It was one year ago to the day that I saw Pet Shop Boys and their Electric Tour in San Diego… and while the “show” was mostly the same on this 2014 tour, kicking off at Fox Theater in Oakland, my own personal experience was worlds apart. The actual concert itself was the same as last year’s, with the exception of I think just one change to the setlist, but that is actually a good thing – why mess with near perfection? While there are a few favorites of mine I would have loved to have heard, the highly prolific duo have been making hits for over three decades now, so there will always be some songs that aren’t going to make the cut for every tour. As with last year, the avant-garde stage production is of the highest order, with credit also due to Stuart Price with his music production and programming, Creative Director/Designer Es Devlin and Stage Director/Choreographer Lynne Page, the two colorful dancers (Merry Holden and Tom Herron) with their interesting costumes and stage presence, and many others behind the scenes. This show was their first of 2014, and at one point Neil even confessed to having some nerves in coming back on the stage, but his voice and delivery was spot on, and the blending of old and new music maybe even works better the second time around. It was one of my favorite shows last year, and it was great to revisit it as well as share it with someone very special in my life this time around – it is a concert that I will never forget (more on that later)!
Pet Shop Boys “Electric Tour 2014″ at Fox Theater | Oakland, California | 4/8/2014 (Concert Review) #PSBtour
The Cure (for Teenage Cancer Trust) at Royal Albert Hall | London, England | 3/29/2014 (Concert Review)
“It’s not my instrument; for the last time…” Not very talkative during a concert, a funny line blurted out by Robert Smith, front man for The Cure, after returning a cowbell to the side of the stage, during a sprawling set that ran continuous for nearly four hours, with no less than three full encores. The second of two nights playing to benefit Teenage Cancer Trust, The Cure played sans opener, coming on a about 7:30 and performing 29 songs… then the came back for a six song encore… then another seven song encore…. and finally a last three song encore. The sound was amazing, and the band was brilliant. An amazing evening with a stellar crowd, at a historic venue, all for a very worthy cause – it doesn’t get much better than this show…
“You know how many hits I got?” The genius at work on his keyboards/samplers toward the end of his initial set (in the midst of a freestyle mix/onslaught of some of the best pop hits of my generation – “When Doves Cry”/”Nasty Girl”/”Sign ☮ the Times”/”Pop Life”/”If I Was Your Girlfriend”/”Housequake”/”I Would Die For You”/etc…). All culminating in a mind blowing rendition of “Purple Rain” (in which Prince made a comment about how he will never get tired of that song). I don’t know if it was just a fantastic audience at the Fox Theater last night, or if Prince simply had the power to bring us to life and in perfect unison with his music, but this one off, last minute (instant sell out) show was certainly one I won’t forget. I’ve never seen the Fox that rocking before (and I’ve seen many shows there) and I would even go so far as to say last night’s show blew away his set of shows played at the relatively tiny DNA Lounge last year (see review Night #1, Night #2). As epic as those were (and I counted the two I went to among the very best of the nearly 100 concerts I attended last year), this one bested them on nearly every level. Truly a musical genius at work alongside the brilliant 3RDEYEGIRL, as though they came down from some other planet for a few hours to illustrate another way of life. Words really can’t describe, and without photos to aid in retelling the experience, it was really something you would have had to have been there for to fully appreciate and understand.
Rick Springfield “Stripped Down” at Yoshi’s San Francisco | San Francisco, California | 3/13/2014 (Concert Review)
“…I thought, ‘you know, there’s no better translator of Black American Blues than a middle-class, 16 year old Australian white child’.” Part of Rick Springfield’s storytelling in-between songs, it was apparent early on that not only has he led an interesting life, but he has real depth as well as a self-deprecating sense of humor. Though he is best known for that one big 80s hit (“Jessie’s Girl”) and acting on General Hospital as Dr. Noah Drake, he is a great storyteller and certainly a real artist with some great music and a knack for bringing it alive in a special way in an intimate venue. The highlight of the night for me was his very personal rendition of “My Father’s Chair”, a song about the loss of his dad many years ago. It’s rare to see an artist connect with such a powerful song on stage, and present such vulnerability to an audience. This set of solo shows is definitely well worth checking out, and in many ways more compelling than the traditional, full band rock show, as Rick Springfield has a lot of storytelling in him, in both personal accounts from his life as well as his music.
Another Planet Entertainment Brings Prince with 3RDEYEGIRL to Fox Theater Oakland on Saturday, March 15th
It all started with a late night tweet from the official Fox Theater Oakland Twitter account tonight, announcing that Prince and 3RDEYEGIRL will be playing the venue this Saturday, March 15th. On the heels of epic shows in England and most recently a 4-hour gig in Los Angeles, it looks like Prince will be heading to Northern California to follow up on last year’s four shows across two nights at the DNA Lounge in San Francisco. [Read more...]
Former Joy Division and New Order principal Peter Hook will be taking his Peter Hook & The Light across North America later this year, performing New Order’s third and fourth albums, Low Life and Brotherhood. Currently they have plotted out 14 dates in Canada and the U.S. during the first three weeks of November. The special tour promises to play many of New Order’s biggest hits produced during that period between 1983 through 1987, including “Confusion”, “True Faith”, “Thieves Like Us”, “Bizarre Love Triangle”, “The Perfect Kiss” and more, including B-sides. [Read more...]
Rick Springfield Takes on 2014 with Solo “Stripped Down” Shows and Co-Headlining Gigs with Pat Benatar & Neil Giraldo
2014 is shaping up to be a great year for fans of Rick Springfield, as he is kicking things off with his solo “Stripped Down” shows currently, and plans to take on Summer with a co-headling tour with Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo. The former should be an opportunity to hear his classic songs in a different style and at more intimate venues, while the latter will team him up with one of the true female rock and roll icons of the 80s, Pat Benatar, as well as her husband, phenomenal guitarist Neil Giraldo, who famously recorded “Jessie’s Girl” with Rick Springfield at Sound City Studios, as recounted in the documentary put out by Dave Grohl last year (and in concert as Sound City Players). [Read more...]
Throwing Muses at Jewish Community Center of San Francisco (Noise Pop 2014) | San Francisco, California | 2/28/2014 (Concert Review)
“Oh… ‘elaborate’… I know that word… I’m elaborately fine!” The end of a funny exchange between Kristin Hersh and the audience, which began with her asking how we were doing, which was turned back to her, which resulted in a short answer – “fine” – to which someone else asked her to elaborate… There was a bit of chit chat between songs throughout the show, including a reference to a recent dog bite that nearly caused this short West Coast run of Throwing Muses dates to be canceled. But the trio of Kristin Hersh, David Narcizo, and Bernard Georges did indeed show up at the Jewish Community Center of San Francisco last night to play to a sold out crowd of enthusiastic fans. While Kristin founded the band way back in 1980, and has produced a wealth of albums and songs over the years, the set list was heavy with their latest book/CD combo, Purgatory/Paradise, which was their first new studio release in a decade. They put on an electric show with great intensity, and I’m sure all in attendance felt fortunate to catch a rare appearance of the band that is legendary to those who have paid attention to music for the past 30 years.
The Cure, OneRepublic, Suede and Others to Headline Teenage Cancer Trust’s Concerts at the Royal Albert Hall in London
Teenage Cancer Trust, who “lead the world in the care of young people with cancer”, in partnership with The Body Shop, is holding their 2014 concert series at The Royal Albert Hall at the end of March in London. This year, headliners include Ed Sheeran (March 24th), an evening of comedy featuring Micky Flanagan and John Bishop as hosted by Jason Manford (March 25th), Paolo Nutini (March 26th), OneRepublic (March 27th), The Cure (March 28th and March 29th), and Suede (March 30). This year marks the 35th anniversary of The Cure’s debut album, Three Imaginary Boys, and they are expected to put out three hour sets each night for these special shows. [Read more...]
Throwing Muses to Play Rare Dates at Noise Pop in San Francisco, in the Pacific Northwest, and Multiple Dates with Tanya Donelly in NY & MA
Alternative rock pioneers Throwing Muses will be playing a handful of rare dates in the next few weeks, starting with shows in the Pacific Northwest and San Francisco (at Noise Pop) as well as a growing collection of shows in New York and Massachusetts featuring former Muses singer-songerwriter Tanya Donelly playing along with her step sister Kristin Hersch. With the release of new material in the form of book/album Purgatory / Paradise (the first new album in a decade), it should prove to be an interesting set of shows for fans of the innovative band. [Read more...]
Black Francis (AKA Frank Black, AKA Charles Michael Kittridge Thompson IV) usually has little to say to an audience during a Pixies concert, and unless I missed it, he had nothing to say to the sold out crowd at the Fox Theater in Oakland last night. The music he crafted with his band, originating in the late 80s, still sounds ahead of it’s time, and rocks harder than most of the material put out by bands yesterday and today. Yet in true anti-rock star style, after casually coming onto the stage Friday night and giving the crowd a friendly wave hello, Black Francis realized his shoe was untied and propped his foot up on the drum kit to rectify the situation before kicking into “Bone Machine”. The band has one of the best collections of songs for a band with such a short lifespan in its original incarnation (1986-1993, more or less). I personally love every song on their five studio albums, save one or two. As most are fairly short, some are played even faster live, so a Pixies concert always feels like some kind of a race of sorts to the end, and thus the chit chat engaged in by some artists is skipped over completely with the Pixies, though they always have a surprise or two none the less. The most unexpected moment with their stop in Oakland was the apparent lack of a set list, and after a satisfying encore, the house lights came up, band still onstage with fans exiting in a hurry, only to have the quartet break into a frenetic and rocking version of “Planet of Sound”, with house lights still up throughout. Funny enough, I asked the sound and light crew at the mixing board in the back about this when the show finally (finally) came to a close, and even they were surprised. In any event, a stellar show put on by one of my favorite bands of all time, played to a fascinating mix of fans old and new (some of the latter of which weren’t even born during their first run in the late 80s and early 90s). A true celebration of some of the best music of my generation. They’ve still got it. [Read more...]
“We love you so much… you’re so beautiful! We’ve been playing San Francisco for years and years and years, and every time we come back here, you’re so fucking great and it’s so fucking fun…” Sarah Barthel, standing beside long time collaborator Josh Carter, both of whom seemed moved at times by the enthusiastic crowd that sold out the Fox Theater in Oakland for Phantogram’s debut show touring their latest album, Voices, which hit the streets earlier this week. Joined on stage by Chris Carhart on drums and Nick Shelestak on keyboards, the band put on an amazing show with a fantastic ability to recreate their unique studio sound live on stage, which was itself bathed in a pulsating light show that suited their songs well. This is definitely one of the must see tours of the year – really brilliant performance of their incredibly unique music and fantastic new album.