concerts

Kesha’s Rockshow Comeback

As summer officially transitioned into fall, I spent the equinox watching Kesha and the Creepies perform at the Warsaw in Brooklyn. This was my third time seeing the formerly dollar-signed singer, but the first in over three years since her very public legal drama began.

For those who haven’t heard, Kesha has been trapped in legal limbo for the last few years. She sued her producer Dr. Luke, accusing him of sexual and emotional assault. Because artists have to sign their life away to labels, Kesha’s contract with Sony stipulates that she can only work with Luke– essentially forcing her to work with her rapist. The legal proceedings are ongoing, but she has been prohibited from releasing new music for almost four years.

But last night, Kesha was not about to let those problems inhibit an incredible show.
She addressed the lawsuit early, telling the crowd how grateful and appreciative she was of our support. The crowd was deafeningly loud in response, with such powerful cheers and chants that Kesha at moments was on the verge of years. She noted- and I felt- the palpable love in the room. It was both a heavy moment but one of reassurance. Love always conquers hate. (more…)

Advertisements

Van the Man

FullSizeRender

Last night I had the extreme pleasure of being in the presence of Sir Van Morrison. I got to see him perform at the Wang Theatre in Boston, MA, with my parents and my neighbor Sue.

Van’s daughter Shana Morrison opened the show with a delightful set of songs, culminating with a tremendous cover of “Purple Rain.” The tribute to Prince, who died less than a week ago, got the crowd hollering. After a brief intermission (and just enough time to visit some of my family in the crowd), Van the Man walked out on the stage and started playing saxophone. It was an abrupt and stirring entrance, and set the tone for a very special night.

Morrison opened with “Celtic Swing,” an instrumental track from his 1983 album Inarticulate Speech of the Heart. He then went right into “Close Enough For Jazz” from 1993’s Too Long In Exile. Up next were “Magic Time,” “By His Grace,” and “In The Midnight,” (spanning from ’91 to ’05).

Van Morrison has for decades had a reputation of being reserved onstage, almost to the point of weirdness. He has been known to not a say a word to the crowd, and even turn his back to them, all stemming from stage fright. But on an unseasonably cold Tuesday in Boston, he was shockingly animated. This first came to light when he brought out English singer Chris Farlowe to duet on “Born to Sing,” a 2012 cut from the album of the same name. When Van introduced his “friend” who “happened to be in Boston,” it was very surprising to hear him interact so casually with the crowd. He seemed like he was actually having fun!

After he bid Farlowe farewell, he brought his daughter Shana back out to duet on “That Old Black Magic,” an old standard popularized by Glenn Miller in the 1940s. Van’s shocking good mood continued while singing with Shana, and he rode it right into his cover of B.B. King’s “Rock Me Baby” and his own 1987 ballad “Someone Like You.”

van2

Up next were his 1978 hit “Wavelength,” 1997’s “Sometimes We Cry,” and 1990’s “Enlightenment.” He followed these up with one of the night’s showstoppers: a long, loose cover of the Big Joe Williams classic “Baby, Please Don’t Go.” For some sections of the song, Van made a hand/harmonica/microphone concoction that gave his voice a very cool talkbox-y sound. During one quiet moment, after a fan yelled “I love you, Van,” he shocked the crowd (again) by singing into his contraption: “You love me? You don’t even know me!”

The “Baby, Please Don’t Go” jam included snippets of “Parchman Farm,” “Don’t Start Crying Now,” “In The Afternoon,” “Ancient Highway,” “Burn Baby Burn,” and “Raincheck,” and treated the crowd to the incredible sight of Van scatting, lost deep into the music. At one point he also told the crowd that he didn’t write this song, giving fair warning before launching into some provocative lyrics about legs, thighs, and higher…

Morrison launched into his 1971 classic “Wild Night” next, leading a singalong of one of my favorite songs. Next was “Whenever God Shines His Light,” which he originally recorded as a duet with Cliff Richard in 1989, followed by a mashup of “It’s All in the Game” and “Burning Ground.”

The next song he played absolutely floored me: he did “Brown Eyed Girl.” Van has been notorious for his longstanding disdain for this song, after he went through publishing/royalty battles over it many years ago. It was a foregone conclusion that he does not play “Brown Eyed Girl.” But he’s also supposed to be grumpy and not look at the crowd, and tonight he was practically jovial, so the inclusion made sense. The sold-out crowd of 3,500 was ecstatic to hear such a rare gem. This was a truly special night.

Van kept the magic going with “Into the Mystic,” a cut from his seminal 1970 masterpiece Moondance. (The couple next to me sang along pretty loudly and terribly, but they must have really been feeling the music. And hey, they knew all the words!)

The Man brought Chris Farlowe back out for the closing number, a sprawling take on Ben E. King’s “Stand By Me.” Morrison left the stage toward the end of the song, letting his incredible band finish without him. And just like that, he departed back into the shadows…

Well, not yet! On our way out, my dad took us down a side street to get away from the crowd, and we wound up next to the stage door. Our timing was perfect, because moments later, Sir Van came out and got into a waiting car. The small group of people waiting applauded and the car sped away, only to stop at a red light a few feet later.

All in all, this was a truly fantabulous night, to borrow a word from the Man himself. Van Morrison and his band were outstanding. We are very lucky to have had this once-in-a-lifetime experience. A wild night, indeed.

IMG_2811

My family!

Setlist information courtesy of Mystic Avenue and setlist.fm

How I Accidentally Went To A Legendary Rock Band’s First U.S. Show In 30 Years

photo 1

When I got out of work last Friday night, I wanted to do something. I texted a bunch of my friends, but nobody was around. So I texted my friend Skip who I hadn’t seen since January, and it turns out that he was heading to a bar with some friends, and I was going to join them for a little bit.

When I got to Jack Doyle’s on 35th Street, it was great to relax and see a couple old friends while making new ones. All of a sudden, one of Skip’s friends had a bunch of tickets in his hand. Somebody (maybe the bartender, maybe a fellow patron– I really don’t even know) was giving out free tickets for a show. When I looked at the tickets, my jaw dropped. It was the Boomtown Rats, the iconic Irish rock band fronted by Bob Geldof (the guy who organized Live Aid and was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II for his massive contributions to charity and music.)

Now, I had never actually listened to the Boomtown Rats before, but I knew that they were good. My parents (who were cool in the Eighties) were always talking about them, and my mom even texted me a month ago telling me to get tickets to this show. I knew I had to go. A legendary band at a wicked cool venue (Terminal 5) and best of all the tickets were free! So I hopped in an Uber with somebody I had just met and we made our way to the show.

photo 2When we got in, one of the opening acts was just finishing up their set. After a break, a really cool band called The Stunning came out and did a set. When they left the stage, the excitement really started to brew. My friend/kid I just met decided to leave, as the crowd wasn’t really his scene. (It was mostly middle aged moms and dads.) But I couldn’t wait to mosh with old people!

Right before the Rats came out, I found out that one of my mom’s friends was at the show with her family. I bumped into her and she pointed out that Sting was in the audience! So cool. The Boomtown Rats didn’t come out until after midnight, and when they did I was totally blown away.

I don’t know exactly what I was expecting, but what I got was insane. Bob Geldof has just as much stage presence and swagger as Steven Tyler or Mick Jagger or Bono. He is a rock star.  And the music was mindblowingly good. It was good old fashioned rock and roll, but it had a real urgency to it. 2014 channeling 1981. It was fantastic.

The band rocked the crowd of baby boomers and me until well past 1 A.M. At one point, a couple of drunk old guys kept jumping and falling into people, and a little fight broke out in the crowd around me. I got shoved and hit a little bit, but did my best to deflect the blows and help all the dads break up the fight. At another time I made eye contact with Bob Geldolf, and later he confusingly called out people wearing baseball hats “the wrong fucking way” and people wearing baseball T-shirts. I didn’t even realize for a minute that I was wearing a Red Sox shirt. I looked around and didn’t see any other baseball shirts, so I can pretty confidently say that Bob Geldof called me out at a Boomtown Rats show.

When all was said and done, the band played a terrific encore and then departed for their next show in Boston, where my parents had tickets to see them on Sunday.

As I was heading home, I laughed at how I went from being bored and trying to find something to do to being ten feet away from an amazing band who rocked me like I remembered the Eighties.

photo 4photo 3