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

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: Lady Gaga’s ArtRAVE – The ArtPop Ball Tour at Madison Square Garden

Posted by The G on May 14, 2014 under G Reviews | Be the First to Comment

Photos and words by G.

Lady Gaga

Lady Gaga

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

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.

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…

Lady Gaga

Lady Gaga

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.”

Octo-Gaga!

Octo-Gaga!

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.

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.”

Lady Gaga

Lady Gaga

Did you go to the ArtRAVE?  What did you think?  Tell us about your experience in the comments section.

Lady Gaga - The Merch

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

Encore: Gypsy (not the Fleetwood Mac song)

10 Observations from Lady Gaga at Roseland Ballroom

Posted by The G on April 7, 2014 under G Reviews | 2 Comments to Read

Photos and words by G.

Lady Gaga at Roseland on April 4, 2014

Lady Gaga at Roseland on April 4, 2014

Lady Gaga is performing 7 shows at the iconic New York venue Roseland Ballroom shuts its doors for good on April 7, 2014.  I attended her show on April 4, 2014 and before I give you 10 observations from the show, I’d like to reminisce a bit about Roseland.  I’ve seen countless shows at Roseland from Radiohead to Lily Allen to New Order.  The venue housed The Black Party and it was also where I danced on stage with Grace Jones!  Such memories!  Roseland you will be missed and it’s tragic that the rumour is that the building will be turned into condominiums!  But anyway, here are 10 observations from the Lady Gaga show on April 4, 2014.

Lady Gaga at Roseland on April 4, 2014

Lady Gaga at Roseland on April 4, 2014

1. Lady Gaga performed for a paltry one hour.  Even new bands that barely have one album out play for longer.  I totally get that these are “warm up” shows for her ArtPop Ball tour, but that is ridiculously short.  Let the rumours start as to why she was unable to play for longer?  Is she on drugs?  Is she getting off drugs?  Is she just lazy?  The show should have been advertised differently if it was going to be that short.  For someone that loves her fans as much as she does, that’s a shitty thing to do to them.  Which brings me to observation number two:

Lady Gaga at Roseland on April 4, 2014

Lady Gaga at Roseland on April 4, 2014

2. The VIP package made you pay twice as much as a normal ticket cost for the show.  Though it did get you early entry to the venue (Entry at 5:30 pm.  She went on at 9:15-ish), you did not have a special section to stand in, so if you got there late, you were screwed!  In essence, the “VIP Access” made you have to stand there longer than everyone else and though it was nice that you were given a commemorative bag and poster (with poster tube), they gave it to you when you walked into the venue, so you have to schelp it around all night!  In the mob scene that was the “pit” at Roseland, that was not a nice thing to do to your fans.  However, as Roseland has notoriously bad sight lines, I guess it was either this or not be able to see at all.

Lady Gaga at Roseland on April 4, 2014

Lady Gaga at Roseland on April 4, 2014

3. Her voice sounds great.  If the drug rumours are in deed true, it hasn’t affected her voice.  She can genuinely sing!   In fact, you can see a video of “Born This Way” shot by yours truly at this link (which will open in a new window).

Lady Gaga

Lady Gaga

4. If you tried to sneak up to the front, the Little Monsters will cut you!  Granted, I thought that was kind of awesome because those of us in the front paid our dues for those coveted spots, but still – there ain’t no fury like a Little Monster scorned.  The people standing near me and my friend at the show were total characters – on our left, we had a guy with the best biceps I’ve ever seen arguing with his sister about family business all night and on our right, a woman who literally had brought a drug store with her to the show.  In the course of the evening, the woman drank mini bottles of alcohol which can be found at liquor stores, smoked several joints (she did share though!), had an E-cigarette and snorted coke – and ALL in plain view.  Go on, girl!

Lady Gaga

Lady Gaga

5. When Gaga addressed the crowd, she used a squeaky Olive Oyl type voice which was ridiculous and annoying.  When you are performing with your pussy out, it’s really hard to buy the “I’m so innocent” act.

Lady Gaga

Lady Gaga

6. 4 of the 11 songs she played featured her sitting down behind the piano.  Also, one of the pianos was stationed in a spot where the over $500 tickets were, and while those people got a little extra value for their ticket price, the rest of the venue could pretty much not see a thing during that section of the show.  When 15 minutes of her 60 minute show are being cockblocked by bad sight lines, that is NOT COOL!

Lady Gaga

Lady Gaga

7. Performing in your panties and grabbing your crotch is all the rage!

Lady Gaga

Lady Gaga

8. Gaga looked bloated.  I’m not trying to start any blasphemous rumours, but as we all know, if you really break your hip, the recovery time is around a year and a half, not 4 months.  Just sayin’.

Lady Gaga Roseland Merch

Lady Gaga Roseland Merch

9. The Merch. – “Lady Fucking Gaga” T-shirts and cups.  Enough said.

Lady Gaga

Lady Gaga

10. She lives for the applause.

As I got to the end of my list, I realized it sounds like I am complaining.  To some extent, I am complaining because I see A LOT of live entertainment, and I look at everything objectively (though I am completely grateful for the experience).    I feel it’s the job of the performer to make me leave with a smile on my face.  Gaga definitely did that and she puts on a good show (despite this one being criminally short) but in some ways the joy I felt was overshadowed by a bunch of douchey moves that her team concocted to torture her fans that have little or no basis in comparison to know the difference.

What was your experience like?  Tell us in the comments section.

Lady Gaga

Lady Gaga

The setlist was:

Born This Way (acoustic) / Black Jesus – Amen Fashion / Monster / Bad Romance / Sexxx Dreams / Dope / You and I / Poker Face (acoustic) / Just Dance / Applause.

Encore:

G.U.Y.

Must Miss “Band”: Icona Pop

Posted by The G on September 26, 2013 under G Reviews | Read the First Comment

Photos via According2g’s Instagram Account.

Icona Pop

Icona Pop

I go to a lot of concerts.  Most “new” bands I go see are based on being open minded and interested to see if a ‘buzz band’ lives up to the hype.  More often than not, I am pleasantly surprised.  If you know me, you will know that I am VERY easy to please.  I want to be entertained.  I want the rocker to do their job and turn a complete stranger (me) into a fan after walking into the concert with little or no knowledge of their music in advance of seeing them right before my eyes.  That is not too much to ask for.  My track record for this formula has resulted on me falling on the ‘love’ side so much more than the ‘dislike’ side, but  occasionally I make a huge error in judgment.  Before you call me a hater for the sake of hating, please send me a list of the concerts you’ve been to in the last 5 years and if it is not more than several hundred a year like I’ve been to, I am discrediting your opinion.  With that being said, I saw Swedish duo Icona Pop at an allegedly sold out show at New York’s Music Hall of Williamsburg on September 25, 2013.  There were scalpers for days outside the venue, unable to unload their tickets and inside the venue, there was ample room to move around, which is not the norm when a show is actually sold out.

Typically when I dislike a show as much as I disliked Icona Pop, I tend not to waste my time and energy by writing a shitty review.  But I just feel like I need to warn you, dear readers, not to waste your money with this band.  First off, calling Icona Pop a ‘band’ is a huge stretch.  Performing to backing tracks, I was not entirely sure if they were singing live, however, hearing their voices crack several times, throughout their paltry hour long set, I am sure the microphones were at least turned on occasionally.

Aino Jawo (on the right in the above picture) pretended to play guitar (it wasn’t plugged into anything) and Caroline Hjelt (on the left in the above picture) pretended to play keyboards while flashing lights did their best to distract the audience from the fact that they paid $25 (plus service fees) to hear their 2 minute mega-hit “I Love It,” which was smartly and obviously the last song of the night.  It looked like people tried to be into the show at first, but once the audience realized that Icona Pop have one good song (and they didn’t even write it), the crowd looked bored and everyone resumed texting instead of watching the show.

The crowd got thinner and thinner as the night wore on because it became apparent early on that “I Love It” would be saved for last and their music was not good enough to satisfy the crowd.  I will say that the lighting was nice and it certainly was a good distraction from focusing on how bad Icona Pop’s music is, but you can see cool lighting on your computer screen and not waste your time trekking out to Brooklyn on a week night to do so!  There were a few botched attempts at crowd sing-a-longs when the audience didn’t appear to get the words right or in time, but it matched the numerous times Icona Pop screwed up the lyrics of their own songs too.  Throughout the whole show, the crowd all but shouted out “One Hit Wonder” after each song, but for those that were left, when they finally got around to playing “I Love It,” the crowd finally came alive.  Unfortunately, it was too little, too late.

Sadly, I felt the merch table was the best part of the show, but I just didn’t envision myself forking out $25 on a shirt that says “I Love It,” when in actuality, I loathed it.  When Icona Flop Pop comes to your town, on what will possibly be the new group’s farewell tour, do yourself a favor and skip it!

Icona Pop - The Merch

Icona Pop – The Merch

The setlist was:

We Got the World /In the Stars / Then We Kiss /Good for You / Girlfriend /New Song /Manners /On the Road Again /Top Rated /Weekend /All Night

Encore: Just Another Night / I Love It

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