Brian Wilson at Sydney Opera House

It’s been 50 years since the Beach Boy’s Pet Sounds, and in celebration, Brian Wilson has brought his band to Australia for a complete rendition of the album, plus some greatest hits. Harmony-drenched opener “Our Prayer” is a suitable match for Sydney Opera House’s almost celestial Opera Hall, which tonight is heavily populated by both beardy musos and oldies in Hawaiian shirts and baseball caps.

From there Wilson and his 11-piece band stream through a stream of hits that sound as good as the records, “I Get Around” and “California Girls” in particular inspiring some ’60s-style groovy (and not so groovy) dancing. Wilson sits centre stage behind his huge grand piano; to his left stands original Beach Boy Al Jardine on guitar, still in great shape and able to sing the old greats like “Shut Down” and “Little Deuce Coupe” with gusto.

His son Matt Jardine is also on hand to reach the higher octaves that Wilson can no longer hit. He provides lead for “Don’t Worry Baby”, an impeccable recreation of the original and easily the highlight of the night. Each of the song’s three choruses literally put shivers down my spine and hit me with a wall of emotion as pure as water. In over 10 years of going to concerts I’ve never teared up, until now.

Also in the line-up is guitarist Blondie Chaplin, ex-Beach Boy from the 1970s, who drifts on and off stage throughout the evening. Singing lead on Holland-era tracks such as “Sail On, Sailor” and the suitably-named “Funky Pretty”, Chaplin struts around like Nigel Tufnel and also adds some slightly ill-judged guitar shreds to the once-soulful “Wild Honey”. All the while, Brian Wilson sits behind his piano looking a tad out of place, like a priest at a skate park.

After an interval Wilson and his band do a spectacular job of replicating just about every instrument on the intricate, multi-layered Pet Sounds. “God Only Knows” is like heaven, and receives a standing ovation that Wilson cuts short: “Alright, that’s enough”. Overall, the 13-song Pet Sounds set is delicate and sensitive, sandwiched nicely by the hits.

It’s when they rattle off some of these older classics that quite so many band members seem superfluous – I know the tambourine isn’t going to play itself, but I counted five guitars being played (five!) for “Barbara Ann”.

But on several occasions I strained my ears to pick out Brian’s singing voice amongst the multiple-part harmonies and realised his contributions were probably minimal. It reminded of the old stone soup fable – the hungry travellers who set up camp next to some wary local villagers, and add a stone to a pot of boiling water, telling the villagers they’re “making a delicious stone soup”. The villagers each contribute ingredients to improve the soup’s flavour, yet it’s the stone they give credit for its magical soup-making properties.

Likewise, tonight’s 36-song set at the Opera House was mouth-wateringly good. But like the stone in the soup, too often tonight it seemed of little consequence whether Wilson was there or not. Although he can still reach most of the low notes, he can’t hold them for too long before spluttering or running out of breath. Now 73 years old, his band carry him – but it’s totally understandable.

One exception is the final song, the piano ballad “Love and Mercy” from Wilson’s first solo album, with the cracks in his voice only adding to the tenderness. He hobbles off stage and I feel a pang of sorrow that I probably won’t see him again.

For so many fans these songs were a soundtrack to what must’ve seemed like an eternal youth; now lyrics like “God only knows what I’d be without you” and “I feel so broke up, I wanna go home” add that extra poignancy coming from a man whose best days are behind him. That in itself lends these concerts added beauty that make them worthwhile. I just hope Brian Wilson is happy to still be doing them.

 

Battles at Sydney University

Battles at Sydney University’s Manning Bar is one of the band’s few Laneway Festival sideshows in Australia in February. The New York three-piece has gained something of a cult following around the world, and is touring in support of their third album, last year’s wholly instrumental La Di Da Di.

A sweaty, beer-stained Manning drips with anticipation before guitarist/bassist Dave Konopka sidles on stage, who gradually builds shimmers of Eno-esque synthesiser for opener “Dot Com”. Guitarist and keyboard virtuoso Ian Williams adds more electronic burbles before John Stanier, a big terminator of a drummer, arrives to propel the night onward.

Battles makes music that’s difficult to define. Konopka and Williams lend finger tapping and fast, intricate riffs, while John Stanier’s stint with alt-metal outfit Helmet in the 1990s helped develop his bone-shakingly cavernous drum sound. They encompass math rock, noise, rock, post rock, electro and ambient techniques to create a genre of their own. It’s often, fast, loud, groovy, tight, with odd time signatures and electronic glitches generated from machines that look like they once belonged to Professor Frink.

With each track, the band switch up a gear; for “Ice Cream”, Williams’ slippery chords tremble under the weight of his whammy bar,  building to an orgasm of desperate bleeps and blast beats; while “Futura” is math rock played with keyboards, complete with off-kilter drums, jagged samples and almost calypso rhythms.

“Tricentennial” begins with a sea of synth as thick as jelly and guitars that somehow sound like trumpets – it’s one of many songs tonight that sound random and improvised, but are in fact faithfully recreating versions on record.

If there’s a more tightly-knit trio I’d like to see it. In the middle, Stanier, the big beef joint of the group, batters the shit out of his kit, especially his trademark crash cymbal 6ft off the ground which he hits vengefully as though it slept with his wife.

Either side, Williams and Konopka add colour with a variety of strings, keys and pedals. Williams nimbly taps strings on his guitar neck with his left hand, simultaneously mirroring the riff with his right hand on the keyboard; while Konopka works like a scientist in a lab, turning from one instrument to the next, occasionally dipping out of sight to attend to pads and pedals on the floor.

And they’re all so fast and energetic. By palate-cleanser “Tyne Wear”, Stanier’s dripping with sweat as though he’s just come out of the ocean. Every cymbal crash has a burst of sweat droplets spray from him like a sprinkler.

“You guys have one of the greatest cities in the world,” Konopka tells the crowd lovingly. “Do you think we say that to everyone? Do you think we say that to Manchester?”

They launch into “Summer Simmer”, led by Ian Williams’ special toy, the Ableton Push, a sequencer that lets him loop beats and samples from a vast menu. His fingers groove away on its platform of rubber keys as they light up like a multicoloured dancefloor. Their penultimate tune “Atlas”, which you may have heard during CBS’ Superbowl ad break  , is driven by rumbling tom toms and disjointed lead guitar, and draws the biggest response from the crowd yet. Everyone who wasn’t previously dancing is now.

Battles feed off love from their audience, meaning the last track of the night is the most impassioned yet. “The Yabba” is outrageous, full of ray-gun synth, slide guitar and a hi-hat that quivers with tension. It’s so tightly-orchestrated and physical, like a synchronised army of robots working down the mines. Sweaty and exhausted, they bow out after only an hour and 15 minutes. I would’ve loved another couple of tracks, but I guess maintaining that much energy for much longer would’ve been as tough as Bikram yoga.

Don’t miss these guys. Hop on a plane if you need to. They’re surely the most exciting live act in the galaxy right now.

Why the Australian Open must never leave Melbourne

Another year, another beautiful fortnight at Melbourne Park.

The trip to Melbourne for the tennis is always a special one. The city’s love for sport is palpable as soon as you arrive at Southern Cross station, from the grand Ethiad Stadium, pride of place; to the big screen at Federation Square, where hordes loll on deckchairs beneath beach umbrellas, watching the tennis on the big screen. (I can confidentially say I’ve never felt as relaxed slap-bang in the centre of Sydney as I have in Fed Square, alternating between sunbathing and beer bars every 30 minutes.) A ten-minute walk from Federation Square along the beautiful Yarra River ends with the grand Rod Laver Arena staring you in the face.

The whole city seems built on sport; the facilities are all so central and are integral to the identity of the city. As well as boasting the Australian Open, it proudly hosts the Melbourne Cup, the Australian Grand Prix, and is home to two A-League football clubs, one of which, Melbourne City, is financially-backed and franchise-owned by City Football Group (the holding group that backs Manchester City in the Premier League – if any club can significantly boost the popularity and watchability of Australia’s A-League, it’s Melbourne City).

Not long after my first visit to the Open some years ago, I was deeply concerned by growing murmurs and the odd report that Melbourne might not host the tournament past 2016, with the possibility of being outbid by Sydney.

It seemed crazy to me. As the commercialisation of sport increases by the year, how could Sydney possibly benefit the competition any better than Melbourne? Melbourne clearly takes pride in its cultural identity and the part sport plays in it; for Sydney it’d be about revenue, tourism, advertising. With dollar signs in their eyes, NSW premiers look at the competition as a big goldmine to be tapped that could further boost their economy.

But then, why walk along the river to Melbourne Park when you could get a train into Sydney’s western suburbs to the heap of concrete that is Olympic Park? It’d be like a slightly less bogan Easter Show but with more tennis and fewer knitted tea cosies.

Another alternative, proposed when Melbourne’s contract was due to expire, suggested relocating the tournament to Glebe Island, behind Sydney’s Exhibition Centre. The artist’s impression showed a rather cramped triangle of ground next to the water’s edge. It screamed congestion, noise and stomped-on meat pies.

At the time, Victorian Tourism and Major Events Minister Tim Holding offered his own view on Sydney’s attempts to take the event: “For too long Sydney has rested on the laurels of the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge to market itself internationally. Sydney’s last attempt to steal an event from Melbourne ended in embarrassment with Melbourne re-signing the Grand Prix … They have finally decided to copy Melbourne and try to host major international events. However, like much of Sydney, they are all fizz but no action.”

I know this is fuelled by the natural antagonism Holding has as a born and bred Melbournian, but to me he was bang on. Sydney’s attempts to take the event reminded me of a fat, spoilt younger brother at Christmas trying to snatch his brother’s presents when he has plenty of his own to play with.

Don’t fight children. Otherwise it’ll just be given to Canberra.

Another senior source from the Victorian government said that, “Tennis Australia is playing us off against Sydney, but runs the risk of losing the event completely”.

This is another point altogether. In 2008, there was also reported interest from Shanghai, Dubai and Abu Dhabi to take over the event, mounting campaigns in anticipation of Melbourne’s contract expiring. Regardless of the fact that the Australian Open promotes itself as the “Grand Slam of Asia/Pacific”, a move to the United Arab Emirates would see 100-odd years of heritage gone in a flash. The UAE could pump millions of bucks into the competition, but just imagine watching your favourite tennis stars in a depressingly efficient, soulless, air-conditioned stadium in the middle of the desert.

Australia needs to accept that Melbourne is the permanent home of the Australian Open or it risks losing it completely. Those at the top must realise it’s each Grand Slam tournament’s individual identity that makes them so prestigious. It’s not something you can buy. Imagine Wimbledon moving to Milton Keynes – it wouldn’t happen. Not in the world of tennis anyway.

ut a major reason for the competition staying in Melbourne? A move is so unnecessary. Following the imminent threat of having the competition taken from them, thankfully in 2010 the Victorian government began a AU$363 million investment to secure the competition until 2036. The most notable upgrade to Melbourne Park since then has been to the handsome Margaret Court Arena, which now boasts an additional 1500 seats and a retractable roof, making the Aussie Open the only Grand Slam with three arenas with this indoor capability. This year’s event saw the opening of a new media and administration building, while redevelopment work continues with the refurbishment of the Rod Laver Arena and a new pedestrian bridge.

It’s a shame it took so much money to secure the tournament at what was an already superb venue.

But it does mean that Melbourne Park is primed for the future and a move 20 years from now would be lunacy. Clearer and in larger lettering than before, the word “Melbourne” runs along the near baseline of Melbourne Park’s courts. Following a multi-million-dollar injection, Melbourne is prouder than ever to call the event theirs.

For at least the next 20 years, the competition stays where it belongs. Let’s hope that post 2036, generations of tennis fans and players alike can enjoy the tournament in its rightful place – on the banks of the Yarra, bathed in peachy Victorian sunshine.

Laura Marling at Sydney’s Enmore Theatre

I’m proud to say English folk musician Laura Marling and I have a few things in common: we were both born in the South-East of England, both grew up in Hampshire, and were both educated in Reading, at institutions across the road from each other.

Unfortunately, that’s where the similarities end. At the age of 18, Laura had recorded her debut album, Alas I Cannot Swim. At the same age, I had moved out of my parents’ house. By 20, she had received her first Mercury Music Prize nomination, played Glastonbury Festival and recorded her second album with members of Mumford and Sons. At the same age I tried haggis for the first time.

Now, at the hardly ripe-old-age of 25, Laura is currently touring the world in support of her fifth album of self-penned tunes, the Americana-influenced Short Movie – her rockiest collection yet. Midweek at the Enmore Theatre and an array of colourful characters have come to see Marling’s first Sydney show in two years. She strolls on stage before the lights even go down, with only a double bassist and drummer for back-up. As the spotlight shines on Marling, she looks to the ceiling and starts to serenade a silent audience, the low buzz of traffic from Enmore Road still audible.

The first four of tonight’s songs are from her masterful Once I was an Eagle album; jazzy and loose, they segue from one to the next. Telling lyrics such as “Every girl is so naïve, falling in love with the first man that she sees” receive knowing looks from girls in front of me.

“Loza”, as an audience member addresses her, thanks the crowd for a “very Australian welcome” and from then on is in a refreshingly talkative mood, describing her unusual guitar tuning, her last visit to the Enmore as an audience member, and the “rather morbid” story behind the lyrics to the wistful “Goodbye England (Covered in Snow)”. Her drummer Dan also gets chatty, asking the audience’s opinion whether he can get pull off wearing shades on stage; jeers from the crowd said he couldn’t.

Marling’s mix of material from all five of her albums marks a variety of styles – from country and western (including a spirited version of Dolly Parton’s “Do I Ever Cross Your Mind”), to blues, Gaelic and old English and even classical techniques, as demonstrated expertly by fingerpicking on “Night After Night”.

We’re also treated to an early cut: “Ghosts” from her first album is still charming; a short, sharp piece of acoustic-pop complete with affected London accent, it reminded Marling of “being 16 and dropping my Ts”. Since those early days, her vocals have grown and matured ahead of any of her female peers. Rich, sultry, and full of endearing cadences, she sounds like a world-weary woman with lessons in love that span decades.

Her set list covers a range of moods, so while one minute I want to sing, dance, and hug strangers, the next I feel like sitting on a cliff edge at night, staring intently into the sea, getting steadily drunk on red wine.

The only problem is that because her studio recordings are so damn perfect, tonight’s simple set-up could not quite match some of them. Notably, her drummer’s singing, however capable, could not match Marling’s own backing on the records while the gospel-style organ that adds so much flavour to “Once” was absent. And “Master Hunter” – a bluesy hoedown of a tune, with its clattery tin-pan drums and southern drawl – was one of the tracks that Marling sung down a couple of keys, almost half-spoken – not a patch on the studio version.

That said, her voice soars when she wants it to; “Sophia” turns from gentle acoustic lament to the most uplifting heartland-rock conclusion that makes you realise life, is in fact, great. And with “How Can I”, Marling and her band leave us on a reflective note; stark and personal, its lyrics “I would go anywhere with you” and “How can I live without you?” leave her sounding uncharacteristically vulnerable. The lights brighten and we leave on a loved-up note.

Aside from everything else, so much achieved at such a young age is just part of what makes Laura Marling so stunning. She should be massive, and in another 20 years I imagine her vast and critically acclaimed back catalogue will be very hard to ignore. I can’t wait to see where she’ll go next.

Blur at the Allphones Arena, Sydney

Eighteen years is a long time in the life of a band. Since English band Blur last played a gig on Australia’s shores in October 1997, they’ve released platinum selling albums, disbanded, reformed, headlined several gigs in London’s Hyde Park, pulled out of Big Day Out festival and released their much anticipated eighth album The Magic Whip earlier this year.

Their gig at the Qantas Credit Union Arena in Sydney’s Chinatown on Saturday was always going to be a massive deal.

Not only are they one of Britain’s most treasured acts of the last 25 years, but a personal favourite. The four-piece entered the stage against a backdrop of glittering mirrorballs and oriental album art. Floppy haired bassist Alex James kicked off his sandals (this guy means business) as drummer Dave Rowntree started the beat of the ferocious “Go Out”, guitar wizard Graham Coxon adding layers of spiky reverb.

“So…18 years,” said singer Damon Albarn. “We’re really f**king jet lagged but it doesn’t matter. It’s Saturday night!”

Baggy ’90s hit “There’s No Other Way” and recent single “Lonesome Street” got the crowd moving, while the “Badhead” reflection on fractured relationships sounded even more poignant from middle-aged men. “Ghost Ship” was a highlight; a slinky slice of blue-eyed soul. Albarn attributed part of the new album’s lyrics to the time he spent in Sydney last December during his solo tour, the crowd responding accordingly.

Blur2Their first album in 12 years, The Magic Whip may just be their best work yet. Mostly recorded in Hong Kong during an unexpected break in touring in May 2013, it captures a strained sense of alienation that harks back to Parklife’s disillusionment at the world’s “coca-colonisation” of relentless commercials, neon lights and identical shopping malls. Albarn’s lyrics strike a line between awe and weary dismay at the city he likened to “a human colony in the future”.

My only disappointment was that they only played six songs from the new album. While “Parklike”, “Tender”, “Coffee & TV” and “Song 2″ sparked mass sing-alongs, I’d have loved to see them tackle more of the new material; for example the sparse, Greensleeves-influenced “New World Towers” or the exhausted, tremolo heavy “Mirrorball” (perhaps the best thing they’ve ever committed to tape and what could be a fitting closer to a spectacular recording career).

I appreciate that Australian Blur fans have waited 18 years and want to hear the hits. I guess I should count myself lucky; the band played only three songs from The Magic Whip for the Splendour In The Grass festival crowd the following night.

But understand my exasperation when a girl in front of me actually listened back to her Instagram clip of “Song 2″ during the divine “Pyongyang”, a beautifully melancholic reflection on North Korea that could have been the centrepiece of David Bowie’s “Heroes. It seemed a huge portion of the crowd were simply less interested in the subtler tunes that didn’t allow a boozy sing-along.

Despite the Blur’s band members’ slog of other commitments (Albarn and Coxon both have other musical projects; James is a journalist and cheesemaker; Rowntree a DJ and solicitor), their level of enthusiasm showed Blur are no side project. Albarn serenaded the audience with zeal, Coxon rolled around on the floor with his guitar like a drunk youth and Rowntree’s hard, punky hitting was impressive from a 51 year-old MP. Alex James, bless him, with his lithe postures and funky sex faces, looked like a dad dancing at a concert (which I suppose, he is).

“Sorry it’s taken so long for us to come back,” Albarn says before the evening’s final song—a euphoric version of “The Universal” packed with string samples and misty-eyed melodic punch.

New album or not, Blur was here to showcase a career-spanning back catalogue to suit the occasion.

I Heart SG on York Street, Sydney

Do you remember at school constructing a diorama of your ideal building, a revolutionary new design for the future?

A trip to the SG (formerly Spooning Goats) on York Street is like being shrunk down as you walk into your Tech & Design project from Year 10 entitled ‘My Ideal Bar’. The other kids in your class look on in inspired awe as you take them through your 3D blueprint, pointing out the Star Wars models in the window, a selection of board games, the Sega Master System, James Bond posters, pop art paintings and Radiohead playing loudly overhead.

They’ve a proud focus on all things local; NSW beer and wine, local artists to decorate the walls and up and coming live acts every week. There’s also a fun sounding choice of cocktails most of which involve their proud collection of bitters. ‘The Black Smoke’ is a naughty Rock ‘n’ Roll Creation comprised of Mr Black coffee liqueur, mescal, orgeat syrup, spice and chocolate bitters. How much more black could it be? The answer is definitively, none.

While not the vastest selection, the craft beers on offer are some of the best available in the CBD. Served in a bowled snifter glass, Batch Brewing’s WheaTtea is delicate and fragrant, with a slight note of coconut on the nose from the addition of chai tea. Rocket Science’s Irish Red Ale is a step up and impressively chocolatey, but expect to find something different the next time you drop in. Their selection is constantly rotating to accommodate the craft scene.

The snack menu features a selection of pies, making it a good place for a quick bite before a meal elsewhere. Although small and served out of a cat bowl, the meat inside the Moroccan lamb and chickpea pie was tender and encased in delicate, buttery pastry.

Despite the name change there is still the nod to both spoons (arranged on the wall behind the bar) and goats (of which there are many fine photographs). I want to find out the relevance, if any of these two entities but I’m sure the staff has been asked quite enough times. It’s the price you pay for a kooky name.

The SG is pop art all over; ironic and with tongue firmly placed in cheek. It’s super cool but too deliberately makeshift and shambolic to give off an exclusive hipster vibe. It’s like being 14 again and walking into your best friend’s bedroom to find he’s turned it into his very own bar, well stocked with beers and spirits. You can listen to his cool favourite bands playing loudly as you gulp down weird and delightful new cocktail creations and play Sonic the Hedgehog. He’s even borrowed some of his parent’s retro 1970s furniture that is so worn and comfy you could fall asleep on it, before being woken by his mum’s hot pies served with the eponymous spoon.

The SG is an absolute joy, a second home. It’s the Holden Caulfield of bars- a creation so personal it feels catered for you alone.

Killer Cereal Café Opens in London’s East End

Move over craft beer fans! The word from London is that there’s a new kind of niche boutique café where the young and hip can be seen. This week saw the birth of the world’s first ever cereal café, where morning, noon or night customers can enjoy a wide selection of breakfast cereals from around the globe.

After months of anticipation Cereal Killer opened on Wednesday on Brick Lane in London’s East End, giving customers the opportunity to choose from 120 international cereal varieties including Golden Grahams, Cap’n Crunch, Poppin’ Pebbles and Australia’s own Milo, served with optional toppings and a choice of 13 milks. To accompany there is coffee, toast and cereal-inspired cakes. And for those who thought they were the only ones to mix their breakfast cereals there is a choice of “cereal cocktails”, an example of which they call the “Chocopotomus”: a combination of Coco Pops and Krave served with chocolate milk and a Kinder Happy Hippo. That’s basically your day’s calorie allowance in two mouthfuls.

As you chow down there is plenty to admire in the décor. The café walls are adorned with an array of cereal-themed artwork, memorabilia and limited edition packaging spanning decades. You’ll find old-school cereal boxes with images of Tony the Tiger as well as characters from Star Wars, Jurassic Park and The Simpsons. Trophy cabinets feature the free gifts and plastic toys that we used to find submerged in the cereal packets. There are even portraits of serial killers (see what they’ve done there?) such as Dexter and Hannibal Lecter made out of Cheerios. It’s a shrine for garish colours, e-numbers and pop culture references. And there’s not a single kale smoothie in sight.

Northern Irish twin brother founders Gary and Alan Keery hit upon the idea when deciding what to have for lunch. Gary commented: “We were out one day and I said, ‘What do you want, Chinese or Mexican?’ What I really wanted was a bowl of cereal, and I thought ‘A-ha!’”

“Our café is a celebration of cereals and we want people to leave on a high, a sugar rush! Whether they leave thinking they loved it or hated it, that’s the reaction we’re looking for.”

It’s certainly polarised opinion in the UK. Much of the criticism is directed at the pricing – a cat bowl sized 30g portion for £2.50 or a larger 50g serving for £3.50 is around about the price range for an entire box of cereal at the supermarkets. But what many say makes this worse is that the café is situated in the borough of Tower Hamlets, one of the most poverty stricken parts of the country.

One journalist from Channel 4 was filmed challenging co-owner Gary Keery on the prices: “Do you think this is affordable for the area? Because this is one of the poorest parts of London. Three pounds for a bowl of cereal?”

Keery says the price is due to the fact the cereal is imported, to which the journalist replies: “But what does that mean for the people who live locally?” It’s as if he’s suggesting that the poverty stricken people of Tower Hamlets are relying on these guys to provide them with cheap cereal. Keery then stops the interview saying he doesn’t like the questions at which point the interviewer smirks at the camera conspiratorially.

The Daily Mail also criticised the “extraordinary” cost and was of the view that the twins were “out of touch”.

It’s not the job of people like the Keerys to tackle social welfare. What they’re concerned with is providing a unique service and making a bit of money. They pay their taxes and import their own produce just like many of the eateries on Brick Lane. Obviously, eating out will always be more expensive than buying from the shops. In fact, when you consider the typical price of eating out in London £3.50 even just for a snack is pretty reasonable. I’m sure many of the Tower Hamlet inhabitants earning below the breadline will be more than happy to eat out at Cereal Killer of all places at only £3.50 a pop.

Perhaps it’s the café’s kooky hipster vibe that’s attracting the criticism. I’ll admit, when I saw photos of the Keery twins I felt like dunking their self-satisfied, bearded faces into their bowls of cereal until they gargled for mercy, finally emerging with Cornflakes lodged under their eyelids and Nutri-Grain stuck up their nostrils. I also glanced at their Facebook page and saw an advert seeking staff, asking “tell us why you love cereal”. I was irritated by the thought that we’d have to justify our love for cereal like they own it. It’s not exclusive and never should be. Besides, what’s not to like about it? It’s sugary, colourful and even comes with a free toy! (I must admit how distraught I was as a boy when I found duplicate toys; I would sulk in the bathroom for hours).

But after watching them being interviewed, I think they seem like sweet guys underneath that trendier-than-thou exterior and, like the rest of us, just trying to make a bit of cash. And what a refreshingly original way of doing it.

Hopefully it’s a matter of time before a similar establishment opens up on the streets of Newtown or Surry Hills. At least it would be immune to the new lock-out laws.