Category Archives: Review

A bathroom sponge, a Rubik’s Cube and Dolly

Restaurant review: An unnamed establishment, Berlin, Germany.

We should have listened to Public Enemy and not believed it.

Dolly offered more flavour in the taxi on our way back to the hotel

This place was not only talked up bigtime by all the usual travel-advice-dispensing suspects,
but also the normally fairly trustworthy New York Times 36 Hours.

The decor is a Trump-esque orange. It was packed.
A short wait, then seated next to a Scandinavian family featuring an emo teenager…
picture a pissed-off, possibly self-harming version of the lead singer of A-ha, annoyingly clicking a Rubik’s Cube.

The menu consisted of about three offerings, the daily specials board about two.
Alarm bells should have sounded when the menu didn’t appear on the website.

Only fried spring rolls? Fried? In a much-trumpeted about Asian restaurant?
What. The. Serious. Fuck.

My wife ordered a chicken Phở featuring dejected, arid pieces of chicken and a distinct lack of herbs, and taste, but an over compensation of a collective noun of shallots.

As a non-meat-but-seafood-eating type, I had roughly one choice, a tofu vegetable rice thing,
that when doused in chili to give it some semblance of flavour, morphed into the consistency of Perkin’s Paste that I used to glue things together in primary school. The Rubik’s Cube sized pieces of tofu were being eyed rather amorously by neighbouring Take On Me emo boy. Though with the consistency of an overworked bathroom sponge, even he would have had trouble clicking them.

The only saving grace was Dolly Parton’s “Jolene” in the taxi on the way back to the hotel.
The lyrics “Your smile is like a breath of spring / Your voice is soft like summer rain” infinitely more flavoursome than the meal.

Don’t.

©Steve Williams 2017

*This review also appears in the highly entertaining Brothtaking.

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Why I won’t be going a Waltzing Matilda with the Apple Watch

Yep, the Apple Watch looks stunning and the technology is impressive, but I’ll pass.*

Apple Watch 2.0 :  iSundial

I’ve owned quite a few watches over the years, including an “unreal” Casio copy digital watch when I was kid. This hifalutin’ horological appliance played Waltzing Matilda (for un-Australian readers, this song is about a suicidal sheep stealer that should be Australia’s national anthem, as it doesn’t contain the word “girt”).

But I digress.

I wouldn’t call myself a hardcore Apple fanboy — I haven’t felt the need to break out the sleeping bag and queue up for a new product — but I have been picking Apple products for years.

Why? A) They just work. B) They look good.

My very first Apple was the Macintosh SE back in the day, which to be honest was fairly fugly and it was a bloody heavy thing. Since then iPhones, iPads, iMac, and MacBook. Love ’em.

The Apple Watch? Yeah, nah. I don’t really see the point. I know it does stuff… but not enough to make me want to buy it. My iPhone does everything (and more) than I need.
Sure, call me iLuddite.

A good thing you can monitor your blood pressure, with the top of the range Apple Watch costing several gazillion dollars, you’d need it.

Do I want to give someone a “digital poke”? No. That’s called assault.

Do I want to share my heart rate by sending it to another Apple Watch wearer? No.

Do I want to pay for things or open a door with my watch? No, I’m actually good.

Do I want to look like a Dick (Tracy) talking into my wrist? No.

*Disclaimer: If there’s an app to stuff a jolly jumbuck into my tucker bag Waltzing Matilda style
I could be convinced…

©Steve Williams 2015

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Queen – Thirty Years : Sydney to Munich

Thirty years is a long time between fandangos.

Adam Lambert worships at the Church of May (photo: mlk.com)

The last time I saw Queen was 1985 in Sydney on the Australian leg of The Works tour.

I had followed their journey since my first purchase of a single — Bohemian Rhapsody in 1975, which still occupies the rockstar position in my record collection.

1985 seems like a lifetime ago, I was a fresh-faced twenty-year-old, but I remember the concert as though it was yesterday. “Spectacular” is merely one adjective.

Queen + Adam Lambert in Munich last Monday night was always going to be a different experience — Freddie Mercury’s absence, and John Deacon’s retirement from the band.

I was no stranger to Adam Lambert, having followed his 2009 American Idol journey, singing Bohemian Rhapsody at the audition, culminating in a performance with Brian May and Roger Taylor.

Lambert is no Freddie Mercury impersonator. A talented performer in his own right, possessing a rather insane vocal range and wonderful showmanship, he brought another dimension to the night.

It wasn’t Queen Karaoke — Lambert’s unique phrasing added another layer to the songs ingrained in music history. He brought a sense of playfulness — performing Killer Queen reclining on a chaise lounge, his powerful, arena-filling voice nailed Save Me and Who Wants to Live Forever, and he gave Queen’s time-honoured classics their due respect.

This wasn’t the Adam Lambert Show, he was the “plus” — it was all about Queen — Brian May and Roger Taylor were at the top of their game, enjoying performing to Queen fans and the new mix of “Glamberts” — deliciously indulgent solos demonstrating their extraordinary talent. The cliché “rock royalty” more than applies.

May mentioned recording in Munich — indeed,  One Vision (and the music video), Crazy Little Thing Called LoveAnother One Bites The Dust and Save Me among others were all recorded at Munich’s famed Musicland Studios.

Concert standouts? Hard to isolate one, but Freddie Mercury’s “duet” with Lambert on Bohemian Rhapsody had me back in 1985. Somewhat bizarrely, another of my favourite moments (or twenty two and a half minutes) was the background music playing before the band took the stage.
I always love that time — the audience is in place, the anticipation is building — everything is set. The piece of music was Queen’s atmospheric instrumental Track 13 off the Made in Heaven album.

It will be interesting to see how the fusion of Queen + Adam Lambert plays out.

Watch this space…

©Steve Williams 2015

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Going (Slightly) Gaga

So I became an honorary “Little Monster” for a few hours last night. Lady Gaga brought The Born This Way Ball to Singapore and without going into what is apparently called “paws up” mode (ask a hardcore Gaga fan, they’ll tell you), I have to say it was a brilliant show. This was one of the very early stops of the massive world tour before she heads to New Zealand, then Australia and the rest of the cosmos.

*This may not be an actual part of Gaga’s meat lounge

Love her or hate her, whether you think she’s some weird meat-dress wearing psycho Madonna wannabe who seems to constantly forget her bra, or the much revered “Mother Monster”, you have to admire her talent. Seriously.

Without getting into major spoiler territory, expect to see a unicorn, an elaborate medieval castle set that opens and closes revealing numerous scenes and characters kind of like Gothic Barbie on acid, a meat lounge, a Gaga / Max Headroom lovechild, a rather unique way of riding a motorbike, spectacular costumes (loved the manic bee-keeper outfit) with a mesmerising number of über-quick changes, exceptional choreography from Gaga and her sickeningly buff and talented troupe of dancers, an interesting flavour of sausages emerging from a meat grinder, a machine gun bra and… more. That is possibly selling the rather involved storyline a fraction short, but personally, I was there for the music, not so much the theatrics, but Gaga delivered that and then some.

Expect to hear an extremely tight band, personable, actually rather heartfelt dialogue from Gaga (you might think I’ve been drinking the Kool-Aid, but I can’t really see an issue with her messages of love, tolerance, unity, support for gay rights, anti-bullying etc) plus the occasional f-word, and the random religious-esque reference.

Then there’s that voice… her power and range is quite incredible, all while riding a unicorn, a motorbike, scaling the battlements of her castle, performing outrageously intricate and I-desperately-need-to-lie-down inducing dance moves — all a total lip-synching free zone — in her chats between songs she is literally trying to catch her breath. Speaking of songs, all her hits are there — Born This Way, Poker Face, Paparazzi, Judas, Hair, You and I, Edge of Glory, Marry The Night, Bad Romance, Alejandro (I’ve probably left out a couple) and all faithful to the originals — no bullshit Gregorian chant meets John Williamson weird-arse reworking because “I’m an artiste” here.

If you get a chance, buy a ticket to the Ball. You don’t see or hear talent like this every day (or a unicorn or meat lounge).

©Steve Williams 2012

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