The Popscene concert at Rickshaw Stop on Tuesday night was one of those rare shows that was very surprising (in a good way). Danish singer-songwriter MØ (Karen Marie Ørsted) headlined the night that featured Swedish singer-songwriter Erik Hassle supporting, and both put on stellar performances, with awesome bookend DJ sets by Aaron Axelsen. Candidly, I was not familiar with either of these young artists until recently, and I would mark the night as one of the best concerts I’ve attended so far in 2014. MØ and Erik Hassle should be on the pop culture watch list as ones to expect big things from in the future.
“Before the night is over, I’m going to be in with these guys…” At some point into the sprawling one hour, forty five minute set put on by (an at times plain goofy) James Blunt and his band, the singer-songwriter looked up at the small section of balcony seats in the sold out show at The Fillmore in San Francisco, then glanced at the standing crowd right below, and made those up front feel that something special might happen toward the end of the show. Keeping his promise, a sweaty James Blunt did indeed end up surfing the crowd – not what one might expect of the emotional crooner, best known for his kind of dark, break out hit song “You’re Beautiful”. Full of energy and great humor (much of it self-deprecating, which wasn’t surprising coming from an Englishman), James Blunt seemed like a born entertainer, feeding off the crowd and giving it all back in spades. At times it seemed like a bit of an odd affair all around; kind of like what might come about from making cookies without a cookie cutter… the audience certainly didn’t fit any particular profile or stereotype, and his music seemed to draw what you might call “people who don’t dance at concerts” (and funny enough, I would classify myself as one of those), so there was a sort non-traditional connection between artist and fan – not so much seen, but felt. It seems that the James Blunt fan might be more of a devotee – quizzing the crowd up front, people started a line at 2:30 for the 7:00 doors show. With four studio albums under his belt (with the latest, last year’s Moon Landing serving as the theme for this tour), he seems to be doing well, and enjoying himself along the way.
Having sold tens of millions of albums around the world, singer-songwriter James Blunt will be making some stops in the U.S. this month in the midst of his world tour, showcasing his fourth studio album, Moon Landing, which came out late last year. [Read more…]
I rarely publish articles about new album releases, but this one is definitely worthy of note, and checking out… Nostalghia’s album, Chrysalis, will be released tomorrow, April 8th. They are definitely one of the most original new artists on the music scene today, and Chrysalis is one of those unique albums that feels like a complete and purposeful work, rather than a collection of unrelated songs. A journey between light and dark, it has enough pop-like elements to push it forward, though with a noir and avante-garde framework, it gravitates toward some of the genre space that you might associate with artists with darker viewpoints… [Read more…]
“I wanted to be a writer. I didn’t just want to shake my hair around and scream…” Johnette Napolitano, in one of many self-reflective moments in her honest and raw solo show at The Griffin in San Diego on Friday night. The singer and bass player for Concrete Blonde has always projected raw emotion and artistry in all she does, but this was certainly a step even further into having a glimpse into her world, which was bathed in gentle red and blue lights on the small stage in the intimate venue. For me, she has always been one of my favorite vocalists in rock and roll (and based on this show, it is only getting better with age), but there is so much more to her as an artist beyond that one remarkable gift. She talks about ghosts a bit, and it makes me wonder if she can see and feel things that the rest of us mere mortals cannot, and that is one of those things that gives her work more depth and dimension, and of course more emotion. Regardless, the show was an amazing experience for fans of her and her work, whether it is on vinyl or paper, she is that writer she always dreamed of becoming, in multiple disciplines. Brilliant artist and amazing showcase of her work in San Diego for those lucky enough to attend.
Johnette Napolitano, singer-songwriter well known as the vocalist/bassist for Concrete Blonde, is scheduled to play a handful of special, one-off solo shows in the first quarter of 2014. It is anticipated that Johnette will perform acoustic versions of Concrete Blonde songs, works from her own Sketchbook albums, as well as read extracts from her book, Rough Mix, the first of her series of memoirs, stories, poetry, lyrics and essays. A prolific artist in many disciplines and with a number of different collaborations with other artists, it should prove interesting to see what she brings to the stage with these special shows. [Read more…]
“We’d like for you guys to participate in this, because otherwise it just sits on its ass”. Music legend Juice Newton’s typically blunt and modest preface to the tremendous 80s country/pop crossover hits “Queen of Hearts” mixed with “Love’s Been a Little Bit Hard on Me”, as performed flawlessly (with audience providing the “clap-clap, clap” beat) at Yoshi’s in San Francisco in probably the most intimate show I’ve been to all year. The Juice Newton Trio, which was all acoustic strings with Jay Cawley and Danny Dugan both on guitars and providing backing vocals, Juice Newton stressed that this was a different sort of challenge and endeavor for her… a live concert sans the full band, which required the selection from of incredible songs from her catalog to be rearranged for a completely different result. And that result – simply amazing songs with the most artful delivery by one of the best vocalists in the business – was very moving and definitely sets the bar for soulful live music performances in small, intimate venues.