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Print Reviews

A Genesis In My Bed

A Genesis In My Bed

by Steve Hackett

Wyner Publishing

Steve Hackett was the guitarist for Genesis during their Prog Rock years in the early to late 1970s. He left the band just before they began their transition from cult darling to hit makers. You’d think the guy might resent missing the golden ticket, but Steve doesn’t hold any grudges. He had a few minutes on the pop charts with the band GTR and he’s been able to make the music he wants, and make a living at it.

A Genesis In My Bed strikes a similar tone as Eric Clapton’s autobiography. Both artists are committed to telling their story as honestly they can. It feels like Steve is sharing a cup of tea on a rainy afternoon and telling you about his life. He’s interested in sharing how he felt at the crossroads of his life. He recounts humorous stories of his escapes from parental supervision as a toddler. He is almost painfully frank about his teenage quest to master the guitar at the expense of dating girls. He recounts his time in London before getting the Genesis gig like a buddy telling you about seeing Mick Jagger walking along Kings Road, but the really important thing that day was getting the latest clothes.

It’s refreshing to read Hackett’s account of the audition process for Genesis. He admits he was nervous and questioned if a working class kid like him belonged in a band with Public School boys. He did. He humbly talks about his contributions to Genesis records as contributing a melody to fit a chord progression here or suggesting a lyric there. He talks about encouraging Peter Gabriel’s theatrical stage antics.

There are points in the story where Hackett could have lashed out at people. It would be understandable if he’d been pissed at Tony Banks and Mike Rutherford for asking him not to release solo albums while still being in Genesis. Steve just says that he would have liked to stay and have a solo career on the side, but he had music that didn’t fit the band, so it’s time to leave.

The only time Hackett does grouse is about the way punk changed the record industry. As those unrefined hooligans gained ascendance, it made it harder for him to get his music out.

Steve’s solo albums provide an opportunity to share his interest in Spiritualism and life after death. His first album, Voyage of the Acolyte, takes inspiration from the tarot. Albums like Spectral Mornings and Till We Have Faces explore spiritual themes while finding diminishing returns commercially. He slowly settles into a niche performer, often playing with orchestras and recording his take on classical guitar.

The title A Genesis in My Bed is taken from a story about a night spent with a groupie. Steve expresses misgivings that the women just want to add to their collection of one night stands with rock stars. He gets confirmation when one of his new acquaintances shouts; “I have a Genesis in my bed!” The later part of the story finds Hackett coming to terms with “being a Genesis.” Part of that coming to terms has been taking on the role as guardian of the classic Genesis legacy. Steve has released several albums of “Genesis Revisited” albums and he frequently tours playing Genesis material. He can do things with the songs he couldn’t while in the band. Most importantly, Steve really enjoys sharing music he still loves with friends. If he’s always going to be known as “a Genesis,” that’s all right.

www.wymerpublishing.co.uk

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

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Event Reviews

David Crosby & Friends

David Crosby & Friends

Paramount Theater, Cedar Rapids, Iowa • 11/24/2018

The Paramount Theater in Cedar Rapids, Iowa hosted David Crosby and friends to a very full crowd of both younger and older fans alike. The friends included Michael League on guitar, Michelle Willis on Keys, and Becca Stevens on guitar and vocals. They are on tour to promote their new album collaboration, Here If You Listen.

The music itself was very David Crosby and an interesting mix of his signature harmonies, heart-felt lyrics, and the additional elements of his recruited help. Becca stated that they raided Mr Crosby’s lyric note books going back to the ’70s to compose some of the music for the new album. Of the 15 songs they performed, 4 came from the new album: “Vagrant of Venice”, “Other Half Rule”, “Glory”, and “Janet”.

Jeremy Glazier

The remaining 11 songs were a good mix of new songs and ones that spanned through out Mr. Crosby’s productive career. He stated at the beginning of the show that they would play a couple songs that everyone would know and he wasn’t wrong. While I’m more familiar with his Crosby, Stills, and Nash work before 1977, the only 3 songs that I, or the casual fan may recognize were “Guinevere”, “Woodstock”, and “Ohio”.

While I did enjoy the new music, the true highlight of the night was Mr. Crosby taking a moment before preforming solo, to explain the story and deeper meaning behind his song “Laughing”. As most things in Mr. Crosby’s life, it appears that one simple gesture can change the history of the world. It seems that besides his obvious musical contributions, the man on stage was the precipice for a larger musical inspiration than I could have imagined.

On their first trip to England, The Byrds were nervous about running into The Beatles, as they were huge fans. Since they were playing nothing but dive bar gigs, they didn’t think it would be a problem. Mr. Crosby explains, “On the third one of those I look out through the smoke and and there’s John Lennon and I think to myself, oh shit, not here…and he’s talking to Jagger, they were all there… McCartney drove me home that night and we laughed all the way.” He pauses briefly, recalling a moment, and then continues.

Jeremy Glazier

“I liked George…good guy all around…even then he was going to high ground…fun to be herbally enhanced with. A thing happened that was weird, just before I left America I had been turned on to an Indian musician named Ravi Shankar…fantastic musician…insanely good and beautiful…so I had this record in my suitcase. I’d just gotten it and I gave it to George, which had repercussions. It turned out he liked Indian music.”

“The Indian music lead him eventually to India, and to a teacher that he was talking to me about, that he’s pretty wise and got a glimpse of the truth. Okay, I’m very skeptical almost cynical about that shit…and I wanted to say that to him…to take it with the grain of salt…and I was chicken…it’s George. So there’s a thing that I do when I wanna do something like that and I can’t, I write a song…so I wrote this song, a pretty simple song.” With that he preforms his song “Laughing”.

Jeremy Glazier

With David Crosby and Friends you get pieces of where he’s been, what he’s done, and how he perceives the future. He’ll not only speak his mind, but also ask you through his lyrics, to question your mind as well. If you listen, his message is still coming through as loud and as clear as it always has and I don’t think he plans on backing down any time soon.

davidcrosby.com

Categories
Music Reviews

Mazzy Star

Mazzy Star

Still

Rhymes Of An Hour Records

Hope Sandoval and David Roback, the dynamic duo that comprise the core of ’90s dream-pop band, Mazzy Star, are back with a four-song EP entitled Still, released on their own label. Sandoval’s rich, ethereal vocals, the same ones that endeared this band to legions of fans with 1993’s hit, “Fade Into You” off So Tonight That I Might See, are as heady as ever. It is their first release since the 2014 Record Store Day offering, “I’m Less Here.” While the EP is being promoted as three new songs and one reinvented track, it is more accurate to say that two of the three newly released cuts were performed live over the years but never recorded. Complex in their sheer simplicity yet steeped in gut-wrenching melancholy, Mazzy Star’s beautifully haunting compositions still have what it takes to reach the depth of one’s soul.

With the alluring opener, “Quiet, The Winter Harbour” we are reminded yet again why we love Mazzy Star. The track has been in their live performance repertoire a few times but was never recorded for studio release. The hypnotic cadence of Sandoval’s phrasings are paired with delicate piano notes complemented by subtle slide and pedal steel guitar. The entrancing ballad is a bonafide winner.

Also never quite finding its way to a record but part of the live set list in the past is “That Way Again,” with some guitar riffs reminiscent of The Sundays’ cover of “Wild Horses” from The Rolling Stones (Jagger/Richards). Echoes of Harriet Wheeler’s similar vocal stylings easily could be heard here.

The guitar-driven, strings-infused title cut, “Still,” is an honest, soul-baring confession: “I thought of you all of the time now/And I knew that you were mine…/I just wanted to know your name/It was a vacuum faded smile/Your eyes are warm still inside you’ve just escaped so let me turn around to you…Smile/I thought of you one wakening.”

Finishing off with a reinvented version of the trippy title track from 1993’s So Tonight That I Might See, Sandoval’s spoken word, stream-of-consciousness oration takes a back seat to the prog-infused instrumentation that hearkens back to the late ’60s/early ’70s drug-induced psychedelia of the era.

Dangling this short but savory nugget for fans may be just a tease from Mazzy Star, or it just could be the precursor to a full-on album in the not-too-distant future. Only time will tell. But in the meantime, this is a must-have for any fan. Mazzy Star heads Down Under and hits the Australian stage for their inaugural performances at the Sydney Opera House, June 11 to June 13.

Still is available on 12-inch vinyl and DSP including iTunes and Spotify.

www.hopesandoval.com/home.shtml

Categories
Event Reviews

Palaye Royale

Palaye Royale

The Backbooth / Orlando, FL • 2.5.17

More seductive and more alluring than a hot-n-sloppy Mick Jagger lip-lock with Carly Simon circa ’72, West Coast glam-core upstart Palaye Royale was the magical “golden ticket” tucked inside the 2016 Warped Tour “Wonka Bar.” And in 2017, the patchouli-scented, velvet-clad combo has returned to the road as victorious rock and roll vets – a cross-country excursion that included a Super Bowl Sunday performance at Downtown Orlando’s renowned and beloved shithole, The Backbooth.

Approximately 200 (predominately) female hipsters (and one Elvira look-alike) screamed with near-orgasmic abandon at 8:05 – the very instant the blasting sounds of The Stooges’ “I Wanna Be Your Dog” came to an abrupt stop, the stage then went black, and the art class darlings seized the soirée.

Remington Leith

Diana Cannon
Remington Leith

A gorgeous, Greek-like incarnation of Ziggy Stardust, frontman Remington Leith commandeered the mic in a flash – leading his crew into a set-opening double-whammy of “Don’t Feel Quite Right” and “My Youth Generation.” Let the “misbehaving” begin! Seemingly residing spiritually somewhere between Pete Townshend circa ’66 and Keith Richards circa ’71, guitarist Sebastian Danzig once again appeared charming and personable, fashion-forward and sonically-gifted. Executing pressed snare rolls and tasty tom fills with Neal Smith-style precision and passion, twenty-year-old drummer Emerson Barrett proved to be the bravest soul in the house – walking barefoot from the dressing room to the stage… at The Backbooth.

Sebastian Danzig

Diana Cannon
Sebastian Danzig

Far more ferocious onstage than indicated by the confines of their acclaimed 2016 debut record, Boom Boom Room (Side A), Palaye Royale has evolved magnificently from a side-stage Warped Tour oddity, and into a world-class rock act – packing so many hopelessly addictive, sweat-soaked songs, and oozing so much shamelessly unbridled, super-hero vim, they barely seem human.

Palaye Royale

Jessica Parker
Palaye Royale

“You guys make Texas look like a little bitch,” Leith announced to the Florida flock with brash confidence as the band segued from a rollicking remake of the My Chemical Romance staple, “Teenagers” and into robust renditions of “Mr. Doctor Man” and “How Do You Do?”

Enhanced immeasurably by the additional performances offered by touring guitarist Danny Wagstaff and bassist Daniel Curcio, the high-octane, 8-song, 40-minute set felt all too short, as die-hards were left on their feet, bawling for more, while the final Telecaster squeals of “Get Higher” faded into the venue’s nicotine-drenched din.

And the chicks go wild!

palayeroyale.com

Categories
Music Reviews

Vashti Bunyan

Vashti Bunyan

Heartleap

DiCristina

Known as the “godmother of Freak Folk”, Vashti Bunyan has been an enigmatic figure on the world music scene since her discovery by Rolling Stones manager Andrew Loog Oldham in 1965. She released an unheard Jagger/Richards song “Some Things Just Stick in Your Mind” but it didn’t catch on. However in 1968 she met producer Joe Boyd (Nick Drake, Fairport Convention, et al) and in 1969 the 19 year old released her first album, Just Another Diamond Day. It too went nowhere (at the time), and Bunyan retired from the music scene to raise her children in Scotland.

Largely unknown by her, Diamond Day found a home among folk music fans, interest increasing by the year until it became a rarity, going for big bucks on auction sites, and generating gushing praise for its complex beauty, minimal instrumentation and Bunyan’s gossamer vocals. It is a timeless record, sounding at once of its era–the folk bloom from the United Kingdom in the early ’70s (in some part due to Nick Drake string arranger Robert Kirby’s additions)– and yet as fresh and vital as todays sound. 35 years past its release Vashti Bunyan released her second album, Lookaftering, which found the singer amid contemporary acolytes including Devendra Banhart and Joanna Newsom.

Bunyan largely ignores the music business, rarely touring, so when fans got wind of her recording in 2008, interest was peaked. And now, in 2014 she has released Heartleap, her third and final album. And it’s a stunner. Opening with “Across The Water”, Bunyan’s delicate voice is framed by her soft guitar, entrancing and engrossing, with a subtle string arrangement in the background. This is music that requires careful listening but which rewards with each new spin, finding new detail in the lyrics or a particularly fine melody. Bunyan creates her music largely on her own in private, using modern techniques of recording to allow her to overcome not being able to read or write music, or play piano “with more than one hand”. It is the music she hears in her head, writ large. The ten songs on Heartleap are ethereal and finespun, and on songs such as “Mother”, devastating in emotional depth. If this is indeed her final recording, then she’s given us a triumphant end to a small, but exquisitely rich body of work.

www.fat-cat.co.uk/site/artists/vashti-bunyan

Categories
Event Reviews

Wild Flag

Wild Flag

with Mission of Burma

Prospect Park Bandshell, Brooklyn, NY • 8/3/12

What do speed-dating and today’s musicians’ side-projects have in common? Both meet in a short, chance encounter, where a timer is set for a couple to share ideas and check each other out before moving on to the next person or thing. But after doing it enough times, you eventually run into the same people. And while side-projects can be hit-or-miss, sometimes bands whose members beget other bands will create something good. Enter Wild Flag.

Carrie Brownstein

May Terry
Carrie Brownstein

Feel free to disagree, but let’s just admit that Wild Flag is indeed a supergroup, at least as far as ’90s female-led indie-rock bands are concerned. The post-punk fab-foursome of Carrie Brownstein, Rebecca Cole, Mary Timony, and Janet Weiss weaves a rather tangled web of side projects that can also read like a telenovela:

Carrie and Janet were both in Sleater-Kinney, but while Mary was in Helium, she and Carrie hooked up to form The Spells. Meanwhile, Janet also co-founded Quasi, which at one point included Joanna Bolme from The Minders, where Rebecca also played keyboards. And at one point, Janet hooked up with Rebecca to play in a local cover band, The Shadow Mortons.

Wild Flag’s self-titled debut album was released last year, and was followed by a tour that went through last spring. Unfortunately, Wild Flag is not actively doing a promotional tour, narrowing down their performances to a couple of select events. It was perplexing why this performance suddenly cropped up. Maybe it’s because NPR was one of the Brooklyn Arts Media sponsors, and it’s no coincidence that Carrie has ties through the Monitor Mix blogging days for public radio. In any case, this free — yes, FREE — concert in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park Bandshell was a scrumptous treat of Riot Grrl goodness!

Mission of Burma

May Terry
Mission of Burma

Before the Wild Flag headline, post-punk veterans Mission of Burma started their set. With their latest album, Unsound, released this past July, the power trio of Roger Miller, Clint Conley, and Peter Prescott demonstrated with raging force that they can still rock hard even three decades after Signals, Calls, and Marches was released in 1981. The Bandshell had a fair number of attendees there to just see MoB, and by the end of their set, I’m guessing that some new converts will be checking out older albums like Vs.

Mary and Carrie

May Terry
Mary and Carrie

But the night clearly belonged to Wild Flag, who came onstage at around 9:30pm, opening with “Glass Tambourine,” followed by “Electric Band,” and “Future Crimes.”

Wild Flag is a fresh fusion that blends the hard edge and united vocal chant typical of Sleater-Kinney, the ethereal and psychedelic bend from Helium, and a retro indie-pop sound from The Minders. Their vocal harmonies for the most part worked well (with the exception of a couple of pitchy spots, but hey, it’s rock, not classical), and their playing was highly complementary.

Janet Weiss

May Terry
Janet Weiss

Janet’s thunderous drumming forms the backbone for most of Wild Flag’s sound, and worked great with Rebecca’s use of the lower notes on the keyboard to fill in bass lines. Carrie’s wound-up and jagged guitar style funneling a dirty distortion oftentimes was front and center, but Mary’s more refined and cleaner guitar sound deserves its own listen as she often uses techniques that work for the song without being overbearing. It was tough to see the stage sitting from a distance, but Mary’s melodic riff played through guitar tapping on “Short Version” was brilliant. Another great bonus is to hear Mary sing the unreleased Wild Flag song, “Nothing,” that really should have been added to the debut album as another bonus track — maybe for the second album? [Wink, wink, nudge, nudge?]

Mary Timony

May Terry
Mary Timony

Visually, there’s a lot of jumping and head-bobbing from all the band members to keep the energy up on their more driving songs, but the spotlight mostly shines on Carrie’s eye-catching onstage moves which seem to draw from a lot of either taped or live concert footage of classic and punk rock bands. There are the Jagger-esque hand-on-flank poses without her guitar, Pete Townsend windmills with the Gibson SG in hand, and spastic head turns, jumps, and high kicks seen in countless punk rock concerts.

“Racehorse” rocks like a Sleater-Kinney song, with frantic keyboard passages during the solo, and was Carrie’s cue to strut her bad-self over center stage, literally stand on the bass drum, and hold the guitar up way above her head like the statue of liberty. The crowd went wild as a sea of iPhones suddenly showed up for photo ops. Undoubtedly, Carrie gets an “A” for working the crowd.

Carrie

May Terry
Carrie

A cute moment came next when the band asked the crowd to sing “Happy Birthday” to Rebecca and it was easy to see a modest and slightly embarrassed, but touched look on her face. This led into the breakout track of the album, “Romance,” which ended the set.

Wild Flag then returned to stage for the encore and performed two covers that they’ve done on past shows – Television’s “See No Evil,” and Patti Smith’s “Ask The Angels.” The entire Wild Flag set was only an hour and fifteen minutes, and leaving still amp’d from such a great performance, there was a yearning to hear more. Then again, what more could one expect for free?

With the acclaim and awards from the IFC series, Portlandia, a book deal with Ecco/Harper Collins, and hints of a possible Sleater-Kinney reunion somewhere down the road, Carrie Brownstein has her dance card full, and with Mary in DC, thousands of miles from Portland, I wonder what the future holds for Wild Flag. Is this a one-time deal, or will we see more of this talented group? Let’s hope for the latter. Someone set that speed-dating timer for another 15 minutes, because we’re not done yet.

Wild Flag: wildflagmusic.com

Categories
Music Reviews

Jail House Bound

Various Artists

Jail House Bound: John Lomax’s First Southern Prison Recordings, 1933

Global Jukebox / West Virginia University Press

If you’re looking for the very dirt beneath the roots of rock and roll, this is it. John Lomax was one of the first ethnologists to take a recorder out into the wilds and catch “real folks” singing “real music.” Mr. Lomax has a particular interest in black music and may have been inspired by the Federal project to collect slave stories during the depression. His recording technology was crude; he used a hand-wound Dictaphone with wax cylinders, and later a much noisier “improved” electronic system. All this junk weighed 400 pounds and just barely fit in his Ford automobile. In prison camps throughout the South he captured the songs of black men who relied on the songs to help them though their brutal jobs. These were direct descendents of slaves and had tripped up against the white man’s society and now were pretty much back where the grandparents were, working from “Can to Can’t” for no money, crappy food, and no chance of doing much of anything else.

On these cylinders are the songs that influenced Mick Jagger and Eric Clapton, and while you can hear the bones of “Midnight Special,” it doesn’t sound a thing like Wolfman Jack’s theme. Another tune you may recognize is “Black Betty.” There are plenty of versions and explanations of the lyrics, but here she’s just a slave girl bearing a child with suspiciously light skin. In the final chorus, they sing “it must have been the captain’s.”

The vocals here are amazingly good, but the sound quality is at best yard-sale 78s, and some of the tracks are so noisy you can barely hear them. The collection includes a nice booklet discussing the prisons and the singers and the trouble Lomax took to get these recordings. Not all the prisoners were great singers, but when he found them at Angola or Statesville, he stuck around and harvested his rare treasures. In an interview, Lomax declares he’s out to find “nigra’s” that had had the least possible contact with whites and the least possible influence from modern society. He found them all right; some of these prisoners had been locked up since the 1880s. I can’t recommend this for casual listening, but it’s essential for the musicologist or songwriter.

Jail House Bound: globaljukeboxrecords.com • John Lomax: culturalequity.orgloc.gov/folklife/lomaxwvupress.com

Categories
Event Reviews

Van Halen

Van Halen

with Kool & The Gang

Amway Center, Orlando, FL • April 12, 2012

The last time Van Halen toured — supporting new material — with original frontman David Lee Roth, the year was 1984. It was the album of that same year (1984) that the legendary hard rock band was promoting — the very same album that would not only end up becoming one of their most commercially successful, but also the source of much of the setlist for their 2012 A Different Kind of Truth Tour.

Diamond Dave

Jen Cray
Diamond Dave

Sure, the band — with Roth — did a reunion tour five years ago, right after bassist Michael Anthony left the band, but this one is different because it feels more official. They’ve got a new album, the surprisingly true-to-form A Different Kind of Truth, and the four members (Roth, Eddie Van Halen, Alex Van Halen, and bassist Wolfgang Van Halen — Eddie’s 21-year-old son!) look and play like they actually want to be onstage with one another. It doesn’t feel like a cash cow reunion, it feels like a band that’s set aside its differences and decided to make music again. And the music for this tour is exclusively of the Roth years — not one smidgen of the Sammy Hagar days made the cut.

Van Halen lights up the big screen.

Jen Cray
Van Halen lights up the big screen.

Orlando’s Amway Center was nearly sold-out, and, though the bulk of Van Halen’s fans are in their 40s these days, those fans were jumping up and down beside their chairs from the opening spotlit drum intro of “Unchained.” Even up into the rafters, seats were abandoned to make space for proper pogos and head banging. With the familiar Brown sound of Eddie Van Halen’s guitar filling even the bowels of the arena, with the flashy David Lee Roth throwing kicks and mugging like Mick Jagger, and with the die-hard fans pushing the boundaries of thread on their vintage, faded, gray, old concert shirts — you could have almost believed it was 1984 again.

Kool & The Gang

Jen Cray
Kool & The Gang

Even the opening band was a flashback. Freakin’ Kool & The Gang, man! What’s that, now?! “Celebration,” “Get Down On It,” “Jungle Boogie” — yes, that Kool & The Gang! Of the dozen members onstage, only a few of them are of the original 1964 lineup (including bassist Robert “Kool” Bell and saxophonist Ronald Bell), but they disco funked their way through a 45-minute set that, oddly, went over quite well before the roomful of rock fans.

Jen Cray

They enjoyed the boogie, but they reveled in the wash of rolling thunder of the main act, and they thanked their lucky stars to be on the receiving end of Diamond Dave’s cheeky banter. Even cheekier than usual, Roth yanked down one side of his skin-tight leather pants to blow up the tattoo of a gun on his ass cheek on the IMAX-size screen behind the band during “Tattoo.” When he wasn’t mooning the audience, he was showing off his limber physique with martial art-inspired moves, flashing his cheshire grin, and even laughing at himself when he forgot the words to “Chinatown.” And when the band dove into songs from decades past — “Everybody Wants Some,” “Hot For Teacher,” “Panama” — he, and the ever-smiling Eddie, looked as ecstatic as the audience.

David Lee Roth and Eddie Van Halen

Jen Cray
David Lee Roth and Eddie Van Halen

With no extra touring musicians used, or needed, the Hall of Famers shouldered the sound effortlessly. Ending with “Jump” (how could they not?!), Van Halen closed out a short-but-killer 21st Century demonstration of a band that doesn’t need any bells or whistles to blow your mind.

Gallery of live shots from this show: Van Halen.

Van Halen: www.van-halen.com

Categories
Screen Reviews

Some Girls Live in Texas ’78

Some Girls Live in Texas ’78

directed by Lynn Lenau Calmes

starring The Rolling Stones

Eagle Rock Entertainment, Ltd.

Sixteen years almost to the day of their first performance at Marquee Club in 1962, The Rolling Stones roared into Dallas in 1978 a band restored. Three years into the Ron Wood era, the group had released Some Girls a month before, their last true masterpiece. Keith Richards was clean (but definitely not sober… ), having put the arrest for heroin in Toronto behind him. Taking a number from their early days, the show starts with Chuck Berry’s “Let It Rock,” followed by an explosive “All Down the Line” from Exile. By the time the third number — a swaggering “Honky Tonk Women” — comes to a close, you can almost catch your breath.

Almost. After a romp with “Star Star,” the band runs through seven numbers from Some Girls. It is during “Beast of Burden” that the band finds its groove. The interplay between Richards’ guitar and the snare drum of Charlie Watts is the musical foundation for the song, and when Jagger delivers the song’s penultimate line — “You keep on telling me I ain’t your kind of man” — you know why they’re called “the greatest rock and roll band in the world.”

The show is held in the 3,000-seat Will Rogers Memorial Center, where the band strips away the giant phallus and over-the-top stage production of past tours and forces you to focus on the music. There are no horns, and the only additional musicians are long-time Stones piano player Ian Stewart and Ian McLagan, a former member of The Faces with Ron Wood, who joined the group a few days before the tour on organ.

There are moments in this show when the energy is palpable, and you feel as if you’re onstage. The chemistry among the Stones is both unconscious and informed. They had been playing together for all of their lives, and it shows. When the evening ends with “Brown Sugar” and “Jumpin’ Jack Flash,” there can be no doubt of what you have witnessed — the triumphal statement of a band alone at the top. By the time of this show in 1978, the Stones were supposed to have been lackluster prima donnas, drug-addled and past their prime. As this brilliant performance shows, nobody told the band. Exquisitely rendered on Blu-ray, with a DTS-HD soundtrack, this is as good as it got for the band. And when The Rolling Stones were good, they were very, very good.

The Rolling Stones: www.rollingstones.com • Eagle Rock Entertainment: www.eaglerockent.com