For a wee little country in the middle of an ocean, we do get a lot of the big acts down here. All the venerable rock dinosaurs are coming through in 2008-09 it seems -- in addition to Neil Young at Big Day Out, whom I'm way down for, we're also seeing folks like Stevie Wonder, Leonard Cohen, Billy Joel and the surviving members of The Who (should that be the "Wh"?) I was really, really tempted to see Mr. Townshend and Mr. Daltrey when they come this way in March, but when ticket prices START at $150 for the nosebleed seats, I decided I'd be better off just popping my DVD of "The Kids Are Alright" back on again. Nostalgia is one thing, but yeesh, $250 for a decent seat is a bit much.
• On the other hand, my homey Ryan Adams is coming back to New Zealand in February, and while I had kind of mixed feelings about his last gig, in the end I remember the really good bits far more than the annoying ones and I'd like to see what he does again. I'm enjoying his latest Cardinology (which starts very strong, runs out of steam a bit in the end though). And he's playing at the Powerstation which is a great place to catch a gig, even if he doesn't turn the lights on again this time.
• Chuck Klosterman writes my favorite opening lines of the week, and I don't even really care about Guns 'n' Roses Chinese Democracy: "Reviewing Chinese Democracy is not like reviewing music. It's more like reviewing a unicorn." A great little essay piece from a critic who shames me.
• Very cool late birthday present of the week: Johnny Cash At Folsom Prison Legacy 3-disc special edition set, which includes two entire shows from the Man in Black's fateful prison concert, and a DVD documentary which I haven't even cracked open yet. Just hearing the entire show is quite a trip, though -- it's been built up as one of those mythic musical moments, and yeah, a fair amount of it was artifice and stagecraft, but still -- there's something there, in the joyous howl of the inmates' voices and Cash's cool calm control as he sings 'em a few numbers. One of the great high-wire balancing acts in music history and an absolutely fantastic reissue box package by Sony/Legacy, too.