Categories
Screen Reviews

Bush: Live In Tampa

Bush: Live In Tampa

directed by Milton Lage

starring Bush – Gavin Rossdale, Chris Traynor, Corey Britz, Nik Hughes

MVD Video

I was never a huge Bush fan. I always enjoyed their music when it came on the radio (yes, radio). However, I never bought any of their CDs (yes, CDs), or went to any of their concerts. Maybe it was latter day grunge backlash. Maybe it was being focused on finishing undergrad and starting grad school. Whatever it was, I knew very little of Bush beyond their hit singles going into this Live in Tampa set.

The hit singles are here, of course. “Machinehead” starts the show off with a bang. “Everything Zen” shows up early, along with a huge thanks to everyone who has been supporting the band since the beginning. “Glycerine” and “Comedown” close out the show. In between we are treated to lesser known tracks from their early albums and singles from their more recent work, including “Bullet Holes” from the John Wick 3 soundtrack.

Gavin Rossdale (lead vocals/rhythm guitar) has been leading the band since their formation before debut album Sixteen Stone. Lead guitarist Chris Traynor joined the band on tour in 2002 shortly before their hiatus, and bassist Corey Britz joined in 2010 after they reformed. Drummer Nik Hughes joined in 2019. As a group, they have gelled well onstage. Rossdale exudes rock frontman energy, bouncing round the stage like a guy half his age, engaging the crowd with patter between songs. During “Little Things,” he stagedives then runs into the crowd to the lawn seats and back. Unlike a lot of singer-guitarists, the guitar isn’t just a prop for him. While Traynor definitely does the heavy lifting, Rossdale more than competently supports the rhythm section, and deftly nails key riffs in both the recognizable hits and the catalog songs. Flanking him, Traynor and Britz stalk the stage like predators, getting the spotlight when appropriate, but always in the pocket. Unlike most drummers, Hughes is well-lit on a decently sized riser in front of the giant projection screens, so you can see him having an absolute blast throughout the set, especially while John Wick is having gun fights behind him. The sound mix is practically perfect, with the right amount of crowd noise to remind you this is a live show, but never overwhelming the performers.

The set includes a Blu-Ray, DVD, and CD of the concert. The videos include interstitial clips of Rossdale backstage, discussing his youth and the early days of the band. While informative, I was hoping for some stuff with the rest of the band. Interestingly, the audio from the first of these interstitials is included on the CD, but none of the others are. I assume this was to keep the time down to one disc, but why include any of them, when they were already cutting some of the onstage patter between songs? Other than those quirks, the overall package is very well done – three discs and a booklet featuring high quality photos from the show. Special features include the full eleven-minute interview with Rossdale, a slideshow of pictures from the show, and the trailer for this show, along with several other discs including The Pretenders, Jane’s Addiction, and Sheryl Crow.

If you are a Bush fan, you should definitely pick this up, if you haven’t already. If you are like me, and have only been exposed to Bush via their early singles, I urge you to give Live in Tampa a look and listen. It’s a great showcase of a rock band that is still putting on a lively show in front of an excited crowd and works better than just another greatest hits collection. In addition to the three-disc set, a limited-edition vinyl set and a basic digital download of the audio is available on their Bandcamp website.

bushmusic.bandcamp.com/album/live-in-tampa

Categories
Music Reviews

The Stooges

The Stooges

Live at Goose Lake, August 8th, 1970

Third Man Records

Ever wish you had a time machine so you could witness legendary music events? Like, you could catch the Beatles honing their sound in Germany, or watch that Sex Pistols gig that inspired generations of bands, or check out the Stax/Volt revue showing Europeans just what soul music was all about. Or you could check out the Goose Lake Festival, a three-day festival billed as Michigan’s Woodstock that featured the Stooges playing their new album Fun House in its entirety. Now that Third Man has released you can save your time machine for more noble pursuits, like killing Hitler or riding a dinosaur. Notable for being the last appearance of original bassist Dave Alexander, Goose Lake shows the Stooges in all their sloppy, explosive glory, even with a few technical missteps. There’s some on-stage tuning, there’s little crowd interaction (at least audibly), but when the band hits, it’s explosive. Alexander was fired soon after this show for getting too high beforehand to play properly, although it’s not super noticeable unless you’re listening for it (which after reading the liner notes, you probably will be). The band as a whole seems to take a while to gel – by the time they get to “1970,” the explosiveness of the studio album seems to finally click, even if it sort of seems to fall apart at the end of the song. Not to say Goose Lake isn’t a great document. Iggy’s opening scream on “TV Eye” channels all the primal energy of the band, and the remastering job clears up the muddy sounding boots that have been circulating for years. “Funhouse” in particular is a showcase for the band, with the rhythm section providing a solid support for Steve Mackay’s sax battling with Ron Asheton’s guitar until it segues into “LA Blues.”

Definitely worth picking up, Goose Lake makes a great addition to the original Stooges albums and when it hits, shows just what all the fuss was about. Plus, it will save wear and tear on your valuable time machine.

Categories
Music Reviews

The Vibrators

The Vibrators

Live in NYC

Deko Music

The Vibrators were among the first wave of British punk bands, and their first two albums could be considered the genesis of pop punk, or just a good example of power pop with equal emphasis on both phrases. The band has carried on since then, resulting in decades of touring and lineup changes. The current lineup just released Live in NYC recorded last year at The Bowery Electric to an enthusiastic audience.

We all know live albums are dicey things. For every At Budokon, Live at Leeds, or Unplugged in New York, there are countless contract obligation albums or “you really had to be there” releases. Sadly, Live in NYC, is more of a “really had to be there.” The crowd sounds energetic, (just check out the interaction during “Baby Baby”) and if you were there, I’m sure you’d have a great time, but singer Knox sounds a bit rushed and is singing in a lower register, occasionally launching into a late-era Dave Vanian croon. The harmonies and back-ups still recall the hooks you remember, and it’s incredible to think that the band has been touring off and on for over 40 years on such great songs, but heavy soloing guitar work also has a tendency to take the listener out.

Live in NYC covers the first two albums, includes some later songs, a cover of “Brand New Cadillac,” and one new song that shows the band hasn’t lost the knack for a catchy song. Again, I’m sure if you were in the audience that night it would have been a great show, but if not, you’d probably have a better time relistening to Pure Mania again.

www.dekoentertainment.com

Categories
Music Reviews

Ronnie Wood With His Wild Five

Ronnie Wood With His Wild Five

Mad Lad: A Live Tribute to Chuck Berry

BMG

Ronnie Wood has been a student of rock guitar for decades. From the Faces to the Rolling Stones to his new group, the Wild Five, he has given us some classic licks and riffs. But before that, he was listening. He was listening to the birth of rock and roll, and his new project is a series of tribute albums dedicated to the work of guitarists who inspire him. The first one is Mad Lad: A Live Tribute to Chuck Berry. Recorded live at Wimborne’s Tivoli Theatre in 2018, this session offers up several of Berry’s classic hits, along with an opening number original, “Tribute to Chuck Berry,” that serves as a biography of the icon and an introduction for the evening.

Musically, the songs are near perfect. The riffs are solid and the rhythm section sets the tempo flawlessly. The only downside is in Wood’s vocals. When you are used to him backing a singer like Rod Stewart or Mick Jagger, you don’t notice his Dylan/Petty-esque nasal whine. But here it’s front and center. And while it may be a good fit for some songs (“Tribute to Chuck Berry” and “Talkin’ Bout You”), it doesn’t deliver the bluesy backbone you expect for some of these classics like “Back in the USA” and “Johnny B Goode.” Two instrumental tracks (“Mad Lad” and “Blue Feeling”) are grooving boogie-woogie barn burners that really showcase the Wild Five and pianist Ben Waters. The highlights, however, are the tracks fronted by Irish songstress Imelda May. Her soulful vocals elevate what might otherwise be a vanity project into an unforgettable experience. I wish I had been in the audience when she first belted out the opening to “Wee Wee Hours,” and she brings the tempo back up with the best rendition of “Rock and Roll Music” since The Beatles hit the scene. May also provides backing vocals on “Almost Grown.”

I am looking forward to hearing what the other tribute albums sound like, who the subjects are and who might appear as guests. I have been driving around listening to this album for days, just enjoying some good old rock and roll. Fans of Chuck Berry or Ronnie Wood should definitely give this a listen, but collectors might want to wait to purchase until the series has been released, in case there is a box set. For those who want it now, the album is out November 15, with cover artwork of Berry painted by Wood. It is available digitally, on CD, vinyl, and in deluxe limited sets.

www.ronniewood.com/news/new-album-mad-lad-out-in-november

Categories
Archikulture Digest

Sweet Charity

Sweet Charity

Annie Russel Theater

With Neil Simon and Bob Fosse on a project, something special is bound to happen. Charity (Moon) lives on the upbeat. While little cash and fewer brains, she trusts everyone, doubts no one, but can’t find love. After a boyfriend pushed her in the lake to steal the down payment for their furniture, she eventually stumbles upon famous Italian film Star Vittorio Vidal (Andrew Stuart) who is on the outs with his harrumphing girlfriend Ursula (Taylor Greyard) . They spend the night; nothing naught takes place but they attend the swank Pompeii Club with its Fosse choreographed waiters and patrons. Eventually she becomes trapped in an elevator with a neurotic claustrophobic Oscar (Chase Walker) New York was full of them in the day. At least it looks like she’s going to get a happy ending: so do all the other dance hall girls she hangs with give her a big sendoff party, and all’d well that doesn’t end up in a lawyer’s office.

It’s big, it’s brash, and Ms. Moon dominated everyone else on stage. Moon is on nearly the entire evening, and never loses her energy, not even on the closing night show I snuck into. Mr. Stuart is brash as well, but perhaps not as convincing as an Italian film star. His Ursula gets few lines, all she can do is look annoy at Vittoria as he picks up a new girl. Walker’s Oscar seems nice enough, but everyone here is flawed, and the show is all about how they work with their flaws to make it through life. I give points to choreographer Robin Gerchman for tackling the wild fosse dance scene as well as all the taxi dance numbers. Here we have an American classic made in the waning days of New York’s post was glory, and its bout as feel good a musical as you’ll ever see. It may be a college production, but I give this class an A plus.

www.rollins.edu/annie-russell-theatre

Categories
Event Reviews

Live

Live

Coral Sky Amphitheatre; West Palm Beach, FL • August 1, 2018

Whenever the founding lineup of a band gets back together, it’s always an exciting venture. When that band happens to be Live, the thrill factor is kicked up just a notch. The four original, multi-platinum, alternative post-grunge rockers split in 2009 and reconvened in late 2016, announcing 2017 tour dates. Currently on their third tour as support for Counting Crows, the boys from York, PA sounded and looked as fresh as ever.

Michelle Wilson


Michelle Wilson

The original lineup includes the positively magnetic frontman, Ed Kowalczyk (lead vocals/rhythm guitar), Chad Taylor (lead guitar/backing vocals), Patrick Dahlheimer (bass) and Chad Gracey (drums/percussion) as well as touring rhythm guitarist Zak Loy (Ed Kowalczyk solo, Alpha Rev) and drummer/percussionist Robin Diaz (Daughtry, Courtney Love, Candlebox). On an intensely humid Florida summer evening, the band delivered a tremendous set at the Coral Sky Amphitheatre in West Palm Beach, Florida that ended all too soon. There’s no doubt that many people would have loved another hour of Live, this fan included. There’s also no doubt that many people just wanted to rip Kowalcyzk’s sweat-soaked shirt off his body and wring it out. The energy and intensity he still possesses is positively contagious. Having been a diehard fan of this band from the Mental Jewelry and Throwing Copper days, so much so that I saw them while pregnant – TWICE – I can honestly say that Kowalczyk has not lost ANY of his vocal ability or crowd appeal.

Michelle Wilson


Michelle Wilson

Taking the stage at 7:30pm for a 70-minute set and diving right in with “All Over You” (Throwing Copper, 1994, which many people may have forgotten was produced by Jerry Harrison of The Talking Heads), the band took the crowd on a wild ride of career-spanning hits. “It’s been a long time! Glad to be back here in West Palm Beach!” shared Kowalczyk. Playing four others off their 1994 monster second record including “Selling The Drama,” “I Alone,” “White, Discussion” and “Lightning Crashes” (encore), the band also delved into new territory with “Love Lounge,” an unreleased song from a forthcoming record. Touching upon only one cut from their first record, Mental Jewelry, the band did a stellar version of “Pain Lies On The Riverside.” Personally, I would have enjoyed hearing “Operation Spirit (The Tyranny of Tradition)” and “The Beauty Of Gray,” but with such a short set, the music still did not disappoint.

Michelle Wilson


Michelle Wilson

Four songs in during “The Dolphin’s Cry” (The Distance To Here, 1999 – they also did “The Distance” off this record), there was an epic fail with Kowalczyk’s microphone, and there literally was no sound. Um, can we have a do-over? Because this is NOT the one where we want a mic meltdown. Fully aware that his mic had died and ever the consummate pro, Kowalczyk kept singing as he shrugged his shoulders and looked over at the crew. The crowd wasn’t having any of it, and promptly took over on lyrics until the damaged goods were replaced. It was a feel-good moment all around. When it ended he joked, “You can hear us now, right? That’s always the best part!”

Michelle Wilson


Michelle Wilson

Also peppered throughout the quick set were “Lakini’s Juice” and “Turn My Head” from the third record, Secret Samadhi (1997) as well as a Jimmy Reed cover, the bluesy “Baby What You Want Me To Do,” which has been done by just about everyone on the planet. But Live put their own fabulous spin on it and Kowalczyk informed the crowd that the band had spent an incredible week at iconic Sun Studios in Memphis, Tennessee recording it.

Michelle Wilson


Michelle Wilson

The three-song encore began at 8:22pm and included “Heaven” (Birds of Pray, 2003). Kowalczyk shared that he wrote it about his own daughter. He dedicated it to all the mothers and daughters in the audience and laughingly mentioned how the original band members have 13 children among them. It began with only Kowalczyk on acoustic guitar and then the rest of the band joined in later. The encore wrapped up with the aforementioned “Turn My Head” and “Lightning Crashes,” which could ONLY be the finale.

Michelle Wilson

I’ve now attended SEVERAL shows in a row where “maybe” the second act should have been the “final” act. This DEFINITELY was one of them. The high energy, soaring guitars and mammoth vocals were owned by Live at this show. The remainder of the event dimmed in comparison. I love Live, and I always will. I hope they tour again as a headliner – I will be there.

Check out the full gallery below from Rock Legends Photographers.

Live photo gallery

http://freaks4live.com

Categories
Music Reviews

Jon Cleary Live

Jon Cleary Live

Live at Chickie Wah Wah

FHQ Records

Piano players cast a huge shadow over the history of New Orleans rhythm and blues. From the birth of jazz in the Storyville mansions when the “piano professors” entertained the customers to the birth of rock and roll with luminaries like Fats Domino and Little Richard, piano players have lead the way. Professor Longhair is sort of the patron saint of the Jazz and Heritage Festival while Dr. John has kept the flame burning bright for over fifty years.

Jon Cleary is an Englishman. He paid his dues playing in Bonnie Raitt’s band before adopting New Orleans as his home. For 35 years, Cleary has been living in the Crescent City, soaking up the vibe, the history and the piano traditions of the city. Although he’s a transplant, Cleary is one of the essential contemporary piano professors on the scene today.

Live at Chickie Wah Wah is a raw, stripped down set. It’s just Jon at the piano singing tunes he learned on the road with Earl King, Jessie Hill and Snooks Eglin along with his original numbers. This recording is a document of Cleary’s long running Tuesday night residency at Chickie Wah Wah. What I like most about this disc is the immediacy of the performance. It’s just a guy in a room playing his heart out. In this setting, Jon’s piano playing shines. You can hear clearly the echoes of James Booker, Fess, Dr. John as well as Cleary’s own contribution to the ever evolving cannon. On his studio albums with the Absolute Monster Gentlemen, Cleary’s piano prowess is muted by studio glass. With this live set, the funky butt piano is front and center, right where I like it.

joncleary.com

Categories
Event Reviews

Shonen Knife

Shonen Knife

The Orpheum; Ybor City, Florida • May 6th 2017

Seeing Shonen Knife is better than Prozac. When this trio of women from Osaka, Japan take the stage it’s hard not to be swept up in their overwhelming joy. Since 1981, various incarnations of Shonen Knife have been celebrating simple joys with spare garage rock tunes primarily written by founding member Naoko Yamano.

Bob Pomeroy

Shonen Knife has never played Tampa, so there was a band of devoted fans primed for this show. The fast paced set opened with some of their classic tunes, including Twist Barbie and Banana Chips before highlighting tunes from their latest album, Adventure. New songs like Wasabi and Rock and Roll T-Shirt have a bit more 70’s glam rock sheen to them. Naoko and bassist Atsuko had fun striking guitar god poses during the instrumental breaks.

Bob Pomeroy

Drummer, Risa looked like she was having the time of her life back there on the drum kit. She got to sing lead on Green Tangerine and just couldn’t stop smiling. Atsuko got to take lead vocals on Wasabi and everyone had fun singing about the Capybara.

Bob Pomeroy

The middle portion of the show covered songs about food. The current tour is called Ramen Adventure. Naoko gave her review of a local noodle shop (very tasty) before launching into the tune Ramen. They also played tunes about Wasabi and Sushi before turning to American food with BBQ Party: a lusty celebration of pigging out on pork products (never mind the diet).

Bob Pomeroy

Old favorites like Riding on a Rocket and Bear Up Bison made the fans happy. Shonen Knife wrapped up the show with a cover of the Monkeys hit, Day Dream Believer. When the show ended, audience definitely wanted more. It looked like almost everyone in attendance lined up to take picture with the band and get records and CD’s signed and just tell the women in Shonen Knife how much they’re loved.

It was a good night to be a rock and roll fan.

www.shonenknife.net

Categories
Music Reviews

The Clean

The Clean

Getaway

Merge

Long ago, in a land that would later play host to hobbits and orcs, three young men in Dunedin decided to form a band called the Clean. The brothers Kilgour (Dave on guitar and Hamish or drums) along with Robert Scott on bass were at the inception of a Kiwi music scene that burned brightly in the 1980s. Like a lot of punk inspired bands formed by young men, the Clean quickly fragmented into splinter groups the Great Unwashed and the Bats. Often, that’s where the story ends.

The Clean follow their own unique career path. Even though each member has other projects you could call their main band, the trio comes together every now and then to record some music that feels like the Clean and to play some gigs. Their first proper studio album, Vehicle, came out in 1990, eight years after they first went their own ways.

Getaway came about after the Clean agreed to play a music festival in Dunedin in 2000. They played more gigs and then recorded the album (with some assistance from Ira Kaplan and Georgia Hubley of Yo La Tengo). This reissue includes the original album on disc one and the live discs, Slush Fund and Syd’s Pink Wiring System, previously only available at gigs.

Having owned and loved Getaway since it’s original release in 2001, I don’t have a lot to say about it really. I liked it then and I still like it now. What attracted me to this new version of Getaway is the treasure trove that is the second disc. As the title suggests, Syd’s Pink Wiring System tilts toward extended, lysergic jams. A tune like “Quickstep” gives Dave Kilgour room to weave his guitar mantras in and around the other instruments. These recordings capture the Clean, the hypnotic guitar band in their element.

The Slush Fund portion of the program finds the Clean in a loose and playful mood. “Rollo” and “Slush Fund” are brief interludes with David chatting over the music, welcoming people to the show and introducing the entire crew. I like the relaxed feel of this set as well as the prominence of David’s keyboards. There is overlap in the songs covered by the Syd and Slush Fund sets that bring out entirely different aspect of the tunes and different dynamics within the band. These live sets show how the Clean continue to reinvent their songs to keep them fresh for their audience and interesting for themselves.

www.merge.com

Categories
Music Reviews

Micronotz reissues

Micronotz reissues

Mortal Micronotz, Smash, Live, The Beast that Devoured Itself, 40 Fingers

Bar/None

In the ’80s the hardcore/punk youth movement spread through the country like a slow moving virus. Far from the fashion and media centers of the coasts, people picked up secondhand clues from magazines, media exploitation, liner notes, and the few pioneering touring bands that managed to drive through.

This helped in creating regional scenes – where bands influenced each other based on shared information and influences, so that a trained ear could pick out a band from Texas as opposed to say, D.C. or Chicago.

To outsiders, of course, it was all noise, which is how punk rockers liked it at the time.

Many of these bands and scenes existed not only under the radar of normal people, but they took a little digging even for dedicated punk rockers. Luckily for record nerds many of these previously obscure bands have been rediscovered, cleaned up, and reissued, giving a second chance for the greater world to discover bands that might have been toiling in regional scenes and faced with poor distribution. The Micronotz are the latest recipients of reissuing, hopefully resulting in more listeners discovering one of the more underrated punk bands of the era.

The Micronotz (originally the Mortal Micronotz) were a group of teenagers in Lawrence, Kansas who released several albums that reflected the influences of touring bands (Lawrence being a college town was a regular tour stop), yet had a sound and style uniquely their own, reflecting the lives and frustrations of kids in the Midwest.

Their 1982 self-titled album is a bit slower than the prevailing hardcore style, even with the songs only averaging about two to three minutes. With John Harper, a guitarist who secretly wanted to rock, and Dean Lubensky, a singer with a snotty, Stiv Bators-influenced voice, their early work is a solid, garage-punk album dealing mostly with day-to-day concerns – cops, rich kids, girl problems. The band even got beat writer and Lawrence resident William S. Burroughs to provide lyrics for “Old Lady Sloan,” a fact that doesn’t seem to come up in his biographies. In “Blond Haired Ghost” a listener can detect signs of their later work, as well as a band that probably heard some Descendents records and adapted them into their style.

Next years’ Smash and a live release from an unreleased video project continue in the same vein as the self-titled album, the songs still average around two minutes with an overall sound that recalls future Midwest garage punks Gaunt. “Dean’s Lead” on the live album would later be reworked as “Polyester Slave” on the future The Beast that Devoured Itself and Smash includes a cover of “I Got a Right which just makes perfect sense.

With the departure of Dean Lubensky, the Micronotz were able to pull off the ever-tricky lead singer replacement, with Jay Hauptli providing a gruffer vocal style, similar to Motorhead’s Lemmy or Warner Brothers’ Yosemite Sam. His vocals and extra guitar would suit the band on The Beast that Devoured Itself, one of the most underrated and unheard albums of the American punk scene.

Beast captures the band stretching out, coming to terms with rock and even throwing in some ballads in Oh Baby even if the chorus tweaks the form with the lyrics “I hope this pop tune don’t bring you down.” Somewhat recalling a Replacements from the cornfields, Beast’s songs are still unmistakably punk, but the guitar leads and solos in songs like Proud to Be a Farmer show a greater range and melodicism than their previous work, as well as the introduction of an occasional harmonica and a rhythm section that has grown tighter since the self-title album.

The band followed up with 40 Fingers. There’s a good album there, but the studio polish hides it, and the cover of “Scarborough Fair” will probably scare most reasonable people away. Which is a shame, because there’s some good, melodic punk on there, like “Pay Your Bill” or “Exit 301” which would sound great with a bit more grit. The reissues by Bar/None Records are much clearer than the previous CD releases, where the listener can actually discern two guitars on The Beast that Devoured Itself. Sadly, the reissues are digital only, which seems like a missed opportunity, since most of the people interested in these albums would love actual physical copies with extensive liner notes and photos and whatnot, but hopefully someone could be poking around Itunes and stumble upon The Beast that Devoured Itself, much like people used to do in record stores and spread the gospel of this underrated, nearly unknown classic Kansan punk band.

www.bar-none.com/the-micronotz