“…I thought, ‘you know, there’s no better translator of Black American Blues than a middle-class, 16 year old Australian white child’.” Part of Rick Springfield’s storytelling in-between songs, it was apparent early on that not only has he led an interesting life, but he has real depth as well as a self-deprecating sense of humor. Though he is best known for that one big 80s hit (“Jessie’s Girl”) and acting on General Hospital as Dr. Noah Drake, he is a great storyteller and certainly a real artist with some great music and a knack for bringing it alive in a special way in an intimate venue. The highlight of the night for me was his very personal rendition of “My Father’s Chair”, a song about the loss of his dad many years ago. It’s rare to see an artist connect with such a powerful song on stage, and present such vulnerability to an audience. This set of solo shows is definitely well worth checking out, and in many ways more compelling than the traditional, full band rock show, as Rick Springfield has a lot of storytelling in him, in both personal accounts from his life as well as his music.
“It sells more every year now than it ever did when it did first came out in 1968″… Rod Argent, keyboardist and vocalist, talking about the second studio album put out by The Zombies, Odessey and Oracle, as he and vocalist Colin Blunstone took the time between stretches of songs to provide some history and context into their “musical journey” through the history of the British Invasion band. After a stellar opening set from supporting band Et Tu Brucé, the two founding members of The Zombies along with rock veterans Tom Toomey on guitar, Jim Rodford (front Argent and The Kinks) on bass, and Jim’s son Steve Rodford on drums demonstrated with their performance why their legendary status continues to grow. Yoshi’s San Francisco was as packed as I’ve ever seen it, and the audience seemed to be swept away with their brilliant and timeless music.
“I don’t know if you guys will get this song or not, being that you’re from California…” part of Margo Timmins’ introduction to the last song of the night, “Fuck, I Hate The Cold”, at Yoshi’s San Francisco last night. If music is the soundtrack to our lives, songs by the Cowboy Junkies must be intended for those more soul-searching and contemplative, raw moments. They slow things down a bit and make you feel more thoughtful and introspective. The band – a real family affair, together and producing new music and touring for more than 30 years – last year completed Volume 4 of the Nomad series… an ambitious four albums added to their catalog over a scant 18 months. The concluding work in that series, Wilderness, explored themes that included “fragility, emptiness, loneliness, beauty, chance, loss, desperation“; though timeless areas of focus, it all seems especially fitting for these times, with much of their music being a bit of post-modern Blues.
“We’d like for you guys to participate in this, because otherwise it just sits on its ass”. Music legend Juice Newton’s typically blunt and modest preface to the tremendous 80s country/pop crossover hits “Queen of Hearts” mixed with “Love’s Been a Little Bit Hard on Me”, as performed flawlessly (with audience providing the “clap-clap, clap” beat) at Yoshi’s in San Francisco in probably the most intimate show I’ve been to all year. The Juice Newton Trio, which was all acoustic strings with Jay Cawley and Danny Dugan both on guitars and providing backing vocals, Juice Newton stressed that this was a different sort of challenge and endeavor for her… a live concert sans the full band, which required the selection from of incredible songs from her catalog to be rearranged for a completely different result. And that result – simply amazing songs with the most artful delivery by one of the best vocalists in the business – was very moving and definitely sets the bar for soulful live music performances in small, intimate venues.
Tonight I had an opportunity to see Peter Murphy in concert at Yoshi’s in San Francisco. A special event that was part of a handful of California shows, the gig at Yoshi’s was actually two, back to back shows – one slated for 8:00 PM (which I attended) and another scheduled for 10:00 PM. It was a fantastic show, and I really can’t say enough good things about the experience. An incredible performer with an amazing voice. [Read more…]