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.
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 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
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.
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 (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.
Gaga ooh la la! On May 13, 2014 Lady Gaga made her return to New York’s Madison Square Garden with a sold out “ArtRAVE” as part of her ArtPop Ball Tour. For nearly 2 hours (and for those wondering, she went on around 9:45 pm – doors were at 8), Lady Gaga and her dancers hosted the biggest party Manhattan had to offer for the night.
Lady Gaga featuring Jeff Koons’ Gazing Ball
The stage had ‘legs’ where Gaga and her dancers were able to run around the whole of the floor of Madison Square Garden and they didn’t stop moving for the duration of the show, save for when Gaga sat down at the piano. The bad part about the stage set up was that there were large portions of the show where depending on your seat, you only got to see the backs of everyone. My only complaint was that I really didn’t get to see a lot of the visuals that were shown on the screens behind the dancers. As you can see below, this was my view of Gaga for a large portion of the show.
My view for the majority of the Gaga show.
The best part of the show for me was Gaga’s love for her fans. She is truly grateful for the position she is in and she expressed her gratitude to the audience throughout the show. And unlike other superstars who say those things and then when you catch them with the cameras off, their actions are quite the opposite, Gaga puts her money where her mouth is, so to speak, and treats her fans with respect and love. At one point in the show, fans threw gifts and letters to her on stage and she read a few letters to the crowd. She invited those people to come party with her backstage after the show! What other superstar does that? Crickets chirping…
Before a piano rendition of “Born This Way” (not unlike this version that I saw earlier in the year), she mentioned that many of her friends and early supporters were at the show and she tearfully thanked them all for believing in her. She inspired the audience to keep being her inspiration and she told the crowd so many times to be who you truly are without apologies. Clearly, you can’t and shouldn’t compare Gaga’s show to Miley Cyrus’ concert, but for someone with such young fans who don’t know tons about the world, the message Gaga puts out is inspiring and empowering and Miley’s message is basically “please degrade yourself for attention.”
Gaga had a ton of costume changes, including an octopus-like outfit which you can see above, but to be completely honest, after seeing Gaga a bunch of times in concert, I don’t think this was the best Gaga show I’ve been to. Perhaps she’s done so many outrageous things that she is having a hard time topping herself and perhaps because her newer material is not that strong, that made for some lulls in the show.
Lady Gaga balancing chairs on her head.
There were many highs though. She performed all (or bits of) most of her great songs including “Poker Face,” “Just Dance,” “Telephone,” “Alejandro” (of which a video will be coming soon, so stay tuned!), “Paparazzi,” “Bad Romance” and a large portion of “ArtPop” was performed including the title track, “Aura,” “Mary Jane Holland,” “MANiCURE,” “Swine,” “Sexx Dreams,” “Applause” “Do What You Want,” and rapper T.I. came out for a guest appearance on “Jewels N’ Drugs.”
Did you go to the ArtRAVE? What did you think? Tell us about your experience in the comments section.
Lady Gaga – The Merch
The setlist was:
Artpop / G.U.Y. / Donatella / Fashion! / Venus / MANiCURE / Cake Like Lady Gaga / Just Dance / Poker Face / Telephone / Partynauseous / Paparazzi / Do What U Want / Born This Way (Piano Version) / Jewels N’ Drugs (with T.I.) / Aura / Sexx Dreams / Mary Jane Holland / Alejandro / Ratchet / Bad Romance / Applause / Swine
If you read any music website these days, they can’t stop stroking it over the band Arctic Monkeys. During the release of last year’s “AM” album, their fifth record, the band blew up and are now playing arenas. Despite their growing popularity, prior to seeing them live, I’d only heard two of their songs. Because I am in a position to meet the people that create the art, I often choose to meet the artist before I take a look at their work because from experience, countless artists of all genres that have severely rocked my world have been super cool and others whose art I could take or leave have turned out to be pricks. There is too much choice in the world for me to waste my time with people that have little or no respect for the very people that have contributed to their success. Despite having TWO bad experiences meeting this band, I fully admit that the two songs I know from this band I quite enjoy, so I decided to give them the benefit of the doubt and see them live.
This has happened to me many times before where I am literally sitting in an arena filled with 18,000 people and I have NO IDEA of any of the music I am about to hear. This method is not for everyone, but I highly recommend it. You can truly go in with an open mind and let these people do their jobs as rock stars and turn you into a fan before the night is over. Arctic Monkeys played their largest ever US show on February 8, 2014 at Madison Square Garden in New York. Here are 10 observations from my experience at the show.
1. The concert was not much of a ‘show.’ Playing Madison Square Garden is a privilege and not a right, so one would have thought this show would have been a spectacle as most concerts at the Garden are, especially since the band has spent 5 albums working up to this moment. Instead, the Arctic Monkeys had a gigantic but thin “A M” sign behind the band that lit up predictably during most songs. It was definitely a medium sized show placed in a large venue.
2. Arctic Monkeys do very little to get the crowd engaged. There was little banter between lead singer Alex Turner and the crowd. Turner played guitar for most songs and as a result, he stood in one place behind the microphone stand for the majority of the show. Crowd sing-a-longs were not happening either, which brings me to point number 3…
3. Arctic Monkeys songs are mostly forgettable. They do have some catchy moments, but would I rather listen to or see a band like Kasabian, Fratellis or Scissor Sisters whose music will not leave your head once it burrows itself inside? Yeah, any day! I mention these three bands because to me, Arctic Monkeys are an amalgamation of these 3 bands. I made myself a playlist of all the songs they performed in concert so I can focus on the studio versions and like I felt at the show, the music is pleasant and not offensive, but that’s about all I can say for it. I don’t see myself listening to their music on constant repeat.
4. Their music is very formulaic overall. Not very exciting verses and large choruses. So original. NOT!
5. They focused too much on their new album. They played all but 2 tracks off their newest record so fans that have been with Arctic Monkeys since the beginning have effectively been forgotten at their largest show to date in America. What a way to say thanks to your fans. Based on my not good experiences of meeting them, I am not surprised one bit.
6. The crowd was limp. As I said earlier, the band did very little to get the crowd engaged but for this bullet point, I’d like to focus on the lack of the crowd getting excited during songs. Sure there was generous applause in between songs, but it seemed that once a song started, people went back to texting and taking annoying cell phone pictures of either the band or the people they came with instead of getting involved with the show. I spent a lot of time looking around at the crowd reaction during the songs and for the lack of excitement I saw, I think people would have been better off playing the records at home and saving the expense and hassle of going to an arena. This is actually an observation that can be noted at most concerts as technology has really hindered people’s ability to live in the moment, but that’s a grievance for another day.
7. Their music, though popular, had little crossover appeal with people over 30. The crowd was extremely young and I felt like a dinosaur. For a rock band, I thought the crowd would be a bit more diverse, but I was wrong.
8. Lead singer Alex Turner is cute. Not the hottest guy I’ve ever seen, but he definitely has a 1950s greaser vibe going on and when I found myself getting bored, I was happy that I had some eye candy.
9. They covered The Beatles as safely as possible. It was the 50th Anniversary of the Beatles being on the Ed Sullivan Show on the weekend of the Arctic Monkeys concert so they played a little tribute to the Fab Four. They chose “All My Loving.” It was a “by the numbers” cover. No risk involved. Of course, every music site is juicing all over it like they took a risk and played “Everybody’s Got Something to Hide Except Me and My Monkey” or “Helter Skelter” which would have been much more suited to their style. But with the new trend in playing covers, I am grateful they didn’t do an ironic cover where they played an acoustic version of a song that has no business being disrespected that way.
10. Final thoughts. I am more familiar with Arctic Monkeys than I was before I walked into the show. I can’t say I hated the show, because I did not. I also can’t say that I will become a die hard after seeing them live. They have a handful of songs that I can see myself revisiting and they have many more that were completely forgettable to me. I make it my mission to have fun wherever I go, in spite of my surroundings, and yes, I had fun. But that says more about me than it says about Arctic Monkeys. I can’t believe that in the two times I’ve seen this band in “autograph situations” they chose to ignore fans because I see no reason to patronize a mediocre band who have let a tiny bit of fame go to their heads. There are plenty of other bands who appreciate the position they are in and who are better performers.
The setlist was:
Do I Wanna Know? / Brainstorm / Don’t Sit Down ‘Cause I’ve Moved Your Chair / Snap Out of It / Crying Lightning / Old Yellow Bricks / Fireside/ Knee Socks / Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High? / Arabella / Dancing Shoes / Pretty Visitors / I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor / Cornerstone / I Wanna Be Yours / Fluorescent Adolescent / 505 (with Miles Kane)
All My Loving (The Beatles cover) (with Miles Kane) / One For The Road / R U Mine?