Pet Shop Boys “Electric Tour 2014″ at Fox Theater | Oakland, California | 4/8/2014 (Concert Review) #PSBtour

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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)!

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Berlin Featuring Terri Nunn at Saint Rocke | Hermosa Beach, California | 1/24/2014 (Concert Review)

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Berlin Featuring Terri Nunn kicked off 2014 with their first live date of the year at Saint Rocke in Hermosa Beach, California, just as they did last year (which is a show I caught and reviewed as well).  The biggest difference between last year and this year is that their amazing new album, Animal, came out this past September.  While they have been playing some of this new material in their shows in the past few years, somehow it felt much more seamlessly intertwined into the set, maybe because now I’m so familiar with the songs.  Like last year, it was another stellar show with excellent supporting artists, and Saint Rocke is a great little venue.  I think more than most bands, Berlin gets what their music is about, how it affects people, and the power a live show can have on celebrating life and living it with some passion.  They definitely bring it all out on stage and they are one of those bands that can carry you along with them vicariously. [Read more...]

Recommendations for Fans for Music Concert Digital Cameras and Photography (Full Frame, APS-C, Micro Four Thirds, Point & Shoot; DSLR vs Mirrorless; Settings)

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As I’ve published the periodic article with recommendations and discussions about cameras for fan photography at music concert events, which seem to be fairly popular, I know with changing technology it is long overdue for an update.  With this feature, I thought I would provide a broader overview with my own observations and experiences shooting with a variety of cameras and formats, including full frame, APS-C, micro four thirds, and smaller sensor cameras, spanning full-featured DSLRs, mirrorless, and point and shoot cameras.  With this article, I will also provide some advice on general settings and shooting tips and tricks.  Overall, I discuss options for cameras from shooting up close right in front of the stage as well as at a distance, for both still photos and video.  In short, I’m still a huge fan of the Sony RX100, a year later, and feel it is the best overall “go to” option for fans – great image quality and truly pocketable.

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The Rock Subculture Journal 2013 Year In Review (Top 10 Live Music Concerts, Top 10 Albums, Top 100 Songs, and more…)

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As with last year’s 2012 Year In Review, reflecting on the many shows attended in 2013 and trying to make some sense of it all was a challenge.  Having attended nearly 100 events, which usually includes at least one supporting act and a headliner, as well as one 10-day festival and many multi-artist shows, I saw literally hundreds of sets.  Miraculously, I can probably count on one hand the number that were “bad”, and the majority were awesome in one or more ways.   Still, I feel it is important to highlight the best of the best of the best, in an attempt to celebrate an amazing year of music.  You can also check out my Top 100 Concert Photos of 2013 in that separate article.

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Kim Wilde’s Christmas Party at O2 Shepherds Bush Empire | London, England | 12/21/2013 (Concert Review)

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“I wanted to know if you were up for a bit of dancing now – I know it’s a bit tight out there with bodies and antlers and everything, but hey, there’s no excuse…”  Words in-between songs by 80s New Wave pop icon Kim Wilde at “Kim Wilde’s Christmas Party” at O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire in London, England on Friday night.   Given that these four special shows (one in the Netherlands and three in England) were her first solo gigs in some time, I really had no idea what to expect.  And since she just came out with her Wilde Winter Songbook of Christmas songs, I thought perhaps the whole show would be dedicated to maybe an hour or so of holiday music.  I really couldn’t have been more wrong, as she ended up doing a mix of pop music (including covers) as well as Christmas music, with a sprawling setlist clocking in at two dozen songs, with a two hour performance.   At 53, she still looks stunning and sounds amazing, and it truly had a party-like atmosphere, and among other talented musicians, she was joined on stage by her niece, brother, and father, so it was a real intimate family affair.  All in all, a brilliant show, and I feel very fortunate to have had an opportunity to be there for it.

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“Kids Company and Coldplay Present: Under 1 Roof” with Coldplay, Lily Allen, David Brent And Foregone Conclusion, Dynamo, Rizzle Kicks at Eventim Apollo in Hammersmith | London, England | 12/19/2013 (Concert Review)

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“Essentially, the word around here is grateful…”  Chris Martin at his piano, backed by the Royal Academy of Music, opening the encore for the night with a cover of “White Christmas”.  I’ve written quite a few articles about Coldplay in the past, so any who have read them would know that they are one of my favorite bands (along with Depeche Mode and Pixies).  I hadn’t seen them live since their show in San Jose in April of 2012, so it has been a while.  They took 2013 off as far as performing live goes, and have been in the studio working on new material.  The band has always used their gifts and successes in music to help others, and one of the organizations that they’ve been a big supporter of is Kids Company in the UK.  And, as per tradition, they tend to do a special show each year for Christmas and/or New Year’s, so this year it was another of their “Under 1 Roof” multi-artist events.  Sharing the bill with them this year was Lily Allen, Ricky Gervais reprising his character from The Office performing as David Brent and Foregone Conclusion, magician Dynamo, and Rizzle Kicks, with Fearne Cotton hosting the evening, along with some surprise guests like Robbie Williams and Tim Rice-Oxley from Keane.

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“Kim Wilde’s Christmas Party” Special Engagement To Play Four Dates in Netherlands and UK in December

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Award-winning English pop star Kim Wilde will be performing her first solo concert dates since 1986 next month.  With her Wilde Winter Songbook having been released this year, she will be kicking of her select dates of “Kim Wilde’s Christmas Party” on December 14th at Ankerhallen in Saasveld in the Netherlands, which will be followed three special O2 dates in the UK.  Supporting these special concert engagements will be Nik Kershaw. [Read more...]

Anna Nalick at Harlow’s Restaurant and Nighclub | Sacramento, California | 11/20/2013 (Concert Review)

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“I know I got that Adult Top 40 reputation, but don’t let that fool you… I’m wearing leather pants.  And I will put foot on the amp and show you what’s what.”  Anna Nalick definitely showed the packed crowd inside Harlow’s in Sacramento last night what was what, and then some.  The genre defying singer-songwriter kicked off her mini tour of the West Coast, with shows in Oakland, Grant’s Pass, Spokane, and Seattle to follow through the end of this month.  Best known for her triple Platinum hit, “Breathe (2 AM)”, from her debut album Wreck of the Day, she is on a two week break from starring in Scott Caan’s play, 100 Days of Yesterday at Playhouse West.  This set of concerts presents a rare opportunity to see a truly gifted musical talent perform her original music as well as a number of new songs she’s crafted since 2011′s Broken Doll & Odds & Ends.  I definitely have a lot of thoughts about the show…  in short, I can’t recommend enough turning out to catch this special tour if you can.  Brilliant, brilliant artist and performance, and a fascinating woman.

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Alison Moyet (The Minutes Tour) at The Fillmore | San Francisco, California | 11/11/2013 (Concert Review)

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“Joy is not supposed to… it’s never meant to be this seamless stream of happiness, you know?  Joy happens in moments, in little minutes, in little capsules of time…”  Alison Moyet, talking about the ideas and themes and inspiration behind her latest studio album, The Minutes.  As I gushed about in my preview last month of this very special three date, three city stop in the United States by New Wave icon Alison Moyet, she has been one of my all-time favorite vocalists, so I had really high expectations for this concert.  I expected it to be a highlight among the approximate 100 concerts I’ll have attended by the end of the year.  Remarkably, my expectations were exceeded in every way.  Truly a fantastic concert and I know from being within the crowd of fans that I am not alone in my assessment.  She was joined on stage by band members John Garden and Sean McGhee, and there were ample songs from her latest album (in my opinion maybe her best solo record of her career) as well as favorites going all the way back to her beginnings with Vince Clarke with whom she partnered with for Yazoo (Yaz in the U.S.).  It is too bad for the masses here in the States that this must-see show is limited to just San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New York, but if you have a chance to catch one of the other two upcoming dates, it is well worth it.  A phenomenal and unforgettable show by one of the most gifted singer-songwriters of my generation.

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Danny Elfman’s Music from the Films of Tim Burton, Conducted by John Mauceri, at Nokia Theatre at L.A. Live | Los Angeles, California | 10/31/2013 (Concert Review)

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“I just want to say, I used to see this guy at really crappy clubs right down the street. And now that it’s come to this, I’m like blown away.  There is no better person to spend Halloween with, than him…”   A few words from Tim Burton, paying tribute to Danny Elfman, the man who has accompanied him on quite the filmmaking journey that began with 1985′s Pee-wee’s Big Adventure.  I don’t know if I can say that I’ve ever seen and heard such an impressive display of music than with last night’s special event at Nokia Theatre at L.A. Live.  With the 87-piece Hollywood Symphony Orchestra and the 45-member Page LA Choir, conducted by John Mauceri, it was amazing.  I feel like Danny Elfman was a key figure within pop culture in my formative years, as Oingo Boingo was the band I saw more than any other in concert in the late 80s and very early 90s, and as a huge fan of Tim Burton’s films and those consistent themes and quirky characters, I feel like I was along for the ride as well.  So when I heard about this event, I knew it was one that I could not allow myself to miss, and I am thrilled to have had an opportunity to be part of it.  Words really can’t describe; if you were there and are now reading this, I am sure you can agree.

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Whodini, Kurtis Blow, and Rob Base (V101′s Hip Hop Halloween House Party 2013) at Thunder Valley Casino Resort | Lincoln, California | 10/25/2013 (Concert Review)

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Last night was all about old school hip hop legends, with Whodini, Kurtis Blow, and Rob Base each taking the stage during V101′s Hip Hop Halloween House Party at Pano Hall inside Thunder Valley Casino Resort in Lincoln.  Pioneers in what has since become a wildly popular genre of music, it was a celebration of the artists who built the foundation of hip hop, with respect paid to many of their peers who were not part of the concert, by way of mention and covers.  It made for an interesting and unpredictable night of music, with legend Kurtis Blow doing his own music, like “The Breaks” (the first gold certified rap song back in 1980) as well as some unexpected works from others that followed many years later, like House of Pain’s “Jump Around”.  Hip Hop has obviously changed tremendously in the past three decades, but those in attendance last night, I think, appreciate that it was probably at its best in those early years, and it is gratifying to have seen these artists do their thing on stage last night in a relatively intimate atmosphere with a great crowd, some of whom also took to the stage throughout the show.

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Mazzy Star Launch North American Tour in Support of “Seasons of Your Day”, First New Album in 17 Years

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Hope Sandoval and David Roback’s Mazzy Star launched their first new album in 17 years, Seasons of Your Day, last month, and are kicking off a modest North American tour running the month of November.  It definitely ranks as one of the best albums of the year, so it should be a fantastic concert tour. [Read more...]