Tag Archive | Performance

Show Review: Lennon: Through a Glass Onion

Lennon Glass Onion Poster

For Beatles fans who crave an authentic performance experience of the group’s expansive catalog of music, there is certainly no shortage of grand scale productions, which range from Rain and Let it Be on Broadway to 1964 The Tribute – an act that regularly sells out Carnegie Hall. But for fans who maintain a keen interest in the life and post-Beatles career of John Lennon specifically, Lennon: Through a Glass Onion offers something completely different.

Now in evening and matinee performances at the Union Square Theater, Lennon: Through a Glass Onion, is an intimate, two-man show featuring esteemed actor and singer John R. Waters and accompanist Stewart D’Arrietta, which originally saw sell-out tours in the duo’s native Australia. While there are no dazzling lights, clever sets, informative backdrops or special effects to bolster this very stripped down production, what you get is a heartfelt acoustic performance (guitar and piano – and D’Arrietta’s piano playing is quite excellent) of a selection of over thirty of John Lennon’s best and most autobiographical songs – both written with Paul McCartney while in The Beatles, and written and recorded by Lennon as a solo artist.

Tying the musical numbers together is Water’s biographical narrative of John Lennon’s often traumatic youth and tumultuous adulthood, the ups and down of which are punctuated and fleshed out by songs he wrote at that time. Although Water’s speaking voice is appealingly similar to Lennon’s, his (often quite gravelly) singing voice is not, so don’t expect the “close your eyes and imagine it is really him” effect that you can get with so many tributes. Through a Glass Onion is really more like watching two hardcore John Lennon fans perform his songs and talk about his life in a pub setting. This may or may not be your thing, so just know what you are walking into ahead of time.

In order to fit thirty songs into a 90-minute run time, many of the songs are performed as excerpts of various lengths, but you get the idea. Likewise, some liberty is taken with traditional arrangements, which finds “Help!” – one of The Beatles‘ most exhilarating anthems – performed almost as a dirge. Sometimes the alternative arrangements work and other times not so much.

It’s also unclear how much of the biographical information is simply improvised or creatively extrapolated based on various facts but, again, it is easy to imagine that Waters is speaking as Lennon and the story all comes together. As an aside, fans seeking more information about John Lennon’s life as a child and teenager, including the not-very-happy story about his relationship with his mother Julia – which had such a profound influence on so many of his songs — might be better served by the 2009 film, Nowhere Boy. You can find it on Netflix.

An added note about the venue, for those who’ve not yet been to the Union Square Theater, is that you are in for treat in this pristinely maintained, old school theater where every very comfy seat offers optimal viewing, so you don’t have to stretch your ticket buying budget to get the best seat in the house. The theater is also conveniently located three blocks uptown from the Union Square subway hub and is within blocks of dozens of excellent restaurants — so you can plan a night of it!

Lennon: Through a Glass Onion will run through February 22nd, 2015 at the Union Square Theater, located at 100 East 17th Street (Between Park Ave South and Irving Place), New York, NY 10003. Visit Lennon Onstage Dot Com for more information about the show, to get show times and to purchase tickets!

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Blake Morgan Debuts New CD at NYC’s The Cutting Room

Blake Morgan Diamonds in the Dark Cover

Armed with only his acoustic guitar and a soaring vocal range, singer/songwriter Blake Morgan celebrated the July 30th release of his latest CD, Diamonds in the Dark, with an engaging set played to a packed house at Manhattan’s Cutting Room.

While the unplugged set was missing the lusher aspects of Diamonds in the Dark’s expanded instrumentation, Morgan’s delivery and on stage charisma did each song full justice. This CD is really fantastic! Morgan’s adept guitar playing fondly recalls that of the late great George Harrison, while his voice varies between comparison to the adult contemporary mellowness of hit-maker Duncan Sheik and top-shelf Seventies pop greats such as Andrew Gold. And what’s not to like about that?

Morgan draws his subject matter from his past romantic relationships, and while the songs are obviously deeply personal, he keeps the message universal and accessible. Tuesday’s set featured nine cuts from the just-released Diamonds, including a few of my favorites like the opening number, “Haunt Me,” “Best Bad Idea” and “I Can Hear You Say.” I enjoyed Blake’s humorous between-song banter (where he revealed many of the details behind each song) and it was a fun evening for all! Diamonds in the Dark is available now wherever fine music is procured, and you can find out more about Blake by visiting This Link. See the set list below!

Cutting Room Set List

Haunt Me
Black Into Blue
Suspicious Bliss
Water Water Everywhere
Best Bad Idea
Don’t Want To Let You Go
I Can Hear You Say
We Left Off
So Scared And Happy

Pink Thing of the Day: Pink Assignment

Pink Assignment Logo on Jumpsuit Back

On our way to last night’s opening reception at Bold Hype on West 27th Street, we came upon the collaborative art duo known as Pink Assignment (Mariangeles Soto-Diaz and Claudia Sbrissa) who were putting up an installation of hot pink satin ribbons tied in web-like fashion between the support poles of a sidewalk construction overhang. We stopped to say Hello.

Pink Arrangement Pink Ribbon Public Work

Speaking briefly with Mariangeles – who, dressed in her awesome pink jumpsuit, was super friendly and enthusiastic at the prospect of being the featured Pink Thing of The Day here on The Gig – I learned that Pink Assignment is all about giving public visibility and supporting women’s issues using the language of abstraction. In other words, without getting in anyone’s face. We can get behind that.

Mariangeles and Claudia of Pink Arrangement
Mariangeles and Claudia (In Pink Jumpsuits, Left to Right) are Pink Assignment

The participatory performance/installation using Pink Ribbon along 27th Street was the outdoor portion of the duo’s debut work, Pull Up, taking place at the Soho 20 Chelsea Gallery (547 West 27th St. Suite 301). To culminate the performance, Pink Assignment connected the outside and inside of the gallery by taking a very long pink ribbon line up the staircase, all the way to the gallery on the third floor. The inside of the gallery had a site-specific installation connecting ceiling, floor and walls also using hot pink satin ribbon, creating a three-dimensional maze-like drawing in space. Festive, inviting and political, the ribbon line structures of the project can be interpreted as struggle but negotiated with creative ease, a mode of building and reveling in the complexity of pink. The performance by Pink Assignment is part of the Savoir-Faire 2012 – the fourth annual performance series featuring women artists curated by Soho20 Chelsea Gallery director Jenn Dierdorf.

Pink Assignment Gallery Install
Photo Above Courtesy of Mariangeles Soto-Diaz

Find out more about what’s next for Pink Assignment by visiting Mariangeles’ Website and Claudia’s Website.

DVD Recommendation: Privilege

Privilegle Movie Poster

Privilege is a 1967 film that just became available on DVD last month, and I was fortunate to snag it rather quickly on Netflix. This film is just awesome, flaunting a combination of aesthetic elements that recall films like The Magic Christian, Tommy, Velvet Goldmine and Nicholas Roeg’s Performance. I would recommend Privilege to anyone who enjoyed one or more of those films.

Part dark comedy and part scathing sociopolitical satire, Privilege was literally decades ahead of its time. Briefly, the film takes place “in the near future” (1970), where the British government is using Steven Shorter, a popular rock star (played by the very handsome Manfred Mann front man/singer Paul Jones) to channel the impulses of rebellious teenagers. While his “duties” include promoting/endorsing commercial products and shilling for public service announcements, Steven is referred to in an opening voice over as “The most desperately loved entertainer in the world.” So you know he’s been set up with some big shoes to fill.

As the government re-engineers Steven’s image to assist in more tightly controlling teenage society, he eventually rebels, with disquieting results. ‘60s Supermodel Jean Shrimpton co-stars as Vanessa, a sultry, uber-mod painter commissioned to paint Steven’s portrait, who soon becomes his only ally.  “Swinging London” imagery is in abundance throughout the film and there’s an exceptional original soundtrack featuring Paul Jones providing his own vocals. As a classic film that thoroughly entertains as well as making you really think about how we are all manipulated through the media, Privilege gets two thumbs up from The Worley Gig!

Original Alice Cooper Band to Reunite! One Night Only!

ACGroupwithCindy.jpg
Alice Cooper Was a Band: L to R Michael Bruce, Alice Cooper, Dennis Dunaway, Glen Buxton (RIP) and Neal Smith (with model Cindy Lang)

Well, this sure is exciting news for all the Glam Rock heads out there. The four surviving members of the groundbreaking ’70s rock band, Alice Cooper, will reunite for one performance only on Saturday December 16th. Guitarist Michael Bruce, Bassist Dennis Dunaway and Drummer Neal Smith will join vocalist Alice Cooper on stage at Cooper’s annual charity event, Alice Cooper’s Christmas Pudding. As of last night, tickets are still available. The Pudding, as it is known, also features a dozen other bands and comedians, so I’m sure it’s worth the price of admission, if only to see Alice Cooper perform its classic songs like “Billion Dollar Babies” and “I’m Eighteen” as they were originally captured live and on vinyl over 30 years ago. If you’re in the Phoenix area, I strongly recommend you not miss it.