Paul McCartney – LIVE in Minneapolis

Paul throughout the evening with some of his many instruments.

From the time Sir James Paul McCartney walked out on stage with his band, through to the second encore, I was enraptured. I didn’t want to miss a single moment of this legendary performance.

Three hours. 39 songs.

McCartney did not disappoint. In fact, the live performance exceeded my expectations. He played many of the classics and sprinkled in some songs from his recent release, NEW, as well as making a small tribute to Jimi Hendrix with an instrumental cover of “Foxy Lady” and played George Harrison’s “Something” on ukelele.

Paul gave a few anecdotes about the glory days and the inspiration for some songs, but most of his breath was spent exercising his impressive vocal chords. At any age, his vocal capacity is astounding, but especially at 72.

“Live And Let Die” was epic. An impressive light show and fireworks accompanied the orchestral-like song and the crowd was loving it.

Paul had the crowd join in on “Hey Jude” and “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da” but he didn’t have to ask for participation on most of the hits – many fans were on their feet, singing along.

I believe my favorite moment, and the perfect finish, was “Golden Slumbers” into “Carry That Weight” into “The End”, following the classic ending of Abbey Road.

It would have been fun to hear him play “When I’m Sixty-Four” and “Rocky Raccoon”, among others, but how could I ask for more after 39 songs?

He ended the show by saying, “See you next time!” I won’t take that as a promise to come to Minneapolis again, but we can hope.

I caught the ending to “Hey Jude” on video and, although the quality isn’t good, you get some idea of the energy in the stadium.

Set list:

  1. Eight Days a Week 
  2. Save Us 
  3. All My Loving 
  4. Listen to What the Man Said 
  5. Let Me Roll It 
  6. Paperback Writer 
  7. My Valentine 
  8. Nineteen Hundred and Eighty-Five 
  9. The Long and Winding Road 
  10. Maybe I’m Amazed 
  11. I’ve Just Seen a Face 
  12. We Can Work It Out 
  13. Another Day 
  14. And I Love Her 
  15. Blackbird 
  16. Here Today 
  17. New 
  18. Queenie Eye 
  19. Lady Madonna 
  20. All Together Now 
  21. Lovely Rita 
  22. Everybody Out There 
  23. Eleanor Rigby 
  24. Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite! 
  25. Something 
  26. Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da 
  27. Band on the Run 
  28. Back in the U.S.S.R. 
  29. Let It Be 
  30. Live and Let Die 
  31. Hey Jude 

Encore:

  1. Day Tripper 
  2. Hi, Hi, Hi 
  3. Get Back 

2nd Encore:

  1. Yesterday 
  2. Helter Skelter 
  3. Golden Slumbers 
  4. Carry That Weight
  5. The End 

David Gray – Mutineers

Mutineers by David Gray

I love David Gray. Listening to him talk about his new album and the title track, Mutineers, solidifies the deep thought and the feeling that goes into his songwriting.

It’s amazing to hear about how a song starts as one thing, 95% gets scrapped, the 5% that is kept turns into an entire song and this little melody that is discovered in the process becomes the foundation and theme of the entire song.

Unfortunately, David won’t be in Minnesota anytime soon, but you can catch him in Chicago on August 18 if you’re in the mood for a road trip!

Watch the video below and share your thoughts:

You know the way it is
These thoughts are mutineers
Trying to shake the monkey off my back
So beat the island drum
And steady as she come
And all the stores are closing for the lack
To drink the damn place dry
Only plan of attack

And Babe
Sure feels good
Sure feels good
This moving close
This moving close
Sure feels good babe

And Hey
What could they know
What could they know
Bout what we have
Yeah what we have
What could they know Babe?

The early warning signs
All lit up in my mind
It’s true you know
Some things weren’t meant to be
Until your secret’s out
It’s your worst enemy

Time is ours to burn
Is ours to burn
We got that glide
That freewheel glide
It’s ours to burn babe

Supernova – Ray LaMontagne

Ray LaMontagne

Ray LaMontagne’s latest release, Supernova, is a unique collaboration. This album was produced by Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys; which is especially awesome seeing that Ray and Dan are two of my favorite voices in music today. Auerbach is an incredible guitarist and uses those skills on this album, but also plays the claves and bass, among other instruments.

The title track features a punchy, fun beat that complements Ray’s smooth, smoky vocals very nicely. It almost seems like a pop song you would hear on the radio in the 70′s. Aspects of the song seem like a hybrid between something like Jonathan Edwards Sunshine and the Jackson 5.

The album overall seems brighter and less melancholy than his other work and I think it works really well for him. Enjoy and share your thoughts!

Pearl Jam – Sirens

Pearl Jam

Pearl Jam’s 2013 album, Lightning Bolt, exemplifies some of the classic Pearl Jam sound, while also showing a bit of the veteran band’s age. The hit song, Sirens, seems more subdued than the younger Pearl Jam, but also more mature, maybe less reckless.

Eddie Vedder’s distinct vocals stand out in Sirens, ranging from his low, smooth tones, to shaky falsetto, packed with emotion. The lyrics are profound, the rhythms and harmonies tight and the song includes a classic McCready solo. Check out the music video for Sirens below and share your comments:


Hear the sirens
Hear the sirens

Hear the sirens
Hear the circus so profound
I hear the sirens
More and more in this here town

Let me catch my breath to breathe
And reach across the bed
Just to know we’re safe
I am a grateful man

The slightest bit of light
And I can see you clear
Oh, have to take your hand
And feel your breath for fear this someday will be over

I pull you close, so much to lose knowing that nothing lasts forever
I didn’t care before you were here
I danced with laughter with the ever after
But all things change
Let this remain

Hear the sirens
Covering distance in the night
The sound echoing closer
Will they come for me next time?

For every choice mistake I’ve made it’s not my plan
To send you in the arms of another man
And if you choose to stay I’ll wait, I’ll understand

Oh, it’s a fragile thing
This life we lead
If I think too much I can get overwhelmed by the grace
By which we live our lives with death over our shoulders

Want you to know that should I go
I always loved you, held you high above, true
I study your face, and the fear goes away

It’s a fragile thing, this life we lead.
If I think too much I can get overwhelmed by the grace
By which we live our lives with death over our shoulder

Want you to know that should I go,
I always loved you, held you high above, true.

I study your face,
And the fear goes away
The fear goes away
The fear goes away

Built to Spill at First Ave

Built to Spill

The crowd was sparse when we arrived during one of the opening acts at First Ave last night. Thus we were surprised when we stepped out for a coffee and came back to a packed Main Room just prior to Built to Spill’s performance. The cult following showed up and it was evident through the cheers of recognition from the crowd as a riff or drum beat would begin a song.

The band’s 20 plus year history is obvious when you watch them perform together. They are a tight-knit group and it seems as if every note was intentionally chosen as they synchronize and harmonize with one another.

Doug Martsch’s quivery, yet clear tone reminds me a bit of Ben Gibbard or Wayne Coyne or even Neil Young at times, but the similarity to bands like Death Cab or The Flaming Lips mostly ends there. With three electric guitars, a bass and drums and over a century of combined experience as musicians, the band is perfectly set up for the epic eight or nine minute songs (some even longer) which are common on their records. As my friend Kyle put it, they’re just fun to listen to. The evidence for Martsch’s direction and the band members’  commitment to creating the music together is clear when you watch them perform live.

Doug Martsch held down most of the lead parts and Jim Roth and Brett Netson would typically complement him with some crunchy rhythm guitar or ambient whiny guitar sounds. At other points, it was fun to watch all four guitarists punch the rhythm together, playing complementary parts.

Cortez the Killer is a great example of one of the band’s long, impressive jams. Here’s a live performance:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=abve2atHs68

Read more about the band on their website.

The Avett Brothers – Bring Your Love To Me

The Avett Brothers (From left to right) Scott Avett, Joe Kwon, Bob Crawford, Seth Avett

Once again, The Avett Brothers do not fail to impress. The new album, Magpie and the Dandelion, is full of their classic sound, yet new melodies, harmonies, beats and ideas are prevalent throughout.

I’ve especially been enjoying Bring Your Love To Me. Seth Avett’s smooth, yet raw vocals will give you tingles. Especially the falsetto. The first verse was very relevant for me being that I’m a new dad:

Bring your love to me
I will hold it like a newborn child
One of my own blood
And I might just even sing a song
to keep it calm

The simple, yet unique guitar and banjo parts, accented by the piano, bass and cello will stir your heart. The drums entering at the end of the third verse have the same effect along with the rise in Seth’s vocals. Then comes the walk-up in the tag on the end of the chorus, instruments harmonizing with the vocals and one other, falling in unison. Love it.

I think this quote from the band’s website really sums up their style and why they have such a loyal fan base:

“The songs are honest: just chords with real voices singing real melodies. But, the heart and the energy with which they are sung, is really why people are talking, and why so many sing along.”
- See more at: http://www.theavettbrothers.com/band/#sthash.rzPXaUAp.dpuf

Listen to Bring Your Love To Me on Spotify and check out the whole album!

Bring your love to me
I will hold it like a newborn child
One of my own blood
And I might just even sing a song
to keep it calm

If you’re wondering, am I capable
God knows I am
And if it’s meant to be
I will go alone, God knows I can
Just not as well, and besides what kind of fun is there
to be had with no one else?

And I can only stand here still
And I can only hope you will
keep me in focus long enough to tell
I’m trying to help (that’s all)

Bring your love to me
I will hold it like a dandelion
One I want to save, one I want to keep
from the breeze that follows me and no one else

I can only stand here still
And I can only hope you will
keep me in focus long enough to tell
I’m trying to help

I may not be a Grobanite, but I’m a fan

Josh Groban

When I was asked to review the Josh Groban concert in Minneapolis, my first thought was honestly “popera.” I’ve always thought Josh Groban is extremely talented (both vocally and instrumentally) but being a self-proclaimed hipster musically, I may have turned my nose up a bit to his work.

I was able to delve deeper into his music over the past week and began to have a much greater respect for him. That admiration increased all the more seeing him perform live.

I read an article recently that I think really portrays his humility and addresses the genre confusion. Here’s an excerpt:

“But some misunderstanding about the genre is understandable,” Groban adds generously. “It’s kind of a new thing,” he says. “I’ve been put in this position where I’m paving my own road.”

If there must be a label for it, Groban prefers “traditional pop.”

“The pop music of yesteryear was more open-throated and was more full-voiced and did include vibrato,” he says. “I think we’re so used to voices so compressed within an inch of their lives now that when anything feels like a full-throated, open-sung song, people say, ‘Omigod, that must be opera.’”*

I see where Josh is coming from on this. As an amateur singer/songwriter, my vocal style has elements similar to Groban in vibrato and “full-voiced” singing, as he puts it. I really admire Groban for being able to pull from multiple influences spanning many genres, but remaining true to himself and not “selling out” for a watered-down form of his unique style. Even if this means less record sales in the long run, I’m confident the Grobanites will ensure Josh has no problem putting bread on the table for the rest of his career.

Speaking of Grobanites, they came out of the woodwork when I tweeted about my upcoming review! I was able to observe his loyal fans in person and they spanned from young teenage girls to grandmas and everything in between. Groban even joked at the concert, “I see a lot of men in the audience…that’s good. Maybe you were dragged here by your wife, your girlfriend….your grandma.” He’s definitely a charmer and a fantastic performer. I’m confident he kept everyone entertained throughout the show. Even the men.

Groban covered songs from a diverse collection of artists, including Stevie Wonder, Jimmy Webb, and Don McLean; not to mention the traditional songs like She Moved Through the Fair. He introduced the traditional Irish song saying, “I want to sing this at my wedding someday.” Girls screamed out in the crowd. He pointed toward the screaming, saying, “I’m gonna marry you girl.” And followed up with, “This is the Bieber moment of the show.”

As if his golden voice wasn’t enough to wow the crowd, Josh portrayed his musical versatility on the piano and even on the drums.

This was all magnified by Groban’s amazing band. Each member was a master of their instrument. I was particularly impressed with the band’s instrumental rendition of Aerosmith’s Dream On, featuring a fantastic violin solo by Christian Hebel. Groban’s music director and guitarist, Tariq Akoni, was also a highlight for me.

I was also very impressed with the opening act, Judith Hill. Hill’s powerful voice is full of soul and her original songs were heartfelt and well-written. My favorite moment in her act was her opening medley on the piano including songs like Feeling Good, I’ll Be There and You’ve Got A Friend. Her duets with Groban (Particularly The Prayer) were beautiful.

Listening to Josh Groban’s albums pales in comparison to seeing him and his band perform live. It was a great experience musically and Groban’s antics and comments between songs created a fun atmosphere. He shared that he wrote and recorded most of his Illuminations album here in Minneapolis with Dan Wilson (Adele, James Morrison, Weezer, Jason Mraz, and many, many more) which was a very interesting, fun fact.

If you get a chance to see him live next time he comes through town, I recommend it.

Share your comments below!

*http://www.theglobeandmail.com/arts/music/why-you-shouldnt-call-josh-groban-an-opera-singer/article9119210/

Franz Ferdinand – Right Action

Franz Ferdinand

My first thought when I heard this new single from Franz Ferdinand’s forthcoming album, Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Actions, (Available August 27) was “Bowie.” That’s a good thing in my book. Between the funky guitar riffs and bass and Alex Kapranos’ sort of “high baritone” vocals I peg it as “Bowiesque” comparing it to songs like Fame and Let’s Dance. After exploring this further, it was no surprise that other fans have compared the band to Talking Heads and that possible influence seems obvious in the new single.

I’m eager to hear the rest of the album. Check out the new single and leave your comments below!

The Low Anthem

The Low Anthem

The Low Anthem is a trio (now duo) from Providence, Rhode Island consisting of Ben Miller (vocals, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, banjo, drum kit, pump organ, trumpet, E flat horn, and rack harp), Jeffrey Prystowsky (bass, drum kit, vocals, pump organ, and acoustic guitar) and Jocie Adams (clarinet, vocals, pump organ, drum kit, electric guitar, and bass.) Jocie Adams has since moved on to pursue a solo career, but the music I’m highlighting here features her.

The band shared on their site they are working on a new album, but I’m not sure of a release date.

The first I heard of The Low Anthem was their collaboration with The Chieftains latest album, Voice of Ages. I have been delving into their previous releases (latest was 2010) and I am beginning to see how they fit into my favorite type of music (Americana, Folk, etc.)

Sometimes their sound reminds me of early Bob Dylan on songs like Apothecary Love. Other times Ben Miller’s vocals remind me of Glen Hansard; like on School Days Are Over – their song with The Chieftains (below.) Enjoy!