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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Suzanne Vega’s Upcoming Tour of U.S., UK, and Norway Begins This Month

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Alternative rock and folk singer-songwriter Suzanne Vega will be touring the United States over the next three months, and then play a number of shows in the United Kingdom and Norway over the Summer; it is expected additional dates will be added.   Her latest album, Tales from the Realm of the Queen of Pentacles, was released last year. [Read more…]

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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Clive Farrington, former lead singer of When In Rome at Hogue Barmichael’s | Newport Beach | 12/6/2014 (Rehearsals & Concert Review + Photos + New Wave Bar)

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I had an opportunity to spend a couple of days with Clive Farrington, to see what is going on with the former front man and lead singer of the popular 80s band, When In Rome.  On the itinerary was sitting in on a rehearsal with his new band prepping for 2015, checking out the New Wave Bar & Restaurant in Bellflower for Danny Sanchez’s birthday (“70s Disco Night”), and a few days later attending their special charity concert at Hogue Barmichael’s in Newport Beach, which benefited the Orangewood Children’s Foundation.

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Billy Idol Announces 2014/2015 World Tour Following “Dancing With Myself” Book Tour, New “Kings & Queens Of The Underground” Album

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2014 and 2015 are shaping up to be epic for fans of Billy Idol, starting with the Dancing With Myself autobiography, hitting stores and online retailers tomorrow.  Today is the last day to pre-order for an entry into the Dancing With Myself Sweepstakes, and today is the first day of a limited number of book signings in the United States and the United Kingdom throughout October.  In just a few weeks, on October 21st, the first new Billy Idol studio album in some time, Kings & Queens Of The Underground, will drop.  The new single, “Can’t Break Me Down”, is already available.  While UK and European concert dates were announced for November some time ago, today North American dates were announced for January and February 2015, including special meet and greet tickets. [Read more…]

Lily Allen Brings “Sheezus” To North America and UK Through End of 2014

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English singer-songwriter Lily Allen is back in the spotlight with a new album and tour, following time off from starting a family.  Her current tour marks her return to North America after a five year absence.  The new album, Sheezus, is her first since 2009, and third album since her big debut in 2006 with her #1 UK hit “Smile”. [Read more…]

Tears for Fears at The Wiltern | Los Angeles, California | 9/23/2014 (Concert Review + Photos)

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“Is that the new iPhone 6?”  Roland Orzabal, early on in the show, as he and Curt Smith looked out over the sea of cell phones in the air, held by an exuberant sold out crowd at the historic Wiltern in Los Angeles last night.  Tears for Fears, best known for their collection of timeless and classic New Wave hits from the 80s, do not tour very often, and when they do, the tours are usually not too many dates and cities.  So there was a bit of an “event” feeling in the air, and based on some of their comments later in the show, they both seem to have quite an affinity for the City of Angels.  As such, it seemed to be one of those special sort of shows, that unfold in a different sort of way.  About halfway through the show, Curt even gave a shout out to Richard Blade, who was at the front of the GA crowd in the pit…  if you didn’t know him by his own lifetime in music, you would think he was the band’s biggest fan (and maybe he is).  Perhaps the development that represented the biggest point of fan service, prefaced by Roland with “nothing like changing it up for L.A.; obviously this is a special place for us…” was the surprise encore opener, a song that “we haven’t done for many, many years”.  He said that this version will be included in their deluxe reissue of Songs From the Big Chair in November.  He said it has been impossible for them to do live “until now”, and then proceeded to play “The Working Hour”.  Definitely a special show by a fantastic band, and the place was certainly buzzing when it all came to a close after upwards of a two hour show.

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Sam Smith Brings “In The Lonely Hour” Tour To North America with September and October Dates

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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…]

Tears for Fears Launch Small Concert Tour in The United States This Month

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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)

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“…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.

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New Order Returns to North America in July with “Summerfest” Appearance & Small Tour; La Roux Joins in California Concerts

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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…]