Sarah McLachlan (Shine On Tour 2014) at Lake Tahoe Outdoor Arena at Harvey’s | Stateline, Nevada | 6/24/2014 (Concert Review + Photos)

Sarah-McLachlan-Concert-Review-Shine-On-Tour-2014-Harveys-Outdoor-Arena-Lake-Tahoe-Nevada-Photos-Setlist-FI

“It enabled me to finish writing a bunch of these songs and create more of a positive spin.  A hopeful, hopeful spin.  This one is for my sweetie; it’s called “Brink of Destruction”…  which is not a very positive title, now that I think about it.  [laughter]  …but, I don’t know, I like it; I like the dark side…  and, you know, you walk to the edge and you look over and you go, “holy shit, do I want to jump?” and, yeah…  I always do.”  Sarah McLachlan talked about loss, and love, and new love, and like her music, it all reflects a very complex and deep feeling soul behind that soulful voice and heartfelt words.  She is probably the most gifted vocalist to emerge in the past few decades, and having an opportunity to hear her in a live venue is definitely a memorable experience.  Over the course of two hours, Sarah and her extremely talented band put on a showcase concert that hit on all cylinders – sound, lighting, audience interaction and some storytelling about some of the songs, as well as several Q&A opportunities (fans wrote down questions which she drew at random).  Truly an “evening with” performance if there ever was one.  Sarah has been writing and recording amazing songs for many years now, and her latest – Shine On – has quality that is right there with the best of it.  End to end, the event presented a kaleidoscope of feeling and emotion, and Sarah can connect with people with her music unlike anyone else – she is truly peerless on many levels, and this is definitely one of the best tours going this year.

[Read more…]

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

Pet-Shop-Boys-Electric-Tour-2014-Concert-Review-Fox-Theater-Oakland-California-April-8-Photos-Photography-Images-FI

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)!

[Read more…]

The Invisible Lighthouse – A Film and Live Performance by Thomas Dolby at Crest Theatre | Sacramento, California | 11/23/2013 (Concert Review)

Concert-Review-Thomas-Dolby-The-Invisible-Lighthouse-Film-and-Performance-by-Thomas-Dolby-Crest-Theatre-Sacramento-November-23-2013-Documentary-Review-FI

It’s a happy and a sad occasion…”  Thomas Dolby talking about his last stop at Creat Theatre in Sacramento last night, in his preface to “performing” his very personal documentary film, The Invisible Lighthouse Tour.  Really a film unlike any I’ve ever experienced, it was just that – an experience.  Dolby has been a pioneer in pop culture from his very beginnings, well known for his 1982 New Wave hit, “She Blinded Me With Science” among a number of other accomplishments in and out of music.  Dolby’s partner on the stage, Blake Leyh, produced some amazing “analog”, impressionistic sound effects during the film, which Dolby scored and narrated, which made it clear that each performance of his film has been quite unique and different.  A real pioneer in the arts, Dolby certainly has consistently blazed his own path, and after hearing his candid thoughts throughout the event, it would seem that he operates in a bit of a pop culture bubble, and looks to technology to find new ways in which to create meaningful art and vehicles for expression, and currently he is inspired by the ability today to make powerful films, sans Hollywood budgets and crews.  The result is something that literally has to be experienced in a theater, and hopefully this event is truly not the last for The Invisible Lighthouse.

[Read more…]

Pet Shop Boys “Electric Tour 2013″ at Copley Symphony Hall | San Diego, California | 10/8/2013 (Concert Review)

Pet-Shop-Boys-Electric-Tour-2013-Concert-Review-Photos-Copley-Symphony-Hall-San-Diego-California-October-8-FI

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.

[Read more…]

Depeche Mode Delta Machine Tour (North American Leg) at Pearl Concert Theater at Palms Casino Resort | Las Vegas, Nevada | 10/6/2013 (Concert Review)

Depeche-Mode-Delta-Machine-Tour-2013-Las-Vegas-Pearl-Concert-Theater-Palms-Casino-Resort-September-6-Concert-Review-Photos-FI

When Depeche Mode announced the North American dates and cities for their Delta Machine Tour, I immediately identified the one at Pearl Concert Theater at Palms Casino Resort as the one to go to, since I was familiar with the (relatively) small and intimate venue from past shows, and it was one of just a few in the United States with a general admission standing floor area in front of the stage.  Having seen them five times overseas earlier this year, I had become spoiled with standing right in front of the stage, so that has become a must for me in experiencing my favorite band.  With the show last night, I certainly wasn’t disappointed, and I suspect most to all in the crowd felt the same, as Vegas is one of those rare cities that pull fans from not only all over the U.S., but all over the world.  It was quite a celebration for not only the audience, but seemingly the band as well, who were quite jubilant throughout the performance, which clocked in at about two hours (there was no supporting act at this date).  For me, being surrounded by friends who also traveled from California for this show, it was the perfect way to close out an amazing year of live music by the band who have in many ways impacted my life with their art, particularly in my formative years throughout the 80s.  [Read more…]

Kings of the Mic Tour (LL Cool J, Ice Cube, Public Enemy, De La Soul) at The Greek Theatre | Los Angeles, California | 7/7/2013 (Concert Review)

Kings-of-the-Mic-2013-Concert-Review-Greek-Theatre-LL-Cool-J-Ice-Cube-Public-Enemy-De-La-Soul-July-7-Photos-Video-FIa

I don’t go to very many hip hop/rap shows, but loved the artists that got their start (and really got that genre of music into the mainstream) in the 80s.  My first ever concert, at the age of 14, was Run-DMC, Beastie Boys, and Ice-T at Cal Expo in Sacramento in 1987.  So when I heard about this “Kings of the Mic Tour” earlier this year, and that it was headlined by LL Cool J, it was a must see concert for me.  Unfortunately, the Bay Area show conflicted with other travel plans, but a date was added onto the end of the tour in Los Angeles at the Greek Theatre, so I knew that was the one to catch.  I am certainly glad that I did attend that specific show Sunday night, as it seemed to be a special one on all counts (and clocked in at over four hours of nearly non-stop entertainment).  However, the highlight for me took me back to that very first concert experience I ever had, as there was a special surprise guest…  toward the end of the last set, Darryl McDaniels (from Run-DMC) joined LL Cool J on stage, and the two performed “Peter Piper”, which was amazing.  Stunning for me, really.  Overall, it was a very impressive and high energy show from start to finish by all artists involved, and it definitely left me feeling that I need to catch more old school hip hop shows, though I think the bar was set very high by this last stop on the Kings of the Mic Tour.

[Read more…]

Super Freestyle Explosion with Stevie B, Lisa Lisa, Exposé, Debbie Deb, Shannon, Trinere, Johnny O, Nu Shooz, Pretty Poison, Stacey Q at HP Pavilion | San Jose, California | 6/29/13 (Concert Review)

Super-Freestyle-Explosion-Concert-Review-Photos-San-Jose-June-29-2013-Expose-Lisa-Lisa-Stevie-B-Shannon-Stacey-Q-Nu-Shooz-Pretty-Poison-FIa

It’s not often that you attend a non-festival concert with ten (!) different music artists performing on the same stage in one night, all in the span of about three and a half hours.  It was a pretty special event at the HP Pavilion in San Jose last night, with the Super Freestyle Explosion turning out about 7,000 fans of the predominantly Latin, electronic/synthesizer/samples-centric, and mostly mid-80s era genre of music.  Representing the relatively short-lived but highly influential music scene and style for the evening was Stevie B, Lisa Lisa, Exposé, Debbie Deb, Shannon, Trinere, Johnny O, Nu Shooz, Pretty Poison, and Stacey Q.  Really a remarkable line-up, to the credit of promoter ITP Records/Pacific Concert Group, for pulling together such a vast roster of artists to play through a series of highly recognizable hits to those who grew up with the music or perhaps rediscovered it later.  Of course, pulling off such an event in such a time frame requires some concessions and trade offs, but in my opinion they found a near perfect balance to make for an incredible evening of 80s freestyle nostalgia.

[Read more…]

OneRepublic Tour ‘Native’ Across United States for Summer 2013, Including Some Co-Headlining Concert Dates with Sara Bareilles

OneRepublic-Sara-Bareilles-United-States-Tour-2013-US-Dates-Details-Tickets-Pre-Sale-Concert-Rock-Subculture-FI

Colorado alternative rock/pop group OneRepublic have outlined their Summer 2013 tour of the United States supporting this year’s latest studio album, Native.  Some of these dates will be co-headlining concerts with Sara Bareilles supporting her latest, The Blessed Unrest, due next month. [Read more…]

Cyndi Lauper “She’s So Unusual: 30th Anniversary Tour” at Mountain Winery | Saratoga, California | 6/19/2013 (Concert Review)

Cyndi-Lauper-Shes-So-Unusual-30th-Anniversary-Tour-2013-Concert-Review-Photos-Mountain-Winery-Saratoga-CA-June-19-Rock-Subculture-FI

‘The second hand is unwinding…’  And I’m thinking… good lyric.  So I used it.  I always think it’s good to put a piece of what is really happening in the songs…  there’s always a piece of what somebody says, in the songs, and that was one of the pieces.”  A small part of one of many stories told by Cyndi Lauper about the making of the songs comprising her debut album, She’s So Unusual.  With her “She’s So Unusual: 30th Anniversary Tour” underway, currently touring California, the Grammy and Tony Award winning artist entertained and delighted fans in the audience of Mountain Winery in Saratoga last night with her compelling mix of great music and insights into her life and experiences.  Having had the opportunity and pleasure to catch her show two nights in a row, there were definitely some differences between the show I reviewed at the Crest Theatre in Sacramento and the one at Mountain Winery.  For starters, the former was indoors in a theater while the latter was outdoors in an amphitheater, both designated historic landmarks in The Golden State.  It was fun for me, personally, to compare and contrast.  In any event, one thing is certain – no two shows are the same.  While the general framework of the stories behind the music was the same, her recounting of them and stream of consciousness approach provided different insights, and the music felt different show to show as well, with a bit of a different energy (with Sacramento being perhaps more relaxed and Saratoga being more rocking).  I’m very glad I was able to turn out for both, but having written quite a bit in the original review for Sacramento, this is more of a Part 2 addendum.  Both shows are among my favorites attended this year and it is definitely a must see event for pop and rock music fans, especially those (who, like me) view the 80s (and first half of the 80s in particular) as an amazing time for music, with the birth of many great artists and songs, with Cyndi Lauper being central to all of it.

[Read more…]

Cyndi Lauper “She’s So Unusual: 30th Anniversary Tour” at Crest Theatre | Sacramento, California | 6/18/2013 (Concert Review)

Cyndi-Lauper-Shes-So-Unusual-30th-Anniversary-Tour-2013-Concert-Review-Photos-Crest-Theatre-Sacramento-CA-June-18-Rock-Subculture-FI

The greatest artists are always brilliant storytellers, in one way or another, and there is no doubting that Cyndi Lauper is a great communicator.  I’ve been to many of her shows over the years, and Cyndi Lauper is all about connecting with people; connecting with her fans.  She kicked off her show at the Crest Theatre in Sacramento last night by jumping off the stage and making her way up to the middle of the crowd, doing much of her singing surrounded by those who adore her and love not just her music, but what she’s done with her life, how she lives it, and what she gives back to the global community.  Throughout her set, her stories in-between were unfiltered (apart from a few word choices out of respect for a nine year old up front), meandering, and fascinating… and going by the set list taped on the floor, passed into some of the time planned for singing.  But when she sings, it’s truly a marvel, with her gift of voice and performance, and as she paced up and down the crowd up front (which instantly went from an all seated show to a standing GA free for all), she made personal connections with each of us – a look, a touch with her hand – because she is one of those earnest people…  that rare breed who “made it” but it is not about themselves, but giving back… through songs, stories, laughter, experiences… and of course her brilliant music.  Touring for the 30th anniversary of her debut album, She’s So Unusual, she is playing all those classic songs from that seminal 80s work, along with a bonus or two.  I obviously go to a lot of concerts, but Cyndi Lauper was a true icon for me growing up in the 80s, and this was definitely the best experience I’ve had at one of her shows.  Definitely a must see tour this year, and I’ll personally be doing it all again tonight at Mountain Winery in Saratoga.

[Read more…]

Super Freestyle Explosion (Stevie B, Lisa Lisa, Exposé, Debbie Deb, Shannon, Trinere, Johnny O, Nu Shooz, Pretty Poison, Stacey Q) Hits California, Arizona

Super-Freestyle-Explosion-Tour-2013-HP-Pavilion-Dates-Details-Tickets-Sale-Concert-Stevie-B-Lisa-Lisa-Expose-Debbie-Deb-Shannon-Pretty-Poison-Stacey-Q-Rock-Subculture

The Super Freestyle Explosion will be hitting the HP Pavilion in San Jose, California on June 29th, US Airways Center in Phoenix, Arizona on August 2nd and Sleep Train Arena in Sacramento on July 27th with an amazing line-up of popular artists that are immediately recognized by fans of the electronic dance/pop music of the 80s, much of which originated in Florida and New York.  The massive line-up includes Stevie B, Lisa Lisa, Exposé, Debbie Deb, Shannon, Trinere, Johnny O, Nu Shooz, Pretty Poison, and Stacey Q.  [Read more…]

Jewel “Greatest Hits Tour” at Ovations LIVE! Showroom, Wild Horse Pass Hotel & Casino | Chandler, Arizona | 6/8/2013 (Concert Review)

Jewel-Kilcher-Greatest-Hits-Tour-Concert-Review-2013-June-8-Wild-Horse-Pass-Chandler-Arizona-Photos-Video-fijpg

“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.

[Read more…]