Monday, May 31, 2010

Glory Days: A preview from 'London Calling'

This brings back great memories from that epic show at Hyde Park.
It's curfew-breaking Boss time!!!!

A letter by Joe Strummer

I'm not sure when it was written, but it was said that this letter was the reason Bruce decided to do Glastonbury last year (Mark Hagen was the guy running the festival). It's sad that Joe wasn't around anymore to see him and the band play. But Bruce returned the favor by covering Coma Girl at Glasto, and the next day London Calling at Hyde Park. BTW, every word Joe said in this letter was true. It still is.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Bootleg Review - 11/8/09, Madison Square Garden, New York City

The famous River show, another one of those legendary shows every Springsteen fan who wasn't there wished he or she were. This new bootleg I just got is another great sounding matrix of an AUD and IEM recording. I dunno how these guys do it. It sounds so good you could mistake it for an actual soundboard recording if you listen to it on shitty laptop speakers.

Out of all the E Street albums, The River has always been my least played one. Songs like Crush On You, Cadillac Ranch, I Wanna Marry You, I don't really find all that good. But listening to this 21st Century take on the 1980 classic, I'm beginning to enjoy this album more. The band sounds really tight, and though this was the first (and perhaps only) time they were doing this, it seemed to me that they've been playing these songs every night. After the opening song Wrecking Ball, Bruce introduces the album and provides some backstory to it. Then, the band launches into The Ties That Bind. Bruce's voice was in top form throughout the show. Two songs I wanna mention here: The Price You Pay and Drive All Night. Best live versions ever. Gives me the chills every time.

Other notable versions were Fade Away, Stolen Away, and and the always fun I'm A Rocker. Requests included a rare Atlantic City, Can't Help Falling In Love, and Sweet Soul Music, in which Bruce added his own lines about Sam Moore, Otis Redding, Wilson Pickett and James Brown.

And to close the show was an awesome cover of Jackie Wilson's Higher And Higher. It's the perfect closer for an E Street Band show. I hope Bruce doesn't retire this song on their next tour!

Exile On Main Street revisited

For the first time, I really sat down and listened to this record (remastered). I don't know why, but Exile had always been missing on my Stones playlist. Now it easily slipped into my top ten albums list. Exile is another example of THE perfect album. The remastered sound is more brightened up, while the mix essentially stays the same. The music's dense, but all the instruments can be heard loud and clear, including the background vocals. There wouldn't be Rock & Roll as we know it without The Stones. This record had just the right blend of deep south blues with country and R&B and soul music.

Can you imagine cutting that many songs (18) and making each one of them sound great? It's just incredible. I love the horns on Rocks Off. I love how Mick sings on Rip This Joint and Sweet Virgina. I love the sax and harp on Shake Your Hips. I love the piano intro on Loving Cup. I love the starting guitar riff on Soul Survivor. These are some of the many wonderful moments on Exile. Watching the new documentary, Stones In Exile, helped me understand what the band had to go through while making the album, and the tough situation they were in at that time. Though it sounds like they were having a ball, they weren't really recording in the best of conditions. It's also surprising to know that Exile wasn't exactly well received by the general public, until years later.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Discovering The Dead

For someone who hasn't heard any of their music before, where do you possibly start with a band like The Grateful Dead? It's like an endless goldmine, digging through their archives. I read somewhere that there are more than 2000 live shows available online! The first album I got was a live one, To Terrapin: Hartford '77 (released last year); rarely do I buy stuff without reading about them first. This was an exception. I just saw it on the shelf, and I just bought it without much thinking. It was as if I was meant to buy it. Anyway, it was a hell of a treat, listening to The Dead for the first time in my life. Country, folk, rock & roll, blues, jazz, reggae, bluegrass, psychedelia -- it's all here. That first disc with a great cover of Good Lovin' into Sugaree into Jack Straw into Row Jimmy is just fucking out of this world. Also Tennessee Jed and Terrapin Station has become some of my all time favorite songs. Sure the songs seem to go on forever, but most of the time I can listen all the way through, something I occasionally can't do when it comes to Dave Matthews Band's live songs.

My most recent purchase was another newly released live show from '89 (in Philly), titled Crimson, White & Indigo. Great to hear some new unfamiliar songs. Box Of Rain, followed by Scarlet Begonias > Fire On The Mountain is sick. Standing On The Moon and Wharf Rat too. I recently watched some of their live DVDs, and they look totally different from what I imagined them to be. It's interesting that they have two drummers. And man, Jerry Garcia can really play a mean guitar -- one of the most influential figures in music history. I like to think of the band as more of an institution. I'm really fascinated by the culture they've formed and the fans who worship the band. Sometimes, I wish I grew up in San Francisco during the 60's.

Heaven Is Whenever - The Hold Steady

One of the best bands to break out in the past decade is The Hold Steady. I first got acquainted with them on Boys & Girls In America, their third and seminal record. Apart from a heavily influenced E Street and classic & anthemic rock & roll sound, what I liked about the band was singer's Craig Finn's ability to put as many words as possible into one line, without making it sound too forceful or weird. Talk-singing was quite a common thing in the band's early repertoire. Young people, parties, drugs, redemption, sin, St. Paul and the Mississippi River are some of the stuff you'll come across a lot in many of their songs.

In an age where crappy pop/rock songs talking about BGR relationships and unrequited love dominate commercial radio, The Hold Steady take this delicate subject matter and turn it into something beautifully poetic and almost beatnik-like, and at the same time not too cliche to make us cringe our faces. I think the songwriting has always been the heart of this band's music and it's amazing how a guy like Finn (who looks like an IT tech) can infuse his Catholic values and experiences into it.

Their latest release, Heaven Is Whenever, is much tighter than 2008's Stay Positive. It's good to listen to an album where you don't have to skip any track. The songs are more catchy and accessible. One thing I noticed is the piano is less prominent here, due to the original keyboardist's departure from the band. But the chunky and fat guitar riffs present on songs like Rock Problems, Hurricane J, The Smidge are back and take center-stage. The album starts out uniquely mellow (Sweet Part Of The City), mid tempo with slide guitars and muddy vocals. It's amazing.

The centerpiece of the album is We Can Get Together, a ballad that's filled with references to songs I've not heard before. The angelic choir in the chorus serves to up the emotional density. Lyrics wise, this album is more mature than their previous stuff. It sounds like an older and wiser Finn imparting useful advice and life lessons to us listeners, like in Soft In The Center, one of my favorite songs so far this year:

"You can't get every girl. You'll get the ones you love the best. You won't get every girl. You'll love the ones you get the best"
I know what you're going through. I had to go through that too"

This fifth record is continuing proof that America's best bar band are also one of the most consistently good bands around today. If you haven't done so yet, do yourself a favor and get Almost Killed Me and Separation Sunday. It's essential listening.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

May 21 -- Madison Square Garden, New York City, NY

Last show of their North American tour.

Main Set: Corduroy, Hail Hail, Do The Evolution, World Wide Suicide, Got Some, Breath, Nothing Man, I’m Open (for Howard Zinn), Unthought Known, Grievance, Amongst The Waves, Present Tense, Not For You/Modern Girl, Push Me Pull Me, Rats, Daughter/WMA, The Fixer, Why Go

Encore 1: The End (with string quartet), Just Breathe (with string quartet), Lukin (with string quartet), Black Red Yellow, Sweet Lew, Given To Fly, Spin The Black Circle, Rearviewmirror

Encore 2: Wasted Reprise, Better Man/Save It For Later, Black, The Real Me, Hunger Strike (feat. Ben Bridwell from Band Of Horses), Alive, Kick Out The Jams, Yellow Ledbetter/Star Spangled Banner

Friday, May 21, 2010

May 20 -- Madison Square Garden, New York City, NY

Main Set: Sometimes, Breakerfall, Last Exit, Animal, The Fixer, Severed Hand, Small Town, I Am Mine, Comatose, Force Of Nature, Even Flow, Low Light, Down, I Got Id, Army Reserve, Insignificance, Unthought Known, Do The Evolution

Encore 1: The End (with string quartet), Lukin (with string quartet), Just Breathe (with string quartet), You Are, Love, Reing O’er Me, State Of Love And Trust, Once, Porch

Encore 2: Jeremy, Leash, Mankind, Crazy Mary, I Believe In Miracles, Alive, Indifference

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Some 'new' stuff I bought

The Doors - For the longest time, this band just seemed to slip out of my mind. How could I not discover 'em earlier? I got the debut album and L.A. Woman (both remastered) for cheap. It's amazing how this stuff still holds up today. Jim Morrsion was a force of nature on vocals. There's some mysterious quality about his voice I can't really put my finger on. It's so dark and even creepy sometimes. And not to mention the psychedelic keyboards, which also played a huge part in the band's sound. The song L.A. Woman is 8mins of mindblowing rock & roll and blues. Mojo risin'.

Billy Joel - Another artist that I really wanna see live, especially with Elton John. No one writes about New York better than he does. I stumbled upon 52nd Street remastered, and it's as good as The Stranger. Not to go into much detail here, but I think this album is just flawless, from start to finish. Some great horns on this one too. Song Of The Week -- Zanzibar.

Soundgarden - Got the 'greatest hits'. I thought they were quite similar to Pearl Jam's music. Boy I was wrong, but pleasantly surprised though. They sound a bit more heavy metal than grunge. Chris Cornell is undeniably the best singer of his generation (sorry Eddie). Glad to see 'em reuniting, but hopefully not at the expense of Matt Cameron permanently leaving PJ!

Court Yard Hounds - Basically, it's a bit like the Dixie Chicks, minus Natalie Maines. Still Emily Robison and Marty Maguire can hold their own with their singing. It's an enjoyable album, but nothing really special here. I particularly like the one where Jakob Dylan sits in.

Band Of Horses - I've never heard their earlier stuff before, only their most recent Infinite Arms. My first impressions are they sound like Fleet Foxes with a more rock sound, not that there's anything wrong. This is really catchy music. There's also bit of My Morning Jacket in here. The Beach Boys' influenced pastoral harmonies and soothing organ & guitar melodies are worth revisiting. The last song, Neighbor, is a beautiful way to end the album.

The Dead Weather - I'm a big fan of Jack White and I'll always get what he puts out. His 2nd project is a stunning departure from The Raconteurs. I was blown away by Horehound. The new release, Sea Of Cowards, is a bit more of the same gothic, low-fi, dirty blues sound. Still great, but I didn't really eat this one up.

The White Stripes - Still on the subject on Jack, I think The White Stripes concert film, Under Great White Northern Lights, is one of the best of its genre in recent times. It's beautifully shot with lotta nice black & white scenes, and it's really unique in that we get to see the duo play in the weirdest of places (boat, bowling alley, log cabin). Definitely lotta WTF moments. Watching those live concert scenes make you feel like you're onstage with the band. Jack White has got the ghosts of all the old delta bluesmen in him when he sings and plays.

Neil Young - I got this newly published illustrated biography of Uncle Neil. I've always been a casual fan, but after seeing the man live, I wanna delve into his obscure and early stuff. This book is a great way to find out more about him and his legendary career. There are lotta great pictures I've never seen before, including some awesome looking tour posters that probably inspired Pearl Jam to do the same. Neil never followed any trends in his professional life and still doesn't. He did whatever he felt like doing, and didn't care about the consequences. He's the perfect role model I think. The song PJ song, Off He Goes, best sums him up. I'm really looking forward to his new album with Daniel Lanois.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

May 18 -- The Prudential Center, Newark, NJ

If this isn't a kick-ass setlist, I don't know what is!

Main Set: Of The Girl, Brain Of J, Do The Evolution, The Fixer, Alone, Amongst The Waves, Immortality, In Hiding, Even Flow, Insignificance, Supersonic, Brother, Glorified G, Daughter/Blitzkrieg Bop/WMA, Unthought Known, Leatherman, Lukin, Once

Encore 1: Just Breathe, Footsteps, Inside Job, Got Some, Go

Encore 2: Jersey Girl, You Are, Whipping, Life Wasted, Alive, Indifference, All Along The Watchtower

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

May 17 -- TD Garden, Boston, MA

Main Set: Release, Animal, The Fixer, In My Tree, Small Town, Force Of Nature, Given To Fly, Sad, Unthought Known, Pilate, Hail Hail, Push Me Pull Me, Even Flow, Undone, Not For You/Modern Girl, Red Mosquito, Got Some, State Of Love And Trust, Why Go

Encore 1: Bee Girl, Just Breathe, Love, Reign O’er Me, Rival, Save You, Rearviewmirror

Encore 2: Smile, Wasted Reprise, Better Man/Save It For Later, Soldier Of Love, Crown Of Thorns, Alive, Rockin’ In The Free World

Sunday, May 16, 2010

May 15 -- XL Arena, Hartford, CT

Main Set: Unthought Known, Corduroy, Do The Evolution, Got Some, Severed Hand, Dissident, Low Light, Amongst The Waves, Even Flow, Nothingman, Johnny Guitar, I Got Id, Jeremy, Daughter/W.M.A., Satan's Bed, Lukin, Gonna See My Friend

Encore 1: Just Breathe, Speed Of Sound, State Of Love And Trust, Ain't Talkin' 'Bout Love, Porch

Encore 2: The Fixer, Crazy Mary, Alive, Indifference, All Along The Watchtower

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Has Bruce Springsteen jumped the shark?

By now, many of us have probably heard about Lady Gaga performing with Sting, Elton John, Debbie Harry and Bruce Springsteen on a cover version of Journey's Don't Stop Believin' at a benefit concert in NYC last night. Personally, I'm a little ticked off by the fact that Bruce shared the same stage with Gaga. It's not jealously or anything. I personally don't like Lady Gaga and her music. Sure, she's talented and shit but there's just something about her image and her songs that really fucking pisses me off. I don't get why people say she's the biggest thing in music now. What's so fucking great about her music anyway? I just don't get her. I know she's a Springsteen fan, so for the Boss to 'duet' with her was probably a dream come true. And as for Bruce making the decision to perform -- well, he's at an age where he could do whatever the fuck he wants and care less bout what his fans think. I just pray to God he doesn't duet with Gaga on her next album. I also pray that she completely disappears from the music scene within the next year or so.

Friday, May 14, 2010

May 13 -- Jiffy Lube Live, Bristow, VA

Main Set: Small Town, World Wide Suicide, Got Some, Brain Of J, Save You, Given To Fly, Present Tense, Down, Unthought Known, Insignificance, Even Flow, Comatose, Faithfull, All Those Yesterdays, Black, The Fixer, Do The Evolution

Encore 1: The End, Just Breathe, Garden, Why Go, Wasted Reprise, Life Wasted, Blood/Atomic Dog

Encore 2: Better Man/Save It For Later, Spin The Black Circle, Alive, Sonic Reducer, Yellow Ledbetter/Star Spangled Banner

Thursday, May 13, 2010

My 2nd Deep Purple Gig

It turned out better than I expected. The band got off to a great start with Highway Star, and finished off their main set with Smoke On The Water. Black Night ended the encore. I only recognized the songs from Machine Head, but overall it was pretty much a greatest hits show. Now I know where bands like Metallica get part of their influences from. Speaking of which, I hope they come down here later this year!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

May 10 -- HSBC Arena, Buffalo, NY

Main Set: Unthought Known, Severed Hand, Animal, The Fixer, Small Town, No Way, Given To Fly, Light Years, Even Flow, Amongst The Waves, Unemployable, Grievance, Not For You, Got Some, Do The Evolution, Wasted Reprise, Better Man/Save It For Later

Encore 1:
Just Breathe, Fatal, Last Kiss, Spin The Black Circle, Rearviewmirror

Encore 2:
Once, Alive, Fuckin' Up, Yellow Ledbetter

Monday, May 10, 2010

May 9 -- Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland, OH

Main Set: Wash, Hail Hail, Corduroy, Got Some, In Hiding, World Wide Suicide, Force Of Nature, Immortality, Go, Even Flow, Army Reserve, Unthought Known, Daughter/WMA, Sleight Of Hand, Johnny Guitar, Do The Evolution, The Fixer, Why Go

Encore 1: Just Breathe, Given To Fly, Leash, Porch

Encore 2: Wasted Reprise, Life Wasted, Black, The Real Me, Smile, Alive, Indifference

Saturday, May 8, 2010

May 7 -- Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre, Noblesville, IN

Main Set: Release, Last Exit, Got Some, Why Go, In My Tree, Small Town, Unthought Known, Even Flow, Supersonic, Down, Daughter/WMA/Blitzkrieg Bop, Goin’ Back To Indiana, Rats, Wishlist, Insignificance, Force Of Nature, Jeremy, The Fixer

Encore 1: Just Breathe, Off He Goes, Given To Fly, Lukin, Better Man, Do The Evolution

Encore 2: Garden, Whipping, Alive, Baba O’Riley, Yellow Ledbetter/Star Spangled Banner

Friday, May 7, 2010

May 6 -- Nationwide Arena, Columbus, OH

Main Set: Oceans, Given To Fly, Corduroy, Got Some, World Wide Suicide, Faithfull, Small Town, Amongst The Waves, Even Flow, Comatose, Marker In The Sand, Unthought Known, Grievance, Alone, The Fixer, Do The Evolution

Encore 1: Just Breathe, Black, State Of Love And Trust, Spin The Black Circle, Go

Encore 2: Come Back, Once, Hail Hail, Crazy Mary, Alive, Yellow Ledbetter

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Phinally Philly

Phinally Philly
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Woke up this morning to some great news! PJ's legendary Philly shows are finally out!! Like almost everyone in 10c, I too got the box set without any hesitation. I gotta wait a while more to listen to the shows, but I tell ya, these setlists are to fucking die for :)

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

May 4 -- Scottrade Center, St. Louis, MO

Main Set: Sometimes, Corduroy, All Night, Do The Evolution, Why Go, Small Town, In Hiding, Even Flow, Unthought Known, Save You, Down, Pilate, Severed Hand, Not For You, Glorified G, 1/2 Full, Daughter, The Fixer

Encore 1: Inside Job, Just Breathe, Jeremy, Got Some, Rearviewmirror

Encore 2: Garden, Alive, Baba O’Riley, Yellow Ledbetter/Little Wing

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

May 3 -- Sprint Center, Kansas City, MO

Main Set: Of The Girl, Animal, World Wide Suicide, Got Some, Unthought Known, Small Town, MFC, Johnny Guitar, Amongst The Waves, Even Flow, God’s Dice, Present Tense, Daughter, Wishlist, Insignificance, Do The Evolution

Encore 1: Off He Goes, Just Breathe, Given To Fly, The Fixer, Life Wasted, Porch

Encore 2: No More, Black, Better Man, Alive, Rockin’ In The Free World, Yellow Ledbetter/Star Spangled Banner

Sunday, May 2, 2010

May 1 -- New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival

From now on, I'll also be posting Pearl Jam's setlists from their 2010 tour. Though I won't be attending any PJ shows this year, it'll still be interesting to see how much they mix up their songs as the tour evolves. This is only their first show and the setlist already looks amazing -- time to bring on the bootlegs!

Main Set: So You Want To Be A Rock & Roll Star, Lukin, Corduroy, In My Tree, Got Some, Given To Fly, Even Flow, Severed Hand, Nothingman, Down, Unthought Known, 1/2 Full, Daughter/People Have The Power, Comatose, Supersonic, Do The Evolution, Why Go

Encore: Tremor Christ, Just Breathe, Better Man/Save It For Later, The Fixer, Alive, Kick Out The Jams