Steve Miller Band with Buddy Guy at Ironstone Amphitheatre | Murphy’s California | 8/1/2015 (Concert Review + Photos)

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“This and I think the ‘Gangster of Love’ inspired me to write ‘The Joker…'”  Steve Miller of Steve Miller Band giving an introduction to “One Mint Julip”.  Throughout his lengthy set of originals and covers, he gave some context and history about the music he has been playing for fans for decades.  Also performing on the massive new stage at Ironstone Amphitheatre in Murphy’s on Saturday was Blues legend Buddy Guy.  The pairing made for an interesting show, if only to compare the drastically different styles…  Buddy Guy kicking off the night with a loud shirt and seemingly spontaneously arranged grouping of songs, using the whole stage and ultimately the vast venue itself as a stage as he unplugged and roamed the entire seated section playing to cheering fans.  In contrast, once the day gave in to give thousands of fans in attendance at the beautiful vineyards a glorious sunset, Steve Miller Band came out on stage with a few of his iconic images propped up against black and darkness.  Steve Miller had on his formal attire and sunglasses and was most comfortable at center mic.  Both put on fantastic performances that showcases incredible music from the 50s onward.  Another great event put on for Richter Entertainment Group’s summer concert series.

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Huey Lewis and The News with Eddie Money at Thunder Valley Outdoor Amphitheater | Lincoln, California | 7/31/2015 (Concert Review + Photos)

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“I love you too, sir!”  Huey Lewis of Huey Lewis and The News literally giving some love to one member of the sold out crow at Thunder Valley’s Outdoor Amphitheater on Friday night.  “We first worked together about 40 years ago…”  Huey Lewis, talking about Eddie Money who played the supporting set, giving a sense of how long the two have been making hit music, both with new albums in the works today.   Of course, Huey Lewis and The News came armed with more hits than they had time to play, but they did manage to squeeze in a few new songs as well, introducing one by saying, “a brand new song for you… now feel free to imagine yourself owning this song on a CD sometime next year – it’s called, ‘Her Love Is Killing Me'”.  Having taken their “Sports 30th Anniversary Tour” around the U.S. in 2013, they have always been a band to look both backwards and forwards, and the timelessness style of their music makes it easy for fans to embrace this approach.  Shows by Huey Lewis and The News always seem to have an authentic vibe to them, as Huey reminisces about their roots in the area, even when playing to a long sold out crowd of 5,000+ fans.

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Dale Bozzio, Missing Persons & Clive Farrington, When in Rome at The Karman Bar | Laguna Niguel, California | 7/18/2015 (Concert Review + Photos)

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Music from the 1980s continues to permeate pop culture today – it seems like every commercial break cycle includes a familiar New Wave hit song repurposed for selling something or other.  In addition – and on the positive end of the spectrum – we sometimes have the opportunity to catch a multi-artist live concert with a few or a variety of 80s artists perform at the same event.  One such event was held at The Karman Bar in Orange County, providing a double headlining show with Dale Bozzio from Missing Persons and Clive Farrington from When In Rome.  Taking a step back, one of the most interesting things about this show is how the two principals from the two very different 80s bands collectively covered the decade in music, with Missing Persons originally together from 1980 to 1986 and When In Rome being active from 1987 to 1990.  So listening to their music at this event, there was also a contrast in sound from the beginnings of that decade (with it’s more traditional rock and roll emphasis of vocals, guitar, bass and drums) to that at the end (with vocals and keyboards/synth and electronic beats at the forefront).  In any event, it is of course awesome to see two key players from the era keeping their music alive and turning out fans to celebrate it.

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Aerosmith (Blue Army Tour 2015) at Lake Tahoe Outdoor Arena at Harvey’s | Stateline, Nevada | 7/3/2015 (Concert Review + Photos)

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“Remember baby, the lake may be cold, but the light at the end of the tunnel may be you…”  The final words from the immortal Steven Tyler as he turned his back to the crowd and strutted topless down the ramp and into the bright lights glowing from the back of the stage, as “Bad To The Bone” played him out.  Performing at Harvey’s Outdoor Arena in South Lake Tahoe as part of their Summer Concert Series two years running, the explosive live show by Aerosmith kept a sold out crowd on their feet for over two hours.  In my own opinion, Aerosmith is not just the best live rock and roll band touring today, but maybe of all time.  They do pretty much everything better than anyone else, and they have so many hits in their arsenal that it just builds and builds and builds all night.  Steven Tyler was born to do what he does, and even at 67 years old, he does it like no one else (and last night appeared to be have more energy than any of the 7,000 people in attendance).  As much as he is the ultimate front man and performer, he is absolutely beaming when “Joe Fucking Perry”, “on guitar for 40 fucking years” is beside him, bringing the familiar riffs to life in a way that seems to be equal parts passion and effortlessness.  Their songs feel like they were made to be performed live, and maybe more than any other band today, they know how to put on a show that’s brilliant no matter where you are, from up close to far away in the bleachers.  Even if you are not a dedicated Aerosmith fan, I would say above any other band today – if you are a fan of ANY contemporary music – you’ve got to turn out to their show at least once, just so you have a new benchmark from which to judge all other concerts.  It really doesn’t get any better when you consider every critical element that goes into a live concert event.  They’ve earned the title, “America’s Greatest Rock and Roll Band”.

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Martin Gore of Depeche Mode (DJ Set) at SOhO Restaurant & Music Club | Santa Barbara, California | 6/27/2015 (Concert Review + Photos)

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Depeche Mode has been my favorite band since Black Celebration came out, so when I came across the new of this special DJ set show at SOhO Restaurant & Music Club in Santa Barbara, I was excited for an opportunity to see the man behind some of my all-time favorite songs express himself in a completely different setting.  Part of SOhO’s 20th Anniversary Fundraising Show Series, it did not disappoint.  Martin Gore played his unique style of live music for around two hours.  It was amazing to see the man at work, and being close enough to see his own facial expressions reacting to his own music.

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Live 105’s BFD 2015 at Shoreline Amphitheatre – PART TWO (MAIN STAGE) | Mountainview, California | 6/6/2015 (Concert Review + Photos)

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Live 105’s BFD 2015 festival at Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountainview, California marked the 21st time that the annual event has been held.  Live 105, “The Bay Area’s Alternative”, had a well curated line-up of known and emerging acts, covering a wide range of musical genres that all fall under the “alternative” banner, including 15 local acts.  All of this resulted in a quick sell out for the entire show.  With a vast line-up, they managed to squeeze it all into one day, with two “Festival Stages” that alternated back and forth throughout the day (to mitigate any downtime – it was literally non-stop music) as well as a “Subsonic Tent” and “Soundcheck Local Band Stage”, which ran concurrently.  It all lead up to the “Main Stage” acts within the Shoreline Amphitheatre itself, which ran back to back through the night.  A fantastic show that seemed to come off without a hitch, playing to over 20,000 fans.  This article features my PART TWO coverage, which focuses on the nighttime “Main Stage” artists and performances.

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Live 105’s BFD 2015 at Shoreline Amphitheatre – PART ONE (FESTIVAL STAGE) | Mountainview, California | 6/6/2015 (Concert Review + Photos)

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Last weekend was Live 105’s BFD 2015 festival at Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountainview, California.  Representing the 21st time that this annual event has been held, it sold out in advance of the concert date on June 6th.  Live 105, “The Bay Area’s Alternative”, had a well curated line-up of known and emerging acts, covering a wide range of musical genres that all fall under the “alternative” banner, including 15 local acts.  With a vast line-up, they managed to squeeze it all into one day, with two “Festival Stages” that alternated back and forth throughout the day (to mitigate any downtime – it was literally non-stop music) as well as a “Subsonic Tent” and “Soundcheck Local Band Stage”, which ran concurrently.  It all lead up to the “Main Stage” acts within the Shoreline Amphitheatre itself, which ran back to back through the night.  A fantastic show that seemed to come off without a hitch, playing to over 20,000 fans.  This article features my PART ONE coverage, which focuses on the daytime “Festival Stage” artists and performances.

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Meg Myers at The Boardwalk | Orangevale, California | 6/5/2015 (Concert Review + Photos)

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I usually open my concert review articles with a quote from one of the artists on stage that night, though with Meg Myers at The Boardwalk on Thursday night, it would have been words in reference to asking some loudmouthed people in the venue to shut up.  More on that in a moment.  In spite of the ongoing source of annoyance to those who showed up to enjoy the music and the artists who came to perform, Meg and her band put on a stellar performance.  I’ve been a strong supporter of Meg and her music since I first saw her open for the Pixies in Los Angeles two years ago, and she has continued to build on her works and cultivating fans who understand her and her music.  Her debut album, Sorry, is due next month, and it will be interesting to see how much it fuels her career and where it will take her coming into 2016.  The single, “Sorry”, has been a big hit for her.  She is, in my opinion, one of the most creative and interesting (and exciting) artists active today, and her live show is definitely one not to miss.

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Howard Jones at Harlow’s Restaurant & Nightclub | Sacramento, California | 5/13/2015 (Concert Review + Photos)

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You gotta keep believing in what you wanna do; don’t give up…”  Howard Jones on stage at Harlow’s Restaurant & Nightclub in Sacramento on Wednesday night, playing to a sold out crowd in an intimate space holding about 450 fans.  He was reflecting back on when he was working in a factory as a very young man, and writing “New Song”.  His debut single – released in 1983 – is all about optimism… and that is in my estimation what the man is still about today, some three decades later.  Throughout his performance, he was beaming with joy and fun between each song, chatting with fans and tossing out anecdotes and familiar lyrics that can still be instructive today (“try and enjoy the here and now… the future will take care of itself somehow!”).  But it’s not just the classic tunes that had people moving.  Having released his 11th studio album this year – Engage – he is as creative and relevant as ever, with fresh new songs.  My own feeling is that in all this time since the 80s have come and gone, he best represents not just the style of music but the feelings of that era, and it is awesome that he continues to spread his work and message in live shows like this one.  Things can only get better, indeed.

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Florence + The Machine at The Masonic | San Francisco, California | 4/8/2015 & 4/9/2015 (Concert Review + Photos)

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“It’s so wonderful to be back in San Francisco.  It’s wonderful to be back in America, because actually the title of the record – How Big How Blue How Beautiful – was inspired by the American sky.  It was actually, in a text message…  I sent – I don’t want to break the mystery of it – but I sent to someone I really cared about a lot.  And this song was written about that time.   And about just how everything seemed endless, and beautiful, and that the world was a magical place.  And then if you hear the rest of the record, you may be able to tell that things got a bit… muh… but still, I feel like you come back to this feeling, always.”  Florence Welch of Florence + The Machine, providing an introduction to the title song of the upcoming album due out in June.  Playing two back-to-back shows at The Masonic in San Francisco, it was not only a set of concerts with new music, but seemingly a Florence with a bit of a different feeling.  I was lucky enough to catch two of their shows in 2012 (at the Mondavi Center in Davis and at the Hollywood Bowl), and the Florence I saw performing this week encompassed what I came to expect (an intense and phenomenal performer), but with flourishes of more joy than I’ve seen previously.  It made for even more captivating shows, as her and her incredible group of artists truly put on a masterful performance, with a mix of familiar and new.  I obviously attend a lot of concerts every year, but Florence + The Machine is one of the very few that can give me that adrenaline rush and tingle down my spine throughout – a real feat.  Being fortunate enough to attend both shows this week, while the set list was the same, the shows each had there own character, energy, and vibe.  With the preview of the new album, and the quality of the songs, it would appear that the band hasn’t hit any ceilings yet in terms of their gifts, talents and abilities, and I expect them to continue to soar in that big blue sky that Ms. Welch is so fond of…  in studio or on stage, they remain one of the top musical artists active today. [Read more…]