I am so proud of Sam Smith! In August of 2013, he was playing to 250 people at Mercury Lounge and less than one year later, he headlined the legendary Apollo Theater! The very sold out show took place in Harlem on June 17, 2014. The blue-eyed soul singer is 21 years old and in this important year of his life, he’s traveled around the world and back, had a few club hits by lending his voice to songs by dance duo Disclosure, was outed by the media after he matter-of-factly mentioned that the songs on his album were about a guy that didn’t love him back (how come the media doesn’t make straight people do this?), and of course on June 17, 2014 his debut album “In The Lonely Hour,” was released officially in the USA and will be battling with Lana Del Rey for the #1 spot this week.
During the show, Sam Smith thanked the crowd multiple times and mentioned how mind blowing it was to share the same stage that so many of his heroes (including Luther Vandross and Michael Jackson) have performed on. He told the stories of the songs before they were played with his tight band (that featured 3 backing singers and a string section), and he played nearly every track from “In The Lonely Hour” whilst also throwing in “La La La,” a stripped down version of “Latch,” “Nirvana” from the EP with the same name (and below, you can see a video of it) and for the final song of the night “Stay With Me,” Sam Smith brought out Mary J. Blige to perform the song as a duet, which of course was the perfect cherry on top to a fantastic evening. Apparently the show was being recorded, so let’s hope for a DVD or live album because the show was EXCELLENT!
Mary J Blige and Sam Smith
I wish Sam Smith tremendous success and I have no doubt that he will be a name you won’t be forgetting. And now… let Sam Smith take you to Nirvana!
The setlist was:
Intro / Nirvana / Together / Leave Your Lover / I’m Not the Only One / I Told You Now / Like I Can / Restart / Good Thing – Berlin / La La La / Lay Me Down / Money On My Mind
Latch / Make it To Me / Stay With Me (with Mary J. Blige).
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
On May 10, 2014, British electronic music gods VNV Nation played their first of 2 sold out shows at New York’s Bowery Ballroom. It was my first time seeing VNV Nation and before I go any further, I must give VNV Nation’s lead singer Ronan Harris my utmost respect for ensuring that the crowd had maximum fun at the concert. By quickly requesting that the audience turn off their camera flashes during the first song (and he rightly pointed out that people will get better pictures anyway with flashes off), it will not distract the band and it will also ensure that people don’t spend the majority of the concert in an iPhone coma. Then he simply instructed the audience to let go, dance our asses off and have fun. I am not kidding you when I tell you that I saw 100% audience participation at the show and as you know, I’ve seen my share of concerts! If only Ronan’s words could be posted at every venue, the overall concert going experience would be improved by leaps and bounds.
And once the concert got going, it was a 2 hour non-stop dance party! VNV Nation have a new album out called “Transnational” and the video you are about to see, “Primary” is a track from their excellent new record. If “try before you buy” is your thing, you can grab a free EP of remixes called “Crossing the Divide” for a limited time at this link (which will open in a new window). The video below captures a tiny glimpse of why you should always go see VNV Nation when they come to your city – first off Ronan Harris really gets the crowd engaged. He moves all over the stage, gives the front row opportunities to sing into the mic and he has funny anecdotes throughout the show. There’s also the amazing light show and visuals that will take you to another realm, and last and certainly not least, all of their songs are anthemic and designed to make you have a great time at their show, whether you are a VNV Nation die-hard or a newbie like me. Thanks to Ronan and company for an awesome night!
And now put all these words you’ve just read to the test by watching “Primary.” You won’t be disappointed!
Just press play.
See the set list and a photo of my brief chat with Ronan after the jump.
The last time I saw Berlin in concert, I was living in Los Angeles, so it’s been close to a decade since I’ve seen Terri Nunn in the flesh. That was remedied on May 3, 2014 as Berlin packed the house at New York’s Cutting Room. Terri Nunn looks and sounds better than ever (what are her beauty secrets and exercise regime? She looks great! You go, girl!) and played a setlist that appealed to die-hards, while still showcasing tracks off Berlin’s latest album (which is quite good, by the way) “Animal.” Before the night was over, we got to hear classics such as “The Metro,” “Masquerade,” “Pleasure Victim,” “Dancing In Berlin,” “Take My Breath Away,” “Like Flames,” new songs such as “Nice To Meet You,” “With The Lights On,” a cover of Jefferson Airplane’s “Somebody To Love,” and one of my favorite songs from Berlin - “Sex (I’m A…)”
A quick note about the video, despite being in the front row, I was over to the side so occasionally, my vision was blocked by members of the band! Ha! But you will definitely see why you need to see Terri Nunn every time she comes to your city so just click play!
See the set list and a photo of my encounter with the gorgeous Terri Nunn after the jump.
To say I love Pet Shop Boys is the understatement of the decade! Their amazing show, The Electric Tour got a second life in America due to their performance a few weeks ago at Coachella, so the Boys swung back through New York’s Terminal 5 for a sold out show and the final date of their 2014 US tour on April 26, 2014. The setlist was nearly identical to the first leg of the tour (aside from swapping out “Memory of The Future” off “Elysium” for “Love is a Bourgeois Construct” from “Electric”) but that didn’t stop the show from being as amazing as it was the first time around. You can read my gushing reviews of their show here (for night one) and here (for night two).
I attended the meet and greet with the band and though they are still not into taking photos (read: please reconsider this for your next tour as a photo with you is what ALL of your fans that attend these meet and greets really want), but I had a great chat with Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe nonetheless. I was wearing a G-Shirt that features the line “Being politically correct or discreet is lying” from my book “Sketches of Verbal Alchemy” and both Neil and Chris loved it. They wanted to know more about the book so I gave them my card and I pray that they contact me so I can get them each a copy (or if they are out there reading this, it’s on Amazon.com
Over the next few days, you’ll be seeing a few videos from the show and for the casual fan, if you think that Pet Shop Boys peaked with their worldwide smash hit “West End Girls,” you are sadly mistaken. For close to 30 years, they’ve consistently made great albums, b-sides, plays, ballets, videos and tours that prove that the Pet Shop Boys just get better with time.
Pet Shop Boys, I love you… etc.
Speaking of Love Etc., here’s a video of the track from their genius 2009 album “Yes.”
Just press play.
The setlist was:
Axis / One More Chance – Face Like That / Opportunities (Let’s Make Lots of Money) / Love is a Bourgeois Construct / Fugitive / Integral / I Wouldn’t Normally Do This Kind of Thing / Suburbia / I’m Not Scared / Fluorescent / West End Girls / Somewhere / Leaving / Thursday / Love Etc. / I Get Excited (You Get Excited Too) / Rent / Miracles / It’s a Sin / Domino Dancing / Always on My Mind