A blog for Seattle music lovers of all stripes, from hip-hop and indie rock to jazz and world music.
Topic: Concert Review
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December 6, 2013 at 12:08 PM
With her star on the rise, Illinois-bred singer-songwriter Lissie easily could have filled The Crocodile by herself with her rousing performance of songs from the powerful new album, “Back to Forever.”
But opening act Kopecky Family Band, a troupe of indie rockers from Nashville with its own boisterous following, assured a full house Thursday. The late-night show was a high-value doubleheader for fans of edgy folk-rock, even though the audience seemed divided into separate camps.
Lissie, whose full name is Elisabeth Corrin Maurus, recently completed a short European tour and made appearances on “Conan” and “The Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson.”
Wearing a white T-shirt and jeans, she opened just before 10:30 p.m. with “Bully,” a heartfelt song about youthful independence from her 2010 debut album, “Catching a Tiger.”
December 5, 2013 at 12:13 PM
Car windshields were frosty in the Tacoma Dome parking lot Wednesday night, but inside the Dome, ladies were dressed scantily, as if it were summer, and Toronto singer/rapper Drake was loose and animated in a tank top.
“I feel really good tonight,” Drake declared. “I just got a massage — let’s do this!”
He sang and rapped for hours with hardly any banter, muscular arms flapping as tens of thousands of fans screamed for the 27-year-old pop idol.
Early on, Drake said he wouldn’t talk much, that his concert would be about music. He performed often in silhouette in front of a wide, rectangular light display showing color fields. The colors matched his songs’ vibes, and helped the music sink in.
His set list was loaded with hits from his four-year career and great new album, “Nothing Was The Same.” Highlights included “Started From the Bottom,” with its lurching, unstoppable beat paired with a full fireworks display and a moody duet, “From Time,” with singer Jhené Aiko, who was a relaxing presence on stage. Aiko isn’t famous yet, but seems like she will be soon.
December 4, 2013 at 10:19 AM
It was cold, crisp and clear Tuesday afternoon as concertgoers lined up outside KeyArena for Deck the Hall Ball. But indoors it was snowing.
The snow was fake, or course, and confined to a giant video screen. But the flurries were just enough to lend a holiday vibe to 107.7 The End’s annual year-end concert, which featured such hot alternative-rock acts as Vampire Weekend, Phoenix, Alt-J and Seattle’s new-folk darlings, The Head and the Heart.
Seattle station KNDD has been staging its Deck the Hall Ball for more than 20 years as a well-stocked concert marathon for faithful listeners. This year’s holiday-themed concert also provided bands with a chance to thank the station, as well as fans, for their support.
The thank-yous came in the form of tight, spirited sets showcasing the bands’ best music. There were no shoe-gazers in this energetic lineup.
November 26, 2013 at 10:36 AM
More photos here.
John Legend romanced his fans at the Paramount Theatre with nearly two hours of music Monday night — sexy, soulful fare that made them swoon, cheer and sing along.
Backed by a four-piece band and two female backup singers, the nine-time Grammy Award-winning singer-pianist opened with the silky-smooth “Made to Love,” from his current album, “Love in the Future.”
Dressed in black shirt, jacket, slacks and shoes, the Ohio native looked stylish but casual for a show that highlighted soul and R & B songs from “Love in the Future” and his previous album, “Evolver,” as well as “Once Again” and “Get Lifted.” Some the lyrics — “Give me the green light/Give me just one night” — sounded like pickup lines. (more…)
November 23, 2013 at 12:32 PM
The holiday season is here, which means traditions like Frangos, The Nutcracker at McCaw and the carousel at Westlake. But perhaps no Seattle holiday tradition is more welcome than Taj Mahal’s annual Thanksgiving stand at Jazz Alley, which started Friday with a wonderful show.
This is the 18th Thanksgiving Mahal has played Jazz Alley. He may be 71, but on Friday showed his chops are intact. He opened with “Fishin’ Blues” on his trusty National steel guitar, and it was played to perfection.
Over the course of generous 90-minute set, Mahal switched guitars and musical genres, often. Mostly he plays what he calls “sweet country blues,” but he mixes genres, and includes Caribbean-inspired rhythms.
Ably backed by Bill Rich on bass, and Kester Smith on drums, Mahal also can sidetrack to a history lesson of the ukulele. Though his repertoire rarely switches from two-dozen classics, this band finds new ways to make old standards feel fresh.
When Mahal switched to electric guitar, he ripped through “TV Mama.” It was like watching a guitar clinic, with the same dirty, funky sound you’d hear from The Black Keys, except this was nearer to the source.
But Mahal specializes in those sweet country blues, and so it was the closer, “Lovin’ In My Baby’s Eyes,” that was the night’s most resonant moment. He dedicated it to his daughter, who lives near Seattle, and who is the reason this Thanksgiving tradition started.
He said she wasn’t in the audience Friday, but would be later in the run. And though she may be the motivation for his trips here, it was clear Friday that Mahal has found a home at Jazz Alley, and that Seattle has embraced him as part of our cultural holiday fabric.
When he played Jazz Alley that first Thanksgiving two decades ago, it was one of the only places he did a multiple night stand, as blues players usually move from town to town. His booking at the club has gotten longer, and this year he’s doing 13 shows over eight nights. If every show is as good as Friday’s, it makes sense that people want to catch them all.
Mahal said onstage that you can dance sometimes sitting down, you just have to go to “the right church.” For Taj Mahal, and for Seattle, Jazz Alley has become his Church of the Blues. Amen to that.
November 23, 2013 at 10:51 AM
There were precious few moments of release in Nine Inch Nails’ sprawling barrage of flashing light and urgent rhythms Friday night at KeyArena. But when catharsis came, it confirmed that frontman Trent Reznor’s four-year hiatus from NIN left little rust.
If anything, Reznor seemed energized by time away from his seminal band, which he spent composing movie scores. The band has been playing to packed houses on its “Tension 2013” tour, with openers Explosions in the Sky, and Reznor treated Friday’s sold-out crowd to a two-hour set that impressed with its scope and thoughtful construction. (more…)
November 22, 2013 at 2:56 PM
The finale at this year’s Experience Music Project Founders Award tribute to Crosby, Stills and Nash could not have been more predictable, but it was also appropriate — and magical. EMP’s annual Founders Award raises money for the museum’s youth programs, and each year Paul Allen handpicks a superstar act to honor at the big-ticket gala. Past honorees have included Carlos Santana, Buddy Guy and Ann and Nancy Wilson.
This year’s event Thursday night was the best Founders ceremony yet, perhaps because CSN’s folk rock sensibility fits so perfectly with the current crop of Seattle musicians who toasted them. Over two hours, a dozen local stars — along with visitors like Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Jason Mraz and Shawn Colvin — played their favorite CSN songs. Usually tribute shows lag, but this one started great and got better.
The Head and the Heart seemed like a perfect fit early in the bill, and it was. Their take on “Simple Man” was sublime and drew rousing applause. Pete Droge and Elaine Summers did a moving “Our House” which ended, appropriately, with a photograph of their own home.
Sean Nelson chose to go deep for a Byrds’ song, “Everybody has Been Burned.” Backed by a crack house band (including guitar whiz Ian Moore) it had a biting energy. John Roderick took on “Southern Cross,” and pulled off the difficult vocal shifts.
But the musical highlight of the evening came with Brandi Carlile’s show-stopping performance of “Long Time Gone.” She sang it as if she were Janis Joplin mixed with Joni Mitchell, and it was just the right mix of rough and sweet.
It wasn’t just Carlile who made the song come alive — Stephen Stills came onstage to play guitar, and proved that he still has incredible chops. In his remarks, Paul Allen noted that EMP had been inspired by Jimi Hendrix, but “as an aspiring guitarist, I was pretty interested in Stephen’s playing. He’s a killer guitarist.” Allen is right.
Allen cited CSN’s harmony singing and songwriting, but also their ability to tackle political issues. Dan Rather had been at the event early on, as he’s profiling CSN for a television special. Krist Novoselic was also present, and played accordion in the lobby.
When Crosby, Stills and Nash finally took the stage themselves, Nash said, “I can’t tell you how special it is to hear musicians we respect doing songs we wrote.” All three members thanked the crowd, and Stills joked that winning awards was a sign they had gotten old.
In a fitting move, it was a group of young musicians — Vuga De, from EMP’s youth programs — who presented CSN their actual award. That was a perfect set up for the finale, which anyone who knew anything about CSN’s catalog could see coming.
The Founders Award celebration raises thousands of dollars that go to music education programs. If there’s an unofficial theme song to those efforts it must be CSN’s “Teach Your Children.” So on that classic, CSN was joined by a dozen Seattle musicians. It was a touching, and perfect way to end a special night.
November 13, 2013 at 11:02 AM
Tween queen Selena Gomez kicked off her concert Tuesday at KeyArena with a bang — literally — with “Bang Bang Bang,” her 2011 single.
A near-capacity crowd of mostly girls and their parents responded with a deafening roar, holding up signs and waving lighted cellphones as the Texas-born singer-dancer opened her high-energy, tightly choreographed concert blending pop, reggae, dubstep and electronic dance music.
Backed by a six-member band and an entourage of dancers, Gomez performed on an S-shaped stage (for Selena) with a circular platform emblazoned with a “G” for Gomez. Her outfit — a white skirt and white top showing her bare midriff — included white boots decorated with her initials.
Before singing “Who Says,” an anthem encouraging fans to believe in themselves, Gomez reminded the audience that she always tries to be a good role model, saying “Kids trust me … parents trust me.” It wasn’t a stretch, despite her sexy new video with actor Shiloh Fernandez for the magazine Flaunt.
The set included songs from her new album, “Stars Dance,” and previous CD, “When the Sun Goes Down.” Among them were the romantic “Write Your Name,” the celebratory “Birthday” and a boisterous version of Katy Perry’s “Roar.”
The best song of the show was “I Love You Like a Love Song,” which simply soared. Unfortunately, Gomez often enhanced her vocals with backing tapes, typical of young stars on arena tours.
A video mimicking tabloid coverage of her failed romance with Justin Bieber preceded the reflective ballad, “Love Will Remember.” A cover of Priscilla Ahn’s wistful “Dream” featured Gomez briefly on harmonica.
The singer finished the main set with the high-energy songs “Whiplash” and “Naturally” before returning (amid piercing screams from the audience) for the huge hits “Come and Get It” and “Slow Down,” the latter accompanied by a sexy, stylish video.
With her long, brown hair, the attractive, still-girlish-looking Disney Channel star looked more like 15 than 21. Her show struck a comfortable balance between sassy and classy.
Opening acts were Emblem3 and Christina Grimmie, a spunky YouTube phenomenon who led the audience in a singalong of her feisty “Absolutely Final Goodbye.”
Emblem3, a boy band blending rock, hip-hop and reggae-flavored pop, performed songs from its current album, “Nothing to Lose.” The trio featured siblings Wesley and Keaton Stromberg and friend Drew Chadwick, who grew up in Sequim. Well-received by Gomez fans, the energetic, engaging trio appears to have a bright future.
As for Gomez’s future, it includes a Dec. 8 performance at the Comcast Arena at Everett on the 106.1 KISS-FM Jingle Ball.
November 6, 2013 at 1:19 PM
A packed house at Benaroya Hall Tuesday celebrated the alternately raucous and romantic reunion of platinum-haired country sweetheart Emmylou Harris and alt-country Texas bad boy Rodney Crowell, who played in Harris’ Hot Band back in the ‘70s.
It was a sweet night, despite the hall’s amplified sound issues. The accent was on teamwork, not only from the harmonizing principals, but their five countrified assistants, whose blend, drive and mutual empathy reached a level rarely heard outside Nashville.
The two singer-songwriters are on the road promoting their new, knockout album, “Old Yellow Moon” (Nonesuch).
Drenched in classic country and rockabilly, the group hit its stride deep into the set, with the robust twang and Texas shuffle of “Invitation to the Blues” and the infectious backbeat of “Still Learning How to Fly.”
Harris rocked out on the country jangle of “Luxury Liner,” with Australian Jedd Hughes soaring up the neck of his electric guitar. Crowell invoked the winking menace of Jerry Lee Lewis on “I Ain’t Livin’ Long Like This,” with Chris Tuttle setting his honky-tonk keyboard afire. (more…)
November 5, 2013 at 10:49 AM
“It feels like 3 in the morning,” said a jet-lagged Sam Beam good-naturedly to an adoring crowd that showered him with affection and shouted song requests Monday at the Paramount Theatre.
Even sleep-deprived, the South Carolina singer-guitarist also known as Iron and Wine was impressive in a two-hour show stocked with folk-rock songs from his decadelong recording career, which began in 2002 on Seattle’s Sub Pop label with “The Creek Drank the Cradle,” an album that drew comparisons to such artists as Neil Young, Elliott Smith and Nick Drake.
Iron and Wine’s fall tour supports the current disc “Ghost on Ghost” (Nonesuch), and features a versatile, talented 12-piece band with three horn players, three backup singers, two violinists, a cellist, guitarist, drummer and organist on Hammond B-3. The show mixed Beam’s acoustic solos with full-band renditions of his songs. (more…)
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