What do you say about Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band that hasn’t already been said? Read on, as I always have something to say.
I went to MetLife Stadium on Thursday night to see what Bruce and his people were up to since the last time I saw them. I have a rule of not going to stadiums to see rock shows anymore, but I occasionally violate that rule - I guess that makes it more of a guideline than a rule. Regardless, there I was along with 70,000 other people to see Springsteen for maybe my tenth time. I had good seats and a good stadium experience compared to most others, but still, stadiums suck and shows that fill them are mainly full of technological stagecraft borrowed from Broadway to try and sucker you into believing that they are a better experience than they really are.
So back to the show. Allegedly touring behind The River album, the band didn’t even attempt to play that album, and instead were all over the place playing whatever they wanted to play. In other words, a typical Springsteen show. But not so fast: it was also the LONGEST U.S. show that he has ever played (at least according to the Backstreets.com website) at FOUR HOURS.
Now, if you’ve seen Springsteen before, you know that he routinely plays 3 hours. But adding 1/3 more music to a 3 hour show is insane, particularly if you are 67 years old. And this was not a show where there was lots of chatter and b.s. going on. No, this was the real deal, with little banter and just a whole lot of music. Springsteen was on his game, too, seeming to want to will his body through a passionate set of rockers and ballads, knowing that he is getting too old to continue doing this much longer, but at least on this night, wanting to spit in the eye of his lost youth and keep on defying the aging gods.
Springsteen may have once been the future of rock ‘n roll, but what he is now is a great live performer with a huge and adoring fan base. I’m a fan of all his early albums through Born In The USA, and I like The Rising, too. But I quit buying his new music a long time ago - It just isn’t that interesting to me. Like many great and creative musicians, I believe that the curve of creativity is much shorter than the curve of being a great performer. And Springsteen was certainly both for a long time, but in my opinion, he is now simply a great performer. That’s nothing to sneer at, just simply where I come out on the debate.
He clearly loves to perform. Bruce had lots of smiles and joyous moments on Thursday. His band, despite the loss of Clarence Clemons and Danny Federici, remains a great touring band. Song selection is good, too. He pretty much plays the music through Born In The USA, and a couple of other songs from his later career. There are lots of rave-ups, lots of songs where everyone knows the words and sings and dances along, and because his catalog is deep, lots of choices on what to play. And he tries to continue to interact directly with the crowd, bringing people up on stage, playing songs requested from posters in the crowd, etc. I found a bit of that campy and clichéd at this point, but the guy knows what his audience wants, and has found a way to carry them along his shoulders through a live rock ‘n roll show.
Bruce was in better voice than the last time I saw him (also in New Jersey – the only true place to see Mr. Springsteen). Last time, I thought he was done as a singer. He was essentially just talking the words, and not really attempting to sing at all. But on Thursday, he sounded much better, at least for the first half of the show. His voice became a bit hoarse as the show went on (and on), but still far superior than previously. Oh, and the guy is obviously in great physical shape. Live rock is very much a physical pursuit, and to play four hours, you have to be in tip top physical condition.
Springsteen clearly likes the ego stroke that he gets from his live performances. Why else continue to play massive stadiums where the acoustics suck, the sight lines are all toward massive projected screens because the people on the stage are too small to see from most seats, and the sheer hassle for the fans of getting in and out of a stadium is immense. I hope he doesn’t need the money at this point. Assuming that he is solvent financially, he does it because he CAN do it, and because he NEEDS to do it.
Some liken a Springsteen show to a revival, with Bruce as the preacher. I get it and it’s true – there are elements to the experience that make this analogy work. But I think it’s less/more than that, too, and I just view him for what he is: a rock ‘n roller who understands that it isn’t the lights, the fireworks, the stage tricks, or the technology that makes for a great live show. No, it’s the passion of the performers, the greatness of the songs, the tightness of the band, and the give and take between the crowd and the band that drives both on to an emotional and ephemeral high. Springsteen was born with this knowledge, developed his stagecraft long ago, and clearly loves to do it. It’s what he is best at. And I’m glad for partaking one more time despite the lengthy drive, the headaches of a massive crowd, and the poor quality of the stadium experience. Keep going, my man.
One thing different from the typical Springsteen performance was that he brought up on stage Tom Morello, the guitarist from Rage Against The Machine. On one song (I think it was Ghost of Tom Joad), Morello was allowed to be the center of attention, and he absolutely ripped through a guitar solo. I mean, it was a meritorious performance, and one that has me very, very interested in finding out more about him. I’ll report back on that research later.
I have embedded some pictures, but they are poor and mainly of the projected screen images. I took some crowd shots, too, so that you can see what 140,000 white arms waving at once look like.
That’s it for the live music this week. Next week I hope to have a non-music surprise for all of you that coincides with Labor Day and the start of the school year. It also lets you know how sick, depraved and mentally imbalanced your humble blogger truly is. I hope you check back and see what I’m talking about. Have a great day and keep on rockin’.
This is a big week at BRP. I’m back from vacation (but I still posted THREE times over vacation, just because I love you all so much), and now the concert season kicks in. We’re starting with some oldies, one playing a modest but nice club on the Main Line and the other playing an immodest huge football stadium in the Meadowlands of New Jersey.
Who is playing the Ardmore Music Hall? Why it’s Dick Dale, the King of the Surf Guitar! This guy has been around since Duke Kahanamoku, and I’m sure you know some of his songs, even if just unconsciously. Dale is responsible for an inventive, distinctive guitar sound, heavy on reverb and single note/staccato picking. The result is a distinctive, almost Middle East sounding music that works.
Behind the technical wizardry of his buddy, Leo Fender, who worked with Dick to develop modern electric amplifiers and guitars, Dale developed a niche genre that, coupled with surfing videos, helped to get a nation into the waves. His part in rock ‘n roll history goes well beyond that niche, however. Guitar Player magazine called him “the father of heavy metal,” and Dick’s music influenced a lot of major league guitarists, like Eddie Van Halen. But he is best known for his catchy surf music. And while there aren’t many waves in Ardmore, that doesn’t mean that there isn’t a reason for Dick Dale to visit AMH and rock it.
Funny thing about Dick Dale. I have an email list for music friends where I try to gin up interest in seeing bands that I want to see. Dick Dale was a pick for a ton of people, so unlike many shows where I’m essentially Shanghaiing someone to come with me, I had lots of company this night. Maybe it’s AMH, the Main Line venue that is so conveniently located, and that has been nicely redone following its former life as a bar sporting bands like Love Seed Mama Jump and Mr. Greengenes. Now, it has a lot of national acts playing its intimate and cozy space. AMH has decent sight lines and good acoustics, and they seem hellbent on making the Main Line the funk capital of Philly. That’s cool by me, but on this night, there was no funk to be had.
Dale didn’t play long – the guy is almost 80 years old – and he needs some assistance getting up and down from the stage. He went on a multiple minute rant that, well, defied categorization – somewhat tea party-ish, somewhat simply crazy. But he also did rock it, and he did some quick covers of songs like Summertime Blues, which were great. He is a lefty guitar (the third southpaw for me in a few months – Paul McCartney and Courtney Barnett are also lefties), but as the pics below demonstrate, he also took a turn at the drums for a minute of two to good effect.
Dick made some quips about his followers, saying that they weren’t “deadheads” and explaining that they traveled under a more crude name (“daleheads” is not correct, but if you keep guessing with his other name, you are in like flint). And his own music is so fun, especially when played at volume, that a good time was had by all. It was a short show - I stayed for the whole thing and was home catching the tail end of the ten o’clock news and the show started at 7:30 with an opening act. I’m glad I got to see him, but it was far from the best show of the week for me.
Here are some more pics:
As noted above, it was my first week back from vacation, so I had some serious catching up to do. Dick Dale was cool to see, but not the highlight of the week. More on that in my next post.
In the meantime, keep on gettin' it - summer is, sadly, almost over, but the good weather and good times continue. I have a big Fall planned, with lots and lots of music, some football, and other fun things, and I'll keep posting if you'll keep reading. Enjoy!
It is time, ladies and gentlemen, to explore the second half of the rock ‘n roll alphabet. Are you ready?
As you know, I have been going through the alphabet letter by letter. I’ve been naming a great band for each letter, some honorable mentions, some newbies, and then dissing those souls that deserve it. I’ve gone after some alleged icons. And you have let me do it without calling me out at all. So, we are in full agreement.
Let’s get back to the fun with the letters M, N and O. As always, if an artist travels under their given name, I used the last name to categorize them. For example, James Brown would be listed under “b.” And away we go.
M is for Madonna. I’ll bet you didn’t see that one coming. Madonna is manipulative, commercial, egotistical, thin-voiced and material. She is also hugely talented, a risk-taker, a decent live act, and a purveyor of hit after hit. You can say what you like about her, but she has maintained a compelling career over many decades, and has been the model for later performers like Lady GaGa. I like her, I sing along and dance to her songs, I like the fact that she is a strong woman making a mark in a traditionally misogynistic industry, and I think she defines the letter M.
Honorable Mentions: Mano Negra – Until Phoenix came along, the best rock band ever out of France. Until Phoenix came along, the only rock band out of France. Maroon 5 – I agree with all the criticisms. But I still like them and I still think they rock out. Material Issue – a wonderful power-pop band that put out a few memorable albums. Not well known. Perhaps Congress can pass a law? The Mavericks – Good new alt-country out of Miami. Metallica – all metal should start here. Enter Sandman is a personal favorite and makes me want to bounce. GO HOKIES! Minor Threat – the best harDCore band ever. Ian Mackaye later went on to found Fugazi. Mission of Burma – one of the best unknown indie bands of all time. They played LOUD. Modest Mouse – I had to put them here for all my friends who think they are great. I think that they are good. John Mellencamp – one of the most authentic voices in rock. From the heartland, and eloquently singing about it. Rocks out, too. Solid live act! The Monkees – I’m not explaining why. You figure it out. Van Morrison – one of the best of all time. Not even close. He almost took over the M spot completely, but I’m sticking with Madonna.
Newbies who are worth checking out: Mayer Hawthorne – Talented neo-soul singer. Not consistently good, but when he’s on, he’s compelling. A lot more to him than simply The Walk. My Morning Jacket – they’ve been around a while, but aren’t that well known, so I’m plugging them. Terrible name for a band. Mountain Goats – silly name for a good band.
Disrespect: Barry Manilow – easy target, right? Yes, you are right. Most of his stuff makes me gag, and some outright puke. But I do find the campy Copacabana funny to listen to at times. Midnight Oil – I like some of their songs, but preachy to a fault. What ever happened to them? Mumford and Sons – I prefer Sanford and Son. Bob Marley and the Wailers – I just can’t stand hearing those same songs again. Yes, they were great. But overplaying them made me begin to use the word “hate.” Please, for all things decent in the world, make it stop. The Moody Blues – have you heard Knights in White Satin lately? It’s awful. And why are the knights in white satin anyway? I like mine in armor.
N is for Nirvana. Rock was dying. And then out of the Pacific Northwest came an explosion that took over radio and brought rock streaming back to life. The first few notes of Smells Like Teen Spirit are great. But then the biggest, baddest drumming you’ve ever heard kicks in and the song really takes off. Whoa!! Kurt Cobain was a tortured soul who loved a crazy woman who screwed with his mind for her idea of sick fun. But don’t let that ruin it for you. If you remember the time and place when Nirvana blew onto the scene, you remember the feeling of salvation. Nirvana was a band that led the way for a lot of other bands to follow. Grunge brought us back to a stable place where it was ok again to rock out hard. God bless Nirvana.
Honorable mentions: New York Dolls – punky new wave before it was a thing. Some really good songs, like Personality Crisis and Trash. David Johanson and Syl Sylvain were trailblazers. New Pornographers – who is naming these bands? Terrible. But really good music from north of the border, and a terrific live show, too. NRBQ – oh, what a bar band! Back in their heyday, they were so fun and their songs are so good – all about girls, cars and hangin’ out with the boys. I still regularly listen to them. Warning – Terry Adams tours under the name NRBQ, but it is far from the same show. I left early last time. I never leave early. Got it? NWA – this is it for the rap bands. I don’t like the genre, but these guys are about the best of the bunch. The Neville Brothers – wonderfully talented band. Tell it Like it Is is one of my favorite ballads (admittedly, it’s a short list, but still).
Newbies who are worth checking out: Neon Trees – many people know this band because of Animal and Everybody Talks. If you don’t, at least check out those two songs. The National – I’m still wondering if I like this band or not. Some of it sounds like funeral dirges. But some is quite good. What do you think?
Disrespect: New Order - synth band. Hyped. One word – bad. No Doubt – I liked one of their albums. Then they were on Dick Clark’s New Years Rockin’ Eve and after that, the wheels came off the bus.
O is for Old 97’s. Admittedly, there aren’t a lot of bands that begin with O. The Old 97’s clearly don’t stand with the Beatles or others in this alphabet game. But they are a really fun alt-country rock band. I’ve seen them or their frontman, Rhett Miller, so many times that they send me a birthday card and know the names of my kids. They are always fun, their songs are singable with good hooks, and I was really stuck on them for a few years there. And while I like Oasis, I couldn’t bring myself to honor them because of how egotistical they are. So there you have it.
Honorable mentions: Oasis – Catchy songs, arena-sized fan base, good lyrics. Almost insufferable, however. I still like them. Kind of. The Offspring – I’ve missed them live, but they rock hard. The Outlaws –there was a time when I listened to tons of southern rock. The Outlaws were one of my favorites. Hats off, fellows. The O’Jays – some funny lyrics, particularly in retrospect. But they were a hit machine back in the day.
Newbies who are worth checking out: Ought - Newbie indie band with female lead singer who rock out. They need to develop, but keep an eye on them.
Disrespect: Sinead O’Connor – I think she only got played because she shaved her head. I never saw the talent. Oingo Boingo – great name, terrible band, glad they broke up.
Once again, I am right with all my opinions. I appreciate your continued support.
See you later and thanks for reading.
I’m baaaaaaaaaaaack. It’s time for us to continue with our ABCs. I stopped last time at I. Onward to J, K and L. That will get us about halfway through the alphabet. And nary a comment yet! You are either a very agreeable readership, don’t give a crap, or can’t find it in yourself to send me a comment ripping my sorry behind. I’m hoping for the first, thinking the truth is the second, and dismissing the third out of hand – you clearly don’t work for me if that is the case. Anyway, let’s move on.
I forgot a couple of acts in some of my earlier posts. Please forgive me. Here are two that I realize should have gotten their props: Donald Fagen and Billy Idol. They are both great, and while both have been / will be recognized for the bands in which they perform(ed), they are also kick ass in their solo careers. So my apologies to them for leaving them off my R-E-S-P-E-C-T list. They are worthy.
Let’s get back to it starting with the letter J. Again, if an artist travels under their given name, I used the last name to categorize them. For example, James Brown would be listed under “b.” Good? Let’s roll.
J is for The Jam. What, you say, not Janet Jackson? Nope, afraid not. I’m going with Paul Weller and company. Perhaps the most British of all of the punk bands hailing from the class of ’76, the Jam is one of my favorite bands. Weller wrote passionate lyrics about strife, urban decay, class struggles, and the decline of the West, but kept the subjects tender and human. A true rock talent, he also wrote songs that rocked. I particularly like the Eton Rifles, Down in the Tube Station, In the City, David Watts and Town Called Malice. And that’s just the beginning. Unfortunately, I never saw them live and Weller has said he will never do a Jam reunion tour. That’s too bad, but the recorded legacy of this great act lives on.
Honorable Mentions: The Jackson 5 and Michael Jackson– a really tough second place as MJ was, for all his huge faults, one of the best pop artists of all time. Is there a better album than Off The Wall? Or Thriller? And the J5! I Want You Back remains a wonderful, danceable song after all these years. Legends, and I hardly ever use that term. The Jags – I’ve Got Your Number is one of new waves very best songs, but this band went deeper than that. A solid power pop act whose music stands the test of time. Joan Jett – What woman sang Bad Reputation in the 80s? She should be required listening for all women who aspire to rock stardom. Groundbreaking. Jesus and Mary Chain – I always liked these guys. Rocking songs with hooks galore. Jethro Tull – I was a big JT fan back in the day, saw them many times live, and still put on Thick as a Brick and Aqualung from time to time. Joe Jackson – while we went our separate ways many years ago, his first two albums were great and still sound terrific. Rick James – Give it to Me Baby is a fantastic party song. And cocaine is a powerful drug. Janis Joplin – Piece of My Heart makes her worthy. I hate Me and Bobby McGee and almost dissed her for that song. But Piece of My Heart won me back. The Jayhawks – fabulous alt-country band. OK as a live act. Elton John – rightly criticized for Candle In the Wind 2, he has a formidable catalog, and wrote a couple of songs, like Saturday Night’s Alright for Fightin’ and Bennie and the Jets, that are worthy of acclaim.
Newbies who are worth checking out: Japandroids – Love the name and love the song Evil Sway. Sometimes they sound a bit repetitive, but let’s give them a chance to develop as a band. Joy Formidable – They’ve been around for a bit. The first album is great, the second not so great. Good live band. Joywave – danceable band with a solid live show.
Disrespect: Janet Jackson – the Super Bowl thing was ridiculous. The bigger question: what was she doing there in the first place? Joy Division – I loved new wave, but always found these synth goths insufferable. Some things never change. Jane’s Addiction – I should like this band more than I do, but I thought their music always sounded forced and made solely for commercial success. Billy Joel – I detest Billy Joel. I once heard him described as a rock ‘n roll singer. Nothing could be further from the truth. He’s a commercial douche bag whose talent is way overrated. Judas Priest – I like good metal. I don’t like Judas Priest. Journey – I stopped believing in the 1980s. I never liked this band, and Don’t Stop Believin’ is a vapid song that is undanceable, so why is it played as a dance song over and over again?
K is for The Kinks. If you like rock ‘n roll, you have to like the Kinks. Blues based, originators of a great guitar sound that has been imitated over and over, catchy songs with witty lyrics – they are the apotheosis of great rock. Plus they have a feuding brother combo that pre-dates the Gallagher boys from Oasis. Everyone knows the Kinks, and everyone should. They are in the upper reaches of all things great in rock ‘n roll.
Honorable mentions: Kasabian – British band without much of a US following, they have terrific power and snappy songs. They are also good live, and are not the least bit afraid of bass. KC and the Sunshine Band – put on their greatest hits and try to remain seated. It’s impossible. The Killers – perhaps the best Mormon band from Las Vegas ever. Seriously, some kick ass songs, but the lyrics could be improved. Kings of Leon – You want rockin? These guys deliver. I don’t love them as they aren’t consistently great, but they get played on the iPod when it’s time to kick it up. Kiss – this band grew on me over the years. Blatantly and unapologetically commercial, they still put out some seriously good power pop. Kid Creole and the Coconuts – a very fun party band. Maximum silliness. BB King – I love his version of the blues. He is missed. The Kingsmen – Louie Louie. Enough. Kool and the Gang – Did someone say party? These guys brought it.
Newbies who are worth checking out: Kaiser Chiefs – not exactly new, but you ought to give them a listen nonetheless. King Tuff – watch these guys. Seriously good debut album.
Disrespect: Katrina and the Waves - Walkin’ On Sunshine is a great song. Kimberly Rew played with Robin Hitchcock in the Soft Boys. But in the end, they are one hit wonders who could have been so much more. Kid Rock – has become a parody of himself. I do like a song or two of his, however. Killing Joke – big back in the new wave day. I always thought they were boring. You never hear them played anymore. I was right. Ben “E” King – I checked, and the E really does stand for Eeewww. Kraftwerk – the worst thing out of Germany post WWII.
L is for Led Zeppelin. Stupid lyrics about stairways to heaven and the hobbit. I know. But they created heavy metal, and their music is still rocking and standing the test of time. Page. Plant. Just those two guys are enough, but Bonham and Jones made up a great quartet. Not as good a live act as they should have been what with bombastic drum and keyboard solos, and silly things like Jimmy Page playing the guitar with a violin bow. But when they kicked it in, you stood up. You put your hands in the air. You sang along. You danced. And you loved it enough to play it on the way home.
Honorable mentions: Lady GaGa – Yup, hugely commercial and provocative sometimes just for the attention. But the talent is undeniable, and the songs are good. She kicked ass singing the National Anthem at the Super Bowl, too. She respected America. And I respect her. The Libertines – this is what all drug addicted drunks should sound like. Little Feat – a much loved and much missed band. The definition of southern summer fun music. Los Lonely Boys – three brothers from Texas with an unmistakable sound. Really good live act, too. Lynyrd Skynyrd – What a name! What great music! The one band that it’s not a joke to yell “Free Bird” at and like it if they play it. I love the south and I love Skynyrd. Little Richard – a screaming nutbag with a piano. Perfect. Los Lobos – great LA band with heavy Mexican influences. That’s a really good combination. Nick Lowe – hugely influential artist who wrote some fantastic songs, including my favorite Elvis Costello song (Peace Love and Understanding). Good live act, and nice to kids, too. The Lovin’ Spoonful – much more than Summer in the City, a band that wrote some seriously memorable songs.
Newbies who are worth checking out: The Lovers Key – Florida neo-soul crooners with a full horn section. Low Cut Connie – one of my new favorite bands with a retro rockin’ sound. Ted Leo & the Pharmacists – not really new, but indie rock at its finest.
Disrespect: Living Color – they had one song, Cult of Personality, that I never liked. The Stones toured with them and Van Halen one time, with each switching off as the opener from show to show. I got Living Color. Crap. Kenny Loggins – I liked Loggins and Messina. Saw them live back in the day. But Kenny Loggins became a purveyor of sap. I’m surprised he didn’t write the Riunite jingle. Jennifer Lopez – Jenny from the block is a commercial hack.
Did you like that? Hate that? Tell me what you think, and the next time you come to Philly, I’ll tell you where the city’s best cheesesteak is made.
See you later and thanks for reading.
After years of near-misses, I finally saw Paul McCartney live. It was an effort – I worked the day, split at 4 pm to drive 3 hours to D.C., and then saw Paul at the Verizon Center, D.C.’s downtown home of the Capitals and Wizards. I caught about 4 hours of sleep after the show, got up at 5 and drove back to Philly to put in another full day of work. The difficult life of a rock blogger! But it was worth it. McCartney is such a pantheon of rock that he is a “must see” for everyone who has the opportunity to check out his live show.
Nope, I’m not a fan of Wings. Yup, Paul played some Wings songs. Nope, I don’t follow Paul’s ongoing career. Yup, Paul played some new music. Hells yes, I am a huge Beatles fan, and hells yes, Paul played a bunch of Beatles songs. And that, my friends, was what made this effort so worth it. As the guy next to me said, “I never thought I would get to hear live Beatles music played by one of the Beatles.” Exactly. And that was what basically everyone in the audience wanted to hear: the old, great Beatles songs that make up such a huge part of classic rock songbook.
So I chilled while he played some new stuff of minimal interest (at least it wasn’t as bad as Silly Love Songs or Let Him In). And I grooved somewhat to the best of the Wings repertoire: Band on the Run, Live and Let Die, and Maybe I’m Amazed. But what really got me and everyone else up and jamming were the Beatles songs, faithfully reproduced note for note by Paul and a solid back-up band.
Cudos to Paul for the following: great performer chops – this guy knows what he is doing on stage; giving 2 ½ hours of entertainment; playing a wide variety of instruments; honoring his fallen Beatles comrades, John and George, with tender tributes; and playing some fabulous Beatles tunes almost note for note – tunes like Love Me Do, Yesterday, Back in the USSR, Being For the Benefit of Mr. Kite, We Can Work it Out, A Hard Day’s Night, Can’t Buy Me Love, Birthday, Lady Madonna, Hey Jude, Eleanor Rigby. I know that I missed some songs that he played, and oh how I wished he had played Do You Want To Know A Secret, Twist and Shout and my all-time favorite, I Saw Her Standing There. But I’m pretty satisfied with what he played.
A few quibbles: Paul’s voice, while generally still solid, lacks the range that it once had. I don’t know if it’s the length of this current tour showing its strain, or the fact that the dude is in his mid-70s and, well, he isn’t immortal, but some songs were a challenge for him. Also, unlike Stevie Wonder, who travels with about 40 incredible musicians/singers, Paul only brought along a 5 piece band and could have used some better backup vocals and not relied so much on synthesizers to reproduce horns and other instruments that were used in the studio back in the day.
But those are minor cons compared to the many pros of this show. Paul still has it – he looks great, moves with the grace and ease of a man 20 years younger than his real age, clearly enjoys what he is doing, and continues to pursue a career that has spanned over 50 years. It was really cool to see him, fantastic to hear some classic Beatles tunes played live and at volume in front of an adoring all-ages crowd, and we had a great time. I recommend seeing him. And like I said earlier, he isn’t immortal, and the chances of catching his live show are dwindling. So if you get the opportunity to see the master at play, do yourself a favor and go. We made a big effort, and I would do it again in a heartbeat.
Here are some photos. A couple of comments on them. We had good seats, maybe 30 rows up but they were on the side. That explains the angle. There were some huge screens that projected Paul and the boys for those further back, and at one point I took a picture of Paul along with the screens – I tried to capture the effect of what it was like to be at the show itself, and hope that the pic does it a bit of justice. And during Live and Let Die, they used pyrotechnics – that explains the pictures with the fire in them. The pyro stuff was old-fashioned cool in a way, but we could feel the heat where we were sitting, and I’m glad that they worked as designed. He also used laser lights. Haha, laser lights! Anyway, here are the pictures:
I have a lot of shows coming up, and I’ll be keeping you up to speed with my reviews. I don’t want to give away the agenda, but suffice to say that some are really old school, some as old as me (so middle-aged school?), and some pretty new and happening today. It should be great!
As always, thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoy both the post and the photos. I’ll catch up with you soon. In the meantime, put on a Beatles album and have some fun!
You want the bands? You can't handle these bands! Haha, of course you can, and here's a couple more newbies that I think you'll like. Even Jack Nicholson walking the wall will dig these ones.
Hailing from a second-tier city north of Philly, these guys started out as an instrumental band, and then branched into lyrics and vocals. Accessible indie-rock – I’ve never played them for anyone without that person saying “who is this? This is good.” Yup, it is good; have I ever steered you wrong (don’t say “what about Protomartyr”)? The link of choice for the Fangers is "Sisterly:"
You want to rock hard? Here you go. I like to think of these guys as a harder version of the Black Keys. A duo that sounds like a wall of sound, but with tunefulness and hooks aplenty. They are a go-to band for me when I want rave up after rave up. They toured last summer with the Foo Fighters, but I want to see them as the headliner. Here is "Figure It Out" - be careful, there is a parental advisory.
The Lovers Key
I’ll admit that I don’t love every song by this Florida band, but I’m super hooked on some of their songs. We saw them open for the English Beat in Ft. Lauderdale. Now, most opening acts suck, but these guys proved that you ALWAYS need to get there early so that you don’t miss out on catching a really good band with a bright future. Anyway, they play soulful music with a horn section that is a throwback to the 60s. it’s fresh and nostalgic at the same time. When I heard them play “Saturday Night,” I was hooked. And after the show, the band came up to the bar area where we were hanging out and they were cool people. So there you have it: get there early and see the opening act. You never know. Here’s “Saturday Night” and it’s wonderful.
That's it for now, BRP fans. I'm back with a vengeance now. I have a few more things all written up and ready to go, but I'll give you a chance to catch up, watch some great videos and hear some terrific songs. You can get slowly caught up. But don't be too slow! You don't want to miss out on all the great things I have in store for you. Oh, and come late August, the fall concert season kicks in, and I've got a lot of tickets in hand already. Check back often for reviews, photos, opinions and other fun-filled posts.
I love that you are reading this, and I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoy posting. Many thanks, and have a great day!
Sorry about that long hiatus between posts. I’ve been exceptionally busy, and I haven’t been seeing any shows, so I didn’t write anything for a bit. But now I’m back yet again on the rock ‘n roll ABCs. I do want to chastise you, however. I’m not getting a lot of feedback on the first 6 letters, and I know that I took some outrageous positions on them. I disrespected Bob Dylan for God’s sake! I’m going to keep on keepin’ on, but expect better audience participation. Please don’t make me call on you in the back row, ok?
So here we go with G, H and I. Again, if an artist travels under their given name, I used the last name to categorize them. For example, James Brown would be listed under “b.” Good? Let’s roll.
G is for Marvin Gaye. Who else? Is there a better soul singer than MG? He wrote amazing songs like “What’s Going On,” “Sexual Healing,” and “Let’s Get It On.” And he performed them so stylistically that he defined the genre. His songs were sexy, although some were political, and they are still marvelous to listen to. Put them on, and people instantly groove and say “good choice.” And Marvin was from DC, a place where the finest Americans spent their formative years.
Honorable Mentions: The Grateful Dead – love the alt-country stuff the best. I can’t say I dig the dirty hippie dead heads or the drug glorification, but they are legendary for good reason. Green Day – I really like the Dookie album, and they continued to grow as a band. I know a Texas Republican judge who thought that American Idiot was a fantastic album – now that’s saying something. G. Love – terrible live performer (he SITS IN A CHAIR), but some really good songs out of this Philly boy. J. Geils Band – a classic rock act still worth listening to. Love Stinks, Centerfold, First I Look at the Purse. C’mon, one of Detroit’s all-time best acts. Gloria Gaynor – not ashamed to admit that this disco singer was compelling. Generation X – Billy Idol’s band before he went solo. I miss them – just terrific songs with great guitar and Billy’s vocals/attitude. Gin Blossoms – I almost went disrespect with them, but just too many good songs even if they are the 90s version of Firefall, who I forget to hate on when I did “F.” The Go Go’s – the greatest all-girl group since the Motown era. Worth the price of admission. Golden Earring – Radar Love. Driving to Florida on spring break in 1980 with everyone but me asleep and I’m blasting it. An all-time BRP memory. Robert Gordon – love the pompadour hairdo, the great guitar sound, and the retro feel. Government Issue – along with Minor Threat, harDCore at its finest. Govt Mule – Warren Haynes in the post-Allman’s orbit. Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five – The Message is the best rap song of all time. I know, not a high bar, but you have to acknowledge the effort. Al Green – another terrific soul singer, just not as good as Marvin Gaye. Jonathan Gregg & The Lonesome Debonnaires – The rail thin JG delivered great country music from the heart of the country music capital of the world, New York City. Guns ‘n Roses – they almost made the “g” is for…. Had they remained together, they might have been the greatest rock ‘n roll band of all time. Sweet Child O Mine is a sentimental favorite for BRP. Buddy Guy – still bringing it after all these years. Grass Roots – a couple of great songs. Really, really great songs. Guess Who – I like BTO, too, but not enough to give them the respect I give to the Guess Who. American Woman!
Newbies who are worth checking out: Grouplove – I was struggling for G newbies. Here’s one worth checking out, but I don’t love them.
Disrespect: Pete Gabriel – What the heck was all the buzz about? Shock The Monkey? Please. Gypsy Kings – Great name, terrible act. Goo Goo Dolls – Sorry, just not a fan. And the name sucks. Amy Grant – While she did lead to a great Young Fresh Fellows song just about her, her actual work makes me believe that there is no god. Dobie Gray – I hate his one famous song Drift Away. And that was his only song. The definition of a One Hit Blunder. Arlo Guthrie – I hate folk. AG defines folk. A + B = C.
H is for Hűsker Dű. If not one of the two best American punk bands ever (along with the Ramones), I want you to tell me who was better. Bob Mould led this trio, and wrote incredible songs that are powerful, fast, full of fuzzy guitar, and yet never lose their tunefulness. The song New Day Rising has no other words, but builds to a noisy, angst-filled crescendo that will blow you away. Candy Apple Gray, Flip Your Wig and New Day Rising are three of the best punk albums of all time.
Honorable mentions: Haircut 100 – Proving that BRP is as sappy as the next guy. Pelican West is a fun turn down the road to pure pop heaven. You’ll recognize half of their songs from commercials and sports intros. Hall & Oates – Philly rock ‘n soul with a huge catalog of catchy hits. John Hiatt – one of my all-time favorite solo performers. He can rock it, he can croon it, but it’s all good and full of hooks and solid lyrics. Holly & The Italians – Holly Beth Vincent made one of the best new wave albums ever. It holds up. So Tell That Girl to Shut Up already, ok? Hoodoo Gurus – best Australian band you’ve never heard of. Housemartins – still a favorite in the BRP household. Some people grew up on this music! The Hollies – Bus Stop. Carrie Anne. On a Carousel. Long Cool Woman. Must I continue? Merle Haggard – Helen knew I was a closet country fan when she noticed me listening to Merle. Outlaw country before that name existed. Jimi Hendrix – I’ll bet you were wondering when I would get to JH. Well, here he is.
Newbies who are worth checking out: Hop Along – another Philly band that is grabbing national attention. PJ Harvey – not that new, but I’m trying to fill the space. Rockin!
Disrespect: John Wesley Harding – I was actually excited to see him open for the Jayhawks. And then he proved to be in the bottom 5 of live acts that BRP has had to suffer through. Havana 3 a.m. – I actually love the song Reach The Rock, but Paul Simonon was behind the tossing of Mick Jones from the Clash, an unforgiveable sin. Herman’s Hermits – I like some of their songs as they remind me of when I was 5, but words like “cloying,” “bubblegum,” and “earworm” all come up in a negative way when I hear their songs. Hole – in the words of Beavis and Butthead, who would name their daughter Hole? Courtney Love, rock protagonist. Hootie and the Blowfish – they blow all right. The Hooters - - hey Philly, they weren’t that good. They’re the Philly equivalent of a Primanti Brothers sandwich – loved only in their Pennsylvania hometown.
I is for Iggy Pop. Yes, I could have, maybe should have, gone with the Isley Brothers here. No, that’s not true. As great as the Isley’s are, Iggy is a true icon. There was no one else like him in rock when he emerged from the Motor City, and he and the Stooges paved the way for all the great punkers to follow. In my opinion, the first true punk rocker, and still one of the all-time best. I still listen to Iggy, and now they are using his tunes on commercials – proving he was about 40 years ahead of his time. And he lives in Miami, thus demonstrating that he’s still smart after all these years.
Honorable mentions: The Isley Brothers – how good are the Isley’s? One of the most influential bands ever and Eric Isley was a rock hero before that cheesy term was put into circulation. Ides of March – Vehicle. Horns, smart lyrics, driving beat. Enough said.
Newbies who are worth checking out: Interpol – they’ve been around a while but again, I was having trouble thinking of newbies for the letter “I”. I like them a lot. Good tunes and lyrics. Imagine Dragons – I knew about them about 30 seconds before they exploded on the world. Commercial success does not always equate to crap music, and ID is exhibit A.
Disrespect: Janis Ian – She learned that she sucked at 17, and then turned it on the world to all of our detriment. Indigo Girls – Awful band. Janis Ian is a founding member. That last part isn’t true, but it’s believable because they both suck so much. INXS – radio did their best to foist them on an unsuspecting public. And for that, I will never forgive radio.
As you can tell, some letters are easier than others. If you play scrabble, you’ll know that the damn Q and X letters are problematic, but perhaps there are some surprises yet in store. Hang in there, get commenting, and have some fun with me on this. I still love ya even if you ignore me.
See you later and thanks for reading.
My name is Bill, and I live in the greater Philadelphia area. I love music, and I have a lot of opinions. This site is primarily focused on music, but sometimes I get off track. I hope you enjoy.