Archive for the ‘Concert Review’ Category

Back in the early 90’s, i was a heartbroken, down trodden little gloomy monster in my early 20’s. I’ll spare you the details, as they’re not all that interesting anyway, but JAMES saved my life. Their songs of hope, love, sex, joy and the promise of tomorrow kept me afloat in the darkest of times. I was sleeping the days away and driving around the desert city at night with “Laid” blaring as loud as my cheap little car stereo would allow. It wasn’t done for show, but rather, because no one was around. I could sing/scream the lyrics right along with Tim Booth without bothering anyone with my drama and/or tunelessness…

Fast forward to October 2008. I am now a happily married man, with a beautiful wife who’s favorite band happens to be JAMES. As neither of us had ever had the luck of seeing the band live, when they announced that they would be playing The House Of Blues in Anaheim, on our 6th wedding anniversary no less, we scrambled to get ourselves down there for it! We succeeded, and it was one of the greatest shows either of us had ever seen! JAMES has only had 1 minor hit in the US, so the room was packed with “true” JAMES fans. People that knew all the lyrics for every song in the band’s 20+ year career. It was also a celebration, as the band had just reunited after an uncertain disbanding 6 years earlier…

So, when the band announced they would be playing Seattle earlier this year, i was reluctant. I had such a great memory and experience from 2008 that i was afraid to taint it, as so many other bands had done. However, my wife really wanted to go, so i said OK. Thankfully she was right! JAMES put on another remarkable, yet different, show. They came out, guns blazing with Tim and Larry deep in the crowd performing “Sit Down”, before waltzing up to the stage so the rest of JAMES could join in. The scene was set! The biggest concern i had was the Seattle crowd, which tends to be indifferent at the best of times and just downright obnoxious at the worst, but this crowd in particular was there to enjoy themselves and the band. Even the folks that were there for the opening snooze fest that was Ed Harcourt (like Billy Joel & Coldplay had a boring baby), had a great time.

The night was filled with emotion, as lead singer Tim Booth confided in the crowd and bared his soul of his sorrow. I will not exploit the reasons here, but it disintegrated the gap between audience and artist! Suddenly we were just a bunch of friends in a big room. My favorite moment came at the end of the classic track “Sometimes”, when the audience serenaded the band…

The set itself was different (thankfully) than the last time i’d seen them, ignoring much of the band’s catalogue between “Laid” and their new releases “The Night Before” & “The Morning After“, both of which were done a great justice live and given more perspective…

So a sincere thank you is in order for Tim, Larry, Jim, Saul, David, Mark & Andy (my wife’s favorite)!
If you don’t know JAMES, then what the hell are you waiting for? If you know JAMES but dislike them, well then why not fuck off?

Still, ToeZoo loves you anyway…


Stumbled across a great live DVD of U2 from 2006! Only realized after ordering it that it was a bootleg… Oh well, i would’ve bought it anyway! This is from the tour in support of 2004’s “How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb“. Not my favorite album by any stretch of the imagination. I also saw this tour here in Seattle at Key Arena, and i had an awful time. I’ve been going to U2 shows since 1987 and they have all been either good or GREAT, but this one felt contrived, choreographed and pandering. I realize that the haters have been saying that about U2 for decades now, but in the case of this one show, it was true…

However, i still love these guys, and the majesty that is their most recent album “No Line On The Horizon” has softened my position on their post-90’s output.

So, back to this bootleg DVD. Apparently it was recorded and aired for television in Argentina, so the quality is quite good though it is standard def.

All the usual fare is present, but i thought i’d pick out 4 tracks that are especially delightful for the non-jukebox U2 fans!

Let’s start with one of the greatest U2 songs most people have never heard! It originally came out on the genius “Zooropa” album, then made another appearance on the soundtrack for the Wim Wenders/Bono-scripted film “Million Dollar Hotel“. I’d not realized they had ever played this live, so this song alone would’ve convinced me to shell out for this DVD! Here’s “The First Time”…

Another brilliant track from the ‘lesser known’ column is “Miss Sarajevo”, a song inspired by a beauty pageant that was held in the midst of war-torn Sarajevo, Bosnia! Pavarotti originally sang the Operatic bit, but Bono does it here, quite convincingly i might add…

This next song is especially poignant, as it was inspired by the Madres de Plaza de Mayo, whose children had been forcibly disappeared by the Argentinean and Chilean governments. Originally the last track on “The Joshua Tree“, it is often performed live on South American tours. Here’s the haunting “Mothers Of The Disappeared”, which The Edge on ukulele…

Last, one of my all-time favorite songs by anybody, ever. Originally released as part of the “Rattle & Hum” film/CD/near fiasco, I fear enough attention isn’t paid to this brilliant track. Even the band would relegate it to a medley throughout the 90’s! They finally figured out that the fans want the whole shebang, soaring guitar solo and all… Here is “All I Want Is You”!

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When i was 15 i picked up the cassette of The Secret Policeman’s 3rd Ball. I was a huge Duran Duran fan back then (still am) and i’d read in Rolling Stone about the boys performing at a charity concert for human rights and Amnesty International. Later that year, i was in the record store at the Boulevard Mall and stumbled across this tape! I would’ve bought it just for DD, but it also contained a couple of other favorites of mine, namely, Kate Bush & Peter Gabriel! Kate did “Running Up That Hill” with her buddy David Gilmour, while Peter did “Biko” with some of his friends, and this song of his has always been one of my faves! Nik Kershaw also had his 1 hit on there titled “Wouldn’t It Be Good?”

While browsing YouTube the other night, bored, watching the game, i stumbled across these performances! I had to dig out my tape, bought all those years ago and give it a listen, and i still only like those 4 songs, but what fantastic songs they remain!!!!

Here’s Kate Bush & David Gilmour doing “Running Up That Hill”. If it looks uber-80’s, that’s because it is, and thank goodness for that!

Kate, i love you! You still look good and if you’re ever in Seattle I would love to show you around! My wife says that’s cool 😉

Here’s Nik Kershaw with “Wouldn’t It Be Good?”, and this is still a cool song! If you haven’t seen the video for it, it’s here, but this version is pretty good too, except for the awful backup dancers…

Here’s the performance that attracted me in the first place. At the time, an acoustic version of this song was a revelation! I’d only ever heard the original or live versions of the same arrangement, but this was new for DD fans! And it was beautiful. Later i saw the Strange Behavior tour and they played it this way, but i’d heard it first here…

They seem so appreciative to be invited, didn’t they?

Last, it’s Peter Gabriel with some of his famous friend for a very serious song. Here’s Peter with Lou Reed, Jackson Browne & Youssou N’Dour, doing the moving “Biko”

I hate that that song had to be written, but I’m glad someone did…

BTW, i highly recommend renting or buying the DVDs. There were four in total (I think), and they cover the better part of 15 years worth of “Balls”. It’s not just about the music, it’s about the cause and the comedy. Monty Python plays a huge roll, as do other greats like French & Saunders and Emo Phillips (remember him?!). Enjoy.

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15 years ago David Bowie & Trent Reznor thought it would be a great idea if they did a tour together. It wasn’t. I saw the tour in Las Vegas, and unfortunately NIN opened for Bowie, so half of the arena left when Trent did. I felt embarrassed for Bowie, though I stayed as he was who I’d come for. I’ve read over the years that Vegas was no fluke. Peeps were walking out everywhere, which would explain why this fantastic pro-shot footage has remained vaulted for the last 15 years. It’s too bad; it’s excellent!

Watch on Vimeo!

I sort of attended out of obligation to the past and to my girlfriend at the time. NIN were played out for me even though they were riding the peak of their success at that time. I loved “Pretty Hate Machine” but “Broken” left me wanting more tunes and less rage, so by the time “The Downward Spiral” rolled around, i couldn’t be bothered. Bowie on the other hand had me excited when he announced he was collaborating with Brian Eno again, after years apart! These 2 were responsible for the “Berlin Trilogy” of albums that are still revered in most quarters. However, what they produced was the underwhelming, and slightly embarrassing “1.Outside“, which was really just 3 songs with some nonsense in between in the trendy NIN mold of the times. Yawn… You’ll notice there has yet to be an “2.Outside” even though they’d recorded enough material for 3 albums.

That being said, the show was actually really quite good as well as unique. Typically it would have gone like this: NIN play their set, then have the lights come up while some DJ ironically spins Blue Oyster Cult or something, then lights down, opening chords to Jean Genie… However, what they did was segue into each others’ sets. So Bowie comes on stage to sing a song with Trent, meanwhile the musicians behind them are swapping out. They get to NIN’s epic “Hurt” and it’s mostly Bowie’s band onstage so that Trent is now singing with them. The song ends, Trent waves goodbye, then, opening chords to Jean Genie… I’ve not seen anything like it since, but it’s a great idea I think.

Well, that version “Hurt” is pretty good, but we all know which version is best, right?

Bowie & Trent also did some excellent work with Eno afterwards, like this great song from Bowie’s follow-up to “1.Outside”, the far-superior “Earthling“…

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Party 934

Glastonbury 2010 is happening as i type! Since i cannot be there, thought i’d post some RIDE from 1994…

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After everything, now this! It’s the 30th Anniversary of The Church! (It’s not a religion, it’s just a technique) Hard to believe on some levels, but then again, it’s been so long since I’ve been without them. Thankfully. To celebrate, the band has invited us to the party. Specifically, they are currently touring the US semi-acoustically. The shows, dubbed “An Intimate Space“, are just that. If you are the gal who remembers The Church song ‘Under The Milky Way‘ from her dorm-room days and you want to drag your sugar-daddy to the show, i fear that you will be dreadfully disappointed (but go anyway). If you are, like me, a massive fan who knows ALL the songs and has ALL the albums, then do not miss this tour!

It’s a sit-down affair, with anecdotes, good-natured jabs and friendly banter between band-members before and after each song. Not only that, but The Church are playing 1 song from every official release in reverse chronological order, and with 1 obvious exception, it’s tough to figure out what is coming next. If that weren’t enough, every ticket holder gets a free program and the exclusive new ‘Dead Man’s Hand E.P.

That was the setup, now for the review…

The show starts off great without a note being plucked for there was no opening act to trudge through. The lights dimmed, the band entered. That simple, that quick, that lovely. A few hello-how-ya-doin’s in order, then the music launches. I will not list the song-list here, as i know some people like to be surprised, but i will say this is NOT a run through the singles.

photo taken with my Hipstamatic

The song ends, people clap & cheer, singer-bassist Steve Kilbey begins to tell a story and some schmuck yells “Come On” from the crowd. Steve asks indignantly, “did you say ‘come on’?”. He his visibly annoyed, but he steps off the mic and composes himself. That’s when guitarist Marty Willson-Piper chimes in with “you’ve been going to too many KISS shows”. In most cities, that would be enough to shut the guy up, but Seattle is a different beast. This guy goes on the interrupt and heckle a bit longer before security puts him out of our misery. I wish security could have done something about the drunk girl behind me, but she would not ruin the show for me, and this guy did not ruin the show for the band.

The boys are pros, i mean, it IS the 30th Anniversary! The music continues and so does the fun. The band are in great form, and although not every song works stripped down like this, most do and a few are even better for it. After 10 songs from the albums ‘Untitled #23‘ thru ‘Sometime Anywhere‘ the band leave for a short intermission allowing the crowd the stand, stretch, grab a drink or whatever else they need to do. The lights dim again and the band return for songs from ‘Priest=Aura‘ thru to ‘Of Skins And Heart‘.

Of course there’s an encore! SPOILER ALERT! Steve steps up to the mic and talks about someone showing him a YouTube clip of Smashing Pumpkins covering “Reptile” live.

So the band would like to return the favor. There are some cheers and a few jeers before Marty quips, “Hey, at least it’s not Pearl Jam’ and i am immediately grateful for the Pumpkins!

One more song, then off only to be called up yet again for the last song of the night. Then, houselights up, people out.

I’ve seen this band a number of times over the decades, and I’ve seen tons of other shows as well, but this was the most unique “rock band” show I’ve ever seen. The band was great, the company was great and it was a truly intimate night with one of my all-time favorite bands. The musicianship is stellar, with each member branching out and swapping instruments. Peter Koppes in particular was inspiring to watch. For a tall man, he gracefully breezes around playing guitar, mandolin and piano, as well as singing lead on one song and backups on most others. However, The Church’s secret weapon is kept at the back in the shape of Tim Powles. Still the “new guy” with 15 years in the band, i suddenly had the realization that the reason there IS a 30th Anniversary for this band is because of his tireless efforts over the years. While the band never actually broke up, they were down to just Steve & Marty at one point.

Tim comes on and does double duty as drummer and producer, and i suspect mediator? A fine musician in his own right, he bounces between drums and the piano, singing backups and holding it all together.

So thank you boys for a wonderful evening and i’ll see you again soon i’m sure…

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