“…since we’re in San Francisco, we thought we’d do something special.” Bernard Sumner, singer and guitarist for New Order, as preface to an unexpected, second encore closer and cover of “San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair)” at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium last night. One of just a half dozen dates on this North American tour, the concert showed a band that has worked to refine their live set, with updated visuals as well as a bit of tweaking and reworking of what has become their usual selection of songs. It was definitely the best I’ve heard them in the past four years, and they seemed most energized during their performance of new song, “Plastic”. The sold out crowd of around 7,000 never stopped moving and bouncing as they ripped through a sequence of favorites at the end with “True Faith”, “The Perfect Kiss”, and “Blue Monday”. As has been tradition, they closed out with an encore of a few Joy Division covers, but the Scott McKenzie cover at the very end showed that they can still surprise when they are inspired to do so.
New Wave and electronic music pioneers New Order will be returning to the United States next month for a limited number of special performances, one festival appearance, and one show in British Columbia. La Roux – with new album Trouble in Paradise due July 7 – will be supporting at the two California shows in San Francisco and Los Angeles. New Order are also working on new music, and debuted one of those new songs, “Singlularity“, at their appearance at Lollapolooza Brazil back in March. [Read more…]
Everyone knows all of the classic Christmas songs, but what about those that have emerged from the Pop and Rock music world and various subgenres (New Wave, Modern Rock, Punk, Indie, R&B, Hip Hop) from the 70s, 80s, 90s, and today? Original songs and creative covers… I think many great songs are lost to time, in that the window in which they might be heard is too small, and then many fall off of the collective pop culture radar. So this is my attempt to put together a list of some of my favorites, though I’m sure there are many others out there that I’d love that I’m not even aware of, or have forgotten about myself. So if you have any recommendations, please post a reader comment below. [Read more…]
This article features the sixth in an ongoing series of “Rock Talk” podcast audio interviews for the Rock Subculture Journal. Today’s guest is Jack Hues of Wang Chung. The band is today releasing their first new album in 23 years, Tazer Up!, and front man Jack Hues took the time to talk with me from England about the new release and his thoughts as a veteran of the music industry going back to his pioneering days at the forefront of the New Wave movement of the 80s.
Last night was the second show of New Order’s 10-date North American tour (spanning the U.S., Canada, and Mexico). One of the most important bands of my lifetime, they played classic New Order and Joy Division songs at the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles, which had a stage that dwarfed the one that they played last December at their concert at Troxy in London, which I was fortunate enough to have attended. Having been front row center for both shows, it was a bit surreal for me to see them from the exact same vantage point at such different venues and in different countries – both in their own country (which, at the time, was their first date there in five years) and now here in the United States. As the band is among my all-time favorite groups, I feel a bit challenged to evaluate the night, as the band and their music means more to me than I can put into words. It was really a stellar show, and it of course leaves me wondering, in a hopeful way, about the future of this legendary band.
An ongoing personal tradition of mine, I have made a commitment to try to see Daryl Hall and John Oates perform live every year, preferably at my favorite venue – Mountain Winery in Saratoga – and am happy to have been a part of that event again last night. As readers of the Rock Subculture Journal would likely surmise, music from the 80s is the foundation for my love of popular music, and among all those wonderful artists that were highly prolific in those times, I would personally rate Hall and Oates among the very top. Billboard Magazine rates them as the number one duo of all time for very good reason – they are simply brilliant songwriters, and have published seemingly endless hits, and their live shows are some of the best I’ve experienced. Last night I had a great vantage point from which to take it all in.
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.
Last night Modern English played Harlow’s in Sacramento as part of their U.S. West Coast tour, which begins and ends in the month of July. For me, their biggest hit, “I Melt With You”, was definitely among the best and most decade defining songs of the 80s – it is really ubiquitous with the vibe and culture and new direction in music that took hold in the early 80s. As the band has a history and habit of disbanding (in ’87 and ’91), this was my first time seeing them live, so it was an extra thrill to see the band featuring all of its original members. Of course, it was a matter of time until that seminal classic song would be played on stage, but the set list leading up to it was a fantastic voyage through their incredible catalog, and they sounded absolutely fantastic (and kudos to Harlow’s for the really nicely tuned sound system). It was both incredible and surreal to see this important band play live, just a few feet in front of me, but definitely worth the wait.