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Midnight Oil with The Living End at Terminal 5

Article By Mike Perciaccante | Photographs By Christine Connallon
Midnight Oil with The Living End
Terminal 5   New York, NY   August 21, 2017

 

 

On a warm Monday evening in late August, Australian rock icons Midnight Oil brought its The Great Circle 2017 World Tour to New York City's Terminal 5. After spending almost ten years (October 2004 through August 2013) as a member of Australia's House of Representatives, lead singer Peter Garret has returned to his rock 'n' roll roots.

The evening's performance was the group's second trip to New York in 2017 (it had played two nights at Webster Hall in May) since reuniting. As with the earlier stops on the tour, the locals were filled with anticipation and excitement. It is not often a band decides to reform and it is even less often that the reunited group delivers a performance that is considered to be in the same league as those from its earlier incarnation. Luckily the reports from May confirmed that Midnight Oil was functioning on all cylinders and that the time off had not diminished lead singer Peter Garrett's voice or the band's potency.

With that in mind, New Yorkers again flocked to the sold-out venue to see and hear the band perform favorites such as "Dreamworld," "Kosciusko," "My Country" and "Truganini" as well as the megahits "Power & The Passion," "Bed Are Burning," "Blue Sky Mine" and "Forgotten Years."

The night's performance began with a strong nine song opening set by fellow Australians, The Living End. The band, which usually headlines, delivered a powerful 45 minute mini-concert of highlights from its twenty year career that included "Second Solution," "Roll On," White Noise" and "Prisoner of Society." The band's tight and rocking set ended with "West End Riot," during which guitarist Chris Cheney stood on Scott Owen's double bass during the guitar solo to play his guitar solo.

After a short intermission, Midnight Oil (Garrett; guitarist and keyboarist Jim Moginie; guitarist Martin Rotsey; bassist Bones Hillman and drummer Rob Hirst) hit the stage and launched into a powerful version of "Redneck Wonderland." After the second song, "Read About It," Garrett took off his long-sleeved collared shirt. Underneath he was wearing a black t-shirt featuring a drawing of Donald Trump and a bold "You're Fired!" statement. as one can imagine, Garret, (whether as a member of Parliament or as a private citizen) has never been one to suppress his political thoughts and impressions. In addition to the statement on his t-shirt, he opined to the crowd, "Just think what would have happened if everybody had voted?" and that people should learn from history before "the same things happen again and again...if you don't learn the lessons of history, you are condemned to repeat the mistakes!"

The evening's biggest surprise was the cover of The Clash's "London Calling" done as a tribute to Joe Strummer on what would have been his 65th birthday. The brawny version of the anthem caught the audience by surprise and brought smiles to the faces of the mostly middle-aged crowd. Strummer, Mick Jones, Paul Simonon and Topper Headon would have been proud.

The lyrics of "When The Generals Talk" took on added meaning as Garrett sang, "So the General has a purge, cause he wants to win elections." "U.S. Forces" with the "Will you know it, when you see it?" lyric also got quite a rise out of the crowd.

The main set ended with a mighty combination of "Power and the Passion," "The Dead Heart," "Beds Are Burning," "Blue Sky Mine' and "Best of Both Worlds." The five song flurry was beyond powerful. If the audience had been a prizefighter, it would have been knocked-out.

Many audience members thought that the show had ended, but Garrett and the band had other ideas. Midnight Oil returned to the stage. First, Garrett gave an audience member his Trump t-shirt and then the band burned through "Forgotten Years."

Though the band members have aged, they continue to play with the energy and passion (some might say the power) of younger men. Garret, who is now in his mid-60s, ran around the stage and delivered a performance that would have made a frontman half his age jealous. The band played tight and strong. Midnight Oil can still bring it. Let's hope that there will be a new CD in 2018 and that the band will tour behind it.

Additional article contributions by Christine Connallon.
Midnight Oil at Terminal 5 - 8/21/17 Setlist: Redneck Wonderland; Read About It; Golden Age; Brave Faces; Short Memory; Heart Is Nowhere; Dreamworld; Truganini; London Calling; Is It Now?; My Country; When the Generals Talk; U.S. Forces; Tin Legs and Tin Mines; Kosciusko; Now or Never Land; Power and the Passion; The Dead Heart; Beds Are Burning; Blue Sky Mine; Best of Both Worlds Encore: Forgotten Years

 

 

 

 

Retro Futura Tour 2017: Katrina, Paul Young, Modern English, The English Beat, Men Without Hats and Howard Jones

State Theater, New Brunswick August 9, 2017

By Christine Connallon with Mike Perciaccante

 

Ahhh, the 80’s…let’s harken back to a time when blazers were oversized, hair rose to great heights, denim was acid washed and music stood out. America’s premiere 80’s concert tour, Retro Futura was just the time machine to transport fans back to the era that made synths so popular. This year’s Retro Futura Tour kicked off on July 18th and over the next month played 26 concerts, providing a summer of song.

 

 

Essentially a mini festival each evening, the cavalcade of musicians and tour buses pulled into the college town of New Brunswick, NJ and prepared to strut across the stage of the State Theater about 2/3 of the way through the tour. With this stop being the closest to New York City, attendance was high with Gen X’ers excited to enjoy the tunes that formed the soundtracks to their high school and college days.

 

 

First to hit the stage was the lovely Katrina Leskanich (ex-Katrina and the Waves) who packed plenty into her four song set. Opening with “Rock N Roll Girl,” Katrina engaged the crowd and thanked the Bangles for “Going Down to Liverpool.” After high energy renditions of “Do You Want Crying” she told the crowd that she had one more song, having to leave time for everyone and broke into the ever-popular “Walking on Sunshine.” When the wild applause died down, she introduced Paul Young, saying she was lucky to share a tour bus with him, giving him props for being an iPod expert. They hugged warmly and the dapper 6’3” Young took over the stage.

 

 

The charismatic crooner who made blue eyed soul so fashionable hasn’t lost a step and his set was full of the microphone-stand twirling that was a staple at his shows in the Live Aid era. Fantastic versions of “Some People,” “I’m Gonna Tear Your Playhouse Down,” “Everytime You Go Away,” and “Come Back and Stay” were well received by the crowd as fans danced in the aisles and filled in the area in front of the stage. Playful and charming, the only complaint about his set could be that it wasn’t nearly long enough to satisfy fans who haven’t had the opportunity to experience his life shows here in the U.S. in decades.

 

 

Modern English, dressed in bright white attire, grabbed the stage next. Original singer Robbie Grey fronted the band on hits like “Ink & Paper” and “I Melt With You” as if they were released only yesterday. Though they had gone their separate ways for more than 3 decades, the reunited members of Grey, Mick Conroy on bass and Gary McDowell on guitar and Steven Walker on keyboards have created new music in addition to hitting the road to tour. The magic has been recaptured and the audience responded enthusiastically to “Hands Across the Sea” and “Moonbeam.”

 

 

The intermissions to remove instruments and reconfigure the new sets were swift and didn’t distract from the action, instead allowing fans to scoot out for a drink or restroom break. People watching at the historic theater was a fascinating side project, with some fans unafraid to break out some vintage garb from the back of the closet.

 

 

One of the best sets in a night full of striking moments was The English Beat’s high energy, fast paced romp through a catalog of fan favorites. With front man and guitar wizard Dave Wakeling at the helm of this iconic ska, pop, soul, reggae and punk rock machine and perpetual motion man King Schascha adding his vocals, the action never stopped for a moment. The band, who prolifically tours, has never sounded better than they did this summer night. “Mirror in the Bathroom” was followed by a General Public cover of “Tenderness.” “I Confess,” “Save it For Later” and “Never Die” helped form a brilliantly curated set that left the orchestra actively wanting more. With 10 musicians partying up on the stage, the set turned into a celebration that truly was a highlight of the evening.

 

 

Ivan Dorschuk graced the stage next with Men Without Hats and proved to be the biggest surprise of the evening. The audience followed their instructions on “Safety Dance” by dancing if they wanted to, in fact, twice to that catchy tune, once at the beginning of the set and again as their finale. For those who forgot their other tunes “Pop Goes the World” and “Where Did the Boys Go,” they were in for a treat. And when Dorschuk and crew covered “SOS” from Abba, it worked brilliantly.

 

 

The last to take the stage was Howard Jones with the longest set of the night. Walking through the stage under an enormous lighted umbrella contraption, Hojo emerged and took on the keyboards, keytar and more. “Like to Get to Know You Well” was the perfect way to start things off, followed by a string of hits including “Equality” and “You Know I Love You, Don’t You?” Very few sat during Jones’ time on stage, thoroughly enjoying “No One is To Blame,” “Everlasting Love,” “What is Love” and “New Song.” With his signature spiky hair, easy grin and tonight’s red and black patterned outfit, Jones was an ideal way to close out the musical spectacular that was Retro Futura 2017. As fans filed down the aisles, songs reverberating in their heads, conversations turned to wonderment of who might be on the bill for next year’s tour.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nathaniel Rateliff and The Night Sweats at the Northwell Health at Jones Beach Theater

Article By Mike Perciaccante | Photographs By Christine Connallon Nathaniel Rateliff and The Night Sweats
The Northwell Health at Jones Beach Theater   Wantagh, NY  August 1, 2017

 

 

Nathaniel Rateliff and The Night Sweats were formed in Denver, CO in 2013. The band's genesis occurred when Rateliff, a singer and songwriter who had released Desire and Dissolving Men on Public Service Records in 2007 (as Nathaniel Rateliff and the Wheel); a solo record on Rounder Records entitled In Memory of Loss (2010); as well as an independent released called Falling Faster Than You Can Run in 2013, realized that the new songs he had been writing required a full-band to bring them to life. As a result, he formed the Night Sweats. Rateliff and his band play music that defies one specific label. It is best described a a music gumbo that mixes and is influenced by folk, funk Americana, rock, pop, roots, blues and R&B. Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats have dropped two critically acclaimed Stax Records albums: the eponymously titled debut release in 2015 and A Little Something More from Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats in 2016. It has achieved success on the singles chart with "Look It Here," "I Need Never Get Old," "Wasting Time" and the group's biggest hit, the rockin' "S.O.B."

The band is known for its reputation as a "must see" live act. It is known for stage shaking shows that not only leave the performers dripping with sweat but the audience (from those upfront and pressed to the stage to the fan with the seat in the venue's very last row) members equally spent and sweaty. The group is comprised of Rateliff, the burly front man on guitar and vocals as well as seven backing musicians including Joseph Pope III (bass), Patrick Meese (drums), Luke Mossman (guitar), Mark Shusterman (keys), Wesley Watkins (trumpet) and Andy Wild (saxophone) and, on this evening, another gentleman on sax.

On a warm evening following a very warm and humid day, Rateliff and his band stormed the stage at the Northwell Health at Jones Beach Theater. The band's ferocious set opened with "I’ve Been Failing." Rateliff has such a bigger than life persona. When he paused prior to playing the new song "Cooling Out," the audience members were already on the edge its seats as he asked, "How's everybody doing tonight?" He worked them into a frenzy with a simple statement of, "My name's Nathaniel Rateliff. We're happy to be here...I guess we REALLY are on our own island. Everybody ready to have a good time?" The crowd responded with rousing cheers, applause and whistles.

The energy on the stage was incandescent. Rateliff and his crew brought a nostalgic flair with a rocking and rolling esthetic to the powerful set. The band members strutted through kick-ass versions of "Out On The Weekend, "Wasting Time" and another new song "Why You Gotta Wait." Other highlights included the driving Memphis soul influenced "The Intro" and the horn-driven "Look It Here."

As the show wound down, the band stomped through an amazing version of "I Need Never Get Old." As the first notes of the song were played, the members of the standing-room only pit as well as the seated audience members jumped to their feet and bopped to the beat. Even the ushers and venue security staff were seen dancing in-place at their assigned stations.

The band saved the best for last. "S.O.B." caused the mid-sized venue by bay to shake, rattle and roll. Audience members danced and let loose with abandon. They sang along and took special relish in shouting the song's epitaph--"son of a bitch!" They even took it one step further as they sang along with Rateliff on the chorus:

"Son of a bitch
Give me a drink
One more night
This can't be me
Son of a bitch"

and the repetitious call-and-response "Oh oh oh oh oh" lyric.

As the lights came up, Ratelif took a moment to thank the audience when he stepped forward to say, "Once again, my name's Nathaniel Rateliff, and we are the Night Sweats. It's been a pleasure playing for you!"

It was a pleasure seeing the band. The performance was everything that a live concert should be--strong, powerful, raucous, rocking and fiery. Rateliff's voice was soft and sweet when it needed to be and deep and resonant, like thunder, when required. The crowd was worked into a frenzy from the very first note. The fans danced the night away as did the band members. Rateliff's voice combined with his band's energy and showmanship made the evening one for the ages. Both the audience and the musicians left the venue with huge smiles on their faces.

Additional article contributions by Christine Connallon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Social Distortion with Jade Jackson At The Paramount

Article By Mike Perciaccante | Photographs By Christine Connallon Social Distortion with Jade Jackson
The Paramount   Huntington, NY  August 5, 2017

 

 

Social Distortion is Mike Ness (lead vocals, lead guitar); Jonny Wickersham (rhythm guitar, backing vocals), A.K.A. Jonny Two Bags; Brent Harding (bass, backing vocals); David Hidalgo Jr. (drums) and David Kalish (keyboards). The band was formed in 1978 in Fullerton, CA. Since its inception, Ness has been the only constant band member. Over the years the band's lineup has Changed, evolved and changed yet again with many members coming and going. There have been at least a dozen players who have manned the drum kit and six bassists. Social Distortion is known for its fiery mix of punk rock, rockabilly, alternative, cowpunk, pop, country and blues that has created a brand all its own.

During its career, through 2017, Social Distortion has released seven studio albums, two compilations, one live album, and two DVDs. The band's first two albums Mommy's Little Monster (13th Floor Records/Triple X Records, 1983) and Prison Bound (Restless Records 1988) gained them a following. Social Distortion achieved its greatest popular acclaim with its 1990 self-titled third album, (Epic Records) which featured the hit singles "Ball and Chain," "Story of My Life" and the cover of Johnny Cash's "Ring of Fire." The album was certified gold by RIAA.

Social Distortion's fourth album Somewhere Between Heaven and Hell (Epic Records, 1992) included the band's highest-charting single "Bad Luck," which peaked at number 2 on the Modern Rock Tracks chart. White Light, White Heat, White Trash was released on Epic Records in 1996 and is the last Social Distortion studio album to feature guitarist Dennis Danell who died on February 29, 2000 of a cerebral aneurysm. The album reached number 27 on the Billboard 200 album chart. Sex, Love and Rock 'n' Roll was released on Time Bomb Recordings in 2004 and reached number 31 on the Billboard 200 album chart.

Hard Times and Nursery Rhymes, Social Distortion's seventh studio album reached number 4 on the Billboard 200 albums chart, marking the band's first ever Top-10 album and what is currently the group's highest position on that chart. Social Distortion continues to tour and record music; its next studio album is tentatively scheduled to be released in 2018.

Jade Jackson is a Santa Margarita, CA-based singer-songwriter signed to Anti/Epitaph Records. Her debut album, Gilded (2017), was produced by Mike Ness. Jackson was a bit of a child prodigy. She began playing guitar and writing songs at 13 (coincidently after seeing a Social Distortion concert). She had developed a growing fan base by the time she entered high school. After graduation, Jackson formed her band and shared the stage with numerous Americana and country music icons including Merle Haggard, Rosie Flores and Dwight Yoakam.

Along the way, Jackson was able to connect with Ness. Serendipitously Ness' wife, it turns out is friends with Jackson's mother. After hearing her perform the die was set and Ness became her mentor Jackson and the producer of Gilded.

The album is a country rock affair, but much more than that. It owes as much to Ness and Social Distortion as it does to the influences of Lucinda Williams, Emmylou Harris, Bruce Springsteen, the Smiths, the Damned, Echo and the Bunnymen, George Jones, Ray Price, and Hank Williams.

On a warm Saturday evening in early August Social Distortion and Jade Jackson arrived at a packed to the gills Paramount in Huntington, NY. With the doors opening at 7pm, the line at the merchandise stand snaked around the upper lobby and bar area outside the main concert space as Social Distortion fans gobbled up t-

shirts, baseball caps, sweatshirts, license plates, posters, beer coozies, key chains, CDs and other memorabilia. When Jackson hit the stage and began to play, the fans took notice and began purchasing an additional item. Many were seen leaving the area with not only their Social Distortion purchases but with Jackson's CD.

Jackson's short set was long on power. She appeared on stage wearing a Tom Petty (another influence) t-shirt and delivered a finely honed confident well-beyond-her-years performance that channeled the country aesthetic of the past while embracing the modern alt-country vibe that is today's genre with nods to rock, folk, modern rock, pop and even a touch of goth. Jackson is completely aware of her good fortune. During the performance, she took a moment to thank Ness when she smiled said, "Seeing how Mike Ness produced my album, I think that's how we got this gig."

Highlights of her short set included: "Finish Line," "Troubled End" (which she described as being "completely autobiographical. It took place in my hometown."), "Better Off" and "Gilded."

After a short intermission, during which even an EMT was seen purchasing a Social Distortion bandana, the main event was ready to begin. Ness and his band arrived on stage while a pre-recorded version of Screamin' Jay Hawkins' "I Put a Spell on You" blared across the loudspeakers.

The thirteen song main set opened with a number of tunes from Somewhere Between Heaven and Hell and Hard Times and Nursery Rhymes, starting things off with "Still Alive" and "99 To Life" which allowed Ness to show off his guitar and vocal skills. "Gimme The Sweet and Low Down" which included a bit of a jam was followed by "California (Hustle and Flow)" and "King of Fools." Each song was greeted with an enthusiastic round of applause as audience members from those crowding the stage to those at the back of the mid-sized venue (and the fans in between) called for their favorite tunes.

Ness appeared to be in a jovial and talkative mood. Between songs he took the opportunity to speak on many issues touching on the political climate, the news media and many other topics. Ness' social commentary was delivered with an honesty and earnestness that never veered toward lecture. He approached each subject with objectivity and care--never offending audience members who might feel differently.

Other highlights of the performance included" "Ball and Chain," and "Another State of Mind" the Jonny Two Bags song, "Hope Dies Hard" from his Salvation Town album (Isotone Records, 2014). Ness and his compatriots also offered up nice versions of "When She Begins" (which seems to have been given a new life on this tour), the new tune "Scars" (which should be released on the 2018 album) and the set closer "Mass Hysteria" from the Mainliner: Wreckage from the Past (Time Bomb recordings, 1995) collection of B-Sides and singles

If the show was a high energy affair (it was), the four song encore set was even more fiery and energetic. "Angel's Wings" a song about hope and love from Sex, Love and Rock 'n' Roll "Misery Loves Company" from Ness' 1999 solo album Cheating at Solitaire (Time Bomb Recordings) sent an already delirious audience over the edge. On the final two songs, "Story of My Life" and the powerful performance ender "Ring of Fire" Social Distortion really drove it home. The balconies shook and the floors felt as though they were bouncing up and down as the fans sang along with Ness from the first word to the last.

As the sweaty and spent audience left the orchestra pit, mezzanine and balcony, many stopped at the merchandise stand to purchase more tchotchke or to get back on line to purchase what they had wanted to make prior to the show. The line again snaked its way down the hall and back around the bar as another large scale and spontaneous retail therapy session had broken out.

Additional article contributions by Christine Connallon.

 

 

 

 

Soul Asylum and Cracker with Special guests Iridesense at The Space at Westbury

 

Article By Mike Perciaccante | Photographs By Christine Connallon Soul Asylum and Cracker
The Space at Westbury   Westbury, NY   July 20, 2017

 

 

 

Soul Asylum celebrated its 35th anniversary in 2016. The alternative rock band was formed in Minneapolis, MN and originally called itself Loud Fast Rules. The band changed its name to Soul Asylum in 1983.

The band's original lineup consisted of Dave Pirner on vocals and guitar, Dan Murphy on lead guitar, Karl Mueller on bass, and drummer Pat Morley. Grant Young replaced Morley in 1984. The band's first five albums (three recorded for Twin/Tone Records and two for A&M Records) received some critical praise but did not chart. In 1992, it released the multi-platinum Grave Dancers Union (Columbia Records) album, featuring the Grammy Award–winning single "Runaway Train." The following year, Soul Asylum played at President Clinton's Inauguration. The band has also scored a platinum album with Let Your Dim Light Shine (Columbia Records, 1995).

In the ensuing years, Soul Asylum has continued to release albums--Candy From A Stranger (Columbia Records, 1998), The Silver Lining (Legacy Recordings, 2006), Delayed Reaction (429 Records, 2012) and its most recent effort Change of Fortune (Entertainment One, 2016). The band has also released several compilations and two live albums.

 

Over the years there have been a number of personnel changes. Currently, Soul Asylum is comprised of Pirner, Ryan Smith on lead guitar, Michael Bland on drums and Winston Roye on bass.

Cracker is also an alternative rock band. The band's signature one-of-a-kind sound mixes rock, punk, grunge, psychedelia, country, blues and folk. Lead singer David Lowery and guitarist Johnny Hickman formed the band in 1991, shortly after Lowery's former group Camper Van Beethoven disbanded (for the first time).

 

In 1992, Cracker released its eponymously titled debut album on Virgin Records. The album included the singles "Happy Birthday To Me" and "Teen Angst." The band achieved its greatest success with the best-selling 1993 album, Kerosene Hat (Virgin Records). Kerosene Hat featured the hit songs "Low" and "Euro-Trash Girl." In 1996, the band released The Golden Age on Virgin Records. Gentleman's Blues was released in 1998 on Virgin Records and featured a number of hidden tracks including: "1-202-456-1414" (the touch-tone phone number for the White House) and "1-202-514-8688" (a U.S. Department of Justice phone number, formerly held by Ken Starr) as well as "Cinderella." During the 2000s and 2010s, Cracker has continued to record. It has released Forever (Virgin Records, 2002), O' Cracker Where Art Thou (Pitch-a-tent Records, 2003) which contained bluegrass versions of Cracker songs, Countrysides (BMG, 2003), Greenland (Cooking Vinyl, 2006), and the 429 Records releases Sunrise in the Land of Milk and Honey (2009) and Berkeley to Bakersfield (2014). Cracker has also released several compilations, collaborations and live albums.

 

During its career, Cracker has featured twenty band members. Currently, the band is comprised of Lowery on lead vocals and guitar, Hickman on lead guitar, bassist Bryan Howard, drummer Carlton (Coco) Owens, Thayer Sarrano on keys and Matt "Pistol" Stoessel on pedal steel guitar.

Iridesense is a four piece band formed on Long Island in 1993. The band is comprised of Tara Eberle-Drouin on lead vocals and bass, Rick Eberle on guitar and vocals, lead guitarist Rob Viccari and Rich Drouin on drums.

The group has released three full length CDs: Cool Dream Tomorrow (Rock Diva Records, 1997), iRideSense on LLJ Records in 2001, and A Trip Called Life (Paradiddle Records, 2008). Its Secret Constellation and Thought Parade EPs were independently released in 2013 and 2015, respectively.

Over the years, Iridesense has licensed tunes to Nickelodeon and had songs placed in several indie films, toured the U.S. and opened for, among others: Spin Doctors, Something Corporate and Gin Blossoms.

 

On a pleasant Thursday evening in late July, the Space at Westbury was host to a powerful and fun evening of alternative rock as Iridesense opening the night's festivities in the lounge with a short poppy set of songs that covered its entire career. Highlights included: "History In The Making," "I've Got It Good," "Fire Fly" and "Mind Control Society."

 

Cracker was up next on the big stage. Opening its set with "One Fine Day," the band rolled through strong versions of "Gimme One More Chance" and "Euro-Trash Girl." Lowery handled the vast majority of the vocals with strong harmonies provided by Hickman and Howard. "California Country Boy" featured a nice call and response vocal between Lowery and Hickman.

Other highlights of the band's powerful eleven song set included "Teen Angst," "Low" and "Sweet Potato." The performance ended with a lively version of "Get Off This" (during which the players each took short but engaging solos allowing them to show off their virtuosity) and "St. Cajetan" ( a deep cut from the band's debut album).

 

Though the venue did not feature a sold-out crowd, Cracker played as if it was performing in front of an audience that was 50,000 strong. The band gave it's all and delivered a superb set featuring its classic psychedelic blues, punk, alt-country songs that had those in attendance bopping to the beat and singing along.

 

The headlining act, Soul Asylum, chose to appear on stage to the familiar WWE opening salvo--"Ladies and Gentlemen, Let's get ready to rumble!" The crowd was primed and the band wasted no time getting down to it. "Somebody To Shove," a huge hit was a powerful choice for an opening number. Pirner addressed the crowd, stating, "You're much too kind. Thank you! I want to also thank Cracker. Thank you, Cracker!"

The band delivered a nice set that offered a cross-section of classic hits and new material. Highlights included "Spinnin'," "Misery," "Shut Down," "Lately," Black Gold" "Cool," "Supersonic," "Eyes of A Child," "Never Really Been" and, of course, "Runaway Train."

 

"Without a Trace" was introduced as being "dedicated to Mr. Karl Mueller" (the band's late bassist who succumbed to cancer in 2005). Prior to "Don't Bother me," band members took exception to an annoying fan who was videotaping the entire show on a cellphone. He was told in no uncertain terms to "turn the fucking light off, asshole." Earlier Pirner had referred to the fan as Francis Ford Coppola. Evidently, when the initial hint didn't cause him to stop, the band had to resort to stronger measures. The fan was told that if he didn't stop recording the performance, he would be escorted out of the venue.

 

Though the evening could have been marred by the over-zealous fan, Soul Asylum and most-notably Pirner did not let it get in the way of making music. His performance and that of the band was top-notch. Pirner's voice hasn't aged. His stage presence continues to be magnetic. The performance was somewhat nostalgic, but in the best possible way. The players delivered powerful, enjoyable and dynamic modern/alternative rock. The audience loved it and the band fed off of the vibe.

Additional article contributions by Christine Connallon. Cracker Setlist 1. One Fine Day 2. Gimme One More Chance 3. Euro-Trash Girl 4. California Country Boy 5. Almond Grove 6. Movie Star 7. Teen Angst (What the World Needs Now) 8. Mr. Wrong 9. Another Song About the Rain 10. Low 11. Sweet Potato 12. This Is Cracker Soul 13. Miss Santa Cruz County

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tears For Fears at the Prudential Center

Article By Mike Perciaccante | Photographs By Christine Connallon Tears For Fears
The Prudential Center  Newark, NJ  June 17, 2017

 

 

On a pleasant Saturday evening in mid-June, Tears For Fears made its way to NJ's Prudential Center. It was definitely pop and soul night in Newark.

Tears For Fears, the English band formed by Curt Smith (vocals and bass) and Roland Orzabal (guitar and vocals) in 1981, was initially seen as a new wave synthesizer band. Eventually the public and critics came to realize that the group was much more.

 

The band is now seen, because of its Beatles-esque melodies, song construction and arrangements, as a rock and pop group. As part of the Second British Invasion (popularized and driven by MTV), Tears For Fears found immediate success with its platinum-selling debut album, The Hurting (Mercury/Phonogram, 1983), which reached number one on the UK Albums Chart. Its second album, Songs From the Big Chair (Fontana/Mercury/Phonogram, 1985), propelled by the mega-hit singles "Everybody Wants to Rule the World," "Shout" and "Head over Heels," reached number one on the US Billboard 200. Songs From the Big Chair achieved multi-platinum status in both the UK and the US. Smith and Orzabal parted ways in 1991, following the release of their third platinum-selling album The Seeds of Love (Fontana/Mercury/Phonogram, 1989). Orzabal continued to use the Tears for Fears name throughout the '90s (with a group of mercenary musicians backing him). The duo re-formed in 2000 and released an album of new material, Everybody Loves a Happy Ending (New Door, 2004). Secret World: Live In Paris was released in 2006 on XIII Bis Records. In the ensuing years Tears For Fears has toured the world and is currently working on a new CD. During the course of its career, Tears for Fears has sold over 30 million albums worldwide.

 

When Tears For Fears took the stage, the mostly middle-aged crowd in the sold-out arena became almost delirious. Appearing onstage to a backdrop bathed in slowly rotating colors of light and darkness while Lorde's eerie, almost gothic dirge-like version of "Everybody Wants To Rule The World" teased the crowd for a tantalizing two minutes, Smith, Orzabal and their band took their places and paused for a moment. When the lights came up it was an engage the throttle, full speed ahead moment as the band launched into a powerful version of the song with the sweet-voiced Smith singing it as it was intended. Audience members rose to their feet and remained standing dancing, swaying and singing along with the band during the anthem (and every other song during the 13 song performance). As the final notes played, fans offered up whistles and a lengthy round of applause.

 

When the applause died down Smith, Orzabal and the band delivered a very poppy version of "I Have A Secret" that showed their Beatles influence by featuring a snippet ("Somebody's knockin' at the door, somebody's ringin' the bell") from Paul McCartney's "Let 'Em In." The show then continued with the very Beatles-esque "Sowing The Seeds of Love," and note-perfect pristine versions of "Advice For the Young At Heart" and "Everybody Wants a Happy Ending."

 

When Smith finally addressed the crowd, he said, "Hello! Thank you! Good evening, New York! It's nice of you to get here early for us...We released our first album quite a while ago. We'd like to do a few songs from our first album." He made the statement about playing in New York (even though the arena is just across the river in Newark) and the crowd didn't care. It jumped to its feet and erupted into prolonged applause.

 

"Change," "Mad World" and "Memories Fade" were all embraced by the audience as long lost friends. There was a mixture of nostalgia and extreme happiness as the faithful sang along with the band and thrust their arms (as though they were brandishing tomahawks) to and fro along with the beat. Smith and Orzabal's intertwined vocals were magical and magnetic. The crowd members were literally leaning forward while the band played, the palpable energy reaching the stage and being sent right back out to the rafters.

 

The band is known for choosing interesting cover songs. It is almost as though Tears For Fears pick cover songs that are not the "same-old, same-old" songs that many bands do. Orzabal and Smith seem to choose well-known songs that are a bit off the beaten track of the "usual." The band has been known to perform Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean," Arcade Fire's "Ready To Start" and the Beatles' "All You Need Is Love." On this tour, the band covers Radiohead's "Creep" with Orzabal's vocals delivering just the right amount of atmosphere and moodiness. It was a flawless rendition and, of course, the audience sang along.

 

The stunning main set concluded with Smith providing a fantastic version of "Pale Shelter," a very nice version of "Break It Down Again" from Elemental (Mercury/Phonogram, 1993), which represented the lone song from the Orzabal-only era of the band, and a stunning version of "Head Over Heels" that rang true and proved timeless. In fact, when the song came to its conclusion, the crowd delivered the final "time flies" words of the song.

The encore was preceded by band introductions. Smith gave props to "the Reverend Charlton Pettus on guitar, on drums the one and only Jamie Wollam, NJ resident, Mr. Doug Petty on keys and Carina Round on vocals." He paused and simply said, "Oh yeah, this is Roland. My name's Curt and we're Tears For Fears. Thank you very much!" What followed was a rousing rendition of "Shout" augmented by audience participation and the stage lights flooding the audience members as they sang-along while turning the clock back over 30 years. Underneath a color changing neon set of squares that hung above the stage like a set of UFOs, Orzabal and Smith powered through the vocals and forcefully stomped through the well-known anthem with a renewed energy that was even more pronounced than they possessed three decades ago. Everything old is new again and the audience shouted the words as if protesting against the things that bother them. As the last notes died down, Orzabal stepped forward and said, "Thank you so much." He, Smith and the band took their bows waved good-bye and were gone in a flash, the catharsis and joy apparent on the band's faces as well as everyone who witnessed the spectacle of their set.

Additional article contributions by Christine Connallon. Tears For Fears Set List 1. Everybody Wants to Rule the World 2. Secret World 3. Sowing the Seeds of Love 4. Advice for the Young at Heart 5. Everybody Loves a Happy Ending 6. Change 7. Mad World 8. Memories Fade 9. Creep (Radiohead cover) 10. Pale Shelter 11. Break It Down Again 12. Head Over Heels Encore: 13. Shout

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nick Lowe at City Winery

Article By Mike Perciaccante I Additional Article Contributions by Christine Connallon

Photographs By Christine Connallon

Nick Lowe  City Winery  New York, NY 

 

June 10, 2017 It's hard to believe but Nick Lowe is now 68 years of age. He has been recording and touring since the early '70s and now in the late 2010s, he shows no signs of slowing down. An English pub rocker who made his name in Power Pop and New Wave as both artist and producer, Lowe is best known for his songs "Cruel to Be Kind" (a US Top-40 single) and "I Love the Sound of Breaking Glass" (a Top-10 UK hit), as well as for his work with the Pub-Rock group, Brinsley Schwartz, as the bassist in both Rockpile (with Dave Edmunds, Terry Williams and Billy Bremner) and in Little Village (with John Hiatt, Ry Cooder and Jim Keltner) and for his production work for Elvis Costello, Graham Parker, Carlene Carter, The Pretenders, John Hiatt, The Dammed and others.

 

Lowe is a smooth singer who plays guitar, bass, piano and harmonica. During the course of his solo career, Lowe has recorded a string of well-reviewed solo albums for Columbia Records and Yep Roc Records. Though many consider it a hit Elvis Costello song, Lowe is actually the writer of "(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding."

 

On a pleasant Saturday evening, smack in the middle of a three night stint at New York's City Winery, the rail thin singer performed following a short set by opening act Kat Edmundson. Appearing alone, with just his guitar, Lowe delivered an amazing performance that touched on all aspects of his career. Lowe was in fine voice and while his vocals aren't as strong as they were during his rockin' days, the man still sounds fantastic. In this, an unplugged setting, Lowe let his voice convey so much--happiness, joy, humor and peace--with all the subtleties of each shining through. Known for his sly sense of the absurd [the man recorded an album called Jesus Of Cool (Columbia Records, 1978)], Lowe was at ease as he joked with the audience that he would "play some new material, some old stuff and of course the signature songs." He likened it to "going to see Billy Joel and not hearing him play 'We didn't Start The Fire.' We can't have that."

 

Lowe's performance was sparse and simple. He stood center stage and strummed his acoustic guitar and with little fan fare let his witty lyrics and voice tell the story. The vast majority of Lowe's songs are short. He stated, "The good thing about my songs is that they're all about 2 1/2 minutes long." Yes, they're short. Short but powerful. They tell stories. They get an audience's attention and they're brilliant. Lowe didn't provide a lot of banter, but when he did speak to the crowd he made it count, explaining the stories behind the songs into which he chose to provide a larger glimpse.

 

The mostly middle-aged audience were thrilled to be in attendance. During the 90-plus minute show Lowe delivered almost every song that these long-time fans could have hoped for. After opening with "People Change," highlights included: "Ragin' Eyes," "Has She Got a Friend?," "Without Love," "I Trained Her to Love Me," "I Live on a Battlefield," "Shelly My Love" (which he explained was a song that he thought would be a huge hit--it wasn't but it was recorded by Rod Stewart), "When I Write the Book" and the main set closer "I Knew the Bride (When She Used to Rock 'n' Roll)."

 

Never one to let the opportunity to have a laugh pass, Lowe also played a stellar version of "Cruel To Be Kind." While the audience was applauding his performance of, this, his biggest hit, Lowe stepped up to the mic and crooned, "we didn't start the fire..." A good laugh was had by all. He then proceeded to the encores and good naturedly explained that he wanted to play a newer song that had a bit of a Rockabilly vibe. "Tokyo Bay" would have fit in nicely on Rockpile's Seconds of Pleasure (Columbia Records, 1980) album or Lowe's Columbia Records solo offerings (1979), The Rose of England (1985) or Pinker and Prouder Than Previous (1988). Next up was "(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding." While Costello's version is angry and aggressive, the version that Lowe sang on this Saturday evening was infused with tenderness tinged with irony. Just prior to closing-out the evening, Lowe gave a little plug and announced that he had t-shirts and CDs for sale and that any audience member wanted to "stop by to say hello, he'd be there shortly."  The evening ended with a beautiful and poignant version of Costello's "Alison" which was followed by a standing ovation.

 

Setlist: People Change, Stoplight Roses, Long Limbed Girl, Ragin' Eyes, Has She Got a Friend?, 'Til the Real Thing Comes Along, Blue on Blue, Rome Wasn't Built in a Day, Without Love, Crying Inside, I Trained Her to Love Me, I Live on a Battlefield, Shelley My Love, Cruel to Be Kind, Sensitive Man, When I Write the Book, House for Sale, My Mary, I Knew the Bride (When She Used to Rock 'n' Roll) Encores: Tokyo Bay, (What's So Funny 'bout) Peace, Love and Understanding.

 

 

 

New Order Rocks Radio City Music Hall

4-13-17 By Christine Connallon Photos by Christine Connallon

 

 

A month after sharing the stage of Carnegie Hall with the legendary likes of Iggy Pop for the Tibet House Benefit Concert, iconic greats New Order kicked off a handful of US dates with a sold out show at Radio City Music Hall before heading west for some Coachella sets and other California stops.

 

Formed in Manchester in 1980 by Bernard Sumner, Stephen Morris and Peter Hook, New Order's inception rose from the ashes of Joy Division following the suicide of lead singer Ian Curtis. Gillian Gilbert was added to the band on keyboards and guitar. Reeling from the loss of their front man, the band needed a new identity and found it in New Order.

 

Becoming one of the most influential and critically acclaimed bands of the 80s, New Order combined the best of electronic, dance music and post-punk sensibilities to create a unique sound that took the world by storm. Through the years, amid incredible creativity, wild success and fascinating side projects, discord and drama prevailed. Hook left the band for good in 2007. Both Sumner and Hook have penned memoirs and bitterness remains.

 

The current lineup for New Order is the backbone of Sumner on vocals, guitar and synths, Morris on drums and percussion, Gilbert on keyboards and guitars plus Phil Cunningham on guitars and Tom Chapman on bass. Appearing on stage slightly after 9:00, the crowd which spanned decades in age, went wild as "All Day Long" played through the speakers as the band hit the stage. Enormous LED monitors dotted the stage behind the musicians, playing everything from song lyrics to videos and images.

 

A plethora of strobe lights, lasers, fog machines and disco ball effects brought the visual experience up to the tight sound of the band. The band rolled out the hits, including "Regret" and "Love Vigilantes" in the first three songs as well as "Your Silent Face," "Bizarre Love Triangle," "Blue Monday" and "Temptation."

 

Sumner and company were all business, with chatter to the crowd kept to a minimum so they could keep the music flowing, something much appreciated by the exuberant crowd. A nod to Joy Division enveloped the encores, with video footage of Curtis during "Decades" and ending the show with "Love Will Tear Us Apart" complete with the words "Joy Division Forever" emblazoned on the monitors. A fitting nod to the past and a gift to fans who felt the catharsis after a night full of dancing in the aisles.

 

Additional Article Contributions by Mike Perciaccante

SETLIST: New Order at Radio City Music Hall 4-13-17 All Day Long Played from Tape Singularity Regret Love Vigilantes Crystal Restless Superheated Your Silent Face Tutti Frutti Bizarre Love Triangle Waiting for the Sirens’ Call Plastic The Perfect Kiss True Faith Blue Monday Temptation Encore: Decades (Joy Division cover) Love Will Tear Us Apart (Joy Division cover)

 

 

 

 

The Pretenders at Terminal 5

Article By Mike Perciaccante & Christine Connallon

Terminal 5  New York, NY  April 3, 2017

 

The Pretenders were formed in England, in March of 1978 and burst on the scene with its self-titled debut Sire Records album in 1980. The original band consisted of Chrissie Hynde (lead vocals, rhythm guitar); James Honeyman-Scott (lead guitar, backing vocals, keyboards); Pete Farndon (bass guitar, backing vocals) and Martin Chambers (drums, backing vocals, percussion). Over the years the band has experienced several personnel changes. Hynde has been the only constant member. Chambers, left the band for a period of time in the mid-'80s, but has been back manning the drum kit since 1993. The band's current lineup features Hynde; Chambers; James Walbourne (guitar/vocals); Nick Wilkinson (bass/vocals); Ricky Peterson (keyboards) and Eric Heywood (pedal steel). In 2005, the Pretenders were inducted into the Rock 'n' Roll Hall Of Fame.

 

During the course of its career, the Pretenders have released numerous beloved tunes and hit singles including: "Stop Your Sobbing;" "Kid;" "Brass in Pocket" (which hit #1 in the U.K. and Australia and reached #14 in the U.S.); "Talk of the Town;" "Middle of the Road;" "Show Me;" "Precious;" "I'll Stand By You;" "Don't Get Me Wrong;" "Cuban Slide;" "Back on The Chain Gang" and many others. The band has released ten full-length studio albums; the mini-album Extended Play (Sire Records, 1981); a greatest hits collection, The Singles (Sire Records, 1987) and the live Isle of View (Warner Bros. Records, 1995). In 2005, Rhino Records released a four disc and DVD box set Pirate Radio 1979-2005 which spanned the group's entire career. Its most recent studio release, Alone was released, to positive reviews, by BMG Rights Management in 2016.

 

On a cool and somewhat rainy April 3, 2017, on a day off from its world tour with Stevie Nicks, the Pretenders touched down at New York City's Terminal 5 for a rare club date. The intimate venue was teeming with Baby Boomers, some older Gen X-ers and a few Millennials. All were excited to see the legendary group perform its hits.

 

First up was Lowlight. At precisely 8pm, Lowlight took the stage and delivered a rousing 25-minute set that had the somewhat jaded audience taking notice. The on-the-rise local band (it hails from New Jersey) delivered a short but strong set featuring "'86 Parisienne" and the title track from its independently released 2016 CD "Where Do We Go from Here.

 

Chrissie Hynde and the Pretenders hit the stage at exactly 9pm. With fans crammed into the tight confines of the ballroom's floor in front of the stage and even more fans lining the balcony railings, Hynde (dressed in red Colonial army topcoat, a T-shirt that read "I'm Sexy & I Know It" and dark skin-tight jeans) led the band through a tight 15-song career-spanning set that leaned heavily on the hits and the "classics." Opening with two powerful songs from the Alone CD--the title track and "Gotta Wait," Hynde and company then took the cowd on a joyous trek through the band's and Hynde's back catalog. The set included: "Private Life," "Down the Wrong Way (from Hynde's 2014 Caroline International Records solo CD Stockholm), a beautiful version of "Hymn to Her," "Talk of the Town," "Back on the Chain Gang," "Stop Your Sobbing," "I'll Stand By You," "My City Was Gone" (which Hynde explained was written about the changes that she observed when she went back to her native city of Akron, Ohio), a pounding and driving version of "Mystery Achievement," "Middle of the Road" and "Brass in Pocket." Audience members who had worked their way to the front of the balcony overhang, gripped the rails and they danced, screeched, bopped and generally lost their minds. Each song sent an already delirious crowd further over the edge.

 

Following "Brass In Pocket," Hynde and the band thanked the, by now very sweaty crowd, for its support, took their individual bows and exited the stage. After a very short breather, the group returned to the stage and delivered a four song encore featuring "Let's Get Lost," "Thumbelina," "Up the Neck" and "Precious" that included John McEnroe on guitar jamming with the band.

 

Hynde is the consummate front-woman. She commanded the stage. All eyes were on her and her voice was amazing. Her attitude and "prove-it" demeanor brought the crowd back to the '80s. It sounded as fresh and strong as it did in the early days. During the performance it was hard to not take a moment and wonder why Hynde and her band don't get more accolades. Being elected to the Rock 'n' Roll Hall Of Fame is a nice thing, but based on this performance and the iconic songs that its is known for, the Pretenders should be revered, honored, respected and valued in much the same way as Elvis Costello, R.E.M., the Smiths, U2 and the Clash.

 

 The Pretenders Setlist at Terminal 5 - April 3, 2017 1. Alone 2. Gotta Wait 3. Message of Love 4. Private Life 5. Down the Wrong Way (Chrissie Hynde solo song) 6. Hymn to Her 7. Talk of the Town 8. Back on the Chain Gang 9. Stop Your Sobbing (The Kinks cover) 10. I'll Stand by You 11. Don't Get Me Wrong 12. My City Was Gone 13. Mystery Achievement 14. Middle of the Road 15. Brass in Pocket Encore: 1. Let's Get Lost 2. Thumbelina 3. Up the Neck 4. Precious (John McEnroe guests as additional guitarist)  

 

 

 

 

Colin Hay at the Concert Hall at the New York Society for Ethical Culture

Article By Mike Perciaccante | Photographs By Christine Connallon 

New York, NY    March 18, 2017

 

Had Colin Hay not made his mark as a musician with Men At W

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