“Just warming up again… look darling, what a surprise!” A wry comment from Cy Curnin, front man for English New Wave band The Fixx, in the middle of a rare second encore during their amazing show at Assembly Music Hall last night, about half way through their current U.S. tour supporting their latest studio album, Beautiful Friction. The iconic band, best known for a string of 80s hits like “One Thing Leads To Another”, “Saved By Zero”, and “Red Skies”, played a great mix of old and new, and the band certainly showed that they can still record great music as well as play it live.
It isn’t often that real, genuine rock and roll legends come into my hometown of Sacramento to perform in concert, but after last night’s Fleetwood Mac show at Sleep Train Arena, they’ve set the bar quite high for any act to follow. Have loved this band since I was a kid, but have never seen them live, so this was an eagerly anticipated show for me. I did see Lindsay Buckingham on his own last year, and Stevie Nicks with Dave Grohl’s Sound City Players earlier this year, so have had bursts of greatness, which really fed my desire to see them together as Fleetwood Mac even more. As amazing as those other performances had been, they did not prepare me for the magic of having their best line-up (unfortunately sans Christine McVie) on stage together. I think it cements Lindsay Buckingham as the true rock God of the 70s/80s generation and Stevie Nicks, fittingly, as the rock Goddess. Mick Fleetwood is like Zeus (or maybe a mad pirate), with twin balls hanging (in a dangling/dancing sort of way) from his belt. John McVie is content to leave center stage to the others, throwing down his bassline and keeping everything on the tracks as much as possible. This is a band who know who they are, and haven’t strayed from their identity in sound or fashion. What really hit home is how much they appreciate their fans, which was expressed not just in the performance but in eloquent statements from Nicks and Fleetwood to close out the show, calling us their “Dreamcatchers”, and really articulating the music fan/musician dynamic better than I’ve ever heard before. This date closed out the U.S. leg of their tour, and certainly inspires one to start following them around Europe later this year…
The greatest artists are always brilliant storytellers, in one way or another, and there is no doubting that Cyndi Lauper is a great communicator. I’ve been to many of her shows over the years, and Cyndi Lauper is all about connecting with people; connecting with her fans. She kicked off her show at the Crest Theatre in Sacramento last night by jumping off the stage and making her way up to the middle of the crowd, doing much of her singing surrounded by those who adore her and love not just her music, but what she’s done with her life, how she lives it, and what she gives back to the global community. Throughout her set, her stories in-between were unfiltered (apart from a few word choices out of respect for a nine year old up front), meandering, and fascinating… and going by the set list taped on the floor, passed into some of the time planned for singing. But when she sings, it’s truly a marvel, with her gift of voice and performance, and as she paced up and down the crowd up front (which instantly went from an all seated show to a standing GA free for all), she made personal connections with each of us – a look, a touch with her hand – because she is one of those earnest people… that rare breed who “made it” but it is not about themselves, but giving back… through songs, stories, laughter, experiences… and of course her brilliant music. Touring for the 30th anniversary of her debut album, She’s So Unusual, she is playing all those classic songs from that seminal 80s work, along with a bonus or two. I obviously go to a lot of concerts, but Cyndi Lauper was a true icon for me growing up in the 80s, and this was definitely the best experience I’ve had at one of her shows. Definitely a must see tour this year, and I’ll personally be doing it all again tonight at Mountain Winery in Saratoga.
The Muse concert in Sacramento last night at the Sleep Train Arena was, on a personal note, Night #2 of 2 for me, having seen them the night before at Oracle Arena in Oakland. Two totally different experiences (more on that later), but another Epic show by a band that delivers rock entertainment like no one else on tour today. Over the course of seeing them, one thing I’ve learned is that location matters at these shows, and I wouldn’t necessarily say one place is better than another (close or far), as they have such an elaborate and brilliant production and presentation, wherever you are in the venue you will experience something very special indeed. As I said in yesterday’s review, they are most definitely a band that needs to be experienced live in concert and their music is designed to be performed live in front of thousands. [Read more…]
“So that’s what that last song was; that was my contribution. I kinda infused it with my own special brand of hopelessness, because the person is never going to get out…” Part of an explanation about one of her songs, and her sometimes facetious and self-deprecating view of the unwritten rules of being a part of the singer-songwriter world. Shawn Colvin provides a lot of thought-provoking entertainment during her concerts, including a few bits of dark humor and perspective here and there, in contrast to the “bright and cheery” impression that the delivery of her music might leave on someone who listens to her music without learning the meanings and ideas behind the words. Shawn Colvin really puts her heart and soul into her music, and in a live music setting, holds nothing back. [Read more…]
Last night was quite an amazing concert event for fans of 80s music. Under the banner of “Lost 80’s Live”, the one night show at the Crest Theatre in Sacramento featured performances by A Flock of Seagulls, When In Rome, The Motels, Bourgeois Tagg, The Escape Club, and Gene Loves Jezebel. In addition to the incredible line up, the event was hosted and DJ’d by the legendary Richard Blade. There was also a meet and greet opportunity made available for those who bought VIP tickets, which I participated in, and it was of course a thrill to meet the artists behind the music. Essential, the show was a sextuple header. [Read more…]
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.
Epic performance from a legend. Indeed, a very special Mother’s Day for some of the ladies in the audience, Lindsey Buckingham rocked the sold out, historic Crest Theatre in downtown Sacramento tonight. Alone on the stage, with an endless arsenal of guitars, Mr. Buckingham put on an amazing performance, and more than anyone, he has such a deep emotional connection with his music that his passion truly drives his live show unlike any artist. He is simply an amazing musician. Quite honestly, he could put on an entire showcase of just his peerless guitar playing, or, alternately, stand at the microphone all night a capella, and either would be captivating. Having enjoyed both in perfect harmony, it was a night I will not forget. [Read more…]
Powerbalance Pavilion in Sacramento hosted an incredible concert event Saturday night, with two awesome bands – The Black Keys and Arctic Monkeys. Being fans for both, I would have paid to see either one, so it was something special to have both acts on the same bill. Both rocked the stage and the packed stadium hard, but in totally different ways, with Arctic Monkeys bringing their UK style of alternative rock, and The Black Keys showcasing a more raw style of soulful rock. Collectively for about three and a half hours, it was a relentless onslaught of rock and roll, and it was freaking awesome. I was fortunate enough to take it all in from arguably the best spot in the house – center front of the GA floor in the immense area. If you are a fan of either or both these bands, I highly recommend checking out this show, should you have a chance to see them on tour. Phenomenal. [Read more…]