Don Felder November 10, 2017 Salt Lake City The Depot

I had the opportunity to see a rock n roll legend this past Friday night at The Depot.  Don Felder was the lead guitarist for the Eagles from 1974-2001.  During this time he co-wrote a number of songs most notably “Hotel California”.  

Here’s what I expected from this concert.  The guitar play would be fantastic and I’d probably hear some Eagles songs.  Both things happened.  However, that’s putting it mildly.  This show really exceeded my expectations.  

Don got things going right away opening with one of my favorite Eagle songs “Already Gone”.  Then moving on to the classic “One of These Nights”.  The first thing I noticed was how amazing Don Felder is on the guitar.  This, as I mentioned, was one of the things that I expected.  But watching him play these riffs in person was simply amazing!  It truly was a masterclass in guitar.  

The other thing I noticed was Don is actually a solid vocalist.  A famous story within Eagles lore is that Felder wanted to sing lead on “Victim of Love”.  A song he co-wrote.  He recorded the vocals for the song and then the Eagles manager Irving Azoff took him to lunch.  In the meantime, Don Henley re-recorded the lead vocals that ended up being used.  When I heard this story I just assumed that Don Felder wasn’t a very good singer so the rest of the band did what had to be done.  And sure, Felder isn’t Don Henley when it comes to singing.  Not many are though.  But he’s a good vocalist.  I really enjoyed his voice and he sang all of these songs competently.  In fact, he sang “Victim of Love” in this show and I liked his vocals on that song quite a lot.

To my pleasant surprise and to the delight of the mostly middle-aged crowd, 13 of the 16 song setlist would come from the Eagles catalog.  The three other songs were solo gems “Heavy Metal”, “Girls in Black”, and a cover of Stevie Ray Vaughan’s “Pride & Joy”.  

Don dedicated “Tequila Sunrise” to his formerEagles bandmate the late Glenn Frey.  Frey and Felder had a falling out that unfortunately was never reconciled. I thought this was a really classy move and I noticed many in the audience talking with their friends about what a nice touch it was leading into the song and to the show.  

Felder’s backing band was incredible. When introducing them, Don shared some of the other bands they had toured with.  Each one of them had extensive resumes, touring with the likes of Stevie Nicks, Kid Rock, Kenny Chesney, Pat Benatar, White Snake, and the Eagles.  Their harmonies were on point and at times if you closed your eyes, it sounded as if the rest of the Eagles were there.  

Don and his band zipped through Eagles song after Eagles song like “Peaceful Easy Feeling” and “The Long Run” giving some personal history or backstory to each song.  Things really turned up a notch when Felder played “Heartache Tonight” and “Life in the Fast Lane”.  

At that point, the band put down their instruments and waved to the crowd signifying that the main set was over.  They never left the stage.  They picked their instruments back up and went into the Eagles first hit “Take it Easy”.  The crowd was electric.  They sang and shouted every line of the song.  It was then immediately clear why everyone to see Don Felder as soon as he strapped on his iconic double neck guitar.  It was, of course, the guitar he used for “Hotel California”.  

Now I’ve of course heard this song before, and I’ve seen it played live before.  But there is just something about seeing the man who wrote the music to “Hotel California” play that legendary solo and of course the guitar duet at the end.  I was mesmerized the whole time.  I found myself just staring at his hands picking away and moving up and down the fretboard.  People were singing this song so loud that a few times I couldn’t even hear Felder’s vocals.  People were singing to their friends, and at times singing it to me even though we had never met. 

Don couldn’t have ended this show with another song.  The audience, however, still cheered for more.  They kept cheering even after the lights came on and music from the house speakers came on.  I thought for a second they might give a second encore but then the crew came out and started breaking down the gear and we knew it was over.  

I’ve got to hand it to Mr. Felder.  I’m sure in some way it has to be disappointing to not have been with the Eagles in the past years and I’m sure he at times misses being in that band.  But he is a true talent, and he has put together a great band and a really fun show.  I’m glad he’s out there doing his thing. 

This past summer Don opened for Styx and REO Speedwagon out at USANA Amphitheater.  I was unable to attend the concert but the reports I heard back from friends was that Don Felder’s opening set blew away the bands that he was supposed to be warming up.  At the time I took that as the other bands weren’t that good.  But after being able to see Don Felder for myself, I realized that Don and his band and these songs are just that great!  

 

Damian “Jr. Gong” Marley September 22, 2017 Salt Lake City The Depot

By: Brittany Demott & Meghan Johnson  

It seems there’s a lot of tension right now in this country.  When that happens we all look for a place to go where we can find peace of mind even if for a couple hours.  Some go to church, some go to the gym, and some just take a nap. We chose to go see Damian “Jr. Gong” Marley at The Depot.  

The minute we walked in we could see the vibe was relaxed and easy.  Just like you’d expect a Reggae concert to be. The crowd was so fun.  Everyone was having a great time. It was a great feeling to see everyone getting along and singing along together.  Security was so nice and friendly at The Depot.  They stayed pretty relaxed throughout the show and let the crowd enjoy the concert.  This wasn’t really the type of show where people got too crazy so security had an easy night.  

 

We loved Damian’s band.  They really set the tone for the show. They sounded great!  The beautiful backup singers had amazing moves and their voices blended perfectly with Damian’s.  There was one guy on stage whose sole responsibility was to wave a Rastafarian flag.  And that is just what he did.  For the entire show!  He waved that flag back and for almost 2 hours! We were so impressed.  We thought that he’d maybe just wave it for the first song, or maybe the first few.  But nope.  He was up there all night.  It was great.  The band as a whole just seemed like they loved what they were doing and loved being up on that stage. 

Damian sounded great and seemed to be really enjoying himself as well.  He has dreadlocks that fall all the way to his ankles. Watching those is a show in itself.  He played the best songs from his catalog including “Medication”. Damian also educated us on the benefits of legalized Marijuana.  We found it very informative.  

 

The highlight for us was when he sang some of his father Bob Marley’s hits.  He sang “War”, “Exodus”, and our favorite of the three “Is This Love”.  When Damian Sang “Is This Love” it was almost as if we were seeing Bob Marley himself singing it. Damian sounded just like him.  It was incredible.  It bordered on being a spiritual experience for us.  The moment was that special for us and really the entire audience.  

 

 

Damian finished the show with his biggest hit “Welcome to Jamrock”.  The crowd went as crazy as they had all night and we all sang every word.  It was the perfect way to end such a beautiful night.  

With so many crazy things going on in the world right now it was so nice to spend a couple hours with Damian and his fans. The unity, fellowship, and one love in The Depot was exactly what we need it.  We recommend that everyone spend some time at a Reggae show.  

Muse September 20, 2017 USANA Amphitheater

The summer is quickly transitioning to fall here in Utah.  But the temperature is still warm enough for just a few more outdoor concerts.  One of the final shows at USANA Amphitheater this season and one I had been eagerly anticipating since I bought tickets in the spring was Muse.   

Due to scheduling conflicts, I wasn’t able to see all of 30 Seconds to Mars set.  I saw the final few songs. From the little that I did see I was impressed.  The crowd was alive as if they were the headliners, and Jared Leto sounded better live than I had anticipated.  He’s also a really good front man.  He had the crowd singing along while inviting many to come on stage for the final song.  The constant thought while looking at him was, ‘This guy is an academy award winning actor, and he’s killing it on stage in a moo moo? Share some of the talent dude.’  

While the energy was high for 30 Seconds to Mars, it really did go up a notch when Muse walked onto the stage. They hadn’t made a tour stop in Utah since October, 013 so I think the crowd was happy to have them back. Truth be told it was that 2013 concert that inspired me to want to create this website back in 2013.   

Frontman and lead guitarist Matt Bellamy doesn’t say much in between songs.  He’ll say things like “How’s it going Salt Lake?”, or “Let me hear you Salt Lake!”.  But other than that, there isn’t much crowd work on his part. They play the songs, let the crowd go nuts for about 30 seconds, then get right back to playing.   

The thing I find most interesting about a Muse concert is that despite their lack of crowd interaction, it’s impossible to not be drawn into the show.  Yes, the lighting and special effects are great.  They always are at a Muse concert.  But it’s more than that.  It’s quite simply the music.  They have so many great songs.  Songs that are meant to be performed live, and in front of a large crowd. And from my vantage point, USANA Amphitheater was packed!  

Their music is a blend of so many music genres.  In one song I’m hearing indie rock, the next I’m hearing elements of funk and disco.  And of course, many of their songs feature strong elements of hard rock.  It fascinates me to watch a crowd go from a dance party to headbanging.  Sometimes within the same song!  I think that’s why there really is no need to interact too much with the audience.  Their music speaks for them.  

There was, however, a moment towards the end of the show when Muse mega-hit “Starlight” began.  I could hear Matt Bellamy singing, and I could tell it was the vocals were live.  But I couldn’t see him.  His face was on the screen and he appeared to be walking so I looked behind me and saw him walking at the back of the seated part of the venue where the seats end and the lawn begins.  As someone who has sat in the lawn many times, I was excited for those fans to get a closer look. Selfishly though, I was bummed to have the action so far away during one of Muse’s biggest songs.  So while I say that Matt didn’t say much, the music and his visit to the back of the venue made up for it.

The band closed the main set with “Mercy” off of their most recent album “Drones”.   They came back and sang two huge anthems “Uprising” and “Knights of Cydonia” to close the night.  I really like both of those songs and they are incredible live.  I remember after becoming a fan of Muse thinking ‘How are they going to top the album “Absolution” and the song “Hysteria?”’. And then I heard “Knights of Cydonia” on their follow-up album “Black Holes & Revelations” and I thought, ‘Touche Muse. Touche.”. So as I’m sure you can guess, I was so excited they closed with that song.  The place was on fire, and I was going nuts.  I looked to my left and there was this really pretty girl headbanging as if it were a Metallica concert.  It was awesome!

I’m sure it’s obvious, but it must be said that I’m a huge fan of Muse.  I used to like them, and then I saw them live back in 2013 and I appreciate them so much more. I think everyone needs to experience their live show. Their songs need to be heard in that setting.  I can’t wait to see them again. I just hope they come back sooner.  

Muse Setlist

Dig Down
Psycho
Interlude
Hysteria
Butterflies & Hurricanes
Plug in Baby
The 2nd Law: Isolated System
Stockholm Syndrome
Supermassive Black Hole
New Kind of Kick
Madness
Dead Inside
Take a Bow
Munich Jam
Starlight
Time is Running Out
Mercy

Encore
Uprising
Knights of Cydonia

Jeff & Larry’s Backyard BBQ with Eddie Money Friday August 18, 2017 USANA Amphitheater

It’s a hot night in the middle of August.  Seems like a perfect night for a barbeque!  

Jeff Foxworthy and Larry the Cable Guy hosted their Backyard BBQ at USANA Amphitheater Friday night.  And they brought some guests with them.  

The show opened with the evening’s’ emcee, comedian Nick Hoff taking the stage.  I thought he got a really good response from the audience during his set.  It seems like it would be really hard to get a crowd to engage with you right at the beginning of the night with the sun still setting and people just getting to their seats.  But he was good, and the audience seemed to really enjoy him. He had the right personality for it, and that was to his benefit when it came to his emceeing duties as well.  

Nick then introduced the first band of the evening.  A local band out of Cottonwood Heights, Saylo.  I enjoyed them.  I thought they were a really solid band.  The only thing I would say is their sound didn’t really fit the theme of the evening.  They didn’t scream, comedy, barbeque, or blue collar.  I thought they would have been better suited at the upcoming Love Loud festival, or maybe the Twilight Concert Series.  That being said, if I was invited to play for thousands of people at USANA Amphitheater, fit the theme or not, I would have accepted the invite too!  I thought they did a good job all things considered.  

Jeff Foxworthy was next.  I have to admit, I didn’t expect to see him so early in the evening.  It was a surprise when he was introduced, but I was excited to listen to him.  It’s an interesting transition to go from a band to a comedian, but I thought the change was pretty smooth.  The audience, of course, roared when Jeff took the stage.  

Now, because the material in stand up comedy is very specific and repeated in every town, I don’t want to share the jokes/ stories that were told.  I wouldn’t want to spoil that for someone who wants to see Jeff or Larry down the road.  Let me just say this, if you have enjoyed Jeff Foxworthy’s comedy in the past, then you’ll love this material as well.  While he is known for his “You might be a redneck…” line of jokes, he steered clear of being pigeon holed and branched out with hilarious stories and jokes.  Of course, they were generally centered around a blue collar theme.  Jeff was great, and the audience showed their approval throughout his set.  

Larry the Cable Guy was next to take the stage.  It’s interesting how fame works.  Some years back, Larry was the first to take the stage in the Blue Collar Comedy Tour, and now he’s the headlining comedian.  His material and persona (His real name is Dan Whitney.  Larry the Cable Guy is a character he created for the stage) are so locked in that he makes you believe that he’s really that guy on and off stage.  I think it’s genius the way he “dumbs down” his act.  It seems so simple, yet it’s so clever.  I thought he was hilarious.  

The most surprising thing to me was the order that the talent appeared.  After Larry left the stage, Eddie Money was introduced and he closed the show.  I did not expect this.  I don’t know if it was the best idea either.  Those who came specifically to see Jeff and Larry left the amphitheater during Eddie Money’s set.  I never like when people don’t stay for the whole show, but I suppose they saw what they came to see, so they felt no reason to stay.  

I thought those who did remain for the show’s entirety really enjoyed Eddie’s performance. Money shared with the audience that he was recording the show.  He mentioned that he wanted his family to be able to hear the performance.  Eddie played all of his hits like, “Two Tickets to Paradise” and “Take Me Home Tonight”.  I wish more had stayed, but it was still a fun way to end the night.  

I thought the atmosphere was great.  People seemed to be having a great time either laughing or rocking out.  There were barbeque options throughout the amphitheater concourse as well as fun games that you might find at a family BBQ.  It was an excellent way to spend a summer evening!

Dashboard Confessional with The All-American Rejects Sandy July 18, 2017 Sandy Amphitheater

Nostalgia is a beautiful thing.  Isn’t it?  And music is one of the biggest aids in taking us to that nostalgic place.  One song can race us back to a moment in time, to a specific memory.  A certain song or band will remind us of those glorious high school or college days.  Or perhaps we’ll be reminded of a first boyfriend or girlfriend.  And music of course, can make us nostalgic for those unrequited loves of our past.  For many, last night’s Dashboard Confessional with The All-American Rejects show was exactly that.  A nostalgic night of emotional memories and music.  

The All-American Rejects took the stage just a few minutes after 7 PM. I felt a little bad for them because it was still about 100 degrees and the sun was still up.  Not usually the ideal conditions a band is looking for when they begin a show.  Lead singer, Tyson Ritter, even commented that the band were Vampires and weren’t used to playing in the daylight or in such heat.  Mentioning that usually, the sun is already going down by 7 PM.  The heat didn’t seem to bother their fans though.  As I looked around, sweaty smiles were huge, people were dancing, and people were singing along with the band as if it were 2004.  

I suppose one of the benefits of performing in the daylight is the band can see their fans more clearly.  Throughout the show, Ritter spoke to sections of the audience as well as specific fans.  One, in particular, was a lady in the row in front of me.  She was dancing the entire time, and singing along to every single song. Tyson pointed her out, mentioning how into the show she was and how red her face had become due to the heat and exerting all of her energy into the show.  At one point Tyson even stepped into the audience during a song, dancing with fans, using one of their fans to cool himself off, and taking a  little boys hat for part of the song.  I’m a big fan of these moments.  I know that years from now, these people will still remember and share the story of when Tyson Ritter of The All-American Rejects danced with them.  

The band played a condensed set consisting of all their hits, some fan favorites, and a new song called “Sweat”.  When it was clear that the set was almost over, I heard members of the audience yelling out variations of “Come back soon!”  For fans of The All-American Rejects the set was much too short.  But the band gave them a good show despite the light and the heat.  

I’ve been going to concerts for years.  And with all the advancements in technology, with sound, or lighting design, one of the things I’ve been most impressed with is how fast they change from one band to another.  I remember this process taking forever when I was young!  The fact that they can get all of the equipment from the first band removed, move the next band’s gear into place, and have all the sound ready within twenty minutes blows me away.  Anyway, back to the bands…

Dashboard took the stage at about 9 PM. The temperature had dropped, and the sun was almost down.  But the emotion was high at the Sandy Amphitheater.  Excuse me, I mean to say the Emo was high at the Sandy Amphitheater. One by one, members of the band took the stage until finally Chris Carrabba, lead singer, principal song writer, and well, basically Mr. Dashboard Confessional himself took the stage.  Everyone in Sandy Amphitheater rose to their feet as we all rushed back to 2003.  

Something that I appreciate about a band like Dashboard Confessional is the dedication of their fans.  Dashboard doesn’t really have what I’d call “radio hits”.  But it just doesn’t matter to their fans.  As I looked around the venue, I saw women, and men singing lyric after lyric.  You know when you just love a song so much, and you sing along so passionately that your eyes close?  Well, there was a lot of closed eye singing at this concert.  It’s an easy indicator to just how happy these people were to be there singing along.

A personal highlight for me was when they followed through on a request from earlier in the day and covered “Today” from Smashing Pumpkins.  I enjoy when bands pay tribute to artists that have influenced them.  Plus, I really like that song.  

While nostalgia seems to be a theme in this review, there were points in the show where Chris Carrabba shared some new songs set to be on Dashboard’s forthcoming album.  When he declared that he was done playing new stuff, people were shouting that they wanted more new songs!  How often do you hear that for a band that’s been around for 15 plus years?  Usually, people just want the songs they know.  It had to be a good feeling for Chris and the band to know that their new album is much anticipated.  

Dashboard closed their main set with a huge fan favorite “Screaming Infidelities”.  Dashboard fans were singing the song so loud!  I could see that even after having sung this song hundreds of times, Chris really enjoyed the reaction of the crowd, even pulling back on his vocals so he could hear the audience sing.  

Dashboard returned and performed “Hands Down”.  The crowd recognized the song immediately.  They used any remaining energy they had to sing along.  As Dashboard, left the stage, the lights came up, and the audience returned to 2017 reflecting on the show they just saw, and the music that shaped them.  

Donny & Marie Osmond Sandy July 11, 2017 Sandy Amphitheater

What do you think is the first thing people think of when they think of Utah?  Do they think of the mountains? Mormonism? Skiing? The Sundance Film Festival?  I’m sure all of those things come to mind.  But would you believe that for many, the first thing they think of when Utah is mentioned is Donny and Marie Osmond?  I have been in New York City, London, San Francisco and even in the deepest parts of Appalachia and when I mention Utah, the first thing people have said to me is, “Oh! That’s where Donny and Marie are from!  Have you met them?”.  Well, last night I was able to see Utah’s favorite brother and sister at the beautiful Sandy Amphitheater on a sold out opening night of the Donny and Marie summer tour.  

As I walked into the amphitheater I felt an unexpected buzz in the air.  People seemed to be so excited for this show.  I get it, usually, people are excited to see a show of someone they like, but this felt different.  I overheard one woman saying to her friend “This is going to be a special night.”.  Another middle-aged couple was rushing to their seats even though the concert wasn’t beginning for another twenty minutes.  The man said, “Slow down honey!”.  “I can’t!  I’m just so excited!” she responded.  The man looks at me and says, “I can’t blame her.  She’s been wanting to see these two since she was 18.”  There was a mixture of both young and not so young.  However the not so young seemed to be transformed into their younger selves at the thought of seeing their teen idols.  

Before the show began, a man inconspicuously walked to center stage. As he began speaking into the microphone, I could see the audience one by one begin to notice that is was Utah Governor Gary Herbert.  He seemed to get a warm applause once he introduced himself.  He was given an even louder ovation when he stated that July 11, 2017, would be known as “Donny and Marie Osmond Day” in the state of Utah.    

The show began with the Osmond siblings appearing at the top of stairs with a large video screen in the background showing clips of them throughout their career.  They sang a medley of pop songs while four dancers entered the stage.  From what I understand this is a stripped down version of their award winning Vegas show.  The band was great, and the dancers were fabulous. If this was the stripped down version, I can’t imagine the visual overload of the full production.  

After the opening series of songs, Donny left the stage and Marie remained on stage singing songs both old and new while sharing memories about her career and personal life.   She emotionally spoke of her friend Olivia Newton John’s current bout with cancer and asked the audience to pray for her.  Marie joked about aging, and how hot it was outside.  She chugged a bottle of water then looked at the audience saying “And they said Mormons can’t drink.”.

Marie left, and Donny returned singing his childhood hit “Puppy Love”.  The women of the audience screamed as if they were teenagers again.  Like Marie, Donny sang songs from his back catalog as well as some newer songs.  He shared some of his memories of playing Joseph from “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” here in Salt Lake City.  He joked about the loin cloth he had to wear for most of the show.  As he went to sit on the stairs to sing one of the signature numbers from that show “Close Every Door”, a woman from the audience yelled, “Take off your shirt!”  He broke into laughter, and so did the audience. He then told the lady, “You know you’ve totally ruined the whole set up I did for this song, don’t you?”  Everyone laughed again.  He was quickly able to reset the tone and sing the powerful number flawlessly, earning him a standing ovation.  

The brother and sister duo exchanged stage time once again before returning together to sing, and dance to some of the songs they had recorded.  They finished the show with the song they always sang at the end of their variety show in the 70’s.  

There were a couple of things that stood out to me from this show.  One, just how good their crowd work is.  There were times in the show where I couldn’t tell if they were ad-libbing or if it was scripted.  I’d imagine it was a little of both.  But there were definitely parts of the show where I found myself laughing hard at the banter between the two of them or being taken back to a time and place where they had some of their greatest successes.  

The other thing that really stood out from the Donny and Marie show is just how impressive their careers have been.  Look, I get it, these guys aren’t for everyone.  I’m not going to suggest that someone who loves Iron Maiden, is going to love sitting through a Donny and Marie concert.  But think about it. Their careers have spanned over 50 years.  They’ve sold millions of albums,  had TV shows, been in musicals, doll collections, and so on and so on.  The fact that they have been able to have continued success decade in and decade out is something to be admired.  And they’re great performers.  Their voices are still intact, they’re good dancers, and they put on a really fun show.  

I’m not going to tell everyone and anyone to go see Donny and Marie.  But if you want to see a show that’s well put together, sentimental, polished, funny, and simply a good night out, then I recommend seeing Donny and Marie.  

Ann Wilson of Heart Sandy June 27, 2017 Sandy Amphitheater

When someone from a well-established band heads out on a solo tour, two things can happen.  Seeing them solo is not the same and you wish the whole band was there, or you get to see a new side of this artist and it’s an entirely different experience altogether.  I found the latter to be the case with Ann Wilson of Heart.

I was able to catch Ann at her second Utah show in as many nights (Night one was in Layton), at the beautiful Sandy Amphitheater.  I must say, in recent years the Sandy Amphitheater has really become one of the better venues in the Salt Lake Valley.  There isn’t a bad seat in the venue, and they have continued to improve their summer lineup year after year while keeping a light and easy atmosphere.  The staff I engaged with were extremely friendly and kind as well.    

I will admit that it was a little weird at first to see Ann walk onstage without her sister and Heart counterpart Nancy Wilson beside her.  But that was really the only time I thought about it.  Ann sent the message loud and clear that this wasn’t a Heart concert.  Of course, Ann mixed some of our favorite Heart songs into the set. Songs like,  “Barracuda”, “Crazy on You”, and my personal favorite “Alone” to name a few.  I imagine the best part about touring solo is having the freedom to be creative with the set, and these songs.  Ann didn’t allow herself to be tied to the expectations that might come with a Heart show.  When fans see Heart in concert, they want to hear the song performed in a certain way.  But with this show, Ann was able to do some creative and interesting versions of the Heart songs she performed.  I thought it was refreshing to hear these songs in a new way.  

If there was any question on if Ann still has pipes, I am here to answer this question with a definitive YES!  People, Ann still sounds incredible.  It’s unbelievable that she can still sing that way after doing this for so long.  The power in her vocals is absolutely still there. There were a couple times I’d get nervous and think, “I don’t know if she can still hit this note.” and then BAM! She totally nails it.  Every time that happened the audience showed their approval.  I love her voice so much.  And hearing it live is something everyone should experience.  

Ann did impressive covers of Elvis, The Who, and Aretha. She surprised me though with a captivating cover of The Black Crowes hit “She Talks to Angels”.  I didn’t see that song coming and I was so glad to hear it.  It was as if that song was written for Ann and her voice.

Ann gave us two encores.  In the second encore and final song of the night, Ann treated us to a cover of Danger Zone by Ray Charles.  She talked about her father being in the Marine Corp and being gone a lot.  She shared that her mother would listen to this song often when he was away.  It was a beautiful button on a beautiful show, on a beautiful summer night.  

I wasn’t quite sure to expect from an Ann Wilson solo show.  But I left the Sandy Amphitheater more than satisfied.  Her band is great, and she puts so much variety into the show that it’s impossible to not be entertained.  Plus there was a marriage proposal from the stage during the intermission.  And she said Yes!  So, fun night all around.  

 

Setlist

The Real Me- The Who Cover
Barracuda
Crazy on You
What About Love
Fool No More
One Night- Elvis Cover
Anguish
Manic Depression- Jimmy Hendrix Cover

Intermission

A Million Times
I’ve Seen All Good People- Yes Cover
She Talks To Angels- The Black Crowes cover
Don’t Give Up- Peter Gabriel cover
We Gotta Get Out of This Place- The Animals Cover
Won’t Get Fooled Again- The Who Cover
Alone
Love, Reign O’er Me- The Who Cover

Encore
For What It’s Worth- Buffalo Springfield cover
Ain’t No Way- Aretha Franklin cover

Encore 2
I Put a Spell on You- Screamin’ Jay Hawkins cover
Danger Zone- Ray Charles cover

Neil Diamond April 9, 2017 Salt Lake City Vivint Smart Home Arena

There are two types of people in this world, those who like Neil Diamond and those who don’t.”  This statement is as true today as it was back when Bill Murray said it as he was playing Bob Wiley in the early nineties classic What About Bob?  When I told people I was going to see Neil Diamond I was given one of two responses, “Why?”, or “Why aren’t you taking me?!”.  I don’t think there is another artist I’ve seen where people have such a strong opinion.  

To be clear, I’m one of those who likes Neil.  I was raised on Neil.  My mom is a big Neil Diamond fan so I’ve been listening to the guy for as long as I remember.  

Neil brought his 50th Anniversary tour to a packed Vivint Smart Home Arena.  I received word that Neil doesn’t have an opener, and he usually goes on right at eight so I made sure to get there early.  I took my seats that were to the side of the stage.  These are interesting seats because they’re right by the stage, so they’re close to the action, but they put me in a position to where I could see the entire arena.  

As I took my seats I saw a couple who I would guess was in their late 60’s.  I asked them if they had seen a Neil Diamond concert before.  By the look on their face, I could tell that they were lifelong fans even before they spoke.  I immediately noticed their New York accents.  They began recounting their experience with the Jewish Elvis having seen him multiple times beginning in the seventies and the last time being twenty years ago in 1997.  They were excited to see him again after such a long break.  

Just as they were finished sharing their experiences, as if on cue, the volume on the background music began to rise, and the band walked to the stage.  The band began playing “In My Lifetime” while pictures began to move across the diamond-shaped video screen.  The pictures showed Neil as a child, with his family, then to adolescence, and on to each stage of his career then finally the footage cut to the exact moment when the mighty Neil Diamond rose from below the stage with his black guitar as his first hit “Cherry Cherry” started to play.  He greeted the audience with a “Hello Salt Lake City!”.  The crowd went wild.  Many sprung to their feet, many eventually made it to their feet, and some stayed put in their chairs.  This seemed to be a battle with many audience members.  Some wanted to get up and dance, and others wanted to enjoy the show from their chairs.  But what those sitting didn’t realize was that eventually,  everybody rises at a Neil Diamond concert.  But we’ll get to that later.  

There are a couple of benefits in seeing someone who has been doing this for fifty years.  One is the endless amount of hit songs that are performed, and another is they know what works to put on a great concert.  Neil has so many hit songs that he can’t fit them all in one night. I don’t think it was until long after I was home that I thought, ‘Oh, he didn’t do this song or that song.’.  He did so many familiar songs that I can’t imagine anyone left feeling disappointed on the setlist.  

Neil knows just how to entertain a crowd.  I saw people of all ages at this concert.  I saw entire families singing along, college-aged friends, and of course couples like the one sitting next to me.  Each one of them, child to adult, had a smile on their face, singing every single word of every song right along with Neil.  He knows how to tell a joke, share a story, and deliver a song.  It’s impressive.  Those who enjoy being entertained,  die-hard Neil Diamond fan or not, I recommend seeing this show.  It really is impressive.  

I took great interest in this New York City born and raised couple seated next to me.  I wondered what they thought about the show as compared to the Diamond concerts of the past.  As the beginning notes of a fan favorite love song “Play Me” began, I looked at the lady and saw tears streaming down her cheeks.  She just looked at me and said “Beautiful”.  She then put her head on her husband’s shoulder for the rest of the song.  I quickly realized that I was imposing on a special moment between them.  Before I could turn away to let the moment be their own, the man looked at me and said, “He’s as good as he’s ever been.”  It truly is amazing the impact a song, a show, a singer can have on people.  

Neil blazed through his set singing sing-alongs like “Song Sung Blue”, “Forever in Blue Jeans”, and my personal favorite, “Holly Holy”.  He ended his main set with the poignant “I Am… I Said”.   The audience, all of them, were on their feet as Neil departed the stage.  And as he returned anyone who thought they might sit back down was sorely mistaken.  Right then organ played those all too familiar initial notes of “Sweet Caroline”.  The place went nuts and sang louder than they had all night.  The “Bum, Bum Bums” and “So Good, So Good, So Goods” could have been heard out in the street they were so loud.  And from my seat, I could see the lower and upper bowl swaying, and singing, and as silly as it sounds, the smiling.  Smiles that lit up Vivint Arena in a way I hadn’t ever seen before! And Neil really lets the crowd get their “Sweet Caroline” fix.  He finishes the song, the crowd goes nuts, and then he starts the chorus up again.  And again, and again, and again!  It really was special.  

The show really could have ended right there.  But what’s a Neil Diamond concert without hearing “America”?  In my opinion, it would be incomplete. So we shouted “Today!” a bunch of times and reached, of course, his traditional closer “Brother Love’s Traveling Salvation Show”.  The arena turned into a revival tent!  People were dancing that had been sitting the whole night.  People with oxygen tanks were on their feet singing and dancing.  I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t seen it.  Perhaps they were saving their legs and oxygen for this very moment.  

As Neil walked off the stage waving to the crowd I wondered if I’d get to see him again.  After all, this was his 50th Anniversary Tour.  And Neil while spry as ever, is 76 years old.  Even the greats can’t do it for forever.  Unfortunately.  But is this was my last time seeing Neil, (I had seen him 4 times previous to this show starting in 2002) this was a perfect show for me to say goodbye.  I was with my brother who, like me loves Neil, and I got to sit with lifelong fans who after a twenty-year break go to see their favorite singer sing their favorite songs.  It was a beautiful evening.  Come to think of it, I guess I could have saved everybody the time reading this by simply saying “Good times never seemed so good.”  Thanks, Neil!

Setlist

In My Lifetime
Cherry, Cherry
You Got to Me
September Morn
Longfellow Serenade
Love on the Rocks
Play Me
Beautiful Noise
Jungletime
If You Know What I Mean
Song Sung Blue
Forever in Blue Jeans
Solitary Man
I’m a Believer
Brooklyn Roads
Pretty Amazing Grace
Jazz Time (Band Intro)
Soolaimon
Crunchy Granola Suite
Done Too Soon
Holly Holly
I Am… I Said

Encore
Sweet Caroline
Cracklin’ Rosie
America
Brother Love’s Traveling Salvation Show

Stevie Nicks with The Pretenders Salt Lake City February 25, 2017 Vivint Smart Home Arena

It’s not every week that one of the biggest icons in Rock n Roll visits Utah.  So I was excited when I saw that Stevie Nicks was coming to Vivint Smart Home Arena.  And to no surprise, she did not disappoint.  

First, Rock n Roll Hall of Famers, The Pretenders were Stevie’s support act.  Headliners in their own right, they flew through their almost hour long set, blending hit songs with some newer numbers.  Chrissie Hynde’s voice was in peak form as she belted out songs like, “I’ll Stand By You”, and “Brass in Pocket”.  They had the entire floor of the arena as well as many areas of the lower bowl on their feet, singing and clapping along.  There was actually a moment that I forgot that this was the opening band.  I totally felt like I was at a Pretenders concert.  But of course, this was just the beginning.  There was of course, Stevie.  

Now, this show was not like a typical concert.  The best way I can describe it is it was like that old VH-1 show “Storytellers”.  You know when VH-1 and MTV actually played music.  Stevie told us early on in the concert that she would be playing what she called “New, old songs” from her “Gothic trunk of lost songs”.  She mentioned that she’d be explaining how the songs came to be, why she released them when she did, and why she chose them for tonight’s show.  I thought it was a good idea to tell the audience up front that we were going to be hearing songs we probably didn’t know, but it should be fun anyway.  I think it put the crowd in the right frame of mind, and they reacted accordingly. The two-hour fifteen-minute show seemed to fly by for me.  

Stevie mentioned that she had actually lived in Salt Lake City while she was in 7-9th grade.  This was something I didn’t know, and something that of course delighted the local audience.  She mentioned that her friend from that time was in attendance and that she has always had fond memories of living here.  

Besides the two drunk dudes who were dragged to the concert by their girlfriends, the rest of the audience seemed to really enjoy the stories Stevie told. Later in the show, she jokingly recognized during one point in the show that she was telling a lot of stories.  She mentioned that by the end of the tour she might not even have a band, she’d just be up there telling stories.  A highlight for me was when she was starting her solo career she was offered a song by Tom Petty.  They ended up recording “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around”, and it became one of her biggest solo hits.  The crowd went crazy when she started this song and went even crazier when Chrissie Hynde walked back on stage to perform the duet with her.  

Of course, even with the crowd enjoying the stories, and the lost songs, Stevie Nicks understands that we were there to hear her hits.  Even when touring solo, she knew she’d have to play some of her biggest Fleetwood Mac hits.  After she finished singing “Rhiannon”, Stevie told us that she suggested maybe leaving that one of the setlist this tour.  She proceeded to tell us that her band gasped and said no way.  And of course, the crowd roared in approval of the band’s protest.  Along with giving us a string of hits, she brought back some of her classic shawls.  Then she iconically spun around in them, getting a cheer from the audience every time.  

She closed the show with her beautiful song “Landslide”. She mentioned that she was in Aspen Colorado when she wrote it, but she wished she had written it here in Salt Lake City because she actually lived her, and she was only visiting Aspen.  No matter where it was written, it’s a fantastic song, and a perfect way to end the evening.  

Stevie Nicks is an artist that has truly perfected her craft.  I was amazed how one minute she could make us feel like we were sitting in a small coffee house listening to a songwriter tell us how and why she wrote a song, and the next we’re back in a packed arena dancing to a proper rock song.  An artist like this transcends generations.  I saw mothers and daughters there together.  I saw groups of women who were most likely the same age as Stevie Nicks reliving some of their youth with these songs.  I saw groups of women who were much younger than me, enjoying their current youth with these songs.  It says a lot to me about Stevie and her repertoire.  I hope she brings that “Gothic Trunk” back around soon.  

Stevie Nicks Setlist
Gold and Braid
If Anyone Falls
Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around
Belle Fleur
Gypsy
Wild Heart
Bella Donna
Enchanted
New Orleans
Starshine
Moonlight (A Vampire’s Dream)
Stand Back
Crying in the Night
If You Were My Love
Gold Dust Woman
Edge of Seventeen

Encore:
Rhiannon
Landslide

Midge Ure Salt Lake City January 16, 2017 The Complex

I have been wanting to see Midge Ure for most of my life.  Seriously for twenty-something years.  Whether with his band Ultravox, or solo, I have enjoyed his music, yet never really had an opportunity to see him.  Well last night at The Grand in The Complex, I finally had my chance.  

My anticipation for this show was magnified due to the opportunity I had to interview Midge about a month prior to the concert.  So, talking with him about the tour got me really excited for what was to come.  And he did not disappoint.  

Ure joked with the audience asking if anyone could understand him due to his Scottish accent.  He suggested maybe they thought he sounded like Shrek.  Throughout the night he was engaging, comical, and even a little self-deprecating.  When he introduced his song “If I Was”, he talked about how it was a number one hit in various countries, but not in America.  Following by saying, “But I’m not bitter.”  

Midge mentioned that he had been in Utah a couple of years ago as part of the Retro Futura tour.  A number of audience members cheered to let him know they were at that show.  He mentioned how surprised he was that people there were singing his songs.  He didn’t think anyone here would know him.  He jokingly stated that he made a special point of returning to Salt Lake City on this tour just to make sure.  

Midge joked that the type of tour he was on was called a “Scottish Tour.  Because it’s cheap.” He was joined on stage by only a drummer and a bass player who also played keyboard on various songs.  Both of them are very talented musicians and made it feel as if there was an entire band on stage.  I thought Ure did a solid job blending songs from his entire catalog  That can’t be an easy thing to do when you’ve had not only a successful solo career but been a part of hit-making bands such as Visage and of course Ultravox.  I was also really impressed with how well his voice has held up.  The man is in his 60’s and he sounds as good as he ever did.  If anything, there is an added richness to his voice that I really like.  

Admittedly I was most looking forward to hearing the Ultravox songs.  As much as the audience remembered and enjoyed the other songs, it was obvious that the Ultravox songs were the highlight.  Midge mentioned that he wasn’t sure about doing some Ultravox songs because he was in just a three piece band and Ultravox is so layered with synthesizers and other instruments he didn’t know if they could pull it off.  But he knew he wanted to do these songs, so they went for it, and pull it off they did.  I really liked the arrangements of these Ultravox songs. They had a stripped down feel without losing any of their fullness.  For example, one of my favorites was “Dancing With Tears in My Eyes”.  It felt like a proper rock song, heavy with guitar, bass, and drums.  I loved it!   

Ure closed the show with the great David Bowie classic “Starman”.  He mentioned how 2016 was such a hard year due to the loss of so many great people in the music world.  

The best way I can sum up seeing Midge Ure in concert is that it was like meeting up with an old friend. You’re so excited to reconnect.  You talk about the good ole days, share a new story or two, and upon departure you regret not going over a couple more old memories.  And of course, the time together is never long enough.  But ultimately you’re so happy to have seen each other, and a new memory has been made.  And the hope is always that you’ll see each other again sooner than later.  So it is with Midge.   

Setlist

Dear God
New Europeans (Ultravox song)
If I Was
Call of the Wild
Fade to Grey (Visage)
Beneath a Spielberg Sky
Become
Hymn (Ultravox)
The Voice (Ultravox)
Vienna (Ultravox)
All Stood Still (Ultravox)
Passing Strangers (Ultravox)
Dancing With Tears in My Eyes (Ultravox)
Reap the Wild Wind (Ultravox)
Starman (David Bowie cover)