“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.
“Lyrics is everything to me…” The very thoughtful and contemplative Howard Jones, during his intimate solo show (“The Songs, The Piano, and The Stories) at City Winery Napa on Friday night, leading into his heartfelt hit song, “Life In One Day”. The lengthy set was split between his solo performance and stories about each song, delivered with warmth, honesty, and wit, in an authentic, humble manner. The format proved to be an amazing way in which to begin to get to know (funny enough) the man behind the music, which is something I always approach with a little trepidation (at least one favorite 80s icon proved to be a disappointment a few years ago – I wish I could “unexperience” that show). But Howard Jones proved to be a man the audience liked to get to know well… Mr. Jones is really not just an incredible artist, but an incredible man and I really appreciate his efforts to openly share about his fascinating life as well as pass along some life lessons. He does this in his traditional electric shows as well, but it’s not quite the same as him settling into his seat behind his keyboard with the mic volume set for discussion as well as playing, with an equally relaxed audience sitting around him. If you’ve ever seen one of Howard Jones’ electric live shows, I would highly recommend checking out one of these solo shows as well, as it is a totally different experience and maybe even more gratifying and entertaining. I loved every second of it, and plan to go to another one the next time the opportunity arises. My highest recommendation.
Innovative American drummer Terry Bozzio will be finishing his solo North American tour in California later this month, before taking his massive drum kit overseas to Japan for more concerts in November. Best known for his work with Frank Zappa and Missing Persons, Bozzio has had a fascinating career and developed innumerable innovations in drumming. [Read more…]
“…I thought, ‘you know, there’s no better translator of Black American Blues than a middle-class, 16 year old Australian white child’.” Part of Rick Springfield’s storytelling in-between songs, it was apparent early on that not only has he led an interesting life, but he has real depth as well as a self-deprecating sense of humor. Though he is best known for that one big 80s hit (“Jessie’s Girl”) and acting on General Hospital as Dr. Noah Drake, he is a great storyteller and certainly a real artist with some great music and a knack for bringing it alive in a special way in an intimate venue. The highlight of the night for me was his very personal rendition of “My Father’s Chair”, a song about the loss of his dad many years ago. It’s rare to see an artist connect with such a powerful song on stage, and present such vulnerability to an audience. This set of solo shows is definitely well worth checking out, and in many ways more compelling than the traditional, full band rock show, as Rick Springfield has a lot of storytelling in him, in both personal accounts from his life as well as his music.
2014 is shaping up to be a great year for fans of Rick Springfield, as he is kicking things off with his solo “Stripped Down” shows currently, and plans to take on Summer with a co-headling tour with Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo. The former should be an opportunity to hear his classic songs in a different style and at more intimate venues, while the latter will team him up with one of the true female rock and roll icons of the 80s, Pat Benatar, as well as her husband, phenomenal guitarist Neil Giraldo, who famously recorded “Jessie’s Girl” with Rick Springfield at Sound City Studios, as recounted in the documentary put out by Dave Grohl last year (and in concert as Sound City Players). [Read more…]
“I wanted to be a writer. I didn’t just want to shake my hair around and scream…” Johnette Napolitano, in one of many self-reflective moments in her honest and raw solo show at The Griffin in San Diego on Friday night. The singer and bass player for Concrete Blonde has always projected raw emotion and artistry in all she does, but this was certainly a step even further into having a glimpse into her world, which was bathed in gentle red and blue lights on the small stage in the intimate venue. For me, she has always been one of my favorite vocalists in rock and roll (and based on this show, it is only getting better with age), but there is so much more to her as an artist beyond that one remarkable gift. She talks about ghosts a bit, and it makes me wonder if she can see and feel things that the rest of us mere mortals cannot, and that is one of those things that gives her work more depth and dimension, and of course more emotion. Regardless, the show was an amazing experience for fans of her and her work, whether it is on vinyl or paper, she is that writer she always dreamed of becoming, in multiple disciplines. Brilliant artist and amazing showcase of her work in San Diego for those lucky enough to attend.
Johnette Napolitano, singer-songwriter well known as the vocalist/bassist for Concrete Blonde, is scheduled to play a handful of special, one-off solo shows in the first quarter of 2014. It is anticipated that Johnette will perform acoustic versions of Concrete Blonde songs, works from her own Sketchbook albums, as well as read extracts from her book, Rough Mix, the first of her series of memoirs, stories, poetry, lyrics and essays. A prolific artist in many disciplines and with a number of different collaborations with other artists, it should prove interesting to see what she brings to the stage with these special shows. [Read more…]
“I wanted to know if you were up for a bit of dancing now – I know it’s a bit tight out there with bodies and antlers and everything, but hey, there’s no excuse…” Words in-between songs by 80s New Wave pop icon Kim Wilde at “Kim Wilde’s Christmas Party” at O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire in London, England on Friday night. Given that these four special shows (one in the Netherlands and three in England) were her first solo gigs in some time, I really had no idea what to expect. And since she just came out with her Wilde Winter Songbook of Christmas songs, I thought perhaps the whole show would be dedicated to maybe an hour or so of holiday music. I really couldn’t have been more wrong, as she ended up doing a mix of pop music (including covers) as well as Christmas music, with a sprawling setlist clocking in at two dozen songs, with a two hour performance. At 53, she still looks stunning and sounds amazing, and it truly had a party-like atmosphere, and among other talented musicians, she was joined on stage by her niece, brother, and father, so it was a real intimate family affair. All in all, a brilliant show, and I feel very fortunate to have had an opportunity to be there for it.
Award-winning English pop star Kim Wilde will be performing her first solo concert dates since 1986 next month. With her Wilde Winter Songbook having been released this year, she will be kicking of her select dates of “Kim Wilde’s Christmas Party” on December 14th at Ankerhallen in Saasveld in the Netherlands, which will be followed three special O2 dates in the UK. Supporting these special concert engagements will be Nik Kershaw. [Read more…]
“This is a song for you young lovers out there. I was in love once. When I picked my guts up afterwards, I wrote this tiny little song, I hope you enjoy it; it’s called Wonderful.” A twisted sort of sentiment about his most mainstream song, New Wave icon and post-punk pioneer Adam Ant and The Good, The Mad & The Lovely Posse kicked on their 40-city North American tour in San Diego last night, at the classy Balboa Theatre. Adam Ant launched his first album in 18 years, Adam Ant is the Blueback Hussar in Marrying the Gunner’s Daughter, earlier this year. Somehow last night’s show felt even more spectacular than the one I caught in San Francisco last year. Adam Ant was like a rock star possessed; perhaps more confident and somehow… joyful? At one point deep into the set, he tossed his mic stand, which landed on his bass player’s effects pedals, completely shorting them all out. One of the stage crew came out and messed with it briefly, then unplugged it and plugged him directly into his amp… the relentless onslaught of music could not be stopped, or even paused due to technical difficulties… and the near sold out crowd was perhaps treated to a more raw version of what was planned. A lot of music acts continually reinvent themselves, over and over, sometimes to the point where they become a series of completely different artists. Adam Ant is different. He is today what he was more than 30 years ago, in terms of his identity, style, and sound. He has evolved, of course, but stayed true to what he was and has always been – one of those rare artists who maybe got it perfect the first time.