30 October 2012

More Aim for the Stars goodness

If you are an Australian girl or woman with a dream, and need some extra help to get you there, don't forget to apply for a Layne Beachley Aim for the Stars Foundation grant. As a 2012 recipient, I can highly recommend it. The grant includes financial assistance plus mentoring from Layne, media and life coaching, plus some other goodies. You can find details here. Applications close 16 November.

Meanwhile, Megan from the Foundation sent us on some professional photos from our time in Sydney. br />
Surfing at Manly beach.
With Layne, The Governor of NSW Marie Bashir and husband Sir Nicholas
Beautiful girls before the ball
Layne and I on stage at the gala ball.
Having a laugh. I think this was when I told her that I am a little too into fashion despite this appearance activism stuff!
You can view all the photos (taken by Carol Gibbons) in the Aim for the Stars gallery. You can also view the videos of surfing and the ball.

I have such beautiful memories of my time in Sydney with the Aim for the Stars grant recipients, Layne and Megan, and am forever grateful for their support.

I read Layne's biography over the weekend just gone, and after getting a deeper insight into her life, I really admire her drive and perserverance, rising above the adversities she's experienced. She knew what she wanted to achieve, visualised it, worked hard and achieved it. What a woman!

29 October 2012

Putting the CAN in Canberra - addressing the cynicism toward #humanbrochure

I am starting the week very happy with the memories of the Human Brochure weekend. It will be hard to get back to reality. We certainly have been living it up. And I miss my fellow foodies already.

I met wonderful people who are all interested in food, culture and Australia's history, and of course, being connected. They just *got* social media. It was ok to carry on a verbal conversation while having another conversation on Twitter. It was ok to take photos at the table and delay the eating process! I think I have made some great friends. And I was impressed with the organisation, service and attention to detail we received. The hotel, wineries, restaurants, gallery, botanical gardens, and Human Brochure staff - all so impressive.

It was not all about getting free stuff and cash for comment as many perceived (by traditional media and also perhaps the non social media savvy?). The written and pictorial narratives on social media was genuine. While the very large majority was positive, there was some criticism of service. Which reinforces the authenticity of the participants in the initiative.

It was about working with government, food and wine providers, national icons and tourism bodies to create awareness about our capital city.

It was about breaking down stigmas about Canberra being boring and being the burden of Government decisions that some may not agree with.

It was about learning through experience, and subsequently teaching. I learnt about Indigenous art, wine making, Canberra's history, food and our country's participation in war. I also learnt about the lives of my new friends. They are passionate, intelligent, funny and interesting.

It was about appreciating local produce and hearing the stories behind these producers. They are passionate. We all indulged. But the food and wine was good quality. And we also saw where some of it was grown - right in the garden of the winery!

It was about getting humans to connect face to face - bringing loved ones, online friends and strangers together for quality time - and FUN! It was so great to see families, couples, friends and strangers having fun together! My new blogging friend turned travel buddy Tash got to know eachother better too. when was the last time you took time out from your lives to have fun, and essentially play?

And it was about engaging in a groundbreaking event of experience-based social media marketing. I would like to see this initiative run in other cities.

Australian Capital Tourism could have spent $1 Million on getting a celebrity to spruik Canberra. They could have spent it on a TV or newspaper ad. But they didn't. They chose to get real people from a range of ages and backgrounds to experience what Canberra can offer, and share their experiences on social media. Australian Capital Tourism is a government agency. I think this initiative is so progressive and edgy for the government. It is also a risk - what if the exposure on social media went wrong? What if the service or products we experienced were poor? The impact on tourism following this initiative is yet to be seen (and there is another tour in February), but I saw fantastic reactions from the Humans on the tour - both in person and on social media. I also saw Canberrians loving that we shared their city with the world. How courageous of Canberra's government to take this risk.

We all knew what we were there for - to promote Canberra - but we could do so as balanced, frequently and across as many social media platforms as we chose. There was never any pressure from Australian Capital Tourism to share our experiences, but I believe that we loved it so much that we wanted to share it with our networks. It never felt false from the inside.

Personally, as a blogger, I always feel 'on'. Observing, photographing, note taking, talking, listening, storytelling and promoting. Everything is a story. I was chosen to take part in the Human Brochure initiative, and I wanted to do it justice by sharing the best of Canberra with you in an honest and exciting way. The trip was fully paid for. The very best was showcased, an this was to be expected. I also thought there was a difference between what we spruiked - local family owned businesses and government assets - compared to big corporate multinationals. This made me feel more comfortable about promoting what I saw and experienced. I wasn't remunerated to be there, but I worked as though I was. I don't take opportunties for granted. Tash and I both provided honest balanced feedback to the team, but on the whole, our experience was positive.

I feel so proud and privileged to be a part of the Human Brochure initiative.

Ian Hill, head of Australian Capital Tourism left us with a quote from Benjamin Franklin.

"Tell me and I'll forget
Show me and I might remember
Involve me and I'll understand"

This quote sums up our weekend. We did stuff, we learnt new things, we enjoyed it and so we shared our experiences. And our opinions were valued.

The Human Brochure is a new way of marketing. It's not much different to a sponsored blog post or conference. It's not much different to a travel review. It is a lot like a blogger receiving free stuff for review - though it's not just a dress given to one blogger and then promoted once with a blog post. This was a holiday given to hundreds, as a prize in a competition, and promoted en masse. It's social media that partners with face to face experiences.

Disclaimer: All of the commentary on this post and future posts about Human Brochure are my own thoughts about the city. This trip has been paid for by Australian Capital Tourism. I was chosen to participate in the Human Brochure initiative because of my strong social media presence.

28 October 2012

Putting the CAN into Canberra: breakfast buffets + gift shops = happiness #humanbrochure day 2

Happiness is a breakfast buffet and an art gallery gift shop featuring on the same day. Oh my gosh! These activities alone have made for a very positive Human Brochure experience so far. I have been Instagramming the heck out of Canberra. Seriously. Follow my adventures on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. Follow the Human Brochure on social media via the hashtag #humanbrochure

Yesterday Tash and I were up bright and early (much brighter than today, believe me!) and headed down to the Ox Eatery in the foyer of our hotel to have the breakfast buffet.

What a treat it was! We shared our experience with the lovely Rhubarb Whine and her husband That Sparky.

There was a mix of cereal, fruit, ham, cheese, yoghurts (Yalla yoghurt!) and pastries.

I had a waffle, some bircher muesli in a pot and a glass of pineapple juice. So good.
All day we indulged. We counted 13 courses of food and 13 glasses of wine - and that was not counting breakfast and BEFORE the drinks at the bar plus pretzels and sweets back in the hotel room. Tash suggested we may need muesli bars to sustain ourselves on the bus. Pfft I told her - we are in the FOODIES stream! I feel SO lucky. We really are living the good life! I will report more about the food soon. We also made some wonderful new friends including my fellow Sydney Writers Centre Best Blogs finalist Jeremy from Taste Explorer and his girl Tracey, Phoebe from Diaries of Bella and Chanel from
Cats Love Cooking.

We got in touch with nature again amongst all the eating. Make a wish! (I wish this weekend didn't have to end!)

We toured the National Gallery of Australia (more reports to come) and of course I spent a lot of time in the gift shops! I firmly believe a measure of a good gallery is its gift shop. This one had two, and they did not disappoint. They had lots of stationery, pottery, books, skincare, jewellery, toys and posters.
I feel I am growing up, because I bought some homeware. A little green vase (wrapped safely) and these, Roald Dahl story mugs. Love them!
So today I predict everyone will be a little slow moving and cloudy headed. We are going to brunch at the botanical gardens (right after I sneak in a waffle!) and then off to another winery! This certainly is the life. We have eaten so much good food, and as Rhubarb Whine said, "the next Human Brochure tour will be sponsored by Jenny Craig"! Thank you Australian Capital Tourism for this great experience.

Disclaimer: All of the commentary on this post and future posts about Human Brochure are my own thoughts about the city. This trip has been paid for by Australian Capital Tourism. I was chosen to participate in the Human Brochure initiative because of my strong social media presence.

PS: There is a very beautiful chair in our hotel room. And I think I need to start saving my money for one!

27 October 2012

Putting the CAN in Canberra - #humanbrochure day 1

Hello from Canberra! We have completed day 1 of the Human Brochure initiative. Did you know that Canberra was designed as a part of a competition, and the Walter Burley Griffin, architect and designer, had a certain lifestyle in mind when he designed it. I see this initiative, one year before Canberra's Cententary, as a way for Human Brochure participants to design the way they want potential tourists to see Canberra. It is experience-based marketing. It really is ground breaking.

I was contacted by Ant Sharwood from News.com.au/The Punch to give a quote about my experience - I called him from the airport, excited about this adventure. You can read his article, including my quote, here. Note - I have been to Canberra for leisure before, though the article says contrary.

Tash and I have had a wonderful first day filled with laughs, sights and food. We waited in a long queue at Qantas security and a bit of turbulence in the air. I was given an extra sandwich (thanks Qantas! - I was becoming angry hungry!). There was a little boy on our flight who was so adorable - laughing hysterically everythime we experienced turbulence and clutching his sick bag like it was a gift, oblivious to its purpose. He is on the Human Brochure tour too.
Mumford and Sons and Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros were on our flight. I have some goss. And a blurry photo. Paparazzi I am not.
They're beardy.

An Edward Sharpe and A Magnetic Zero was making music as we waited to board.

I was smiled at by a Mumford and Son. He said hello too.

That's all.

We are saying the East Hotel. It is beautiful. The attention to detail is amazing. Such thought has gone into the extras at this hotel. A bike in the foyer! And a deli!
A warm welcome on the Macs in the foyer!
The East Hotel has a playful theme, with magazines, books and board games in the foyer. I like this ornament.
There were lollies on departure to our night time activity. And there is an awesome floor rug.

Our room - bigger than my unit. And really modern. They have thought of everything! Beautiful furniture, a coffee machine, a full sized fridge, cookware, an ipod dock...There is even a washing machine and dryer.
Tash coordinates her outfit with the furniture! We have been GLUED to our phones, tweeting, instagramming and facebooking. I have even bought a battery pack for my iphone.
We had a late lunch at Silo (Giles Street Kingston). It had quite a limited menu by the time we got there, but we had a choice of cakes, pizza and cheese.
We went the ewe and goat cheese platter. I described this as soft, hard and harder cheeses.
CurlyPops' brooch came with on the trip.
Silo has a cheese room. I love a cheese room and think I might build one into my future house.
We then went for a walk to Lake Burley Griffin. We saw a caravan.
And I got in touch with nature. A swan and blossoms. The lake resembled the murky Yarra - dirty and brown - but the Instagram filter makes it prettier!
The trouble with bloggers is that they always stop to take photos.
Back at the hotel and I bathrobed it up. Love these slippers.
I got dressed up - dress from Target, cheapie shoes, Mimco headband.
There are some really well shod women in our group!

Our evening was spent at the Australian War Memorial. I have been here before. It is moving and spectacular. We saw a film about World War One planes, had a history lesson, and got to know some of the other participants on the Human Brochure trip.

I sat on the step watching the speakers from the War Memorial and Australian Capital Tourism introduce the night, and took a deep breath, marvelling at just how spectacular the surrounds is. So much history. I think the vastness of this gathering space represents the vastness of history the memorial musuem covers.
We were presented with an amazing array of canapes. Seriously so many. This was just a sample of them. There were desserts, lamb cutlets, coconut prawns, zucchini fritters and rice paper rolls. Yum!
I loved that the senior staff involved in the event, including Ian Hill, who heads up Australian Capital Tourism, came to say hello to us, and was genuinely interested in our opinions and ways of communicating this event. There is a buzz in the air - this is exciting stuff.

I got talking to a range of people including blogger Vicky Finch and a lovely young man from Tasmania - we had lots of laughs and ribbed each other. The quote of the night, on telling him that I am not very outdoorsy, was "you sound like my fucking tomato plants!". A charmer!

So that was day one over! Looking forward to what today has in store. A breakfast buffet, wineries, art gallery and posh restaurant. Our hotel left us some goodies to ensure we are refreshed this morning.
I am loving doing this tour with Tash - she is heaps of fun and we have had lots of laughs together. She also really loves food - handy given we are on the food stream!

Follow my adventures on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. Follow the Human Brochure on social media via the hashtag #humanbrochure

Disclaimer: All of the commentary on this post and future posts about Human Brochure are my own thoughts about the city. This trip has been paid for by Australian Capital Tourism. I was chosen to participate in the Human Brochure initiative because of my strong social media presence.

PS - hey it's Tash's birthday today! Best birthday present ever perhaps?! Go on, wish her a happy birthday!

26 October 2012

Maggie Alderson interview

When an author drops their book on your door step from the plane as they fly into Australia, it's an exciting moment!

I am very excited because next week I will be seeing Maggie Alderson, fashion journalist and novelist extraordinaire, do a reading of her new book Everything Changes But You. While I will review it here, I haven't read enough to review it just yet. I promise to get it up soon, after the reading.

I was lucky enough to meet Maggie at her last tour, and meet her in London where we went to the V&A and Selfridges. Shopping with Maggie was definitely a dream come true. After reading her fashion columns for years, I had imagined longing after shoes and sighing over dresses with her. And we did. And I gushed.
Maggie kindly did an interview for me.

Carly: Tell me about your new book Everything changes but you.

Maggie: "Everything Changes But You is a story about the complications that arise when people from two different cultures get married - even if those cultures are as closely linked as Australia and the UK!  We all travel so casually now and have such easy contact with people on the other side off the world on the internet, I think we've collectively lost our respect for distance. It's great in so many ways, as it creates a very positive sense of the global village, but it still takes nearly 24 hours to get from London to Sydney in real time."
Have you based your book on your own experiences? Are characters based on your friends?

"I will always been torn between England and Australia, so that aspect is very personal to me. I never base a character on one person, they are all products of my imagination, but I have drawn from the experiences I've observed in couples who are from different countries."
Where is home for you?
"That is a very hard question for me. Nowhere. London is home, but it isn't. Sydney is home and it isn't. I've spent so much time in Paris and New York over the years, I have a sense of homecoming every time I go there. But my family are scattered around and I left the town where my mum still lives thirty five years ago, I've lived in Hastings for ten years, but it will  never be my home, so there is no one place. It does make me sad sometimes, but I've learned you can carry a sense of home around inside you and it's more about being with certain people than in a place."
How is being a novelist different from being a columnist?

"It takes a lot longer! You  have to sustain an idea for 130,000 words, rather than 650... You have to immerse yourself in a novel for months and month, it takes over your life, but a column is a one night stand."
Tell me about your love for Twitter? What has this meant for you as a writer?

"Twitter is the best thing ever for a lonely novelist. I spend all day sitting in a room on my own, which can be hard when you've worked for twenty years in buzzy newspaper and magazine offices. Twitter is like the office kitchen where i can go and have a chat and a laugh with lovely people, when I need a break. People think it's frivolous, but i've made real friends on Twitter - like you, Carly!"

(Follow Maggie on Twitter too - she's @MaggieA.)

You can see Maggie on the rest of her Australian tour:

- Melbourne – Tuesday 30 October, 7.00pm, Matilda’s Books, 15 Hamilton Place, Mount Waverley. Event is free, but bookings essential on 03 9888 1433

- Melbourne – Wednesday 31 October, 6.30pm, Readings Hawthorn, 701 Glenferrie Rd, Hawthorn. This event is free, but you must book on 03 9819 1917

- Canberra – Thursday 1 November, 6.00pm, Paperchain, 34 Franklin Street, Manuka. This is a free event, but please book on 02 6295 6723

- Bowral – Friday 2 November 10.30am. Bookshop at Bowral, at The Gibraltar Hotel, Cnr Centennial Rd & Boronia St, Bowral. $20 per person, includes morning tea. To book, call 02 4862 1634

Note: I was not paid for this post, but I was gifted her book. Thanks Penguin!

25 October 2012

Success is loving our true beauty. (The I Heart My Body post)

"The most unique parts of you will eventually be the ones that lead you to greatness"
~ The New Normal

As you may have read or heard previously, when I was young, all I wanted was to fit in. I wanted to take a giant eraser to my skin - the redness, the scale, the soreness, and just make it white. Or black. Or brown, which I may be without Ichthyosis. Any colour but red. Any colour.

When I was five I told my best friend I that I wanted to be a doctor. To help other people like me. He told me that I would have to chop all my skin off before I become a doctor. And then he chewed my Barbie's hairbrush. Fast forward 10 years later and a girl I considered a school friend told me if I wanted to enter Dolly's Model of the Year contest, I would have to bleach my skin. (Ironic that both of these suggestions of drastically changing my appearance would bring me more pain than if I just endured my natural appearance.) When I was 20, someone with Ichthyosis told me I only got an academic scholarship and a graduate job because people felt sorry for me. It seemed, to others, my skin was either gong to hold back or falsify my success.

I wondered whether I would have to "chop my skin off" for any occupation? I wondered if I could really be myself to succeed in any occupation, or academic or social pursuit.

People change their appearance as a means of striving for success all the time. Magazines and advertising tell us success is flawless skin. Success is a flat tummy. It's fitting into skimpy bathers two weeks after giving birth. Success is fake hair and nails and lips and foreheads that do not move. It's a dandruff-free scalp and meal replacement shakes. Success is teeth whiter than heaven, done in a lunchbreak. It's a hairless body and a fake tan. Success is looking like a different version of ourselves. How can this be happiness?

It's funny how things work out. At 30 years old, I feel successful. My success has been because of my natural appearance. Success has come in the form of writing, speaking and TV work. And more friends than I thought I'd ever have. I can't believe I have built a media career on stories about my appearance. I can't believe I have been photographed by a high profile fashion photographer.

I can believe I have defied those who thought my appearance would hold me back from success. I do still feel I have to work harder to win people over so they feel more comfortable with my redness, but I feel I have been able to impress more people with my experience and outgoing nature than ever before. The most unique part of me certainly has lead me to a great life.

About a month ago I had dinner with a very lovely boy I had met the previous week. He asked me if he could add me on Facebook when we were at the dinner table. I used his phone to find my name, and he requested me as a friend. My personal Facebook page has quite strict security settings. Before I accepted his friend request, he scrolled down through my limited profile. Only my limited profile was not so limited. And he saw the Instagram filtered version of this photo (the one on Facebook is not airbrused, just sepia).
Taken before I went surfing with Layne. I am pretty proud of this photo. It's not often I wear such few clothes for the camera - or ever - I am usually wearing many layers. And I quite like my body - I have a great hourglass figure and I am petite. I'm really short which I also like. Those $8 bathers are so flattering too.

"Hello!," he said, with a gorgeous broad smile on his face. Then he zoomed in. Gosh, we'd known each other a week, and I rather like him, but he had seen so much of me already. In my bathers. Boobs and legs. Boobs and legs. Oh god!

I was mortified. But loving the compliment at the same time. I don't need a man to validate my appearance. But when he did, it felt good. Especially when he really doesn't know me very well and likes what he saw, and when many other people are so quick to judge my apprarance negatively. And he still wants to hang out with me now. That makes me so happy.

I have friends that look Different who are not afraid to show their difference. They are proud of their bodies. They embrace their true beauty. They have beautiful personailities too. They love their bodies. They don't change themselves to conform to beauty ideals. They also use their difference for good (check out Cheryl's blog for some beautiful words about The Different, stereotypes and using difference for good.)

Ichthyosis was featured on Embarrassing Bodies last night. While raising awareness is good, it saddens me that this condition is labeled 'embarrassing'. Sensationalist exploitation. I did not watch it. I'd prefer it if no one watched it. This type of media only perpetuates the idea that different bodies and appearances are something to be ashamed about. And this body of mine, and others' with Ichthyosis, is something to be proud of, not embarrassed about. It overcomes adversity every day - physically and emotionally.

I strongly believe that success is loving our true beauty and being proud of our difference. It's realising that our uniqueness will amount to greatness, if we let it.

This post is for the I Heart My Body linkup. What do you love about your body?

24 October 2012

What I know about writing


Writing can give me immense happiness and pleasure and also terrible performance anxiety. I love creating something beautiful with words. I like knowing that I have the power to shape the way people - my readers - think. My readers. I like that I have readers. It's a privilege.

There's a sense of confidence you need as a writer. You need to be brave enough to get the words out of your mind and onto the screen, and braver still to share it with the world. And you need to believe in yourself to keep going. Because everyone's an editor.

I'm often scared of starting a piece of writing. Usually scared about writing something for someone else. What if it's not good enough? Performance anxiety. I have to remind myself that in the end, it doesn't matter and that although everyone's an editor, I am always writing for myself. I think about the perfection versus excellence discussion I once had.

Writing is often a journey that leaves me breathless and teary, like I've just run a marathon. It can hurt but it always heals. It clears my mind and makes sense of situations, often ones of the heart. There's always someone somewhere reading my thoughts that has some empathy.

I can tell the world everything yet tell a person nothing. And I am comfortable with that.

I worry about revealing too much. But often the best pieces I have written are the ones where I am vulnerable and a little bit sad. I can feel my readers reaching for my hand to hold. People know so much about me. I forget that sometimes.

Sometimes I tell people that I love them through writing. Indirectly of course. It's safer that way. It's love from a distance. They can read my words if they want to.

I fall in love with writing. Good lyricists and boys who can spell. Bloggers. Journalists. Novelists. I want to know good writers better. I drink up their lessons they're inadvertently giving. I want to be as good as them.

I'm not very good at using a pen anymore. While I take pride in the words that tumble their way from my mind to the page, my handwriting suggests otherwise. I make notes in my iPhone. I write from my iPad and MacBook. Not a day goes by when I don't jot an idea down. I have more than one serve of Apple a day.

Writing runs in my family. My father. My grandfather. His father. His grandfather. It's nice to be tied to my heritage through the written word.

I want to make people think, but I don't want to rock the boat. I want to row gently. But then I know I should write something that scares even myself. One day.

The Internet is the reason I write, and the reason I don't. I'm usually not writing because I'm reading others' writing online. I am good at procrastinating, but it's purposeful procrastination. I've developed a sense of identity because of blogging. My thesis findings told me so. I've come out of my shell and found my tribe. Blogging has created such a sense of community. These friends I talk to on the Internet, they are real. I have met friends because we have connected through words.

I used to write poetry. It was hidden in ring-bound notebooks. It was lonely, love lost, naively sexual, and very much inspired by Silverchair's Neon Ballroom. Now I've found myself, I no longer write true poetry. But I hope there is some poetry among the words I write here and elsewhere.

I find it a good challenge to switch between corporate and academic writing, and writing here and elsewhere in my own voice. I felt like I had broken ground by writing a 10,000 word thesis about new media in a conversational tone. And received a high distinction.

In my day job I am a stickler for writing rules. Style guides, font, colours, plain English. But here there are only self imposed rules - good spelling and interesting content. I like that blogging allows me to employ the skills I learnt in journalism studies yet gives me the freedom to start a sentence with And.

One day I'd like to write something really intricate, like a literary version of lacework or leadlight. Something to make readers gasp and leave their hearts pounding and breathless - like the writing process - and other writers - left me. For now I'm just aiming to throw my words like glitter into the universe and hope someone catches them. And enjoys them.

This is a first in Sarah Wayland's fortnightly 'What I know about..'. series. If you want to join in, follow her Facebook for the prompts.

23 October 2012

Evermore, INXS and Matchbox Twenty concert review

Saturday 20 October 2012
Rod Laver Arena Melbourne

Saturday night was a good one. I saw Evermore, INXS and Matchbox Twenty live at Rod Laver Arena. It was quite the show, with hit after hit played. I think all bands kept up the momentum by playing a good range of their hits to not let the audience get bored with new stuff. The audience was a mixed age group – all passionate and singing along, especially to INXS.

Please note, my photos turned out really awful on both my camera and phone because I was quite far away from the stage (row A does not necessarily mean front row!) and so all of the photos below were taken by my friend Christine who went to the show on Sunday 21 October. She blogs here. Thanks Chris! I know that's cheating a bit but I did not want to put up a review without photos. Those first two photos above were taken by me though!

Evermore kicked the show off – seeing them reminded me that I should go back and listen to Running again. They had a great sound. 

I’ve ticked another band off my bucket list now. INXS. (I had seen them live, briefly in 2010 when I saw Rob Thomas – he sang a few songs with Rob.) I’ve been a fan of theirs for quite some time – I think it was in 1999 when I bought a greatest hits CD.  I was never really into them when Michael was alive – I put it down to being too young to appreciate them and having foreign parents. My love for Aussie (some may say bogan) rock came when I was 17. I was old enough to not let my peers influence my music tastes and so I began to explore music more widely.  I also finally stopped staying true to the current ARIA chart at the time started and delving into the classics. I remember when I bought that CD - I felt so grown up.
Seeing INXS live was a big highlight. It was upbeat and nostalgic, and I was so impressed they played for 75 minutes as a support act. They played so many hits, their new lead singer Ciaran Gribbin was on fire, and the whole band got involved – talking to the audience, instrument solos and running around the arena (that was my mate Kirk!). Ciaran was vocally appreciative of fronting the band, thanking them and the audience for having him. I expect he would have felt a lot of pressure, and I really congratulate him for doing a great job. The band featured two female singers, one of which sang Kick solo. She brought a great new sound to the band. It was a real joy to finally see them. 

INXS Set list:

Drum solo introduction
Suicide blonde
Original sin 
What you need 
Sugar - a new song 
Kiss the dirt
Beautiful girl 
Kick medley - all full length songs: 
- Need you tonight, 
- Mediate, 
- Calling all nations (sung by women), 
- Mystify, 
- Kick (sung by a woman called Ashley Allan), 
- Devil inside, 
- New sensation, 
- Never tear us apart (for Michael)
Don't change

Matchbox Twenty also played so many of their hits – they really do have a lot – but then again, they’ve been around for 16 years now.  If I was stuck with just the music of 1996 – 1998, I’d be happy. They played a number of songs from their current album North, which has taken a while to grow on me, and hearing these live gave me a better appreciation of the album.
Rob Thomas didn’t have much to say on stage – he did ask us how we’re feeling now a number of times – but he certainly did have a good stage presence. His voice, his posture, his bulging eyes and beating hand against his chest – he just commands attention. He is hot. His voice is powerful. And the band play well together. They have real instruments, no computerised sounds.

My highlights were when drummer turned guitarist Paul Doucette ran through the audience and around the arena – and on returning, Rob pointed out that Kirk got back to the stage prior to the song finishing – “just saying” he quipped; Kyle Cook’s guitar solo – he sat on the edge of the stage, playing in earnest; and the way the band made the songs from the mid 1990s sound just as relevant today as they did back then. They also played one of my favourites - a rarity called So Sad So Lonely - it's seedy and makes me want to dance.

Matchbox Twenty Set list:

She's so mean
How far we've come
Real world
Our song
If you're gone 
All your reasons 
Long day
Back to good 
I will
So sad so lonely 
I'll believe you when 
English town 
The way 
Bright lights 
Sleeping at the wheel 
Put your hands up
Girl like that (I think - please correct me if I am wrong)
You're so real 

The show was upbeat, contained their trademark love songs, and made me think of the times their music has helped me through. It was good to see people of all generations cheering for their songs. This is the fourth time I have seen Matchbox Twenty live, and I can safely say, they still have it.

Thanks for playing boys :)


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