5 Observations from Culture Club at the Beacon (Night One)

Posted by The G on July 28, 2015 under G Reviews | Be the First to Comment

Photos and words by G.

Boy George of Culture Club

Boy George of Culture Club

1980s music titans Culture Club are back.  They slayed New York last night, July 27, 2015, with the first of two sold out shows at the Beacon Theatre in Manhattan.  Here are 5 things I observed at the show:

Boy George of Culture Club

Boy George of Culture Club

1. Culture Club have so many great songs!  When I arrived at the Beacon Theatre, a DJ was spinning 1980s music remixed with modern beats, which set the mood for an incredibly good time.  At the stroke of 8:30, Boy George, Mikey Craig, Roy Hay and Jon Moss, better known as Culture Club, hit the stage.  A video montage of Culture Club’s highs and lows preceded the band coming out and then they pummeled the crowd with hit after hit.  If you had the pleasure to be alive when these songs came out, you remember that these tracks were so massive, the radio all but played them to death.  When you see songs as beloved as these performed in a large concert hall, the enthusiasm of the crowd makes you fall in love with them all over again.

Roy Hay and Boy George

Roy Hay and Boy George

Kicking off with “Church of the Poison Mind,” the entire night was a giant sing-a-long, with the audience losing its mind during classic tracks such as “I’ll Tumble 4 Ya,” “It’s a Miracle,” “Miss Me Blind,” “Time (Clock of the Heart),” “Move Away,” fan favorite “Black Money,” “Do You Really Want To Hurt Me?” and the song that the audience went the most bonkers over, “Karma Chameleon.”  Two of Boy George’s solo hits, covers of “Everything I Own and “The Crying Game” were also played to much adulation from the crowd.  David Bowie’s “Starman,” which was included on Culture Club’s first reunion album in 2001, closed out the show. But the night was not all nostalgia, Culture Club is working on a new record and 6 songs were aired, including the self reflective “Like I Used To,” “Different Man,” “Let Somebody Love You,” and their latest single “More Than Silence.”

Boy George of Culture Club

Boy George of Culture Club

2. Culture Club’s music transports you back to a time where things were not disposable.  As Boy George pointed out on stage, the world is finally starting to get its first taste of sexual equality and this was the world Boy George has wanted to create and live in since the onset of his career.  When you think of how far we’ve come since Culture Club debuted in 1982, you realize how many barriers were broken down by this band.  How many other bands do you know that were multi-racial, straight, had an extremely outspoken, openly gay lead singer and had crossover appeal throughout the world?  Not many!  Boy George has always been uncompromising in his stance on being yourself under any circumstance and not giving a fuck what anyone thinks of you.  In a time where you faced much more persecution from your peers and the media for being flamboyant, out and proud than you do today, gay culture owes a huge debt of gratitude to Boy George for never backing down.

Boy George

Boy George

3. Culture Club shows still attract a widely diverse audience.  I’ve seen the band together and Boy George solo on many occasions, and you will rarely find a more diverse crowd.  Last night, you could readily find young and old people, gay, straight and of all races and that is a great thing.  I think the audience had a collective realization of all these things I said after “Do You Really Want To Hurt Me?” was played and the ovation after the song went on for several minutes and Boy George even had to tell the audience to stop cheering because he was about to get emotional from the outpouring of love.

Roy Hay and Mikey Craig

Roy Hay and Mikey Craig

4. Culture Club has aged really well.  From the songs still sounding amazing, to the fact that the band looks great and well preserved, Culture Club may have only had a few hit albums, but they left a permanent mark in music history.  Boy George famously had drug and legal problems for many years and not only was he in good shape physically, he also sounded great.  His voice is a little huskier than it used to be, but he can still hit the notes and he still lets you have it with his witty onstage banter, his numerous costume changes and his “it quality” as a performer.

Boy George

Boy George

5. I would be remiss if I didn’t get up on my soap box to complain about the excessive amount of selfie and picture taking that went on.  I am guilty of taking photos as much as the next person, but there is one slight difference – I use an actual camera (which is cheaper than an iPhone and light and compact to carry around) and I bring this up because I do not have to block other people’s views to take my pictures.  What exactly are the people doing with all these photos and videos they are taking?  Certainly not blogging about them for a worldwide audience to read!  Cell phone photos come out much worse than camera photos.  Also, they are much more obtrusive and people literally don’t seem to care at all about anyone around them, because the only way to get a photo is to hold the device over your head, which blocks the view of EVERYONE behind you.  Take as many photos as you like and I don’t care if you watch the entire show through the back of your phone – but PLEASE PAY ATTENTION to your surroundings!!!!!  So many times in the show, Boy George came over to our side to serenade us and his face was cock blocked by everyone around me holding up their fucking phones and even worse, their giant iPads!!!  Boy George complained about this during his last solo tour and I wish he would have said something about it last night because it’s plain excessive – and it’s happening at every concert I go to, and as I go to a lot of shows, it’s starting to become a deal breaker for me.

Boy George

Boy George

The irony is that many of the concert goers should know better because when this music came out, it was not a digital age and we actually had to live in the moment and experience the concert.  I guess some nostalgia is conveniently forgotten.

Roy Hay, Jon Moss, Mikey Craig of Culture Club

Roy Hay, Jon Moss, Mikey Craig of Culture Club

The setlist was:

Church of the Poison Mind / It’s A Miracle / I’ll Tumble 4 Ya / Let Somebody Love You / Everything I Own / Like I Used To / Move Away / Black Money / Victims / Human Zoo / Time (Clock of the Heart) / Different Man / Miss Me Blind / I Just Want To Be Loved / The Crying Game / Do You Really Want To Hurt Me? / More Than Silence

Encore:

Crowd Sing-a-Long of Karma Chameleon / Runaway Train / Karma Chameleon

2nd Encore:

Starman

Boy George

Boy George

Boy George - He's a star, man!

Boy George – He’s a star, man!

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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

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

 

A2G’s Art Picks for New York in May 2015

Posted by The G on May 12, 2015 under Artsy Fartsy | Read the First Comment

Photos and words by G.  Art by Various Artists.

Spring has arrived in New York (thank god!) and now that you can leave your dwelling without wearing 10 layers and still freezing your ass off, take yourself on an art adventure!  Here’s a handful of exhibits you should see, According to G.

David Shrigley

David Shrigley

David Shrigley by David Shrigley at Anton Kern Gallery, located at 532 West 20th Street.  Now showing through May 23, 2015.

Beau - Mechanical Shark Week

Beau – Mechanical Shark Week

“Mechanical Shark Week” by BEAU at Ami Li Projects, located at 66 Mott Street in Chinatown through June 3, 2015.

Cecily Brown at Maccarone

Cecily Brown at Maccarone

“The English Garden” by Cecily Brown at Maccarone, located at 98 Morton Street through June 20, 2015.

Ron English Mural Bowery and Houston

Ron English “Baby Hulk” Mural Bowery and Houston

Ron English’s “Baby Hulk” Mural at the corner of Bowery and Houston.  Ongoing (at least until June, 2015) and viewable 24/7.

Closeup of "Baby Hulk" by Ron English

Closeup of “Baby Hulk” by Ron English.  Click to enlarge!

Click on the photo to see all the awesome (and hilarious detail).

Christopher Wool at Luhring Augustine

Christopher Wool at Luhring Augustine (Chelsea exhibit pictured)

Christopher Wool at Luhring Augustine.  Located at 531 West 24th Street in Manhattan and 25 Knickerbocker Ave., Brooklyn.  Through June 20, 2015.

Yayoi Kusama - Give Me Love 5

Yayoi Kusama – Give Me Love

“Give Me Love” by Yayoi Kusama at David Zwirner, located at 519 & 525 West 19th Street through June 13, 2015.

Dan Flavin

Dan Flavin

Brancusi: Pioneer of American Minimalism (Featuring historically significant works by Carl Andre, Dan Flavin, Donald Judd, Ellsworth Kelly, Robert Ryman and Frank Stella), at Paul Kasmin Gallery located at 515 West 27th Street until July 10, 2015.

The Luminous Poem by Airan Kang

The Luminous Poem by Airan Kang

“The Luminous Poem” by Airan Kang at Bryce Wolkowitz Gallery, located at 505 West 24th Street through June 13, 2015.

The Whitney Museum.  Now Located in the Meat Packing District.

The Whitney Museum. Now Located in the Meat Packing District.  Photo by Gail Worley.

The Whitney Museum,  now located at 99 Gansevoort Street in New York.

Happy Spring!

Spring 2015 Tulips

Spring 2015 Tulips

 

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.

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