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Sunday, 24 February 2013

Joe's, Palais Theatre

Heading towards the Palais for a Neil Finn/Paul Kelly concert, we wanted to grab a bite to eat in St Kilda first. Being somewhat broke, I wanted somewhere near the theatre, cheap and filling. A quick Google search revealed the convenient proximity of Joe's (formerly Greasy Joe's) - a St Kilda institution that I'd never been to.

Joe's Bar and Diner (64-66 Acland Street, St Kilda - near the McDonald's!) was rebranded from "Greasy Joe's" just recently, and now seems to be aiming for a clean, fun, American vibe. Burgers are a large feature of the menu and, happily, they hover around the $13 mark. Between 4.30 and 6.30pm is special time: any beer and any burger for $15 - apparently served with chips, as seemed to be the case when we were there. I don't drink beer so couldn't really take advantage of the deal, but I think my chips were thrown in as a gesture (or by accident).

I went for something different: the "Lady of St Kilda", featuring ocean trout, harissa, lemon, cabbage and lettuce on a brioche bun. It was an odd combination of juicy, sour, oily and crunchy on the slightly sweet, dry bun. I'm still not sure if I liked it or not - but I ate it!

My friends tried the "Cheeseburger Baby" and the "Classic Joe" - both more conventional, and seemingly tasty, although one friend squished up her cute nose at the bun, declaring it too dry.

So it seems the burgers were generally regarded as... okay. Thankfully, the chips were AH-MAZE. I don't know what they did to them, but they were seriously awesome.

We sat at a large communal table, up high on bar stools which were a bit annoying, but we had a pleasant view of the street and anyone coming or going:

The rest of the place was taken up by (normal height) tables and a large central bar. There are also tables outside in a designated footpath area.

It was time to run off to the show, so we asked for the bill, but it was forgotten. SAD FACE. So we asked again, paid and walked all of 200 metres across the road to the stunning, if somewhat worse for wear, Palais Theatre (Lower Esplanade, St Kilda) - another institution of the area, and indeed of Melbourne.

Inside, we couldn't figure out if we were allowed to take drinks into the auditorium or not (wouldn't you put up a sign? -- surely otherwise you'd be asked ALL THE TIME), so we asked. We weren't. SAD FACE NUMBER TWO. So some of us skipped the support act (Lisa Mitchell... sorry, but meh) and drank our wines upstairs, looking out across all the slow-moving, zig-zagging people.

People-watching is always fun, especially when you know they're your kind of people because they like at least one thing you like (in this case, for me, the AWSBALLZ master of music, Neil Finn). And the grandeur of an official-looking historic building is always breathtaking. However - and it could be a funding issue; I don't know the details - the Palais could certainly use a bit of TLC and/or sprucing up.

The lack of air conditioning on a hot day (or even air filtering... pffft, you call those liddle round things way up there fans?!) made for a sticky wait. We were alerted to the start of the show by chiming bells - a quaint touch, so much cuter than those horrid electronic beeps you get at some places.


The temperature was slightly better but still warm inside the theatre. All those bodies... But once Neil Finn and Paul Kelly came onstage, to the sound of cicadas, in the dark, holding lanterns - I didn't care. As usual, both iconic musicians were professional, entertaining and pitch-perfect, and together, truly a class act. I nearly cried three times.

Sorry for the bluriness. We were sitting quite far back.

Paul's cover of Crowded House's "Into Temptation" was breathtaking - I didn't want it to end - and Neil's performance of Split Enz's "Message To My Girl" made me want to play it on repeat for the next week. I also loved this line from Paul Kelly's "Love is the Law": 

Love is always hopeful, 
and never dreams that it can fail.

The lighting effects were fantastic, based on a bush landscape backdrop, but with changing colours and effects. The band members comprised Paul's nephew Dan Kelly on guitar, Neil's son Elroy on drums, and a swingin' female bassist by the name of Zoe Hauptmann. It was nice to see a chick in the rhythm section, especially one who can actually play.

Needless to say, we came out of there on a high note, which just made the Palais seem even prettier by night:

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