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Tag: On the Scene (21-30 of 75)

On the scene: Norah Jones fires up the Hollywood Bowl

Mixing old and new, jamming on favorite inspirations and building on her own class of standards, Norah Jones took the Hollywood Bowl under her spell Friday night for a one-night special performance celebrating her new album, Little Broken Hearts, a collaboration with Danger Mouse (Brian Burton).

Jones, performing in L.A. en route to the Outside Lands music festival in San Francisco, performed an inspired set that included covers of the Grateful Dead and Hank Williams, plus old favorites and a good selection of songs from her new album.

A well-received opening set from indie folk rockers Cory Chisel and the Wandering Sons set the tone for a country-twanged evening before Jones took to a stage bedecked in jewel-toned lights and hanging paper cranes. Broken Hearts, which EW gave a “B” after its May release, recounts a brutal breakup, but Jones’s spirited performance with a wink and smile made it seem like the heartbreak is miles away.

“She’s 22,” a viciously sweet song about jealousy over an ex’s new love, led straight into the album’s title track. One of my favorite lines off Little Broken Hearts, “Bring me back to the good old days/ When you let me misbehave” led off “Say Goodbye,” which Jones performed slyly in a sweet pink dress and cowboy boots, looking just mischievous enough as she sang at the keyboard alongside her bandmates.

Jones also turned to some classic covers, including the Grateful Dead’s “It Must Have Been the Roses” (at Outside Lands Saturday, she was joined on the track by Dead guitarist Bob Weir), Tom Waits’ “The Long Way Home” (which appears on her 2004 album Feels Like Home), and Hank Williams’ “Cold, Cold Heart.” Her country/jazz mashup ethos, delivered live with ethereal keyboards and a band supporting her, felt like a country-noir extravaganza.

In tribute, perhaps, to her roots (Jones grew up near Ft. Worth), the chanteuse closed out the night with “Lonestar,” off her debut album Come Away With Me, introducing the song with a proud “I’m from Texas, you know,” before an encore that included two of her biggest hits, “Come Away With Me” and “Sunrise, Sunrise.”

Jones may be a Starbucks staple, but her live set showed off much more than the hits — the elements of electronic music infused by producer Danger Mouse on the new album highlighted her soulful voice and gave new layers to her piano playing. for some 90 magical minutes on a beautiful summer night at the Bowl.

Set list:
She’s 22
Little Broken Hearts
Say Goodbye
It’s Gonna Be
Chasing Pirates
Take It Back
All a Dream
The Long Way Home (Tom Waits cover)
Black (a 2011 Danger Mouse/Rome track)
It Must Have Been the Roses (Grateful Dead cover)
Cold Cold Heart (Hank Williams cover)
After the Fall
Happy Pills
Painter Song
Don’t Know Why
Sinkin’ Soon
Creepin’ In
Come Away with Me

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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.)


Grammys 2012: An on-the-scene report from inside the Staples Center

Partially designed as a live concert for 28,000 fans, the Grammy Awards are truly made for their much larger TV audience.

So when it comes to the annual kudos-fest, what you see on your screen at home is largely what you get inside the show at the Staples Center in downtown L.A., too. There isn’t much fanfare during the commercial breaks or off-screen activities happening, and — since the Staples Center is so huge — it’s overwhelming to zero in on what little delights could be happening around the arena.

But, I was there last night, and since I was, I thought I’d share with you the few little tidbits that you might not have seen on your own televisions, like which classic Grammy performances they played for the Staples audience during the commercial breaks, and how the crowd reacted to various performances and moments. Here’s the tick-tock of the night from inside:


Ringo Starr talks Beatles days with Russell Brand... but is there anything we don't already know?

A trim and tan Ringo Starr regaled a select group of fans yesterday in at a SiriusXM “Town Hall” held the Troubadour in Los Angeles, to promote the release of his new studio album Ringo 2012, out today. If you didn’t know the former Beatle was 71 years old, you would not have believed it — rarely has a septuagenarian rock star looked this good. He gamely bantered with host Russell Brand, who has held back on a sex joke. “The whole day is sort of designed to elicit relentless ejaculation,” Brand told the crowd at the Troubadour before the event began. (“If I talk about relentless ejaculation now,” Brand added, apparently talking to a SiriusXM producer, “it probably won’t be part of the broadcast.”)

Sex jokes aside, a great deal of the hour-long audience Q&A — the second half of which was moderated by music producer Don Was — was spent on Beatles nostalgia, from reminiscing about their final rooftop concert (yesterday was that event’s 43rd anniversary, a fact that took Starr by surprise), all the way back to when the drummer would watch the Beatles perform before he’d joined the band. READ FULL STORY

On the scene: Kelly Clarkson at Radio City Music Hall

Kelly Clarkson is the kind of girl you want to root for.

It was interesting that she chose to begin her Radio City Music Hall concert last night by flashing headlines telling the story of her career (and life) lowlights: “Album Leaks Again,” “29 & Still Single,” “Losing Sponsors,” “Failure,” “Fat.” This graphical re-telling of some of the digs she’s faced since winning American Idol 10 years ago was not a plea for pity. It was a call to arms, a reminder — we’ve all been there, and Kelly has gotten us out of it.

Moments later, when the drums dropped and Clarkson’s dynamic voice fired up on her “I am who am, we are who we are, and we’re worth it!” anthem “Dark Side,” she immediately had everyone in the 6,000-seat venue on her side. (As if they weren’t there already.) Indeed, it seems like the writers of those smear stories and the boys who inexplicably keep breaking up with Clarkson are in the vast minority as people who aren’t full-tilt Team Kelly — at least inside Radio City this Saturday night. READ FULL STORY

Is there a place for Van Halen in 2012? Survey says...

A few minutes before David Lee Roth and Alex, Eddie, and Wolfgang Van Halen walked onto the tiny stage at low-ceilinged Greenwich Village club Cafe Wha? last Thursday night, a colleague of mine leaned over and asked what was, at the time, a very important question: “Is there any band that fits into 2012 less well than these guys?”

Of course, a few minutes later we were both making the championship-belt gesture at each other, signifying that Van Halen’s hour-long set had secured the heavyweight title. It was easy to get wrapped up in the group’s first show together since 2008, and not just because the band picked up everybody’s bar tab.

The name Van Halen has always sounded like a code word for the sort of neutron bomb that Slim Pickens could ride into oblivion, and each one of the songs they played — including the not-at-all-new “new” song “She’s the Woman” — cut perfect four-minute swaths of destruction that wiped out any negativity or cynicism that might have been in the air.

Which came back to my friend’s point: Before Roth gave 250 journalists (and Jimmy Fallon) the chance to shout along to “Panama” with him as they got drunk with their friends, would Van Halen have made sense in a vacuum in 2012? Let’s take a look: READ FULL STORY

Taylor Swift wraps her Speak Now tour in New York City, sings with James Taylor and Selena Gomez

After 80 sold-out shows, Taylor Swift wrapped the North American leg of her Speak Now World Tour last night in front of a screaming crowd at Madison Square Garden in New York City. And what a show it was.

After a terrific set by South Carolina rockers NEEDTOBREATHE, whose strong sense of melody make it clear why Ms. “I love a good hook” Swift hand-picked them to open for her, the star of the evening emerged from the stage to lead her massive production. I’ve said it before, but allow me to reiterate: Anyone that doesn’t think Taylor Swift should’ve won Entertainer of the Year at the CMA Awards has never seen her live. That girl is the definition of an entertainer.

Sparks literally flew (courtesy of harnessed, floating dancers) during “Sparks Fly,” twinkling trees shone through a foggy, gazebo’d set during “Enchanted,” fearless dancers dropped out of enormous bells on “Haunted,” and, of course, Taylor donned a ball gown and soared over the audience in a Juliet balcony for her grand “Love Story” finale.

The show is a Cirque-du-Soleil level spectacle, but Taylor has a rare ability to infuse her spectacle with sincerity, and she  sounds in fine voice throughout. (She’s definitely singing live, though at times I did suspect a little bit of backing-track assistance.)

Clearly, Swift wanted to make sure she ended the American section of her Speak Now Tour — there are six final dates in March in Australia and New Zealand — with a bang. And because she can’t resist a good cameo, Swift brought out her AMAs dancing partner and BFF Selena Gomez, who sang her hit “Who Says” to a sea of crying tween girls: READ FULL STORY

Unsung heroes: Nominate your favorite backup singers and musicians!

Duran Duran hit Madison Square Garden last week, and though they had special guests Mark Ronson and Scissor Sisters’ Ana Matronic join them onstage for “Girl Panic!” and “Safe (In the Heat of the Moment)”, respectively, I realized the person I was most excited to see outside the band was longtime backup singer Anna Ross (pictured, with Simon Le Bon).

I got oddly excited each time I caught her and I doing the same dance move at the same time. And dancing at a Duran Duran show is something you can count on — as sure as the audience chanting “Play the f—ing bass, John,” Nick Rhodes trying not to crack a smile, and my friend Sheila leaning over to tell me Simon’s choreography seconds before he does it (finger-licking during “Come Undone,” a spin during “The Reflex,” and jumps off a platform during “Hungry Like the Wolf” and “Rio”).

Who are the backup singers and musicians you look forward to spying onstage when you go to see your favorite artists? Go!

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Jennifer Lopez cries onstage during Connecticut concert: Watch the video

The emotions (and the dancing doppelgangers) of romances past caught up to Jennifer Lopez on Saturday night at Connecticut’s Mohegan Sun Casino.

The singer-actress-mogul, recently separated from husband Marc Anthony (and already linked to a new love, actor Bradley Cooper), broke down in tears while introducing an acoustic version of her 1999 hit “If You Had My Love.”

According to E! News, the performance featured dancers dressed to look like former Lopez paramours, including Anthony, Diddy, Ben Affleck, and Cris Judd.

“You want to talk about love? I can talk about love. Oh, the stories!” Lopez told the audience before launching into what she called “the first song [she] wrote about love.”

“A little trip down memory lane, huh?,” she said as the song wound down, before wiping at her eyes and walking offstage.

Watch a clip of the performance below: READ FULL STORY

What are the best encore cover songs you've seen in concert?

Last week, I finally got to see country artist Billy Currington headline a show (as opposed to the first two times I saw him, opening for Carrie Underwood and Kenny Chesney).

And I’m still thinking about his perfectly-constructed five-song encore: It began with a cover of Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together,” which, of course, Currington, the singer of the R&B-flavored ballads “Let Me Down Easy” and “Don’t,” would love.

The audience ate it up, particularly the young man behind me who stood and did rhythmic pelvic thrusts for the duration of it. (I can’t find a YouTube clip, but I’ve embedded Currington covering Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s Get It On” below. Judging from his smile, I suspect he’s seeing similar moves.)

Then came a cover of Hank Williams Jr.’s “Family Tradition,” which predictably killed with a few thousand rowdy country fans in Johnstown, PA who’d been drinking for a couple of hours.

After his own “Must Be Doin’ Somethin’ Right” (and more pelvic thrusts) came Steve Wonder’s “Superstition,” which got everyone grooving. That’s the kind of song that makes you notice the folks dancing around you; you make friends as you laugh at/join them. By the time Currington ended with his own “Good Directions,” a tipsy twentysomething had thrown his arm around my 64-year-old mother and was swaying her back and forth for the singalong.

What’s the best encore cover song you’ve seen in concert? My colleague Jeff Labrecque will get the nominations started: Josh Ritter doing Bruce Springsteen’s “The River” tops his list.


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