing singers does them a great disservice, with the platinum-wigged duo’s soaring vocal harmonies on the otherwise-instrumental The Great Gig in the Sky giving the song a superior edge to its studio counterpart.

During the throbbing bass Welcome to the Machine, a spotlight follows Waters as he struts back and forth across the front of the stage, clearly revelling in the rapturous response from the crowd. As the seven-minute opus draws to a close, the stage darkens, and as a pulsing beat fills the arena, Waters swaps his Fender four-string for an acoustic guitar and takes to the mic for an emotionally wrought rendition of Déjà Vu, the opening from last year’s Is This the Life We Really Want?

After a near-album-perfect replication of The Last Refugee – which features suitably restrained drumming from Joey Waronker and is accompanied by its poignant music video – and the acerbic, expletive-laden Picture That, the band launch into the title track from Wish You Were Here, which garners a predictably rousing response. Although his former Pink Floyd bandmate David Gilmour sang the track on the album, Waters wrote the track, and he handles the vocals – in the same key as the studio version – with aplomb, and adds extra emotional resonance in the process.

As the sounds of choppers fill the venue and a simulated searchlight sweeps the crowd, the darkened stage again lights up to reveal a row of hooded figures in orange jumpsuits. They stand motionless, with heads bowed, as Rogers and his band tear through The Happiest Days of Our Lives, and as the “we don’t need no education” refrain from Another Brick in the Wall, Part 2 begins, the figures remove their masks and begin marching on the spot and singing the chorus.

The figures turn out to be students from Ipswich West Special School, and as the song and progresses, they remove their jumpsuits to expose black T-shirts emblazoned with the word “RESIST”. Waters is full of praise for the students’ efforts, and as Another Brick in the Wall Part 3 draws to a close, so does the first half of the show.

After the intermission, many are likely questioning how Waters will top the spectacle they have just witnessed, but as giant screens unfurl from the roof above the main seating area to reveal a rendering of the Battersea Power Station, which adorns the cover of Pink Floyd’s 1977 album Animals, any doubts are quickly put to rest.

The Orwellian themes of that album seem even more relevant today than they were when the album was released, and as a stunning visual display adorns the screens to accompany Dogs, it’s difficult to know where to look. But as Pigs (Three Different Ones) kicks off, everyone’s eyes are trained to the screens, which are emblazoned with anthropomorphic sheep, dogs and pigs and interspersed with Donald Trump’s own quotes and tweets and digitally altered images of the US President that run the gamut from sardonic and comical to graphic and unsettling.

Money is repurposed as another attack on Trump, before a heart-rending Us and Them lulls the audience into near-silence. Recent track Smell the Roses and Floyd classic Brain Damage both get an airing, and as the set draws closer to its conclusion, Waters, who has let the music do the talking for most of the evening, seems overcome with emotion.

“I can’t hear anything that you’re saying but it feels positive, so come on let’s hear it,” Waters tells the crowd, extending his arms skyward and lapping up the resultant applause.

Waters introduces his band – which also comprises guitarist and bassist Gus Seyffert, multi-instrumentalists Jon Carin and Dave Kilminster, saxophonist Ian Ritchie and keyboardist Drew Erickson – before telling us “there’s a big message in this show and it’s that love has the transcendental ability to affect everything in our lives, even romantic love can change our lives”.

“I was looking at the schedule and thinking this may be the last time I ever come through Australia … I won’t get this chance, probably to talk to people in Brisbane again for the rest of my life; one has to remember there is a finality to all of this,” 74-year-old Waters tells the crowd before finishing with Mother and a rousing Comfortably Numb.

And as ribbons of confetti slowly spiral through the smoke and lights of the laser pyramid and the crowd rises to give a standing ovation, there’s an overwhelming sense of unity, and suddenly it doesn’t feel like there’s an “us and them”, only an “us”.

Last year, Waters told Marc Maron on his WTF podcast that his “major contribution to rock ’n ’ roll … was really to develop the theatre of arena rock” and last night’s show proved, 40 years later, that his ability to meld theatricality with musical prowess in live performances remains unrivalled.

Roger Waters performs at Brisbane Entertainment Centre again tonight, with tickets still available at the box office.

Niall loves cheeky fan F-bomb

EVEN Niall Horan had a wry laugh when he saw how the cover of his debut album Flicker had been tweaked online.

The capital ‘L’ and capital ‘I’ to make the album’s title rhyme with pucker.

The former One Directioner admits that even as an Irish man who has the word on speed dial in his vocabulary he didn’t see that one coming.

“We were just looking at calligraphy and thought ‘Yeah, that letter looks good on its own’,” Horan says. “Little did I know that pushing those two letters together would make it look like ‘F—-’. It is quite funny. It has got people talking. I hope the music gets them talking as well.”

Flicker has also given Horan another first — the F bomb in single Too Much to Ask has seen him get warning stickers on physical copies of his album.

“When you look at the song on Spotify it says ‘explicit’ next to it,” Horan laughs. “I think that’s funny on a Niall Horan song, you’d expect it from rappers or whatever but not me. When you’re listening to it you’re probably like ‘Oh, what a rebel’ but sometimes there’s no better word. We did a version that says ‘messed up’ for the radio.”

When the song, about a bitter break up, was released defensive Horan fans demanded to know who hurt him.

“Don’t worry about me,” Horan says. “I got what I wanted to say out and it’s finished now.”

Flicker’s folk-tinged, Americana-influenced guitar popwas seen as the most natural transition to a solo career from any One Direction member.

Horan’s song Slow Hands also became one of the biggest solo 1D hits last year, while he’ll spend much of this year touring the album globally.

His former bandmate Louis Tomlinson (along with Liam Payne the only members not to release solo albums yet) said being a solo act was more difficult than being in a band.

“I’m sure it is,” Horan says. “The day to day interviews and photo shoots, that’s when I notice it the most. You’re in a photo shoot and you don’t have someone to bounce off any more. Or you can get another lad to answer a question in an interview. Everything’s on you now.

“The day-to-day banter right now would be crazy if this was a One Direction interview. But for the most part I’ve really enjoyed it. I love making music, writing music and I feel my most comfortable standing on stage with a guitar in me hand. That’s in my blood. I’m not going to be scared of that.”

Horan admits being in the studio recording vocals for a whole song, not just part, was an instant reality check.

“I’d never thought about that part of it until I went to the vocals for a whole song and I was like ‘Jesus!’. I did find my best vocals came out in the first couple of takes. A lot of what was used on the record was from either take one or two. The more you sing it the more tired your voice gets and you overthink stuff. I wanted the album to be organic.

“For this record I could pick the producer, record with a full live band in a studio and go through every drum sound and guitar sound in detail. It was great. In a weird way it felt that’s how an album should be made. That was the best part of the whole thing for me.”

In One Direction, the band had strict deadlines to make albums in time for Christmas, often recording on tour buses with members woken up in the middle of the night to record their parts.

“It was nice to take my time on this album,” Horan says. “That’s what I had in my sight. When you’ve got time you’ve got time to make mistakes. I was able to write bad songs, and obviously had the good ones as well.”

The 24-year-old says five albums with One Direction (in as many years) was like going to songwriting university.

“I’d write songs when I was younger without a clue how to structure them. I’ve learnt so much over the last six or so years. I’ve worked with some great writers. You don’t realise how much you’re learning until you sit down and try to write on your own, and it’s a case of ‘Oh, remember that time Dan Wilson told me to put that in that place’.”

Horan admits he channelled Fleetwood Mac for Flicker’s On the Loose.

“You can hear the ‘Mac in that. Everyone’s always trying to write their own Dreams. I’m only 24, Fleetwood Mac is the music I’ve listened to since I was four years old. I listen to a lot of other types of music but that’s the stuff that always stuck around with me. I was going through a punk rock phase when I was 15, I like punk rock now but I wouldn’t pick up my iPod and go straight to it, I’d probably go to the ‘Mac and Crosby Stills and Nash and Jackson Browne and Tom Petty. They’re the artists in my head, you can hear that on the album I think.”

The Eagles are his favourite band — he’s befriended Don Henley through meeting the rocker’s daughter Annabel. “I’m like the family’s adopted son,” Horan jokes.

Henley did an interview for an Apple documentary on Flicker.

“He hardly ever does interviews. For him to say yes to doing an interview for me was good enough. He could have done the worst interview of all time and I wouldn’t have given a sh–! Don agreed to do that for me.”

Both men have discussed writing songs together — Horan is hoping his next visit to Henley in Texas may bear musical fruit.

“Imagine that. There would be nothing better than to be sitting in a room with my guitar in my hand with Don Henley, writing a song together. I’d probably forget how to play guitar. Just to have a jam with him would be enough, but imagine being on a song with Don Henley. That’s the dream.”

Horan says seeing Henley and his email buddy Elton John still passionate about music after decades in the game is inspiring.

“They could easily just concentrate on their own fortune and legacy, but they still have time to help younger acts,” he says. “It’s incredible. What I’ve noticed over the years, and I keep this in my head all the time, is that the bigger the star the nicer they are. From Johnny Depp to Ellen DeGeneres to the Obamas to Don Henley and Elton — they are all so lovely. It’s always the smaller people who are the biggest dickheads.”

Flicker (EMI) out now. Niall Horan, Brisbane Entertainment Centre June 3, Qudos Bank Arena June 5, Margaret Court Arena June 7.