On most nights, Joanna Newsom headlining Carnegie Hall might well top the list of notable musical events in New York City. This was not necessarily the case yesterday, when Kanye West performed an incredible surprise show downtown shortly after the indie singer-songwriter left the venerable Hall. But having miraculously managed to see both performances, I can attest that Newsom’s was too good to be overlooked. READ FULL STORY
Tag: Concert Reviews (71-80 of 149)
Kanye West deliver a free-associative monologue about the media, George W. Bush, and Taylor Swift, though maybe that wasn’t a complete surprise when it happened almost three hours later. No, most of us were there for the music. On Monday, West released My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, an album that just might be his best ever. Yesterday morning he announced a surprise show at the Bowery, a storied little club on Manhattan’s Lower East Side that fits 550 people, tops. Chances to see the day’s most talked-about star in such an intimate venue don’t come along every day, so downtown we flocked. READ FULL STORYThe hundreds of people crammed awkwardly onto the sidewalk outside NYC’s Bowery Ballroom around midnight last night were there for one reason. It wasn’t to hear
Phoenix saved the best part of their concert at Madison Square Garden last night for the very end of the final encore. That was when the band’s French frères, Daft Punk, showed up out of nowhere and drove the already-excited crowd into utter frenzy. Clad in their signature robot helmets, the reclusive duo stood silently on stage at a console and began unleashing serious beats. These soon resolved into a version of “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger” with Phoenix crunching gamely along, then a tantalizing snippet of “Around the World.” Finally, Daft Punk hung around and added some space-age laser synth buzz to “1901,” Phoenix’s last song of the night. According to Stereogum, it was the first time Daft Punk has performed in public since 2007. That, folks, is how you do a proper encore. (Check out shaky YouTube video of the whole thing at Pitchfork.) READ FULL STORY
Gorillaz concert last night. As a legendarily curmudgeonly rock deity, Lou’s got a reputation to uphold. Scowling is his thing. But virtually everyone else in the arena, especially Gorillaz frontman Damon Albarn, burst out in un-self-conscious glee when Reed showed up for a mid-set cameo. The guest of honor ripped through a harsh, metallic guitar solo; recited the lyrics to “Some Kind of Nature” off a sheet; unleashed some more screeching White Light/White Heat-style feedback at the end of the song; and raised his arms in a curt victory sign. It was spellbinding. Albarn wrapped him a slightly awkward hug before he moseyed off stage. READ FULL STORYLou Reed might have been the only person in all of Madison Square Garden who did not crack a smile at the
Drake, last night’s headliner at a sold-out Radio City Music Hall for the second night in a row–the question is why would more than 5,000 people want to see a rapper perform? They don’t posses the awing vocal prowess of a singer, dance, or even play an instrument. Outside of a select few, rappers just rap on stage.It’s hard being a rapper–even if you have songs that wow both peers and millions of fans like
Well, simply put, people love him. Drake, 23, is rap’s unlikely hero raised way North of hip-hop’s New York birthplace: Toronto, Canada. He’s Jewish, wears his heart on his sleeves, and a coat of confidence. This time last year he was riding high off the success of “Best I Ever Had,” the standout smash from his introspective 2009 So Far Gone mixtape, and performing to a third of the crowd he faced last night. This, his Light Dreams & Nightmares tour, is his first on a stage this big. We know his idol Jay-Z and his heap of hits put on an amazing show. But what of rap’s’ golden child?
Armed only with cuts from Gone and his debut album—this summer’s best rap set, Thank Me Later, Drake strolled onto the stage in cargo pants, black Air Jordans, black sunglasses, and a denim jacket. After coolly running through his “9AM in Dallas,” he ramped things up with “Up All Night” and “Show Me a Good Time.” His style is lively. He sprinted and leapt all over the stage during the choruses he didn’t rap along to. And even when he stood still, he rapped with intensity—as if the lyrics were erupting from his toes out of his mouth, hand viciously twitching like a concentrated jazz hand.
Though his remained high, the audience’s energy didn’t match for most of the night. Apparently unable to stay as excited about Drake’s words as he was to spit them, some just stood and stared while he rapped his verse to Young Jeezy’s “Lose My Mind”—as if waiting for the Atlanta native to step out himself. He didn’t. But spirits were lifted when Brooklyn rapper Fabolous, dipped in all black, came out for “Throw It in the Bag.” More seasoned artists stealing the show became the night’s recurring theme after that. R&B titan Trey Songz awkwardly joined Drake later. The two have several tracks together. Last year they hit hard with 1-2 punches like “Successful” and “Invented Sex.” Instead of performing those, Drake stood and watched Trey take his women, singing his new mid-tempo “Can’t Be Friends.” Then he was off.
But it wasn’t until 10:30pm that the roof was torn off the building. That feat was left to Jay-Z, whose Timberlands stomped in to their “Light Up” collaboration. He got about halfway through that before deciding to make this moment his with the frenetic “On to the Next One.” It was then that I realized what Drake could do with years of more experience on stage. The deafening screams Jay earned are surely what he aspires for. He didn’t own every moment like his guests did.
It was far from a bad show. But like the title of his earliest mixtape, there was clearly room for improvement.
Have you seen Drake perform before? What did you think of his show? Fuse will air the performance on Thanksgiving Eve at 9pm. Plan on watching?
(Follow the Music Mix on Twitter: @EWMusicMix.)
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John Legend and the Roots bring soulful sounds, strong messages, and Jennifer Hudson to NYC's Terminal 5
Like that one cool teacher we all had way back when, John Legend and the Roots schooled a sold out crowd at New York City’s Terminal 5 last night. Promoting their collaborative release Wake Up!, comprised mostly of Civil Rights-fueled ‘60s and ‘70s covers, the soul crooner and hip-hop’s baddest band in the land ran through several tracks from the new set—as well as a few of Legend’s biggest hits. It was filmed by director Spike Lee and live streamed on Youtube and Vevo as the latest installment in American Express’ Unstaged concert series.
Parting the audience, Legend and the Roots entered like a New Orleans marching band and stepped up the stage to open with Curtis Mayfield’s “Hard Times,” their hard-hitting cut where John plays the part of a man surrounded neighbors who are quietly racist towards him. The song, like many others from their album embodied the evening’s lesson: Yeah, these songs were inspired from music created during the Civil Rights movement decades ago. But as much as things have changed, they’ve also stayed the same. As a U.S. flag waved in the background, Legend coolly sang Mike James Kirkland’s encouraging classic “Hang on in There.” The song’s breakdown, which included some spoken words about how Legend couldn’t turn his back on his friends or his country, did fall on some deaf ears, though.
“They better play some of their old stuff,” said one disgruntled man to his date. Presumably, he came for a more lighthearted show and not a Wake Up! call to action rally. Others also used some of the show’s most thoughtful moments to talk amongst themselves. It’s already tough to perform a record that came out two days before. Combine that with it being one rife with heavy messages and like a high school history lesson, the audience tuned out.
Eventually they got what they wanted. Legend dipped into his stash of R&B hits and pulled out his upbeat suggestive jam “Green Light.” Then the Roots brought out English siren Estelle for “You Got Me.” The crowd was alive and attentive again. From then on, there were no letdowns. In a white shirt, black vest, and matching sunglasses, Common joined songstress Melanie Fiona on stage for “Wake Up,” earning the night’s biggest applause.
As the lights dimmed, Legend followed with his biggest hit to date, “Ordinary People.” But just when people thought they got their money’s worth and were just about set to go, the encore brought the night’s biggest surprise guest. A slender Jennifer Hudson glided out to sing Walter Hawkins’ “Be Grateful” along with John.
Fans usually come to concerts to escape from the day’s harsh realities. Instead tonight John and the Roots smacked their audience with unabashed truth, still managing to make them groove. Racism’s still alive. Poverty exists within our boarders. And there is a war going on. I guess everything sounds better to Questlove’s beat.
Watch them perform “I Can’t Write Left Handed” and “Compared To What” after the jump.
Crooked rain (and lightning, and rolling sonic booms of thunder) ripped through New York’s Central Park last night, but Biblical weather couldn’t keep reunited indie icons Pavement from playing their second of three sold-out nights at the Park’s spacious Summerstage. It did, alas, force them to give their gold soundz an unplanned intermission.
That the crowd—a good half of them fortysomething guys who could not have looked happier to be there if they were handing out free, Viagra-dusted diamonds—actually booed when the band was forced to temporarily evacuate for their own safety was more disappointing than their brief absence from the stage. Really, dude? You waited ten years to see them again, and now you’d rather see Spiral Stairs zonked by a giant forked lightning bolt than hold out for thirty minutes while the storm passed? READ FULL STORY
Eminem and native son Jay-Z, bring the young venue its first show. Two weeks ago, the combo kicked off the first half of their Home and Home mini-tour at Detroit’s Comerica Park. There Em, was the night’s closer. But on Monday night, he set things off.“Let’s go, Yankees,” chanted fans last night in the Bronx, New York, home of Major League Baseball’s defending champions. But they weren’t there to see Derek Jeter or Alex Rodriguez smash it out of the park. The sold-out crowd filled the new Yankee Stadium to see two of hip-hop’s greatest and most accomplished talents,
The chants flipped to cheers when Em’s spacey intro began on the jumbo screen. Like Star Wars movies begin–with a storyline text appearing as we travel across the galaxy–so did his, chronicling his heavily covered road from troubled drug addict to sobriety. “You are here to witness,” it concluded, “Eminem’s RECOVERY.”
In a black tee, shorts, and a matching hooded sweatshirt pulled over his head, Em crept on stage to “Won’t Back Down,” rapping with fierce intensity. As he spit on the track, “Shady’s got the mass appeal.” And was apparent. From jump, fans made the Motor City rhymer feel right at home, rapping along word-for-word.
“Politically correct” and Eminem don’t go together. Animations of a redneck with a mullet and his beat-up car were met with laughs when he performed “W.T.P. (White Trash Party).” His fans are a different kind of breed—a more twisted bunch who somehow relate to some of his most violent and mortifying lyrics like, “B—-, I’mma kill you” from the aptly titled “Kill You.” And they obeyed his command to raise their middle fingers and say, “F— you, momma!” before he launched into “Cleanin’ Out My Closet.” After a brief set with his group D12, B.o.B, who opened the show, came back out to perform his “Airplanes” alongside Em, but that guest appearance was just a warm up for what was to come.
Find out who the other surprises were and how Jay-Z did after the jump.
Perez Hilton seemed to shout those three words at least once every time he took the stage at L.A.’s Wiltern Theatre last night. While he’s still best known as a cantankerous gossip blogger, Hilton clearly does spend a lot of time thinking about tunes, between his Perezcious Music label and his ongoing “One Night in…” concert series. Promotional materials for “One Night in Los Angeles” promised A-list celebs like Katy Perry and Kanye West would be in the audience; they never showed, as far as I could tell. In a way it was fitting. This event ended up being more about music than about stars, after all. READ FULL STORY“I love music!”
Who needs the rest of The Killers anyway? All joking aside—The Killers are great!—the band’s frontman Brandon Flowers, who announced in April that he was going out on his own, appeared without his bandmates last night at NYC’s Highline Ballroom and quickly proved that the solo thing suits him very well, thank you very much.
The thing that was most stunning about Flowers’ show was just how much the crowd was with him, even though he’s only officially released one track from his upcoming album, Flamingo. The second song of the evening, single “Crossfire,” had pretty much the entire crowd singing along rapturously (maybe because it’s really all most people know so far?)—and that was even without an appearance by Charlize Theron, who memorably pops up in the song’s video.
Brandon’s big moment, however, came a bit later in the under-an-hour set, when he covered “Bette Davis Eyes,” which Jackie DeShannon originated in 1974 before Kim Carnes made it a hit in 1981. (Watch a bootleg clip from an earlier show of Flowers’ version of “Bette Davis Eyes.”) The singular synth melody at the beginning opened it beautifully, and then Flowers owned it with his vocals, too. Maybe this cover will make the album? We can hope. Another highlight of the night was “Magdalena,” a folksy yet danceable track that has Flowers wailing throughout.
Overall, the show felt right for Flowers because of his stage presence—he was believable, very into what he was doing, and (see his Santa Fe-inspired vest above) completely adorable, especially with his new military-inspired crew cut. He just seemed joyful, and that bled immediately into the crowd, including yours truly.
Are you all pumped to hear what Flowers has cooking for the rest of his solo debut? Can he make it without the rest of The Killers behind him? All signs point to yes, but let me know what you think in the comments below.
Tanner on Twitter: @EWTanStransky
Music Mix on Twitter: @EWMusicMix.
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