Friday, January 29, 2010

Dave Matthews Band - Across The Pond

So after almost one month of waiting, I finally got my DMB Europe 2009 boxset. It consists of the Brixton (26 Jun '09) DVD and 3 CDs from the Italian show (5 Jul '09), housed in an impressive coffee table photo book, containing great photos from all the shows from the summer European tour.

How lucky I am to actually own an official DVD of a concert I attended just seven months ago. But seriously, the Brixton show has got to be the best looking DVD release by DMB yet. There's this real cinematic feel to it, something which I've not seen in their previous live releases. Also this time, the editing isn't sloppy and cheesy. Plenty of camera angles, and they did a great job making full use of every one of them. The sound mix is not too bad, though I could've used more of Stefan Lessard's bass guitar in there. But other than that, the drums and horn sections were strikingly loud and clear.

And the setlist.......lotta Big Whiskey songs were played; a fresh take on You & Me, and even better, an extended version of Lying In The Hands Of God. And to me, Seven and Why I Am have already become DMB classics. But of course, the best parts were when DMB played their old favorites, most of which came from Crash, and none from Under The Table And Dreaming (which was ok, because they did Ants Marching at Hyde Park two days later). Crash Into Me, always awesome, and one of the greatest love songs ever. So Much To Say into Anyone Seen The Bridge into Too Much intro and finally into Lie In Our Graves!!!! Seeing Boyd Tinsley do his solo was a trip.

And then the really big one came with #41. This song has gone through many different structure changes over the years, but I have to say this one is my favorite so far. I wished Leroi were still alive. After the usual violin solo came Rashawn Ross' trumpet and Jeff Coffin's saxophone playing in sync. Then, Coffin would stand near Carter's drums and start his solo, which would soon turn into an instrumental duet between him and Carter. That was face-melting indeed. The cameras were so close to both of them that it really felt like being on stage with them at that moment. Then Tim Reynolds would come in next with his electric guitar (great addition to the band too). After watching #41 on DVD, I didn't realize how long the song was; almost 1/2 hour!! Tripping Billies, another Crash favorite closed a perfect show.

If there's one issue I have with this release, it's the cutting out of the Stairway To Heaven solo in the middle of All Along The Watchtower. Dave also did an impromptu cover of Michael Jackson's I'll Be There which was taken out. Other than, I think this set is a great introduction to DMB as a live band. The Grammy awards are just around the corner and I'm really hoping they win Album Of The Year, simply because they deserve to.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

The Last Tonight Show With Conan O'Brien aka Coco

I could remember the very first episode of the Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien back in June '09. It seemed only like yesterday. Who knew seven months later, he would leave the show? That's the reality in American television; ratings is money. The last two weeks or so must have been very difficult for Conan. NBC gave him an ultimatum; Do your show at midnight or leave the network (with a fucking huge sum of money). Conan kept his integrity and didn't budge. So now, Jay "big jaw" Leno, as Dave Letterman calls him, will be the 'new' Tonight Show host come March, and Conan will not be allowed to go back on air until September. Maybe if Jay retired last year, there wouldn't be this shit.

Personally, I've always preferred Conan over Jay. His previous Late Night stint at New York had been absolutely incredible; I've never seen comedy like that before. I grew up watching Conan in my early youth. He's the man who gave us Triumph the Insult Comic Dog, the Masturbating Bear and many other wacky characters. I thought Conan would've been better off making the move to Hollywood. It certainly would've been nice to 'grow old with him' for at least fifteen more years. Seven months is just too damn short. But during this debacle, the outpouring of support for Coco had just been immense, with rallies all across America and on the internet.

Nevertheless, Conan decided to make the best of it by doing some of his best shows during this final week. Plenty of cracks at NBC, but none at his successor. He brought on some of the best guests one could imagine, my all time favorite director Martin Scorsese, Quentin Tarantino, Robin Williams, Jeff Bridges, Tom Hanks, and also surprises like Ben Stiller and the always hilarious Steve Carrell.

I'll remember his final show for a long time to come. Neil Young played solo acoustic on Long May You Run. I couldn't think of a better tribute. It's moments like these when you go "This is the fucking reason why I watch television." Conan also gave an emotional final speech about his departure. I found the last part to be especially touching:

"To all the people watching, I can never thank you enough for your kindness to me and I’ll think about it for the rest of my life. All I ask of you is one thing: please don’t be cynical. I hate cynicism — it’s my least favorite quality and it doesn’t lead anywhere. Nobody in life gets exactly what they thought they were going to get. But if you work really hard and you’re kind, amazing things will happen. As proof, let’s make an amazing thing happen right now.”

And with that, the show ended with a bang; an all-star performance of Free Bird, featuring Will Farrell on vocals, donning a hilarious blonde wig (trying to look like Ronnie Van Zandt), and wearing a Neil Young Tonight's The Night t-shirt as a sorta ironic joke. He was backed by the Tonight Show Band, with Max Weinberg on drums, Ben Harper on slide, Billy Gibbons on lead, and Beck on rhythm. Conan also played the guitar. If that wasn't awesome enough, Conan actually did a surprisingly good guitar solo towards the end. And of course, to make things even better, Will brought out the infamous cowbells!!!

Whew.....what a fucking show! I'm gonna miss you Coco....

Saturday, January 23, 2010

'Hope For Haiti' Telethon

Produced by George Clooney, last night's 'Hope For Haiti' TV special was quite similar to the 'America: Tribute To Heroes' nine years ago. As usual, most of the performances were moving and heartfelt. Some highlights: The Boss did a short gospel version of We Shall Overcome with his usual back-up singers. Stevie Wonder did a beautiful rendition of Bridge Over Troubled Water. Sting, backed by The Roots, played a jazzed up Driven To Tears. There was also this Haitian female who sang the most heartbreaking version of Many Rivers To Cross I've ever heard. And to top it all off, near the end, Dave Matthews and surprise guest Neil Young, dueted on Hank Williams' haunting Alone And Forsaken.

The performances can be found here on MTV.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Emergency In Haiti

It feels good to donate to the Haitian people. Though we are so far away from the disaster, I think it's still important we do what we can to help the victims of this horrendous earthquake. This Friday night, Bruce Springsteen, Bono, Jay-Z, Dave Matthews, Stevie Wonder and many other music artists will perform on MTV's 'Hope For Haiti' special, to be broadcast globally on all major networks.


Friday, January 15, 2010

Green Day Concert Review

Two weeks into the new year and I've just seen one of the greatest live bands of this generation. Green Day put on a fucking kick-ass rock & roll show. From the opening song 21st Century Breakdown, Billie Joe Armstrong wasted no time to get the crowd going. In fact, the mosh pit was so wild that the front barricade broke and Billie suddenly called for the song to stop. That really broke the momentum, but at least he gives a damn for the safety of the crowd. During the later part of the show, the band members even fired water guns at the people at the front. It's no doubt that Billie is one of the best frontmen in music now; and he learned from the greats.

Crowd participation was really good, and there were countless sing-alongs, maybe a bit too much. I liked the parts when Billie invited fans onstage to sing with him. And on Long View, Billie just let the dude sing the whole song, which was pretty cool, because the guy really knew how to work the crowd. The setlist had all the usual hits, but I thought the sequencing of the songs was really good. My favorite part came during the middle portion of the show, when they did a little rock & roll medley of songs, which included Paranoid and Highway To Hell!! The cover of Shout had Hey Jude, Break On Through and Love Me Tender.

A surprisingly long show, 2.5 hours. American Idiot followed by Jesus Of Suburbia was another high point for me. So Billie's right when he said he wanted to give Springsteen a run for his money!

Setlist (14 Jan 2010):
  1. Song Of The Century
  2. 21st Century Breakdown
  3. Know Your Enemy
  4. East Jesus Nowhere
  5. Holiday
  6. The Static Age
  7. Give Me Novacaine
  8. Are We The Waiting
  9. St. Jimmy
  10. Boulevard of Broken Dreams
  11. Burnout
  12. Hitchin' A Ride
  13. Welcome To Paradise
  14. When I Come Around
  15. Iron Man (Main Riff)
  16. Paranoid
  17. Highway To Hell
  18. Brain Stew
  19. Jaded
  20. Longview
  21. Basket Case
  22. She
  23. King For A Day / Shout / Love Me Tender / Satisfaction / Hey Jude
  24. 21 Guns
  25. Minority
  1. American Idiot
  2. Jesus Of Suburbia
  1. Last Night On Earth
  2. Wake Me Up When September Ends
  3. Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)

Monday, January 4, 2010


Sorta my first book review. I received Clarence Clemon's new book right in time for X'mas last year. This is a signed copy, which I ordered through Backstreets. C could only finish signing all the copies after the tour was over, so I had to wait especially long to get mine. Well, it was worth the wait. I could've easily ordered the one without the autograph, but c''s the fucking Big Man we're talking about here!!!

Not gonna go into much detail bout the book's contents. But it's worth noting that this isn't like your usual musician's autobiography. The story isn't told in a chronological order. The short chapters makes it very readable. He's a great writer, very funny too. He's brutally honest and direct and doesn't shy away. The more I read, the more I wanna be his friend. Then, there are those 'bullshit' stories highlighted by the gray pages of the book; stories and legends that may or may not have been true, according to C. This stuff makes the book special.

My favorite parts are when C talks about the band, especially those funny crazy-ass stories about Danny. Damn, I still miss him. And of course, Bruce, whom C has a really great admiration and respect for. We all know their partnership is what makes the E Street Band legendary, but to see actually read what C (and his co-author, Don Reo) has written about is just pure fucking poetry. I'm sure there are countless great stories on E Street and I wish he written more. This is mainly a book for the fans.

Then, there are also those parts where C talks about his never-ending physical struggle with his body. It's heartbreaking to read about the immense pain that he had to go through during the later part of his life; all those heart surgeries and knee and hip replacements and back pains and shit. But he has never missed a show in his life. He has never once let his family and friends down. He has never once let us down. He's still alive and kicking. I strongly believe if Bruce were to ask C if he were able to continue recording music with the E Street Band, C would say 'yes' without hesitation.

The story ends with the Superbowl Halftime show in 2009. Who would've known that just weeks prior to their performance, C was still in pain and doubtful if he could play? I was surprised. But I clearly remember those legendary 12mins unfold before my eyes. To paraphrase, Bruce said it was like seeing a heavily condensed 3 hour concert with the E Street Band. He was right. My favorite image is right at the start of Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out, right when Max comes in. Clarence and Bruce standing with their backs against each other, silhouetting off the white backdrop. Scooter and the Big Man. Then, when Roy plays the first notes, Bruce turns around and pats C on the shoulder, before tossing up his guitar. Those first few seconds there basically sum up what the E Street Band has been about for the past 35 years.

Friday, January 1, 2010

2010, watch it go to fire... Eddie so perfectly screamed in "Do The Evolution". We're one year closer to the doomsday. I don't believe in making new year resolutions, most of the time I don't stick to them. But I can feel this is gonna be a good year. For one thing, I'm pretty fucking psyched for Bruce's (very) long-awaited Darkness boxset and the WOAD Tour DVD. If I have to make one resolution, it'll be to see U2 live before the year is over. And also probably Pearl Jam a second time round. I had so much fun the first time last November that I can't pass up on the chance to catch them again this summer in London. Hard Rock Calling 2010 here I come...