“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)
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...]
“Are you ready? Are you really, really, really ready?” The English Beat front man and voice of the band, Dave Wakeling, is one of those music artists that is completely tuned into his audience, particularly in an intimate venue such as The Center for the Arts in Grass Valley, California, where he performed last night. The part seated, part standing 360-capacity venue was packed and from the moment the band stepped onto the stage, the majority was on the dance floor moving to the very unique blending of 2 tone ska/punk/new wave/reggae hits from the band known simply as The Beat in their home of the UK, though also on offer were as some tunes from General Public, the subsequent musical efforts by Dave Wakeling and Ranking Roger following the original break-up of The Beat (Ranking Roger currently performs in the UK version of the band back in England). The band dispensed with having an opening band on the bill, and instead performed two full sets of their own on either side of a short intermission. It was a true live music experience that made great use of the excellent sound system and acoustics of the charming venue as they played song after song for the energetic crowd.
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.
Last night Thunder Valley Resort & Casino played host to one of a short run of shows by music legend Crystal Gayle. The award-winning singer, best known for her 1977 hit, “Don’t It Make My Brown Eyes Blue”., put on an amazing show of her own songs as well as tributes to the works of others, with her own signature style. It was incredible to have an opportunity to enjoy the show put on by her along with her sister Peggy Sue and the five-piece band led by Jay Patten.
P!nk’s “The Truth About Love” tour is part pop/rock concert, part carnival, part dance revue, part live movie, and part acrobatics. It’s such a tight and interactive event, most of it happens faster than you can really process it. P!nk is like part rock star, part Olympian, and it’s amazing how much energy she can put into the “show” part of the show and still manage to catch a breath to sing in addition to everything else. But somehow she pulls it off, and of all of the artists touring today, makes use of a massive indoor arena to create both spectacle and up close and personal opportunities between her and her fans (no matter where they might be sitting or standing). A really fantastic event, and pioneering way of building on great music with really unique and innovative performances.
Going to a Marilyn Manson concert is quite an experience, and probably not understood except by those who have done the same. To draw a comparison with the art world, it is akin to going to art museums in London and stopping in at the Tate. Except not to confuse matters… not in the past two weeks during Kraftwerk’s residency. That’s something else entirely. In any event, he puts on quite the impressive show, and is maybe the modern day rock concert equivalent of circus freak sideshows, only with Manson, though his band is supporting, it is decidedly a one man attraction. Most striking is how interactive it is – not just the literal interactions with the audience (and there are many), but his ability to lock onto members of the audience with his eyes, in a kind of staring match version of “chicken”, to see if he can make it striking enough to have you look away first (benefits of being right up close). He’s a natural performer, though interestingly comes across quite different off stage (more on that later). Really an exhilarating evening and hosted courtesy of Marilyn Manson’s unique and stylish version of reality.
Pioneering alternative band Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds will set out next month on a world tour covering North America, the UK, and Europe. In addition, their 15th studio album, Push the Sky Away, is due February 19th, and they will be holding a special concert at Fonda Theatre in Los Angeles with a YouTube webcast on the 21st. [Read more...]
There are a lot of variables that go into what makes a great live music experience – the band, your own personal connection with their music, how their music has touched your life, the venue, the energy of the crowd, supporting acts, and obviously a lot of other factors as well – and this was one of those shows that delivered on all of that and more. Berlin featuring Terri Nunn headlined a show at Saint Rocke in Hermosa Beach Friday night, and it was an incredible show in an intimate setting that felt more like a friends and family atmosphere than the typical concert. In addition, Berlin played a new material from their forthcoming studio album that was nothing less than fantastic – new songs that are distinctly Berlin yet fresh and exciting. [Read more...]