Hotel/Resort Review: The Fairmont Kea Lani – Maui, Hawaii

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This is part of a continuing series of my impressions and experiences staying at various hotels and resorts while traveling to attend concerts worldwide. This stay was during my recent trip to Maui in December 2014. This review is for The Fairmont Kea Lani in Wailea. [Read more…]

Hotel/Resort Review: The Westin Ka’anapali Ocean Resort Villas – Lahaina, Maui (Hawaii) – REVISIT

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This is part of a continuing series of my impressions and experiences staying at various hotels and resorts while traveling to attend concerts worldwide. This review is for The Westin Ka’anapali Ocean Resort Villas in Lahaina on the island of Maui in Hawaii. [Read more…]

Hotel/Resort Review: The Beverly Hilton – Beverly Hills, California – REVIST

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This is part of a continuing series of my impressions and experiences staying at various hotels and resorts while traveling to attend concerts worldwide. This review is for The Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills. I would recommend this hotel based on my multiple stays for events in Beverly Hills. [Read more…]

Hotel/Resort Review: Adobe Inn – Carmel, California

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This is part of a continuing series of my impressions and experiences staying at various hotels and resorts while traveling to attend concerts worldwide. This stay was during my recent trip to Carmel-by-the-Sea in December 2014. This review is for the Adobe Inn. [Read more…]

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…]

Colin Hay at Crest Theatre | Sacramento, California | 3/22/2015 (Concert Review + Photos)

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“I’m happy to live in the mystery…”  One of a seemingly endless set of poetic and thoughtful comments made on stage at The Crest Theatre in Sacramento on Sunday night.  Part of a solo performance by Colin Hay, best known as the front man, vocalist, and guitarist for the Australian, early 80s, Grammy-winning New Wave/Rock/Raggae band Men at Work.  In 1983, the band had a number one album (Business as Usual) and a number one single (“Down Under”) and gained international fame with their music and quirky music videos.  Here we are, 32 years later, and Mr. Hay has cultivated not only an interesting career but an interesting life with insights and experiences that continue to guide him.  All this time later, there is no ego, no regret, and an incredible depth of self-awareness.  He seems to have a vivid and real view of the world and how it works, and seems quite settled and comfortable with who he is and his role in life as not just a musician, but as a storyteller and philosopher, with much of the latter coming in the form of brilliant comedy.  I’d been lucky enough to catch his Finding My Dance one man show in 2013, so I had an idea of what to expect, but his current tour supporting his latest album, Next Year People, was even better.  He is one of the most entertaining and gifted artists touring today, and I can’t recommend enough turning out for one of his shows if you have the opportunity.

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Clan of Xymox at DNA Lounge | San Francisco, California | 3/19/2015 (Concert Review + Photos)

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“San Francisco.  It’s been a while.”  Ronny Moorings, to what appeared to be a sold out crowd at DNA Lounge on Thursday night, with Clan of Xymox’s first show in Northern California in over a decade.  Ronny founded Xymox/Clan of Xymox in the Netherlands in 1981, and remains the sole original member, singing all of the vocals as well as playing guitar.  A pioneer of Darkwave music, the mix of Synth Wave, Post-Punk, and Gothic Rock had it’s golden age in the 80s among contemporaries like Bauhaus, Joy Division, The Cure, Sisters of Mercy, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Cocteau Twins, and Depeche Mode.  A rare visit not only the San Francisco, but the U.S. in general, this was one of just a few shows in California this week.   With a playlist featuring classic and new Xymox songs, it was an incredible showcase of a unique style of music that Ronny has kept alive and relevant for over three decades now.

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Wolf Alice at Popscene at Rickshaw Stop | San Francisco, California | 3/13/2015 (Concert Review + Photos)

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“We’ve got a couple more for you… party on, Friday night!”   Ellie Rowsell’s preface leading into Wolf Alice’s encore at the sold out show at Popscene at Rickshaw Stop on Friday night in San Francisco.  The alternative band from London put on a blazing show at a rare headlining stop in the U.S. on their way to SXSW.  A relatively newer band, their debut album, My Love Is Cool, is due in June, and already they seemed destined for much bigger venues.  I would be surprised to see them on a steep upward trajectory over 2015.  While the four members skew quite young, they exude maturity and confidence in their music, and as great as their EPs released thus far sound, their music seems fashioned to excel in a live setting even more than the studio recordings.  Even though they didn’t move around too much on the stage during their set, their music moved the crowd and they are one of the most exciting bands to come along in recent years.  Definitely ones to watch, and to catch live if you get the opportunity.

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Information Society and Book of Love (“80’s Rewind Fest Presents: PURE ENERGY”) at Thunder Valley Casino Resort | Lincoln, California | 1/31/2015 (Concert Review + Photos)

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“Oh, somebody wants to hear, “What’s On Your Mind?”.  Peer pressure him into letting it go… Dude.  Or is he telling us to hurry the fuck up?”  Kurt Harland, singer and front man for Information Society, displaying a mix of confidence and humor at their concert at Thunder Valley Casino Resort on Saturday night.  Live shows from the New Wave/synthpop band are very rare these days, and the guy shouting out the name of the song that made them very famous with the masses circa 1988 didn’t have the same appreciation for the full spectacle and show they put on as the rest of the crowd, who couldn’t seem to get enough of their unique style of music, whether it was old favorites from the 80s and 90s or new songs from the newly released (and excellent) _hello World, which came out late last year.   This concert event promoted by WorldOne Presents was marketed as “80’s Rewind Fest Presents: PURE ENERGY”, and it was a special winter edition of their “80’s Rewind Fest” series.   This concert boasted additional special guests Book of Love as well as local opener, Self.Same.  Though the three founding members of Information Society have gone off to create lives and careers outside of their band, you wouldn’t know if from this concert.  They brought a ton of excitement and style on stage.  Given their amazing new studio album and their ability to put on a fantastic live show, hopefully it represents more InSoc coming in our future.

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The Ting Tings at Harlow’s Restaurant & Nightclub | Sacramento, California | 1/24/2015 (Concert Review + Photos)

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“Okay, you all know this song and you need to sing along, because we don’t know what fucking hours of music were going to play tonight we’re going to keep going, so you guys sing along with this one…” Jules De Martino providing an intro into one of The Ting Ting’s biggest hits, “That’s Not My Name”, just before Katie White throws down with the vocals and gets the audience into a frenzy at their sold out show at Harlow’s Restaurant and Nightclub in Sacramento on Saturday night.  As mentioned in my review of their show for Popscene at Rickshaw Stop in San Francisco the night before, The Ting Tings haven’t passed through on a tour since supporting their sophomore album, Songs from Nowheresville, in 2012 (see my review of that show at The Fillmore). Their newly released third studio album, Super Critical, just came out late last year via their successful PledgeMusic campaign. Co-produced by original Duran Duran guitarist Andy Taylor, the album pivots them into a different direction, though with their trademark infectious and experimental sound and energy.  I thought the show Friday night was amazing, and illustrated how the band puts a lot of thought and attention into creating a live show that refashions their music a bit with each outing, keeping it all fresh and exciting for the crowds they turn out…  Somehow, the Sacramento show was even better, and will definitely be in my Top Ten shows of 2015 at the end of the year, and has set the bar high for all of the other shows I’ll be seeing in the next 11 months.

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The Ting Tings at Popscene at Rickshaw Stop | San Francisco, California | 1/23/2015 (Concert Review + Photos)

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“San!!! Fran!!! Cisco!!!”  A city turned into a three-word chant by Jules De Martino, he and the other half of The Ting Tings duo Katie White aren’t the type to chit chat too much in-between songs at their live shows, but they certainly know how to get a place jumping.  And that’s just what they did at the sold out show at Popscene at Rickshaw Stop on Friday night.  The Ting Tings haven’t passed through on a tour since supporting their sophomore album, Songs from Nowheresville, in 2012 (see my review of that show at The Fillmore), and this latest gig was even more of a special occasion since they aren’t hitting but a handful of cities on this front end of touring in 2015 (and the dates in play are predominantly in California).  Their newly released third studio album, Super Critical, just came out late last year via their successful PledgeMusic campaign.  Co-produced by original Duran Duran guitarist Andy Taylor, the album pivots them into a different direction, though with their trademark infectious and experimental sound and energy.  The show Friday night was amazing, and illustrated how the band puts a lot of thought and attention into creating a live show that refashions their music a bit with each outing, keeping it all fresh and exciting for the crowds they turn out.  I loved every second of it, and while it was a full set, they left me wanting more, but I’ll get that at their follow-up show in Sacramento…  one of those rare bands who inspire me to follow them around a bit.

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Dave Wakeling’s English Beat “For Crying Out Loud” Album Coming Soon; 2015 Live Concert Dates, Photos, & Preview

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I recently had an opportunity to see The English Beat at Ace of Spades in Sacramento, for my first concert of the year (on my birthday no less!).  Unfortunately, with all of the cold and flu going around, after shooting the first three songs of their set, I had to bail as my fiancée was under the weather and burning up with fever.  Rather than waste the opportunity to talk about one of the best live bands playing today, I thought I would put up this preview for what they have coming in 2015, with a list of upcoming concerts, a little bit of information about For Crying Out Loud – the new album due early this year – as well as share a few photos taken at the show last week.  Hopefully I’ll have an opportunity to attend another one of their shows soon, and put up a proper feature about it. [Read more…]