Music from the future. I’m not sure how else to describe Thievery Corporation and their live show at the Grand Theatre at Grand Sierra Resort & Casino this week. I’ve followed them casually for many years now, but never made a concerted effort to dig into their many releases put out on their own label going back a few decades now… but their live concert sure inspired me to do so. Their music is so rich with influences, at once it feels like it is from everywhere and no where familiar all at once. It doesn’t feel “American”, it feels more like it is from the planet Earth. It is what I imagine popular music might sound like many, many decades from today. But it is here and now. In any event, whatever it is and wherever it came from Rob Garza and the many artist who work with him and tour with him put on one of the best shows I’ve seen this year, and turned me into a fan. I have a lot of catching up to do, which is a good thing.
“This next song is one of our very, very oldest ones. One of the first ones… And I just wanted to say thank you, because it means a million times more to me now then it did years ago when it first came out and I owe that to you. Your hearts and your experiences and this whole thing that we’ve been sharing together for the past twenty years… so thank you!” Amy Lee’s preface to the Grammy nominated song “My Immortal” in her live performance to a sold out crowd at the Grand Theatre at Grand Sierra Resort & Casino in Reno, Nevada on Friday night. The song was one of the singles off of their debut album, Fallen, in 2003. In 2017, Amy Lee has brought that song and other Evanescence hits on the road in a completely rearranged and re-imagined form with this “Synthesis Live with Orchestra” tour, along with the release of their fourth studio album, Synthesis, which features the same music along with two new songs. The concert itself was magnificent – marrying the original music and that incredible voice with her rock and roll band playing alongside a 28-piece full symphony orchestra – really it was a show unlike any I’d ever experienced. I watched some snippets of past shows in advance to get some idea of what it might be like, but it is really something else to experience it and take it in at a venue like the Grand Theatre. It was certainly the most impressive production I’d seen this year, and the performance overall was stellar. It’s really one of the best tours going in 2017.
I usually open my reviews with a quote from the artist, but Phantogram didn’t do too much talking during their set, and when they did their words were mostly lost among adulation from the cheering crowd. Their live sets are still driven by songs from last year’s Three, which I voted at the #1 album of 2016. I’ve personally been dying to hear songs off this brilliant album live, as last year each time the duo and their band were playing local, I was traveling elsewhere. So with their appearance at Grand Sierra Resort & Casino’s Grand Theatre in Reno Friday night, I was not disappointed. This was actually my favorite concert thus far in 2017. Phantogram are so amazing right now the rest of the world needs time to catch on. [Read more…]
“Are you ready?” Paul Stanley of KISS getting the audience prepped to sing along with “Say Yeah”, a song off of their 2009 album Sonic Boom. 24 studio albums (including their four solo albums), live albums and countless other impressions on pop culture at large going back to 1974, KISS have been a rock and roll phenomenon going strong for over four decades. I am not personally a KISS “fan”, so this is written from the review of someone who has been alive as long as they’ve been together, but never before attended a KISS concert. They are one of the biggest bands of all time and real icons in rock, so I finally took an opportunity to see what they’ve always been best known for – live concerts. And now having experienced it, I can say that their reputation for putting on an amazing show is well deserved. High energy, high production, and filled with many of the innovative elements that other artists have since copied over and over, it was really something to see and hear and feel. I really could not have been more impressed and I really have a lot of respect for the band and their crew that help put it all together. If you are a member of the KISS Army, you know all of this; if you are more like me and had never seen the band before, I give my highest recommendations to go and check it out. And I am glad I was able to take in my first KISS show at Grand Sierra Resort & Casino’s Grand Theatre as it is one of the best concert venues for this type of show. Everything was top notch.
“Tonight’s secret code is: Trump shifters of the world unite…” Morrissey, opening his appearance at Grand Theatre at Grand Sierra Resort & Casino in Reno by giving preface to a slightly modified rendition of The Smiths’ classic “Shoplifters of The World Unite”. On the heels of the recent presidential election in the United States, it wasn’t too surprising for some kind of comment or commentary, in that when I saw him live in concert around this time last year, his band was wearing “Morrissey for President” t-shirts. Always one to bring a theme to each show, on Friday night the band wore shirts with “Don’t Eat My Peeps; Go Veg” emblazoned across the front over cartoon graphics of baby chickens. While the night was peppered with some political content, the concert included a variety of songs spanning Morrissey’s career, from 1985’s Meat Is Murder through to his latest solo album, 2014’s World Peace Is None of Your Business. As always, Morrissey and his band put on a stellar show, and he seemed to be in a great mood and as comfortable on stage as ever. [Read more…]
“This is our first stop in America in a while…” Ragnar Þórhallsson, in preface to the final song of the night, “Yellow Light”. Ragnar performed beside Nanna Bryndís Hilmarsdóttir, who he shares lead vocals with in their Icelandic indie folk/pop band Of Monsters And Men, playing before what appeared to be a sold out crowd at the Grand Theatre at Grand Sierra Resort & Casino in Reno. This was a special show in advance of their Coachella appearance next week, and kicked off their larger world tour currently booked out through July. The word “electric” comes to mind to describe the show, but so much of their sound is of the “unplugged” variety. Yet they seem to create a whirlwind of energy that touched each fan in the crowd, bringing something otherworldly to the stage. They have such a unique yet consistent sound it’s almost as though they have created their own genre of music, in sound and themes. They definitely bring something unique and uniquely beautiful to the music world at large, and create an experience with both their studio recordings and live shows that is, for lack of a better word, magical and timeless. Definitely one of the best tours to check out this year if you get the opportunity. [Read more…]
“So we’re really at the very beginning of a tour that will probably go on for a year and a half… and we’re just starting to kind of realize the kind of appetite and love that is out in the world for Duran Duran… It hasn’t always been like this; you know we’ve been around for 35 years… We have a great job that we love doing…” Simon Le Bon of Duran Duran at The Grand Theatre at Grand Sierra Resort and Casino in Reno, Nevada on Friday night… taking a moment to express some gratitude to the sold out crowd before performing one of their most popular songs (not from the 80s), “Ordinary World”. Supporting their 14th studio album, Paper Gods, which Warner Bros. Music released this month, the setlist for this tour is a good representation of the phenomenal music Duran Duran have released over the past four decades. But with less than two hours to perform, the show only scratches the surface of their brilliant catalog of music. With founding members Nick Rhodes on keyboards and John Taylor on bass, along with Roger Taylor on drums and Simon on vocals, the group have ties working with one another that goes back to the start, and they still make up the core of the band, with each contributing greatly to their signature sound. A lot of bands who have been around for a long time and have a strong association with a certain period or era become resentful of that, and some view their most popular songs with disdain – as if those hits are anchors holding them down rather than stepping stones that helped to propel them forward into world. Some other bands even refuse to perform their most popular hits live for their fans (see: Radiohead). Duran Duran are the opposite. Not only are they mindful of their own history and cognizant of what fans love to celebrate, but they appear happy to celebrate it right along with those of us in the audience. Duran Duran has always been about the past, the now, and the future, somehow all at the same time. I guess it goes back to that “great job” that they “love doing”, which is quite a modest take on creating some of the songs that are included in the soundtracks to the lives of people of my generation. As far as their concert tours go, they always bring some of that “new” with them with each tour, and this one is no different. From a healthy sampling of the new songs as well as new takes on older ones, they remind us all that they are accomplished artists with the ability to not only recreate that sublime studio sound, but also breathe vibrancy into it for how it all comes together on stage, in both sound and visuals. And somehow the guys appear timeless themselves, as they seem to defy the gods (paper or otherwise) and never appear to age year to year… the principals all look 10 to 20 years younger than they should, which contributes to the feeling of being part of an event that could be happening in the past, present, or future. At certain points during their live set, you could squint a little and travel back in time to the 00s, 90s, and 80s.
“Two words to introduce this next song! Two words! Two words to introduce this next song! Two words to introduce this next song!” Billy Idol getting the sold out crowd of nearly 3,000 screaming, fist pumping fans shouting “Rebel Yell” at the opening night of Grand Sierra Resort’s new Grand Theatre. I can’t imagine a better way to launch a high end new concert venue than having none other than Billy Idol kicking off a new tour of his own on the vast stage built on the $10 million dollar renovation of the live music space. Billy Idol has been building on his own career and accomplishments of late, with 2014’s awesome new album Kings & Queens of the Underground (the first in nine years) and bestselling Dancing With Myself autobiography. In the midst of a resurgent mainstream interest in all things Billy Idol, he seems to be as popular as ever. Alongside his incredible band, they’ve put together probably their best live show ever with this tour. It also clocked in as the longest show I’ve seen, at around two hours. I’ve always noted this band as one of my all-time favorite live shows, and I’d have to say that this was the best I’d ever seen them. I’ve always complimented Idol on his boundless and limitless energy and he seems to have reached a new high with this show and tour. He is at once an icon and an enigma, as he continues to evolve his style while retraining his trademark lip curl and tongue in cheek uncensored gestures, looks, and poses. And one can’t neglect to mention Mr. Steve Stevens on lead guitar, who could put the audience in a trance even if he stood alone on the stage – one of the best guitarists performing today, if not the very best. If you haven’t been to a Billy Idol concert lately, you haven’t seen him and his band at all, as they are better than they’ve ever been, and that is saying a lot.