“…hopefulness and lifting up and then deep, deep grief and then lifting up… because that seems to be the human experience right now, doesn’t it?” Tim Booth of James, part of their co-headlining tour across North America with The Psychedelic Furs this summer, with one of their last stops in Reno at the Grand Theatre at Grand Sierra Resort & Casino. When the band first came out on the stage, he commented that they had just changed up their set list in reaction to the news coming out of Texas. Both bands put on stellar shows and each seemed to have their own respective hardcore fans as the audiences seemed to change up in-between sets. I really enjoyed seeing James for the first time and The Psychedelic Furs play at one of my favorite venues with a massive stage and stellar lighting.
Black Francis usually doesn’t have much to say on stage, and with the latest show by Pixies at the Grand Theatre at Grand Sierra Resort & Casino on Thursday night, it was mostly to introduce the titles of new songs that will be on their upcoming album expected later this year. Hearing these songs for the first time myself, I’d honestly say that this as yet untitled new album may be their best since their original quadrilogy. Which got me thinking, as I took in the show and had fleeting memories of high school (where I counted Pixies and Depeche Mode as my favorite bands)… all four of their original albums were literally all released while I was in high school (Surfer Rosa in 1988, Doolittle in 1989, Bossanova in 1990 and then Trompe le Monde in 1991) and I saw them quite a few times in concert back in the day (even opening for U2 once). In any event, I love every song released during those formative four years (except the two I hated), so seeing them jam live is always such a joy, as their music was made to be performed. [Read more…]
“Can’t believe it’s been, I don’t know, one or two decades since we’ve been able to tour the States extensively… we count our blessings. I can tell already we’ll all have a great time tonight. We know that people have traveled from all around to come here tonight, so we really appreciate that as well. I should tell you that, because we don’t get to come here… because we haven’t been able to come here as much as we would have like – would have loved – we’re going to go the extra mile tonight.” Jim Kerr, front man and vocalist of Simple Minds at the Grand Theatre at Grand Sierra Resort & Casino on Saturday night, before a crowd that was on it’s feet for two full sets from the band. Simple Minds – led by Kerr and co-founder and guitarist Charlie Burchill – have been recording and performing for 40 years. And they show no signs of slowing down (and after seeing them live, I imagine that going “the extra mile” is a way of life for them). Incredible music – old and new – stunning work on guitar by Burchill, and that voice of Kerr’s… still absolutely captivating. The duo have an amazing band and this is one concert I will never forget. Highest recommendation to get out to see this band in a very rare North American tour. It was a transcendent experience.
“We’re now going to play another song you’ve probably never heard before. You forgive me though, right?” Shirley Manson of Garbage underlining one of the themes of the night for their “20 Years Paranoid” tour, which made a stop at the Grand Theatre at Grand Sierra Resort & Casino in Reno on Tuesday. The band is celebrating the twentieth anniversary of their second album, Version 2.0, by touring a set list that features them playing the album in its entirety as well as very rare B-sides and just a handful of songs beyond the scope of that period of their career. I’ve seen the band on most of their tours since they reunited and began recording and performing again after a long hiatus, and really it seems like they do something really different each time they come around. Even I was unfamiliar with some of the songs played (many were rarities originally limited to B-side releases in the late ’90s), but I am catching up now with their newly released 20th Anniversary Deluxe Edition / Remastered version of their album. Shirley was pretty chatty and candid with the crowd in-between songs and it felt like quite a special show. I really enjoyed it and it reminded me of what a stellar band they are live, and it provided some additional insights into what makes the band tick and what motivates them as artists. It’s really worth catching up with them on this tour, even for casual fans. One of the most unique bands of my generation, always staying true to themselves and keeping things interesting.
Music from the future. I’m not sure how else to describe Thievery Corporation and their live show at the Grand Theatre at Grand Sierra Resort & Casino this week. I’ve followed them casually for many years now, but never made a concerted effort to dig into their many releases put out on their own label going back a few decades now… but their live concert sure inspired me to do so. Their music is so rich with influences, at once it feels like it is from everywhere and no where familiar all at once. It doesn’t feel “American”, it feels more like it is from the planet Earth. It is what I imagine popular music might sound like many, many decades from today. But it is here and now. In any event, whatever it is and wherever it came from Rob Garza and the many artist who work with him and tour with him put on one of the best shows I’ve seen this year, and turned me into a fan. I have a lot of catching up to do, which is a good thing.
“This next song I’ve been singing since I first came to the USA many years ago… it still means a great deal to me. It’s called Kings of the Wild Frontier.” Adam Ant with his amazing band, in front of an enthusiastic crowd at Silver Legacy Resort Casino’s Grande Exposition Hall in Reno, Nevada. Performing artists say things like that all the time, and a jaded concert-goer might consider it mere banter in-between songs. Not so, with Adam Ant. After performing that song on Saturday night – originally released early in the New Wave era way back in 1980 – Adam Ant paused for a moment as the heartfelt accolades of the fans in the room showered over him. For some reason, I happened to capture the moment in video on my iPhone from the video screen off to the side (iPhone video snippet here), and at the time and in review again going through my notes and videos I took another look and Adam Ant has so much emotion and gratitude on his face at that moment that it’s genuinely moving to, well, feel him “feel”. He brings so much to the stage with his concert and presumably touring in general these days that I felt so fortunate to just be part of this incredible show that brings his latest North American tour to an end. It’s definitely may favorite show of 2018 thus far, and I can’t imagine anything besting the experience. Truly an icon of music and pop culture for my generation, and I firmly believe his live shows today are the best he’s ever given his fans.
“It’s always weird on the first night of tour… I’m well-rested… I’m not hung over… It doesn’t seem right. One thing I know is I’ve been to Reno before several times. We will not be well-rested tomorrow. We will not be showered. We will be hung over. We’re Portugal The Man. Thanks for hanging out with us tonight.” Zach Carothers, in preface to the encore to their show at Grand Theatre at Grand Sierra Resort and Casino on Wednesday night. The band put on an electric show that impressed not only with their unique sound but a spectacle of visuals and lasers. They even had warnings in many forms before the show about the latter… and a pre-set disclaimer about their overall lack of banter. Coupled with a drumhead featuring Weird Al Yankovic, it was clear from the start that Portugal. The Man is a band that is driven by their own unique beat, and I don’t think that fans would want them any other way. [Read more…]
“This next song is one of our very, very oldest ones. One of the first ones… And I just wanted to say thank you, because it means a million times more to me now then it did years ago when it first came out and I owe that to you. Your hearts and your experiences and this whole thing that we’ve been sharing together for the past twenty years… so thank you!” Amy Lee’s preface to the Grammy nominated song “My Immortal” in her live performance to a sold out crowd at the Grand Theatre at Grand Sierra Resort & Casino in Reno, Nevada on Friday night. The song was one of the singles off of their debut album, Fallen, in 2003. In 2017, Amy Lee has brought that song and other Evanescence hits on the road in a completely rearranged and re-imagined form with this “Synthesis Live with Orchestra” tour, along with the release of their fourth studio album, Synthesis, which features the same music along with two new songs. The concert itself was magnificent – marrying the original music and that incredible voice with her rock and roll band playing alongside a 28-piece full symphony orchestra – really it was a show unlike any I’d ever experienced. I watched some snippets of past shows in advance to get some idea of what it might be like, but it is really something else to experience it and take it in at a venue like the Grand Theatre. It was certainly the most impressive production I’d seen this year, and the performance overall was stellar. It’s really one of the best tours going in 2017.
I usually open my reviews with a quote from the artist, but Phantogram didn’t do too much talking during their set, and when they did their words were mostly lost among adulation from the cheering crowd. Their live sets are still driven by songs from last year’s Three, which I voted at the #1 album of 2016. I’ve personally been dying to hear songs off this brilliant album live, as last year each time the duo and their band were playing local, I was traveling elsewhere. So with their appearance at Grand Sierra Resort & Casino’s Grand Theatre in Reno Friday night, I was not disappointed. This was actually my favorite concert thus far in 2017. Phantogram are so amazing right now the rest of the world needs time to catch on. [Read more…]
Swedish indie pop band Miike Snow and duo Phantogram will be coming to Grand Sierra Resort & Casino’s Grand Theatre at the end of June as part of their sometimes intersecting Summer concert tours. Both acts released their third studio albums in 2016, with Miike Snow’s iii and Phantogram’s Three each receiving fan and critic accolades (Rock Subculture actually names Phantogram’s album #1 in my end of the year feature). With both artists on the same bill, it is certainly a show not to be missed on June 30th, or at one of the other dates on their respective tours. [Read more…]