“I’ve been losing my voice, so I’m probably going to be singing a lot of sweet, falsetto songs tonight. I apologize for not being able to do more of my trademark growling and Janis Joplin screaming that I’m so famous for… but I’ll do what I can.” A few songs into her set, how singer-songwriter Jewel framed her performance at Ovations LIVE! at Wild Horse Pass Hotel & Casino last night in Chandler, Arizona, well into her “Greatest Hits Tour”. Having had an opportunity to meet her backstage before the show, where conversation was limited to whispering, I wasn’t too sure what to expect. Amazingly, sitting in the audience, you would never have any idea that she was having any issues at all, as she put on an incredible showcase performance, reflective of her place in the music world as one of our most gifted vocalists in popular music today, with range, versatility, and emotion bursting out of every song. Having penned over 500 songs, later in the show Jewel mentioned that no two shows are ever the same, yet in addition to the music she provided some personal insights into her life and journey in music, both of which seem forever intertwined. It was really a fantastic evening, and her (mostly) solo, all acoustic show is definitely a must see in live music today.
Jewel “Greatest Hits Tour” at Ovations LIVE! Showroom, Wild Horse Pass Hotel & Casino | Chandler, Arizona | 6/8/2013 (Concert Review)
Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark (OMD) at The Depot | Salt Lake City, Utah | 4/10/2013 (Concert Review)
“We could dance fast in those days… will you keep up?” OMD front man Andy McCluskey reminiscing about the late 70s as he introduced the final song of their encore at The Depot in Salt Lake City last night, their debut single, “Electricity”. It was a bit of personal déjà vu for me, as he closed out a show I attended way back in 1991 in much the same manner. But this was the first time I had the opportunity to see Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark with their full original line-up (with co-founder Paul Humphreys also on vocals and keyboards, Martin Cooper on keyboards and saxophone, and Malcolm Holmes on drums), and the energy from the stage and overall atmosphere was certainly electric. OMD put on an incredible show with songs from their new album released just this week – English Electric – as well as all those classics and favorites going back more than three decades.
Early on during his “Finding My Dance” one man show, I got the sense that Colin Hay is often the smartest person in the room, no matter how large or small the venue. More than a musician (and a great one at that), he is a philosopher, comedian, and genuinely kind man. He is very funny, and not just prepared and rehearsed funny, but quick witted as well, and I’ve always operated under the idea that really funny people have to be highly intelligent in the most fundamental of ways, as you must have real keen self awareness and highly complex and contemplative observational abilities, as well as emotional depth and empathy. I picked up on all of this with Colin Hay from my front row vantage point at The Center for the Arts in Grass Valley where he put on his amazing show for the sold out crowd. That show – a hybrid of music and storytelling – was over two hours long and really captivating in every sense as he took us on both a narrative and musical journey of his life. He talked about having an understanding of his place in the universe, and those who might expect him to be nothing more than the former front man of 80s band Men At Work are truly missing out at what he has to offer not just in terms of music and entertainment, but the wisdom (in the form of stories and anecdotes) from someone who has had experiences that none of us ever could. He is a great musician but a wonderful storyteller as well, and I can’t imagine a more fitting venue with which to enjoy it.
Going to a Marilyn Manson concert is quite an experience, and probably not understood except by those who have done the same. To draw a comparison with the art world, it is akin to going to art museums in London and stopping in at the Tate. Except not to confuse matters… not in the past two weeks during Kraftwerk’s residency. That’s something else entirely. In any event, he puts on quite the impressive show, and is maybe the modern day rock concert equivalent of circus freak sideshows, only with Manson, though his band is supporting, it is decidedly a one man attraction. Most striking is how interactive it is – not just the literal interactions with the audience (and there are many), but his ability to lock onto members of the audience with his eyes, in a kind of staring match version of “chicken”, to see if he can make it striking enough to have you look away first (benefits of being right up close). He’s a natural performer, though interestingly comes across quite different off stage (more on that later). Really an exhilarating evening and hosted courtesy of Marilyn Manson’s unique and stylish version of reality.
Juice Newton Acoustic Trio at Yoshi’s San Francisco | San Francisco, California | 11/13/2012 (Concert Review)
“We’d like for you guys to participate in this, because otherwise it just sits on its ass”. Music legend Juice Newton’s typically blunt and modest preface to the tremendous 80s country/pop crossover hits “Queen of Hearts” mixed with “Love’s Been a Little Bit Hard on Me”, as performed flawlessly (with audience providing the “clap-clap, clap” beat) at Yoshi’s in San Francisco in probably the most intimate show I’ve been to all year. The Juice Newton Trio, which was all acoustic strings with Jay Cawley and Danny Dugan both on guitars and providing backing vocals, Juice Newton stressed that this was a different sort of challenge and endeavor for her… a live concert sans the full band, which required the selection from of incredible songs from her catalog to be rearranged for a completely different result. And that result – simply amazing songs with the most artful delivery by one of the best vocalists in the business – was very moving and definitely sets the bar for soulful live music performances in small, intimate venues.
“I am not perfect. But I’m perfect for you.“ This was a sentiment expressed by Huey Lewis early on in his performance with Huey Lewis and the News at Mountain Winery last night, which was a reference to the fact that this was a make-up show for one that was canceled about a month ago. A Bay Area native, the band certainly put in a lot of “heart and soul” into producing a very special concert last night, playing through many of their hits and going the extra mile to bring their special brand of rock and roll to the stage. It was a great show put on by this classic band that helped to define the 80s while mostly defying the sound of their peers with a musical identity all their own. As one might expect, they put on a classy, positive, high energy show in Saratoga last night.
A Flock of Seagulls, When In Rome UK, The Motels, Bourgeois Tagg, The Escape Club, Gene Loves Jezebel at The Crest Theatre | Sacramento, California | 8/10/2012 (Concert Review)
Last night was quite an amazing concert event for fans of 80s music. Under the banner of “Lost 80′s Live”, the one night show at the Crest Theatre in Sacramento featured performances by A Flock of Seagulls, When In Rome, The Motels, Bourgeois Tagg, The Escape Club, and Gene Loves Jezebel. In addition to the incredible line up, the event was hosted and DJ’d by the legendary Richard Blade. There was also a meet and greet opportunity made available for those who bought VIP tickets, which I participated in, and it was of course a thrill to meet the artists behind the music. Essential, the show was a sextuple header. [Read more...]
Last night Seal put on an incredible performance at Humphreys Concerts by the Bay in San Diego. Stunning voice, amazing performance, he really filled the smaller, intimate, outdoor venue with life. Beautiful songs (both his own and a few covers of classic material) and real, true emotion on full display. Seal is an artist that sings from the heart, and I can’t imagine him being any other way, especially after having had the privilege of spending a good amount of time with him and a small group later, after the concert. He is really singular in the field of music, and if he could not sing, after spending around 40 minutes hearing him open up to us about his thoughts and feelings on a few different subjects – talking with strangers as though they were old, close friends – if he could not sing, I would still remain a huge fan of Seal the man. He is undoubtedly a person to look up to, who lives life with a great deal of introspection, honesty, and modesty. Overall, the night was an unforgettable experience, and I feel so, so fortunate to have been a part of it.
Journey, Pat Benatar, Loverboy at Lake Tahoe Outdoor Arena at Harvey’s | Stateline, Nevada | 7/22/2012 (Concert Review)
As part of their Summer Concert Series, Harvey’s hosted an incredible night of music at their Lake Tahoe Outdoor Arena on Sunday, July 22nd. The concert featured Journey as headliner, Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo, and Loverboy. Truly an amazing line-up particularly for fans of 80s music, as all three had many hits during that decade, though their works of course span multiple decades, and their popularity has been ongoing. It’s hard to summarize what was an amazing show in a couple of lines to open this review, but it was just an unforgettable evening, even for someone like me that regularly goes to many, many concert events. Really, it was one of the best. [Read more...]
Last night was a really historic and wonderful event by a little band called Ash. And I mean “little” in the most complimentary sense… a band that has stayed true to its roots and its fans. The group from Ireland celebrated their 20th anniversary in style, by really creating an event that celebrated their fans as much as themselves. This was most appropriately illustrated by their second of three (yes three!) sets, which transformed from an acoustic concert in a very small setting (which made the typical MTV Unplugged show look like a stadium gig by comparison) to a session of “Asheokie” (i.e. karoke, but with fans fronting for the band themselves). It was really unlike any show I’ve ever been to, and demonstrated a lot of class and, well, tremendous fan service. [Read more...]
The B-52s at Ovations LIVE! Showroom, Wild Horse Pass Hotel & Casino | Chandler, Arizona | 6/8/2012 (Concert Review)
I have been a fan of the B-52s going back nearly 30 years, finding their music when I was a kid, and being really moved and inspired by their unique and always catchy sound. The thing that most struck me about their concert at the Ovations LIVE! Showroom inside the Wild Horse Pass Hotel & Casino last night… how their timeless music continues to have the same impact on generation after generation. Within the crowd were a number of kids, just having the time of their lives. And what was really moving for me were the efforts made by the band to not only acknowledge them within the crowd, but literally reach out to them, with members of the band giving them cool mementos to remember this great night, including drum sticks and guitar picks and the like. Because when it comes down to it, as stylishly esoteric and at times irreverent as their music can be, the B-52s are all about celebrating life and doing so in the most positive manner we know how – through great music. And the B-52s continue to deliver after all these years. [Read more...]
Tonight was the first Berlin concert of the year, in Lincoln, CA in the foothills of the greater Sacramento area. The legendary band that was prominent on the radio and MTV in the 80s played through many hits, one less played song (as voted on by Facebook users) and two new songs never played before a live audience prior to tonight. It was a fantastic show with a lot of energy, and Terri Nunn put on an amazing performance, both vocally and in terms of sheer audience interaction. The band killed it.