Monday, December 11, 2017

Cody Melville at the Bowery Electric

Cody Melville was born in Brooklyn, New York, but during his formative years, his family moved to Detroit, Michigan. He returned to Brooklyn as a young adult, but both cities played equal parts in his development as a prolific singer, songwriter, guitarist and producer. Brooklyn fed his street-savvy world view lyrics and Detroit helped him find his soulful groove. On many of his recordings, he plays the majority of the instruments and has produced his own work as well. Melville released his 10th album, Bonds Eye, on December 8, 2017.

Melville celebrated the release of his newest album with a headlining performance tonight at the Bowery Electric. From the first song, Melville demonstrated that he was a serious singer/songwriter, yet one that was gifted with a resounding rock and roll heart. His compositions were birthed as pensive prose, then given a new wind with a strong backbeat, searing guitars and rolling keyboards. Melville's band served the repertoire well in most cases, although in a few cases early in the set the musicians tended to smother the songs by lending a bit too much boisterous energy. Melville's vocals were passionate, with a delivery that balanced vulnerability and bravado. Thoughtful lyrics delivered like this ultimately made for a compelling performance. 

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Jake Bugg at the Town Hall

Jake Kennedy was born in a musical family in Nottingham, England; his parents separated when he was young and he took his father's surname and renamed himself Jake Bugg. He started playing guitar at the age of 12 after being introduced to the instrument by his uncle. By the age of 16, he was writing and performing his own songs. Bugg was selected to perform on the "BBC Introducing" stage at the 2011 Glastonbury Festival at age 17. Bugg won Best New Act at the 2013 Q Awards, Best Solo Artist at the 2015 NME Awards, and Best Male at the 2015 Silver Clef Awards. His fourth album, Hearts That Strain, a largely acoustic effort, was released on September 1, 2017.

Bugg did not cheat on his solo acoustic concert at the Town Hall tonight. He finger-picked and strummed a plugged-in hollow acoustic guitar and sang into the one microphone on the stage, with no assistance from additional musicians, tape loops or electronic gimmickry. Early in his career, Clash magazine celebrated Bugg as a "precocious talent fusing retro folk with blistering contemporary rock riffs," but this was his tour is his opportunity to show that his songs can stand alone as simply as they were written. His signature snarly voice made the songs distinctly his own, but his intricate finger work proved he is also a very accomplished guitarist. Traces of the retro rocker were in evidence in Bugg's dynamic delivery, but he fared well as a self-contained busker on a naked stage.

Visit Jake Bugg at www.jakebugg.com.
  1. Hearts That Strain
  2. How Soon the Dawn
  3. Saffron
  4. Strange Creatures
  5. Slide
  6. Southern Rain
  7. Simple as This
  8. Trouble Town
  9. Country Song
  10. Me and You
  11. Nevermind
  12. There's a Beast and We All Feed It
  13. Slumville Sunrise
  14. Broken
  15. Good Time Charlie's Got the Blues (Danny O’Keefe cover)
  16. In the Event of My Demise
  17. The Love We're Hoping For
  18. Seen It All
  19. Two Fingers
  20. Waiting
  21. Lightning Bolt

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Greta Van Fleet at the Bowery Ballroom

Josh Kiszka
Three brothers, vocalist Joshua "Josh" Kiszka, guitarist Jacob "Jake" Kiszka and bassist/keyboardist Samuel "Sam" Kiszka, formed the hard-rocking Greta Van Fleet in 2012 in the Kiszka family garage in Frankenmuth, Michigan. Daniel "Danny" Wagner replaced the original drummer in 2013. The band chose its name when one of its members heard a relative mention Gretna Van Fleet, an elder resident of Frankenmuth; she gave approval for the band members to adapt a variation of her name. This year the band has garnered national attention. In October 2017, the band won Best New Artist at the Loudwire Music Awards. The band has recorded three EPS; the most recent, a double EP entitled From the Fires, was released on November 10, 2017.

On Greta Van Fleet's third visit to New York in 2017, the band sold out two nights at the Bowery Ballroom, a commendable merit especially since the band has not yet recorded its debut album. The band's limited catalog has received radio play and word on the street has been strong, principally because everyone seems to be saying the same thing -- Greta Van Fleet sounds very much like Led Zeppelin. Indeed, judging by this week's rocking live sets, Greta Van Fleet has studied the Zep remarkably well. Josh's Robert Plant-styled vocal wails were particularly arresting, simultaneously sounding so familiar and yet also so new, and Jake's guitar riffs and the rhythm section's bombastic approach was so classic rock, even down to the hopeful hippie lyrics. A cover of Howling Wolf's "Evil" was a distant cousin to "Ramble On," but "Lover Leaver Taker Believer" was a kissing cousin to "Whole Lotta Love." Hard rock fans have been waiting nearly 50 years for a Led Zeppelin reunion, but it is not going to happen -- ever -- and this has opened the market for the birth of a smoking doppelganger, Greta Van Fleet. The next tour could be an arena tour.

Visit Greta Van Fleet at www.gretavanfleet.com.

Setlist:
  1. Talk On The Streets
  2. Black Smoke Rising
  3. Edge of Darkness
  4. When The Cold Wind Blows
  5. Flower Power
  6. You're the One
  7. Evil (Howlin’ Wolf cover)
  8. Mountain Of The Sun
  9. Watching Over (dedicated to Tom Petty)
  10. Lover Leaver Taker Believer
Encore:
  1. Highway Tune
  2. Safari Song

Saturday, December 2, 2017

M.A.K.U. Soundsystem at Dröm

Transplanted in New York City, two natives of Bogotá, Columbia, guitarist Camilo Rodriguez and drummer Andrés Jimenez, met at a workshop on traditional music from the northern coast of Colombia. They played together for nearly four years before they arrived at a concept for M.A.K.U. Soundsystem. This would be a band that would fuse traditional Colombian rhythms and 1970s West African afrobeat with reggae, hip-hop, funk, and jazz. They adapted the band name as a tribute to the Nukak Maku, an indigenous tribe in their native country that lived with no outside contact until the late 1980s. Formed in 2010 in Queens, New York, M.A.K.U. Soundsystem presently consists of Rodriguez, Jimenez, vocalist/bassist Juan "Prodigio ArribetiaoOspina, also of Bogotá, and two natives of Barranquilla, Colombia,  vocalist/percussionist Liliana "Lana Baja" Conde and percussionist Moris Cañate. M.A.K.U. Soundsystem's third and most recent studio album, Mezcla, was released on May 27, 2016.

M.A.K.U. Soundsystem performed a midnight set at Dröm tonight, melding tribal vocals, psychedelic guitar, hoodoo rhythms, and a dance-party spirit into a genre-defying trance-like jam. Many of the lyrics were in Spanish, but many times the choruses seemed to be repetitious interjections designed to boost the band's prominent percussion-led grooves. Particularly now that the band no longer has a horn section or a synthesizer player, the scaled-back band relied more on sway than punch, and the now simpler arrangements were smooth, bouncy and hypnotic. Ultimately, this was a borderless world music for freeing the mind and shaking the body.

Visit M.A.K.U. Soundsystem at www.makusoundsystem.com.

Steve Miller, Jimmie Vaughan & Charlie Musselwhite at the Rose Theater

Steve Miller (left) and Jimmie Vaughan
Steve Miller was born into a family of musicians in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and at age five learned his first guitar chords from his godfather, electric guitar pioneer Les Paul. In 1950, the Miller family moved to Dallas, Texas, where blues legend T-Bone Walker taught the nine-year-old Steve to play lead guitar. As a young man, Miller moved to Chicago, Illinois, where he further developed his blues chops, playing with Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Buddy Guy, and Paul Butterfield. After leading several blues-rock bands, in 1966 Miller formed the Steve Miller Band (initially called the Steve Miller Blues Band) and enjoyed a series of hits in the 1970s. Miller was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2016.The Steve Miller Band's 17th and most recent studio album is 2011's Let Your Hair Down.

Miller moved to New York three years ago and is the curator for a series of nine blues concerts for Jazz at Lincoln Center. The third program, entitled The Blues Triangle: Memphis, Texas, Chicago, sold out two consecutive nights at the Rose Theater and featured a shared collaboration with guitarist Jimmie Vaughan (The Fabulous Thunderbirds) and harmonica player Charlie Musselwhite. They were joined by pianist Shelly Berg, organist Mike Flanigin, trumpeter Michael Rodriguez, alto saxophonist Patrick Bartley, tenor saxophonist Craig Handy, baritone saxophonist Lauren Sevian, bassist Yasushi Nakamura, and drummer Sonny Emory. Together, they took the audience through a concert program inspired by Miller's own musical footsteps. Between songs, Miller offered a condensed history of the blues and explained the differences between the music created in the three blues hubs decades ago. Hence, rather than showcasing new songs and flashy musical prowess, the program was committed to the education and preservation of an American art form. As such, the program succeeded, in that Miller and company ably performed personalized treatments of obscure and vintage compositions.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

L.A.M.F. at the Bowery Electric

Guitarist Johnny Thunders left the New York Dolls in 1975 and formed the Heartbreakers, sometimes billed as Johnny Thunders & the Heartbreakers to distinguish the band from Tom Petty's band. The classic line-up of Thunder's Heartbreakers was completed by guitarist Walter Lure, bassist Billy Rath and drummer Jerry Nolan. Together, they recorded the band's sole studio album, 1977's L.A.M.F. The Heartbreakers ruled the Manhattan club scene much as the New York Dolls had previously, but both bands suffered the same fate; they could not really break to a national level. The Heartbreakers ended shortly after the release of the album, although Thunders briefly reunited the band numerous times until his death in 1991. Nolan died in 1992 and Rath died in 2014, leaving Lure as the only surviving member of the album's lineup. Since 1984, Lure has continued to play many Heartbreakers songs with his band the Waldos.

In 2016, Jesse Malin assembled an all-star band to commemorate 25 years since the passing of Thunders. That band consisted of Lure, former MC5 guitarist Wayne Kramer (who had played with Thunders in the short-lived Gang War), Replacements/Guns ‘N’ Roses bassist Tommy Stinson, Blondie drummer Clem Burke, and several guest vocalists. This year's concert commemorated the 40th anniversary of L.A.M.F., and the band consisted of Lure, Burke, Social Distortion guitarist Mike Ness, and Sex Pistols bassist Glen Matlock; Malin joined on vocals for three songs. The band performed the album except for "Baby Talk" (Lure told this reporter that nobody wanted to sing it), and then added a few more Thunders songs. The late show tonight at the Bowery Electric saw the band perform tightly, with the musicians contributing improvements to the arrangements in order to enhance all the songs with a contemporary rock and roll edge. This was more tribute than revival, a salute that attests to one major fact - solid rock and roll songs will never die.

Setlist:
  1. Born to Lose
  2. (The Heartbreakers cover) (Mike Ness - lead vocal)
  3. All by Myself (The Heartbreakers cover) (Walter Lure - lead vocal)
  4. I Wanna Be Loved (The Heartbreakers cover) (Glen Matlock - lead vocal)
  5. It's Not Enough (The Heartbreakers cover) (Jesse Malin - lead vocal)
  6. Chinese Rocks (The Heartbreakers cover) (Walter Lure - lead vocal)
  7. Get Off the Phone (The Heartbreakers cover) (Walter Lure - lead vocal)
  8. Pirate Love (The Heartbreakers cover) (Jesse Malin - lead vocal)
  9. One Track Mind (The Heartbreakers cover) (Walter Lure - lead vocal)
  10. I Love You (The Heartbreakers cover) (Mike Ness and Walter Lure - lead vocals)
  11. Goin' Steady (The Heartbreakers cover) (Mike Ness - lead vocal)
  12. Let Go (The Heartbreakers cover) (Mike Ness - lead vocal)
  13. Can't Keep My Eyes on You (The Heartbreakers cover) (Clem Burke - lead vocal)
  14. Do You Love Me? (The Contours cover) (Walter Lure - lead vocal)
Encore:
  1. You Can't Put Your Arms Around a Memory (Johnny Thunders cover) (Jesse Malin - lead vocal)
  2. So Alone (Johnny Thunders cover) (Mike Ness - lead vocal)
  3. (I'm Not Your) Steppin' Stone (Paul Revere and The Raiders cover) (Glen Matlock - lead vocal)
  4. Too Much Junkie Business (Johnny Thunders cover) (Walter Lure - lead vocal)

Miriam & Nobody's Babies at the Bowery Electric

Miriam Linna
Miriam Linna was born in the Canadian city of Sudbury, Ontario, but began her musical career in New York as the original drummer for the Cramps in 1976. She then drummed for Nervus Rex, the Zantees and the A-Bones. She also became an author and publisher with her Kick Books and a record company head with her independent Norton Records. All was well until Hurricane Sandy in 2012 hit Norton's Brooklyn warehouse, destroying the inaugural pressing of Kicks Books’ first title and hundreds of thousands of records, magazines, photographs, and documents. Linna not only rebounded, but also began recording albums under her singular first name. Now a front woman instead of positioning her behind a drum kit, Miriam's second and most recent solo album is 2015's Down Today.

Opening for L.A.M.F. tonight, Linna assembled a band large enough to cover virtually all available space on the Bowery Electric's small stage. With Linna singing in the forefront, the band played jangly vintage-sounding guitar-based pop. Linna's vocals were sometimes buried by blaring garage-band guitar chords, but otherwise she sounded like she could have led the Shangri-Las or a similar 1960s vocal group. Several of the melodies built to rallying Phil Spector-like choruses. What Linna lacked in range or finesse was compensated by her gutsy and passionate delivery. This was rough and bumpy indie.

Visit Miriam Linna at www.miriamlinna.com.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Hot Tuna at City Winery

In the 1950s, Jorma Kaukonen and Jack Casady played guitar together as teenagers in Washington, D.C., where they nurtured a love of the blues, country, and jazz. Kaukonen relocated to several cities, eventually landing a job teaching guitar in San Francisco, California. Invited in 1965 to join what would become Jefferson Airplane, Kaukonen invited Casady to come to the west coast and play bass in the band. Jefferson Airplane enjoyed success, but when the band took a hiatus in 1969, Kaukonen and Casady formed a side project called Hot Tuna, playing songs from Jefferson Airplane and covers of blues and country artists. Jefferson Airplane resumed touring, and Hot Tuna became its opening act. Jefferson Airplane ended in 1972, but Hot Tuna continued recording and touring as both an electric and acoustic band. Hot Tuna's 10th and most recent studio album is 2011's Steady as She Goes.

Hot Tuna performed a series of four concerts at City Winery, ending tonight, simply with Kaukonen on acoustic guitars and Casady on an oversized acoustic bass. This pared-down format allowed the two musicians to shine on their respective talents, with Kaukonen adroitly finger-picking to uncanny proficiency and Casady improvising intricate bass scales like the jazz masters. Covers of blues pioneers including Reverend Gary Davis and Blind Willie Johnson, along with Hot Tuna originals and songs that Kaukonen composed for his solo albums or for Jefferson Airplane, were all charged with stellar extensive instrumental interludes. While many contemporary artists are keeping alive the traditions of delta blues and Chicago blues, Kaukonen is one of the last well-known purveyors of Piedmont blues, so his deft manner on the strings was rather unique and totally mesmerizing. Kaukonen's earthy talky-singing similarly honored the roots of this Appalachian heritage. Note: Kaukonen is 76 years old and Casady is 73; catch a lot of Hot Tuna shows while you can.

Visit Hot Tuna at www.Hottuna.com.

Setlist:

Set 1:
  1. Ain't in No Hurry (Jorma Kaukonen song)
  2. Wolves and Lambs (Jorma Kaukonen song)
  3. Hesitation Blues ([traditional] cover)
  4. Death Don't Have No Mercy (Reverend Gary Davis cover)
  5. Let Us Get Together Right Down Here (Reverend Gary Davis cover)
  6. Barbeque King (Vital Parts cover)
  7. Things That Might Have Been
  8. San Francisco Bay Blues (Jesse Fuller cover)
  9. Watch the North Wind Rise
  10. Sea Child
  11. Winin' Boy Blues (Jelly Roll Morton cover)
  12. Keep Your Lamp Trimmed and Burning (Blind Willie Johnson cover)
Set 2:
  1. Second Chances
  2. There's a Bright Side Somewhere (Reverend Gary Davis cover)
  3. That'll Never Happen No More (Blind Blake cover)
  4. Come Back Baby (Walter Davis cover)
  5. Candy Man (Reverend Gary Davis cover)
  6. What Are They Doing in Heaven Today (Washington Phillips cover)
  7. Keep On Truckin' (Bob Carleton cover)
  8. Sleep Song
  9. Trial by Fire (Jefferson Airplane cover)
  10. Good Shepherd (Jefferson Airplane cover)
  11. Bar Room Crystal Ball
  12. Water Song
  13. Embryonic Journey (Jefferson Airplane cover)

Monday, November 27, 2017

Rosie Flores at City Vineyard

Rosie Flores was born in San Antonio, Texas, and lived there until age 12, when her family moved to San Diego, California. She began singing as a child, and her brother taught her to play rhythm guitar when she was a teenager. She formed her first band, the bluesy Penelope’s Children, while still in high school, played the San Diego club circuit with an alt country band she led called Rosie & the Screamers in the 1970s, and was in the all-female cow-punk Screamin' Sirens in the 1980s. After one album, Screamin' Sirens split in 1987, and Flores embarked on a solo career. Her 12th studio album, Simple Case of the Blues, will be released on February 23, 2018. Flores currently resides in Austin, Texas, where the city council honored her by proclaiming a Rosie Flores Day in 2006 and in 2017.

Rosie Flores is best known as a rockabilly and alt-country music artist, but her catalog has included honky tonk, jazz, western swing, Tex-Mex, and rock and roll. Her forthcoming album is a collection of blues originals and covers, however, so at City Vineyard tonight her focus was on her interpretation of the blues. Brooklyn native Earl Slick, perhaps best known for his collaborations with David Bowie and John Lennon, accompanied Flores on stage playing acoustic and electric guitars. The set was loose, in that Slick seemed to be improvising through most of the performance and contributed fewer leads than one might have expected. Flores was a fine guitarist, however, and her picking and strumming complemented her torchy, heartfelt vocals. The set included only two country songs, and perhaps these were her most splendid moments. While her many blues numbers were enjoyable, a decision to showcase her upcoming blues album meant this was not the occasion for her wider range of music.

Visit Rosie Flores at www.rosieflores.com.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Nvdes at Mercury Lounge

Josh Ocean
Josh Ocean is from Ocean Beach, New York, but moved to New York City in 2005 to pursue a career in music. He became half of the electronic duo Ghost Beach, which released one album in 2014. Since then, Ocean relocated to Los Angeles, California, where he formed the concept for the electronic dance project called Nvdes. Nvdes has been defined as an art collective, comprised of Ocean (vocalist), Madi Diaz (synthesizers) and Sam Van Vleet (electronic drums). The band’s name reportedly was inspired by a neon sign above a strip club. Nvdes' third EP, the six-track Vol. 2, will be released on December 8, 2017.

Performing tonight at Mercury Lounge, each song of Nvdes' performance was accompanied by video images behind the musical trio; otherwise for most of the set the stage was totally dark, making it hard for the audience to see the musicians except in silhouettes. The band's electro-pop set began with some hard beats, but then softened to a more radio-friendly collection of high-energy dance tunes. Many songs, like "I Want to Make Out at the Gay Club," were little more than a few repetitive chants amid thumping, pulsing electronic swashes and thick percussive power. Between songs, Ocean mentioned several times that Nvdes' music was intended to encourage listeners to be who they really are; by the show's end, there was no gauge to measure the success or failure of that goal, but Nvdes successfully provided the soundtrack for a 45-minute dance party.

Visit Nvdes at www.nvdesmusic.com.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Stephen Kellogg at the Bowery Ballroom

Stephen Kellogg was born in Westchester, Pennsylvania, and grew up in Connecticut, where he acquired a musical taste from his dad's 1970s folk-rock record collection and his sister's 1980s hair-metal rock albums. Kellogg began playing music in high school, singing in a hard rock band called Silent Treatment. Kellogg studied communication and theater in a university in Massachusetts, and began writing and recording solo acoustic demos and performing on weekends with friends. After college, he sold newspaper advertising during the day and at night interned at a music venue in Northampton, Massachusetts, releasing demo albums as The Stephen Kellogg Band and Stephen Kellogg & the Root Cellar Band. He led Stephen Kellogg & the Sixers  from 2004 until a final three-hour concert at Webster Hall in 2012. Kellogg then returned to recording under his own name and today released his newest collection, Tour De Forty: Greatest Hits (So Far) Live.

Kellogg has performed recurrently at the Bowery Ballroom since 2004, and tonight he poured praise on the venue during his two-hour set. Over those years, Kellogg reinvented his musical direction several times, but now at age 40 he was reveling on being the composite of it all -- a little bit each of Americana, country-rock, folk, indie, pop, and rock and roll, but summarily all communicative singer-songwriter and buoyant performer. Kellogg's songs were often extensively wordy, yet bouncy narratives with no real chorus; he also hit the opposite extreme with songs that were almost all sing-along chorus with just a few brief verses for a transitional effect. The lyrics were mostly joyful celebrations of a life well lived, largely inspired by his relationship with the high school sweetheart he married and his role as husband and father to their four young daughters. The songs intimately immersed the listeners into Kellogg's very person. Much like Jimmy Buffett, Kellogg laced his story-songs with passion and fun for a heartland sound that was very much from the heart. The fans cried for more, and again commending the fans and the venue staff, Kellogg responded by performing additional, unplanned encores.

Visit Stephen Kellogg at www.stephenkellogg.com.

Setlist:
  1. Satisfied Man
  2. Sweet Sophia
  3. Start the Day Early (Stephen Kellogg & the Sixers song)
  4. Wolf
  5. Orion
  6. Almost Woke You Up
  7. Such a Way
  8. Good Red Wine
  9. Cabin in the Woods
  10. 4th of July (Stephen Kellogg & the Sixers song)
  11. Thanksgiving
  12. Shady Esperanto and the Young Hearts
  13. Wallpaper Angel
  14. Wild Horses (The Rolling Stones cover)
  15. Gravity (Stephen Kellogg & the Sixers song)
  16. Last Man Standing
  17. See You Later, See You Soon (Stephen Kellogg & the Sixers song)
Encore:
  1. I Won't Back Down (Tom Petty cover)
  2. Big Easy (with Boots Factor)
  3. Big Easy (with Boots Factor)
Encore 2:
  1. My Favorite Place (Stephen Kellogg & the Sixers song)
  2. Glassjaw Boxer


Friday, November 24, 2017

Children of Bodom at the PlayStation Theater

Alexi Laiho (left) and Daniel Freyberg
Alexi "Wildchild" Laiho (born Markku Uula Aleksi Laiho) is from Espoo, Finland, where as a child he began playing the violin. Influenced by the heavy metal his sister enjoyed, he switched to guitar at age 11. He took guitar and piano lessons at a conservatory and first played in an experimental music band named T.O.L.K. with friends from the conservatory. In 1993 he founded the death metal band Inearthed with drummer Jaska Raatikainen; since childhood they had shared an interest in heavy metal, especially death metal groups. By the time Inearthed was to record its first album in 1997, the musicians changed the band's name to Children of Bodom, derived from the mysterious 1960 murders by Lake Bodom in Laiho's hometown. Laiho has been featured on the cover of Young Guitar Magazine several times, Guitar World magazine ranked him as one of the 50 fastest guitarists in the world, the readers of Metal Hammer voted him the world's best guitarist in 2006, and the readers of Total Guitar voted him the greatest metal guitarist of all time. The band presently consists of vocalist/lead guitarist Laiho, drummer Raatikainen, rhythm guitarist Daniel Freyberg, keyboardist Janne Wirman, and bassist Henkka Seppälä. Children of Bodom's ninth and most recent album is 2015's I Worship Chaos.

Children of Bodom's first four albums recently were re-mastered, given bonus tracks, and re-released, and so the band's 20 Years Down & Dirty North American Tour was designed to spotlight the band's vintage catalogue. At the PlayStation Theater tonight, Laiho reworked the old songs by injecting the maturity that two decades can bring, making the songs faster and more intense. Unlike the majority of 21st century metal bands who specialize in the growl or the crunch, Children of Bodom married a heavy dose of lightning guitar acrobatics to the band's extreme metal and melodic metal sounds. Laiho's sophisticated guitar leads were rooted in 1980s metal, but overall the music leaned to the coarser end of death metal. The band's slam often was lightened by Wirman's symphonic and neoclassical keyboard flourishes, but never really distanced the performance for long from the band's zooming white-knuckle ride. At a time when most of the newer heavy metal bands sound pretty much the same, Children of Bodom rose above the dark cacophony by offer exhilarating guitar work over potent headbanging compositions.

Visit Children of Bodom at www.cobhc.com.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Boy Named Banjo at City Winery

Boy Named Banjo began in a classroom of a preparatory day school for boys in Nashville, Tennessee. William Reames, Willard Logan, and Barton Davies started playing bluegrass together in 2011 and recorded an album later that year in a school closet. The trio performed locally, highlighted by a 2013 performance between periods at a Predators game. Boy Named Banjo released a sophomore album, Long Story Short (2014), and an EP, Lost on Main (2015), and won a statewide contest that landed the band on the Bonnaroo stage in 2015. The group presently consists of vocalist/banjo player Davies, vocalist/guitarist/harmonica player Reames, vocalist/guitarist/mandolin player Logan, drummer Sam McCullough, and bassist Ford Garrard.

At City Winery tonight, Boy Named Banjo's music could no longer be called bluegrass in the honest sense of the word. Rather, the band expanded beyond the genre to the more encompassing Americana tag. Boy Named Banjo stayed true to its acoustic-styled origins, but adapted its roots music to a palate that was closer to Eagles radio-friendly pop than it was to Snuffy Jenkins' mountain music. Still, the music was stripped down enough to feel more like a back porch hootenanny than an arena concert. Boy Named Banjo's crafty banjo/mandolin/harmonica leads provided an alternative to common modern country-rock, however, and the crisp, multiple-part harmonies hint at a bigger future for these young men.

Visit Boy Named Banjo at www.boynamedbanjo.com.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Revolting Cocks at the Gramercy Theatre

Richard 23 (left) and Chris Connelly (right)
Richard 23 of Front 242, Luc Van Acker, and Al Jourgensen of Ministry formed Revolting Cocks as an electro-industrial side-project in 1985. 23 left a year later, numerous musicians came and went, Van Acker left in 1991, and finally the group ended in 1993 after three albums. In 2004, Jourgensen revived the group, released one song, and assembled a live band called RevCo for a 2006 tour opening for his band Ministry; Revco ultimately disintegrated in 2010. Several brief reunions ensued in 2011 and 2013. In 2016, 23 and Van Acker formed a touring band called the Cocks, but returned as the Revolting Cocks in 2017. The Revolting Cocks' sixth and most recent studio album is 2010's ¿Got Cock?

The Revolting Cocks' 2017 tour, which stopped at the Gramercy Theatre tonight,  celebrates the 30th anniversary of the band's debut album, Big Sexy Land, which actually was released in 1986. The first part of the set featured original vocalist 23 singing the album in its entirety; the second part of the performance featured his successor, Chris Connelly, singing songs from later albums. Backed by three musicians and programmed tracks, both 23 and Connelly fronted their songs well, dancing energetically and injecting their fun-loving personalities into the EBM catalogues. The electronically-driven songs pulsed relentlessly behind them, saturating the venue with hard and dark dance beats. The evening ended as light-heartedly as it began, this time climaxing with 23 and Connelly sharing vocals on the encore cover of Rod Stewart's "Do Ya Think I'm Sexy?"

Setlist:
Big Sexy Land with Richard 23 on vocals
  1. Big Sexy Land
  2. 38
  3. We Shall Cleanse the World
  4. Attack Ships on Fire
  5. Union Carbide
  6. T.V. Mind
  7. No Devotion
  8. You Often Forget
Chris Connelly on vocals
  1. Cattle Grind
  2. Physical (Olivia Newton‐John cover)
  3. Stainless Steel Providers
  4. Crackin' Up
  5. Something Wonderful
  6. Beers, Steers & Queers
Encore:
  1. Da Ya Think I'm Sexy? (Rod Stewart cover)

Friday, November 17, 2017

King Crimson at the Beacon Theatre

Robert Fripp
(photograph by David Singleton)
From the remains of a band called Giles, GIles and Fripp in Dorset, England, King Crimson formed in 1968 in London, England. Competing musical visions, of whether to lean more pop versus more progressive caused the original King Crimson to fracture quickly, and before long guitarist Robert Fripp, who was not the main songwriter or front person, became the one remaining original member. Despite numerous splits and reformations, King Crimson has remained the most esteemed and influential pioneer in progressive rock. More than 20 members later, the current band consists of Fripp, guitarist/vocalist Jakko Jakszyk, bassist Tony Levin, saxophonist Mel Collins, keyboardist Chris Gibson, and three drummers, Gavin Harrison, Pat Mastelotto, and Jeremy Stacey. King Crimson's 13th and most recent studio album in 2003's The Power to Believe. King Crimson most recently released a box set of live recordings called Radical Action to Unseat the Hold of Monkey Mind on September 2, 2016.

At the first of two consecutive nights at the Beacon Theatre tonight, King Crimson's set was an extensive retrospective, touching on almost every album. While the entire set was comprised of the band's signature progressive rock, the extended instrumental sections and complex song structures featured different flavors, with measures influenced by hard rock, chamber-styled classical, avant garde jazz, ambient soundscapes and experimental dissonance. The adventure was that a listener would be awed by where the mystifying movements were leading. The softer songs featured Fripp gliding through melodic guitar leads and Jakszyk singing almost romantic lines, but even as the wash of sentiment took root, the vocals were replaced by intricately-conceived polyrhythmic complexity. Perhaps the most unique element to the performance was that individual soloing was minimal; the dynamic embedded almost consistently throughout the concert was that of an ensemble's interplay. That in itself distinguished King Crimson's set from that of most other contemporary prog-rock bands.

Visit King Crimson at www.dgmlive.com.

Setlist:
Set 1:
  1. Hell Hounds of Krim
  2. Neurotica
  3. Pictures of a City
  4. Cirkus
  5. Radical Action (to Unseat the Hold of Monkey Mind)
  6. The Errors
  7. Breathless (Robert Fripp song)
  8. Epitaph
  9. Moonchild ("The Dream" segment only, followed by Tony Levin & Jeremy Stacey cadenzas)
  10. The Court of the Crimson King
  11. Larks' Tongues in Aspic, Part One
  12. Larks' Tongues in Aspic, Part Two
Set 2:
  1. Indiscipline
  2. The ConstruKction of Light (part 1 only)
  3. Starless
  4. Lizard (segment only; "(c) The Battle of Glass Tears (i) Dawn Song (ii) Last Skirmish (iii) Prince Rupert's Lament")
  5. Radical Action II
  6. Level Five
  7. Islands
  8. 21st Century Schizoid Man (with Gavin Harrison drum solo and "Hell Hounds of Krim" trio insert)
Encore:
  1. Easy Money

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Silversun Pickups at Terminal 5

Brian Aubert and Nikki Monninger
Brian Aubert began playing guitar on a cheap acoustic when he was a seven-year-old in Topanga, California. When he was 18 years old, he met Nikki Monninger on a flight from Los Angeles to London; Aubert reportedly noticed Monninger sitting across the aisle from him stealing alcohol from the drink cart by distracting the flight attendant. In 2000, back in Silver Lake, California, they started Silversun Pickups as an alternative rock band. The band is currently composed of vocalist/guitarist Aubert, bassist Monninger, keyboardist Joe Lester and drummer Christopher Guanlao. Silversun Pickups' fourth and most recent album, Better Nature, was released in 2015.

One minute into "Panic Switch," at Terminal 5 tonight, Aubert interrupted the song and explained to the audience, "We’re stopping this right now. My pedal is broken, and we’re not playing this half-assed for you." A few seconds later, the quartet regrouped and roared back into the song from the beginning. At another point, he shared lightheartedly with the audience some of his recent mishaps; he was suffering the effects of a flu and also was playing guitar with his broken arm in a cast. Despite these obstacles, Silversun Pickups gave pop melodies a booming sonic force with heavily cranked guitar work and propulsive rhythms. The band has matured, to where the distorted, fuzzy guitar textures ironically sounded remarkably crisp and slick. Aubert's vocals matched the music's soft-to-loud peaks, often ascending from a soft delivery to a snarl and ultimately to a shout. Monninger sang a bit too, but usually concentrating on loading the bottom drive while jumping to the rhythms. Silversun Pickups still had a raw edge, but honed in on a more measured and spit-shined dynamic that will allow the band's appeal to widen to a larger audience.

Visit the Silversun Pickups at www.silversunpickups.com.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Joywave at the Bowery Ballroom

Daniel Armbruster
Vocalist Daniel Armbruster, guitarist Joseph Morinelli, and drummer Paul Brenner played in several bands together during their youth in Rochester, New York. They formed Joywave in 2010 and a year later recruited bassist Sean Donnelly and then keyboardist Benjamin Bailey. Joywave released its first mixtape in 2011 and first EP in 2012, but achieved its first notable success in 2014 with its collaboration with electronic music project Big Data on the song "Dangerous," which hit number one on Billboard's Alternative Songs chart. Joywave's second and most recent album, Content, was released on July 28, 2017.

After opening for the Bleachers in 2015 and the Cold War Kids this past summer, Joywave embarked on a headlining tour of mid-sized clubs, including the Bowery Ballroom tonight. With the opportunity to headline came additional theatricality via a series of artful videos and animation on four small television sets as a backdrop to the songs. Joywave still looked like a lo-fi indie band but performed as a polished mainstream band, frequently manipulating whimsical shoegaze melodies into bombastic blasts that whipped into aerobic arena-rock pop anthems. Armbruster's soft vocals and the band's silky, danceable rhythms made for radio-friendly hooks that enlivened and energized the songs, and somewhat edgy arrangements saved the show from being pure bubblegum fare. These slick pop treatments will attract a large and mostly younger audience to Joywave.

Visit Joywave at www.joywavemusic.com.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Oz Noy at the Bitter End

Guitarist Oz Noy started playing Beatles songs and Israeli songs at age 10 in his native Israel and moved to bebop jazz, blues, pop and heavy metal by age 13. By age 16, he was playing with top Israeli musicians and artists. By age 24, he was one of the most established studio guitar players in the country. He was also in the house band on Israel’s top-rated television show for more than two years. Noy arrived in New York in 1996, and since then has played many residencies, particularly at the Bitter End, where he plays in a trio or quartet most Monday nights. Noy's band changes almost weekly, but often includes the top tier of New York session musicians, including Anton Fig, Will Lee, and Bernard Purdie. Noy has released eight studio albums and six instructional videos; his most recent album, Ozone Squeeze, a collaboration with keyboardist/vocalist Rai Thistlethwayte and drummer Darren Stanley, was released on September 15, 2017.

At the Bitter End tonight, Oz Noy led a trio that included keyboardist Brian Charette and drummer Eric Kalb in a smooth blend of instrumental jazz, funk, rock, blues, and rhythm and blues jams. Together, they locked into grooves as funky as James Brown or the Meters and as smooth as George Benson or Wes Montgomery. Occasionally, Noy's virtuoso guitar work was as fiery as Jimi Hendrix and as bluesy as Stevie Ray Vaughan. Noy used some effects, but never to the point of distortion; his harmonically inventive fret work led to entrancing sonic textures without much help from the pedals at his feet. His fast and tastefully complex finger work was the centerpiece of each composition, yet on every song he switched to rhythm guitar to allow his musicians to share the spotlight and improvise spontaneously. The set was rock-jazz magic.

Visit Oz Noy at www.oznoy.com.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Crazy Mary at Otto's Shrunken Head

Emma Zakarevicius & Charles Kibel
Guitarist Charles Kibel played New York's rock club circuit with Stumblebead in 1988-90 and with the Dead Heroines from 1996-98 before forming Crazy Mary in 1998 with drummer Nick Raisz, a coworker at the Bronx Zoo. In 2002, Crazy Mary recruited the assistance of violinist Walter Steding, a pioneer of the 1970s no wave movement. High energy vocalist Emma Zakarevicius joined in 2007, and became the band's new focal point. Bassist Armand "The Wizard" Milletari joined in 2013. Crazy Mary's seventh and most recent studio album is 2016's Ripples of Chaos.

Crazy Mary is a recurring attraction at Frank Wood's Wind-Down Sundays series at Otto's Shrunken Head, and tonight performed as part of the Five Nights of Wood celebrating promoter Frank Wood's birthday. Crazy Mary is a curious band, in that the quintet played rock and roll but did not play it straight. Kibel's guitar chords sometimes took an unorthodox scale, or Steding's fretless violin changed abruptly from sweet to atonal. Meanwhile, Zakarevicius jumped, twirled and swirled non-stop to the band's primal/tribal rhythms, reminding the audience that even with these flourishes of heady experimentation, Crazy Mary is a party band that inspires some rock and roll dancing.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Benyaro at the Bowery Electric

Ben Musser was schooled in jazz, rock, classical guitar and voice, and furthered his musical growth by immersing himself in artist communities in Nashville, Austin and New York City. Musser played guitar and drums for several bands before dedicating himself to his current indie-acoustic roots project. He started Benyaro in New York City, but the band currently is being nourished in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Benyaro performs most frequently as a duo where Musser sings and plays guitar, kick drum, hi-hat, shaker, and harmonica while being accompanied by an upright bass player. Benyaro's third original full-length album, One Step Ahead of Your Past,  was released on September 8, 2017.

At the Bowery Electric tonight, Musser used his two hands to play his acoustic guitar, although his right hand would occasionally swing away from the guitar to slap a high-hat cymbal. His right foot played a bass drum. Sometimes his head would tilt down so his mouth could blow into a harmonica that hung from his neck brace. He sang soulful, rootsy songs that hearkened to early blues, and yet were jittery and off-kilter enough to qualify as indie-rock. Between songs, Musser joked with his sole accompanist, Leif Routman, who played an upright bass and sporadically provided vocal harmony. The result was a curious blend of organic, earthy songs that sounded equally inspired by Americana and indie musics.

Visit Benyaro at www.benyaro.com.

The Hipp Pipps at the Map Room at the Bowery Electric

Originally from a town outside Boston, Massachusetts, Matt Langone began playing guitar as a youth after seeing the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show. He played the New England circuit with the Peytons and the Trademarks until he relocated to the New York area. Since then, he has played lead guitar in several local rock bands, including the Gotham Rockets, the Trash Mavericks, the Cynz and the Waldos. For the past few years, his main project has been the Hipp Pipps with bassist Kevin Shaw (formerly of the BMTs, presently in the Wraycyclers) and Frankie Pipps (presently in the Pipptones). The Hipp Pipps released a self-titled album in 2015.

Zoe Stark presents a monthly concert series at the Map Room that frequently features the Hipp Pipps. On those occasions, such as tonight, the power trio fire straight-forward rock and roll from all engines. The Hipp Pipps' performance tonight was a roots rock set with no hyphens or hybrids. The set included a Chuck Berry cover and an Eddie Cochrane cover and about 10 original songs that sounded like they could have been written by those same pioneers. The energy was higher and the rhythms were speedier than the songs would have been a half century ago, but the songs were just as pure as the sounding fathers of rock and roll would have liked them. Langone's gritty vocals contrasted Shaw's pillow-talk vocals, but the driving spirit united the two vocal sides of the Hipp Pipps. If New York's future scene ever experiences a rock and roll revival, it will begin with the Hipp Pipps.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Prayers at the Bowery Ballroom

Author, artist and musician Rafael Reyes was born in Cotija, Mexico, and was raised in San Diego, California. While still a teenager in San Diego, he joined a street gang in order to save his father's life after a skirmish at a local market. Upon graduating high school, he opened San Diego's first vegan/vegetarian Mexican restaurant with his father and operated the restaurant for 18 years. In 2011, he wrote and published Living Dangerously, a  roman à clef about his life as a gang member. He also began showing his artwork in San Diego and Los Angeles. In 2011, Reyes formed his first band, Baptism of Thieves, followed by the pop-goth Vampire. In 2013, he reinvented himself under an alter ego, Leafar Seyer, which is his full name spelled backwards, and created Prayers with Tijuana-born synthesizer player Dave Parley, formerly of Latin Lovers. Seyer and Parley began recording immediately upon meeting, and completed the first Prayers CD in three days. Prayers won Best Alternative Band in the 2015 San Diego Music Awards. Prayers will release its third album, Baptism of Thieves, on November 24, 2017.

Prayers brought to the Gramercy Theatre tonight the music that its originators have defined as Cholo goth. Seyer's presentation was very much like slam poetry, closer to rapping than singing, couching poetic phrases and dark images with emotionally-charged dynamics. Seyer's lyrics explored harsh gang life and gothic themes over throbbing beats and swirling synthesizers. Parley, on the left side of the stage, framed Seyer's expressive deliveries with stark, uncluttered electronic rhythms that circled around the perimeter of industrial music. Together, the duo created an innovative sensory experience that should work itself out of the gothic underground and into the wider alternative music scene.

Visit Prayers at www.chologoth.com.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Dhani Harrison at the Knitting Factory, Brooklyn

Dhani Harrison, son of the Beatles' late George Harrison, was named after the sixth and seventh notes of the Indian music scale, dha and ni and is pronounced "Danny." He grew up with his parents in Henley-on-Thames, England, but attended university in Providence, Rhode Island, where he studied industrial design and physics. He first ventured into music on his father's final album in 2001 (which earned him a Grammy Award in 2004), then in 2002 formed his own band, thenewno2. In 2010, Harrison, Ben Harper and Joseph Arthur joined together to form the short-lived supergroup Fistful of Mercy. Over the years, Harrison has participated in several big-marquee tributes to his father. He also has collaborated on projects with Eric Clapton, Jeff Lynne, Wu-Tang Clan and Pearl Jam, and has scored several films and television series. Harrison released his debut solo album In///Parallel on 6 October 2017.

Dhani Harrison performed his first-ever solo concert at the Panorama Festival this past summer and returned to New York tonight to headline at the Knitting Factory in Brooklyn. Those who came hoping to hear Beatles redux must have been disappointed; backed by a small rock band, Harrison's music was far more experimental and far less commercial than the familiar Beatles catalog. Harrison sang in a distinct voice and blared on electric guitar, which boomed loudly in part to his reliance on pedals and distortion effects. There was no distinctive genre to give his music a label; the sounds were multi-layered, and the arrangements were eclectic and adventurous. All of this creativity made the performance intriguing and gripping for those in the audience open to new music that was clever and uncommon.

Visit Dhani Harrison at www.dhaniharrison.com.

Setlist:
  1. Summertime Police
  2. My Eye
  3. #WarOnFalse
  4. So Vain (thenewno2 song)
  5. Ulfur Resurrection
  6. Poseidon (Keep Me Safe) (duet with Mereki)
  7. Downtown Tigers
  8. The Sharp Knife (Paul Moran & Jacqui Hicks cover)
  9. Make It Home (thenewno2 song)
  10. Yomp (thenewno2 song)
Encore:
  1. Admiral of Upside Down
  2. All About Waiting (duet with Camila Grey of Summer Moon)
  3. I Wanna Be Your Dog (The Stooges cover, with members of Summer Moon)


Sunday, November 5, 2017

Pathway to Paris at Carnegie Hall

Patti Smith, Michael Stipe, Joan Baez, Flea, Cat Power, Talib Kweli, Tenzin Choegyal, Tanya Tagaq, and an array of speakers and musicians joined hands and voices as a call to action against climate change with a concert at Carnegie Hall tonight. Jesse Paris Smith and Rebecca Foon, founders of the effort they entitled Pathway to Paris, curated the event in partnership with the United Nations and 350.org in order to launch the 1000 Cities campaign, which petitions major cities to transition from fossil fuels to 100% renewable energy by 2040. Speakers Bill McKibben, Dr. Vandana Shiva, Achim Steiner, and Olafur Eliasson educated about this cause.

The Pathway to Paris concert for climate action briefly illuminated Carnegie Hall with both people power and solar power. Bill McKibben paused the show to allow attendees to write letters to New York's senior senator, Charles Schumer. Olafur Eliasson asked the audience to open a box placed under its seats and turn on solar-energy lights to illuminate a darkened Carnegie Hall, then announced that these lights would be sent to Puerto Rico to help those still lacking power following Hurricane Maria.

The concert featured rare moments. Patti Smith bragged with pride over the social action trajectory taken by her daughter, Jesse Paris Smith. Michael Stipe covered the Velvet Underground's "Sunday Morning." Patti Smith covering Cat Stevens' "Where Do the Children Play." Joan Baez danced with Talib Kweli, who was backed on the bass guitar by Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Later, Patti Smith danced with Baez. For the finale, all the performers and speakers joined Patti Smith on stage for "People Have the Power."
Patti Smith
Jesse Paris Smith
Joan Baez
Michael Stipe
Flea
Cat Power
Tenzin Choegyan
Patti Smith setlist at program start
  1. Nature Is What We See (Emily Dickinson cover with Jesse Paris Smith and Rebecca Foon)
  2. Mother Nature's Son (The Beatles cover with Tony Shanahan and Andy York) -> Unknown poem -> Where Do the Children Play? (Cat Stevens cover) (with Tony Shanahan and Andy York)
  3. Peaceable Kingdom / People Have the Power (with Lenny Kaye, Tony Shanahan, Jay Dee Daugherty, and Andy York)
  4. Mother's Prayer (poem during Flea bass composition)
Patti Smith setlist at program end
  1. After the Gold Rush (Neil Young cover) (with Tony Shanahan and Jesse Paris Smith)
  2. People Have the Power (finale with everyone from the concert)
Joan Baez setlist
  1. Another World (Antony and the Johnsons cover)
  2. The President Sang Amazing Grace (Zoe Mulford cover)
  3. Imagine (John Lennon cover)
  4. Swing Low, Sweet Chariot (Fisk Jubilee Singers cover)
Michael Stipe setlist
  1. Nature Boy (Nat King Cole cover)
  2. It Don't Come Easy (Ringo Starr cover)
  3. Photograph (Ringo Starr cover)
  4. Sunday Morning (The Velvet Underground cover)
Cat Power setlist
  1. Nothing Really Matters
  2. Norma/Names
  3. Maybe Not
Talib Kweli setlist
  1. Get By (with Flea on bass)
Tenzin Choegyal setlist
  1. Elemental Prayer (with Jesse Paris Smith and Rebecca Foon)
  2. Heart Strings (with Jesse Paris Smith, Rebecca Foon, and Tibetan elders)

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Ariel Pink at le Poisson Rouge

Ariel Rosenberg was born and raised in Los Angeles, California, and began writing, singing, and playing original compositions at around 10 years of age. As a young adult, he worked in a record store, gaining an encyclopedic knowledge of contemporary music and an avid appreciation for underground artists. Rosenberg released his first album in 1999 under his given name, but then beginning in 2000 his albums were credited to Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti. His first album as simply Ariel Pink was released in 2014. His 11th and most recent studio album, Dedicated to Bobby Jameson, was released on September 15, 2017.

In some circles, Ariel Pink has been revered as a songwriter, but tonight at le Poisson Rouge, this claim was challenging to confirm. Pink's band drowned out his lyrics throughout the entire performance. Pink's smooth pop and sometimes quirky vocal melodies defined the foreground and the texture of the overall production. This would have been more effective if the musicians had provided their uptempo lo-fi grooves and riffs, which were repeated incessantly, further in the background. What traditionally would have been a backdrop was very much front and center. Pink interspersed nine of the new album's 13 tracks between older songs, but what were the words? Online videos of recent tour stops verify that this matter was consistent in other cities.

Visit Ariel Pink at www.ariel-pink.com.

Setlist:
  1. Nighttime Is Great! (Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti song)
  2. Bobby Jameson
  3. I Wanna Be Young
  4. White Freckles
  5. Time to Meet Your God
  6. Thespian City
  7. Dreamdate Narcissist
  8. Kinski Assassin (Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti song)
  9. Time to Live
  10. Another Weekend
  11. Put Your Number in My Phone
  12. Menopause Man (Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti song)
  13. A Tomb All Your Own
  14. Alisa
  15. Jagged Carnival Tours
  16. Baby (Donnie & Joe Emerson cover)
Encore:
  1. Death Patrol
  2. Bubblegum Dreams
  3. Do Yourself a Favor
  4. Round and Round (Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti song)


Thursday, November 2, 2017

Elbow at Terminal 5

Guy Garvey
In 1990 in Bury, England, a teenaged guitarist, Mark Potter, invited a 16-year-old schoolmate, Guy Garvey, to sing in Mr. Soft, a band he was in with bassist Pete Turner and drummer Richard Jupp. Mark's brother, keyboardist Craig Potter, soon turned the band into a quintet. They shortened the band name  to Soft, then changed it a third time in 1997 to Elbow, inspired by a line in the BBC TV drama The Singing Detective in which a character described the word "elbow" as the loveliest word in the English language. Elbow has won esteemed accolades in the United Kingdom while struggling to gain comparable recognition in the United States. Elbow's fourth studio album, The Seldom Seen Kid, sold over a million copies and won the Mercury Music Prize in 2008. In 2009 the band won the Brit Award for Best British Group , a Meteor Award for Best International Band, an NME Award  for Outstanding Contribution to British Music, and two Ivor Novello Awards. After 25 years in Elbow, Jupp left in 2016. Now a quartet, Elbow's seventh and most recent studio album, Little Fictions, was released on February 3, 2017.

Elbow headlined Terminal 5 tonight, supplemented by a touring drummer and two violinists/backing singers, and appropriately opened with "New York Morning," a song of admiration of the dreamers who built the city. Elbow's rather soft-rocking and word-heavy set highlighted an inherent bruised optimism that equally penetrated both the lyrics and the melancholy tone of the concert. The songs became prisms that reflected fragmentally the human condition of a lifetime of struggles. The violinists enriched this element with their subtle but lush orchestration. Elbow closed its set with its best-known anthem, "One Day Like This," milked for all it could contain with an extended audience sing-along, then returned for an encore performance with "Lippy Kids" and "Grounds for Divorce." The future continues to look bright for the band that finds much of its inspiration in angst.

Visit Elbow at www.elbow.co.uk.

Setlist:
  1. New York Morning
  2. The Bones of You
  3. Fly Boy Blue / Lunette
  4. Head For Supplies
  5. My Sad Captains
  6. Station Approach
  7. Switching Off
  8. Any Day Now
  9. All Disco
  10. Magnificent (She Says)
  11. Mirrorball
  12. The Birds
  13. Little Fictions
  14. Kindling
  15. One Day Like This
Encore:
  1. Lippy Kids
  2. Grounds for Divorce


Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Barb Wire Dolls at the Bowery Electric

Isis Queen
Former professional surfer and skatebaorder Tasos Taiganides in the 1990s left his native Crete, Greece, and landed in Charleston, South Carolina. There, he played guitar in a band called Eurogression at night while teaching and coaching tennis by day. One day, he had a near-fatal accident, in which he died and was revived in an ambulance, and this triggered a return to his homeland to recuperate. While living in an artist commune in Crete in 2010, he met vocalist Isis Queen, formed with her the concept for what would become Barb Wire Dolls, and became Pyn Doll. In Greece, the options were limited for a punk rock band singing in English, so the band members relocated to the rock club circuit in Los Angeles, California, where they were embraced by Motörhead's Lemmy Kilmister and several veteran punk rockers. The band presently consists of Queen, Pyn Doll, rhythm guitarist Xtine Reckless, bassist Iriel Blaque, and drummer Krash Doll. Barb Wire Dolls' fourth album, Rub My Mind, was released on July 7, 2017.

Barb Wire Dolls is more than a punk rock band these days. At the Bowery Electric tonight, Isis Queen sang more and shouted less than on previous tours, and the band several times dipped into glam, thrash and classic rock waters. On virtually all songs, however, the music roared in a no-compromise manner while raging with punk attitude and metal aggression. Mickey Leigh, formerly of the Rattlers and brother of the Ramones' late vocalist, Joey Ramone, added more fuel by briefly rocking a guitar with the band on stage. Sometimes Queen smoothed out the band's sound but other times she was more fiery than the musicians. Queen's vocal flexibility and the band's exploratory growth beyond punk into deeper and richer territory was stimulating. Where the band is heading is perhaps more intriguing than where it has been.

Visit Barb Wire Dolls at www.barbwiredolls.com.