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)

The Lower Lights 7th Annual Christmas Concert December 5, 2016 Kinsgbury Hall Salt Lake City

attachment-1-1

Last night I had the extraordinary experience of seeing The Lower Lights opening night of their 7th annual Christmas Concerts.  There are so many things I want to say about this Americana orchestra! However, because it was opening night, and they still have five shows remaining, I want to refrain from spoiling anything for those who will be attending future dates. So without specifics on the set list or particular highlights of the show, let me tell you just how great this show was, and if you don’t have a ticket yet, why you should get one.  

So let me first say that this show begins at 7PM.  Apparently, a lot of the audience thought the show began at 7:10, or 7:15, or even 7:20!  Come on people!  This band works hard.  On all the songs! So it’s not ok to miss the first 5 songs.  I understand that things happen and sometimes we’re just late to stuff.  But there was an alarming amount of people coming in late. There is so much more I could say about this, but the concert was so good, that I’d rather focus on that.

Kingsbury Hall is a beautiful venue.  If you haven’t been to a show there, I recommend it.  It’s the perfect venue for this kind of concert too.  The stage is large, yet the venue is intimate enough to where every you have a good view from any seat.  The only negative can be that parking is kind of a struggle.  What I would suggest is give up trying to park on the street, or anywhere right next to the venue itself.  Just drive south to the Rice-Eccles Stadium parking lot, and walk over.  It’s about a 5-minute walk, ten tops, and there is plenty of room.  Trust me it’s worth it.  For some shows, they even offer a free shuttle to Kingsbury Hall.  

Monday night concerts are always a little tricky.  The weekend is over, and the crowd tends to be a little more reserved.  Such was the case last night. I was in a good place in the audience to where I could see a lot of faces.  Despite the less vocal, or physically enthusiastic nature of this audience, their faces did show me that they were loving every minute of this concert.  

As I understand it, The Lower Lights have had up to 30 or more members performing with them.  There are 21 talented artists in this lineup, and I was expecting the show to begin with all of them walking on stage for a big first number.  But one lone man, with an acoustic guitar, walked on stage into a solo spotlight and sang us a song to start things off.  And that’s the beauty of concerts.  To be pleasantly surprised at any moment.  Now as I mentioned, there are 21 people in this band, so I apologize now for not mentioning all of their names.  Just know that every one of them is talented, and makes their own positive mark on this show.  

Following the opening song, the rest of the band did take the stage and blazed through a number of Christmas favorites.  While I’m not sharing the setlist in this review, I do want to say to those wondering if they’ll hear Christmas songs they like or know, that the answer is a resounding YES!  You will not come away with this concert feeling like you missed out on hearing a Christmas song you liked.  

The band entered and exited the stage with such fluidity.  I have been to many shows, with much smaller lineups that take forever to switch instruments, bring people on and off stage, and it really takes away from the show.  The Lower Lights seem to have perfected this art.  

The show began with one man and ended with the entire band, but throughout the night, the band shifted into ensembles of varying sizes.  I was impressed with the diverse talents that are within The Lower Lights.  They have an Americana or folk-country sound, and there were times where I felt like I was at The Ryman Auditorium in Nashville. There were other times that I felt like I was simply in someone’s back yard listening to some friends play music.  And some of my favorite moments were when I felt like I was at a tent revival meeting in the midst of the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia.  I think it takes real talent to be so grand, yet bring such intimacy to an audience.

I really enjoyed the way they interacted with each other as well as those in attendance.  There is no front person in this band so different members would take turns addressing the audience.  It was fun to see the range in personalities when songs were presented.  Some of them presented a song with humor, some with sweetness, some with emotion, and some with a soft yet serious tone.  It’s obvious how much these band members care about each other.  It would seem that there is no ego within the band.  That they are there to play this cherished music and fill the hall with the Christmas spirit.  Which they did flawlessly.  

Ok, I lied.  I have to tell you about one song.  But just one, I promise!  Along with being pleasantly surprised at concerts, I also love when a band plays a song that I’m really hoping they’ll play.  With all the Christmas songs that exist, I did my best to prevent myself from getting my hopes up.  Because you can’t play them all.  But with this style of music and this particular song, it just made sense that they’d play it.  And they did.  One member of the band invited the audience to sing along.  They then played one of my all time favorite Christmas songs “Go Tell it on the Mountain”.  I was smiling from ear to ear.  My apologies to the older gentleman sitting next to me, because I was belting out that chorus as if I was on stage.  Their rendition of this song exceeded every expectation I had.  And, it wasn’t even the best song of the night!  So if that song was that amazing, just think about how great the rest of this concert is.  

The last thing I want to mention is what we think of when we hear the term “Local Artist”.  Many times, and I’m guilty of this too, we hear that and think that they’re not as good as the artists on the radio, or with a major record deal.  How wrong we are. The Lower Lights are a band made up of “Local Artists”.  I believe each member of the band, while not all of them are currently in Utah, do have Utah roots.  And yet, if they played at the Ryman in Nashville, or if they played at a tent revival in Virginia, honestly if they played the Hollywood Bowl or Madison Square Garden, no one would think twice.  They would simply know that they are listening to a band with an exceedingly high level of talent that puts on a fantastic show.  So, be sure to pay more attention to “local artists”.  I know I will.   

Go see this show!  There are still tickets remaining, but let me assure you, they will be snatched up.  Some of them by me, because I’m going back at the end of the week.  Yes, it was that good.  If you need uplifting or help in getting into the Christmas spirit, then, by all means, get to this concert.  

 

For more information, and to purchase music albums and tickets to the show go to…

www.thelowerlights.com 

 

Maroon 5 Salt Lake City Vivint Smart Home Arena October 8, 2016

unnamed-19Tickets for Maroon 5 went on sale a year ago.  So as I’m sure you can imagine, the anticipation in Vivint Smart Home Arena was high on Saturday night.  I had no idea I was going to this show until the morning of the show, so it was fun for me to look around the arena and see the true Maroon 5 fans bubbling over with excitement. The crowd dynamic was much different than I expected.  To be honest, I expected a mostly female crowd.  While that may have been the case, the percentage of women to men was much more even that I had anticipated. There were also a lot of older couples at the show.  Didn’t see that coming.  Young and old, male or female, we were all in for a really fun night.  

The indie supergroup Phases opened the night with a really impressive thirty-minute set.  To be honest I had never heard them before.  But from song one I was hooked.  I highly recommend checking them out.  They were followed by Swedish singer Tove Lo.  She’s a successful songwriter now coming into her own as a performer and solo artist.  I thought these were great choices to open for Maroon 5.  And the audience seemed to really enjoy them as well.  It was noticeable to me that these support acts appreciated the involvement of the already jam-packed crowd.

Maroon 5 opened the show with mega-hit, “Moves Like Jagger”.  A song that could easily be used as an encore song made for a perfect opener.  The band had this crowd in the palm of their hands from the get-go.  I was really amazed at how little time it took for the show to get to an energy level this high.

There were a couple things I noticed from this show.  First off, Maroon 5 has a ton of hits! I know they have been around for awhile now, but I guess I didn’t realize just how many hit songs they have in their catalogue.  Before this show, I didn’t own one song from the band.  (Since the show I have definitely downloaded a couple albums.)  But besides one previously unheard new song, I knew every single song.  These guys are hit machines.  But not only are these hits, they are really good songs.

The other thing that really stood out was just how remarkable Adam Levine’s voice is.  If you have heard a Maroon 5 song, (and if you haven’t, you must have been living in a cave) you’ll notice that Adam sings really high.  I mean, really high!  I was actually nervous for him before the show.  Singing high night in and night out is not an easy thing to do.  But I had nothing to worry about.  As you can see in the video below, his vocals were perfect.

The Utah crowd was elated when they were introduced to lead Guitarist James Valentine, a current resident of this great state.  When Adam mentioned that James currently lives in Utah, the crowd went wild.  

The band left for an encore, and when they returned they came out to the far end of their catwalk to perform for the other end of the arena.  I love it when bands do that.  Adam did his best to give the crowd a special moment.  He asked the capacity crowd to put away their cell phones for just two minutes while he sang “She Will Be Loved”.  He mentioned that he wanted to have an experience where we were living in the moment and couldn’t take home with us.  Most of the audience did just that.  Their cell phones went into their pockets and they were able to be in the present.  However, there were some that couldn’t help themselves as they still took pictures and filmed the song.  He would call them out and make jokes which I thought was cool of him.  He could have easily flipped out and made things awkward.  But he kept things light and the people he called out laughed at being put on the spot while looking like idiots to everyone else in attendance.

The show finished strong with the band singing “Sugar” and paying tribute to Prince by closing with “Let’s Go Crazy”.  Now, many might not know this, but Adam Levine is an amazing guitarist.  When you are done reading this gem of a review, go to youtube and type in “Adam Levine Guitar”.  You’ll see plenty of examples of his skills.

I had a great time at this concert.  Maroon 5 gets those unfortunate labels of being “pretty boys” “too soft”, “too pop”, or my favorite “a band for girls”.  I don’t remember being liked by women ever being a negative thing.  Yes, they’re not a hard rock band, but they’re not trying to be.  None of these labels matter when you’re good.  And they’re really good. Their songs are well crafted, and their live show was great.  Much better than I expected it to be.  And I knew I was in for a good show.

 

Setlist:
Moves Like Jagger
This Love
Harder to Breathe
Locked Away (Rock City Cover)
One More Night
Misery
Love Somebody
Lucky Strike
Sunday Morning
Makes Me Wonder
Payphone
Daylight

Encore:
Don’t Want to Know
She Will Be Loved
Sugar
Let’s Go Crazy (Prince Cover)

Mumford & Sons USANA Amphitheater September 26, 2016

unnamed-15With summer coming to an end, and concerts beginning to make their way to indoor venues, I made my way out to USANA Amphitheater for what was probably my last concert there this season.  But what a way to bring this summer of great amphitheater shows to an end!  Mumford and Sons rolled into Utah for the first time in four years with their The Austin 5000 tour.  

When Mumford & Sons came here back in 2012, they were white hot off of the success of their second album Babel.  They played Saltair, which when they scheduled the venue was probably the right size.  But by the time they came to Salt Lake, Saltair was much too small for them. It was impossible to get a ticket, and I missed out on what all reports indicated was an incredible show.  So I’ve been waiting to see them since then.  And it was finally happening!

With this show being on a Monday evening, and the temperatures having cooled here in Utah, the audience seemed to get off to a slow start.  Mumford & Sons opened up with Snake Eyes, from the album “Wilder Mind”.  They then followed with Little Lion Man.  I could tell the crowd was really excited to hear this hit song from the guys, but they were certainly not giving their full energy.  But as the temperature dropped, Mumford & Sons heated up.  It was almost as if they knew they needed to give us a little extra to get us going.  Please don’t misunderstand me, the crowd was most certainly into the show.  It just took them a while to physically show what they were feeling inside.

One of the very first things I noticed was how great Mumford & Sons sounded live.  Of course, I didn’t expect them to sound bad in concert, but the quality of the sound and the talent of the band was just exceptional.  Marcus Mumford’s vocals were on point.  I don’t know how he can sing that powerfully and emotionally night in and night out.  I was really impressed.

As I looked around the amphitheater, I noticed that little by little there were varying pockets of people who were already totally fired up. Others were still coming along, but I recall thinking to myself, ‘This place will be going nuts by the end of the show.’.

This show went by as if it was only twenty minutes.  They perfectly blended songs from all of their albums.  Marcus Mumford moved from acoustic guitar to playing drums, to working with crowd, expressing how much they enjoyed Utah.

My favorite segment of the night was when they played my favorite song of theirs The Cave.  At this point, Mumford & Sons had the entire audience right along with them. The energy was high and the crowd was singing every word of this song.  I thought this would be the high point of the evening.  Wow, was I wrong.  On their very next song, Ditmas, Marcus Mumford jumped down off of the stage and appeared to be engaged with those in the front row.  But he didn’t stop there.  He made his way through the audience and all the way towards my section in the back of the seated part of the amphitheater.  Just then, he took a hard left and ran into the lawn section!  I’ve seen this happen a couple times with opening acts, but never with a headliner.  There were only a couple noticeable security guards around Marcus and running into the lawn which is of course general admission, they weren’t going to be able to do much if things got crazy.  This took a lot of trust on Mumford’s part.  But having that trust in his fans gave us the highlight of the evening.  He made his way down the other side of the amphitheater, then joining the general admission in the front of the amphitheater for the remainder of the song.  When the song was over, there was an extra level of applause in appreciation for this surprise visit into the venue.  Looking around, there were huge smiles and faces expressing awe of what just happened.  When you sit in the back of a venue, no one expects that the lead singer of the headlining band is going to come dance and sing with you.  Great move Marcus.

After a couple more songs, Mumford & Sons left the stage and the crowd, of course, roared for their encore.  One thing I hate with encores is when a band comes back out and only does one song.  So you would understand my elation at Mumford & Son’s four song encore.  I heard someone ask after their first encore song, “Do you think that’s the last song?”.  It wasn’t.  Then after their second encore song I heard someone say “Just play every song you have!”.  People who started out so slow on this cool Monday night now did not want this night to end.  They finished with a bang performing I Will Wait and The Wolf.

I waited for four years to see these guys, and they did not disappoint in any way.  I really hope they come back soon because I’ll see them anytime they make a stop here in Utah.  

Setlist

Snake Eyes
Little Lion Man
Holland Road
Wilder Mind
White Blank
Lover of the Light
Tompkins Square Park
Believe
Broken Crown
Ghosts That We Knew
Below My Feet
Awake My Soul
The Cave
Ditmas
Dust Bowl Dance
Cold Arms

Encore:

Hot Gates
Forever
I Will Wait
Wolf

Josh Groban w/ Sarah McLachlan USANA Amphitheater August 20, 2016

IMG_0466Josh Groban brought his much-anticipated Stages tour to the jam-packed USANA Amphitheater this past Saturday featuring Sarah McLachlan, a headliner in her own right, and support act Foy Vance. If vocal mastery is what you are looking for, this was the show to see.

I would have never pictured Sarah McLachlan and Josh Groban touring together. Their singing style and genre of music are quite different. Well, I guess this is why I’m not in charge of booking tours because this combination of talented vocalists created the perfect musical evening.

Sarah McLachlan was on point during her set in pretty much every way. With her soft and extremely pleasant speaking voice, she shared stories of heartbreak, loss, and hope for the future. There is nothing I like more in a concert than when I say, ‘Oh yeah!’, after hearing a song that I had forgotten. Sarah’s vast catalog was on display as she sang hit song after hit song. And I found myself saying, ‘Oh yeah!’ many times as I recalled how many of her songs I like. She shared a new song that will be on her forthcoming album. It blended right in with the others. She left the stage just as subtly as she walked on. She mentioned on her way out that we might be seeing her again later. More on that later.

Groban began the show in front of a huge curtain with only a piano to his right. He sang “Pure Imagination” from the film Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Midway through the song the curtain parted and his band and huge string section were revealed, much to the delight of the capacity crowd. This came as a surprise to many of the fans around me. I think they believed they were in for a Josh Groban concert with just a piano and his voice. Which would be a fantastic show to see in a theater or small club. But in a venue like USANA Amphitheater, that holds 20,000 people, you need a large orchestra.IMG_0468

I knew the music was live, and that of course, Josh was singing live, but I looked back at the soundboard a few times to see if maybe there was some sort of backing track. His voice is just that good. You must be saying “Of course it is. That’s why this venue is packed to see him.” I guess, I just wasn’t expecting him to sound that perfect live. It truly sounded as good as the recording. If not better!

I was really looking forward to this show because I knew he’d be promoting his Stages album. An album dedicated to some of his favorite songs
from Broadway musicals. I’m a fan of musical theater so I knew I’d be hearing songs that I really enjoy. Groban did not disappoint. He sang Broadway favorites such as, “What I did for love”, and a tribute to Stephen Sondheim singing “Children will listen/ Not while I’m around”, as well as the off broadway classic “Try to Remember” from The Fantasticks.

One of the best moments of the night was when he sang the Simon and Garfunkel hit “Bridge over troubled waters”. Now this would have been a great moment if Josh sang it alone. But he brought out his opener Foy Vance to sing it with him. Foy has a rich soulful voice. His voice paired with Josh Groban’s polished voice created a contrasting, yet beautiful blend. There were very few dry eyes when this song was over.

The highlight of the evening for me was when Josh sang one of my favorite songs, “Run” by Snow Patrol. When he got to the chorus, Sarah McLachlan joined him on stage. She had returned as promised, and they sounded so good together. They followed that song by singing her heartfelt ballad, “Angel”. Their voices were perfect together. As I mentioned, I would have never thought of these two together, but I’m so glad someone thought of it. We were very fortunate to see these two extremely talented vocalists perform together.

IMG_0469Groban’s main set finished with his biggest hit, “You Raise Me Up”. The crowd turned into The Milky Way, as the entire audience lit up their cell phones and were invited to sing along. Josh left, only momentarily, and gave us “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” for his encore.

Josh seems to be a very genuine guy. He’s one of those artists where you are really happy for his success, and he really seems to truly appreciate the career he has. He didn’t hesitate to recognize Utah as a location that has helped to advance his success in music. He mentioned his opportunity to sing at the Closing Ceremonies of the 2002 Winter Olympics. Mentioning how bitter cold it was that night, and how he didn’t realize how sad he would be making everyone singing as the Olympic flame was extinguished. He mentioned that he also filmed a DVD here and that the fans in Utah have always been great to him.

Josh Groban has really honed his craft not only as an incredible singer but as an entertainer. He’s really funny! He sings so many serious songs, whether they be classical arias, love songs, or art songs, that it would be really easy to keep his shows in that tone. But he does a terrific job of mixing these songs with humor, and interesting stories without diminishing the message of this songs. This is a true art form. And one that he has most certainly perfected.

I was really impressed with this concert. To have the opportunity to see one of the premier vocalists of our day, was a memorable experience. Josh Groban might not be for everyone, and he comically mentioned this possibility in the show, but it is impossible to deny his talent and success.  Look for him to make his much awaited Broadway debut this fall in The Great Comet.  

 

Gin Blossoms Kamas DeJoria Center August 19, 2016

FullSizeRender (5)Kamas might not be the first Utah town you think of when you think of places you might be headed for a concert.  But I promise you, you’ll be heading there more and more with the new Dejoria Center fully functional.  I was able to check out this new facility while checking out one the best bands of the ‘90s, Gin Blossoms.

There wasn’t much to dislike about the Dejoria Center.  The staff was extremely friendly, the concert hall was spacious and I thought the acoustics were really good.  At least to my amateur ears.  They had two large video screens at the side of the stage.  They’re almost too big for the venue, but it’s awesome to have screens this nice.  Some of the venues in Salt Lake City might want to look into getting screens like this.  This is a really accommodating venue, and I have a feeling this venue will attract a lot of bands.

The show opened with an acoustic set from two of the four members of the band Fyre & Reign.  The local band based out of Orem did a solid job opening the show.  I think it can be really difficult as a supporting act to gain interest from a crowd who came to see another band.  But Fyre & Reign didn’t hesitate to interact with the audience, even inviting them to sing along in the final chorus of their song “Get Out of the City”.

After the opening set, I broke with man code and struck up a conversation with Fyre & Ice singer, Mikael Lewis at the urinal.  I enjoyed hearing about his band, their recent UK tour, and how excited he was to be offered the opportunity to open for Gin Blossoms.  Be sure to look out for some of his solo acoustic shows around Utah.

Because Fyre & Reign played an acoustic set, we didn’t have to wait long for Gin Blossoms to come out.  Everything appeared to already be set up.  A quick sound check, and then they were on.  They opened with their top ten hit “Follow You Down”.  The crowd was definitely excited but for some reason remained in their seats.  There was singing along, clapping along, and a lot of excited people, but for some reason not too many stood.  Lead singer Robin Wilson clearly noticed this, and when the opening song was over, he mentioned that everyone who wanted to, come right up to the stage and fill the gap between the stage and the seats.  I know a lot of bands don’t suggest standing up, or people moving up, but I really liked this move by Wilson. It was obvious by the people rushing to the front of the stage, myself included, that people wanted to be on their feet.  And I don’t think there was anyone who needed to be invited twice to be that close to the band.

The first thing that stood out to me was how good the band sounded.  They pretty much sounded exactly the same as they did when they first showed up on the scene in 1992.  It was really impressive to me that Robin Wilson has been able to preserve his voice. The harmonies of Jesse Valenzuela are as important to Gin Blossom’s sound as any other part of their make up.  And they were perfect.

Gin Blossoms have a very relaxed demeanor on stage that can be mistaken for them not being into the show, and maybe just going through the motions.  Not so.  Being right at the front of the stage gave me the necessary vantage point to realize that they were having a good time.  They seemed to really like playing live, and they were appreciative of the enthusiastic crowd.


Robin had a couple tambourines that he would rotate throughout the crowd between fans both young and not as young.  He got the crowd clapping along to just about every song. He even promised to do a song suggested by an audience member that wasn’t on the setlist.  And sure enough, they did it in their encore.  They also scrapped what they called a “Power Ballad” to cover Johnny Cash favorite “Folsom Prison Blues”.  This is a band that truly cares about putting on a great show, and pleasing their audience.

As I looked throughout the crowd something that stood out to me was how many people were smiling, and how many people were singing every word of pretty much every song.  It hit me that while like Gin Blossoms, and have always enjoyed their music, to others, this is their favorite band of all time.  There were people with personalized license plates, and signs, and as I said, an impressive knowledge of lyrics.  That had to be an awesome site to see for the band.

I mean look at this guy!  How happy is he that he is seeing Gin Blossoms?!

IMG_5832If you see a band you like performing at the Dejoria Center, do yourself a favor and take a beautiful drive out to Kamas.  You’ll really enjoy this venue.  And if you ever have the opportunity, do yourself another favor and see the Gin Blossoms show. They will not disappoint.

 

Lord Huron & Trampled by Turtles Salt Lake City The Complex August 15, 2016

unnamed (27)I must admit, before last night, I had no idea that Lord Huron, or Trampled by Turtles even existed.  Shame on me because both of these bands are really talented and have great songs.  I have totally cheated myself for not having listened to them before.  But I’m glad I was given this opportunity to see them.

The thing I like most about seeing a band that I am not as familiar with is going into a show with zero expectations.  When I go to concerts of bands I’ve followed for years, I have hopes of hearing certain songs, and I expect things to go a certain way.  Well with these two bands, I didn’t know their hits versus their deep cuts.

Lord Huron took the stage right at 7:30.  I think the crowd was surprised by this because I walked right in the Complex and got a great spot dead center. About halfway through the first song, the crowd filled the space around me.  I honestly can’t think of a song I didn’t like.  The crowd was the indicator from me of which songs were their favorites.  My first impression was that these guys belong on the stage at Pioneer Park.  These guys would be perfect for the Twilight Concert Series.  Next summer maybe?  They have a certain indie flair that would be perfect for that setting.

Again, not knowing much about the band, I looked to the crowd for information.  I could tell that there were some fans there to see one band over another.  The thing I like about situations like these is the band and the way they perform their music will determine whether they win over the entire crowd or not.  Lord Huron did just that.  Before the show was over, they had the entire crowd’s attention.  They’re a very straight forward band.  Not much talking to the crowd, relaxed stage presence.  All that is just fine with me.  Some bands interact with the crowd a lot, others not so much.  I would prefer bands do what comes naturally than to try to force it.

They mentioned having played Salt Lake City in the past, recalling shows at Kilby Court, and the Depot.  Judging by the reaction of the audience, some fans were at those shows, while others just enjoyed that these local spots w
ere remembered.

I thought Lord Huron did an exceptional job of pleasing their fans, winning over the others, and for sure making a new fan out of me.  I look forward to the next time they come to town.  I will for sure be more knowledgeable about their music.

After hearing Lord Huron, I think I was most surprised to discover that Trampled by Turtles sounded nothing like them.  I guess that’s why there seemed to be a divide in the crowd.  Trampled by Turtles would be considered Americana if I were to try to label their sound.  They had elements of Country, Bluegrass, and even a little Spanish style in their songs.

I found it interesting that the six-piece band (Vocalist/ Acoustic Guitar, Acoustic Bass, Cellist, Banjo, Fiddle, and Mandolin) did not consist of a drummer.  And yet the crowd was dancing and moving as if there was one. While I felt like some songs would have sounded great with drums backing the song, I was really impressed with the energy and rhythm they produced drummer-less.

Each instrumentalist was a true talent in their craft.  Sometimes if felt like there were six soloists, meshing together.  And I mean that in a good way.  Each instrument had their time to be featured, in particular, the Mandolin and the Fiddle, but when they all played together they created a beautiful sound.

I’m sure many of you have heard the term “Dance like nobody’s watching.”.  Well, there was something about Trampled by Turtles performance that brought this reaction out of many crowd members.  As I looked around the complex, I saw people country dancing, dancing alone, pogoing up and down, and even dramatic slow dance between two dudes, during one of the softer numbers.  I think it takes a really talented band, to cause someone to just let loose and move the way you want to, without caring who might be looking on.
I really enjoyed this show.  If you are foolish like me and haven’t heard of these bands, do yourself a favor and check them out immediately.  They are very different in their style, but both incredibly talented.

Big Grams Pioneer Park, Twilight Concert Series July 28, 2016

IMG_5585Last night i made my way to Pioneer Park for my first show of this summer’s Twilight Concert Series where Big Grams made their much anticipated visit to Salt Lake City. Big Grams consists of the Electro Rock duo, Phantogram and Big Boi of Outkast fame.

I believe both Big Boi and Phantograms have taken the Twilight stage in the past but this was their first time appearing together as Big Grams.

Unfortunately I was unable to arrive in time to see the full set of Anderson .Paak and the Free Nationals.  But I will say this, as I was walking into the park, I noticed the crowd already seemed in top form.  They appeared to be the perfect opener for Big Grams.

Big Grams took the stage just a little after 9 o’clock.  They came out high energy from thestart, and in turn, the crowd was about as high energy as I have seen at Twilight.  From the first beat of their set until the last note, the crowd did not die down.  They were crowd surfing, sitting on shoulders, jumping, dancing, and from what I understand, even moshing.  And without any surprise, Sarah Barthel, lead vocalist of Phantagrams and of course Big Grams, commented on how great the crowd was. Then stating,“The best we’ve had so far! And I’m not just saying that!”  I feel like we’ve heard that before here in Utah, haven’t we?  I’d say we hear that commentary in just about every show that comes through this concert loving state!  Of course the crowd loved the compliment, and turned it up a few more notches for the remainder of the set.

I’d have to say the highlight of the evening was the mashup of Ms. Jackson, of course a huge hit for Outkast, and Mouthful of Diamonds, one of Phantograms initial hits. As if the crowd wasn’t crazy enough, they pretty much lost it during this point of the show. So much so, that I was being bumped, pushed, basically shoved from all sides to the point that I was unable to get any video footage to share with everyone.  If I had posted it you would have bet that I was filming a concert in right when an earthquake hit.

I have to say for a supergroup like this, with only one EP released, there was a lot of excitement for them to come to Salt Lake, and for their visit they were gifted one of the most excited crowds I’ve seen.

From what I’ve read, this EP is most probably their only collaboration.  But if they keep putting on shows like this, and if crowds keep reacting like this one did, I don’t see how Big Grams can stop.

Weezer & Panic! At The Disco USANA Amphitheater July 26, 2016

IMG_5537One of the most anticipated concerts of the summer has to be the Weezer and Panic! At The Disco tour.  You read me right.  Weezer and Panic! At The Disco are on tour together.  These bands really could not be more different.  I remember when I saw this, I was really confused as to why these bands would be paired together.  Whatever the reason, they brought their traveling show to the USANA Amphitheater last night.

The show opened with Andrew McMahon and The Wilderness of Jack’s Mannequin and Something Corporate fame.  I thought he did a solid job getting things started.  I always feel bad for opening bands at USANA.  They usually go on about an hour before sunset, therefore the sun is just blazing right in their face.  They must be burning up!  McMahon didn’t seem to feel the heat as he went from playing piano, to moving all around the stage, and at one point making his way all the way out to the lawn where the band had placed a parachute to be used elementary school style.  Fans held the edges as other fans ran underneath.  He closed with his most recent hit, “Cecillia and the Satellite”.

Panic! At The Disco followed about twenty minutes later.  Now one thing I’ll say for sure, Panic won the t-shirt battle.  Everywhere I looked the amphitheater was flooded with Panic! At The Disco shirts.  For a minute there I was worried for Weezer that they’d be playing to a half empty venue.

My opinion of a band doesn’t really matter.  The only reason I tend to give my feelings for the band is so readers know the point of view that this review is coming from.  With that said, I have never really listened to Panic! At The Disco.  I can’t say anything negative because it’s not like I ever listened to them and hated them.  I simply hadn’t heard much of them.  Which by the way is always strange to me that I missed ever listening to a band this big.  Anyway, I fully recognize that I’m not really the right person to be writing a review on a band I barely know. Being aware of this, I decided to get a better reading on the show by watching the Panic! At The Disco t-shirt wearing fans, focusing on the very excited middle school aged girls right next to me.  (Not creepy sounding at all.)

From minute one of Panic’s set, they were singing every word and in a state of euphoria.   They were filming their favorite songs, and singing in each other’s faces as you would expect of people seeing their favorite band.  I looked around the venue, and these girls certainly weren’t the only ones loving this performance.  And don’t get me wrong, I was really impressed with the band.  Their sound is really unique, and Brendon Urie has an incredible vocal range.  He played piano, and drums and guitar throughout the set.  Their sound seemed to blend together a number of genres from jazz, to punk, to B-52’s, to Modern Rock.  They even covered Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody”.  Urie certainly had the vocal range, and kudos to the rest of the band for pulling off the song.  It certainly was a crowd pleaser. I mean, who doesn’t love “Bohemian Rhapsody”?

I was happy for all of those who were there primarily to see Panic.  They were given a great show, and I’d say even most Weezer fans would come away from seeing Panic! At The Disco appreciating their performance and talent.

Now, when Weezer took the stage, USANA Amphitheater still seemed to be at capacity.  So my worries that Weezer wouldn’t be playing to a full crowd were unnecessary.  The band opened with “California Kids” from their newest album.  It’s always interesting to see how new songs go over with a crowd wanting to hear hits, as well as other fans who came to see the other headliner.  But it was the perfect opening song to get things going.  Surprising to me, the crowd sang along.  So I was foolish for assuming people might not want to hear it.

From there the band rolled out about some of their biggest hits and best songs.  I was out on the lawn, and the enormous sold out venue was in a frenzy at this point.  There were people head banging to “Hash Pipe”, as well as possibly busting out their own hash pipe in celebration.  There were others dancing like no one was looking during “Pork and Beans”, or “Perfect Situation”.  “Perfect Situation” being a personal favorite of mine.

I found it interesting that during this stage of the concert, the middle school Panic! At The Disco fans were now watching me, happy for me that I was getting to experience the euphoria they had previously felt.  It would seem my excitement got them a little more excited and they began to dance, and even sang along to songs that they were surprised that they knew.

I’m just going to say, I was not holding back.  Weezer songs are so fun to sing along to. And was I singing along!  I was pumping my fist, screaming lyrics, and there may have been a few clumsy dance moves.

I looked over to some fans around me in the middle of the song “Beverly Hills”.  At the same time they looked over at me.  We caught each other in a state of perma grin.  We laughed and i said, “How awesome is this?!”.  They followed with, “This is incredible!!!! Wooooo!”.  And they we sang the lyrics as loudly as we could.  There is not much I enjoy more than bonding with a complete stranger over a similar interest.

When I sit back and think about why this Weezer set was so great, I strangely had to stop and thing about it for a minute to get a solid answer.  Their lighting and the graphics on the big screen behind the band are really cool, but that’s not what makes the show great.  They don’t do a ton of crowd work, so that’s not why I was so happy with concert.  They don’t dance, or run all around the stage, or have a really powerful presence on the stage.  Don’t get me wrong, they’re fun.  Rivers Cuomo sang one song with a crown and royal cape, another with a sombrero or oversized cowboy hat (Hard to tell from the lawn.).  They brought out a bunch of huge beach balls and threw them into the audience.  They even read some tweets that had been posted about the show.  So their stage presence is not boring by any means.  But that can’t be why the show was so great.  And after sifting through the reasons I came to a conclusion.  This show was amazing because they sound great live, and they have outstanding songs that are perfect for a concert. Their songs are so memorable that even if you aren’t a huge fan, you still know all the words.

All in all, it was a very good night for live music. All three bands did a great job. And for me, Weezer was in the right place. Closing the show. I have no doubt that there were probably some fans in attendance that would have preferred Panic! At The Disco close the show. I’m sure it’s all a matter of perspective. But if you were a fan of one over the other, or a fan of both, I know everyone there could agree that even though these bands seemed to be an unusual pairing, they brought us a really fun night.

Panic! At The Disco Setlist 
Don’t Threaten Me with a Good Time
Vegas Lights
The Ballad of Mona Lisa
Hallelujah
Time to Dance
Emperor’s New Clothes
Girls/Girls/Boys
Ready to Go (Get Me Out of My Mind)
Nine in the Afternoon
Crazy=Genius
Miss Jackson<
Golden Days
Bohemian Rhapsody(Queen cover)
LA Devotee
I Write Sins Not Tragedies
This is Gospel
Positive Hardcore Thursday/ Positive Hardcore
Victorious

Weezer Setlist
California Kids
Hash Pipe
My Name Is Jonas
(If You’re Wondering If I Want You To) I Want You To
Pork and Beans
I Love the USA
Perfect Situation
Thank God for Girls
Beverly Hills
Dope Nose / Back to the Shack / Keep Fishin’ / The Good Life / Surf Wax America
Undone – The Sweater Song
King of the World / Only in Dreams
Island in the Sun
Say It Ain’t So

Encore:
El Scorcho
Buddy Holly

Boston & Dennis DeYoung USANA Amphitheater June 25, 2016

unnamed (6)This past Saturday, Boston stopped by the USANA Amphitheater on their 40th Anniversary Tour. My main reason for attending this concert was to see their opener Dennis DeYoung.  Dennis is one of the founding members of the band STYX.  He was one of the lead vocalists, as well as a writer of many of their biggest hits.  While I don’t usually go into much detail on openers, I really want to share my feelings about seeing DDY in person for the first time.

I was a kid when STYX was releasing 5 multi platinum albums in a row.  I had heard many of their songs, and was enthralled with the “Mr. Roboto” video.  But it wasn’t until the late 90’s when boy bands and Britney Spears were ruling the airwaves, that I decided to look in the music vault and there I discovered STYX.  I heard they were going on tour, so I went to their website to see when they’d be in town.  I noticed that in the band pictures, Mr. DeYoung was not pictured with the rest of the group.  So I did a little research and came to find that he was no longer a part of the band.  His songs were my favorite so it was really disappointing.  The history of his departure has been laid out in VH1’s “Behind the Music”, as well as plenty of interviews with the band. So if you want more info on that, there are places to find it.  Anyway,  I went to see the DeYoung-less STYX, and I will say it was a really fun show.  But whenever they would do DDY song, as much as their new keyboard player and vocalist tried, he was no Dennis.  He was a solid performer too.  But there is nothing like the original in most cases.  So from that time, until now, I’ve been really wanting to see Dennis DeYoung perform his songs.  And this past Saturday, there he was, opening for Boston.

Dennis performed for 45 minutes, and it went quick!  He opened with “Grand Illusion”, “Lady”, “Blue Collar Man” and then “Mr. Roboto”.  A song that STYX never does.  And say what you will about that song, it was a huge hit for them, and it was well received by the crowd. He was really engaging with the audience, telling jokes, and interacting with fans in between songs.  He even performed STYX songs that he didn’t sing lead on.  For these gave way to his lead guitarist August Zadra, who did an exceptional job filling in for Tommy Shaw.

As I mentioned, for someone who has really wanted to see Dennis DeYoung for over 15 years, the time went fast.  He ended with “Come Sail Away”, and the crowd was singing along, and into it as if he was closing the entire show.

When I saw STYX, I really missed DDY being there, but when I saw Dennis, I didn’t really miss the other guys.  Maybe it’s because I’ve already seen the other guys of STYX, or maybe it’s due to always really liking Dennis’ songs.  Hard to say.  But I do remember thinking that these guys would put on an amazing show if they were all together again.  And that sentiment was felt by many of the fans there at USANA.  When Dennis was finished, I ran to wait in line at the restroom.  Manyof the guys in line with me, as well as people walking by were talking about how great that show was. Several mentioned how great it would be if Dennis was to rejoin STYX.  One can only hope!

Dennis DeYoung Setlist

The Grand Illusion
Lady
Blue Collar Man (Long Nights)
Mr. Roboto
Too Much Time on My Hands
Babe
The Best of Times
The End (Beatles Cover)
Renegade
Come Sail Away

BOSTON

As I mentioned, I attended this concert to see Dennis DeYoung.  But don’t get me wrong.  Boston has been a huge band my whole life.  I have many friends who are die hard Boston fans.  I have never seen them, so I was looking forward to seeing them.

Boston came out with guns blazing!  Theyplayed four of their biggest songs, of course starting with the “Star Spangled Banner” leading right into “Rock N Roll Band”.  They played hit after hit much to the delight of this surprisingly much older crowd.  I don’t know why I was surprised by that, Boston has been around for 40 years.  

Tom Scholz is the only remaining original band member still in Boston.  But he’s the songwriter, producer, etc. So I suppose if he’s still in there, it almost doesn’t matter who else is with him. Some of the current band members have been with Boston longer than some originals.  I found them all to be very accomplished, and great performers.   I was really impressed with Tommy DeCarlo.  A Boston fan who replaced Brad Delp on lead vocals after his unfortunate passing in 2007.  He sounded great, and fit the Boston sound everyone is accustomed to.

Another favorite band member of mine was Beth Cohen on keyboard and backing vocals. She was so into the show, covering all the incredibly high harmonies that we love.  She even took the lead on a track or two.  Her voice was amazing!

The order of the setlist to was really peculiar to me.  Keep in mind this is my first Boston show, so maybe they have always done things like this. As I mentioned, they sang a ton of huge songs right off the bat, and then the 2nd half of the show felt like it was mostly instrumental.  I would have thought they would have placed the hit songs throughout the show while throwing in instrumentals in between.  But again, maybe this is how they’ve always done it, so who am I to judge.  

Overall it was a really entertaining show, and I would probably see them again.  It’s interesting to me with bands of this era.  They’ve been panned in the annals of Rock n Roll history.  They’ve been called “Sell-Out Rock” “Arena Rock” or “Corporate Rock”.  But if you really listen, you’ll see that these bands are really talented. Of course, if you like Boston, make sure you get out to one of their shows.  You’ll have a good time.

Boston Setlist

The Star-Spangled Banner
Rock & Roll Band
Smokin’
Feelin’ Satisfied
Peace of Mind
Long Time Segue
Cool the Engines
We’re Ready
Higher Power
I Think I Like It
Don’t Look Back
Something About You
Amanda
The Launch
More Than a Feeling
“E” Jam
The Journey

To Be a Man
Walk On
Walk On (Some More)
Foreplay/ Long Time

Encore:
Used to Bad News
Party