New Wave revolutionary? Prince?? Pirate??? Adam Ant has adopted a multitude of roles spanning many decades… but as an icon of post-punk and early 80s music and pop culture, he still knows how to kill it on stage, which is what he did for the sold out crowd at The Regency Ballroom in San Francisco last night, tearing through a massive 28+ song set list that still left out some fan favorites. Who would have imagined when he came on the scene in the mid to late 70s that not only would he still be selling out shows, but he’d still be relevant (and, looking backward, prescient) well into his late 50’s. Truly an artist musician, Adam Ant has created a culture and world all his own, and it is definitely a fun place to visit.
“I’m old; I need to catch my breath…” Words from the legendary Smashing Pumpkins founder and frontman Billy Corgan during a momentary pause, about two hours into a massive set which kicked off with their newly released Oceania (also the title of this tour), played front to back and in its entirety, followed by an awesome cover of Bowie’s “Space Oddity”, and well into live performances of their many, many classic hits. I think it was more of a breath of fresh air for the fans packed onto the floor of the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium last night, who had the privilege of witnessing a true rock god at the top of his game, and in contrast to most popular music acts today: sans Auto-Tune, pre-recorded backing vocals, an army of dancers, and other artificial sweeteners. Billy Corgan and his Smashing Pumpkins are legendary for their layered, sweeping guitar-based sound and his unique, soul-baring vocals delivering authentic, sometimes fairly dark lyrics and sentiments. Ever the innovator, Billy Corgan continues to turn the music industry on its head, having essentially declared the album dead about four years ago, he now rebels against not the past, but the future. A strange era in music, but the Smashing Pumpkins keep doing their own thing in spite of changes and trends, and the Oceania-based concert last night was fantastic.
Last night at The Warfield was my second time seeing Garbage this year, having seen them back in April in Las Vegas. I was astounded at how much the band has evolved in this short time, having just been resurrected earlier this year, now completely transformed into one of the most kick ass bands touring in 2012. This group – that completely defies genre – burst onto the stage and played a tight and rearranged set, including many songs off their incredible new album for upwards of two hours. They also brought out one of the best audiences I’ve been a part of all year (and yes, audiences do matter!), who could not get enough of this band that comes across as beings from another, much more interesting planet. All in all, I think the fact that Garbage isn’t currently selling out huge stadiums is a tribute to the fact that the 90s was, as a decade, mostly filled with crap music (compared to the decades that preceded and followed), and somehow this band never received the recognition nor massive following that it deserved. People in the 90’s generally had no taste in music and it was a weak era in pop culture, and Garbage is, in my estimation, one of the most outstanding group of artists born of that time, and the fact that they somehow got back together to make music and perform live better than ever is nothing short of remarkable. Hopefully at some point the masses will catch up to what they are missing, as the concerts this band puts on are among the best live shows from any band today.
Roxette played the Masonic Auditorium in San Francisco last night, and more than delivered with their unique brand of rock infused pop to an eager audience, the majority of which appeared to be made up of truly hardcore fans of the Swedish band front by the duo of Marie Fredriksson and Per Gessle. High energy, enthusiasm, and joy emanated from the stage as the band played through a set framed by their many international hits, having sold over 60 million records worldwide. The fact that they were able to break out so big back in 1989 is a testament to their incredible songwriting skills, and having had four number one hits in the U.S. and nineteen Top 40 hits in the UK illustrates their ability to craft really catchy and hooky tunes that appeal to fans of music the world over. More impressive is that they were able to break out globally back when artists were completely reliant on record labels and radio stations to be heard, long predating the ubiquitous nature of the Internet and all the opportunity it has brought to the masses since those days. All that aside, they are a band that really need to be experienced live to fully appreciate their music, as their performance was stellar.
The Nob Hill Masonic Auditorium hosted last night’s concert performance by Tears for Fears. It doesn’t get much better than a set that opens with “Everybody Wants To Rule The World”, closes with “Head Over Heels”, and finishes an encore with “Shout”. Some of the most classic songs of the 80s, and the band looks and sounds as great as ever. It was a fantastic evening with an awesome set that spanned their catalog and reflected the real diversity of their work. Truly one of best songwriting teams that helped define the 80s. A fantastic evening and true thrill to see them perform live, and in top form. The songs never sounded better.
Tonight I had the opportunity to see The Ting Tings in concert at The Fillmore in San Francisco. This is my first time seeing the band, and they were absolutely fantastic, which is all the more astonishing given that Katie White (vocals, guitar, bass drum, keyboards, and even cow bell) had an emergency appendectomy last Friday. The way she performed and danced all over the stage, and even into the audience (more on that later), you would never imagine that she had surgery just about a week ago. Jule de Martino is the other half of the band, on drums, guitar, bass guitar, vocals, and keyboards. [Read more…]
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…]