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.

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!

Interview with Yellow Red Sparks

Yellow Red Sparks

After listening through the self-titled album from Yellow Red Sparks a few times, I’ve determined the biography on the band’s website describes them very well:

“The California based indie-folk trio possess a staggering ability to take seemingly normal circumstances, rewrite them with an uninhibited honesty and wistful beauty, and turn them into vivid scenes as told through their unique brand of cinematic folk.”

I had the tremendous privilege of interviewing Yellow Red Sparks in anticipation of their upcoming show here in Minneapolis on July 21st. Check out the interview below and come see them at 7th Street Entry next weekend!

How did you all meet?
Josh and Goldy shared mutual friends when Goldy first heard some of Josh’s songs that were circulating among friends. He instantly fell in love with the songs, tracked drums to them (which were just vocals and guitar), and then got Josh to listen after a show one night. Josh liked the addition, and Goldy has been playing drums with him since. Sara Lynn was a drum student of Goldy who he later learned also played double bass. The rest kind of just all fell together.


How did each of you get into music and when did you decide to make it your career?

Josh grew up in a musical family and played around with a couple of bands before collecting his own songs under the name Yellow Red Sparks. Goldy had wanted to learn drums as a child but didn’t start playing drums until his late teens. Sara Lynn also grew up in a family that fostered and loved music, and started learning classical piano at age six. I don’t think any of us really ever consciously decided that we wanted to have a career in music, but rather just knew that music was something we loved and needed to have in our life. We all feel extremely thankful to be touring across the country doing what we love and visiting all these cities we have never been to before, but at the same time,  we are bewildered and amazed at how it all came together.

Who are your influences? What have you been listening to lately?
We generally have a similar taste in music…lots of oldies like Ella Fitzgerald and the Everly Brothers and also newer ones like Elliott Smith, The National, Radiohead, Nirvana, etc. Josh grew up with The Grateful Dead, Bob Dylan, stuff like that. We just all share a love for solid and heartfelt songwriting. We’ve been listening to the new National album a lot on this tour so far. The song “Pink Rabbits” is our favorite.


What does your songwriting process look like? How has it evolved since the days Joshua was a solo act?
Josh writes all of the songs (the melody and lyrics), and usually comes to us (Goldy and Sara Lynn) with a pretty much finished song. Our job is to add drums and bass or whatever other instrumentation we can to enhance the song. Sometimes Josh will come to us with some ideas he’s been messing around with, and then we’ll jam on them together and develop the song that way.

You said the songs on your self-titled release are each pieces of a larger picture. What would you say the theme of that picture is?
I would say it has a lot to do with overcoming and persevering through some heavy times. We all go through a lot of emotions, most of which are universal. The songs to me are very personal, but I think a lot of people can relate to them, because we have all felt overwhelmed by our circumstances at one time or another.

Describe your experience working with Grammy winners Ryan Hewitt and Brian Lucey.*
It was an honor and completely unexpected. We never would have thought that we would be able to include such respectable names on our first record. They are both geniuses in their own right and totally normal and down to earth at the same time.

What are your hopes for the future of the band?
As of now, the plan is to just start touring more so we can reach as many people as we can and just get our music out there. We’re also hoping to start tracking some demos for the next record this winter.


Anything you’d like to say to your Minneapolis fans?

None of us has ever been to Minneapolis before, so we’re excited to come to your city and play for you! Also, tell your friends/brothers/sisters/grandparents to come to the show! And thank you!!!

Here’s the official video for the song  A Play To End All Plays. I hope to see you at the show on July 21st!

*The album was mixed by Grammy award winner, Ryan Hewitt (Avett Brothers, Red Hot Chili Peppers, We Are Scientists), and mastered by multi-Grammy award winner, Brian Lucey (The Shins, Sigur Rós, The Black Keys).

Cloud Cult – Meet Me Where You’re Going

Cloud Cult (From left to right) Shannon Frid, Arlen Peiffer, Connie Minowa, Shawn Neary (In the back), Craig Minowa (Front and Center), Sarah Elhardt, Scott West, Not sure who the cellist is.

I’ve decided that I like listening to Cloud Cult an album at a time, rather than song by song. I just listened through the new release, Love, and I would describe it as fun, uplifting and dynamic. An aspect of Cloud Cult’s music that I really enjoy is how organic the music is, yet how they always have the gang-style vocals and versatility with instruments that gives them the arena rock feel at times.

The band will be back home April 27 and 28 for a couple shows at First Ave and I think it will be a very cool show.

I chose to highlight Meet Me Where You’re Going here, but you can preview the whole album here: http://www.cloudcult.com/love.cfm

This song has a folk feel with some sweet harmonies, beautiful strings, and a nice whimsical, yet sacrificial message.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nVuv8Ruzq3g

Meet Me Where You’re Going

Meet me where you’re going, cuz I wanna be going where you are. Teach me what you’re knowing,

cuz I wanna be knowing who you are.

Run away with me, yeah, let’s get married.
Will you be the rest of my life?
Every day with you I say “I do”,
and it means so much more each time.

I love you and how.
Won’t leave you alone.
Will you be my home now?
And I’ll be your home.

Pray God protect us.
Pray God for guidance.
Make us selfless and rich in soul.

Cuz when we grow old, Love,
I’ll just love you more, Love,
through the sunshine and through the cold.

I’m not afraid, come fire, come rain,
with you here by my side.
I found boundless love for you
when I lost my foolish pride.

Thank you for patience.
Thank you for-giveness.
Thank you for spending this time with me.
Meet me where you’re going,
cuz I wanna be going wherever you’ll be.

Run away with me, yeah, let’s get married.
Will you be the rest of my life?
Every day with you I say “I do”,
and it means so much more each time.

Aimee Mann and James Mercer – Living a Lie

Aimee Mann and James Mercer of The Shins

When I heard this song on The Current my ears immediately perked up at James Mercer’s voice. If you are not familiar with James Mercer – he is the front-man for The Shins and an amazing songwriter and singer. I’ve been exploring Aimee Mann’s other music and it’s pretty decent, but I don’t enjoy it to the same degree as this duet. The song features some great light-rock harmonies, some cool electric piano parts, and Aimee herself holds down the rhythm guitar.

You can see yourself in the side mirror
tossing your hair
if no one is there
why do you care
Though I let you think there was no witness to
all of your crimes
I knew what you were:
a climber who climbs

I’m living a lie
you’re living it too
cause I live it with you
I’m living a lie
a lie I can’t tell
so we wait for a crack in the shell

No one bears a grudge like a boy genius
Just past his prime
Gilding his cage
One bar at a time
For every open arm there’s a cold shoulder
Waiting to turn
People to blame
Bridges to burn

I’m living a lie
you’re living it too
cause I live it with you
I’m living a lie
a lie I can’t tell
so we wait for a crack in the shell

A girl comes around at a time when your ground
is as shaky as leaves on a tree
creating for you a persona or two
or an out-and-out mythology
Now there’s too many cooks but you like how it looks
when they’re bowing and calling you “boss”
but the powers that were, were invested in her
and now winning means taking a loss

I’m living a lie
you’re living it too
cause I live it with you
I’m living a lie
a lie I can’t tell
so we wait for a crack in the shell

Ryan Bingham – Weary Kind

Ryan Bingham

Alright readers, this time I’m coming through for you. I am actually featuring an artist before he performs in Minneapolis. Ryan Bingham is a little bit rock and more than a little bit country. Although he routinely ranks higher on the country music charts than he does on rock or indie charts, a voice like worn sandpaper (seriously, you just want him to clear his throat, but you know that would spoil everything) and an eclectic repertoire has helped him elude being pigeonholed in any single genre of music. In 2010, Bingham won Grammy, an Oscar, and a Golden Globe for his work on the Crazy Heart soundtrack, but he is not afraid to shake up his established style. His newest record Tomorrowland takes a fairly dramatic shift from the country to the rock & roll side of the music spectrum. I’m going to be honest and say it is not his best album and, like Bob Dylan when he decided to switch from acoustic folk to electric rock, I am comfortable saying that Ryan Bingham will likely lose fans over this transition, but I think he’ll come through it and continue to develop his musical style.

In order to show this music shift, I am going to post two videos. The first is The Weary Kind, his biggest hit and the reason behind his Academy Award and Artist of the Year Grammy. I think it is representative of much of his older music and his country roots with maybe a little more singer/songwriter feel to it than some of his other stuff. The second is Heart of Rhythm off of his newest album from last fall. I’m sure you’ll hear the difference, so I don’t feel a need to explain it further. I’m sure you can guess which Bingham I prefer, but I want to know what you, valued readers, think. Especially if this is your first time hearing him.

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

Catch Ryan Bingham live at First Ave. on March 17th.