British soul singer-songwriter Sam Smith, who’s debut studio album In the Lonely Hour debuted in June, has launched a tour of North America this week, with a little over a dozen headlining shows and key appearances at Austin City Limits in October. The young artist has quickly found international success on the charts, and most shows coming up are long sold out. [Read more...]
Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith’s English New Wave band Tears for Fears will be playing a select number of concert dates in the U.S. this month, which has caused quite a buzz among fans and anyone with a fondness for their many hit songs. They celebrated the 30th anniversary of their classic album, The Hurting, last year, and also recorded a cover of Arcade Fire’s “Ready To Start”. Tears for Fears will be kicking off this tour in Austin next week, following by a show in Oklahoma, a pair of shows in California (Northern and Southern), and a three-night showing at Project Pabst in Portland. Rock Subculture Journal last reviewed Tears for Fears back in 2012. [Read more...]
New Order & La Roux at The Bill Graham Civic Auditorium | San Francisco, California | 7/11/2014 (Concert Review + Photos)
“…since we’re in San Francisco, we thought we’d do something special.” Bernard Sumner, singer and guitarist for New Order, as preface to an unexpected, second encore closer and cover of “San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair)” at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium last night. One of just a half dozen dates on this North American tour, the concert showed a band that has worked to refine their live set, with updated visuals as well as a bit of tweaking and reworking of what has become their usual selection of songs. It was definitely the best I’ve heard them in the past four years, and they seemed most energized during their performance of new song, “Plastic”. The sold out crowd of around 7,000 never stopped moving and bouncing as they ripped through a sequence of favorites at the end with “True Faith”, “The Perfect Kiss”, and “Blue Monday”. As has been tradition, they closed out with an encore of a few Joy Division covers, but the Scott McKenzie cover at the very end showed that they can still surprise when they are inspired to do so.
New Order Returns to North America in July with “Summerfest” Appearance & Small Tour; La Roux Joins in California Concerts
New Wave and electronic music pioneers New Order will be returning to the United States next month for a limited number of special performances, one festival appearance, and one show in British Columbia. La Roux – with new album Trouble in Paradise due July 7 – will be supporting at the two California shows in San Francisco and Los Angeles. New Order are also working on new music, and debuted one of those new songs, “Singlularity“, at their appearance at Lollapolooza Brazil back in March. [Read more...]
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 Hilton London Tower Bridge. I have stayed at this property multiple times, so this is an updated review, for a lengthy stay in March and April of 2014. This is far and away my favorite hotel in London. [Read more...]
Pet Shop Boys “Electric Tour 2014″ at Fox Theater | Oakland, California | 4/8/2014 (Concert Review + Photos) #PSBtour
It was one year ago to the day that I saw Pet Shop Boys and their Electric Tour in San Diego… and while the “show” was mostly the same on this 2014 tour, kicking off at Fox Theater in Oakland, my own personal experience was worlds apart. The actual concert itself was the same as last year’s, with the exception of I think just one change to the setlist, but that is actually a good thing – why mess with near perfection? While there are a few favorites of mine I would have loved to have heard, the highly prolific duo have been making hits for over three decades now, so there will always be some songs that aren’t going to make the cut for every tour. As with last year, the avant-garde stage production is of the highest order, with credit also due to Stuart Price with his music production and programming, Creative Director/Designer Es Devlin and Stage Director/Choreographer Lynne Page, the two colorful dancers (Merry Holden and Tom Herron) with their interesting costumes and stage presence, and many others behind the scenes. This show was their first of 2014, and at one point Neil even confessed to having some nerves in coming back on the stage, but his voice and delivery was spot on, and the blending of old and new music maybe even works better the second time around. It was one of my favorite shows last year, and it was great to revisit it as well as share it with someone very special in my life this time around – it is a concert that I will never forget (more on that later)!
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 extension trip throughout Eastern Europe and London in December 2013. This review is for the Hilton London Tower Bridge. I have stayed at this property multiple times, so this is an updated review. [Read more...]
“Crisis Presents…” with Jake Bugg, Bastille, Michael Kiwanuka, AlunaGeorge, and Foxes at Eventim Apollo in Hammersmith | London, England | 12/20/2013 (Concert Review)
This special benefit concert was organized by Crisis, with proceeds designated for their “Crisis at Christmas” as well as their Year-round services throughout the UK. The stellar line-up featured Bastille, Foxes, AlunaGeorge, Michael Kiwanuka, and Jake Bugg, with presenter Clara Amfo from BBC Radio 1Xtra managing the event on stage. It was a high energy show that drew a young and enthusiastic crowd, and was certainly in line with the festive spirit of this week leading into Christmas. The night kicked off with a great performance from the charity organization’s own Crisis Starlight Band and that moment carried through the night. A great evening for a great cause.
Crisis Presents… with Jake Bugg, Bastille, Michael Kiwanuka, AlunaGeorge, Foxes, and Al Doyle (Hot Chip) at Eventim Apollo in Hammersmith on December 20th
Crisis – the national charity for single homeless people across the UK – will be holding a special concert event at the Eventim Apollo in Hammersmith, London on Friday, December 20th. “Crisis Presents…” will be hosting a special concert with UK artists featuring Jake Bugg, Bastille, Michael Kiwanuka, AlunaGeorge, Foxes, and Al Doyle from Hot Chip doing a DJ set. Also planned is a special performance by singers and musicians from their London Skylight centre. [Read more...]
Pet Shop Boys “Electric Tour 2013″ at Copley Symphony Hall | San Diego, California | 10/8/2013 (Concert Review)
I had really high expectations for this, the latest Pet Shop Boys tour… yet somehow, as I sit down to write my thoughts about their show in San Diego at the Copely Symphony Hall last night, I am left a bit speechless… Not because I have nothing to say about it, but because I have this swirling flood of thoughts in my mind, and can’t seem to form a coherent approach to the whole thing. Maybe it was the overpowering strobe lights that disrupted the circuitry in my brain. Maybe it’s because they put on one of the most brilliant shows of the year. The cover of the tour program reads, “TURN IT ON”. Not a mere concert, it was a full blown, avant-garde stage production of the highest order, with credit also due to Stuart Price with his music production and programming, Creative Director/Designer Es Devlin and Stage Director/Choreographer Lynne Page, the two colorful dancers (Merry Holden and Tom Herron) with their interesting costumes and stage presence, and many others behind the scenes. Just when you expect that they should have peaked by now, they keep blazing new paths in music and life. Real artists, they create new work (in the studio and on stage) with a palette featuring colors all their own. They obviously put a lot of thought into not just sharing their music (old and new, hits and deep cuts), but creating a captivating and memorable experience. Though the visuals were mind blowing, the arrangements were amazing, Neil’s voice sounded better than ever, and the sound quality within the venue was superb.
The real thing. Real, authentic rock artists can’t be manufactured… they are born. And standing witness to the phenomenal performance by London-based post-punk revival rock band Savages, I had a deep feeling that maybe they were born a few decades later than when they should have been, yet it makes them that much more powerful. Having been born in 1973 myself, I was too young and on the wrong continent to catch the original shows put on by pioneering artists such as Bauhaus, Sex Pistols, Siouxsie and the Banshees, and The Cure… but I had this deep sense and feeling in watching Savages at The Independent last night that maybe what I felt like experiencing their show is what it may have felt like back in the day with those iconic bands. This was the second of two sold out shows in San Francisco. It was a different sort of show – unlike any of the 75 or so others I’ve attended thus far this year, and the many more going back years prior to that… there is nothing contrived or manufactured about Savages. Nothing at all – it is just pure post-punk art at its finest, in the best format of all – a live concert performance. They have brought something new to this space that hasn’t been felt in decades – even by those original players still recording today. A true resurrection. And given the state of society and culture today, it could not be more timely.
This week The Breeders returned to San Francisco, the city where recorded their second studio album, Last Splash, back in 1993. This weekend will literally mark the 20th anniversary of the release of this album, and the original band members that recorded it were on stage for two concert dates at The Fillmore on Tuesday and Wednesday. I have been to many anniversary-style shows over the years, but this was maybe the most literal, with quite an attention to details, history, and nuance. The Kim Deal-fronted band did a brilliant job recreating the seminal album on stage as part of their “LSXX” celebration. As a special bonus to the two San Francisco dates (the first of which was sold out, and is the basis for this review), the “Last Splash” line-up not only played that album front to back, but their debut album, Pod, as well, so it was a really amazing show for fans of the band.