Do you like Led Zeppelin? I sure do. You may be excited to know that the legendary, and eternally soulful, Robert Plant, backed by his band, the Sensational Space Shifters, has released a new, live video for the song “The May Queen,” which is this week’s Sunday Jam. The video was shot during a performance at the O2 Apollo in Manchester, England, during the group’s sold-out UK tour in November of 2017. I’m not going to say too much else about it except to say that it is pretty sweet, and you can listen/watch and judge for yourself. Because Led Zeppelin! “The May Queen” is the fourth in a series of videos from the new album filmed at this same concert, and is directed by Ryan Mackfall while being produced by Crashburn Media.
“The May Queen” can be found on Plant’s latest album, Carry Fire</strong> released by Nonesuch/Warner Bros. Records in October of 2017. Enjoy!
X Japan Billboard, Corner of 34th Street and 7th Avenue (All Photos By Gail)
Here in New York City, it is no secret that you can have a magical adventure if you are just willing to take a leap of faith into the unknown. This is what happened to me when I accepted an invitation to see Japan’s most famous heavy metal band X – known here in America as X Japan, owing to another band in Los Angeles that happens to also have that name. Prior to this past weekend’s concert at Madison Square Garden the only things I knew about X was that their drummer, Yoshiki had been immortalized in a comic book by Stan Lee, and one song, “Jade” – which, prior to Googling the lyrics, I thought was called “You Are Beautiful” due to its only discernible English lyrics.
As You Can See, Their Stage had a Catwalk, Which Every Rock Stage Should Have.
Since I had no previous familiarity with X Japan’s music, this review will be based on my experience as someone who was seeing and hearing the band for the first time. I would say that X Japan is going to appeal to your musical taste if you like any of the following: Big Arena Rock, Heavy Metal, Glam Metal, Dream Theater, Megadeth, Iron Maiden and any 80s Metal Band. It’s probably due to my affinity for that latter, much maligned genre that X Japan resonated with me right away, and I would (probably) still rather listen to the cheesiest ’80s Metal for 100 million billion years than to any charting modern band for 15 minutes. Just being serious.
Please enjoy my pictures and commentary!
First, let’s meet the members of X Japan.
This is Toshi, lead singer and founding member. He and Yoshiki have known each other since they were four years old (45 years ago), and started their first band together when they were eleven.
This is Yoshiki, X Japan’s drummer, pianist, and resident Sex God.
When his hands aren’t busy playing an instrument, Yoshiki touches his hair 60 or 70 times a minute.
Here we have Guitarist Pata, who has been with the band the longest next to Toshi and Yoshiki.
This is Heath, on Bass Guitar.
Sugizo plays the Violin.
A female string quartet added to the atmosphere of their sometimes symphonic metal songs.
Joseph Arthur’s tenth (tenth!) studio album dropped this past Tuesday (June 11th) and it is once again proof that the New York-based, wildly prolific musician and multi-media artist never runs dry of engaging ideas. Joe performed The Ballad of Boogie Christ front to back (with a few old favorites thrown in at the end) at the Bowery Ballroom last evening, and fans came out to pack the room despite a cold and windy rain working up a frenzy on the streets outside.
For a fan like me, who’s been following Joseph’s career since his 1997 debut, Boogie Christ is a bit more of straightforward “rock” album, bolstered by strong Bob Dylan influences, that still dips into the arena of Arthur’s gorgeous, subtly nuanced ballads.
The Ballad of Boogie Christ Cover Art
Although it’s always a kick to experience Joe’s one-man-band performances, last night he was accompanied by a full band – including a saxophone! – which allowed him to rock out a bit more, being freed up from carrying the entire evening on his nevertheless very musically capable shoulders.
Joe will be touring nationally throughout the month of June and you can find tour dates in your area at This Link. He’ll also be performing on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno on Friday June 21st, so be sure to tune in or set your DVRs! The Ballad of Boogie Christ is available from Joseph Arthur Dot Com and wherever fine music is procured.
If there was ever a pop star born with a more sizeable share of outrageous talent than most mere mortals, it is Paul McCartney. Not only is he among the most celebrated and successful song writers in the world, an innovative bass player who also plays the drums, piano and guitar equally well, a charismatic public figure and one of the best looking men on the planet (seriously, in his 20s and 30s, especially, McCartney could hold a close up for days) but he was a member of The fucking Beatles – the greatest band ever in the Universe of All Time. And the craziest thing about Paul McCartney’s many-decades long career is that he has made everything he does look easy. That, my friend, is the mark of a truly gifted and legendary artist.
Paul McCartney still tours, and if he happens to be playing in your city and you have $500 burning a hole in your pocket, you can buy a ticket to go see him. If that price seems a little out of your range, you might consider buying a ticket to see ROCKSHOW, a 1980 concert film by McCartney and his then-band Wings, which is coming to theaters Worldwide on May 15th, and here in the States starting May 16th. That would be a lot cheaper and you’ll probably get better seats! Filmed during the North American leg of the band’s 1976 Wings Over The World Tour, the two-hour plus length film features 30 songs from four concerts of the tour: New York, May 25 (four songs); Seattle, June 10 (five songs); Los Angeles, June 22 (15 songs); and Los Angeles, June 23 (six songs). This tour also spawned the triple live album, Wings Over America.
Although I am as crazy for the music of The Beatles today as I was at age five, when I first discovered the soundtrack of the film HELP! thanks to my older sister, Wings was never a band that yanked my chain all that much. I was probably listening to Alice Cooper and a lot of German Prog Rock at that time, so, I was surprised at the intense waves of deep nostalgia that washed over me as I sat rapt for two hours watching ROCKSHOW on my iMac so I could write this review. Little did I know then that, nearly forty years onward, Wings’ songs would sound like the Classical music of its time! The set list for ROCKSHOW is comprised of tracks from the albums Red Rose Speedway, Band on the Run, Venus and Mars and Wings at the Speed of Sound and some of McCartney’s early solo work, while being favorably augmented by many Beatles’ classics. What a great concert experience this film serves up!
Paul McCartney & Wings included McCartney’s wife and muse, keyboardist Linda McCartney (RIP), drummer Joe English, guitarists Denny Laine and Jimmy McCulloch (RIP) plus a four piece horn section. Demonstrating that wings was as egalitarian a band as any fronted by a former Beatle, Paul frequently hands over lead vocal duties to Laine and McCulloch, beginning early in the set with “Spirits of Ancient Egypt” and “Medicine Jar,” respectively. Laine also reprises his lead vocal performance of The Moody Blues’ early #1 hit, “Go Now” and shows himself to be a remarkably charismatic front man on the urgent and compelling “Time To Hide.” Although the cameras can tend to linger on McCartney’s ridiculously handsome visage for endless minutes at a time (not complaining), everyone in the group is represented, reinforcing the fact that Wings was a true “band of brothers,” so to speak and not just a group of hired musicians supporting McCartney as a solo act.
On This Date, April 6th in 1998: Wendy O. Williams, outrageous vocalist and front woman for The Plasmatics died from self-inflicted gunshot wounds after attempting suicide on several previous occasions. She was 48 years old. As the chief focal point of Plasmatics’ live performances, Williams was infamous for her wild stage theatrics which included blowing up equipment, partial nudity and chain-sawing television sets and guitars onstage. RIP Wendy, you were one of a kind.
Comedians are the new Rock Stars: amiright? Speaking of which, I’m a huge fan of comedian Demetri Martin and his Comedy Central show, Important Things with Demetri Martin. When I heard that Demetri would be playing NYC’sTown Hall theater I knew I could not miss his show! Can I just say, I was not disappointed! Even before Demetri came out on the stage, an awesome mix of Beatles songs played over the PA at Town Hall to entertain the crowd of rabid Demetri fans and set the mood to expect an excellent show. Because, The Beatles, come on: Greatest Band Ever. Not to mention, but you can see I am about to, I had a great seat: just to the right of the stage, front row, on the aisle. Yes!
As a comedian who strikes a chord with almost everyone who has a sense of humor, Demetri Martin has a whimsically goofy outlook on the weirdness of everyday life, a deadpan delivery and a fondness for playing various musical instruments while delivering his ingenious one-liners. Demetri is thoroughly engaging and has a great flow from one bit to another; say, from explaining the enigmatic drawings on his Large Pad into playing the piano (he is quite good) while singing a list of things he’d rather do than wait in line to get into a nightclub, so he is consistently laugh-out-loud funny. He does maybe a half dozen bits that fans of the Comedy Central show will be familiar with, but I guess every comedian does that kind of thing.
You can’t expect the entire show to be made up of bits you’ve never heard before – but those in the audience without cable probably laughed even harder at those bits than the rest of us. He did a solid 90-minute set, then came back out and took questions from the audience, including performing a few requested favorite skits. He also told a few poignant personal stories; my favorites of which were his recounting of riding his skateboard to the home of a friend, through the nearly empty streets of NYC, on the day of the September 11th attacks, as well as his story about the time he met the late comedian Mitch Hedberg while working as a writer on Conan O’Brien. Demetri became less of a comedian at that point and more of a funny guy with good stories that we, the audience, were having a conversation with. At any rate, the audience at Town Hall on Friday just went insane for him, and the enthusiastic vibe added to the fun. As a side note, he is also really, really cute!
Over all, Demetri Martin at Town Hall was a fun night and a great entertainment value for a rather reasonably priced ticket. The only bummer of the evening was when Demetri revealed that his beyond-hilarious Comedy Central show would not be returning for a third season. That sucks so hard. Hopefully, season one and two of Important Things will be available on DVD soon. In the meantime, go see him perform if he comes to a town near you. Demetri Martin!