Boy George Makes 18-Date North American Concert Run in April as “King of Everything”

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Boy George, best known for fronting 80s New Wave pioneer Culture Club, will be playing 18 cities in North America this month following the release of his new single, “King of Everything”, from last year’s studio album, This Is What I Do.  The tour will include a 9-piece band with brass section, promising to tap into his brand of fusing together many different genres, including gospel, reggae, pop, rock, and soul. [Read more...]

MS MR at The Fillmore | San Francisco, California | 4/14/2014 (Concert Review)

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“You’re one of the first cities that really, really supported us.” Lizzy Plapinger, the “MS” half of MS MR showering the crowd at the sold out Fillmore in San Francisco Monday night with some sincere gratitude.  I’d seen the break out duo twice at The Independent last year, and as their success continues, they have stepped up from supporting at the Independent, to headlining multiple shows there, to now headlining multiple shows at the historic Fillmore, where they opened for Marina and The Diamonds a few years ago.  As has been my experience seeing the band evolve, the “MR” half, Max Hershenow, seemed as thrilled as ever to step away from his keyboard a few times to dance and provide some backing vocals on Lizzy’s mic. I personally ranked their incredible debut studio album, Secondhand Rapture, as my favorite release of 2013, so they certainly won me over as a fan.  While they always sounded amazing live, they seem to grow in confidence with each new tour, while maintaining that humility and earnestness which is somewhat rare in the contemporary music scene.  This was their best show year, and while it clocked in at just under an hour, to me that was just perfect, and I applaud that they keep the studio length of the songs rather than trying to stretch them out to fill out more time as some young bands succumb to when touring with just one album under their belt.

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Rick Springfield “Stripped Down” at Yoshi’s San Francisco | San Francisco, California | 3/13/2014 (Concert Review)

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“…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.

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Rick Springfield Takes on 2014 with Solo “Stripped Down” Shows and Co-Headlining Gigs with Pat Benatar & Neil Giraldo

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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)

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“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.

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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

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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...]

Phantogram at Fox Theater | Oakland, California | 2/20/2014 (Concert Review)

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“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.

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Tori Amos to Tour United States in July & August Following May 13th Release of “Unrepentant Geraldines”

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Legendary singer-songwriter Tori Amos has announced her U.S. dates for 2014′s world tour supporting the May 13th release of her 14th studio album, Unrepentant Geraldines.  She will cross the United States throughout July and August.  Fans can gain access to a special pre-sale of all dates and venues by pre-ordering the new album (in CD, CD/DVD, and vinyl formats) on a special site. [Read more...]

Phantogram Leads Out With U.S. Tour Following Next Week’s Debut of “Voices” Album

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Electronic synthpop/trip hop duo Phantogram is releasing their second studio album, Voices, next week, and late next week they will be kicking off a small U.S. tour.  I was a big fan of their eponymous EP released last year (particularly “Black Out Days”, which I counted among my Top 100 Songs of 2013) and have previewed their new album and it is excellent. [Read more...]

The Pack A.D.’s “Do Not Engage” Hits The Streets Tomorrow; North American Tour Launches This Week

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Vancouver’s The Pack A.D. will be kicking off a substantial North American tour in Seattle later this week, supporting their latest album, Do Not Engage, which comes out tomorrow.  Having had a chance to preview the album, it is truly stellar and should make a great foundation for some rocking live shows. [Read more...]

Frankie Rose Tours North America in January and February 2014 with Latest Album “Herein Wild”

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American singer-songwriter Frankie Rose is touring North American over the next two months, part headlining and part on tour with White Lies.  The former Dum Dum Girls and Vivian Girls member released her latest album, Herein Wild, this past September.  You can check out the song “Sorrow” over at SoundCloud. [Read more...]

Berlin Featuring Terri Nunn at Saint Rocke | Hermosa Beach, California | 1/24/2014 (Concert Review)

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Berlin Featuring Terri Nunn kicked off 2014 with their first live date of the year at Saint Rocke in Hermosa Beach, California, just as they did last year (which is a show I caught and reviewed as well).  The biggest difference between last year and this year is that their amazing new album, Animal, came out this past September.  While they have been playing some of this new material in their shows in the past few years, somehow it felt much more seamlessly intertwined into the set, maybe because now I’m so familiar with the songs.  Like last year, it was another stellar show with excellent supporting artists, and Saint Rocke is a great little venue.  I think more than most bands, Berlin gets what their music is about, how it affects people, and the power a live show can have on celebrating life and living it with some passion.  They definitely bring it all out on stage and they are one of those bands that can carry you along with them vicariously. [Read more...]