Monday, July 30, 2012

Jack White live, Open House, Embiggen

I went to see Jack White last Wednesday. I would have mentioned it leading up to the show, but I kept forgetting about it! At one stage I had a mild panic thinking I'd actually missed it. Phew!

Aussie retro songstress Lanie Lane was Jack's support act, which was a nice bonus. It took me a while to warm to her music, but I eventually bought her album and now count myself as a fan. I like her even more after seeing her perform live. 

One of her band members was playing the double bass. Is it just my imagination or has the double bass made a comeback? Quite a few bands I've been to see in the last couple of years have had one in their line up. I like it. 

But anyway, back to Jack. I hadn't been too psyched about the show on the day because I felt physically and mentally exhausted and couldn't wait to crawl back into bed that night. But when he came on stage and started playing one of my favourite White Stripes songs, I got a little choked up! OMG! It's him! I'm here! And he's got the lady band with him! 

Being his usual kooky self, Jack's touring with a man band and a lady band, and he doesn't decide until that day which one he's going to take on stage. I'd hoped for the lady band, just because it's unusual to see a man backed by an all-female band. The women all had powder blue dresses, and Jack was dressed in black, with light blue suspenders. 

Jack played a few of my favourite White Stripes songs (Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground, Ball & Biscuit and Doorbell), but my favourite of the night was the White Stripes' song Hotel Yorba.  I loved the fiddle solo, which isn't in the recorded version. Yeeehaw! 

He played quite a long set and encore. It was great...but I was very glad to get home and into bed. 

Oh, I forgot to mention I got asked for ID at the door to the venue (it was an over 18 event). So did Luke. They were probably checking IDs for everyone who looked under 30, just to be on the safe side, but even so, I JUST TURNED 40! 

Open House    

This weekend was the annual Melbourne Open House event, when dozens of culturally, historically and architecturally significant buildings throw open their doors for the public to come and have a stickybeak. 

We were late to get started, but we managed three buildings - the Harry Brooks Allen Museum of Anatomy and Pathology at Melbourne University, the State Library and the Myer Mural Hall. 

The anatomy museum is used for training medical students and is rarely open to the public (unlike quite a few of the other buildings taking part). It contains anatomical models, and four plaster death masks (including those of infamous bushrangers Ned Kelly and Mad Dog Morgan), but the majority of the collection is human material - most of it diseased or otherwise unhealthy. Some of the models and specimens date back to the 1800s. It was fascinating, but also confronting. It's not every day you see dissected human body parts. What a amazingly selfless act it is to donate your entire body to science. 

Next up was the State Library. This year the tour included the Elephant Lift, the Pendulum Staircase and the catacombs. Catacombs! How intriguing! These areas are normally off limits to the public.

While we waited for our turn, we visited the La Trobe Reading Room, which is one of my favourite places in all of Melbourne. There were quite a a few people studying and this guy having a study break. Heehee.


I had hoped the Elephant Lift (the oldest operating lift in the vast building) was so named because they used it to move around stuffed elephants and other big exhibits back in the days when the building also housed the Museum of Victoria. But no; they think the name comes from the name for very large books - elephant folio. 

The pendulum rose in the floor of the stairwell

The white marble Pendulum Staircase is named because it once housed a Foucault pendulum, which demonstrates the rotation of the earth. It was removed partly because pesky children were too fond of swinging on it, and now no one knows where it is. 

The catacombs are a series of underground corridors and rooms, which are used for storage, quarantine and conservation. The name sounds intriguing, but we saw a lot of broken chairs and dusty old office equipment! 

We did see the library's old card catalogue (above) which is now digitised, but library staff do still refer to it sometimes to check something in the digital records. This was my favourite thing about the catacomb tour: 

Sadly I didn't have time to look up any of the books about odd fish. 

They also still have an old catalogue from the 1880s, some of which was handwritten. 

The catacombs were used for storage, among other things, by the museum when it was housed there. During the move to its new premises in the Carlton Gardens in the 1990s, museum workers found two bird specimens with tags handwritten by Charles Darwin. Perhaps one day the pendulum will be discovered in much the same way...

Our final stop was at the Myer Mural Hall on level 6 of the Myer Department store. It's named after the 10 large murals by Napier Waller that adorn the walls, some of which depict prominent women through the ages. I've seen photos of the murals before, but have never been in the room. It was built in the early 1930s for use as a ballroom, but it's now a posh function room. 

Sections of some of the murals

We then visited Embiggen Books, a newish bookshop near the State Library. I think it's a silly name ('embiggen' is a word made up by a writer of The Simpsons), but it's a very nice bookshop - not large, but with lots of dark timber. It feels like you're in a library. One of the first books I saw was The Etymologicon, basking in the sun on a table in the window. My heart leapt a little. 


Andrew said...

The elephant lift sounds intriguing. Did you take any photos of it?

a work in progress said...

Embiggen used to be here, in Noosa.
Warren and Kirsty who own it are great, they host some awesome events and seminars. Glad you discovered them :)