“This next song is the first song that we put out… that anybody really cared about. Ironically, I was making a joke on MySpace earlier, but this is the song that we put onto MySpace back when it was a thing [laughs/cheers]. Yeah. Just put the Millennial tag on us right now. We did break on social media, it is true. But it can be used for good regardless.” Ryan Tedder, in preface to the hit OneRepublic song, “Apologize”. A highlight of the 10th Anniversary of the annual Notes & Words: Benefit For UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland event that took place at Fox Theater Oakland on Saturday, April 27th. As per tradition, it featured both writers and musicians on stage, this year with Ryan Tedder & Drew Brown of OneRepublic, Jazz Mafia, Katy Stephan, and the Oakland School for the Arts handling the “notes” side of the show and Oscar winner, Helen Hunt, and Pulitzer Prize winning writer, Andrew Sean Greer, joining the stage with one of the key creative forces behind the event, Kelly Corrigan, taking care of the “words” side of the programming. Notes & Words is an annual benefit concert created to support the UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland, which provides the highest quality medical care to children throughout California. They announced that in the last 9 years, they’ve raised $12,150,000 with this event! I have heard that this year’s event on Saturday raised more than $3 million dollars.
“You happy? It’s really a trip putting this set list together, as you can imagine, seven records, right? The past, the future… You know? So we kinda want your help at this point; this is the time traveling section of this set… We’re going backwards because we can’t go forward… So here’s the dilemma and here’s the choice we want you to make… Do we go back old world and do “Dead Disco” right? That whole thing, right? Or do we go Fantasies… butterflies, optimism, and do “Give Me Sympathy”? It’s tricky, it’s tricky… So let’s vote…” Emily Haines of Metric, giving the audience a chance to vote for the next song late in their set at the Hollywood Palladium on Wednesday night. Going by the audience reaction, it was pretty close, but Emily heard a larger reaction for “Give Me Sympathy”. However, once they finished that fan favorite song, she said “fuck it” and they played “Dead Disco” as well. It was really a fantastic evening of music with Metric and Zoé taking their co-headlining tour across the U.S., along with special guest July Talk supporting. Going by that set list, Metric went in deep with their latest album, Art of Doubt (one of my favorite albums of 2018), while Zoé celebrated their Grammy win for Best Latin Rock, Urban or Alternative Music Album for Aztlán. The massive tour is running through May, with some festival appearances to follow. It will definitely go down as one of my favorite shows of 2019.
This is the first of my two 2018 “Year In Review” articles. As with my articles in 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017, I reviewed a sampling of my concert photos from 2018 and compiled some of my favorites and stopped when I hit around 100 photos in total. Please also check out my companion 2018 Year in Review article, which covers my Top 5 Concerts, Top 5 Albums, Top 75 Songs and more. [Read more…]
“Can’t believe it’s been, I don’t know, one or two decades since we’ve been able to tour the States extensively… we count our blessings. I can tell already we’ll all have a great time tonight. We know that people have traveled from all around to come here tonight, so we really appreciate that as well. I should tell you that, because we don’t get to come here… because we haven’t been able to come here as much as we would have like – would have loved – we’re going to go the extra mile tonight.” Jim Kerr, front man and vocalist of Simple Minds at the Grand Theatre at Grand Sierra Resort & Casino on Saturday night, before a crowd that was on it’s feet for two full sets from the band. Simple Minds – led by Kerr and co-founder and guitarist Charlie Burchill – have been recording and performing for 40 years. And they show no signs of slowing down (and after seeing them live, I imagine that going “the extra mile” is a way of life for them). Incredible music – old and new – stunning work on guitar by Burchill, and that voice of Kerr’s… still absolutely captivating. The duo have an amazing band and this is one concert I will never forget. Highest recommendation to get out to see this band in a very rare North American tour. It was a transcendent experience.
“We’re now going to play another song you’ve probably never heard before. You forgive me though, right?” Shirley Manson of Garbage underlining one of the themes of the night for their “20 Years Paranoid” tour, which made a stop at the Grand Theatre at Grand Sierra Resort & Casino in Reno on Tuesday. The band is celebrating the twentieth anniversary of their second album, Version 2.0, by touring a set list that features them playing the album in its entirety as well as very rare B-sides and just a handful of songs beyond the scope of that period of their career. I’ve seen the band on most of their tours since they reunited and began recording and performing again after a long hiatus, and really it seems like they do something really different each time they come around. Even I was unfamiliar with some of the songs played (many were rarities originally limited to B-side releases in the late ’90s), but I am catching up now with their newly released 20th Anniversary Deluxe Edition / Remastered version of their album. Shirley was pretty chatty and candid with the crowd in-between songs and it felt like quite a special show. I really enjoyed it and it reminded me of what a stellar band they are live, and it provided some additional insights into what makes the band tick and what motivates them as artists. It’s really worth catching up with them on this tour, even for casual fans. One of the most unique bands of my generation, always staying true to themselves and keeping things interesting.
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.
“I guess the 80’s is the best thing around…” Mike Score of A Flock of Seagulls, putting things in simple terms before the massive crowd at the joint presentation of Rewind | Lost 80’s Live ’18 concert event at Thunder Valley Outdoor Amphitheater on Sunday night. Known for it’s rotating series of artists who made significant marks on the music scene throughout the 80’s, each year the show presents a unique concert going experience. The line-up this time around featured A Flock of Seagulls, Mickey Thomas from Starship, Wang Chung, Dale Bozzio from Missing Persons, Animotion, Farrington and Mann from When In Rome, and Annabella Lwin from Bow Wow Wow. [Read more…]
“Unbelievable. Nine songs of texting. (laughs from crowd) Yes, I’m here to shame you for that because… (laughs) No seriously, I’m here to validate. We are here to validate you… Thank you for coming out tonight, supporting our little soirée. With our brothers from Stone Temple Pilots and Bush. You want some more? This one’s fun. I’m pretty amped up actually. Pretty rare for me. It’s the altitude. Must be the altitude. There you go, standing up, getting out of your seats… What’s happening? Spontaneous… It’s a spontaneous audience participation. We’re connecting as one. As one group. As one harmonic ecosystem, together. It’s fucking unbelievable. It’s fucking unbelievable!” Ian Astbury of The Cult, with a bit of a stream of consciousness revelation between songs during their set, fixed in the center of the triple headlining tour featuring STP, The Cult, and Bush called “Revolution 3 Tour”. Sometimes multiple headlining shows aren’t quite that, but in this case, after each artist, I wondered how the next could measure up. And I don’t personally follow any of the three bands. Yet somehow, I came away feeling this was the best concert yet as the Ironstone Amphitheatre Summer Concert Series nears it’s end, with just one show left to go. It was three top performances with this concert on Friday night. [Read more…]
“Thank you so much for having us back; this is the first night of the “High As Hope Tour”. This next song is from… oh you guys flustered me! This next song is from High As Hope and I wrote it about the place that I was born which is south London, which has a lot less trees than this…” Florence Welch of Florence + the Machine at Harvey’s Outdoor Arena in South Lake Tahoe on Thursday night, kicking off her latest tour in support of her amazing new album. “I’m with you… I’m with you like… at the moment my heart, it hurts a lot of the time and I just want to say I want you all to hold hands because I really believe in you and I believe in the power of change. And I believe in love and I want you to hold hands for this song because if we connect, I really think amazing things can happen”. A lot of performing artists say things about connecting with their audience, and say those things from the stage, and the audience watch from below as they perform. With Florence, it is not just words. Toward the end of her set, into the song “Delilah”, Florence came off of the stage and ran deep into the audience while she sang, literally connecting with fans in the crowd. Then she actually came running across (barefoot of course) the seat in the row I was in, and I got to witness first hand something unlike anything I’d ever seen at a concert. Florence was engaging with fans one at a time, one on one. In many instances she was grabbing their faces and pressing her forehead against theirs, as if she was forming a mystical bond with them. She was right in front of me for a good length of time, and it was kind of surreal to hear her voice singing directly from her, not just through the sound system. It’s actually been years since I uploaded concert footage to my YouTube channel, but it was such an incredible experience, I thought this would be the best reason ever to share a snippet of this amazing concert moment (iPhone quality, unedited): LINK Really, it takes a lot to put me at a loss for words, but this concert really transcended what anyone might expect from a live show. For some fans, I think it was a near religious experience. Currently tied for my favorite concert of the year. Definitely the best tour of 2018 I am guessing. And since this was the first show on this tour, everyone has time to try to get out to make one of the upcoming dates.
“This next song I’ve been singing since I first came to the USA many years ago… it still means a great deal to me. It’s called Kings of the Wild Frontier.” Adam Ant with his amazing band, in front of an enthusiastic crowd at Silver Legacy Resort Casino’s Grande Exposition Hall in Reno, Nevada. Performing artists say things like that all the time, and a jaded concert-goer might consider it mere banter in-between songs. Not so, with Adam Ant. After performing that song on Saturday night – originally released early in the New Wave era way back in 1980 – Adam Ant paused for a moment as the heartfelt accolades of the fans in the room showered over him. For some reason, I happened to capture the moment in video on my iPhone from the video screen off to the side (iPhone video snippet here), and at the time and in review again going through my notes and videos I took another look and Adam Ant has so much emotion and gratitude on his face at that moment that it’s genuinely moving to, well, feel him “feel”. He brings so much to the stage with his concert and presumably touring in general these days that I felt so fortunate to just be part of this incredible show that brings his latest North American tour to an end. It’s definitely may favorite show of 2018 thus far, and I can’t imagine anything besting the experience. Truly an icon of music and pop culture for my generation, and I firmly believe his live shows today are the best he’s ever given his fans.