Tag Archive | Beacon Theater

Black Stone Cherry at NYC’s Beacon Theater

Black Stone Cherry Press Photo
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A publicist recently asked me what bands I’m currently listening to – and I know she expected me to name some “new” bands, but I had to confess that the bulk of music I’ve been loading on my iPod or adding to my collection in recent months is music from the 1970s. Because, from The Beatles through Glam, Prog Rock, Classic Rock, Hard Rock, the onset of Electronica, Punk Rock and New Wave, the Seventies really had it all. This realization actually brought back an awkward memory of the time an editor (whom I still affectionately refer to as Iron Nuts) accused me of being “desperate to like a modern band.” Okay, guilty as charged. Still, I’m not going to apologize for it.

One modern band that I do like a lot is Black Stone Cherry. I’d own all of their records even if I didn’t get them for free from their label, and I try to see the band play live when they come to New York City. So, I felt very fortunate to get on the guest list to see these remorselessly southern rockers from Kentucky kick out a super tight but exhilarating 45 minute set last week, in support of the Sammy Hagar-fronted all star contingent Chickenfoot. Making sure to please both faithful and new fans, Black Stone Cherry’s three albums (2006’s eponymous debut, 2008’s Folklore and Superstition and 2011’s Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea) were equally represented within an eclectic 10-song set list.

Black Stone Cherry maintain a gritty enough modern edge to do battle with the fiercest head bangers, but what they remind me of at their creative core is The Allman Brothers with a touch of Hendrix. Surely no one could find fault with that. And any doubt of the veracity of this groups’ southern rock roots is laid to waste with Deep Blue Sea’s exceptional cover of The Marshall Tucker Band’s “Can’t You See,” on which Black Stone Cherry pay deep homage to the original tune while completely making it their own. It’s easy enough to casually toss out a phrase like “The Real Deal” when describing a blues-based rock band, but I’m not fronting when I say that Black Stone Cherry does their old school mentors proud in their ability to rock out and entertain without the need for any added bells and whistles. These guys just love music; and it shows.

Front man Chris Robertson, who effortlessly tackles lead vocals and lead guitar owns a seasoned but fluid voice that delivers both rockers and ballads with equal power and finesse. As a front man, he’s cute but also burly and masculine. I dig his vibe. While bassist Jon Lawhon stays mostly anchored to the stage, his fretwork is top shelf, and it’s a lot of fun to watch rhythm guitarist Ben Wells work the stage, tirelessly leaping atop monitors, engaging the audience and heightening the energy of the room. But for me, the superstar of the band is drummer John Fred Young, who channels the thunder power of John Bonham in his attack on the kit while fully capturing the showmanship of a crowd-pleasing player like Tommy Lee. Young’s arms never stop moving. I could watch him play drums all day. Plus: Hot.

Black Stone Cherry had me and the rest of the crowd on our feet for most of their set (impressive for an opening act), and I love all of their songs, but the most memorable tune of the evening, I think, was “Blame It On The Boom Boom,” which, despite being somewhat dorky, keeps the decadence of the Rock Star Lifestyle alive with its message about the joys of bonking and getting wasted, or something like that. I doubt that any of these guys are Motley Crue-level partiers, but it certainly wasn’t lost on me that they chased “Boom Boom” with few bars of Amy Winehouse’s “Rehab” – a song I would love to see them cover on a future album.

See the Set List after the Jump!

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Bryan Ferry at NYC’s Beacon Theater: The Set List

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This past Thursday I was super fortunate to have been able to see Roxy Music front man Bryan Ferry perform at the Beacon Theater here in NYC. He looked great and sounded amazing! He also did a fun and varied set of songs that ranged from both early and later period Roxy Music, his own solo stuff and covers of Bob Dylan and Neil Young tunes. Ferry is changing up the song list on this tour, so every show is a little bit different, but if you weren’t at the Beacon on October 6, 2011, this is what you missed.

The Main Thing (Roxy Music)
Slave to Love
Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues (Bob Dylan cover)
Casanova (Roxy Music)
If There is Something (Roxy Music song)
Make You Feel My Love (Bob Dylan cover)
Boys and Girls
Kiss and Tell
To Turn You On
Like a Hurricane (Neil Young cover)
Tara (Roxy Music)
Bitter Sweet (Roxy Music)
You Can Dance
Reason and Rhyme
Avalon (Roxy Music)
My Only Love (Roxy Music)
Love Is The Drug (Roxy Music)
All Along The Watchtower (Bob Dylan cover)
Let’s Stick Together (Wilbert Harrison cover)

Jealous Guy (John Lennon cover)
Hold On (I’m Coming)

Steely Dan Perform The Royal Scam at NYC’s Beacon Theater!

Donald Fagen

Donald Fagen at NYC’s Beacon Theater

When I was fifteen years old, I had the most ridiculous crush on a guy named Tom, who was the college roommate of my sister’s boyfriend. Although my adolescent longing for Tom’s relentless hotness went thoroughly unrequited, he and I did have a sweet sort of friendship. Lots of times, my sister would let me tag along on visits to her boyfriend’s apartment, and we would all listen to records together. Besides Frank Zappa’s Freak Out and Just Another Band From LA, Tom introduced me to an LP that made a strong and lasting impression on me; the just–released (at the time) Steely Dan epic, The Royal Scam. Like any Beatles album you can name, The Royal Scam is a true masterpiece of recorded music. Covering diverse and controversial themes ranging from drugs, race relations, illegitimacy, birth control and scathing criticisms of the American Dream, each song is pure pop-sophistication; a sometimes gritty, often cryptic journey ready to unfold aurally once the needle hit the groove. Maybe it was initially because Tom turned me on to The Royal Scam, but nevertheless, I just fell in love with the record immediately. To this day, it’s still one of my favorite albums of all time.

This summer, Steely Dan’s Donald Fagen and Walter Becker are giving fans what they want on the group’s 28-date Rent Party ’09 Tour. Not only is the band taking song requests online, but they’re also playing classic albums – The Royal Scam, Aja and Gaucho – in their entirety on select nights. I haven’t spent my own money on a concert ticket since I paid $350 to see Paul McCartney at Madison Square Garden more years ago than I can count. But when I found out I would have a chance to see and hear Steely Dan perform The Royal Scam, dishing out $172 (for a third row seat, not bad) did not seem like much of a sacrifice. Because there is no other band on the planet that does what Steely Dan does. And this was The Royal Fucking Scam, man!

Walter Becker

Walter Becker

Besides the fact that Fagen and Becker are studio geniuses, they also play with a band that can only be described as “Musician’s Musicians.” This tour includes the legendary Jazz guitarist Larry Carlton (who played on the original Royal Scam sessions) and drummer Keith Carlock, who consistently garners the Number-One-Pop-Drummer spot just about every year in the Modern Drummer Readers’ Polls. In this way, Steely Dan are able to authentically replicate the studio sound of the album while adding the warm, human vibe that you want in a live show experience. It was, seriously, so amazing, and worth every penny. It was also worth enduring the torture of the clueless dick sitting behind me, who very loudly clapped along (two inches from my left ear) with each song, in four-four time, for two hours straight, until I wanted to brain him with baseball bat, and the couple sitting next to me who forced me out of my seat every fifteen minutes because they had to go outside to smoke. Seriously guys, if you can’t even live for two hours without a cigarette, maybe you should just kill yourself.

The Royal Scam only takes about 45 minutes to perform front to back, so after the final notes of “The Royal Scam” had faded, the band also performed over a hour of hit-after-hit, including “Hey Nineteen,” “Black Friday,” “Josie,” “Aja,” “My Old School,” “Babylon Sister” and a dozen others. I think they might have done “Reelin’ In The Years,” but honestly, I could have just imagined that. I didn’t take any notes on the set list and the night is already pretty much of a blur. And yes, I did think about Tom more than a few times during the set, and wondered if he’d be attending one of these amazing shows wherever it is that he lives now. Ah, to be fifteen again. If you enjoy having your mind blown, do get tickets to see Steely Dan on the Rent Party Tour when they come to your town.