Categories
Music Reviews

Concubine

Concubine

2018

Concubine

Ah, those clever electronica mixers from Berlin are back to their old ways. Noah Pred, possibly the most prolific electronica composer working today, has pulled together a full album of material along with the equally productive Rick Bull. These are the sort of behind-the-scenes guys who never step into the spot light but keep re-arranging the noises at their disposal to make a moderately interesting album that explores many oblique corners of the ambient soundscape.

Titles only loosely tie to beats; “Hail, Eros” centers a rhythmic drumming in form of synthetic animal calls that threaten to make a nearly danceable track. “Electoral Reforms” pulses and throbs in a scratchy world where not only are vote totals uncertain, but so are the names on the slate of candidates. It’s urgent without an arrival time and leaves you one edge. One more title that catches my eye in this collection is “Priceless Neglect.” We once more stand in front of the electro-sound machine, replete with well-oiled push arms, resilient pistons, and the smell of early century industrialism: lube oil, coal smoke, and the stink of poorly smelted iron. We live in tough and sometime senseless times, but we must concede this: most mornings, the lights come on and the john flushes. So, something still works.

concubinesound.bandcamp.com/;

Categories
Event Reviews

Generation Axe

Generation Axe

with Steve Vai, Zakk Wylde, Yngwie Malmsteen, Nuno Bettencourt, and Tosin Abasi

Hard Rock Live, Orlando, Florida • December 9, 2018

Amidst 2018’s holiday madness I paused to take in Generation Axe, Steve Vai’s ultimate shredder show. After a successful inaugural run in 2016, the uber-talented supergroup took their thrilling show back on the road and returned to O-town to entertain a packed house of rabid rockers. Joined by Zakk Wylde (Ozzy Osbourne, Black Label Society), Yngwie Malmsteen, Nuno Bettencourt (Extreme) and Tosin Abasi (Animals As Leaders), Vai and his four guitar gods certainly gave fans their money’s worth with three and a half hours of jaw-dropping, face-melting axe perfection. Backed by bassist Pete Griffin (Dweezil Zappa, Edgar Winter), keyboardist Nick Marinovich (Yngwie Malmsteen) and drummer JP Bouvet, the non-stop rock-metal cavalcade exploded into action and never slowed down.

Steve Vai

Michelle Wilson
Steve Vai

After a slight delay due to a late-running meet-and-greet, Vai and company all took the stage. “Good evening, Orlando! Yeah, we heard all about you! You ready for Generation Axe?” Vai asked with a sly smile, as they kicked it off with a cover of “Hocus Pocus” from Focus. It was a mind-blowing jam for sure and quite a thing to behold as these five masters held the crowd spellbound. The super-energized, testosterone-laden show was rife with fist bumping, chest thumping (both courtesy of Wylde) and multiple instrument changes. Each musician offered his own blazing set, with several special jams among the players as well as multiple brave journeys into the crowd. Abasi’s quiet but confident modesty, Bettencourt’s humor, Wylde’s and Malmsteen’s theatrics and Vai’s unique style all meshed brilliantly.

Yngwie Malmsteen

Michelle Wilson
Yngwie Malmsteen


Nuno Bettencourt and Zakk Wylde

Michelle Wilson
Nuno Bettencourt and Zakk Wylde

Highlights included a killer cover of Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs” from Wylde as well as a searing version of Gary Moore’s “Still Got The Blues” featuring Wylde, Vai and Bettencourt, who all went out into the audience during the song. Wylde owned the crowd and even ventured to the balcony, precariously playing his guitar over the edge and igniting the night even more than before. Wylde also brought a young fan up on stage and placed his guitar on the teen’s neck, a moment the junior rocker likely will never forget.

Nuno Bettencourt, Pete Griffin and Tosin Abasi

Michelle Wilson
Nuno Bettencourt, Pete Griffin and Tosin Abasi

In other shining moments, Bettencourt tackled Extreme’s “Get The Funk Out” while Malmsteen and Vai slayed “Black Star,” one of Malmsteen’s most popular songs. It’s hard to describe experiencing a performance from Malmsteen. The Swedish-born player is one of the top rated guitarists in the world, and it’s easy to understand why. I was left breathless watching him play as he kicked guitar picks into the crowd and tossed his guitar into the air. His guitar tech definitely needs to be on the ball, that’s for sure.

Steve Vai, Nick Marinovich, Nuno Bettencourt and Zakk Wylde

Michelle Wilson
Steve Vai, Nick Marinovich, Nuno Bettencourt and Zakk Wylde


Pete Griffin, Zakk Wylde, JP Bouvet and Steve Vai

Michelle Wilson
Pete Griffin, Zakk Wylde, JP Bouvet and Steve Vai

As if this show wasn’t already spectacular, the encore put it right over the top with all but Malmsteen doing serious justice to Edgar Winter’s “Frankenstein,” and then Malmsteen joining the others on stage to pay homage to Freddie Mercury and Queen with an instrumental “Bohemian Rhapsody.” I have no words to convey how amazing it was. Closing it out with Deep Purple’s “Burn,” the hot, sweaty, exhausted crowd broke into monstrous applause as the ensemble took several well-deserved bows.

Steve Vai and Zakk Wylde

Michelle Wilson
Steve Vai and Zakk Wylde

Writing about this show hardly does it any justice – it needs to be experienced in the flesh. Even if you “may” not be a fan of this genre or be familiar with some of these guitarists, I guarantee that after attending a live performance you will be sold. The tour is over for now but if it comes through nearby in the future, make a point of going. You will not regret it.

Check out the full gallery of photos from Rock Legends Photographers.

rocklegendsphotographers.smugmug.com/ROCK-CONCERT-PHOTOS/GENERATION-AXE-Hard-Rock-Live-Orlando-FL-12-9-18

generationaxe.com www.vai.com zakkwylde.com www.yngwiemalmsteen.com www.extreme-band.com www.animalsasleaders.org

Categories
Event Reviews

Florida Man Music Festival

Florida Man Music Festival

with Weezer, Young the Giant, Bishop Briggs, Alice Merton, Cold War Kids and more

Orlando Ampitheater; Orlando, FL • November 30, 2018

Some would find it embarrassing to live in a state known for its bizarre, back-asswards criminals and the wacky shenanigans they get caught in. Instead of cowering in shame, hardcore Floridians shrug off the Nuts that give the Sunshine State a bad name and embrace the crazy. Radio station FM 101.9 even went so far as to name a music festival after the phenomenon. The Florida Man Music Festival lit up the Orlando Amphitheater on the kind of perfect, crisp late November day that seems to be the consolation prize for our State’s residence (there are some crazies living here, but the weather is to die for!).

Jen Cray

Jen Cray

Food trucks, inflatable slides, secret pop-up performances, and live on-air interviews with bandmembers entertained fans throughout the afternoon, while the two main stages ping-ponged performances with precision and ease. The set up for this still-pretty-new amphitheater, located at the Central Florida Fairgrounds, is a manmade slope of grass that faces a highly impressive main stage. For this event, a second stage was set up exactly opposite of it so that fans on the grassy knoll could just turn around to view the second stage.

Alice Merton

Jen Cray
Alice Merton

Robert Delong

Jen Cray
Robert Delong

It was on that second stage that Alice Merton tapped into some St. Vincent funk with her bass-heavy hit “No Roots,” and where electronic darling Robert DeLong juggled more instruments than I could keep track of and proved that just because your sound is digital heavy, it doesn’t mean you can’t have a full band backing you.

Young the Giant

Jen Cray
Young the Giant

Jen Cray


Jen Cray

Underneath the rising star of Young the Giant, the stage suddenly seemed remarkably small. The charisma and playful presence of singer Sameer Gadhia seduces the crowd and elevates the band’s indie pop into something greater than the sum of its parts. It’s his dynamic vocals and contagious energy that makes songs like “Cough Syrup” and “Something To Believe In” fly.

Bishop Briggs

Jen Cray
Bishop Briggs

Jen Cray


Jen Cray

The real treasure of the Festival (sorry, Weezer) was Bishop Briggs. Her incomparable voice and ability to somehow combine R&B with dance music and deliver it in a way that is on one hand Popstar ready and yet punk AF stunned and won the crowd from the opening moment when she belted out an acapella version of “The Way I Do” beneath a stark starburst light. With a newly shaven head and a smile that could awaken the dead, she was a commanding presence, even as she skipped and frolicked across the large stage like a Bjork-ian pixie. Side note: my girlfriend, who rocks the same shortly shaven look, kept getting mistaken for Bishop Briggs for the rest of the night following her set. So, ya know, if you hear any rumors about Bishop Briggs getting all cozy with an Orlando photographer… 😉

Weezer

Jen Cray
Weezer

Jen Cray


Jen Cray

Closing out the night with a tight set of crowd-pleasers was the always reliable Weezer. When the band you have adored since high school opens up with the song that made you fall in love with them (“Buddy Holly”), you know you’re in for a treat. And while they may not be breaking any new ground, they never fail to delight.

Sir Sly

Jen Cray
Sir Sly

Cold War Kids

Jen Cray
Cold War Kids


Jen Cray

Know what else never fails to delight? An outdoor music festival that DOESN’T take place in the dead heat of summer! Promoters and bookers of shows take note: Fall and Winter Festivals in Florida are the way to go!… And always put Bishop Briggs on the bill.

Check out full photo galleries here!

fm1019.radio.com/florida-man

Categories
Event Reviews

Seaway

Seaway

with Trophy Eyes, Microwave, Can’t Swim, Hot Mulligan

Soundbar; Orlando, FL • November 24, 2018

Pulling up to the tiny club on Pine St, there was the longest line I’ve ever seen at Soundbar. Inside the sold-out show, Michigan pop punk band Hot Mulligan were already rocking the crowd. I didn’t get to see much of their set, since I was stuck in line, but I caught the last two songs. Most of the crowd were yelling all the lyrics, which is surprising for the first band.

Hot Mulligan

Vanna Porter
Hot Mulligan

Next, Can’t Swim took the stage and the crowd immediately popped off. When I saw Can’t Swim earlier this year, vocalist Chris LoPorto was also playing guitar, but on this tour he ditched the guitar and his energy on stage was undeniable. Can’t Swim played a couple of songs off their latest album, This Too Won’t Pass. The crowd already learned the lyrics and were yelling every word. Before playing their last song, “Stranger”, Chris instructed the crowd to hold hands with the person next to them, stating that we are all in this together.

Can't Swim

Vanna Porter
Can’t Swim

Vanna Porter


Vanna Porter

Soundbar was starting to feel like a sauna once Microwave took the stage. Opening with “Roaches” off their 2016 release, Much Love. The crowd swayed to the slow jams. Once “Lighterless” blared through the venue though, that changed. The crowd starting jumping to the fast paced song. A pit broke out, which was expected of the Orlando crowd. No matter what pace a song is, Orlando crowds always find a way to mosh.

Microwave

Vanna Porter
Microwave

Vanna Porter

In turn, Trophy Eyes made their way to the stage playing “You Can Count On Me” off their latest album, The American Dream. Vocalist John Floreani had some of the best dance moves I’ve ever seen in this scene and looked truly happy on stage, helping stage divers and crowd surfers (and there was a lot of them!) land safely.

Trophy Eyes

Vanna Porter
Trophy Eyes

Vanna Porter

As the crowd grew restless, Seaway finally took the stage. Opening with “Neurotic” the crowd immediately went off. Everyone in the room was jumping. It felt like the venue was shaking. Once Seaway started playing “Something Wonderful” vocalist, Ryan Locke whipped out the tambourine. Playing a variety of new and old jams, pop punk band, Seaway ended the night with “Lula on the Beach”.

Seaway

Vanna Porter
Seaway

Vanna Porter


Vanna Porter

Fans departed the humid venue sweaty and ecstatic they witnessed one of the best tours to hit Soundbar.

seawayband.com

Categories
Event Reviews

Counterparts

Counterparts

with Being As An Ocean, Have Mercy, Varials

Soundbar; Orlando, FL • October 17, 2018

As I arrived at the tiny club on Pine St, there was a line of fans around the corner and the club was packed. I made my way through the crowd as Varials took the stage. This metalcore band made me stop in my tracks with their hard-hitting instrumentals. The pit grew wider after every breakdown. Vocalist Travis Trabron constantly called the crowd “cowards” to hype them up. They played most songs off their latest release Pain Again. Just as “Empire of Dirt” blared through the venue, the crowd lost it.

Varials

Vanna Porter
Varials

Vanna Porter

Mellowing out the evening, Have Mercy took the stage. Opening their set with “Smoke and Lace” the crowd swayed to their emotional lyrics. Throughout their set, there was continual banter between the band members in between songs. Guitarist Nate Gleason had the crowd shout “Coleslaw”, but shortly after established coleslaw sucks. There were minimal mosh pits during Have Mercy, but when moshing did occur it was the type of scream and cry mosh.

Have Mercy

Vanna Porter
Have Mercy

Vanna Porter

As “OK” blasted through the venue, the lighting immediately changed. I was grateful that Being As An Ocean brought their own lighting setup for this tour. This made the atmosphere change, and you could feel the emotion shake the room. Vocalist Joel Quartuccio had a special connection with the audience. He kept leaping into the crowd to yell lyrics with the fans. At one point he climbed onto the balcony and jumped. He trusted that the crowd would catch him, and they did a great job doing so.

Being As An Ocean

Vanna Porter
Being As An Ocean

Vanna Porter


Vanna Porter

In turn, Counterparts took the stage. The crowd immediately went off when “Monument” sounded through the venue. Counterparts was one of the first hardcore bands I heard of back when I was getting into this scene. They stuck with me ever since, and I always try to see them whenever they come to a town I’m in. Their sets are always so captivating, and they connect with their audience on another level. During “Bouquet”, Guitarist Blake Hardman tried to do a spin, but fell in the process.

Counterparts

Vanna Porter
Counterparts

Vanna Porter


Vanna Porter

At this point you could tell this show was officially sold out. During “The Disconnect” the crowd flooded the stage, screaming every lyric. Once Counterparts left the stage, the crowd shouted for an encore. Once more, Counterparts took the stage, playing “You Aren’t You Anymore”. As the show inevitably ended, the exhausted but smiling fans slowly dispersed.

www.notyou.ca

Categories
Event Reviews

2018 Bourbon & Beyond Festival

2018 Bourbon & Beyond Festival

with

Louisville, Kentucky • September 22, 2018

When Danny Wimmer Presents announced the lineup for the Second Annual Bourbon & Beyond Festival at Champions Park in Louisville, Kentucky, I took one quick look at the eclectic group of A-listers and up-and-comers on tap and knew that this would be THE festival of the year, one not to be missed. Along with the main stage entertainment, there also would be a smaller Bluegrass Stage as well as master chef presentations and bourbon workshops/tastings for every discerning palate. For months I looked again and again at that lineup, drooling over the fabulous prospect of not only attending this two-day event, but covering it as a writer/photographer as well. When I got approved, I felt as if I had won the lottery. The weekend couldn’t arrive soon enough, but unfortunately Mother Nature had her own plans. NO ONE could have imagined that the unwitting “stars” of the festival would be RAIN and MUD, forcing the cancellation of Day 2. Gone was my excitement over seeing the 12 scheduled bands including The Last Bandoleros, The Magpie Salute (one of my absolute favorites), Del McCoury Band, The Record Company (another fav), Don Felder, Benjamin Booker, Blackberry Smoke, Kaleo (a true, huge disappointment for me – this band is IT! Seriously.), Gov’t Mule, Counting Crows, Robert Plant & The Sensational Space Shifters (sigh), and STING (literally, my all-time favorite, EVER – my only consolation was that I had covered his co-headlining show with Shaggy in Florida the week prior). I mean, in your wildest dreams, could you ever conjure a lineup such as this one, only to have it wash away with the rain and mud? Major props must be given to everyone involved “behind the scenes” as they made every effort to keep things flowing. This was a top-notch, professionally run event that met with a patch of very bad weather luck. Well, at least there was Day 1 and despite the major weather issues, the music was phenomenal.

The four-piece, Austin-based indie/alternative rock band Swimming With Bears kicked off the first (and only) day of the festival with thirty minutes of fun, high-energy originals including their popular hit, “French Girls.” Comprised of singer/bassist Joe Perry, drummer Ryan Hannasch and guitarists Alec Conte and Jon Kerr, they were the perfect opener to get the crowd pumped for all the acts to come. Check out Rock Legends Photographers’ interview with the band following their great set.

www.youtube.com/watch?v=wbadoFBuIRE&feature=youtu.be

Swimming With Bears

Michelle Wilson
Swimming With Bears

 

With perfect precision the side-by-side stages were ready to go for the next act, which is the way a festival should operate. Larkin Poe, the up-and-coming multi-instrumentalist sister act sensation out of Atlanta, blew away the Louisville crowd and were a true highlight of the day. Rebecca (lead vocals/guitar) and Megan Lovell (vocals/lap steel) are about as badass as they come, belting out killer harmonies and giving the most seasoned guitarist a run for the money. These two can sing a beautiful ballad, a blues number or a hardcore rocker and nail it every time. Highlights included covers of “Preachin’ Blues” (Son House) and “Black Betty” (Lead Belly), both from their last album, Peach, and “Blue Ridge Mountains,” an original from their forthcoming record, Venom and Faith. Backed by touring bassist Brent “Tarka” Layman and drummer Kevin McGowan, their thirty-minute set was over WAY too fast and left the crowd (and me) wanting MUCH more.

Larkin Poe

Michelle Wilson
Larkin Poe

 

Mindi Abair and The Boneshakers rocked the park with their thirty-minute set of jazz-laced blues/rock. Abair, mainly a saxophonist/singer but also a multi-instrumentalist, is as talented as they come and has worked with countless A-listers in the music biz in many different capacities. She and guitarist/vocalist Randy Jacobs of The Boneshakers formed their collaborative effort in 2015, and the resulting music is pure magic. A great champion for female empowerment, Abair co-wrote “Pretty Good For A Girl” with Jacobs and used it as the launching pad to create PrettyGoodForAGirl.net, a website devoted to the celebration of exceptional women. It was a treat to hear the band perform this one live. Abair exudes joy and passion while she skillfully performs, and you can’t help but smile as you are completely taken in by her charm. The call and response between Abair’s sax and Jacobs’ guitar was riveting. I for one cannot wait to see them again.

Mindi Abair and Randy Jacobs of The Boneshakers

Michelle Wilson
Mindi Abair and Randy Jacobs of The Boneshakers

 

While the Portland-based, folksy sister trio, Joseph (Allison and Meegan Closner and Natalie Closner Schepman), offered beautiful, stirring harmonies backed by only a guitar, their set may have been a bit sleepy for a festival main stage, particularly after following the fast-paced, edgy sets of Larkin Poe and Mindi Abair and The Boneshakers. That is in no way a criticism of the band – I thought they were fabulous – but their dreamy, slower-paced style may have been better served on a smaller stage.

Joseph

Michelle Wilson
Joseph

 

Perennial favs JJ Grey & Mofro fired up the rain-soaked fans with choice cuts from their catalog. Grey has always known how to work the crowd, and there was no way that the rain was going to put a damper on people dancing to the band’s funkadelic grooves on songs such as “Ho Cake” and “99 Shades Of Crazy.” Slowing it down with a moving rendition of “The Sun Is Shining Down,” the droves of drenched concertgoers slowly swayed and sang along with the band classic. JJ Grey never disappoints, and this set was another real highlight of the day.

JJ Grey & Mofro

Michelle Wilson
JJ Grey & Mofro

 

I can’t think of a better one-two punch than Keb’ Mo’ following JJ Grey & Mofro, even in the rain. Mr. Kevin Moore is an artist who brings joy wherever he plays, and he tops my list of personal favorites. With his unique blending of contemporary roots rock and blues, he tells a story through his music as no one else can. Highlights from his one-hour set (backed by a full band) included “More Than One Way Home,” “Government Cheese,” “Shave Yo’ Legs” and “Rita.” If you aren’t yet familiar with Keb’ Mo’, do yourself a favor and check out his music.

Keb' Mo'

Michelle Wilson
Keb’ Mo’

 

Brian Setzer did not allow photography, so we took the opportunity to slosh through the mud and rain in search of dinner. There were culinary choices for every palette spread throughout the grounds, along with craft beer, wine and bourbon vendors galore. Tent-covered bar areas with multiple screens of the stage were able to accommodate hundreds of people as they sheltered from the inclement weather while still enjoying the music.

Mash Stage

Michelle Wilson
Mash Stage

 

Sheryl Crow’s one-hour set was just glorious, and I don’t think there was a person there who didn’t love it. Opting for high-top sneakers, she ran and slid across the slippery stage as contagious joy rippled through the crowd. I worried that she would slip and fall (as Lenny Kravitz did later during his set), but the veteran rocker handled it like a seasoned pro. Subtly getting in her social and political commentary between songs, she offered up many of her hits as everyone sang along, including “If It Makes You Happy,” “Every Day Is A Winding Road,” “All I Wanna Do,” “My Favorite Mistake,” “Soak Up The Sun,” and “The Na Na Song/I’ve Got A Feeling.” Crow played guitar, keyboard and harmonica at various points during the set, and she never sounded better. I had never seen her live, and I was truly impressed.

Sheryl Crow

Michelle Wilson
Sheryl Crow

 

With only a small table holding a “brain,” the stage was set for David Byrne and his grand entrance. Whether or not you are a Talking Heads/David Byrne fan, you cannot deny Byrne’s inherent musical genius and all-around appeal. Who doesn’t know songs such as “Burning Down The House,” “This Must Be The Place” and “Once In A Lifetime?” The entire musical ensemble was comprised of barefoot men and women carrying their instruments and dressed alike in simple gray suits. They performed completely mobile in a tightly choreographed format. It was quite a spectacular performance. I looked around during the set and to my profound amazement, I saw twenty-somethings singing along to these decades-old Talking Heads songs. Byrne is passionate about encouraging people to get out and vote, and he used this forum to continue that effort. Along with his older material and a few covers, Byrne offered several cuts off his latest album, American Utopia, and his sixty-minute quirky set was nothing short of brilliant.

David Byrne

Michael Yanko
David Byrne

 

Realizing the literal inherent danger of the flooded clay-based grounds, we chose to leave the park just as Lenny Kravitz was taking the stage (also a no-photography artist for this event). It took us 45 minutes to trudge from point A (main stage area) to point B (lockers) as we gingerly navigated our way and tried to avoid losing our footing in the muddy rivers. When we finally cleared out our locker and left the venue, we knew that we had made the extremely wise decision to do so. It took people hours and hours to get out after John Mayer’s headlining set, and while we were disappointed to miss it, we were relieved to be safely out of the fray. Many people went down in the mud and had vehicles get stuck, but there were tow trucks ready to help those in need. By early the next morning, the city of Louisville made the prudent decision to call off Day 2. Everyone truly came together to help those in need. Once again, I have to commend everyone involved behind the scenes for helping this dire situation flow as smoothly as possible under the circumstances. Will people be deterred from attending next year’s event? Heck no! I’m already excited about the bands and I can’t wait to see the lineup and return to Louisville again.

Check out the full gallery of photos from Rock Legends Photographers with crowd shots and individual links to all the bands.

rocklegendsphotographers.smugmug.com/BAND-PROMOS-AND-MEET-AND/BOURBON-BEYOND-Louisville-KY-9-22-18

bourbonandbeyond.com

Categories
Event Reviews

Midge Ure & Paul Young

Midge Ure & Paul Young

The Plaza Live, Orlando, Florida • September 15, 2018

The Plaza Live in Orlando was the place to be when multi-platinum selling artists Midge Ure and Paul Young brought their co-headlining tour to the Central Florida venue in September. The ’80s New Wave era was the backdrop to my teen years, and while there were many “one-hit wonders” to emerge from that time period, Ure and Young were anything but. As a member of Ultravox, Ure took the band to new heights, while Young enjoyed the success of his many hits. I never got the chance to see either artist live, so this was a real treat indeed.

As we waited for the show to begin, we noticed a very special group of people. This was definitely an “older” crowd, but I was thrilled to see a few “young” fans sitting nearby. We asked them if we could take their photo, and as it turned out, there were three generations from one family attending the concert. We knew we had to capture this unique moment. When we were backstage after the show to do artist interviews, I mentioned the three-generation group to Ure and he was just over the moon to hear about this. With the family’s permission, here is their wonderful photo.

A family of three generations at the show

Michael Yanko
A family of three generations at the show

Ure took the stage promptly at 8pm and wowed the house for an hour with his ever-incredible vocals and endearing charisma. There is a modest, funny, self-deprecating charm that radiates from Ure, and his quick wit was most entertaining. “We have a couple of old Ultravox tunes, with the emphasis on ‘old’…This is the point where most people leave; this is the title track from my last record…Thanks for coming out tonight. There were so many other things you could have been doing.” He joked about the joint tour with Young as he thanked everyone, saying “and what’s his name…he’s been following me around and I can’t shake him,” which elicited hearty laughter from the crowd.

Michelle Wilson


Michelle Wilson

Selections included cuts from Visage, Ultravox and Ure’s solo material. The eleven choices were: “Passing Strangers,” “Dear God,” “If I Was,” “Become,” “Fade To Grey” (which Ure wrote and produced for Visage but did not do the vocal – “I suspect some of you will know this.”), “New Europeans,” “I Remember (Death In The Afternoon)” (with an amazing guitar solo), “Fragile,” “Vienna,” “All Stood Still,” and the closer, “Hymn.” The only things missing were “Dancing With Tears In My Eyes” and “Reap The Wild Wind,” both of which I would have truly enjoyed hearing, but everything else was just amazing. “Vienna” is, for me, the single greatest song to emerge from the ’80s alternative/new wave scene, an opinion I shared with Ure prior to our interview with him. His “thank you” could not disguise his appreciation and humble pride in that one statement, and one I did not offer lightly. To this day, I still get chills every time I hear it, and hearing it performed live was epic.

Paul  Young

Michelle Wilson
Paul Young


Michelle Wilson

After a brief intermission, ’80s R&B crooner Paul Young began his one-hour set and performed some of his fan favorites from over the years. Ure and Young shared the same backing band of stellar musicians so there was virtually no stage changeover. While Young “may” not possess the same vocal ability that he once did, he delivered such a passionate performance that it hardly mattered. Suffering great personal tragedy earlier in the year with the loss of his wife, it is a wonder that Young can perform at all, so hats off to him for marching onward.

Michelle Wilson


Michelle Wilson

The audience was treated to many of his hits including “Some People,” “Love Of The Common People,” “No Parlez,” “Wherever I Lay My Hat (That’s My Home),” “Slipped, Tripped and Fell in Love,” “Senza Una Donna,” “What Becomes Of The Brokenhearted,” “Get ‘Em Up, Joe”, “I’m Gonna Tear Your Playhouse Down,” “Every Time You Go Away,” and “Come Back And Stay.” After a momentary exit and re-entrance, Young invited Ure out onto the stage and the band did a scorching version of Thin Lizzy’s “The Boys Are Back In Town” with Ure and the band guitarist trading killer licks, much to the delight of the crowd. (Ure briefly toured with Thin Lizzy in 1979-1980 after the exit of Gary Moore and also did some recording with them, but his true passion was Ultravox and he returned to his beloved band.) It was a fabulous, rockin’ close to an already amazing show, and I was thrilled to be there and check off another two from my bucket list. Although their tour together has come to an end, both musicians are touring Europe at the moment, and Ure has two New York City dates in December at The Iridium. If I still lived in New York, I’d be there in a heartbeat!

Michelle Wilson

Listen to our interviews with Midge Ure and Paul Young.

www.youtube.com/watch?v=rbMamUyf2YY

www.youtube.com/watch?v=PiWKmbgHEyw&t=4s

Check out the full gallery of photos from Rock Legends Photographers.

rocklegendsphotographers.smugmug.com/ROCK-CONCERT-PHOTOS/MIDGE-URE

rocklegendsphotographers.smugmug.com/ROCK-CONCERT-PHOTOS/PAUL-YOUNG-The-Plaza-Live-9-16-18-Orlando-FL

www.midgeure.co.uk, paul-young.com

Categories
Event Reviews

Sting & Shaggy

Sting & Shaggy

Daily’s Place, Jacksonville, Florida • September 14, 2018

Sting & Shaggy

The 44/876 Tour

Daily’s Place, Jacksonville, Florida, August 14, 2018

Few things in life make me happier than the music of Sting. Discovering The Police at 16 years old after Synchronicity debuted was a life-changer. I backtracked through their catalog and purchased every album, poring over the liner notes and soaking it all in like a sponge. Anything Sting played on, I had to have. I purchased every magazine I could get my hands on, absorbing every word of every article. My bedroom walls were covered with photos of Sting and The Police, and my car even had an “I heart Sting” bumper sticker on the back. In the section of my high school yearbook where you predict what you will be doing in ten years, my quotable quote read “Living in England and having Sting’s children.” My very first concert was The Police in Atlantic City, New Jersey, February 7, 1984. I saw the band four more times after that, and I have seen Sting solo 11 times. I am (clearly) a diehard Sting fan.

So when I read that Sting and Shaggy would be kicking off the North American leg of their 44/876 Tour in Jacksonville, I knew I had to be there to cover the show. While many people may have been surprised by this collaboration, I certainly was not. With a penchant for reggae-infused music throughout his career, particularly in The Police days, teaming up with Shaggy was a natural development. The two first appeared together at the 2018 Grammy Awards, and then their album, 44/876, was released a few months later (the name was derived from their country calling codes). In top form at 66, Sting remains the king of musical reinvention and always seems to have one more fresh trick up his sleeve.

Sting and Shaggy

Michelle Wilson
Sting and Shaggy

After a slight delay, the music got underway at 8:30pm on a pretty perfect Florida evening with “Englishman In New York.” It was a packed crowd and the fans remained on their feet for majority of the two-hour show, dancing, clapping, singing and loving every moment. Backing musicians included longtime Sting guitarist Dominic Miller and his son, guitarist Rufus Miller, Sting drummer Josh Freese, Shaggy keyboardist Kevon Webster, and Shaggy backing vocalists Melissa Musique and Gene Noble.

Sting and Shaggy

Michelle Wilson
Sting and Shaggy

Packing in 29 songs including six from The Police, eight from Sting, six from Shaggy and nine from the new record (one which only appears on the Deluxe version), the show was incredible and over in the blink of an eye. The genuine rapport between the two superstars kept the fun factor flowing throughout the evening. There was little stage chatter and a rapid flow of song progression, which is always a plus at a live show. It may sound as if nine cuts off 44/876 was a bit much, but it truly wasn’t. Song placement was carefully interwoven and appreciative fans respectfully showed their support for the new material and also for the Shaggy tunes. Mashups of “Oh Carolina” (Shaggy) and “We’ll Be Together” (Sting) as well as “”Roxanne” (The Police) and “Boombastic” (Shaggy) really highlighted the harmonious blending of sounds that these two innovative musicians created together. Tackling Shaggy’s “Angel,” “Strength of a Woman,” “Hey Sexy Lady” and “It Wasn’t Me” was great stuff, and Shaggy really knows how to work the crowd. During “Crooked Tree” off the new album, Sting appeared to be “pushed” by an officer and he put on a “striped” jail sweater, while Shaggy emerged onto the darkened stage dressed as a judge, donning a black robe and white wig. It was a bit cheesy, but Sting has always loved to dabble in the theatrical.

Sting and Shaggy

Michelle Wilson
Sting and Shaggy

The crowd was treated to Sting/The Police favorites such as “Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic,” “Love Is The Seventh Wave,” “If You Love Somebody Set Them Free,” “Walking On The Moon” (with some Bob Marley/Peter Tosh “Get Up, Stand Up” thrown in), “So Lonely” (a real highlight) and “Every Breath You Take.” It was thrilling to hear Sting perform poignantly stirring versions of “Fields of Gold,” “Shape Of My Heart,” “Desert Rose” and the closer, “Fragile,” with Shaggy helping out on vocals. “Message In A Bottle,” which was done early on in the show, was totally crowd-interactive, with everyone clapping and singing along, and Sting impressively held a note that I didn’t think would ever end. I would have personally preferred it as the closer due to the very nature of the crowd interaction and the exiting high note factor it would have offered. Closing with “Fragile” was a bit heavy for me, and it is literally my favorite song ever recorded. But it was nonetheless beautiful, and there wasn’t a person there who didn’t get his or her money’s worth.

Set list:

Englishman In New York 44/876 Morning Is Coming Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic Oh Carolina/We’ll Be Together If You Can’t Find Love Love Is The Seventh Wave To Love and Be Loved Message In A Bottle Fields of Gold Waiting For The Break Of Day Gotta Get Back My Baby If You Love Somebody Set Them Free Don’t Make Me Wait Angel Dreaming In The U.S.A. Crooked Tree Shape Of My Heart Walking On The Moon So Lonely Hey Sexy Lady Roxanne/Boombastic

Encore:

Desert Rose It Wasn’t Me Every Breath You Take

Fragile

Check out the full gallery of photos from Rock Legends Photographers.

Sting & Shaggy Photo Gallery

https://www.sting.com, shaggyonline.com

Categories
Event Reviews

5 Seconds of Summer

5 Seconds of Summer

with The Aces

House of Blues; Orlando, FL • September 18, 2018

The queue of fans that wrapped around the House of Blues was just the tip of the iceberg. Inside it was packed to the brim with a sold-out audience of fans pumped to see 5 Seconds of Summer in a relatively intimate venue for a band of their stature.

Vanna Porter

Vanna Porter

Vanna Porter

 

Quickly exceeding all of my expectations, The Aces opened the show, kicking things off with “Volcanic Love”, off of their debut release. This all gal Alt-rock band, with their bobby beats, deserve to be on everybody’s summer jams playlist.

Vanna Porter

Vanna Porter

Vanna Porter

 

Fans screamed every time someone walked on stage, hoping it would be one of the boys from 5SOS. Soon their wishes were brought to fruition. The venue went black as flashes of lights came from the stage. An instrumental version of “Babylon” blared through the venue as members of 5 Seconds Of Summer trickled out one by one.

Vanna Porter

Vanna Porter

 

I have been waiting to see 5SOS since 2014, since hearing their single “Heartbreak Girl.” Four years later they’re creating hit after hit, becoming one of the biggest boy bands in the scene. It was difficult to hear them playing over the fans screaming every lyric. They played mostly new songs off their latest release, dYoungblood.

Vanna Porter

Vanna Porter

 

Closing the night with two of their most popular singles “She Looks So Perfect” and “Youngblood”, 5 Seconds of Summer left the humid House Of Blues as sweaty fans screamed for another encore.

www.5sos.com

Categories
Event Reviews

Paul Rodgers, Jeff Beck and Ann Wilson – Stars Align Tour

Paul Rodgers, Jeff Beck and Ann Wilson – Stars Align Tour

with Deborah Bonham

Midflorida Credit Union Amphitheatre, Tampa, Florida • August 26, 2018

It was a typical humid, somewhat rainy Florida evening when the Stars Align Tour kicked off its last show of the summer in Tampa. The music, however, was anything but typical. There are some shows that are just pure magic, and this was one of them. Iconic recording industry veterans Paul Rodgers (Free, Bad Company, The Firm), Jeff Beck (The Yardbirds) and Ann Wilson (Heart) treated fans to a cornucopia of aural delights as they each wowed the crowd with their individual sets. As fans streamed into the venue, they were notified that the General Admission lawn seat area would be closed and seating would be provided for them. This was definitely a “seasoned” crowd and likely a welcome turn of events.

Deborah Bonham

Michelle Wilson
Deborah Bonham

Opening the show at 6:35pm with a short but powerful 20-minute set was Deborah Bonham, younger sister of late Led Zeppelin drummer, John Bonham. Joined on guitar by Ian “Tat” Hatton, Bonham’s incredible vocals and impassioned performance provided the perfect prelude to a memorable event. Many people were no doubt surprised and impressed by the British singer’s existence, myself included, not familiar with her before this evening. After hearing her powerhouse voice, however, it is clear that she could have given Robert Plant a run for his money on Zep vocals. It was a privilege to hear her sing “The Old Hyde,” a haunting, bittersweet ballad about the family farm property purchased by and dedicated to her late brother and the home where she grew up, a home he helped build. I have every confidence that Bonham gained many new fans after this concert.

Ann Wilson

Michelle Wilson
Ann Wilson


Ann Wilson

Michelle Wilson
Ann Wilson

At just past 7:00pm, the mighty Ann Wilson and her band took the stage as she belted out eight glorious hits, six of them covers. Wilson focused on her new record (released 9/14), the aptly named Immortal, an album of covers from musicians who have passed on. Kicking off her set with The Who’s “The Real Me” and following it with Heart’s “Barracuda,” the 70s rock chick quickly made her vocal presence known and never stopped. Backed by guitarist Craig Bartock, bassist Andy Stoller, drummer Denny Fongheiser and keyboardist Daniel Walker, Wilson plunged headfirst into her blues-drenched composition, “Fool No More” (co-written with Bartock) before slaying five staggering covers, and making them completely her own. Playing acoustic guitar and tackling Audioslave’s “I Am The Highway” (for Chris Cornell), Wilson then took “Back to Black” (for Amy Winehouse) into unchartered territory with dark and heavy killer vocals that did the late Ms. Winehouse proud. “This is my gothic version,” Wilson joked, but she was quite serious and heartbroken when she mentioned Amy. She described her as a little girl of immense talent with a tortured soul, who had too much too soon and didn’t know how to handle it, but left us with an amazing expression of her soul.

Ann Wilson

Michelle Wilson
Ann Wilson

She then took Leslie Gore’s “You Don’t Own Me” to new heights with a heavier rock sound, particularly with Bartock’s killer guitar. It was a major statement piece for its time from a singer who, as Wilson put it, was a 17-year-old in 1963 who had three or four big radio hits with light, safe, fun songs, and then all of a sudden, she came out with this – a “gutsy, ballsy move in 1963.” With everything going on in the world today, Wilson brought it out again to “offer respect” and to “cover all types of people.” Honoring the late Glenn Frey, who Wilson described as “one of the greatest songwriters of his era,” she mentioned how The Eagles’ “Life In The Fast Lane” truly described what it was like in the “sex, drugs, rock ‘n’ roll party days era of the 70s” and launched into her own fabulous version. Bookending the set with another cover from The Who, Wilson tore it up on “Won’t Get Fooled Again” as only she could. A recent Florida transplant, she thanked everyone as one Floridian to another for coming out in the rain. She mentioned what an honor it was to be part of this show and graciously praised Deborah Bonham.

Jeff Beck

Michelle Wilson
Jeff Beck


Jeff Beck

Michelle Wilson
Jeff Beck

It was surely a thrill when The Maestro himself, Jeff Beck, appeared front and center at 8pm to crank out a smokin’ 75 minutes of mind-blowing guitar prowess and searing solos. Mesmerizing to say the least, Beck is one of the most revered guitar players in the world. He makes it look effortless as he bends his strings to achieve the perfect sound. His tight touring band included long-time bassist Rhonda Smith (Prince), iconic drummer Vinnie Colaiuta (Frank Zappa, Sting, Herbie Hancock), singer/harp player Jimmy Hall (Wet Willie) and cellist Vanessa Freebairn-Smith, and the interplay among them was a joy to watch. Whether it was Rhonda beaming from ear to ear while laying down the groove or Freebairn-Smith rockin’ out while caressing notes from her cello, there was a whole lotta fun happening on that stage.

Rhonda Smith and Jeff Beck

Michelle Wilson
Rhonda Smith and Jeff Beck

The diversity of song choice ran the gamut and showcased Beck at his best. Set staples included “Little Wing” (Jimi Hendrix) and “Superstition” (Stevie Wonder), both with Hall on vocals, “A Day In The Life” (John Lennon/Paul McCartney) and of course, “Cause We’ve Ended As Lovers” (Stevie Wonder). Other standouts included “You Know You Know” (Mahavishnu Orchestra), “Morning Dew” (Bonnie Dobson) and “I Have To Laugh” (Otis Rush), both with Hall on vocals, “Lonnie On The Move” (Lonnie Mack) and “Mná na h- Éireann” (The Chieftains) and “Brush With The Blues” (Tony Hymas/Jeff Beck). “I’d like to play a little short tribute to Jeff Buckley,” said Beck, and then he absolutely slayed “Corpus Christi Carol” (Buckley used the Benjamin Britten version for his interpretation on his 1994 debut album, Grace) while a rapt audience remained unusually but thankfully quiet as the doleful notes floated through the air. Just as the under-two-minute tribute was wrapping up, Hall and his harp reemerged to finish it out with Freddie King’s “Goin’ Down” (Don Nix). It was a fantastic set from a living legend.

Paul Rodgers

Michelle Wilson
Paul Rodgers


Paul Rodgers, Rich Newman and Pete Bullick

Michelle Wilson
Paul Rodgers, Rich Newman and Pete Bullick

As if all of this wasn’t awesome enough in its own right, the final act of the night absolutely stole the show, and the show was pretty darn amazing already. Paul Rodgers graced the stage with his presence at 9:45pm looking and sounding phenomenal, with little chatter and big vocals. His band, Free Spirit, included guitarist Pete Bullick (who also happens to be Bonham’s husband), bassist Ian Rowley, drummer Rich Newman and keyboardist Gerard “G” Louis. The main set list was comprised of hit after hit from the vast Free and Bad Company catalogs, including “Little Bit of Love,” “Wishing Well,” “The Stealer,” “Mr. Big,” “Woman,” and “Fire and Water” from the Free era. “Can’t Get Enough,” “Feel Like Makin’ Love” (with Rodgers on harp), “Ready For Love” (written by Mick Ralphs and originally performed by Mott the Hoople, his prior band, before founding Bad Company with Rodgers, who mentioned that Mick wrote it and that he “says he is doing well” – Rodgers also dedicated it to his wife, Cynthia), “Movin’ On,” and a spectacular rendition of “Shooting Star” covered the Bad Company material. Louis traded keys for acoustic guitar on “Shooting Star” and engaged the audience in a sing-along. Rodgers followed by gracefully thanking all the bands on the tour. “It’s been a great tour and we even had a full moon tonight. Talk about stars aligning! Thank you for being part of our Rock ‘n’ Roll Fantasy tonight!”

Paul Rodgers and Rich Newman

Michelle Wilson
Paul Rodgers and Rich Newman

Closing it all out with Free’s “Alright Now,” this musical extravaganza came to a phenomenal end at 10:50pm, and I have every confidence that no one walked out disappointed. This was undeniably a top show of the year. Rock on, indeed!

Check out the full galleries of photos from Rock Legends Photographers.

Paul Rodgers photo gallery

Jeff Beck photo gallery

Ann Wilson photo gallery

Deborah Bonham photo gallery

www.paulrodgers.com, jeffbeck.com, www.annwilsonofheart.com, www.deborahbonham.com, www.badcompany.com, www.freetheband.co.uk, “>www.heart-music.com/&end;