Tag Archive | Live Performance

Video Clip of The Week: Robert Plant and The Sensational Space Shifters, “The May Queen” (Live)


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!

Robert Plant Carry Fire

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X Japan at Madison Square Garden: Best Concert Ever!

X Japan Billboard
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.

X Japan Stage Logo
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.

Toshi Lead Vocals

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.

Yoshiki on the Kit

This is Yoshiki, X Japan’s drummer, pianist, and resident Sex God.

Yoshiki Hair

When his hands aren’t busy playing an instrument, Yoshiki touches his hair 60 or 70 times a minute.

Pata Guitarist

Here we have Guitarist Pata, who has been with the band the longest next to Toshi and Yoshiki.

Heath Bassist

This is Heath, on Bass Guitar.

Sugizo Violin

Sugizo plays the Violin.

X Band on Stage

A female string quartet added to the atmosphere of their sometimes symphonic metal songs.

Besides the band sounding and playing great, there was a ton of visuals to keep your eyes entertained and your brain engaged, such as:

Skulls Stage Shot

Crazy Visual Projections!

Fire Background Stage Shot

X Red Fire wirh Prop

Giant Stage Props! In the above photo you can see the two halves of the letter “X” coming together from across the stage.

X Prop Stage shot

Here it is again!

X Japan Stage Prop Pink Fire

P1050663

Laser Lights and Fire Bombs!

Confetti Bazooka

Confetti Bazookas!

X Japan Wrist Band

When we first entered the arena, ushers gave everyone this wrist band thing. We wondered what it could be for, but a couple of fans told us it was probably something that was going to factor into the show, and that we should be sure to wear it. That was excellent advice because look what happened with those wrist bands about an hour into the nearly-three-hour show:

Lit Up Wrist Bands

Lit Up Wrist Bands

It was amazing!

Yoshiki on Drums

At one point during the show, Yoshiki’s drum riser actually moved down the Cat Walk and then rose up into the air over the crowd!

Yoshiki Rising Drum Riser

It was just insane!

Yoshiki at Piano

Yoshiki steps away from his massive kit to play piano many, many times during X Japan’s set. He even played a bit of Swan Lake! Here, he prays for everyone to have fun at the show. Prayers answered!

X Japan have been together off and on for 30 years. Here are some photos of what they looked like back in the day:

X Japan Old School

X Japan Old School

Two former members (not necessarily pictured above) have passed on. RIP!

Lyrics to Hero

They did a new song called “Hero” with the lyrics projected on the screen so fans could sing along.

Lyrics to Hero

“Hero” managed to be both uplifting and sad simultaneously.

X Band on Stage with Banner

Finally, it was time to say goodbye, as the members of X Japan gathered at the edge of the Catwalk and pulled this banner from the a fan in the audience. Yoshiki proceeded to wrap himself in it. Cute!

X Band on Stage Farewell

Goodbye X Japan and thanks for the crazy fun show!

THE SET LIST

MIRACLE   (INTRO)

JADE

RUSTY  NAIL

SILENT  JEALOUSY

BENEATH  THE SKIN

PATA   +   HEATH  SOLO

DRAIN

SUGIZO  VIOLIN  SOLO

KURENAI

HERO

BORN TO  BE FREE
·∙

ENCORE 1

PIANO  SOLO

DRUM  SOLO

FOREVER  LOVE

I.V.

X
·∙

ENCORE  2

ENDLESS RAIN

ART OF LIFE  (PIANO)

Joseph Arthur Debuts The Ballad of Boogie Christ at NYC’s Bowery Ballroom

Joseph Arthur Bowery Ballroom 5
All Live Photos Courtesy of According2G.com

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.

Joseph Arthur Boogie Christ Cover
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.

Joseph Arthur Bowery Ballroom 2

Joe will be touring nationally througout 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!

See the setlist and more photos from last night’s show, plus check out an awesome HD video of Joe performing the title song from the album, at This Link. The Ballad of Boogie Christ is available from Joseph Arthur Dot Com and wherever fine music is procurred.

Must See Concert Film: Paul McCartney and Wings ROCKSHOW

Paul McCartney Rock Show Poster

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 Rock Show Bass

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.

Paul McCartney Rock Show Acoustic Set
Left to Right: Jimmy McCulloch, Denny Laine, Linda and Paul

Paul can rock out with his bass like the great front man that he is, but some of my favorite moments in the film are when he’s behind the piano for songs like “Maybe I’m Amazed,” “The Long & Winding Road” and the jaunty “You Gave Me The Answer,” which McCartney dedicates to Fred Astaire. Not quite midway through the show, the band pull up chairs at the front of the stage for an extended acoustic set featuring “Picasso’s Last Words,” a cover of Simon and Garfunkel’s “Richard Cory,” a stunning rendition of “Bluebird” and a fun, uber-countrified version of “I’ve Just Seen a Face” (from the US release of The Beatles’ Rubber Soul album). But it’s on McCartney’s solo acoustic performance of “Blackbird” where the dark sensibilities that John Lennon helped to infuse into McCartney’s songcraft can really be heard. Moments like these are extremely bitter sweet.

I liked that, even though this was a BIG ROCK SHOW, they didn’t need to rely on explosions or shit flying through the air to make a memorable impression. McCartney and his band let the music do the talking and it never fails to be less than completely magical. The size of the stage – as well as the size of the venue – reveals that this was a huge production, but the show is refreshingly easy on the Las Vegas-style lighting effects, save for a spot strobe used to great effect during the horn sections of “Live and Let Die,” and a smoke and laser effect that makes it look as if the band is performing in outer space during the final number, “Soily.”

ROCKSHOW is a do not miss film for any fan of The Beatles, Paul McCartney or 70s Rock. The film will be shown in over 700 cities worldwide, including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Cape Town, Sydney, Rome, Warsaw, Bucharest, Prague, Hamburg, San Paolo, Rio DeJaneiro, Buenos Aires, and many other cities across the U.S., Mexico, Asia, Europe and South America. These special theatrical presentations will include a bonus 12-minute interview with McCartney. Tickets for ROCKSHOW are available at participating theater box offices and online at Rock Show On Screen Dot Com, where you can also look for a screening in your area. Running time is 141 minutes. ROCKSHOW will be released on DVD and Blu-ray on June 11th, 2013.

SET LIST

1.-3. “Venus And Mars”/“RockShow”/ “Jet”
4. “Let Me Roll It”
5. “Spirits Of Ancient Egypt”
6. “Medicine Jar”
7. “Maybe I’m Amazed”
8. “Call Me Back Again”
9. “Lady Madonna”
10. “The Long And Winding Road”
11. “Live And Let Die”
12. “Picasso’s Last Words”
13. “Richard Cory”
14. “Bluebird”
15. “I’ve Just Seen A Face”
16. “Blackbird”
17. “Yesterday”
18. ”You Gave Me The Answer”
19. “Magneto And Titanium Man”
20. “Go Now”
21. “My Love”
22. “Listen To What The Man Said”
23. “Let ‘Em In”
24. “Time To Hide”
25. “Silly Love Songs”
26. “Beware My Love”
27. “Letting Go”
28. “Band on the Run”
29. “Hi, Hi, Hi”
30. “Soily”

Craig Ferguson at Radio City Music Hall

Radio City Craig Ferguson Marquee
All Photos By Jamie Moroni

I love comedian Craig Ferguson as the host of CBS’s The Late Late Show, but can rarely stay up late enough to watch it, so I was excited to have the chance to see Craig do Stand up at NYC’s best performance venue, Radio City Music Hall. Ferguson is so off the wall and charming, so I suspected he would put on a pretty good show, and I was not disappointed.

Craig Ferguson with Dancers
Ferguson is Ushered onto the Stage by a group of Rockette-Like Dancers

What stood out most for me was that Craig’s jokes are some of the most original bits I’ve heard in a stand up routine. I hadn’t heard any of them before, either on his talk show or via YouTube clips, so everything was totally fresh and hilarious.

While a bit in which Craig debated the correct pronunciation of the word “Clitoris” went on kind of longer than it needed to, he did manage to incorporate a distinctive and highly memorable hand gesture culled from that routine (you’ll recognize it if you see his act) into bits about Warren Beatty and possibly others as well. Hysterical! My friend, Jamie and I continued to make that gesture to each other while we hung out after the show! We were laughing so hard for well over an hour, and you know how you can hardly ever recall specific bits from a show like this after you leave the theater, because it moves so fast, but many jokes — such as his bit about Actors going to Rehab and a Drew Carry Joke that took him the entire length of the set to finish telling — stood out. Craig is awesome and I would see him again.

Craig Ferguson Suit

We also enjoyed the opening act, Josh Robert Thompson, who you will recognize as the voice of Craig’s Late Late Show gay robot skeleton Side Kick, Geoff Peterson. Thompson does spot on Morgan Freeman impersonation and his ability to actually transform his face into that of a young Robert Deniro for his “Happy Birthday to Me” bit was just amazing.

Remembering Wendy O. Williams

Wendy O Williams
Image Source

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.