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.
As with my 2012, 2013, and 2014 Year in Review features, this feature looks back on a year of music with a summary of the highlights. This year, I attended about 50 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 2015 in that separate article.
“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…]
As with my 2012 and 2013 Year in Review features, it’s always a challenge to reflect back on a year of music and summarize the highlights. Honestly, I don’t know if I will have have a year that beats 2013, which was an incredible one for me with a lot of travel as well. This year, I ended up attending 60-something shows, most with two or more artists, so hundreds of different sets of incredible talent and music. As such, I feel it is important to highlight the best of the best of the best, in an attempt to celebrate the year that was. You can also check out my Top 100 Concert Photos of 2014 in that separate article.
As with last year’s 2012 Year In Review, reflecting on the many shows attended in 2013 and trying to make some sense of it all was a challenge. Having attended nearly 100 events, which usually includes at least one supporting act and a headliner, as well as one 10-day festival and many multi-artist shows, I saw literally hundreds of sets. Miraculously, I can probably count on one hand the number that were “bad”, and the majority were awesome in one or more ways. Still, I feel it is important to highlight the best of the best of the best, in an attempt to celebrate an amazing year of music. You can also check out my Top 100 Concert Photos of 2013 in that separate article.
“Hey Gina, did you play your brother’s 78s?” The Go-Go’s bass player Jane Wiedlin giving their drummer a hard time as Gina tried to give a preface to their stellar cover of the Rolling Stone’s hit “Paint it Black” by talking about how when you were a kid you would borrow your older brother or sister’s “records or CDs or whatever“. Like co-headliner The B-52s, both bands brought a combination of rock and good fun on stage at Mountain Winery in Saratoga last night, and even shared the stage for one song, contributing to the intimate, party-like atmosphere. I’ve seen both bands in the past 12 months, but it was something special to be treated to their respective New Wave sound on the same night. It was also kind of neat to see members of each band watching each others’ sets from side stage (like Belinda Carlisle fully immersed in The B-52s show and Kate Pierson taking in The Go-Go’s performance). Maybe the combination gave special energy all around, as each put on the best show I’ve seen from either band, so it was a pretty amazing night celebrating some of the best songs from my personal favorite era of music.
The Go-Go’s and The B-52s started touring North America this month, and lucky fans in certain cities will be treated to co-headlining shows featuring both bands. Each innovators in their own right, the groups each have innumerable hits from the past three decades. While both have their own distinct sound of New Wave and pop rock, most of the songs are high energy and positive, and together I imagine create quite a party atmosphere. [Read more…]
This is the second and last of my 2012 “Year In Review” articles, though this one is mostly a pictorial. I went through the pictures I took at shows throughout 2012 and pulled out 100 of my favorites to republish here, in celebration of an amazing year for concerts and a fun year for me with photography. You can also check out my other Year in Review article with my Top 10 Live Music Concerts and Top 10 Studio Albums & Songs. [Read more…]
2012 was an amazing year for both new music and live concert events, and although writing this “year in review” proved to be a monumental task, it was fun for me to do it to relive some special moments and appreciate the opportunities I had over the past 12 months to find new music and attend so many awesome live shows. It’s funny because many concerts and tours are announced with little notice, so at the start of any given year, you don’t really know what to expect, and 2012 definitely held a lot of surprises. When all was said and done, I ended up going to 58 concerts in 2012, each of which featured anywhere from one to seven artists, so that is a lot of live performances.
Having seen Florence + The Machine at the Mondavi Center back in April – which still remains as one of the best (of many, many) concerts I’ve been to this year, I was committed as I walked out of that venue that I would see them again soon, hopefully before the close of the year. That dream became a reality last night at the historic Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles. It was one of those circumstances in which you feel that you’ve already seen the best possible concert for a particular artist, and wonder if it is a good idea to see them again when it would be impossible to measure up to the experience that you already had. Somehow, Florence + The Machine defied all of my expectations and put on a somewhat different show, but one that at least measured up to the first experience I had seeing them months ago. They are an unbelievable band, and the most fascinating thing is that listening to the studio albums, you couldn’t know how amazing that it all translates into live music. I already gave them my highest recommendation in my first review. Whatever you might think of their music, whatever preconceived notions you may have about the live experience, I can’t imagine someone seeing this band live and not being blown away. Even one of the venue staffers I was talking with before the show was won over by them with their first of two performances at the Hollywood Bowl the night before – and let’s just say he’s not someone you would guess is a Florence + The Machine fan by any stretch of the imagination – and even he thought that they were one of the best bands he’s ever seen, and he’s in the business of working tons of shows every year. They are that fantastic, and in my opinion, one of the very top acts touring today.