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Concert Review - Tori Darke 'Silver Lining' album launch - 27th February 2015

Posted by The Wolf Radio: Planet Country Radio Show on February 28, 2015 at 10:20 PM Comments comments (0)


Review by Big Stu.


‘Silver Lining’, the new album from Tori Darke, is one of those albums that seem to have been coming for a long time. I don’t just mean since her previous release, ‘Dreams and Chances’ back in 2011, but the lead up to Tori’s second full album has been a visible one. Often artists simply disappear off the radar while they write, record and produce an album – and then, ‘hey presto’, a brand new album arrives in the inboxes of radio people and the public get to hear it. In this case however, Tori made the making of her album a public concern, with an Indiegogo campaign to help fund the production, and the use of social media to keep fans in the loop as work progressed.


It is a refreshing approach, and although it must have been a stressful period for the artist, in a way knowing how hard she has had to work to make the album happen at all has placed it amongst the most anticipated releases of 2015.


Having seen Tori Darke play live several times during the ‘Dreams and Chances’ era, I was particularly interested in hearing how her new music stacked up to what was a wonderful selection of country/pop cross over tunes that did very well commercially and helped establish her credentials as one of Australia’s finest new breed of contemporary country artists.


The show began with a full house, with even media passes hard to come by, the stage decorated with an arc of balloons – including some silver ones to tie in with the album’s name. Before Tori took to the stage, local up-and-coming singer/songwriter Rachael Fahim entertained with a short, powerful set of songs accompanied by just an acoustic guitarist. We had Rachael in the studio for the [Planet Country] Radio Show prior to her competing as a finalist at the Toyota Star Maker event in Tamworth this year, and her performance on Friday night highlighted just why she came so close to winning Star Maker. The good news is that a single isn’t far away for Rachael and we stand by what we said on the show – ‘Her star is on the rise’.


Next up was the star of the night, and Tori Darke got straight into it, playing all the songs on her new album and providing some background to those she wrote or how she just had to have some of the tracks written by others. It’s hard to pick favourites when you hear an album for the first time. It usually takes several listens to pick out those songs that best relate to a listener’s own perspective or simply have a sound that excites your senses, so I’ll offer critique based simply upon a first listen during a live performance and a quick refresher in the car on the way home - sometimes you can’t get enough!


The set opened with the title track ‘Silver Lining’ and the delightful surprise of Tori playing an electric mandolin. From the start it was clear how well this band gelled together. Interestingly, Tori advised that the group hadn’t been able to rehearse together save for a quick run through that day, but when you have musos the calibre of Simon Johnson (who interestingly produced Tori’s first work – he must be proud of how far she has come) on bass and Brad Bergen creating the rhythm on guitar you’re in pretty good hands!


The next few tracks revealed Tori Darke to be a more mature performer these days, and it was clear that this new album was a progression rather than simply a continuation of where she was at four years ago.


An undoubted highlight was hearing the first single performed live. ‘Disposable’ has been on high rotation in country radio and has been played multiple times on Planet Country, so there was a familiarity to it on Friday night. However, Tori and band did it justice live.


The song ‘So Gone’ was announced as the next single and it proved a popular choice, with Tori asking the crowd what they thought after its performance. A resounding vote of confidence was the result and it’s easy to understand why. It’s a pure melodic country pop song which shows off Tori’s versatility as a singer. A quick listen to the CD version in the car on the way home confirmed the radio friendly nature of this song, and I predict it will be huge for Tori. It will certainly feature on Planet Country.


Another highlight was the duet, ‘We Don’t Know’ which Tori identified as her first duet in her career. The album version is sung with Mitch Thompson but on the night (and in the coming tour to support the album), the male part was sung by north coast-based independent artist, Michael Bryers. No disrespect to Mitch Thompson’s effort on the recording, but this track was the standout live performance of the album launch. I confess to not knowing much about Bryers but wow, what a voice. This song will be a single at some point and again shows another side of Tori Darke’s talent.


The songs ‘Small World’ and ‘Past A Broken Heart’ slowed the pace down before the melodic pop returned with ‘Outta My Head’, an easy listen.


Tori introduced the track ‘Better Off’ as one she had written years ago and had considered for ‘Dreams and Chances’ before placing it on the shelf. It always amazes me how song writers can write so many songs that don’t ever get recorded – I guess it’s like how I store off cuts of timber in the shed with the notion that I’ll find a use for them someday, and eventually I do. They become the perfect pieces for another project entirely.


The album closer is the anthem ‘You And Me Against The World’, which simply left the crowd wanting more. Luckily there was more to come. But first an opportunity to meet Tori, get a photo, including the mandatory Instagram snap holding the oversized frame.


Before long the stage was again in use, with Michael Bryers given an opportunity to play his own brand of country cross-over, and while support for his performance was strong, I confess to being distracted by the opportunity to chat with Tori and Rachael. I did, however, hear enough to know that Michael Bryers will find a home for his music on Planet Country, so watch this space – or perhaps ‘listen to it’ would be a better description.


Tori Darke managed to drag herself away from the crowd to take the stage again for a final performance of the 5 big hits from ‘Dreams and Chances’. This was now my opportunity to compare old and new and a couple of things came to mind. Tori Darke has grown as a performer, because she nailed the old songs with complete authority. The professional band of musos can play anything and the songs themselves haven’t aged. I mentioned a progression in her music and while that is true, there is no need to downplay her earlier work. It was very, very good.


Manager, Cameron Syrett took to the stage to remind the crowd and Tori that there was one song she was yet to perform and Tori decided to make this final performance an all-in effort as she took to the dance floor and before long it was packed with everyone helping her sing the catchy ‘You Better Run’.


It was a triumphant finale to an excellent show and the fact no-one was in a hurry to leave proved just how popular Tori Darke is, and how this album may be about to launch her beyond anything she has previously achieved.


Five stars out of five.



Posted by The Wolf Radio: Planet Country Radio Show on September 28, 2014 at 11:40 PM Comments comments (8)




I have to admit, this was a concert I was looking forward to since it was first announced. The three artists on the bill, Victoria Avenue, The Viper Creek Band and Kaylens Rain are perfect examples of the types of artists the [Planet Country] Radio Show is all about. A modern, ‘new country’ sound that is fresh, contemporary and not a cowboy hat in sight! Interestingly, there was a hashtag used for the night on social media #CountryJustGotCool, which perhaps best sums up how the artists want to be seen in a country music context. The [Planet Country] mission is to grow the popularity of ‘new country’ music and break down traditional stereotypes associated with the genre, so this was a perfect concert to promote.


First up on the stage was Victoria Avenue. The all-girl trio have been gigging solidly around Sydney in the last few months as well as launching their debut single ‘Quit you’ mid-year and just a few weeks ago, their second single ‘Knock knock’. Both tracks were well received on Saturday night and the girls called on the guys from The Viper Creek Band to provide the full music backing to Knock Knock, ensuring they finished with a bang.


I was particularly interested to see how the girls sounded with just a simple acoustic guitar and occasional bass drum or cymbal sound in support of their vocals on such a large stage. The reality is that vocal strength and harmony quality will always win over a crowd, no matter how large the stage or venue. It is this aspect that impressed me most about Victoria Avenue. Having seen them a few times in small pubs, I was floored by just how good they sounded on Saturday night. They have improved as performers and one gets the impression big things are just around the corner for the trio.


Next up were The Viper Creek Band and the boys from Newcastle brought a bus load of support with them. This is a band that are unapologetically country and they rock hard. Led by energetic front man Damien Baguley, The Viper Creek Band provide a welcome shot of ‘get-up’ with songs covering the typical country catalogue of themes, presented with rocking guitars and honest vocals. The thing about this band is you get what you expect. No-one leaves disappointed and the only criticism on the night was the lack of dance floor space for those who wanted to join in on the energy coming from the stage. The Viper Creek Band is a must-see for anyone who thinks country is boring or clichéd.


The headline act on Saturday night was the brother / sister duo Kaylens Rain. These days Glen and Kaylee Harrison play with the backing of a full band and the sound is tight. I have always been impressed with Glen’s guitar playing, although I admit to finding it strange watching a left hander. Other than ensuring he stands on the right side of his sister on stage, the left handed playing is immaterial to the quality of the sound, which on Saturday night was superb.


The choice of Kaylens Rain to headline the show may have been based around their standing in the local industry, and I admit to reservations of seeing them follow such a rocking group as The Viper Creek Band. The reality though, is that Kaylens Rain are an act that is international quality and ready to take their music to the next level. I was amazed to learn on the night that the show was the group’s first ticketed performance. Although I have seen them before at free club gigs, I naturally assumed they had played shows for paying fans before. I guess the reality says more about the lowly position country music holds in the Australian music scene than anything about quality.


The fact that an act as good as Kaylens Rain is not played on commercial mainstream radio in Australia is one of my pet bug bears. Their sound has been compared to that of Lady Antebellum and yet they don’t hold an equivalent position within Australian music as Lady A do in America, and ironically it is Lady A who are occasionally played on Australian radio and not seen as a country act at all when we have Kaylens Rain, I’m going to say it; as good as anyone else in the world, playing their first gig to paying fans after releasing a brilliant first album and solid performances around the traps for a few years – All without mainstream music media batting an eyelid. Rant over!


Back to the concert. The set was well weighted with songs the fans knew and sang along to and some glimpses of new material that only whetted the appetite for a second album all the more. Kaylens Rain have always thrown in some interesting covers and the aforementioned Lady Antebullum’s newest single ‘Bartender’ was a highlight along with a haunting rendition of Fleetwod Mac’s ‘Rhiannon’, which showcased Kaylee’s beautiful voice and Glen’s (left handed) guitar skill.


The show was closed with an ‘all-in’ performance of ‘Life is a Highway’, reminiscent more of Rascal Flatt’s version than Tom Cochrane’s. It was a powerful performance with multiple guitar players jousting for position, four amazing female voices and Damien Baguley off side-stage, dancing with fans that’d had enough of the tables and jumped up on stage to get into it.


I rate the show as a triumph for the ‘new country’ sound. Traditionalists might fall off their hay bales, but this is the future of country music and it is truly in the very best hands, be they left handed or whatever . . .


Big Stu

[Planet Country]



Welcome to New Country.

Posted by The Wolf Radio: Planet Country Radio Show on May 15, 2014 at 12:40 AM

Welcome to New Country.


Forget everything you thought about country music. Times have changed and so has country.

Modern country music can be considered so far from the traditional notion of a rural lifestyle that the line between musical genres gets blurred, leaving listeners to consider the style and substance beyond simplistic stereotypes.


The reality is that country is listened to by farmers in the bush and bank managers in the city. It isn’t simply a case of the city dwellers longing for the rural pace either. The music conveys more than a message about billabongs and dirt roads. Rather, it’s real emotions and real issues affecting everyone that forms the basis for many songs.


Country is about escapism. Whether you need to be lifted up because you have faced adversity or whether you are mending a broken heart - yes, the cliché about country music and break-up songs might be real, but so what? It works for Taylor Swift - and haven’t we all been there? But for every song about a girl, there are others about trucks, drinks, tattoos and partying. It’s a rich tapestry!


For a city dweller, enjoying country music is about a state of mind. The misconception is that everyone stuck in the city must be yearning to leave for a better life in the bush. The reality is that anyone (regardless of their location) can identify with the themes - and the music isn’t bad either.


Some of the best guitar players in the world belong to the country genre. Some of the loudest drumming can be heard at country concerts. Yes its true there may be banjos, but it’s OK, they’re electric and they rock!


The genre bending is gathering pace. There are many country artists in America who have collaborated with artists from other genres, including rap and pop. The resulting hits have topped the charts in both country and mainstream (all genre) charts, ensuring record companies continue to promote these get-togethers. Australian artists are a bit slow to participate in genre bending, with just a few examples to date but watch this space…


Media plays a part in growing modern country music, and in Australia there are many radio stations playing mixed country music, meaning you might hear a traditional country song alongside a song featuring a rap artist and a country artist. The result is a mismatch of styles and sometimes it leaves the listeners unhappy. Many traditional country fans aren’t so accepting of the new sound - and let’s face it, if we are trying to gain new (read young) listeners to country music, they aren’t going to hang around listening to a radio station that plays John Williamson straight after Florida Georgia Line featuring Nelly.


Now there is a radio program dedicated to ‘New Country’ focusing on promoting modern music and genre bending collaborations. The tag line says it all…



Music Like You’ve Never Heard. This is Planet Country.


Sneak Peek: Our hosts talk Rock Star Wishes and Facebook Fans

Posted by The Wolf Radio: Planet Country Radio Show on May 6, 2014 at 11:35 PM Comments comments (0)

Listen to a "sneak peek" at the type of hard hitting discussions that will take place on Planet Country Radio Show.

Our hosts Big Stu and MJ talk rock star wishes and Facebook fans!

Music Promo - What will listeners hear on Planet Country?

Posted by The Wolf Radio: Planet Country Radio Show on April 28, 2014 at 11:55 PM Comments comments (0)

From Nashville to Tamworth, country rock to country pop - [PLANET COUNTRY] plays all things NEW COUNTRY! We play what's trending, chart topping and all the best music you've never heard... until now.

Heres a teaser of the type of music you will hear on the new Planet Country Radio Show:


Posted by The Wolf Radio: Planet Country Radio Show on April 27, 2014 at 8:40 AM Comments comments (0)

With the show set to go live to air in the near future, a radio ad has been produced for the show.

Check out:

All systems to the next level for approval!

Posted by The Wolf Radio: Planet Country Radio Show on April 16, 2014 at 6:50 AM Comments comments (0)

Latest News: The Alive 90.5 programming committee have unanimously approved the Planet Country radio program.

The next step is Board approval. Following that, it's back to programming for time allocation and start date.

It's coming!!!