When I last saw Imagine Dragons in concert, I was packed into a small club with about 500 other fans, pressed against the small stage, with frontman Dan Reynolds dripping sweat onto those of us in the first few rows. Fast forward just one year later, and now the band is easily selling out the 17,000 capacity SAP Center in San Jose (which even the Rolling Stones had trouble filling last year), and striking less successful music bands with envy (more on that later). With their performance Thursday night, it was fascinating seeing how they’ve built up a fan base, yet retained their modesty. At one point, during an ad lib, Dan became a bit self conscious about what he was saying, stopped himself, and confessed, “it’s because of you – you make me nervous…” Honesty and earnestness is rare in rock stars these days, but I have a feeling that it is something innate in this one, and will always stay with him. While photographing the first few songs at the start of their set, watching from a couple feet away, I saw Dan pause at one point and briefly stare out across the massive audience before him, and get choked up a little in the same way he did a year ago talking about the charity they were supporting for that small gig in San Francisco. These are definitely genuine guys, and it certainly comes through in their music and performance. Definitely one of the must see tours of the year, as I suspect they will get even bigger once they release their sophomore album.
It’s not often that you attend a non-festival concert with ten (!) different music artists performing on the same stage in one night, all in the span of about three and a half hours. It was a pretty special event at the HP Pavilion in San Jose last night, with the Super Freestyle Explosion turning out about 7,000 fans of the predominantly Latin, electronic/synthesizer/samples-centric, and mostly mid-80s era genre of music. Representing the relatively short-lived but highly influential music scene and style for the evening was Stevie B, Lisa Lisa, Exposé, Debbie Deb, Shannon, Trinere, Johnny O, Nu Shooz, Pretty Poison, and Stacey Q. Really a remarkable line-up, to the credit of promoter ITP Records/Pacific Concert Group, for pulling together such a vast roster of artists to play through a series of highly recognizable hits to those who grew up with the music or perhaps rediscovered it later. Of course, pulling off such an event in such a time frame requires some concessions and trade offs, but in my opinion they found a near perfect balance to make for an incredible evening of 80s freestyle nostalgia.
“I ain’t gonna waste a lot of time talking. All I’m gonna tell you is this… For the next two and a half hours, I promise to take you on a roller coaster ride you will never forget…” A pledge from the Bon Jovi front man, Jon Bon Jovi, about 15 minutes into their supporting act-free “An Evening With…” concert for their “Because We Can Tour” at the massive HP Pavilion in San Jose last night, which appeared near filled to its 17,496 capacity. Admittedly, I am not a dedicated Bon Jovi follower – I am a big fan of a handful of hits – so I don’t feel as though I was the intended audience. Having said that, I tried to imagine how I would take it all in if I were a fan, and I still find the roller coaster metaphor challenging to wrap my head around, as I found the show to be, for lack of a better description… ill-suited, and frankly boring… for such a large venue. While Richie Sambora did not make it through the tour to appear at this last date on the U.S. leg of their journey in support of the new What About Now album, I can’t imagine his being part of last night’s show would have been enough to overcome the shortcomings (and fill-in Phil X was fine). Bon Jovi seems like a genuine, appreciative, kind guy, but at least from my perspective, maybe he arrived last night and forgot to load that six string on his back.
Rihanna is an artist that is one of the hardest working in music today (on and off stage), and her only real problem with her show at HP Pavilion in San Jose last night was that she has so many hit songs – even at just 25 years old – she could not fit them all into a sprawling, nearly two-hour non-stop concert event. A prolific artist, Talk That Talk came out in 2011, just as she was wrapping up her Loud Tour (named after the studio album before that), she’s since release 2012’s Unapologetic, and tickets for this tour actually went on sale late last year as well. The show in the massive HP Pavilion was sold out and filled to its 14,500 capacity, and it was one of the best giant arena audiences I’ve seen. Rihanna did not disappoint, as the place was bouncing and euphoric before she ever took the stage, and things only cranked up from there. She put on her usual top class show fueled with energy and heartfelt emotion and gratitude, as I experienced at the O2 show in London in late 2011 as her last tour came to a close. This is definitely one of the must-see tours of the year, with both figurative and literal pyrotechnics.
P!nk’s “The Truth About Love” tour is part pop/rock concert, part carnival, part dance revue, part live movie, and part acrobatics. It’s such a tight and interactive event, most of it happens faster than you can really process it. P!nk is like part rock star, part Olympian, and it’s amazing how much energy she can put into the “show” part of the show and still manage to catch a breath to sing in addition to everything else. But somehow she pulls it off, and of all of the artists touring today, makes use of a massive indoor arena to create both spectacle and up close and personal opportunities between her and her fans (no matter where they might be sitting or standing). A really fantastic event, and pioneering way of building on great music with really unique and innovative performances.
Last night, April 28th, was the second in two back-to-back performances by Coldplay at the HP Pavilion in San Jose, CA – part of their official Mylo Xyloto world tour. This was the sixth time I’ve seen Coldplay in the past six months (having seen their AMEX Unstaged show in Madrid, Spain in October, some of the special European tour dates at the O2 in London and the Palais Omnisports de Paris Bercy in December, and the special iHeartRadio charity gig at Club Nokia and the Jimmy Kimmel Live! block party in Los Angeles in February. As such, I don’t think I’m in a position to do a “normal” sort of review at this point, as I tend to subjectively compare to all of the other shows I’ve attended in the past year and beyond… but as I’ve come to expect, with last night’s gig, Coldplay put on a high energy show with a great mix of hits and new material. Watching many in the crowd seeing the show with “fresh eyes”, it was certain that the nearly 18,000 in attendance came away having shared an awesome experience with this fantastic concert.