“That was a beautiful and circular moment…” Lindsey Buckingham talking about Christine McVie coming back to the world of Fleetwood Mac in 2014 – after a 15 break from the band – and then the two of them working on a new album together. That album, Lindsey Buckingham/Christine McVie, was released to much acclaim last month. Now touring together as a duo and playing a fairly even mix of old and new, the pair put on an amazing performance at Ironstone Amphitheatre at Ironstone Vineyards on Friday night. Of all of the dozens of shows I’ve personally seen at the venue, this one might be my all-time favorite.
“Every little thing, is gonna be alright… We’re just gonna do this for fifteen minutes!” Jason Mraz & His Superband closing out the first of two sets, channeling a bit of Bob Marley. Which seemed quite appropriate, given his fun and optimistic “an evening with…” style show at Ironstone Amphitheatre on Sunday night, marking his only Northern California show on this tour. Early in the first set, he advised the audience, “you are permitted to sing… you are invited to sing… you are practically obliged to sing…” The audience accepted this challenge and most were up on their feet dancing and singing throughout the night. Mraz certainly has a distinct outlook on life that he carries with him and that is contagious with his fans (who span all ages, gender, and culture), and I’d have to say it was certainly the most joyful show I’d seen out of dozens at this beautiful venue, and that’s saying a lot.
Fans of The Moody Blues got to experience the band like never before on Sunday night at Ironstone Amphitheatre. Featuring “an evening with…” style concert presentation, The Moody Blues played two full sets in front of the massive crowd in attendance, the first with various hits from their career and the second presenting a track by track playing of every songs from their groundbreaking album, Days of Future Passed, which celebrates it’s 50th anniversary this year. They looked and sounded great, and there was a lot of magic in the air as they recreated this landmark album live on stage.
“Now this next song, I must have been about 25 when I wrote this song… I don’t even know why I play it anymore other than I know you guys want to hear it, right?” John Melloncamp on stage at Ironstone Amphitheatre at Ironston Vineyards Saturday night, talking about writing his hit song from the 80s, “Jack and Diane”. The venue was packed with fans turning out to see their blue collar hero from decades past, though it is a strange kind of incongruity with what inspires the fans still today seems to be more of a thorn in the side of the man who captured their imagination with these songs for which he does not seemingly share the same sentiment himself today. Regardless, he delivered an impressive set and supporting artists Carlene Carter and Emmylou Harris did the same.
“Let’s see some hands!” Tommy DeCarlo, vocalist from Boston, getting the massive crowd at Ironstone Amphitheatre in Murphys reaching up to the sky during “Cool The Engines”. Essentially a double-header with Joan Jett & The Blackhearts performing earlier, it was a stellar night of classic rock spanning the last four or five decades. The two artists were a great choice to pair up, in that they had great crossover in fans but were also a showcase in contrasting styles and approaches to bringing their music to life on stage. Joan Jett & The Blackhearts were stripped down to just the instruments they needed to recreate their raw punk rock style as the sun set into the horizon behind the crowd while Boston had a fantastic spaceship themed backdrop across massive monitors that seemed to fuel their hard and progressive rock sounds. Early on in Richter Entertainment’s Summer Concert Series, this show set a bar for high energy and pure rock and roll for all the artists to follow.
“You never know who you’re saving; you never know what future you’re making possible…” Kelly Corrigan speaking to a packed Fox Theater in Oakland, with 1,615 people in attendance on Saturday night for the 8th annual Notes & Words: Benefit For UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital. As per their format, entertainment included both writers and musicians on stage. This year featured musicians Daveed Diggs, The Head and the Heart, and Vocal Rush and writers Michael Lewis, Calvin Trillin, and writer (and event host) Kelly Corrigan. The Oakland School for the Arts Chamber Choir also performed. Notes & Words is an annual benefit concert created to support the UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland; the Children’s Hospital & Research Center Oakland provides the highest quality medical care to children throughout California. An intimate show, it shared many personal stories and perspectives by way of the personalities on stage as well as video presentations offering real context by showcasing some of the patients of the Children’s Hospital.
“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.
2017 is a big year for Depeche Mode. The band has released their 14th studio album, Spirit, and they embarking on their latest world tour this year. However, DM are doing something really interesting this year – inviting fans to apply for an opportunity to takeover their official Facebook page for one day, with plans to do this for one full year with a different fan featured each day. Well, I was surprised to learn I was selected to do this, so I thought I would publish this supplemental feature for fans who make their way over to my Rock Subculture website… [Read more…]
“I guess we just wanna reinforce our message of hope and new beginnings; because anything can happen, hopefully…” Susan Ottaviano speaking on behalf of her and her bandmates and a full reunion of Book of Love as preface to “Happy Day”, one of the bright and shiny songs off of their self-titled 1986 debut album. Their music is in stark contrast to a lot of the self-perpetuating negativity permeating our culture today. The band seemed to have more of an attitude about shaping the future by painting a picture of what they wanted it to be, rather than engaging in conflict. Maybe they were onto something that might come around again someday? Optimism is powerful. And San Francisco turned out for a healthy dose of it Sunday night at a sold out show at the DNA Lounge… to be part of this special concert engagement in which all four members of Book of Love performed together, with not just the original hits but new music too, in celebration of their 30th anniversary last year. [Read more…]
As with my 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015 Year in Review features, this article looks back on a year of music with a summary of the highlights. This year, I attended about 35 shows, with hundreds of different sets of incredible talent and music to make sense of, not to mention trying to keep up with all of the studio releases from artists, new and old. This is my attempt to (subjectively) share my favorites of the year, from live shows to new songs and albums. You can also check out my Top 100 Concert Photos of 2016 in that separate article.