Category Archives: Live Music

From The Ticket Stub Bin: Joe Cocker


Today’s Music: Joe Cocker. See below.
Days Til Spring: 58 (and it’s snowing like mad here, so I can’t wait for the warm!)

JoeCocker
Soul, R & B. Rock and Roll. All those styles are alive and well. There are great new bands putting out incredible music, and it’s possible to step right in and enjoy it no primer needed.
But there are acts that came before that pushed the envelop. They broadened horizons and brought music no one knew right into our ears.

Joe Cocker is one of those acts.
So when he was paying the Beacon Theater, maybe 15 years ago, and Big Mike asked if I wanted to go, there was only one possible answer: Hell yes!

It was a typical concert night – meet in the city, grab a beer and some food, then head into the Beacon. Grab another beer or a soda, and head in to find our seats. The Beacon theater is a grand old room. Floor, Mezzanine, Balcony. Sculptured roof with gold gilding. Wide stage that extends almost the width of the hall. Semi comfortable seats, with almost enough legroom for someone six feet tall.

So we’re settled in our seats (floor level, towards the back), and the lights go down. No opening act, so this was for Joe. The crowd surged to its feet as the PA announced Joe Cocker!!! Out strode the band, taking their positions, and Joe followed right behind.

The band kicked in…
Joe grabbed the microphone..
And then…
He played, note for note, the entire Best Of Joe Cocker album.
Don’t get me wrong, it was a good show. And seeing Joe Cocker moving around onstage (he’d toned down the twitchiness a lot) was a sight to see. I mean, here was an important voice from the earlier days of rock and roll, who’s soulfulness bridged a gap from Black music to bring it, via England, to everyone in America. And once he did it, his influence was profound. Bands making that same sound popped up across the landscape.
To this day, when Joe comes on the radio, my head nods back and forth, my fingers tap, and there’s a little extra bounce in my step.
I think he’s a great singer, even as an older man because it added an extra gravelly-ness to a voice he still controlled well.
I’m glad I saw him, just to be in the same room and feel the music.
But overall, it was an average show, devoid of spontaneity and surprise. He still did a really good job with the songs, it’s just that he performed them exactly as expected.

One bright spot of the show – he did play my favorite Joe Cocker song:

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Oh Joy. The 80s Live On…


Today’s Music: Phil Collins – In The Air Tonight
*Note on Today’s Music: Phil Collins? And Miami Vice??? Don’t get more 80s than that!

Up on the Concert Log/Music link at the top, you can see the quick mini review of Fitz and the Tantrums at Irving Plaza Sunday night.
They were fantastic.
But that’s not what I want to talk about today.

There were two opening acts. The first was Ivy Levan, who, I’m sorry to say, we missed. She only did a twenty minute set, and dinner was too good to rush (duck breast! braised short ribs! warm lava cake!).

My hair is richer than silly old lava cake.

My hair is richer than silly old lava cake.


We got there in time for the second act, and that’s the lead in to today’s post.
Ahem…

THE 80’s ARE OVER!!!

I’ve seen Duran Duran. They weren’t bad, and Rio has surprising legs this far down the road.
I’ve seen Depeche Mode, and while they aren’t my cup of tea (industrial angst? Really?), they did put on a good show.
I’ve seen Kiss, Psychedelic Furs, hell, I’ve even seen Heart and Huey Lewis and the News, and enjoyed them.
All in the last decade.

And a lot of 80s music is fun. In small doses, even the syrupy stuff is nice.
But I’ve never seen one band encompass everything wrong with 80s music in one shot.
Until last night.

Their name is Hearts. I haven’t been able to find out anything about them online at all.
And while some may think I’ve been letting this one fester under my skin until I could write this down, fortunately I have “of the moment” proof, courtesy of twitter.
I’m not sure what burned me about this band. I think it was the fact that there was nothing original. Every riff, every trope, every move was taken from bands that did it earlier, smoother, better.
I felt like I was watching a cheap imitation of something that had earned its place in our culture, and doing a poor job of it.
So here now, are the as-it-happened tweets of myself and TMWGITU under her twitter handle @FredWallaby:
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I hope this suitably expresses how god-awfully 80s this band was.
If not, I’ll see if I can’t get Phil Collins to lay down a track to describe it.
As soon as Marty McFly brings his synthesizer sustain pedal back in the DeLorean.

Hey, Lay off, dude! I owe my career to the 80s.  And feathered hair.

Hey, Lay off Dude! I owe my career to the 80s.
And feathered hair.

Music Critique: Lenny Sucks. Yeah, I said it.


Today’s Music: Oh, all sorts! See below…
Note: I just needed to get this off my chest. It was annoying the hell out of me.

Driving back from a really good noodle place (I had the broad rice noodle soup with beef brisket stew. TMWGITU had the mei fun noodle soup with duck. Delicious!), wfuv (stream here) played a live version of Leonard Cohen singing Tower of Song.
Let’s listen, shall we? (It’s a bit long, but this is the same version that set me off tonight.)

Great.
No, not really. The lyrics are pretty good. The sentiment of the song, also pretty good.
Leonard writes a great song, but his performance ain’t worth a damn.
So how can you tell it’s a great song?
Watch this.

Toms live version gives the song depth. He wakes up the sadness, the experience, the pathos,and gives it voice. Leonard? Well. he sounds like he’s performing on buffet night at the I-66 Hilton.
(Even more poignant is this video version by time, which is even stronger. I used this as a “Today’s Music” shortly after I heard it.)

Still think I’m slandering a genius? Try this on – one of his most popular (and best) songs.
This time, we’ll start with the cover.
If you’re familiar with the song, you know it’s very poignant and moving. So moving, even Bon Jovi can’t screw it up. It’s a bit hammy, but still…

Here’s Leonard’s original.

Did you know if you show your ticket stub at the check-in desk, they give you a free continental breakfast?

None of this is meant to knock Leonard’s skill or talent. There’s a story I heard, perhaps apocryphal, that Leonard couldn’t get any traction as a poet, so he began setting his poems to music to get a wider audience. And it worked. Google “Leonard Cohen”,and you get a wealth of information – the artists he’s influenced, the impact his songs have had, the lives he’s touched.
And god bless him for that.
But I doubt it was his singing that did it.

I expect many of you will disagree vociferously in the comments.

From the Ticket Stub Bin – One Song


Today’s Music: See Below.

A hard ticket to get...


We’ve all heard covers of songs. Sometimes it’s almost a note for note cover of the original (Rascal Flats covering Tom Cochrane’s Life Is A Highway). Sometimes it brings the song to a whole new, previously unimagined level (Jimi Hendrix on Bob Dylan’s All Along The Watchtower).
And sometimes you get to hear three different versions of a song that you never expected to hear live in the first place.

One year, I was lucky enough to see Eric Clapton, Tony Bennett and Tori Amos in concert. Not together (Though that would probably an incredible show!).
All three of them did Somewhere Over The Rainbow. From the Wizard of Oz.
Let me refresh your memory…

She sings it with a child’s wistfulness. It’s a beautiful song of innocence and aspiration. Really, you have to be pretty jaded to not feel anything when listening to it.

Tony Bennett was a contemporary of Judy. By all accounts, they were friends.
When I saw Tony, he led into this song by describing what a wonderful person Judy was, and how much he missed her.
That version seemed laced with sadness, perhaps regret.
The version below is more fun and playful. There’s hope, but Tony’s voice makes it seem more like a fond reminiscence of someone unavoidably detained…

During an encore set, Clapton came out with his acoustic guitar and launched into the song.
I think he does a great job with it. His version is interesting to me, because (by all accounts) he’s made it over the rainbow. I think he has a very fun take on the song, not least of which is “Really? Clapton is doing that song? Live?”
But he doesn’t turn it into a Clapton tour-de-force. There is plenty of room for the rest of the band to shine and fill, and his jazzy version really does sound good to me.

Tori has a…distinct style. Many of her songs I honestly find a bit disturbing. Which I think is what Tori is going for. She writes a lot about pain, and I think that carries through well in her music.
When I saw her and recognized the song from the intro, I expected it to be a creepy, bent version of a classic.
But what she did instead, for me, is unlock some of the true meaning of the song. She sings it with such heartache, such longing, that I, as a listener, could only hope and pray that she would make it over the rainbow.

One song. Three unique perspectives. Each a highlight of their show.
But of course, just for giggles, I have to throw this one in too. Just because it’s fun.

So a question for y’all: What song cover made you think about the original in a whole different way?

Friday Foolishness, and Check. Your. Calendar.


Today’s Music: GWAR
The video is slightly disturbing, the music isn’t bad. Think KISS on a really bad high. Their guitarist passed away last night, so they are Today’s Music as a tribute.

Next, to the old business –
The hands down category winner to last weeks Friday Foolishness poll is Other.
The Written In answers are as follows:

– Are you suggesting that only bloggers should be responding to this poll?
– I ain’t admitting to nuthun.

In reference to the first answer, you know, it didn’t even occur to me to add a non-blogger answer. How silly of me…

And now, on to the new silliness!!! (even though there is rarely anything but silliness around here…)

I was going to go with a rant today, since there was Christmas music playing when I bought my coffee this morning. When I paid, I asked the girl if it was a one-off, but no, apparently that’s all they are playing now. And for the next. 8. weeks.
But I think I’ll save that for a more detailed diatribe, maybe this weekend.

So, in keeping with the theme of Friday Foolishness, another question.
This was going to be part of another entry, but I would like your thoughts on the matter.

And non-bloggers should be able to get in on this one too!
(If you write in an answer, please include contact info if you like)

‘Cause folks, it don’t get no foolisher than that.
Have a good weekend!

A conversation with IrishPaul


Today’s Music: Sammy Hagar

IrishPaul Instant Messaged me on my way to the train this morning.
Here is the conversation…

IrishPaul –
Happy 50th birthday to moody bastard Larry Mullins junior

El Guapo –
That’s why you’re up at 7 am?

IrishPaul –
Going to bed now. Was watching a movie.
Why are you up?

El Guapo –
You. Suck. I’m going to work.

IrishPaul –
What kind of a****le goes to work before 6pm? Don’t forget, we’re going to The Drums next Monday.

El Gupao –
Real world a****les. Haven’t yet found a surfing sponsor, so off I go.
Yeah, I’ll be there.

IrishPaul –
Right. I’m off to bed alone – bonus.
You going to Chickenfoot.

El Guapo –
Bah, not a big enough fan. Thought you hated Hagar.

IrishPaul –
I do but want to see Michael Anthony Hall and Joe Satriani. So I’ll bear with it.

El Guapo –
Have a good time.

And since I know he hates that crap, today’s music is Sammy Hagar. Because I had to be on my to work at 7 am. And he was finishing his day bartending form last night.

So there it is, a tiny snippet of my real life.

Bah.

Cut it out, Canada.


Today’s Music: Oh, Canada

I like Canada. A lot.
I’ve been there several times, most recently to see The Cars at Sound Academy in Toronto.
I’ve loved seeing the Changing of the Guard ceremony at Parliament in Ottawa.
I loved hanging out with Charles DeLint at the bar he plays at weekly. He invited me up onstage, and lent me a guitar so we could rip through a twelve bar blues riff with his band.
He took us out for lunch after we spent the day exploring the Byward market, a really nice indoor/outdoor shopping area filled with the products of local craftsmen and street musicians.
My wife (the most wonderful girl in the universe) and I spent a lovely afternoon strolling through the Ottawa government seat, and walking along the Rideau river.

Manhattan at noon, 29 October

I’ve skied at Tremblant and loved, and have nothing but nice things to say about Montreal.

More recently, I’ve enjoyed the tulip festival. They really are beautiful. The way you arrange them shows why you elevated the festival to a national event.
My wife and I loved your museums, and admired the clean orderliness of your street.

Brooklyn, 20 minutes after Manhattan

And on the same trip when we went to see The Cars, we also stopped at Niagara Falls. It’s true, the view is better from the Canadian side.
So all the times I’ve been to Canada, I’ve had nothing but fun.

Queens, 35 mjinutes after Brooklyn

But you have a dark secret.
Any architect building a freestanding home in an open area will tell you, build the hedges along the north.
During winter, the cold air comes down from the north. That’s how the jet stream works.
And what’s north of New York?
Canada.
That;s right. I said it.
Canada is sending us the snow.
I like snow. I like sledding, skiing, sitting on the porch watching it build up. I like driving in fields through it, catching it on my tongue, and making naked snow angels in it. Ok, that was once, and i was really drunk at the time. But I enjoyed it.

But now you’ve gone too far. It’s October. There are another 60 or so days of fall. Which I can’t enjoy. Because it’s snowing.
The snow Canada sent.

Look, I admit it, the U.S. can be mean to Canada. We ignore you, we run roughshod over your entertainment industry by selling you our music/tv/movies. And I know you have to pay more for those same books and dvds we insist on sending you.
But I’m begging you, please, turn off the snow.
I gave your anthem the “Today’s Music” slot.
I like real maple syrup.
I’ll even admit (under duress) that I own a Bryan Adams cd (it was a long time ago and I’ve no idea where it is anymore.)

So stop with the snow already. At least for another month or two.

The view out my window 15 minutes later.

Or we’ll send back William Shatner.