“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.
Jewel “Greatest Hits Tour” at Ovations LIVE! Showroom, Wild Horse Pass Hotel & Casino | Chandler, Arizona | 6/8/2013 (Concert Review)
Muse at Royal Horse Guard’s Parade (World War Z Premiere) | London, England | 06/02/2013 (Concert Review)
15,000 hardcore Muse fans showed up at the Royal Horse Guard’s Parade in London, England last night for a special one-off concert promoting the premiere of Paramount’s new film, World War Z. As fans waited for the expected partial show (rumor was about half an hour of actual performance), we were shown the same movie trailer over and over and told that Brad Pitt would be appearing on stage before us. Well, he never did appear (apart from some silent footage on the jumbo monitors from the red carpet), but I don’t think the Muse fans could care less, as the usual opener to their shows was modified with some footage from the film, and after those few moments, it was pure Muse (not “Muze”, as the marketing department for the film would like us to believe). Being from the U.S., the awesome setting amidst historic London buildings and the awesome crowd certainly was not lost on me. The energy was as palpable as the heat wave surging into the audience from the pyrotechnics above the stage. But the real power came from the band, who have grown into being one of the best acts touring today, with real anthemic music that stirs the crowd into a fist-pumping frenzy. They ended up playing maybe just under an hour, but I’m certain that they satisfied all who turned out for the special free show, most of whom turned out for the two shows at Emirates Stadium and seemingly universally declared them the best Muse concerts ever.
Depeche Mode Delta Machine Tour (European Leg) at The O2 Arena London | London, England | 5/29/2013 (Concert Review)
Last night’s Depeche Mode concert was the last for me, representing the fifth show in the past two weeks. The second of two concerts back-to-back at the O2 Arena in London, as with the night before, I elected to take a spot in the front row center at the end of the catwalk extending into the vast general admission standing floor. Waiting for the band to come out, it was a bit of déjà vu, but it turned out to be anything but… with the prior four shows, the set list was exactly the same at Bratislava, Slovakia’s Štadión Pasienky, Zagreb, Croatia’s Zagreb Arena, Budapest, Hungary’s Puskás Ferenc Stadion., and the prior night’s show at London, England’s O2 Arena. The signal that last night’s gig had something different in store was the familiar sound of distorted guitar feedback that marked the opening of Depeche Mode’s “In Your Room”, which opened into the awesome Zepyhr Mix version of the song. A friend of mine from California also turned out for the two O2 shows, and we turned to each other at the same time with a “holy shit!” expression on our faces. We knew at that point we were going to be treated to an amazing – and unpredictable – show put on by my favorite band on Earth, and they did not disappoint. An epic conclusion to an amazing personal (and literal) journey with the band and their music over the past two weeks, spanning a number of countries all over Europe and coming to a close in their home of England.
Depeche Mode Delta Machine Tour (European Leg) at The O2 Arena London | London, England | 5/28/2013 (Concert Review)
“Welcome To My World” – the song Depeche Mode has been using to kick off each gig for the European leg of their Delta Machine World Tour – took on a whole different meaning for me tonight as I had an opportunity to see Depeche Mode play in their native home country of England. Playing two shows back-to-back at The O2 Arena in London, this marks my fourth consecutive Depeche Mode show in the past two weeks (having seen them previously at Bratislava, Slovakia’s Štadión Pasienky, Zagreb, Croatia’s Zagreb Arena and Budapest, Hungary’s Puskás Ferenc Stadion. Surprisingly, though the set list has not changed show to show, the concerts themselves have all been pretty different from one another, and completely different experiences on a personal level to be sure. One thing I didn’t expect with the London shows was that what seemed like a majority of the concert goers (close to stage on the floor at least) were not from England, but other countries, so it was quite a multicultural affair. I’ve also made a concerted effort to change my own point of view – literally – with each show, and with this first O2 gig planted myself at the foot of the catwalk that extends out into the audience (and is much shorter in the indoor arenas compared with the outdoor stadiums), and it was really a fantastic experience. Seeing the expression on Dave Gahan’s face as he came out to the end for “Never Let Me Down Again” – close up and in real life – made this relentless two week country-hopping adventure worth it just for that amazing moment (which I managed to catch on video as well). As I’ve mentioned over and over in the reviews leading up to this, Depeche Mode has long been my favorite band, and these concerts have been nothing short of epic.
Depeche Mode Delta Machine Tour (European Leg) at Štadión Pasienky | Bratislava, Slovakia | 5/25/2013 (Concert Review)
Bratislava, Slovakia’s Štadión Pasienky played host to the third consecutive Depeche Mode concert that I am reviewing as part of the European Leg of their worldwide Delta Machine Tour (having covered Budapest, Hungary four days ago, and Zagreb, Croatia two days ago, with the two London shows at the O2 still to come). Funny enough, each show has been a completely different experience for me, and while all awesome in their own ways, as far as the pure show itself goes, I would have to say the one in Bratislava last night was the best. The crowd was awesome, there was a certain energy in the air, and everything seemed to be flawless with the show itself. I’ve been telling people that the best spot in the “front of stage” area is in the front to the left of the ramp (looking at the stage); I went against my own advice going for the front row on the opposite side of the ramp, and it ended up being awesome. Halfway down the ramp, you have an unobstructed view of Dave and Martin, and Dave seemed to go down the ramp many more times last night, which was awesome, as he shifted tremendous energy into the massive crowd, who just ate it up.
MS MR Release ‘Secondhand Rapture’, Continue World Tour / To Join CSS On Some Dates, Who Just Released “Hangover” Video
Today MS MR have released their debut album, Secondhand Rapture, and will continue their world tour with their own headlining shows as well as some dates supporting CSS and some festival appearances. I am a huge fan of the New York-based recording duo of Lizzy Plapinger and Max Hershenow, and definitely count their new album among the best released in 2013. CSS themselves today released their official video for “Hangover”, and will be touring North America in June and July, not only with MS MR but MNDR and IO Echo as well. [Read more...]
Pet Shop Boys Announce First U.S. Concert Dates in Four Years, Release New Single “Axis” from Upcoming ‘Electric’ Album
New Wave pioneers Pet Shop Boys today announced and put on sale dates for the U.S. leg of their upcoming world tour – their first appearance here in more than four years. Also today they have released a music video for “Axis”, off their upcoming album, Electric, due July 15th. [Read more...]
New Order & Johnny Marr at The Boulevard Pool at The Cosmopolitan | Las Vegas, Nevada | 4/11/2013 (Concert Review)
This is probably the first and last concert in which I will have seen and heard two of my three all-time favorite songs performed live at the same show – New Order’s “Blue Monday”, and “How Soon Is Now?” by original guitarist and co-songwriter for The Smiths, Johnny Marr. If only Depeche Mode were on hand to play “Never Let Me Down Again”, I would have had all three. Obviously, the rare combination of Johnny Marr and New Order playing on the same bill made for an incredible night of music at The Boulevard Pool at The Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas. Though they never shared the stage at the same time, it was a show that celebrated some of the most significant and influential players in music in the past three decades. Johnny Marr’s first solo record, The Messenger, came out earlier this year to great critical reception, and his set included a mix of the new work as well as a few songs from The Smiths, Electronic number, and one cover. New Order changed things up a bit since their tour last year, playing “World (The Price of Love)” live for the first time and closed out with an encore of three Joy Division songs.
Caprices Festival 2013 in Crans-Montana, Switzerland: 9-Day Music Artist Live Concert Event Review & Recap
Since this was a pretty special experience and International music event, I thought I would share some thoughts and photos in summary here, mostly in an effort to genuinely promote and recommend this event to those who might not have heard of it or ever considering attending themselves. The 9-day event took place in Crans-Montana, Switzerland, a coming together of twin ski/resort towns to put on Caprices Festival, hosting dozens of musical artists spanning many different genres and styles. I actually only ran into a couple of Americans during the nine days of concerts (both had come out from New York for Tori Amos), so I think spreading some more information about the event on a U.S.-based site might bring out more people from the United States for future incarnations of this annual event, which celebrated it’s 10th anniversary this year, which also happened to mark some big changes and growth in size and line-up. [Read more...]
I did not make it to Après-ski and Modernity until the final day of Caprices Festival in Crans-Montana, Switzerland, which actually worked out great as far as Modernity went, as it was the sunniest day and very clear out, so I had a nice opportunity to take in the beautiful mountains from an amazing vantage point. However, at the time I stopped in at Après-ski, there was no scheduled live music (hence the photos of the empty space). I did shoot some video of the amazing views of the Swiss Alps from Modernity, which sits atop the ski slopes during the 9-day long music fesitval, just a short 20 minute walk and fun ride up the mountain from the main arenas and areas for the main part of the annual music festival. [Read more...]
King of The Blues. The Beale Street Blues Boy. Legend. Not much to say about having an opportunity to see B.B. King live in concert other than that it is an honor. A very special venue – Golden State Theatre in Monterey, California – served as the perfect host to an amazing night with one of the most important musicians in our lifetimes, at age 87, as well as a phenomenal opening set from an incredibly gifted 12 year old.
Recommended & Best Three Pocket Digital Cameras for Live Music Concerts for Fans (Photos & Video) – Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX20V, Sony DSC-RX100, Fuji X100/X100S
This is an update to my previous two articles focused on the same subject (see Article #1, Article #2), so at least some of the information will be redundant. Technology is constantly changing, evolving, and improving, so I expect that this will require an update about twice a year. My hope is that some day there will be one camera that does it all, and does it all well, and is of a size/style/form factor that any music fan going to a concert can bring it into the venue with no problems. That day is not yet here, so my advice includes three different cameras, each of which have pros and cons, and none of which is the best for all circumstances. As of the time of this writing, my personal recommendations are the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX20V (or HX30V is you want WiFi), the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100, and the Fuji x100 (though the X100S is out in Japan and due elsewhere in the next 30 days or so).