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Tag: Concert Reviews (31-40 of 151)

Afghan Whigs live in New York City -- still dark and dangerous at their first show in 13 years

When I first joined Entertainment Weekly a little over a year ago, the deputy managing editor asked me who my favorite songwriter was. I answered unequivocally: Greg Dulli, the seedy mastermind behind great 21st-century soul-scuzz combos Twilight Singers and the Gutter Twins. While Dulli has rarely put out anything I didn’t like, my adoration for him begins with the Afghan Whigs, the Cincinnati-bred combo who released a half dozen albums’ worth of cocksure R&B for the alt-rock era.

The band parted ways in 1999, but last night at New York’s Bowery Ballroom, they returned. (The Whigs were supposed to make their grand reunion at the Dulli-curated All Tomorrow’s Parties festival in New Jersey this September, but considering the band’s last show was at the now-defunct New York club Hush, Dulli wanted to start the band right where they left off over a decade ago.) READ FULL STORY

Jack White makes joyful noise in New York: Live from the Roseland Ballroom

During the only extended pause during Jack White’s breathless, sweaty parade of garage-scuzz blues at New York’s Roseland Ballroom on Monday night, the rock formalist paused to tell a joke. He described a scene outside a local smoke shop, where two kids were lying on top of newspapers and furiously kissing. “See,” he told the crowd, “it’s not hard to make it on the cover of The New York Times.”

That’s an old gag, but it’s the sort of good-old-boy humor that runs consistent with White’s take on the old bits of Americana that have informed his entire musical career—especially his just-released solo album Blunderbuss. His current tour is full of those kinds of nods: White’s stage is backlit for extra ambiance, while members of his crew all wear three-piece suits for effect.

And while much of White’s aesthetic comes from pre-War ideologies, his musical delivery is pure ’70s. The thunderous hammer of Zeppelin pounded all over riffs from various stages of White’s career. READ FULL STORY

Pulp make triumphant return to the U.S. with two sexy, bouncy shows at Radio City Music Hall

The last time bookish Britpop legends Pulp played a concert in the United States, I was just wrapping up my sophomore year in high school. The idea of making the trip into New York City to see a band was well out of the realm of possibility (at the time, I had to argue with my parents about seeing shows one town over), but for a hot minute I tried to devise some way I could see them. After all, their just-released sixth album This Is Hardcore was my absolute favorite album at the time (even though all the middle-aged suburban ennui went completely over my head), and the band was not doing the sort of full-scale tour that would have taken them to the local amphitheater in Hartford. So I had to put that idea to bed. “I’ll catch them next time,” I told myself.

How was I to know that it would take them nearly 14 years to come back? They put out one more tepidly-received album and promptly broke up. Frontman Jarvis Cocker moved to Paris, started a solo career, and seemed content to let his old band live in the past forever. The solo stuff was pretty strong, and I got to experience Cocker live in person twice in the interim, but there was still a distinct lack of “Disco 2000″ in my live concert history.

The band rewarded my patience with two phenomenally sharp shows at New York’s Radio City Music Hall this week, and during Tuesday night’s sinewy rendition of “This Is Hardcore,” I realized exactly why I love Cocker’s style as a frontman. He’s a deeply physical performer who has carved out a unique dance style. His voice isn’t the most technically proficient, but his songs would sound ridiculous if sung by anybody else. The choruses are as much about his vocal tics and asides as they are about the hooks themselves. His bands songs are deeply rooted in their conception period and yet strangely timeless. And he is so deeply ensconced in his character that it’s sometimes hard to tell where the irony begins.

With that resumé, it’s clear why I find Cocker so compelling: He’s almost exactly like David Lee Roth. READ FULL STORY

On the Scene at 'MTV Unplugged Florence + the Machine': A Review

Florence-and-the-MachineImage Credit: Paul Redmond/WireImage.comDuring her MTV Unplugged session that aired Easter Sunday Florence Welch proved why she named her first album Lungs.

Though her voice fiercely registers on her records, freed from all those wall-of-sound arrangements it is truly something to behold. It’s not a perfect instrument, mind you. But every crack comes across like a world-weary badge of honor. When those final oh-whoa-ohs explode out of her throat during the a cappella closing of “Drumming Song,” it rattles you with Biblical force, like she isn’t just trying to put on a show. She’s trying to raise the dead. Kind of the perfect programming for Easter, huh?

Actually, Florence + the Machine’s entry into MTV’s venerable Unplugged franchise was perfect Sunday night fare for another reason too. With her delicate bone-colored dress and flaming red hair parted Druid-like down the middle, Welch could have been a stand-in for Carice van Houten as Melisandre on Game of Thrones. (Kanye West, sitting in the front row, could have been Salladhor Saan.)


Bruce Springsteen concert review: Dedicates 'American Skin' to Trayvon Martin, collapses into triumph

Bruce Springsteen played the first of two nights in Philadelphia on Wednesday. If the news headline is that he pointedly directed his audience to hear his 2000 song “American Skin (41 Bullets)” now as a parable for the fate of Trayvon Martin, the music story of this show is that Springsteen has broken through to a new level of interest in beats, rhythms, and ways to keep his old music fresh, for himself and for his fans. READ FULL STORY

Mumford & Sons with Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes at SXSW: Folk-rockers bring new songs, jubilant jams -- and their own movie

Just a mile north of the armies of green-clad party people filling up Sixth Street in downtown Austin, a far more positive vibe was being dealt out on the campus of the University of Texas. Though the show, put together by MySpace, existed outside of the purview of South By Southwest proper, it provided some of the purest musical moments of the entire weekend and trafficked in that rare emotion across the stages of Austin: joy.

Sprawled across a hill on a breezy evening under a lovely Texas sky, thousands showed up for a screening of the documentary Big Easy Express, which tracks the seven-date tour that took Mumford & Sons, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes, and Old Crow Medicine Show from Oakland, California to New Orleans via train. The bulk of Old Crow couldn’t show up on Saturday night (they were represented by member Gill Landry), but both Mumford and the Zeroes were there to celebrate the film and perform new music.

The trio of new songs that cropped up during Mumford & Sons headlining set had all appeared in their live sets before, but they all felt more fully realized than ever, suggesting that the band has fully grown into them. “Ghosts That We Knew” felt especially well-executed: the layered harmonies were on point, and the weepy violin solo gave the bridge some real heft. Bassist Ted Dwayne recently described Mumford & Sons’ upcoming second album as “doom folk,” and the version of “Ghosts That We Knew” played on Saturday night certainly falls under that descriptor.

The band also unleashed “Lover’s Eyes” and “Lover of the Light,” the latter of which found Marcus Mumford pulling a Phil Collins and singing whilst also playing the drum kit. Each of the new tracks was greeted warmly, and the gothic, moody “Lover’s Eyes” definitely has the potential to be a big single for the band.

They already have a handful of those, of course, and Mumford & Sons delivered impassioned versions of each. READ FULL STORY

Santigold graduates to the next level at SXSW with pom-poms, equines

Friday afternoon’s South By Southwest party hosted by Spin magazine was a microcosm of this year’s festival. There were mixtape rappers (Big K.R.I.T., G-Side), indie darlings looking to buck the sophomore slump (Best Coast, Chairlift, the Big Pink), and a healthy dose of WTF-ness (the sprawling disco orchestra Escort). And like most of the bigger showcases over the past few days, it ultimately centered around the anticipated arrival of a star.

At Stubb’s BBQ on Friday afternoon, that star was Santigold. Following the critical and commercial success of her debut album, she has been missing in action for too long, and her second album Master of My Make-Believe, which has been completed and sitting on the shelf for a year, has had a few rumored release dates (it will finally arrive on April 24). With so much time on the bench, what would Santigold 2.0 look and sound like?

The jury remains out on the new material, but even if the songs go completely south, there will at least be something to look at. Santi took the stage with a pair of, as she described them, “badass b—–s who will f— you up.” To call them dancers would be a bit of a misnomer; while they did indeed execute precise choreography, they were more like those interpreters who translate musical performances into sign language—except in this case, they were explaining Santi’s songs to aliens. READ FULL STORY

Jack White takes over SXSW with new songs, fancy suits

There’s a real “come as you are” approach to dressing for South By Southwest — florescent hair, ironic T-shirts, giant medallions shaped like characters from Rugrats, Ghostbusters-style jump suits. Plus, the weather is all over the place. Cut-off shorts? Seen plenty of’em. Puffy parkas? Ran across at least one of those too.

But you don’t see a whole lot of natty three-piece suits, let alone ones topped off by sassy fedoras—unless you were at the Third Man Records/From The Basement showcase at Stage on Sixth Friday night. Third Man label boss and blues-loving bon vivant Jack White clad his support staff — band members and roadies alike — in natty attire, simultaneously reminding everybody that there was work to be done, and it was to be executed in White’s extremely particular style. (Unfortunately no photos were immediately available from the event, so the picture above is from an earlier show).

The formality was appropriate, as White’s set had grown into one of the most looked-forward-to musical events of the weekend, and the line to try to get in to see him and his label cohorts stretched for several blocks. People were curious about the new material from White’s forthcoming solo debut Blunderbuss, but they were also simply drawn in by his unique charisma and his chops as a performer. And by tapping into the past—classic country, Delta blues, cacophonous teenage garage rock—he has often predicted the future. What would he reveal this time?

White’s first order of business was indulging in one of the cornerstone rules of a rock show: Get’em early. READ FULL STORY

Bruce Springsteen at SXSW: The Boss invites every person he's ever met on stage at epic three-hour show

There weren’t any great revelations that emerged from Bruce Springsteen’s Thursday afternoon keynote address at the music portion of the South by Southwest Festival. The Boss didn’t have a whole lot of clear ideas to impart, and even he agreed with that estimate (“I gave a big speech this morning, f—ed the whole thing up,” he joked from the stage later).

Mostly, he just got across the idea that he loves rock music, and that it still holds some sort of undefinable power — and later that night he got the chance to prove it where it counts: on stage, in an epic three-hour set at Moody’s Theater in Austin.

The big headlines will probably belong to Springsteen’s giant list of collaborators, which ranged from Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello, who sat in on a trio of tunes, including a raucous, metaled-up version of “The Ghost of Tom Joad” that split the difference between Springsteen’s acoustic original and Rage’s aggro cover, to Jimmy Cliff, who came out to do a mini set of his own during the encore, including an effervescent “The Harder They Come.”

The Animals’ Eric Burdon also stopped by to blast through “We Gotta Get Out of This Place” (according to Springsteen, he happened to realize Burdon was in town thanks to Twitter, and noted that he has stolen from him more than anyone else in his career), and the night closed with an overwhelming spin through Woody Guthrie’s “This Land Is Your Land” featuring Morello, Burdon, Joe Ely, Alejandro Escovedo (who also opened the show), and members of Arcade Fire. READ FULL STORY

Ed Sheeran, A$AP Rocky bring two different types of hip-hop flavor to MTVU Woodies at SXSW

The mtvU Woodie Awards will always be the bridesmaid to its older, bigger sister, the VMAs.

But a few years ago, MTV got the brilliant idea to move their annual celebration of indie music down to Austin during South By Southwest — and this year, they went ahead and turned the thing into a day-long festival, with more than a dozen artists performing across two different stages and plenty of free barbecue, beer, and popsicles (the three key elements of any balanced diet).

While Thursday night’s proper awards show was clearly designed as a prime-time dance party (Santigold, Steve Aoki, and chart-topping rapper Mac Miller — filling in for Childish Gambino, who pulled out with a foot injury like he was playing in March Madness — make up that lineup), the afternoon sets explored various nooks and crannies of music on the fringe. And most of it could probably find its way onto that other MTV awards show some day.

British folk-hopper Ed Sheeran got the afternoon started with a charming set of tunes from his already-U.K.-famous debut album + (yes, that’s the title). Wearing shorts and looking so pale it’s a wonder he didn’t immolate under the Texas sun, Sheeran could easily get by as a sad-eyed singer-songwriter — a drunker, British Jack Johnson, perhaps — but he has a knack for manipulating samplers and voice loops, various strums, a handful of rhythmic pounds on his guitar’s body, and even the audience. It’s a pretty astounding gimmick that may actually eclipse some of his delicately-crafted songs, especially “The A Team,” an acute narrative written as a tribute to a homeless girl Sheeran once met.

Sheeran also has quite a lightning tongue, and he showed off his rapping skills during the set-closing “You Need Me, I Don’t Need You,” on which he segues into 50 Cent’s “In Da Club” (coincidentally, Fiddy will in fact perform Get Rich Or Die Tryin‘ in its entirety at the festival this weekend) and spitting so fast it brought back memories of Letters to Cleo’s “Here and Now.”

A$AP Rocky, meanwhile, was in no such rush. The Harlem-based mixtape rapper first came up late last year with his guttural, hallucinogenic giveaway LiveLoveA$SAP, and he continued to pick up fans with the performances he dealt on Thursday afternoon. Rocky played it super cool as he stalked across the stage, constantly demanding the crowd get its hands up and letting his crisp flow wallow in the sludgy, bottom-heavy hum spewed forth by his DJ.

“Pretty Flacko” was an early favorite, full of aggression and vigor, and both Rocky and cohort Schoolboy Q turned rags-to-riches anthem “Brand New Guy” into a churning shout-along anthem. Rocky’s natural charisma cannot be understated; it’s refreshingly effortless. Sheeran clearly appreciates hip-hop history, but A$AP Rocky is the future.

In between those two guys, Kimbra came out to do a far different set than the one she ran through on Wednesday night. Rather than the traditional rock set-up from a few hours prior, her band stuck mostly to electronic instruments (one guy even played a borrowed iPad—and we knew it was borrowed because Kimbra had to ask its owner what the passcode was in between songs) and did what was essentially live remixing of some of her more robo-centric tunes—especially set-opening “Settle Down,” which she admitted that she was a little sick of (a problem unique to international artists, since her album Vows doesn’t come out in the United States until May but has been out in Australia and her native New Zealand since last summer).

Under these new circumstances, she came off less like a stylistic rocker chick and more like slightly less whimsical Bjork, enamored with the sounds of things. And like Sheeran, she also looped her own voice—apparently, warbling into a sampler is the new guitar solo.

Read more:
Kimbra, Alabama Shakes, Sharon Von Etten highlight Wednesday night at SXSW

Fiona Apple returns to the stage with new songs at SXSW

SXSW: Crowd goes crazy for Lionel Richie, doesn’t know who The-Dream is

Cheezburger founder Ben Huh on SXSWi: Jumping the shark has jumped the shark

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