I’ve seen The Cult perform live almost a dozen times and they never cease to amaze me. How could one ever get tired of the combination of Ian Astbury’s dark yet soulful voice and Billy Duffy’s one of a kind Phil Spector-esque wall of sound guitar tone?
Add in some of the most iconic and memorable rock songs of the past 30 years and you have arguably one of the greatest rock bands on the planet in my opinion. For some reason they seem to play in San Francisco more than any other city in the country, but this time around it was quite a different show.
Teaming up with Scottish rock gods Primal Scream, the co-headlining bill appropriately named “Primal Cult,” is in the midst of a short West Coast run. I’m a casual fan of Primal Scream as they usually come in one of two flavors in regards to their live shows. One being their signature, noise-induced psychedelic electro-rock in the form of Screamadelica and Evil Heat (which I totally dig as do so many aging hipsters), and the second, their Stones-infused classic rock jams found on my favorite two records from them, Riot City Girl and the terribly underrated Give Out but Don’t Give Up. This show in particular would feature the later.
I’ve always been a fan of Collective Soul, but something happened since the last time I saw these guys live in 2012. It’s almost like a rebirth of sorts. They just released their 9th studio album and embarked on the “See What You Started Tour,” because that’s what a band does, right? But what I saw at the Fillmore on Monday night was the best sounding Collective Soul I’ve ever seen take their show to an entire new level. Who would have guessed that in mid-November there’s a contender for best show of the year? Believe it.
Frontman extraordinaire Ed Roland could be one of the most gifted songwriters alive. He can write a hook like nobody’s business and nine albums in he hasn’t missed a step. Collective Soul’s songs generally go in one of two directions; heavy-duty Zeppelin style grooves, or orchestrated layers and harmonies that can easily turn into one of the best ballads you’ve ever heard before. They’ve also taken a pop route here and there turning simple AC/DC riffs into polished, gang style chants and modern-day summertime anthems. Pull all of this together and you have one hell of an eclectic show.
The setlist that night pulled heavily from their new album, See What You Started By Continuing and was peppered with hits from the band’s impressive catalog. The fact that they opened up the set with “December” is a testament to how many incredible songs they have to choose from without having to save the “hits” for last. The most remarkable song in the set that night was “Needs.” Every time I hear this song I can’t help but think, how can anyone write such a magnificent song?
New Orleans style jazz is alive and well and the torch bearers of this national treasure brought one hell of an impromptu jam session to the stage of the legendary Fillmore last week. The Preservation Hall Jazz Band derives its name from the Preservation Hall venue located in New Orleans’ French Quarter. The band is known for performing traditional New Orleans-style jazz and has been playing together in various incarnations since the 1960s.
Over the years they’ve shared the stage with everyone from a young Harry Connick Jr, back in the day, to recent shows with Arcade Fire, My Morning Jacket, and the Foo Fighters just to name a few. This night in particular the band was joined by Meshell Ndegeocello, Lyrics Born, and Beats Antique. Each special guest brought something truly unique to the stage and made this show a once in a lifetime event.
The setlist was a mashup of jazz classics falling somewhere between dixieland, traditional jazz, and old school funk. Since New Orleans is universally considered the birthplace of jazz, the band certainly maintains the spirit, but as the sold out crowd would find out very quickly, the magic happens when the bring along some of their good friends to share the stage.
Has it really been 28 years since King Diamond’s horror themed masterpiece Abigail was released? My god I’m feeling old. It’s been called the first horror metal album ever and the landmark record is finally being performed in its entirety along with one hell of an elaborate set to tell the story properly.
This is one of my favorite metal albums from my teenage rebellion years when I would buy records simply based on how evil the covers looked. It was a ploy to piss off my parents and Abigail certainly did the trick, but it also paved the way for me to appreciate metal in a whole new way. Theatrics, soaring falsettos, growling lows, layer over layer of instrumentation, and most importantly—an incredible story that transported the listener.
The set started off with some King classics including “Welcome Home” and a trio of Mercyful Fate songs. This was just the teaser to the full meal deal which would be Abigail. I’ve got to say that this record as a whole stands up magnificently and doesn’t sound like it has been around for nearly three decades.
Last time I saw My Morning Jacket live was at SXSW in 2008. At that time they were the critics’ darlings and an industry buzz band that everyone was talking about. Labels had high hopes, record sales hadn’t completely tanked yet, and there was still a bit of optimism that the industry would figure out the digital model.
MMJ was truly coming into their own having recently graduated from the club scene, and thanks to a major label, launched directly into the limelight. I was a casual fan at the time, but what I saw that night changed my life.
This show was otherworldly. There’s really no other way to describe the sheer magnitude of awesomeness that I witnessed. I think it was one of the only shows that I’ve been to where I looked around and the entire crowd had their fucking jaw on the ground in pure awe of what Jim James and his band of gypsies were swirling up on that magnificent stage. It was truly one of the most amazing shows I’ve ever seen before, and I’ve seen thousands.
Mew is a special kind of band. One of those bands who, when someone asks you what they sound like, you can’t think of one group to compare them to—and that’s a good thing. Led by the fantastically gorgeous, angelic pipes of front man Jonas Bjerre, Mew create epicly layered soundscapes atop unpredictable time signatures that create a musical experience like nothing you’ve ever heard before.
And that’s just how they sound on record. Add in the live element that seemingly can’t be reproduced and they deliver, better yet, they astonish and dazzle. While the band has proven itself to be one of the biggest and most influential bands on the Danish indie scene—having achieved several Gold and Platinum albums as well as winning numerous awards—they have never broken wide open here in States.
Instead, they have sort of a cult following that celebrates the band’s entire catalog. It’s mind-boggling as to why a band that can create such incredibly unique, thought-provoking music can garner such a huge audience in one country with a lopsided following in another. Then again I think that Europeans are simply much more open to music that pushes the envelope, rather than worshiping conventional radio pop.
You can count the number of artists who can fill a stadium on one hand, and the mighty AC/DC lead the pack. Touring in support of their latest release, the not-surprisingly great Rock or Bust, Angus Young and company brought their one of a kind rock ‘n’ roll experience to AT&T Park and was warmly greeted by a sold out crowd.
This is one of those once in a lifetime shows which is truly bigger than anything happening in rock ‘n’ roll at the moment. I would even put AC/DC above the Stones in this case as I don’t think there is any band on the planet that sounds this good and continues to deliver rock solid records even though they could certainly tour just to be touring.
Being one of the most important and influential rock bands in history isn’t an easy task, but these guys are certainly up for the challenge. From the very first note of “Rock or Bust” the capacity crowd sporting glowing devil horns lit up immediately and pledged their allegiance for those about to rock. Just walking through the crowd you could see both hard core fans and the latter absolutely losing their shit over this band. Each song played perfectly into the next as a sort of crash course in the history of hard rock—past, present, and future.
I distinctly remember seeing this one album cover growing up with these two super hot chicks on it that my mother used to listen to constantly. It might have been the first time I had ever heard hard rock music before.
The record was called Dreamboat Annie and those two beautiful ladies were the incredibly talented sister duo of Ann and Nancy Wilson. This record came out when I was two, so I’m guessing that I didn’t fully comprehend the greatness of this rock ‘n’ roll masterpiece until I was at least six, but this was one of those records than never left my parents’ turntable.
Songs like “Magic Man” and “Crazy on You” have been stuck in my head for close to three decades now, and I really never get tired of hearing those songs. Heart has sold more than 35 million albums worldwide and they continue to carry their signature hard rock sound along with their incredibly diverse folky ventures. Last week a stellar version of Heart made their triumphant return to San Francisco. Fueled of course by the core of the band, Ann and Nancy, it was worth the wait.
Nirvana’s Krist Novoselic was at a Foo Fighters show earlier this month and claimed via Twitter that Dave Grohl and company are “The Best Band In the World!” After seeing the show live for myself last week, I would easily support that claim.
The Foo Fighters have sold over 10 million albums in the United States alone and 30 million albums Worldwide. A combination of their 2oth anniversary and the continued support of their latest masterpiece Sonic Highways is the reason for this season. But, one slight misstep in Sweden almost ruined it all. But that’s not Grohl’s style.
Instead the workingman’s rock ‘n’ roller rolled with the punches and renamed the tour the “Broken Leg Tour,” not missing a beat. But how does one translate such an energetic stage presence into a sit down performance? In a custom-built moving throne of course, which he claims to have designed himself while on painkillers in the hospital.
Daryl Hall and John Oates have nothing left to prove. They have solidified their place in the history of popular music and sold more albums than any other duo, garnering 13 gold and platinum albums along the way. So why are they still touring after all these years? After seeing this show I would say because they still fucking love it.
It’s my third time seeing Hall & Oates in just the past few years, but my first at the legendary Greek Theatre in Berkeley. I was in the middle of the crowd at the sound board getting set up to photograph the band when the sound guy leans over with a message. “I need to squeeze in a few seats for a VIP” he says to me. There is probably enough room for one chair, but somehow he manages to make three fit comfortably. This is arguably the best place in the house to watch the show so I immediately wonder who the VIP is?
Seconds later I see the Red Rocker Sammy Hagar being escorted to the seats. I have two camera bodies on monopods attached to massive lenses so I can’t really move so I do my best to make way.