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Tag: On the Scene (21-30 of 78)

Bruce Springsteen, the Who, Billy Joel, and Beatlevana: On the scene at 12-12-12

Wednesday night’s 12-12-12 benefit concert for Sandy relief was an unqualified success: Before even a single note was played on stage at New York’s Madison Square Garden, more than $30 million had already been raised for the Robin Hood Foundation through ticket sales, merchandise, and corporate pledges.

As a charity event, 12-12-12 was a slam dunk. As a musical entertainment endeavor, it was more of a mixed bag, full of plenty of glorious, triumphant moments for sure, but also bloated with curious choices and inexplicable performances.

Bruce Springsteen had the honor of kicking the show off, beginning his band’s brief set with “Land of Hope and Dreams.” As Jersey’s greatest ambassador for well over three decades, Springsteen sweated and howled through the opener’s anthemic refrain, only to raise the stakes on “Wrecking Ball,” a defiant anthem of hope from the album of the same name.

“Wrecking Ball” started a running theme of transformation through out the night: Familiar songs became re-packaged and recontextualized, and themes of renewal and rebirth crept up during the finest performances. READ FULL STORY

Dave Matthews Band showcases new album ‘Away From the World’ at Hollywood Bowl

Dave Matthews Band wrapped up their summer tour at the Hollywood Bowl Wednesday night with a show spotlighting tracks from their latest album, Away From the World.

It’s the band’s eighth studio album, and boy, how things have changed in the music world since they first hit the scene in the early ’90s. Matthews said to the crowd after the second song of the night, “We had a lot of fun making this record even though making a record is kind of a weird thing to do these days.”

But make a new record they did. The band clearly was eager to put a spotlight on their new music; nearly half of the concert’s set list drew from the Away From the World, but the new tunes weren’t met with significant enthusiasm from the crowd. There was an audible buzz of the chattering crowd during “Mercy” and “Sweet,” and it was during the first few chords of new songs that a stream of audience members filed down the aisles to grab another beer.

The first song that brought the whole audience to its feet and had everyone singing along was 2002 hit “Grey Street.” The band also brought down the house with an explosive rendition of “All Along The Watchtower” (prefaced by another nod to Jimi Hendrix as Stefan Lessard cranked out “The Star Spangled Banner” on the bass) and with “Jimi Thing,” which put on the night’s strongest display of the band’s beloved jam sessions. READ FULL STORY

On the Scene: What you didn't see on TV at the VMAs

With cameras strategically placed all around Staples Center at the Video Music Awards, MTV gives its viewers at home a pretty full view of the award show — from close-ups of the performers, to bird’s-eye views of the crowd, to cutaways to stars like Katy Perry and Olympic medalists in the VIP section. But there’s still more the camera didn’t pick up on. Lucky for you, EW was on the scene last night and has a few tidbits about what you didn’t see on TV.

Pink woos the crowd
Before Pink performed her show-stopping number, she ascended the platform in the middle of the audience at the beginning of the commercial break, giving her plenty of time to pump up the crowd with some beating on that electric snare drum. With the audience turned her way, many waving at her and snapping photos, she made sure to wave back with her drumstick and flash them all a big smile. What else did she have plenty of time to do? Test out that aerial rope. Wouldn’t you want to test it out a few more times, make sure you’ve got your form right, no matter how long you were in rehearsals the day before? But Pink only gave the rope one quick check, and then got back to charming the crowd. READ FULL STORY

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

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