I’ve got a few things to write about – number one, it’s my younger brother’s 17th birthday today, yay! /bounce We’re having a family dinner tomorrow evening at a buffet; I’m getting picked up from the station after work and we’re off. :)
Now to a more serious note… the death of Bryce Courtenay. Lilian wrote a post dedicated to the wonderful storyteller, and much of what I’ll say is similar to what she’s written, but I wanted to write it anyway.
Bryce Courtenay, South-African-born Australian author, died on Thursday night at the age of 79. He had been suffering from stomach cancer for quite some time, and even had the strength to open up to the public about his illness and the knowledge that his time would come.
He had many bestselling books, and I’ve yet to read every single one, but I’ve read so many of them, and every year I have been in anticipation of his new one, whether or not I had caught up with the last one. To this day, I haven’t finished all his books, and it disappoints me because it was something I had in the back of my mind – to read all his books before he passed away. Now as each year comes, there will be no more of his books, and Lilian and I can’t even bear to read his last book, Jack of Diamonds, that was released this month – because after that, it’s the end.
Lilian and I grew up reading Bryce Courtenay as soon as we became teenagers. When I was about 13 years old, I looked through all the bestselling novels in the bookstore, finding some of our favourite young adult novels while I was there. Somewhere near the top-ranked was Bryce Courtenay’s Brother Fish. I don’t know what compelled me to pick it up, and I know we try not to judge a book my it’s cover but we end up doing so anyway. If I remember – Brother Fish was something I picked up because of the cover reminding me a little of Life of Pi and the title reminding me of the film Brother Bear. I picked up the book, read the blurb, put it on my lap…
It was a huge book. I had never read a book that long before coming across it. It was nearly 900 pages and not your regular sized book. It was also hardcover. I sat there reading it and when my mother came back from doing her shopping I begged her to buy it. She knew I loved books, but she was always hesitant on buying them for me because of their price. This one was pricey because it was in hardcover. She agreed to buy it for me for Christmas.
It took me two weeks to read and I loved it to pieces. I told Lilian how good it was, for we often liked to share good books and we both had a love for literature. From that day forward, we aimed to read more of his books and were blown away by his storytelling. I would recommend his books to anyone. They are very long, and they’re mostly of the bildungsroman/coming-of-age genre, and tell complete life stories, but they are all worth a read. Sometimes they seem to get sidetracked, or have unnecessary detail, but once you hit the end of the book, you realise that every detail is important. It’s amazing how much life he tells in those pages. My favourites of his have to be Brother Fish, Jessica and Matthew Flinders’ Cat. The most recent I read was Fortune Cookie, and that was just beautiful.
Rest in Peace, Bryce Courtenay.
I went to see Bob Evans on Thursday night. Bob Evans is the stage name of Kevin from Jebediah, and you know I love KevBob/BobbyKev/Bevin/Kebob – I will refer to him as either Bob Evans or Kevin in this post. :) As usual, he was amazing. I recommend you read Carly’s review of the Melbourne show; she wrote a fantastic review and a lot of the things Kevin said, he said at the Sydney show as well.
Thelma Plum opened for Bob Evans, and she had such an angelic voice. It’s hard to describe, but she had a voice that was not only ethereal, but had so much strength and power. She was accompanied by her friend Andrew, who played both piano and guitar (not at the same time, of course). Thelma also played guitar for a couple of songs. The room was insanely quiet when she sung; I think everyone was just mesmerised by her flawless pitch. I had been planning to listen to some of her music before the show and I didn’t get a chance to – but hearing it first live was truly a gift.
I was far too impatient for Bob Evans to play, and I spent some time shaking my legs in my seat. Before the show I had spotted my friend Phoebe. We always seem to bump into each other at gigs everywhere – of course, obviously at Bob Evans and Jebediah gigs. :D I was rather relieved to have some company because I was feeling mega awkward sitting alone among people I didn’t know.
Bob Evans was mainly set to play songs from his new EP The Double Life. Everyone who attended got a free copy of his EP, which was really lovely of him; he signed them at the end of the show too. On mine, he wrote “Hey Georgie, stay awesome”. :’)
On the way to the Camelot Lounge where the show was, I picked up a newspaper and found that someone had written a bad review about the EP, giving it only 2.5 stars. Along with that, they dared to compare his song Don’t Wanna Grow Up Anymore to Blur’s Coffee and TV. Shocked, I took to letting him know on Twitter, to which he replied, “fuck ’em”. That’d be right!
Along with songs from the new EP, he played a few from his upcoming album (due early next year), titled Familiar Stranger. From what I gathered from the performance, it’s definitely got a different sound to his “suburban trilogy” – his first three albums following a similar theme of romance and nostalgia and all with a similar country/folk-pop sound. Despite that, we still heard some Bob classics, and he even took to performing his hilarious Ode to My Car, which got many laughs out of the audience. I felt no laughter escape me, possibly because I was more compelled to sing along. It’s a hilarious song he wrote about his car ten years ago. He made a joke that someone could look deeper into it and say, “perhaps the car is a metaphor… for a girl… no, it’s about a car”.
My absolute favourite of Bob’s songs is Nowhere Without You, which is one of the very first Bob songs I heard. After I first heard it live some time last year, I just wanted to cry. It was simply amazing, and after listening to the recording it simply could not compare anymore. Live, it was just beautiful. Last year when I saw him live, it was the first song he performed, and his guitar string broke somewhere near the end of the song. Following that song he played Hand Me Downs, the lyrics of which are:
I’ve got nothing darling, all I’ve got are broken wings. A little love means everything
At that show, someone suggested that he sing “broken strings” instead, because of what had just happened.
I was surprised to find that he sang “broken strings” throughout his performance of Hand Me Downs on Thursday. He then began to say, “There’s a little history behind this song… last time I had a show in Sydney, my guitar string broke, and someone… I think it was actually someone at this table,” he pointed at the table Phoebe and I were sitting at, “said I should have sung ‘broken strings’ instead of ‘broken wings’, and I’ve been singing it that way ever since. It’s funny how someone who probably has never written a song in their life thought up that line, and I took years to write it. Pfft. Broken wings. ‘Broken strings’ is so much better than ‘broken wings’.”
Bob is absolutely charming; he told numerous jokes throughout the evening, as he usually does, and we all laughed about his new classical electric guitar named Sting, and there were a few sexual jokes, not to mention someone yelling out “awks” to a totally not awkward moment – to which he responded, “What was so awkward about that? What is with the youth of today with their awks and totes and amazeballs… it was totes amazeballs.”
One of my favourite moments of the night was when he played Don’t You Think It’s Time, in an intimate performance without his amplifier and microphone. It was truly beautiful. ♥️
He took a few requests, as he usually does, but he wasn’t up for playing anything he hadn’t rehearsed or had played too many times (like his cover of Lily Allen’s Not Fair). I wish he played Stevie’s Song or Your Love, but I guess there’s always next time – and a girl can dream. Someone requested Turn, his amusing but lovely song in which he sings of being a less-than-average, clumsy and lazy guy living with a girl he’s madly in love with, knowing she could walk away at any second but that he’ll be ready to beg for her to stay. One of the things I adore most about Bob’s songs is that they tell stories, above all, stories straight from the heart. That said, he played his fan-favourite, Me and My Friend, which was a hidden track off his second album.
There are probably highlights of the show that I missed, but I’ve written enough to capture what I remember and loved. Thank you dear Kevin for coming out to say hi to us all. Thank you for remembering my name. /love