Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Jam Band Giants

October was a whirlwind. I have been remiss in reporting the wondrous glory of Allman Bros. and Widespread Panic in Charlotte. I am pretty fuzzy on the details, but I know I had a stupendous time. Two of the best bands of all time (in my humble opinion), two sets, two nights = heaven.

I was a bit panicked on the first night because Warren Haynes didn't show up. Widespread's guitarist Jimmy Herring sat in for the Allman Bros. set and the Widespread set. In other words, Jimmy Herring was the hero of the night. The chemistry between him and Derek Trucks added some spice to the group, but Warren's harmonies with Gregg were certainly missed. Gregg brought his A+ game, though - standing with his guitar most of the set and letting Gov't Mule's keyboardist Danny Louis take over on the B3.

When Widespread came out that first night, it was magical. I was completely lost in musical bliss. Jimmy blew my mind. When he played with the Brothers, there was a completely different dynamic than with Widespread. His virtuosity was unparalleled that weekend. No one impressed me as much as he did. The first notes of "Surprise Valley" kicked in and when JB belted out, "goodbye it's time to fly"....that was it for me. The setlist that night was insanity - one barn-burner after another. I can remember details when I really concentrate, but the feeling - that's all that really matters.

Night two, the bands swapped set times - Panic opened and ABB closed. Throughout the entire Widespread portion, I kept hoping that Warren would be there but I didn't want to be disappointed again. Then my fears were assuaged when the crowd roared and he appeared for a rollicking "Henry Parsons" > "Mr. Soul" to close out the set.

The Allman Brothers broke into some deep,bluesy jams for their part of the evening. I think we all needed something to help us unwind. There were moments of their set when I felt like I could cry it was so fantastic. It had been way too long since I saw them; and as much as Jimmy rocked it the first night, it's not the same without Warren. My prayers were answered when they ripped into "Rocking Horse," - my all-time favorite Warren song. Then the unexpected surprise of the evening - the lovely Ms. Susan Tedeschi appeared to share the stage with hubby Derek Trucks for a wonderful rendition of "Little by Little." They closed it out with "You Don't Love Me," another favorite of mine. I was in seventh heaven.

I don't have any concerts lined up for November, a major bummer of being a responsible adult and having a "career." The soundboards from those two nights will just have to hold me over 'til Phish in Charlottesville on December 5!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Whole Lotta Love

So...since my last installment, I've seen some fantastic live music. On August 9, I went to the Charlottesville Pavilion and caught The Big Surprise Tour featuring Old Crow Medicine Show, Dave Rawlings, Gillian Welch, The Felice Brothers, and Justin Townes Earle. It was mostly a collaborative affair, with a few songs here and there from the individual groups. It was wonderful. I was already a fan of most of the artists, but I was introduced to The Felice Brothers and now I want more of them.

Just this past weekend, I journeyed to Columbia, Maryland to have a night with Phish. As always, I enjoyed myself thoroughly. I was not elated by the setlist; however, I got to hear a lot of the new material and also was blown away by a mostly ridiculous second set. 46 Days> Oh! Sweet Nuthin'>effing amazing Harry Hood, then a Good Times Bad Times>Tweezer Reprise encore. Twas good, mighty good.

Tonight, I am finally just relaxing at home. 3 weekends, 3 mind-blowing shows - that's about as much as I can take these days. Still listening to music though. Stumbled upon this hot and funky Tina Turner cover of "Whole Lotta Love" the other day. I adore it. Hope you enjoy!

Whole Lotta Love - Ike & Tina Turner

Monday, August 3, 2009

Tori Amos - Live 8.1.09 - Washington, D.C.

Pure sex. That is how I describe the magnificent Ms. Amos. Tori's performance this past Saturday at D.C.'s Constitution Hall was cathartic through and through. Touring to support her tenth studio album, Abnormally Attracted to Sin, it seems that the songstress is still reinventing and pushing her own boundaries. As to be expected, there was quite a bit of the new material on the setlist, but there were plenty of the classics as well.

First off, Tori is one lady who knows how to dress and how to make an appearance. Her metallicy-gold leggings and flowing dress were stunning, perfect compliments to her waist-length red hair. I swear age has done nothing but improve her.

She opened with a new one, "Give," and it was eerie and brilliant. Then she started some hot fire with "Body and Soul" and didn't let up, pulling out "Cornflake Girl" early in the set. "Space Dog" is a personal favorite, so I was quite pleased when I heard the opening line "way to go Mr. Microphone."

"Icicle" was just magnificent, a definite crowd favorite. The lyric "the good book is missing some pages" was met with thunderous applause and cheers from the audience. One of the multitude of goosebump moments that night.

One of my instant favorites from the new album is the incredibly fun, "Mary Jane." I was so surprised when Tori started telling the story about the young boy (presumably her nephew) who wanted to have Mary Jane over while his mom was away in Italy. This song was a little cherry on top for me, didn't expect it at all. Another high point was "Precious Things." I could hear this one every time I see her and it will always delight me. "Strong Black Vine" was an ideal follow-up, and the ending to that song was INTENSE. Finally, we got that possessed version of Tori where she was almost screaming, "Push out that evil boys like a motherfucker. My mom is not your cocksucker." Yes. I want a soundboard of this.

It was apparent throughout the show that Tori was having a great time and was thrilled to be there. Lots of energy, lots of shimmying and a bit of banter between songs. The lighting was a subtle enhancement to each song, simple yet obviously well thought-out. I was not at all disappointed by her last visit to D.C. in '07, but this one was more powerful for me. For some artists, a concert is just a series of songs; with Tori, it is art, an event, a production.

Body and Soul
Cornflake Girl
Space Dog
Jamaica Inn
Mary Jane
Gold Dust
Pretty Good Year
A Sorta Fairytale
Fast Horse
Precious Things
Strong Black Vine
Bouncing off Clouds
Raspberry Swirl
Big Wheel

Monday, June 8, 2009

Nine Inch Nails - Live 6.6.09 - Holmdel, NJ

It is quite possible that my seventh time seeing Trent and company could be my last NIN show. While my fingers are crossed for a reunion, I don't know if NIN could ever top the experience they created this past Saturday night. Having my brother with me for his first NIN show made a special night even better.

We were nestled under the pavilion hood, in seats just behind and to the left of the soundboards. Optimum position for maximum volume. Street Sweeper Social Club started it off, unremarkable except for Morello who has cemented his position in my mind as a guitar master. Boots Riley repeated between songs, "We're not a band, we're a social club." That was starting to become annoying by the end of their 45 minute set.

Immediately after SSSC left the stage, the enormous NIN crew began setting up. Seriously, there were like 30 people scrambling around on the stage. The sun started to go down and the opening notes of "Pinion" penetrated through the thick fog. The crowd roared and the band launched into "Wish." They've played this everytime I've seen them, but never started with it. The energy in the sold-out ampitheater was ridiculous. The breakneck pace continued when "Wish" morphed into "Last." They rarely play this song and I was not expecting it at all. Surprise!

The newer material was scattered throughout the setlist, but the real crowd-pleasers were the classics. I was exploding with excitement when "March of the Pigs" went into "Reptile." I had all of my fingers crossed for that one since I hadn't seen it performed since '05. Score!

This show was just a constant assault of greatness. Trent (sporting red leather pants by the way) confirmed that this was to be the last tour, that they weren't done, just not touring anymore. He also shared that he wanted this tour to be outside venues because he loved playing as the sun set. I usually prefer arenas for NIN, but I wouldn't change a thing about this show. Especially not after "Gave Up>La Mer>Non-Entity>The Way Out Is Through>fucking Mr. Self Destruct." Mindblowing.

The cooldown after that onslaught was when it really hit me that I may never see NIN again. When the whole crowd was singing along during "Head Like A Hole," I started getting a little verklempt. By the time they came out for the "Hurt" encore, tears were welling up. NIN's concerts are unparalleled, and I'm saddened by the thought of an indefinite amount of time without that spiritual cleansing. There are plenty of other bands to help fill the void, but there is nothing that can compare to Nine Inch Nails.

Jane's Addiction helped lighten my post-NIN mood, although I didn't have much energy left and the beers I pounded in the parking lot had definitely worn off. Their first song was "Three Days" and Dave Navarro unleashed some ridiculous guitar solos. I had forgotten how good he is at what he does (and also didn't remember what a sexy beast he is). Everytime he soloed, it was technically perfect. Very impressed by him.

I love Perry, always have, and it was amusing to watch him battle with Navarro for the spotlight. I later heard that he has a severe leg injury, but he didn't show it at all. He must be on some powerful pills. He was jumping and sliding around the stage like he didn't have a pain in the world. Hope he doesn't cause irreparable damage. He is a true showman in every sense of the word, fusing elements of Iggy Pop and Mick Jagger and a uniqueness of his own.

Highlights from JA's set were "Ain't No Right," "Mountain Song," and "Ocean Size." By the encore, I was ready to get a headstart on traffic. I'm sad to say I heard "Stop" while walking to my car (which was at least a frigging mile away ugh). I missed "Jane Says" entirely. While that sucked, I quickly forgot when I sunk my teeth into a Baconator and finally had dinner at midnight.

All in all, it was a tremendously unforgettable night. Best concert of '09 without a doubt. All subsequent shows (this year and beyond) will have big shoes to fill.

NIN Setlist
March of the Pigs
Meet Your Master
Gave Up
La Mer
The Way Out Is Through
Mr. Self Destruct
The Good Soldier
The Hand That Feeds
Head Like A Hole

JA Setlist
Three Days
Ain’t No Right
Pigs In Zen
Then She Did…
Up The Beach
Mountain Song
Been Caught Stealing
Ocean Size
Ted, Just Admit it…
Summertime Rolls
Jane Says

***Disclaimer: Not my pictures. Got 'em from MaebeFunke on Flickr.***