Wednesday, July 28, 2010

R.I.P. Ben Keith, 1937 - 2010

Yesterday, I was saddened to hear about the passing of Ben Keith, Neil Young's long time band mate. He has played the pedal steel guitar on many of Neil's best records from Harvest right up to 2007's Chrome Dreams II. His contributions to music is one of the main reasons why we today regard Neil as one of the greatest artists of all time. Neil has worked with a lot of musicians during his career, but none had that 'magic' relationship to his songs like Ben Keith, or Crazy Horse and The Stray Gators for that matter. Ben's musical ability was impeccable, and I've always thought his steel guitar playing was to Neil just like Danny Federici's organ was to Springsteen. Every fan probably has their own favorite 'Ben Keith' moment in Neil's records; I got too many to mention, but the one that stands out for me is Words. Just listen to his playing on Harvest and be awed. I'm thankful I got to see him play for Neil last year at Hyde Park.

Tonight's The Night is one of those records I never got around to listening until tonight (no pun intended). I was just reading the chapter in Shakey (a highly recommended read) about the making of the album -- crazy times indeed, with all those drunken recording sessions. It was the tragic deaths of Danny Whitten and Bruce Berry that inspired Neil and Crazy Horse to put out some of the rawest and most intense tunes ever. Neil sounded like he could break into tears anytime. The music was spontaneous and off the cuff. At one point in Speakin' Out, Neil shouts for Nils Lofgren to go for a guitar solo. Ben Keith really let it out on this one -- subtle yet powerful, his steel guitar managed to conjure up many feelings of lonesomeness and depression. Listen to Tired Eyes. Yes, it is a dark and heartbreaking album, but yet there was something very hopeful and uplifting about it -- putting that live version of Come On Baby Let's Go Downtown (with Danny on lead vocals) was probably a wise decision, a reminder of how important he was to Crazy Horse. I think the best way to appreciate Tonight's The Night is listen to it fully sober.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Of The Earth

So Pearl Jam debuted this new song during their recent European tour. Maybe this could be from the much rumored EP Mike McCready mentioned a while back. Sometimes you just hear a song for the first time and suddenly a huge adrenaline rush overcomes you. Of The Earth has one of those rare moments. I can easily say it's one of the best things PJ has done ever since Matt Cameron joined the band. You can literally hear Eddie singing for his life as he 'screams' out the chorus. The middle eight brings the song into higher tempo and changes melody entirely. Here McCready belts out another face-melting solo that he's so well known for.

Also one new cover PJ debuted was Arms Aloft, by Joe Strummer & The Mescaleros; from Joe's last record before his passing. Another wise choice, cause the song's 'unconventionality' seems to fit the band perfectly. Check it out.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

When You're Strange

This is one hell of a documentary film about The Doors, one of the world's greatest bands that was gone before they really hit their stride. It's unlike any other "rocumentary" I've seen before -- there aren't any present interviews with the surviving band members. The entire film is basically constructed from archival footage. For the most part, the moving pictures go well with the music and narration. There's a spine-chilling performance of The End, where it's interspersed with photographs of deceased like Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, MLK and Robert Kennedy. Also, the lyrics of Riders On The Storm seems to fit well with footage from the Vietnam War. I've never seen any old performance pieces of the band prior, so most of the scenes were real eye-openers for me. There's some really amazing candid shots of the band and especially Jim Morrison offstage, and you can tell behind that face that he was a troubled soul. Even the footage of him insulting the crowd and his unruly behavior is rather shocking when you actually see it.

The film only runs at 90mins, so there's probably a lot more stuff that could be told about the band. But here we are just given the basic hard facts about their all too short career. The script by director Tom Dicillo is well-written and not convoluted, and who better to read it than Johnny Depp? He doesn't try too hard to narrate, but his voice is perfect for this kind of thing. His monotonous tone almost gives a film-noirish mood to it. I also like how the story is told in present tense (until the very end where Jim dies), perhaps to tell us their music is still relevant today as it was back then. We get to see snippets of Jim's own film at some points, like the first part where he's driving across America in his car and the radio reports his death and rumors of his faking death -- it's funnily ironic and sad at the same time. One begins to ponder as to whether Jim Morrison really did fake his own death to escape from the world.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Pearl Jam Tour Posters 2010

Now that the tour is over...

Once again, thanks to the 10c for all these beautiful posters!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

U2 360 Australian Tour

Yup, it's finally happening. The rumors resurfaced a few weeks ago when Aussie radio reported U2 were bringing the tour down under this December. Then yesterday, they said dates would be out next month when the band resumes the tour in Europe, and that it will be in early 2011. The band also posted a video concerning their return to the States next summer. Good to see Bono recovering well. Personally, I'd prefer a December tour rather than Feb/Mar '11. Either way, I'll be there. Hopefully at least two shows.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Jul 10 -- Optimus Alive! Festival, Oeiras, Portugal

Release, Small Town, Animal, Given To Fly, In Hiding, Unthought Known, Nothingman, Daughter/Blitzkrieg Bop, Even Flow, Just Breathe, Wishlist, Black, Glorified G, Why Go

The End, Improv (Portugal, Portugal), Public Image, The Fixer, Wasted Reprise, Better Man

Smile, Once, Alive, Yellow Ledbetter

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Jul 9 -- BBK Live Festival, Bilbao, Spain

Do The Evolution, Corduroy, Hail Hail, Why Go, The Fixer, Dissident, Small Town, Unthought Known, Even Flow, Arms Aloft, Given To Fly, Comatose, Porch

Got Some, Amongst The Waves, Black, Rearviewmirror

Just Breathe, Daughter, Alive

Wednesday, July 7, 2010


If I wanted to show someone the power and majesty of the mighty E Street Band on film, London Calling would do the trick. Bruce Springsteen's latest concert film is everything you'd expect from the greatest live band on earth, and much more. Personally, it's my favorite live release of Bruce's, and it's even more special because I was in attendance. Check out my review from that night.

This has been said numerous times already; there were many other better shows that were filmed and could've been released from the '09 tour, but in retrospect, the Hyde Park show is a perfect representation of that tour. Strong setlist with enough hits, rarities and covers to keep the fans content. The band was on fire that night, despite having played Glastonbury less than 24 hours earlier. I thought Bruce's voice was fine for the most part, though on some songs he became really hoarse. But hey, it's a fucking rock & roll concert. The important thing here is that he and the band were having a ball onstage.

It's also obvious as to why they decided to release this show. Visually, it's fucking spectacular. It was pretty bright for the most part, and the viewers get to see the amazing sea of people. Those crane shots of the London crowd are awe-inspiring. It's funny when you're amongst the 50,000 you don't realise how immense the place is until you watch the film. And it's another sight to behold as night falls towards the end, as the band goes into Jungleland.

The video was shot in high-def, so the quality is top-notch, even on a normal definition tv. Blu-ray is something else. In fact, the picture is so sharp I could spot myself in one of those moving aerial crowd shots. The video editing works for the most part, and we are directed to what we wanna see during the concert. I just got a few gripes about some stuff -- they should've shown the band walking onstage at the start, instead of cutting right into London Calling after the opening credits. The intro on Outlaw Pete was considerably shortened after cutting out The Shadows' guitar instrumental (copyright maybe?). The shot of Bruce taking the Jungleland sign was also eliminated.

On the other hand, there are so many incredible moments. We see plenty of interaction between Bruce and the band members, like Bruce quarterbacking the band. Right after Badlands, you can catch a rare glimpse of him calling for an audible and altering the setlist, in which they launch into Night and then followed by She's The One. Not often you see Bruce complaining about his age after Out In The Street ("Get me a fucking elevator! I'm fucking 60!") The sign request portion is an absolute joy to watch, especially Brian Fallon joining the band onstage for No Surrender. He killed on those vocals. Racing In The Street was a big highlight for me. It never once crossed my mind that they would play that song ever. I remember a feeling of euphoria overwhelm me when they started Racing. Lotta great memories came flooding back as I watched this.

The sound mix is superb it's almost perfect. By far the best I've heard on any live DVD. I clearly remembered the sound being just right on the actual day, for an outdoor festival show. Kudos to Bob Clearmountain for doing a fine job. Every instrument in the mix is crystal clear and there's room for each one to breathe. I can finally hear Stevie's guitar work on most of the songs. The crowd isn't intrusive and they come in at the right moments. I wouldn't go so far as to say they were a passionate crowd, but they sure were an attentive one from where I was standing. The last part of Jungleland for example -- everybody listened when Bruce sang the outro. The crowd was so fucking mesmerized they were dead silent.

You don't need fancy bells and whistles to put on a great live show. Just watch London Calling, which is seriously mindblowing stuff. You can count on Bruce Springsteen to turn an outdoor show of this scale into an intimate club gig.

Video: 5/5
Sound: 5/5
Performance: 5/5

Jul 6 -- Heineken Jammin' Festival, Venice, Italy

Given To Fly, Interstellar Overdrive, Corduroy, World Wide Suicide, The Fixer, Small Town, Breath, MFC, Even Flow, Present Tense, Do The Evolution, Unthought Known, Porch

Red Mosquito (feat. Ben Harper), Just Breathe, State Of Love And Trust, Arms Aloft, Jeremy

Got Some, Once, Black, Public Image, Alive, Rockin’ In The Free World

Monday, July 5, 2010

Jul 4 -- Werchter Festival, Werchter, Belgium

Public Image, Do The Evolution, Corduroy, The Fixer, Small Town, Severed Hand, Amongst The Waves, Even Flow, Arms Aloft, Unthought Known, Porch

Of The Earth, Got Some, Given To Fly, Just Breathe, Rearviewmirror

Comatose, Why Go, Alive, Kick Out The Jams

Jul 3 -- Main Square Festival, Arras, France

Unthought Known, Got Some, Given To Fly, State Of Love And Trust, Corduroy, Even Flow, Just Breathe, Of The Earth, Small Town, Porch

Red Mosquito (feat. Ben Harper), Jeremy, Black, The Fixer, Alive, Baba O’Riley, Yellow Ledbetter

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Jul 1 -- Heineken Open'er Festival, Gdynia, Poland

Interstellar Overdrive, Corduroy, Do The Evolution, Hail Hail, Got Some, Small Town, Amongst The Waves, Unthought Known, Even Flow, Just Breathe, Daughter, Given To Fly, Arms Aloft, Why Go, Jeremy, Rearviewmirror

The Fixer, Better Man, Black, Alive, Rockin' In The Free World

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Pearl Jam - Amongst The Waves

Jun 30 -- Wuhlheide, Berlin, Germany

Exactly ten years since that tragic day at Roskilde.

Main Set
: Long Road, Got Some, Why Go, Given To Fly, Small Town, Push Me Pull Me, Immortality, In Hiding, Even Flow, Johnny Guitar, Corduroy, Light Years, Gonna See My Friend, World Wide Suicide, Low Light, Comatose, Do The Evolution

Encore 1: The End, Just Breathe, Spin The Black Circle, Public Image, The Fixer, Kick Out The Jams w/Peter Buck & Scott McCaughey

Encore 2: Unthought Known, Black, Come Back, Alive, Yellow Ledbetter