“Hey Gina, did you play your brother’s 78s?” The Go-Go’s bass player Jane Wiedlin giving their drummer a hard time as Gina tried to give a preface to their stellar cover of the Rolling Stone’s hit “Paint it Black” by talking about how when you were a kid you would borrow your older brother or sister’s “records or CDs or whatever“. Like co-headliner The B-52s, both bands brought a combination of rock and good fun on stage at Mountain Winery in Saratoga last night, and even shared the stage for one song, contributing to the intimate, party-like atmosphere. I’ve seen both bands in the past 12 months, but it was something special to be treated to their respective New Wave sound on the same night. It was also kind of neat to see members of each band watching each others’ sets from side stage (like Belinda Carlisle fully immersed in The B-52s show and Kate Pierson taking in The Go-Go’s performance). Maybe the combination gave special energy all around, as each put on the best show I’ve seen from either band, so it was a pretty amazing night celebrating some of the best songs from my personal favorite era of music.
“‘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.
The Mountain Winery has announced this year’s Summer Concert Series, in conjunction with AXS, all kicking off May 24th with Juanes and running through October 6th with Bonnie Raitt closing out the season. With a few pre-sales having happened this week, the general sale of tickets starts April 22nd on AXS.com.
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.