Review: Billy Idol live at Pier 97 in New York

Posted by The G on June 1, 2015 under G Reviews | 2 Comments to Read

Photos and Words by G.

Steve Stevens and Billy Idol!

Steve Stevens and Billy Idol!

Billy Idol and his guitarist Steve Stevens are rock gods!  On May 29, 2015, they played an outdoor concert on Pier 97 in New York and it rocked so hard!  I’ve seen Billy Idol perform a few times over the years (including earlier in 2015 at the Beacon Theatre – but there is no review because I was on a blog hiatus) and Billy Idol never disappoints.

On a blue highway.... Billy Idol!

On a blue highway…. Billy Idol!

If you know little of Billy Idol’s history, he’s been performing for nearly 40 years, which in and of itself is an amazing accomplishment.  There was a period of time where he was a major drug addict and he was nearly killed in a horrible motorcycle accident where he was not expected to ever walk again, let alone perform.  I mention these things because Billy Idol showed no signs of being anything other than a rock god for the duration of his performance.

Billy Idol!

Billy Idol!

Before I discuss how great Billy Idol looked and sounded, let me paint a picture of the scene.  Pier 97 is located at 55th Street and the West Side Highway, and what that means to non-New Yorkers, is that you have a panoramic view of the Manhattan skyline in the background as you watch the concert.

"The Vibe"

“The Vibe”

New York suffered a punishing winter, and the weather has just started to get nice, so being able to be outdoors and not freezing your ass off is such a treat and during the Billy Idol concert, the weather was absolutely perfect.  The show kicked off with “Postcards from the Past,” a track from Billy Idol’s latest album “Kings and Queens of the Underground,” his first new album in almost 10 years.  “Cradle of Love” was next and from then on, he had the audience in the palm of his hand.  His signature moves of jumping around, “the snarl,” and fist pumping were present throughout the show and it drove the audience wild!

Billy Idol!

Billy Idol!

Because Billy Idol’s songs were played to death on the radio in the 80s, you sort of forget how great they sound when you have a concert full of people singing along to his songs and how many times, the songs lend themselves perfectly to crowd participation.  For example, hearing the whole of Pier 97 shout out “FLESH!  FLESH FOR FANTASY!” at every chorus during that song along with Billy gives me chills thinking about it.  Or during “Rebel Yell,” when the crowd shouts out “More! More! More!  Woooooooowwwwww!” or during “White Wedding” when the audience sings “It’s a nice day to…. STAAAAAART AGAAAAINNNNN!” is also chill inducing.  During “Dancing With Myself,” at every chorus, Billy Idol said “If I had a chance, I’d ask NEW YORK to dance,” and if people hadn’t completely lost their minds by that point in the show, that sure did it.  He also changed the lyrics of his cover of The Doors’ “LA Woman” to “New York Woman.”

Billy Idol

Billy Idol

Billy Idol gave many shout outs to New York, where he said that a lot of his hit songs were written here.  He thanked the audience for “making my life so fucking great” and he also thanked his long time guitarist Steve Stevens for the same thing.  Steve Stevens is a killer on guitar and he was given several guitar solos whereby he slayed the crowd!

Steve Stevens

Steve Stevens

Steve Stevens plays the guitar so effortlessly, that you could not help but watch him in awe as he shredded his guitar.  During a lengthy solo, he was playing fast and slow which lead to the inevitable opening notes of Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven,” and after a few seconds, he looked at the audience and shook his head no as if it was too cheesy to play that song and then he went back to his solo and scorched the guitar.  He also slayed during his solos on songs like “Flesh For Fantasy” and “Rebel Yell” and during “White Wedding,” the track started off acoustically before transforming into the rockin’ version we all know and love by the second chorus.

Billy Idol

Billy Idol

The show closed with Billy Idol’s famous cover of Tommy James and the Shondells’ “Mony Mony” and as always, it featured the in between lyrics crowd chants of “Hey Motherfucker, get laid, get fucked!”  The show was about all you could ask for when it comes to the setlist as he dug deep in his back catalog all the way back to the Generation X days (with “Ready Steady Go!”), and he played the majority of his hits, with the exception of “Catch my Fall,” “To Be A Lover,” and “Don’t Need A Gun.”  Perhaps he will resurrect those great songs for his next tour?  If you have ever loved a Billy Idol song, and how could you not?, you should make sure you see him live the next time he comes to your city, because he and Steve Stevens are true rock gods!!!

I’d like to give a shout-out to Bar 9 for hooking me up with tickets.  Thanks so much, I had a blast!

Steve Stevens

Steve Stevens

The setlist was:

Postcards from the Past / Cradle of Love / Can’t Break Me Down / Dancing With Myself / Flesh For Fantasy / Save Me Now / Ready Steady Go / Sweet Sixteen / Eyes Without a Face / LA Woman (Doors cover) / Steve Stevens Guitar Solo / Whiskey and Pills / Blue Highway / Rebel Yell

Encore:  White Wedding / Drum Solo / Mony Mony (Tommy James and the Shondells Cover)

The May 29, 2015 sunset

The May 29, 2015 sunset

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10 Observations from The Who at 50 Concert at Barclays Center

Posted by The G on May 27, 2015 under G Reviews | 5 Comments to Read

Photos and words by G.

Roger Daltrey of The Who

Roger Daltrey of The Who

The Who are celebrating their 50th anniversary as a band by touring and I popped my Who cherry by seeing them perform at Barclays Center in Brooklyn on May 26, 2015.  As someone who has seen nearly all living rock and roll legends in concert, I felt I owed it to myself to go check out The Who and here are 10 things I observed while watching their show:

The Who!

The Who!

1. Despite being down two (of 4) original members (RIP John Entwistle and Keith Moon), the two that are left – Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend – may be both 70 but they rocked and rocked hard for 2 solid hours with no intermission.

The Who!

The Who!

2. The visuals that showed on the screens behind The Who were amazing.  Every song had a different trippy pattern and many times, the screens showed highlights of The Who’s amazing 50 year career.

Pete Townsend

Pete Townshend

3. While Pete Townshend did not smash any guitars, he did his signature move where he swings his arm in a circular motion while jammin’ out.  Seeing him do that move throughout the show (as well as watching Roger Daltrey swing his microphone) are so iconic that it was definitely a show highlight.   On the subject of Pete Townshend, he told a lot of funny stories in between songs and poked fun at how old he and Roger are.

Barclays Center

Barclays Center

4. Despite being in the dreaded Brooklyn, Barclays Center is a really nice venue.  The people that work there are always super friendly.  The site lines are pretty good unless you have nosebleed seats, in which case, if you have a fear of heights, you will definitely be freaked out.  Pete Townshend also gave Brooklyn a nice little dig when he said “it’s good to be back in New York, even if it is Brooklyn.”

Joan Jett

Joan Jett

5. The ticket said 7:30 pm, and they were not kidding.  At 7:30, opener Joan Jett and the Blackhearts promptly took the stage.  Joan Jett was great!  She did an 11 song set that included “Bad Reputation,” “I Love Rock and Roll,” “Crimson and Clover,” “I Hate Myself For Loving You,” “Light of Day,” and “Cherry Bomb.”  Hearing the audience participate in mass sing-a-longs of these tracks was awesome and it was a great taste of what to come when The Who took the stage.  As a side note, I think that Joan and I might have been the only gays in the entire building, so I am glad we represented!  Also, in between Joan Jett’s set (hey, it rhymes) and The Who, the screens showed a visual history of The Who’s career and they mentioned that Joan Jett recorded her first album at The Who’s studio and she didn’t have any money at the time so she promised to pay back the money (and she did) and also included a Who cover as the b-side of her first single.

Roger Daltrey

Roger Daltrey

6. Like with Joan Jett, The Who have so many classic songs, that even if you think you are sick of them, they sound amazing when an arena full of people are singing them in unison.  Some examples of the massive hits played were “Who Are You,” “The Kids Are Alright,” “My Generation,” “Pinball Wizard,” “You Better You Bet,” “Baba O’Riley,” “Won’t Get Fooled Again,” and “Eminence Front.”

The Who!

The Who!

7. The Who didn’t just play the same old boring setlist (which from my research looks like it varies a little bit for each show).  They packed the set with hits, but they also played some lesser known tracks such as the mini-opera “A Quick One (While He’s Away),” “Slip Kid,” “Bargain,” “Sparks,” “Join Together,” and “I’m One.”

No Marijuana Smoking

No Marijuana Smoking

8. Roger Daltrey got a ration of shit recently for complaining that people were smoking pot too close to the stage.  To not look like such an asshole, before the concert, the above message was shown to the audience explaining that the smoke bothers Roger’s voice and if compromised, the show could be canceled.  Roger also addressed this on stage, which made a lot of people roll their eyes. Seems a little on the douchey side, but the message was redeemed when they offered an alternative – “eat one of them funny cakes instead.”

The Who at Barclays

The Who at Barclays

9. The Who mentioned numerous times before, during and after the show that proceeds from selected tour ephemera would be donated to help children fight cancer.  Pretty commendable because most merch proceeds from big bands go into building another wing for their mansions.

Keep Calm and Listen to The Who

Keep Calm and Listen to The Who

10. To think that The Who have been performing some of these songs for 50 years is so impressive.  They found a way to breathe new life into their older material and as a result, this did not come across as a sad version of a formerly great band.  Instead, they rocked harder than many bands who weren’t even born when The Who had their last hit song.  If The Who come to your city, should you see them?  You better, you better, you bet!

Joan Jett’s set list was:

Bad Reputation / Cherry Bomb / Do You Wanna Touch Me (Oh Yeah) / You Drive Me Wild / Light of Day / Love is Pain / The French Song / Different / I Love Rock and Roll / Crimson & Clover / I Hate Myself For Loving You

 

 

The Who’s set list was:

I Can’t Explain / The Seeker / Who Are You / The Kids Are Alright / I Can See For Miles / My Generation / Behind Blue Eyes / Slip Kid / Bargain / Join Together / You Better You Bet / I’m One / Love, Reign O’er Me / Eminence Front / A Quick One (While He’s Away) / Amazing Journey (with “Captain Walker” snippet from “Overture”) / Sparks / Pinball Wizard / See Me, Feel Me / Baba o’Riley / Won’t Get Fooled Again

 

Review: Spandau Ballet’s First New York Show in 30 Years

Posted by The G on May 4, 2015 under G Reviews | 2 Comments to Read

Photos and words by G.

From left to right:  Martin Kemp, Steve Norman, Gary Kemp and Tony Hadley - Spandau Ballet!

From left to right: Martin Kemp, Steve Norman, Gary Kemp and Tony Hadley – Spandau Ballet!

This much is true – to say I loved every second of Spandau Ballet’s first full concert in New York in 30 years is an understatement.  The British quintet played a sold out show at New York’s legendary Beacon Theatre on May 2, 2015 and everything about the night was legendary.

Tony Hadley and Steve Norman

Tony Hadley and Steve Norman

Aside from being a fan of Spandau Ballet since I was young, lead singer Tony Hadley was the first rock star I ever did a phone interview with (which you can read here and here), which is something I will probably never entirely get over, and at the time he was doing a solo tour where he exclusively added “Chant No. 1″ to his setlist for readers of According2g.com!  I also want to throw out there that if you can hear Tony Hadley’s cover of “Life on Mars” by David Bowie, he sings the hell out of that chours and you should really try to track it down because it’s amazing.  But I digress… Seeing that show made me fall in love with Spandau Ballet all over again and I kept hope alive that they would one day tour the USA again.  On May 2, all New York fans got their wish and Spandau Ballet reunited for their first show in 30 years!

Tony Hadley and Gary Kemp of Spandau Ballet

Tony Hadley and Gary Kemp of Spandau Ballet

If you know nothing of the group, the Spandau Ballet story has been depicted in the excellent documentary “Soul Boys of the Western World,” and in it, you’ll hear about their global success with massive hits such as “True” and “Gold,” as well as their 20 year hiatus, which saw an acrimonious break up over song royalties.  They have since patched up their differences and they showed the audience exactly why they became superstars over 30 years ago.

Martin and Gary Kemp

Martin and Gary Kemp

I am not sure what magic elixir the Soul Boys have tasted from, but they look and sound better than ever.  Their 2 hour set was a mutual love fest, as the audience lost their minds when the hits were played and Spandau Ballet seemed so relaxed and humbled by the response of the crowd.

Tony Hadley of Spandau Ballet

Tony Hadley of Spandau Ballet

Tony Hadley’s voice showed no signs of aging and as the night went on, you realize how many of their songs have extremely high notes, and Tony nailed every single one of them flawlessly, and if I may suggest it, I think Tony Hadley’s voice sounds better now than it did on the records!  Songs from every stage of their career were played, from the new track “Soul Boy” to their reunion song “Once More” as well as some of their earliest songs such as “Reformation,” “Mandolin” and “The Freeze.”

Steve Norman of Spandau Ballet

Steve Norman of Spandau Ballet

The “secret weapon” of the band is Steve Norman who not only played those amazing sax solos you remember from so many Spandau hits, but he also sang back up, played guitar and percussion!

Tony Hadley of Spandau Ballet

Tony Hadley of Spandau Ballet

In between playing global smashes like “Communication,” “Highly Strung,” “Only When You Leave,” “To Cut A Long Story Short,” “Chant No. 1 (I Don’t Need This Pressure On),” “Instinction,” “Lifeline,” “True” and “Gold” (which was played both acoustically and with the full band – and made the audience go absolutely bonkers both times), Tony Hadley played a bit of percussion.

Gary Kemp

Gary Kemp

Gary Kemp promised the crowd that it will not be another 30 years before we get to see Spandau Ballet perform again and I speak for all Spandau fans by saying “YES!!!!!!!”  When the show was over, the audience didn’t want to see the band go, and the crowd rushed the stage and the band shook hands with members of the audience for several minutes before retreating back stage.  Despite having seen Eric Clapton the night before in concert, this was the most fun I’ve had at a show in quite some time.

Martin Kemp of Spandau Ballet

Martin Kemp of Spandau Ballet

Thanks again to the Soul Boys for an amazing night and again, on behalf of all Spandau Ballet fans, we look forward to many more new albums and tours!  PS.  Original drummer John Keeble is in the band, but I had a bad vantage point to get a decent photo (despite being in the 5th row), so apologies that he is not pictured.

The setlist was: Soul Boy / Highly Strung / Only When You Leave / How Many Lies? / Round and Round / This Is the Love / Steal / Chant No. 1 (I Don’t Need This Pressure On) / Reformation / Mandolin / Confused / The Freeze / To Cut a Long Story Short / Raw / Glow / Empty Spaces / Gold (acoustic) / Once More / I’ll Fly For You / Instinction / Communication / Lifeline / True.

Encore: Through The Barricades / Gold.

Review: Eric Clapton’s 70th Birthday Concert at Madison Square Garden (Night One)

Posted by The G on under G Reviews | Read the First Comment

Photos and words by G.

Eric Clapton

Eric Clapton

Eric Clapton!  The legendary rocker celebrated his 70th birthday (a bit late as his actual birthday is March 30) with a pair of sold out shows at New York’s Madison Square Garden.  I attended the first show on May 1, 2015.  I’ve seen nearly every living rock and roll legend in some fashion over the years, but this was my first glimpse of Eric Clapton, so you can imagine my excitement.

Eric Clapton

Eric Clapton

Saying very little to the crowd (aside from “thank yous” after each song), Eric Clapton brought out his first guest star 3 songs in – John Mayer.  The two jammed on the song “Pretending.”   For what Clapton lacked in saying in words, he sure made up for it by playing some amazing guitar solos all night that let you know without a doubt you made the right choice by attending the concert.

John Mayer

John Mayer and Jimmie Vaughan

John Mayer was not the only guest of the night as Clapton also brought out Jimmie Vaughan, Doyle Bramhall II and Derek Trucks.  Also in his band was Paul Carrack, who sang a few songs including “You Are So Beautiful.”  Clapton also saluted Ben E. King, who died earlier in the day and dedicated “Driftin’ Blues” to him.

Doyle Bramhall, Derek Trucks

Doyle Bramhall, Derek Trucks

Aside from the absence of Cream songs, Eric Clapton played songs from all eras of his career from “Can’t Find My Way Home” by Blind Faith to the acoustic rendition of “Layla” that he’d made famous decades earlier with his group Derek and the Dominoes.  He also played “Tears in Heaven,” which resulted in tears in Madison Square Garden from the audience as the song is about the death of his child.

Clapton Unplugged

Clapton Unplugged

Other highlights of the night were covers of “Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out,” “Cross Road Blues” “Hoochie Coochie Man” as well as “I Shot The Sheriff” and “Cocaine.”  You can imagine how cool it was to have the whole of Madison Square Garden shout out in unison – “COCAINE!”  The show ended with an all star jam on the Joe Cocker cover “High Time We Went.”  Eric Clapton told the audience that this was the best birthday he’s ever had and with that, the 2 hour show was over.

The Finale at Eric Clapton's 70th birthday show

The Finale at Eric Clapton’s 70th birthday show (from left: Eric’s backing singers, Paul Carrack, John Mayer, Jimmie Vaughan, Doyle Bramhall II, Derek Trucks, Eric Clapton, Nathan East)

The setlist was:

Somebody’s Knocking / Keys to the Highway / Pretending (with John Mayer) / Hoochie Coochie Man / You Are So Beautiful (with Paul Carrack) / Can’t Find My Way Home (with Nathan East) / I Shot The Sheriff / Driftin’ Blues (acoustic) / Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out (acoustic) / Tears In Heaven (acoustic) / Layla (acoustic) / Before You Accuse Me (with Jimmie Vaughan) / Wonderful Tonight / Let it Rain (with Derek Trucks and Doyle Brahmhall II) / Cross Road Blues / Little Queen of Spades / Cocaine.

Encore: High Time We Went (all star jam)

Jimmie Vaughan and Eric Clapton

Jimmie Vaughan and Eric Clapton

Video: Courtney Love Discusses Watching “Montage of Heck”

Posted by The G on April 20, 2015 under G Reviews | Read the First Comment

HD Video, photos and words by G.

Courtney Love

Courtney Love

When Nirvana’s music was new in the early 1990s, I was in a “I will only listen to classic rock and Prince” phase, so I missed out on being present for arguably the last band that really changed the world.  About 10 years after Kurt Cobain committed suicide, I was ready to hear Nirvana’s music with an open-minded ear, and I had a way after the fact epiphany on their greatness.  For those who gave Kurt that crown in his life time, they are about to see a whole different side of Kurt Cobain that until now has only existed in myths and legends.

Courtney Love and Brett Morgen

Courtney Love and Brett Morgen

At the Tribeca Film Festival on April 19, 2015, I went to the premiere of Brett Morgen’s documentary “Montage of Heck,” and if you are even remotely interested in Nirvana or Kurt Cobain, I cannot recommend this movie enough to you.  The film has everything you could ask for – from lots of home movies of a young Kurt Cobain to interviews with mother, father, sister, generous helpings of entries from his journals that come to life (you’ll see!), performance footage and home movies that show him as a loving, but drug addicted father (and apparently 80% of the footage in the film has never been seen before by the public).  You will see that from an early age, Kurt was tremendously talented, yet also very troubled.  From bad family relations to chronic stomach problems, to drug use, Kurt Cobain had the odds stacked against him from the very beginning, but he did not let any of these things deter his love of music and he made his vision of becoming a rock star a reality.  What he didn’t expect (and memo to everyone post 1900 that becomes famous – everyone wants a piece of you all the time!  If you don’t want that, look for a different path in life), was that you can’t just be famous and have people leave you alone.  At the height of Nirvana’s fame in 1991, Kurt canceled a tour to instead do drugs and hang out in his apartment.   Every time Kurt would get his shit together, the moment was fleeting and he would relapse into drug use, even after he and his wife, Courtney Love, had a child.  He was haunted by magazine articles that openly called out their drug use, as Courtney owns up to being on heroin while pregnant.  Coupled with the paranoia that she was cheating, Kurt Cobain overdosed on pills while on tour in Italy and committed suicide a month later at the age of 27.  You’ll probably never hear “Where Did You Sleep Last Night” from their legendary MTV Unplugged appearance the same way again.

Courtney Love and Brett Morgen

Courtney Love and Brett Morgen

“Montage of Heck,” will make you will feel like you are eavesdropping in intimate moments, when you see footage of Kurt and Courtney in the bathroom getting ready (the footage was shot by a member of Courtney’s band Hole) and you might even feel disgusted when you see the shambolic state of their living quarters, riddled with trash, but most of all, when you see Kurt nodding out from heroin use while he and Courtney are cutting their daughter’s hair, you will feel sad for a man who may have had fortune and fame, but had a pretty shitty life in most respects.  After the film, director Brett Morgen and Courtney Love discussed the film and Courtney alluded to the fact that a sex tape exists (it’s thankfully not in “Montage of Heck”).  Much of what they discussed is readily available in articles you’ll see about the film, but I thought the most poignant moment was Courtney Love discussing what it was like to see the film.  Get the tissues ready and check out this clip.

“Montage of Heck” will be shown on HBO on May 4, 2015 and you should not miss it!  Hopefully a DVD release date will be announced soon, because this is possibly the most important document that Nirvana fans could ever own (and if Brett Morgen is reading, please fill it with bonus features!!!!).  Coincidentally, I recently read the book “Heavier Than Heaven” by Charles Cross and I also recommend it as it will fill in some of the gaps that this amazing 2 hour and 12 minute movie didn’t have time to get to.

Montage of Heck Poster

Montage of Heck Poster

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