Monday, May 25, 2015

Concert Review: The Who Celebrates 50 Years With Fans At The Mohegan Sun Arena

Not many bands can stake a claim to being around for fifty years and of those bands, only a few can still rock as hard as The Who. The band first stepped foot in Connecticut back in 1968, performing at a small venue called the Oakdale Theatre in Wallingford (which my father attended) as they smashed their instruments at the end of their performance. Now 47-years later, The Who made their most recent visit to the state as part of their "The Who Hits 50!" tour as they played to a sold out arena at Mohegan Sun on Sunday night.

Kicking off the night's entertainment was a visit from Joan Jett and The Blackhearts, who were recently inducted into the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame back in April. Her 40-minute set touched upon every aspect of her career, beginning with "Bad Reputation" from her 1980 debut album. Jett then dove back into her catalogue for a rendition of "Cherry Bomb" from her time in The Runaways. Joan Jett brought the audience to their feet with her #1 single "I Love Rock 'n' Roll," before closing with a rocking version of Tommy James' "Crimson and Clover" and "I Hate Myself For Loving You."

As the lights dimmed for the headliner, The Who, their six-piece backing which consists of Pete Townshend's younger brother Simon on guitar and Ringo Starr's son Zak Starky on drums took their respected spots on stage. Then the remaining two original members Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey strolled onstage to a standing ovation. They started the night off with one of their earliest singles, "I Can't Explain" from 1965. Pete Townshend's signature windmill guitar strumming got the crowd going early as "Who Are You" showcased the full potential of their backing band. As The Who dove far back into their catalog with the songs "My Generation" and "The Kids Are Alright," a giant screen behind them would mix in live video with classic photos of the band's early days. The thunderous rhythm of "Join Together" got the audience marching in unison to the beat, while Roger Daltrey's vocals on "Love Reign O'er Me" left no doubters as to his singing abilities. The Who included their mini-rock opera "A Quick One (While He's Away)" as an introduction to their famous rock opera "Tommy."

The four-song "Tommy" epic was the perfect setting for guitarist Pete Townshend to declare war on his guitar as he attacked the strings during "Sparks." This led The Who into their hit single "Pinball Wizard" to which everyone was waiting for. Then, the famous keyboard introduction of "Baba O'Riley" got everyone up once again singing the chorus, "teenage wasteland" back to the band. The Who closed their nearly two hour set with "Won't Get Fooled Again" as Roger's screams continued to ring through the arena (and our ears) as they thanked their fans for sticking with them for fifty years and more.

Setlist: I Can't Explain, The Seeker, Who Are You, The Kids Are Alright, Squeeze Box, I Can See For Miles, My Generation, Behind Blue Eyes, Bargain, Join Together, You Better You Bet, I'm One, Love Reign O'er Me, Eminence Front, A Quick One (While He's Way), Amazing Journey, Sparks, Pinball Wizard, See Me Feel Me/Listening To You, Baba O'Riley, Won't Get Fooled Again

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Concert Review: Ed Sheeran Amazes And Excites His Fans At The Mohegan Sun Arena

British born singer/songwriter/musician Ed Sheeran is definitely enjoying his success. His latest album, "X" topped the charts in nine countries and his current tour has sold out arenas across the U.S., including the Mohegan Sun Arena on Saturday night. It was no surprise that the young, mostly female, audience was ready to give Sheeran all their energy by singing and dancing for the nearly two hours that Sheeran was on stage.

Ed Sheeran walked onto a blank stage with only an acoustic guitar and immediately received a roaring response from the audience before saying one word or playing one note. Instead of using a backing band, Sheeran used a Looper board which allowed him to record sounds made from his guitar or vocals and replay them in a rhythmic pattern to give his songs substance. Also to help with his performance were fourteen giant video screens that would portray live shots of Sheeran masked with different artistic features.

The evening of songs began with "I'm A Mess" as Sheeran would harmonize with himself, while the screams of the audience would drown out Sheeran's talking between songs. Ed Sheeran would mix in some cover songs with his own songs if the rhythm called for it as he did with "Don't," which lead into Blackstreet's "No Diggity" and "Take It Back" drawing inspiration for Stevie Wonder's "Superstition." One of the evening's highlights was the amazing rendition of "Bloodstream" as he commanded the audience to wave their hands up and down during the song's chorus. The thunderous rhythm of the song was a nice contrast to the quiet ballad of the heartfelt "Tenerife Sea." The audience almost out sang Sheeran during the smooth, mellow delivery of "The A Team" as cell phone lights lit up the arena. He closed his set with "Give Me Love" as his instructed all the voices in attendance to join him in unison of the song's chorus.

After a very quick break, Ed Sheeran would return to the stage to a deafening applause to perform "You Need Me, I Don't Need You." He sprawled through the lyrics like a rapper before leading his fans into singing along to Izzy Azalea's 'Fancy." He would close the night with his big hit single "Sing" as Sheeran exited the stage with the audience singing the song's memorable chorus.

Seeing Ed Sheeran live gives new meaning to "one-man-show" as he keeps everyone involved in his performance. Also, his use of technology to crate a unique experience make his a must see in a live setting. Irish musician Foy Vance started the evening off with a 40-minute set that got the audience prepared for headliner Ed Sheeran.

Setlist: I'm A Mess, Lego House, Don't/Loyal/No Diggity/Nina, Drunk, Take It Back/Superstition/Ain't No Sunshine, Photograph, Bloodstream, Tenerife Sea, Thinking Out Loud, I See Fire, Afire Love, The A Team, Give Me Love
Encore: You Need Me I Don't Need You/In Da Club/Fancy, Sing

Saturday, May 23, 2015

CD Review: Omnivore Recordings Uncovers Unreleased Live Album From Andrew Gold

American singer/songwriter/musician Andrew Gold found success in the late-seventies with the hit singles "Lonely Boy," "Thank You For Being A Friend" and "Never Let Her Slip Away." He also collaborated with a number of artists including James Taylor, Paul McCartney and Neil Diamond just to name a few. He recorded thirteen solo albums during his 33-year career and since his passing in 2011 there has been a lack of releases of Gold's music, until now. Omnivore Recordings recently released a never-before-available live album from Andrew Gold entitled "The Late Show - Live 1978." It was recorded at the Roxy Theatre in West Hollywood during the height of his radio fame.

The new fourteen song release finds Gold in great spirits amongst the small audience as he interacts with them, telling them stories of his early band The Rangers and the pilots he encountered on his current tour. He mixes in his hits "Thank You For Being A Friend" with piano ballads like "Oh Urania (Take Me Away)" to showcase his talents for finding a way to your heart. You instantly flashback to the California folk/rock scene of the seventies with his delivery of "That's Why I Love You," before showing us he can also rock with "A Note From You." His hit single "Lonely Boy" draws a huge applause, before he closes the evening with a couple of cover songs, including The Beatles' "Doctor Robert" and Chuck Berry's "Roll Over Beethoven." To find out more about this truly exceptional new live release from Andrew Gold, please visit omnivorerecordings.com.

Friday, May 22, 2015

CD Review: Audio Fidelity Uncovers The Warm Tones Of America's "Homecoming" Album With New SACD Release

The trio of Dewey Bunnell, Dan Peek and Gerry Beckley first began performing together live in 1970, before releasing their debut album the following year as the band America. For the next decade, their songs would become staples on FM radio and their albums would go on to became legendary. The masters at Audio Fidelity picked the band's second album "Homecoming" as their latest Hybrid Multi-Channel SACD release.
 
The album begins with America's third top ten single "Venture Highway" as the acoustic guitar strumming is a bit more prominent on this new Audio Fidelity version. While many of the songs on this album have been instilled in our memories throughout the years, this new remastered version is like listening to the album again for the first time with a fresh set of ears. Their voices have a warmer tone as in "Don't Cross The River" and the instruments are more balanced in "Only In Your Heart." Also, the introduction of electric guitars was new for the band at the time, but have been mastered to have a bigger impact in songs like "Cornwall Bank" and in "California Revisited."
 
This new version of America's "Homecoming" album was re-mastered by Steve Hoffman who continues to do an exceptional job with these albums. To find out more about this latest release from Audio Fidelity, please visit audiofidelity.net.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

CD Review: Classic Rock Artists "Salute The Beatles" With New Tribute Album

The title of this latest tribute to The Beatles says it all, "Keep Calm And Salute The Beatles," which is exactly what this collection will do. Cleopatra Records gathered some of the best classic rock vocalists to give their acoustic renditions of Beatles' classics.
 
This new sixteen-song release begins with Heart's Ann Wilson taking on "Across The Universe," adding a meditative feel to the song's already mind-expanding lyrics. John Wetton (King Crimson, Asia) tries to simplify "Penny Lane," while the late-Jack Bruce (Cream) delivers a classic sixties sounding, spot-on rendition of "Elanor Rigby." Singer/songwriter Andrew Gold feels right at home with his delivery of "Norwegian Wood," while Todd Rundgren steps out of his comfort zone for the peaceful feel of "Hide Your Love Away." Howard Jones' soothing vocals fits perfectly into "And I Love Her" and Felix Cavaliere gives us a nice surprise on this acoustic rendition of "Ticket To Ride." Singer David Clayton-Thomas (Blood, Sweat & Tears) adds very little to the timeless sound of "Yesterday," but pays a wonderful tribute to the song. The album finishes up with Billy Sherwood paying tribute to George Harrison with his heartfelt rendition of "Something" and Leo Sayer taking on the epic "Hey Jude" with flying colors.
 
The album was released on April 28th through Cleopatra Records. To find out more about this latest Beatles tribute, please visit cleorecs.com.