Friday, August 29, 2008, 10:33 AM ( 506 views ) - CD Reviews - Posted by AdministratorBrent Amaker and the Rodeo live in Seattle but by some mystery I did not know about them until last month. They are cowboys dressed in black and they are entirely welcome in the Seattle music scene.
I can say a lot about their attractive image - again, they're cowboys dressed all in black - and surreal live show but first this is a music review. Some music I love right away and some I have to hear over and over again to decide on it. This music hit me in the gut immediately and I love it. The songs' structures are so perfect that I don't care if you like country music you will like this country music.
Their first cd is the self-titled 2005 Brent Amaker and the Rodeo. The longest song, Bring Me the Whiskey, clocks in at 3:14 - it's the cd's epic. You're No Good opens things up, complete with perfectly placed horns and a nice twang guitar. The lyrics throughout the cd are clever - still about lost or tortured love and bar fights you want in country music - but I think the music has a sense of humor about itself at the same time. I've Got a Little Hillbilly in Me has handclaps and one contagious refrain. My favorite song off here might be Sissy New Age Cowboy: I hope you won't mind if we mess up your pretty face, someone's got to put you in your place. I don't know, you just want to hang around with whoever does these songs. Especially when Amaker asks Is the Rodeo in Town? in Get the Hell Out, you want them around - it all sounds like a party. You can criticize and say the songs are in the same key but this is fine with me. The vocals are durable and deep - entirely able to carry off the drinking pieces and the more romantic Babe: I Figure Satan had Something to Do With the Creation of You - and he's got something to do with the creation of B.A.R.
Their new cd Howdy Do! begins with Welcome to the Rodeo. I like that this cd has a welcome and an Outro (and rattling bottles in the background) as in old country albums. This one is bold enough to tell you No Refunds in the welcome, and why would you want one? I'm the Man Who Writes the Country Hits is a great classic and They Make Cowboys in Montana reminds you in Texas They Make Men and to Keep Your Loved Ones Close - Kill the Rest. These songs build cool scenarios with galloping rhythms and Amaker's voice has an entrancing quality. I get the impression he could be singing about anything and it would sound sexy. The title track is sweet indeed and Walking in My Sleep is haunting. This is the Gun, where Amaker sings Die I Will But Not Before I Break Your Heart is as warped as it is gorgeous. . . okay you can break my heart.
Friday, August 29, 2008, 01:51 AM ( 546 views ) - Musings - Posted by AdministratorYou may have noticed the massive input of reviews, photos, interviews etc. on the blog. I am doing this because well, the blog is back. Some material may be seen elsewhere - some may be exclusive - and eventually I will have little things like bells and whistles e.g. photos & media back on here but here you go. It's back. Enjoy yourself.
Friday, August 29, 2008, 01:43 AM ( 471 views ) - Show Reviews & Photos - Posted by AdministratorCertain things are slightly illegal depending on what parts of the world you live in. Some places you can only have one spouse, some places you can't be a topless woman walking around the beaches . . . to these kinds of blurred and vague illegalities I am going to add just how much I love Switches.
These guys have been working overtime the last couple of years and don't show any signs of fatigue - indeed, the Showbox appearance was the third time I have seen them and they attack all songs with a limber ferocity every time. Lay Down the Law is as brash as ever, Drama Queen is halcyon glam, and Coming Down is the kind of song you just know immediately in the best way. They're a foxy group of Brits led by Matt Bishop, who has the provocative allure to be a huge star. But then you'd be equally smitten with the fierce rhythm section of Steve Godfrey and Thom Kirkpatrick, or the sweltering guitar work of Ollie Thomas.
The bad news is Switches won't be coming back here for a bit, the good news is they're going to work on the next album. To go by their new song Lady for a Rainy Day it's on a promise to be a perfect follow up to Lay Down the Law. It's a more gentle piece that should go well with The Need to Be Needed - that's my only complaint from the show - where was that song?
See my pix of Switches here.
Friday, August 29, 2008, 01:39 AM ( 615 views ) - Interviews - Posted by AdministratorBrent Amaker and Mason Lowe of Brent Amaker and the Rodeo met up with me at the Cha Cha Lounge a bit ago and let me ask them all sorts of questions. I had heard they'd spent some time in a Belgian prison, well okay, played at a Belgian prison - and I was also curious about where these guys came from and what they're going to do next.
Q: This band seems very together, very focussed.
Brent Amaker: I model it after the Ramones, the Briefs -
Mason Lowe: Devo.
B.A.: Any cool band that has a very defined image and they just go for it. That's what we're about. I mean, we're cowboys – we're doing the old school cowboy thing. When the Rodeo gets onstage or we put out a record, people know exactly what they're going to get. Every time. You may like it, you may not, but you'll always know what to expect. There's going to be drinking, asskicking, songs about girls and drugs and cowboy themes –
Q: And whiskey?
B.A.: Yeah. We've got the intercontinental thing. Mason calls us intercontinental cowboys. We're going to travel anywhere who will have us – we're going to Japan next. We put Japanese on our record cover – Japan's going to love us.
Q: Why do you think the Europeans have taken so well to you?
B.A.: I think anybody outside of Seattle loves us. It's just because we're from here – Seattle's a really tough market. They're starting to get it here. We did a US tour last year and we can play to any crowd anywhere and we walk in in our cowboy outfits, do what we do and people freak out. I'm not trying to be cocky but it's so unique. There are real country fans that like us (but) on our US tour last year we played with metal bands and the metal crowds loved us. The heavy metal people totally dig it. I think it's about being well-defined.
M.L.: In Europe the cowboy image is so exotic. Our take on it is a little different.
B.A.: The real hardcore country people like us, but they're a little confused. We all came from the rock scene - we all played in rock bands. We kind of have our own take on old-time country music. When we play to rock crowds, they understand what's going on. I think there's a potential for a mainstream country market to grab onto it..
Q: I think so too.
B.A.: But it would be really weird. I want to be to country music what the White Stripes were for rock. They did the old rock thing and people really dug it. Rock music was totally going in the wrong direction and they came out and said this is what cool old rock music is about.
Q: But I have heard some Keith Urban I liked – I haven't heard all of his material.
B.A.: The director of the video for Sissy New Age Cowboy had me dressed up in a Keith Urban outfit. It was humiliating to have wardrobe come in and say I had to wear this sleeveless shirt that didn't flatter me very well. But I did it.
Q: That's a great video.
B.A.: We shot that over at Manray before they tore it down.
M.L.: We did it at Manray and at Havana.
Q: I was wondering where that part in the counter was shot.
M.L: That was like the 500th guy who had his pants pulled down at that counter. A balloon came down with 500 on it.
B.A.: We shot it about a week before it shut down. I think we immortalized it.
Q: Especially with the steak-eating.
B.A.: That was actually my idea. When we were doing the storyboards I asked, can we do a scene where I eat steak? I really want to eat steak.
Q: Being served steak by women.
B.A.: Yeah, it was kind of a dream of mine. I could do that all the time. If we ever really make it, watch out. . .
Q: What are some of the stranger things that have happened to the band?
B.A.: We have really bizarre stuff happen to us everyday when we're on tour. A weird thing for me is, we'll be in Holland playing at a club we've never played at before and we're loading our gear and someone yells, Brent Amaker – play Reno! That's myspace.
M.L.: People in Holland are on their computers all the time. They have a mouse in one hand and a bong in the other.
B.A.: Pot's legal over there and everybody acts like you're a child if you smoke pot. They're like I did that when I was twelve years old. I think they get really sick of the Americans coming over to get legal pot.
M.L.: We spent a lot of time in Belgium. Every town is like Enumclaw – it's like 90 Enumclaws held together by a network of roads. It's all farmers and factory type people. I don't know why we were there – it's just where we ended up.
B.A.: We had a house there.
M.L.: We played a lot of shows there and the people would just stare at us.
B.A.: We always had to play two sets every time we played a show in Belgium. The first set they would stare at us the whole time. The second set – they were into it and clapping. But it was always like we were warming up for ourselves – we had to be our own warm-up band, which is really hard.
Q: I kind of like that idea.
B.A.: We worked hard for that second set. They were completely sober during the first set, and then the beer started flowing. . .
Q: Have you had any hostile crowds?
B.A.: The prison got pretty scary. Half the prisoners loved us, and the other half weren't sure. There were people yelling f**k America. You weren't sure if they were happy or if they were going to riot.
Q: But they stuck around?
B.A.: They had no choice, they were in a prison.
Q: I walked right into that one.
B.A.: They were by definition a captive audience. Guards were there to make sure they stuck around. This was a maximum-security prison. We rolled in and these metal doors slammed down and the guards took our passports away. We all got this uneasy feeling – we're in a foreign country, in a maximum-security prison and this guy just took our passports away. They weren't going to give them back to us until we finished our show and left. It was a little creepy feeling.
Q: Who's the one who had his hat stolen?
B.A.: Lewis, he's not playing with us anymore. We're working on a list of howdy dos and howdy don'ts. Getting your hat stolen is a howdy don't. Girls like to take your hat at shows. They'll grab it – and we have terror alert levels and send another cowboy to get your hat back. You don't want to flatter her by trying to get the hat. We don't want to encourage the hat-taking. We're serious about our hats. In Holland we had people show up dressed like us. Like Kiss. We bought one of their hats [to replace the stolen one].
Q: Who's the most difficult to tour with?
M.L.: Sugar [bassist].
Q: You all seem like easy-going guys.
B.A.: It's the cowboy suits. I have a theory. It's like with sunglasses – no one can really see you, no one can see your eyes. The outfit is like sunglasses for your whole body.
Q: So let's talk about the label, GraveWax Records.
B.A.: It's really a perfect situation for us. One of the owners lives in Jenna, Germany and the other one lives in Texas. From what I understand they have better distribution in Europe than in the US even. They have good distribution in the US but they are hooked up with a really good distributor in Europe. Our record's going to be on the shelf everywhere in Europe. The more shit happens there, the better we'll do here.
Q: Are you going back to Europe soon?
B.A.: There's a festival in Berlin called Popkomm that we played last year – we're going to play that again in October and then do a short tour around that in Germany. Our record comes out on November 4th in the US and in November we're going to start with a three-week US tour. We're definitely going to the south.
Brent Amaker and the Rodeo are set to play the Ellensburg Rodeo August 29th and 30th. After that they're starting a big tour, including 5 days in NYC in October.
I reviewed both of their cds earlier - I recommend them and their shows. Don't miss them.
Friday, August 29, 2008, 01:35 AM ( 2154 views ) - Interviews - Posted by AdministratorShe Wants Revenge is really sexy stuff. Their songs are curious tableaus about pain, love, lust and how it all interacts – or not. Some of my favorites are Black Liner Run, Tear You Apart, and What I Want. Made up of a duo, Justin Warfield and Adam Bravin, She Wants Revenge has released 2 cds and 3 eps. They've now produced their newest ep, Save Your Soul on their own label. Bravin, a charming talent, talked with me from Minneapolis a few days ahead of their Seattle show.
Q: I've never DJed – what's it like?
AB: Well, it's changed. I've been doing it a really long time. Back in the day you really had to be a good DJ to be able to spin at clubs and parties. Now it seems like you can be a celebrity and not know how to DJ and still DJ all the parties. As an experience, DJing for a crowd that's there to actually hear music and dance and they appreciate the types of selections that you're giving them – it can be really amazing. It's kind of like when you're performing in a band you kind of feed off the energy of the crowd and it's the same way with DJing. You get a room full of people that are really into what's going on it can be a really beautiful thing.
Q: What's one of the weirder things that's happened to you while DJing?
AB: One time I was DJing with a friend of mine who was Prince's DJ at the time – funny that we're in Minneapolis and we're talking about Prince. I went with him to DJ this little thing he was doing and he took a break and he actually fell asleep. It was at Glam Slam, a club that Prince used to own in LA. While I was DJing, Prince showed up. He was basically the only one in the room and he started dancing. I was playing all this rare late 60s early 70s funk stuff that I knew he was into. My buddy woke up and saw what was happening and kicked me off the turntables and played some kind of Prince-related song. Prince came over and said, "You're fired, you're hired." I DJed for him for awhile. I DJed at Glam Slam for a couple of years and opened up for some of his shows. He goes through DJs every couple of years. I just got lucky.
Q: He seems like a nice person. I have nothing really to base this impression on.
He is. He's very eclectic. He's a genius so there's nothing much else you can say than that.
Q: What kinds of jobs did you have, like when you were a teenager?
AB: When I was a teenager I worked at a frozen yogurt place.
Q: That sounds good. I love that.
AB: It was great. Me and my buddy used to have yogurt fights. I worked at Pier 1. They used to make me arrange the basket area all the time, which I dreaded. My boss had it in for me for some reason – I guess it was because I never really wanted to work. I used to work at a restaurant in LA – it was like a 50s dinner where you could kind of be a jerk to people and it was okay.
Q: That must have been fun.
AB: It was.
Q: You grew up in the San Fernando Valley – what is it like there?
AB: Some of my favorite places to eat are still in the Valley so sometimes Justin and I will make a special trip to Henry's Tacos and get some of our favorite tacos. It's where the original Valley Boys and Valley Girls came from. We were in the middle of it when all of that was happening – Justin and I have known each other since we were kids. It's like anywhere else – it's definitely not Hollywood – it's kind of suburbia.
Q: Why do you think British music was so popular there?
AB: There was so much good music coming out at that time. Especially dance music – there wasn't a lot of that coming from the States. KROQ would play all the music that would come to inspire us as musicians – and you didn't hear the same ten songs all day long. They'd play the Cure, New Order, Kraftwerk . . .
Q: Have you thought about doing soundtracks/scores for movies?
AB: Absolutely. I am going to do that – actually we both are when we get home. Our manager is setting up some stuff for us to do. We're supposed to score a series that a friend of mine is hooking me up with. When I don't do the band stuff it's all pretty soundtrack-y, I guess you could say. I'm a huge fan of late 70s early 80s soundtracks. It's kind of one of the only things I listen to on the road. A lot of Giorgio Moroder – Midnight Express, Cat People. Bladerunner [by Vangelis]. I listen to classical and pretty much strictly electronica soundtracks when we're on the bus. We're going to start producing music for other people and slowly work on our next record. We've both started writing screenplays and I think we're going to concentrate on that as well.
Q: On the tour how are the cds represented?
AB: We've been playing about five or six songs from the first record and about four or five from the second record and we've been playing two off the ep. We just started playing a third (song off the ep). It's a little bit of everything.
Q: I found something on IMDB about you being on show – something called Love Monkey?
AB: Our friend, Nic Harcourt, who works at KCRW in LA was music supervisor for this show – I don't even think it was a whole season. We happened to be in New York when they were shooting it and he asked us if we wanted to appear playing in a bar. So it's just us pretending to play in a bar.
Q: You seem to have a lot of hats. What's your favorite kind?
AB: I can always rock a fedora.
Q: Those are nice – they're versatile. How many hats do you think you have?
AB: Maybe 40 or 50. I think most of them are fedoras.
Q: I came across a love advice column by you: Go ask Adam.
AB: I don't remember what I said. I wasn't enjoying it – I think we were in Detroit, and I want to say we were in some kind of weird Mall looking for the food court when I got the call. I remember being really hungry. I don't think I gave the best advice on love due to the fact that I was starving – probably starving for love as well as food. I remember I had to stop and ask the interviewer what I had just said.
Q: What do you like to read?
AB: I'm reading a book called Glamorama by Bret Easton Ellis.
Q: That's a creepy book – I've read that.
AB: Yeah, he's one of my favorite writers.
Q: Have you read American Psycho?
AB: Of course, and Less Than Zero. I'm reading a book called White Noise by Don Delillo. I just started that. It was recommended to me by Justin, who has really good taste in books. And I just finished re-reading the Theory of Relativity by Albert Einstein. I'm a huge fan of math and physics. It's kind of hard having any discussions on the road about physics. It never tends to go in that direction. If I can't talk about it I'll read it. It's interesting to dive into the mind of somebody who was such a forward thinker. The way that he describes things is easy enough for some people to understand that don't really get math or physics. His examples are always about a bridge, or someone walking, or a train. He's a smart cookie – this Einstein guy. We have the same birthday.
Q: When is your birthday?
AB: December 30th.
Q: What about movies? What are some of your favorites?
AB: Bladerunner. I'm obsessed with that movie.
Q: Have you seen the anniversary dvd?
AB: Yeah, I got the super deluxe box set – actually Justin gave it to me for my birthday. It's got like five different versions and it comes with these postcards and this little figurine. It comes in briefcase. When we made our second record I was so obsessed with that movie that there's a song on the record called Rachael, which is inspired by the lead, Sean Young. Then there's a little instrumental piece on the second record called All Those Moments which is inspired by the soundtrack. The title is actually a quote from the movie.
What else . . . I love Fellini. 8 ½ is one of my favorites. Have you seen it?
Q: A long time ago. Is that the one with the fountain scene in it, where she's dancing?
AB: Yes. That's a good one.
Q: Italian movies are good.
AB: Especially the new wave, late 60s – amazing stuff going on in that country as far as films were concerned.
On the bus, when I have time, I've been having an 80s fantasy movie mini-marathon in my bunk.
Q: So. . . Labyrinth?
AB: I watched Labyrinth, I watched Dark Crystal. . . I watched Dark Crystal all the time when I was little, and I hadn't watched it in years – and I watched it and the little girl Gelfling in it . . . the reason I am attracted to a certain type of girl is because of the Gelfling in Dark Crystal. I was like, wait a minute, she's hot and she's a puppet. She kind of looks like all of my ex girlfriends.
I watched Legend. Tim Curry is amazing as the devil. Tom Cruise in a little teeny outfit – awesome.
Q: Tom Cruise looks good in that movie.
AB: I'm always down to watch Time Bandits. But I can't watch it when Justin's around – he doesn't like it. He just wasn't a Monty Python fan. I think you are either one or not.
Q: Are you still planning on producing a cd with all female singers?
AB: Absolutely. It's hard to do when everybody has their own schedules and they all live in different places and they're touring. That's going to be one of the first things that we put out on our label. I have most of them confirmed to do it - it's just a matter of having time.
Q: This will be part of the new label, Perfect Kiss?
AB: When we got our deal with Geffen we started an imprint called Perfect Kiss – it just got slapped onto whatever we did. When we left Geffen we already had the name. We're actually going to do something with it now.
Q: How did you get Shirley Manson in your video for These Things?
AB: We had one day off in New York and we had spoken to Sophie Muller about directing a video for us. We kept asking her what are we going to do, what's your idea? She said, "I can tell you the treatment right now. All I really know at this point is that Shirley Manson is going to kidnap you." We were like, wait – are you serious? She said, "I have this idea about Shirley kidnapping you and torturing you." She sent Shirley the song and asked her if she'd like to be in the video. I guess Shirley liked the song. They found this old theater and basically we kind of winged it. She invited this guy down, this friend of hers, who's kind of her accomplice in the video. She basically called him up and said I'm doing this video want to come kidnap these guys with me?
Q: It turned out great.
AB: It was like this is where she kidnaps you, this where she tortures you and this where she kicks you in the back for an hour. I got a nice stiletto in the lower back for about an hour while I played piano. A lot of people say that must have really hurt, and it did, but in a really amazing way. Shirley can kick me in the back with a heel anytime.
We may be working on something with her for her solo record. We were trying to hook up with her before we left for tour but she had a very busy schedule at the time. She really is one of the coolest people that we've met and she really acted like a music industry big sister. She's a really amazing woman.
Friday, August 29, 2008, 01:26 AM ( 1185 views ) - Show Reviews & Photos - Posted by AdministratorMy first exposure to She Wants Revenge took the form of my alarm clock waking me up to one of their songs, Tear You Apart. It was of course the radio edit so a certain part of it was missing. I still thought it was beautiful and sort of evil at the same time.
I mention this because it's come to define a bit how I feel about She Wants Revenge's music. It's got a dreamlike quality to it that can be both soothing and jarring depending on when you listen to it. You think you're listening to what should be a love song, then singer Justin Warfield coos something really horrible and then you realize you're still listening to a love song - of sorts.
Live, Warfield and Adam Bravin kept a smooth momentum going with a menacing These Things, a danceable What I Want, a trembling Written in Blood, and a perfect Tear You Apart. Save Your Soul, a song off their new EP is gorgeous too. I had a couple favorite moments. Don't get me wrong, Warfield's got a velvety voice and good dance moves. But my first favorite moment was when the entire audience sang along with a key part in Out of Control it seemed like everyone knew exactly when to sing the line Oh My God It's My Favorite Song. My second was a solo Bravin on the keys, playing Disconnect. It's a truly beautiful and evocative piano piece.
The Showbox, lit in mostly red lights, was a good venue for them. Many people think of She Wants Revenge's music as dark, but I think of it as more red than dark - it's bloody, it's written in blood.
Click here for my photos from the show.
Friday, August 29, 2008, 01:00 AM ( 470 views ) - CD Reviews - Posted by AdministratorWhen the Futureheads debuted with their self-titled cd in 2004 it was a pivotal moment for me – and I think for music. I don't know of other bands that sound quite like them and they're superb songwriters – you listen to Carnival Kids or Stupid and Shallow and tell me these aren't inspired songs. In 2006 they followed up with News and Tributes, which included the brilliant and matchless The Return of the Beserker, Favours for Favours and Burnt. They achieved what very few bands achieve – they made two amazing cds in a row.
Now they are back with This is Not the World, a cd that puts them in an elite spot for me along with the Beatles – that's right, the Beatles. The talent in this band is deep – in many ways deeper than is fair. That they can keep up the momentum of their previous work and in some ways do it better – it just shouldn't be allowed. Lucky us it is.
The cd opens up with The Beginning of the Twist, where singer/guitarist Barry Hyde asks Why Don't We Get it Started with a Kiss? I also love the backing vocals in this song – combining vocals is something the Futureheads do so well and with real style. Think Tonight's powerful beat is fantastic – listen to Dave Hyde's drumming closely – the guitar work is spiny and crafty and the lyrics are nimble:I Take Risks but I Don't Rely on Them. Radio Heart is a tight, I will call it romantic piece in some ways: We've Never Met but We've Never Been Apart. Sale of the Century is simply one of the best songs I have heard – it's got seriously throbbing guitar and bass work and the vocals have an intriguing distance to them. Hard to Bear is I think in some ways one of their most moving songs – the stammer Barry Hyde uses in You're not Always Going to Miss Her Tttttttouch is right on, as is the vocal blending. Again, the guitar work is fabulous and slightly different than in their other songs. Guitarist/singer Ross Millard makes a late appearance on the cd – track 8 – in Work is Never Done. It's a gem with a really cool but brief guitar solo. See What You Want to See is just awesome – and it's an apt song to close out the cd with a bang: Don't Reflect What You Can't See in Me .
Working with Primal Scream's producer, Youth, suits them. There's nothing superfluous about their music – everything there is necessary. It's constantly forceful and rampantly gorgeous.
Friday, August 29, 2008, 12:52 AM ( 516 views ) - Show Reviews & Photos - Posted by AdministratorThe Fratellis have a seriously fierce fan base. Made up of three Glaswegians going by the names of Jon Fratelli, Mince Fratelli, and (my favorite) Barry Fratelli, the band created a special kind of frenzy.
Yes their show at Neumo's was all ages. Still, I was shocked by the large number of teenagers at the show. Yes school is out and I guess I sound like a real geezer mentioning how young the crowd was – but I wasn't the only one to notice it, singer/guitarist Jon Fratelli commented to the audience something along the lines of "you get younger and younger." Not only was the crowd young, but they were little moshers. I hadn't really thought of the Fratellis as a band one would mosh to. It's not that they don't play great rock, it's just they seem to have more of a 60s vibe to them and I just don't equate moshing with 60s music. A few of them even moshed - especially strangely I might add – to Neil Diamond's Sweet Caroline as it was piped through the speakers at the end of the show.
The Fratellis released their first album, Costello Music, in 2006 and the band won Best British Breakthrough Act at the BRIT Awards the following year. Their second album, Here We Stand, came out just this month. Costello Music is a great album, but Here We Stand is greater. Of the highlights from the show for me the bulk of them were songs off the newer album: My Friend John, Look Out Sunshine, Mistress Mabel, and Tell Me a Lie. Costello Music's Chelsea Dagger and Everybody Knows You Cried Last Night rung true as well. All were vibrant and show they have more in them than just one or two albums. In concert Jon Fratelli has this excellent and attractive presence, drummer Mince Fratelli is a center of gravity, and Barry Fratelli plays an exciting bass.
And, proving that rock boys from Glasgow actually do have a tender side, I saw Barry Fratelli do something really sweet at the end of the show. Through the entire show a very young fan – perhaps 11-years-old – stood by the stage and soaked up the experience. As the band readied to leave the stage, Barry grabbed a set list and ever so gently tapped the girl on the top of her head with it. He then handed her the set list – it was so very chivalric.
See more of my pix from the show here.
Friday, August 29, 2008, 12:46 AM ( 3715 views ) - Show Reviews & Photos - Posted by AdministratorGeorge Michael makes me smile. I realized through most of his show on Wednesday night that I was smiling - even during his ballads. It's probably, in part, because he filled that giant Key Arena with authentic, charismatic love and joy the entire 2 hours+ extravaganza. The other part - just being in the fit and glorious George Michael's presence is enough to make me grin like a complete and utter idiot.
He sang and danced in the way only George Michael can on a marvelous space-age stage colored with changing digital art. The sweetness that is A Different Corner had a sea and sunset. Other songs had a disco ball, a display of rotating great lovers of the 20th century including Bill Clinton, Monica Lewinsky and Liz Taylor and Feeling Good had Dita Von Teese stripping in feathers and in a champagne glass. Somewhere during the truly jaw-dropping wham bam trio of Amazing, Flawless, and Too Funky there was a laser beam rainbow slashing and morphing across the stage. Too Funky featured clips from the video with supermodels Linda Evangelista, Tyra Banks and Estelle Hallyday. That motorcycle outfit from the video is etched in my retinas and was stunning over 80 feet tall. For Outside Michael pranced around in a modified cop uniform - this and the rainbow laser stage may have been my favorite moments. He mentioned how kind America has been to him before he performed Hard Day, and how the song off Faith, is an American favorite. Singing Won't You Give Me a Break . . . /Trust Me/I Want You to Trust Me . . ./'Cause I Won't Bring You Down it's true, I am thrilled to see Michael in top form and America (gay and straight) has maintained his relevancy.
The enthusiasm that gripped the audience was something else. Across the stadium from me I could see a guy in a pink top in the aisles doing insane jumping jacks and yet dancing really well. Others were dancing and jumping too - they all knew the words to Michael's songs, chanting and embracing the air along with the show closer, Freedom! '90. Oh, and footage from the David Fincher-directed Freedom! '90, one of the hottest videos ever made, featuring supermodels Cindy Crawford, Naomi Campbell, Tatjana Patitz, Christy Turlington and Linda Evangelista (again!) punctuated the digital stage during the finale.
Michael's voice is an instrument all on its own and was smooth and emotive perfection in every song. Careless Whisper, Everything She Wants and Kissing a Fool are fresh classics all over again. My only gripe - and still, this is just coming from a place of love is that Michael did not do Monkey or Wham!'s Freedom. You can't do every song though when you're George Michael there are just too many of them. He did 25 songs - if you break up the combined Fastlove/I'm Your Man - and yes, his new album is called TwentyFive, so there you go! But let's get back to smiles, George Michael has a smile that lights up a gigantic arena and I swear I could see that bright light from anywhere.
You can see more of my photos from the show here.
Friday, August 29, 2008, 12:37 AM ( 485 views ) - Show Reviews & Photos - Posted by AdministratorSeattle was fortunate enough to have Gavin Rossdale perform last week at Showbox Sodo to support the release of his first solo cd,Wanderlust. Rossdale, formerly of the British band Bush, has stayed true on this cd – it's perfectly crafted and there's nothing pretentious about it. The first single, Love Remains the Same, was a really sweet and tender song – and there is everything right with that. Frontline and Can't Stop the World were also extremely accessible. If I have to pick a favorite though I think This is Happiness has really cool emphatic guitar work in it. I like the lyrics in it too: pleasure comes in all disguises/to each their own their devices.
The aggressive Machinehead, off Bush's cd Sixteen Stone, started the show and my suspicion was right – that the songs Bush made do sound great live and they stand on their own. In total Bush released four cds – Rossdale gathered several songs off these cds and perfectly blended them with his newer material. This is a tricky thing for any performer to pull off. Everything Zen, Comedown and Glycerine also off Sixteen Stone sounded so fantastic – as did Swallowed off Razorblade Suitcase and The Chemicals Between Us from The Science of Things. Rossdale formed a band after Bush called Institute – and I was surprised and happy that he also did the songs Bullet Proof Skin and When Animals Attack off their cd, Distort Yourself.
Rossdale as a performer is very catlike – this is a good thing. He has an exuberance about him that is actually fun to be around while watching him onstage. So often I see his vocals described as a growl and though maybe that's a good way to describe them there's more to it than just snarling or gnarling or however you want to word growling. His voice has a richness to it that punctuates the lyrics and always sits just right with the music. Thursday's event was part of the Samsung AT&T Summer Krush and a large-scale tour is in the works for later this year. Wherever you can see him, go!
To see photos I took please click here.