Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Beach Boys live in Singapore

Most of the surviving members of The Beach Boys are well into their late '60s and early '70s. Last night was their first-ever show on our shores, and I'm very fortunate to have gone, cause it probably will not happen ever again. Surprisingly, the concert wasn't as much a nostalgia fest I expected it to be. It seems the band still likes to challenge its audiences. Almost all the hits were in of course, but there was also a good mix of the lesser-known, even more obscure tunes that only the hardcore fans would know. The backing band was big, almost as big as the current E Street Band lineup. They consisted of the key members from Brian Wilson's longtime recording and touring band (like Jeff Foskett, Scott Bennett, Darian Sahanaja), and those from the previous Beach Boys touring band, under Love and Johnston.

There was an intermission after 1 hour 15 mins, and then they played for another good hour and slightly longer. 49 songs in total! And rather than stopping after every song, the band did the occasional medley without skipping a beat. Much of the onstage bantering was done obviously by leader, Mike Love, and occasionally Bruce Johnston, who was in a hyper mood all night. But it was Brian Wilson who always got the biggest cheers whenever he sang or was introduced. He looked detached and unmoved from everything, sitting behind his keyboard, on the left side. But then he would leave the stage really fast right before the intermission and encore! I think only on Sail On Sailor was he animated with his funny choreographed hand movements. Brian definitely isn't made for the stage the way Love, Al Jardine and David Marks are, but no one can deny what a bloody genius he is in the studio. He got up and played bass during the encore.

There were so many highlights. The two songs from the new album. Sloop John B. Bruce belting out Disney Girls. Love and Jardine on All This Is That. Brian on I Just Wasn't Made For These Times, which was the one song I never thought they'd do. The four-song car medley to close the first set. A great rendition of Pet Sounds opening the second set, featuring birthday boy, Marks, on the guitar. The beautiful Add Some Music To Your Day with the boys standing around Brian. And then the greatest pop tune ever crafted -- God Only Knows. Brian took this one, and apparently it's something that doesn't happen often on this tour, because the late Carl Wilson would usually sing from the video screen. Weirdly enough, there was not one mention of Carl and Dennis. The stage setup couldn't get any simpler. There was no giant screen behind and surfboards present, unlike the shows on the US tour. But the sound quality was more than decent, considering what sucky acoustics the Indoor Stadium has, and it was pretty loud too.

And then the harmonies. Oh my God. That's what I pay good money to hear. The harmonies were heavenly. The boys still got it in them, for the most part. Especially Jardine -- his voice still sounded more or less the same since the '60s. He especially killed on the covers, Cotton Fields, Then I Kissed Her and of course his signature Help Me Rhonda. Jeff Foskett and Darian took over for some of the Carl songs. Brian's voice wasn't as strong as the rest, but it felt good to hear him sing. The way he sings never fails to tug at my heartstrings. Heroes & Villains and Good Vibrations sounded very different from when Brian used to play onstage with his own band in the past. The backing band was really good and tight, and they breathed a new, youthful life into many of the songs with added interesting arrangements, creating a sort of ethereal quality that can't be replicated in the studio. Very fun show, and one of the most memorable I've seen at home in a long time.

1. Do It Again
2. Little Honda
3. Catch A Wave
4. Hawaii
5. Don't Back Down
6. Surfin' Safari
7. Surfer Girl
8. Wendy
9. This Whole World
10. Then I Kissed Her
11. Getcha Back
12. Isn't It Time
13. Come Go With Me
14. Why Do Fools Fall In Love
15. When I Grow Up
16. Disney Girls
17. Please Let Me Wonder
18. Good Timin'
19. It's Ok
20. Darlin'
21. Cotton Fields
22. Kiss Me, Baby
23. California Saga: California
24. Don't Worry Baby
25. Little Deuce Coupe
26. 409
27. Shut Down
28. I Get Around

29. Pet Sounds
30. Add Some Music To Your Day
31. Heroes And Villians
32. I Just Wasn't Made For These Times
33. Sloop John B
34. Wouldn't It Be Nice
35. In My Room
36. All This Is That
37. That's Why God Made The Radio
38. Sail On, Sailor
39. God Only Knows
40. Good Vibrations
41. California Girls
42. All Summer Long
43. Help Me, Rhonda
44. Rock & Roll Music
45. Do You Wanna Dance?
46. Surfin' USA

47. Kokomo
48. Barbara Ann
49. Fun, Fun, Fun

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Happy 60th, Joe

Raise a toast to Saint Joe Strummer;
I think he might have been our only decent teacher.
- Craig Finn

If there's one musician I wish were still alive, it'd be Joe. The world needs people like him today.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

PJ Manchester boot

For the first time, audiophile fans get to purchase the official Pearl Jam bootlegs from the 2012 European tour in HD (high-res) formats, both FLAC and ALAC for twenty bucks [link]. I settled for the slightly cheaper CD, because I always need something physical I can hold on to. Since 2000, the sound mix of the boots have differed vastly from tour to tour. I stopped 'collecting' after 2009, but I've heard several of the shows from the 2010/11 tour. My personal favorites previously are the ones from 2006. But they pale in comparison to this year's mixes. Hands down the 2012 bootlegs have the best sound, by many miles. The instruments are separated very nicely, and everything can be heard CRYSTAL CLEAR; that includes Boom's keyboard whenever he plays. And now Mike McCready is on the left, while Stone Gossard is on the right. Eddie sounds astoundingly good, the best he's ever sung in the past decade. And the rhythm section is tight as shit; Matt Cameron's drums and Jeff Ament's bass are locked in real tight.....finally. Everything is there -- meaning any screw-up has not been edited out of existence; rarely is a Pearl Jam concert musically perfect. The only minor gripe I have is the sound quality of the crowd noise; it sounds weird especially during the first part, like it has been heavily equalized or something. Setlist wise, the first show of the short European tour wasn't all that outstanding (personally I would've preferred a lot more obscurities). But it was still kick-ass in every way. The band was in a constant awesome groove. Hell, I'm stoked I got to hear Jeremy, Black, Come Back, Immortality, and of course, Release as the opener. I read numerous reports of the crowd being 'lame'. Not true, from where I was. [review link]


Friday, August 17, 2012

The Golden State

This Sunday marks the one-year anniversary of the West Memphis Three's release from prison, having spent almost twenty years in there, for a horrible crime they never committed [link]. A live version of John Doe's The Golden State (feat. Kathleen Edwards), performed by Eddie Vedder and Natalie Maines at the 2010 WM3 Rally in Arkansas, is available on iTunes right now, and will be up for download on Pearl Jam's website that day. Proceeds will go to the WM3 Freedom Fund. Listen HERE. On a sadder, related note:

Thursday, August 16, 2012


Today marks the day The King died, thirty-five years ago. I'm just a casual fan at best; I know most of the hits, I know some of the lesser-known stuff, I know that he didn't write a single song in his life. Back in '04, I saw him onstage...he was on the big screen, backed by his own touring band which played live. It was surprisingly well-done. I've always had a curious fascination with the man since then, and his larger-than-life sort of disposition, and the whole myth thing he created. I'm almost finishing up this critically acclaimed biography (Part 1) called Last Train To Memphis, by Peter Garulnick. It's widely regarded as the greatest book ever written about Elvis' life. So yeah, highly recommended for those out there who's even mildly interested in Elvis. The late, great Lester Bangs wrote a brilliant obituary [link] in August '77. Damn, I wished he (Lester) were still alive; rock criticism could sure use someone like him right now.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Checkerboard Lounge, Chicago 1981

Muddy Waters and his band playing in a small club in Southside Chicago, with stellar sound quality to boot (mixed by Bob Clearmountain) is like a nuclear explosion. Blues music so badass you can actually cry to it. And next you bring the Stones into the mix (Mick, Keith, Ron and Stu), then followed by the legendary Buddy Guy and Junior Wells, as a result you have here one of the greatest, most unique one-off live performances ever put down. The CD is just the icing on the cake. The video is something to behold; real in-your-face. That Muddy was one cool cat. It's undeniable that blues is the seed, and everything else is the fruit. {PURCHASE}

Sunday, August 5, 2012

my Top 15 Gaslight Anthem songs

(c) Danny Clinch, 2012

Congratulations to Gaslight for making it to No.3 on the US billboard charts with Handwritten! It was near impossible to narrow anything down to top 10. The band has had so many great songs over the past six years.

1. Drive
2. Casanova, Baby!
3. The Patient Ferris Wheel
4. The Backseat
5. Stay Lucky
6. Handwritten
7. I'da Called You Woody, Joe
8. Mae
9. Blue Jeans & White T-Shirts
10. Here's Looking At You, Kid
11. Angry Johnny And The Radio
12. Old Haunts
13. Too Much Blood
14. The Diamond Street Choir
15. We Came To Dance

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Bruce's longest show ever

(c) Joe Lopez; Barcelona, 2012

To me, a Bruce Springsteen gig is one of the most addictive things in the world. I have only three shows under my belt; that's too damn few, not that I'm complaining; I'm absolutely content. Religion won't change your life. A Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band concert will. Last night in Helsinki was the last show of the European tour....until next summer. Bruce and the band set a new record by playing slightly past 4 hours. It just had to happen, sooner or later. And I thought playing 3 & a 1/2 hours every night was already fucking insane; that's now the average length of a Springsteen gig. Now the band heads back home for another round. This Wrecking Ball tour is already one of Bruce's greatest ever tours, and it's fast becoming one of the top tours in rock & roll history. And it's not just the increasing length of the shows; it's also the fans, the rain, the varying setlists, the surprise requests, the fine musicianship, the band chemistry, the superhuman energy and dedication of the greatest frontman in live performance. But what amazes me the most is the fact that he is still able to give himself to us, night after night after night, in light of Clarence Clemon's passing. Bruce knows that Big Man has always been on that stage, right by his side. He'll never ever leave.