Following last year’s rocking tour, Adam Ant & the Good, the Mad and Lovely Posse will be returning to the United States supporting his first new studio album in 18 years, The Blueback Hussar in Marrying the Gunner’s Daughter, which was released earlier this year. Supporting the tour (on all dates except Hawaii and Buffalo), which is kicking off next month, are Los Angeles-based group Prima Donna. [Read more...]
Jewel “Greatest Hits Tour” at Ovations LIVE! Showroom, Wild Horse Pass Hotel & Casino | Chandler, Arizona | 6/8/2013 (Concert Review)
“I’ve been losing my voice, so I’m probably going to be singing a lot of sweet, falsetto songs tonight. I apologize for not being able to do more of my trademark growling and Janis Joplin screaming that I’m so famous for… but I’ll do what I can.” A few songs into her set, how singer-songwriter Jewel framed her performance at Ovations LIVE! at Wild Horse Pass Hotel & Casino last night in Chandler, Arizona, well into her “Greatest Hits Tour”. Having had an opportunity to meet her backstage before the show, where conversation was limited to whispering, I wasn’t too sure what to expect. Amazingly, sitting in the audience, you would never have any idea that she was having any issues at all, as she put on an incredible showcase performance, reflective of her place in the music world as one of our most gifted vocalists in popular music today, with range, versatility, and emotion bursting out of every song. Having penned over 500 songs, later in the show Jewel mentioned that no two shows are ever the same, yet in addition to the music she provided some personal insights into her life and journey in music, both of which seem forever intertwined. It was really a fantastic evening, and her (mostly) solo, all acoustic show is definitely a must see in live music today.
Just when you think you know what to expect from a Crystal Castles concert, a naked man casually walks on stage to tend to his drum kit (not a euphemism), part of the second of two supporting bands. But of course the real show starts with the main set… and with Crystal Castles, it’s as much about the experience surrounding the music as it is the music itself. While Alice Glass and Ethan Kath don’t really have anything to say in-between songs during their thumping (with many thumps courtesy of touring drummer Christopher Chartrand) high energy shows, they certainly know how to entertain and excite once they take the stage. With their unconventional sound, seizure-inducing lighting effects, and interactivity (by way of Alice diving into the audience), a Crystal Castles show overloads the senses… so much unfamiliar and unexpected for your eyes, ears, and brain to process. Whatever your take on their brand of experimental electronic/synthpop/synthpunk music, you certainly can’t consider their live shows to be boring or uneventful. A band born to perform live, for sure. Their studio recordings are fantastic (and their third studio album, (III) is excellent), but you really need to see them live to understand their music, and get the full Crystal Castles experience.
Black Rebel Motorcycle Club at The Fillmore | San Francisco, California | 4/22/2013 (Concert Review)
“We did something rather foolish here…” Black Rebel Motorcycle Club’s Robert Levon Been, reminiscing about a past performance at the historic Fillmore, in San Francisco where the band was born. A fitting venue from which to launch their North American tour last night, supporting the new studio album, Specter At The Feast. Robert never came back around to explain their past foolishness, but there is always a bit of mystery about this band and their music, as well as a genuine politeness, on and off stage. In any event, Robert and co-singer/guitarist Peter Hayes and drummer Leah Shapiro did not hold back at all with their overpowering sonic performance; a virtually non-stop set clocking in at about two hours and fifteen minutes. The hard rocking band only slowed down a little for a few acoustic numbers in the second half of the show and at the end, and later with the encore and set closer, “Lose Yourself”, which played out in a way that felt as if the building were unwinding itself like an overspun vintage pocket watch, beat by beat, with minimalist yet powerful drums that even improve on the studio recording. But I’ve learned to expect the unexpected with this band, who take their live sets to levels only dreamed of by other artists. It was one of those shows that felt like a special one, and I can’t imagine a better way for them to kick off what is likely to be a stellar tour.
“Do you guys remember – some of you will remember – Metric shows before cell phone cameras? It’s really funny you know; that shit changed my life.” Metric’s Emily Haines, taking a moment mid-show at the Fox Theater in Oakland last night to share some candid thoughts about how advances in technology have affected her and what she shares with audiences during concerts; a bit of a lament over the way things used to be… a simpler time. Her philosophical aside was quite interesting (salted with some humor as well); to hear her unique perspective on live concert events today and the ubiquitous technology wherein everything and anything can be recorded with ease (and how bits can carry on, out of context). Funny enough, it was something I had mentioned in my coverage of the show the night prior at Mondavi Center in Davis, though some friends of mine who have been to Metric shows that I missed said it is something she has brought up in the past as well. In any event, with that and a nice chat at the end leading into their “Gimme Sympathy” closer, there seemed to be a different kind of dynamic with each audience in the past two nights (both awesome, but different). Fox Theater offered a GA floor whereas Mondavi was seated (though ended up sort of GA as it got going), but the larger Fox has the distinct separation between stage and audience, with the security pit, so the added discussion maybe bridged that literal gap to create a different sort of connection compared with Mondavi, wherein the band could reach down and literally touch the members of the audience with ease. In any event, having seen back-to-back shows over two nights, it was fun for me to compare the two. Both were stellar shows with great performances by Metric, as they tour over a dozen shows and dates between now and June. While for me on a personal level the Mondavi show was more engaging (since I was front row for the entire show), I took an opportunity with the Fox show to enjoy the set from different perspectives, and it was quite enjoyable to even move to the very back and have a better perspective with which to take in the impressive lighting effects on the stage, which is much different from seeing it all up close. All in all, another fantastic show by Metric and they have become one of my favorite bands to turn out to see live.
“If you’re here, you know I love a sing along, so don’t let me down, alright? Hook me up.” Metric’s Emily Haines, giving her introduction to the acoustic version of their classic song, “Gimme Sympathy”, which brought the intimate show at Mondavi Center to a close last night. 2013 is shaping up to be one of the best years in some time for live music concerts, and April in particular is weighted very heavy with competing and conflicting shows all over the West Coast due to Coachella and bands doing their own headlining shows in addition to that “granddaddy of U.S. festivals”. Even so, when Metric announced a little over a dozen dates running through June, I changed around my own schedule to be sure to see them twice. The only other artist I’m seeing twice this month is Prince, so I think that speaks volumes about the esteem with which I hold this band. With their show a Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts, they certainly didn’t disappoint. Pre-show, looking around the beautiful venue at the crowd, it was hard to say what kind of audience the band was going to encounter. Opener Mona delivered and got them out of their seats, and by the time Metric came on stage, they were beaming with excitement that further fueled the band. It was definitely one of the top shows I’ve been to this year, and it was one of those shows that was so good, the only negative was those fleeting thoughts that it eventually had to come to an end. In any event, it was spectacular and unforgettable, and the band is one of the must-see acts touring today.
This article features the latest in an ongoing series of “Rock Talk” podcast audio interviews for the Rock Subculture Journal. Today’s guest is Steve Marker with Garbage. The band is finishing a tour in the United States currently (and I will be covering their show in Las Vegas at The Pearl Theater at The Palms Casino Resort next week), and news has begun to circulate about the possibility of a new studio album coming early next year. Steve was kind enough to talk with me today about the music industry in general, being part of the band, what they have planned for Record Store Day this year and more.
Caprices Festival Day 9 | Cypress Hill, Method Man & Redman, Mix Master Mike, Logic, Rootwords | Crans-Montana, Switzerland | 3/16/2013 (Concert Review)
Day 9 of Caprices Festival in Crans-Montana, Switzerland… it was the final one for the incredible series of a wide-ranging line-up of artist from a variety of music genres that drew thousands upon thousands to the resort area in the Swiss Alps. The themes for the final night, which drew one of the largest and most energetic crowds, was rap music and, well, a marijuana culture. I would have to rate the night near the top as far as high performance and crowd enthusiasm go, regardless of how one might feel about either of those things, as the artists collectively put out more energy than probably any other night’s show – they were each really amazing in their own ways, and gave fans what they wanted as well as probably cultivated some new ones for themselves. Really impressive stuff.
Caprices Festival Day 8 | Mika, Nelly Furtado, Célien Schneider, Nadine Carina | Crans-Montana, Switzerland | 3/15/2013 (Concert Review)
Day 8 of Caprices Festival in Crans-Montana, Switzerland… as the event approached its final two days Friday night, those in attendance seemed to have a desire to keep the party going, as Mika drew the largest crowd to date, not only filling the vast airline hanger-like space of The Moon, but overfilling the standing room only space in front of the stage. The popular British singer-songwriter drew such a crowd people were spilling out, standing watching from the hallway space in-between The Moon and The Tube, and was far and away the largest crowd pulled in thus far for the 9-day festival. The more pop-oriented line-up also included rising star Nadine Carina, local pop/folk singer Célien Schneider, and the ever versatile and classy Nelly Furtado, who put in one of my favorite shows of the past week.
Spencer Page, Daniel Taylor, Chris Ellul, and Kelvin Swaby are The Heavy: “Rock Talk” Interview (Caprices Festival Special)
Yesterday I had the opportunity and honor to meet with The Heavy backstage in their dressing room after their soundcheck for their set at Caprices Festival in Crans-Montana, Switzerland to talk to them a little bit and ask some questions about their band and perspective on a variety of topics. You can also check out my thoughts on their subsequent performance was well as photos over in my Day 7 coverage of this event. [Read more...]
Caprices Festival Day 7 | Alice Cooper, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club (BRMC), The Heavy, Demi mondAine | Crans-Montana, Switzerland | 3/14/2013 (Concert Review)
Day 7 of Caprices Festival in Crans-Montana, Switzerland… Definitely one of the strongest nights for performances, if not the strongest overall, with a really unique and stellar line-up including The Heavy, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, and Alice Cooper. The theme tonight was rock and roll (though in a variety of different packages), and it was really like a triple headliner. I also had the unique opportunity to meet with and interview two of the four bands that took to the stage at The Moon at Caprices.