Collective Soul September 12, 2018 Days of ’47 Arena Salt Lake City

By: Justin Hicken

Collective Soul has developed a strong relationship with their fans in Utah.  Last night’s performance at the Days of ‘47 Arena on the Utah State Fairgrounds was the third straight summer they have toured through the state.  Bands usually don’t come back that often if they aren’t well received here, and Collective Soul is very well received in Utah.

Before we discuss the show, there is one nit that needs to be picked. Continue reading “Collective Soul September 12, 2018 Days of ’47 Arena Salt Lake City”

UCR Interview- Will Turpin of Collective Soul

By Kevin Rolfe

Photo By: Joseph Guay

Collective Soul has joined up with 3 Doors Down on the “Rock & Roll Express Tour”, which makes its stop here in Utah on September 12, at the Days of ’47 Arena.  Which is on the Utah State Fairgrounds.  I had the opportunity to visit with Will Turpin about Collective Soul’s upcoming show here in Utah.  We also discussed his solo album Serengeti Drivers, U2, and Paul McCartney.  Enjoy!  

Utah Concert Review: Hi Will!  I appreciate you taking the time to speak with me today.  Collective Soul and 3 Doors Down seem like a great pairing of bands for a tour.  What are some things bands can expect from this show?

Will Turpin:  Nice to speak with you today.  People are going to hear the songs that they know.  Some of this songs have become big hits. So they’ve kind of become the soundtrack to people’s lives in a way.  You’re going to get to see two different bands. So you’re going to see the different styles between us. I can really only speak to Collective Soul.  We have this thing, even 24 years later where we throw a lot of energy out there. It’s a tangible back and forth thing where the crowd gives us energy as well.  People can expect some great rock songs, and hopefully some great rock performances.

UCR:  I think that’s something comes across on your live album. You’ve been around for almost 25 years and this live album is a new release.  Sometimes I’ll hear a live album and I’ll think, ‘maybe I won’t go see them live.’, but with your album, it made me more excited to see the show in person.  

WT:  If we didn’t think that was still there, I don’t know how often we’d want to play live.  There’s definitely still something there where you can feel it. There’s a little magic there.  We definitely have the energy.

UCR:  Do you still get that anxiety before you take the stage, or have you done it so much that you’re just excited to be out there, but the nervousness has gone?  

WT:  There are instances of performing live where I’ll get a little anxiety.  Like performing on live TV you get a little anxiety. But when you’re on stage where you have fans there that have paid to come see you, you know they want to see us play, there’s really no nerves necessarily.  It’s really more of a ‘let’s go get it, let’s have fun’.

UCR:  If memory serves, Collective Soul has been to Utah for three summers in a row now.  And from what I’ve heard all the shows have been well received. Is there something about Utah and your fans here that keep you coming back so often?  

WT:  We definitely love the crowds there in Utah.  It’s always been a strong market for us. I’ve got to say we’ve been lucky.  We don’t necessarily have a weak market, but Utah has always been a very special place for us.  I don’t know, it seems like the crowds there are always extra special. Like I said before, it’s a two-way street.  I feel like we’re bringing it too, but we’ve always had great shows in Utah. That’s definitely something that’s real with us and that we recognize.  

Photo By: Joseph Guay

UCR:  You recently released a solo album.  It looks like you recorded with about 15 different musicians, some of which have spent time in Collective Soul in the past.  What are some of the benefits of recording a solo album as opposed to an album with the band?

WT:  First off I sit down and I start these songs with just me.  The inspiration starts from a different spot than a Collective Soul album.  With Collective Soul, it’s a rock band and I’m playing bass. The benefit of doing a solo album, you get to create and find yourself, and find your creative side outside of the setting that Collective Soul is, and it’s not that Collective Soul has ever been stifling in any way.  But as a band, we think it’s good for us to explore our art and whatever we’re feeling outside of Collective Soul. It’s not like with Collective Soul we’ve kept ourselves in a box. We cross a number of genres. It re-energizes you to be able to go create and finish these songs outside of the Collective Soul umbrella.  And in my mind, you might be able to hear some relevance to Collective Soul in a couple songs, but I don’t think they’re Collective Soul songs. And it’s not like I want them to be.  Like I said, it’s just a good thing to be able to go create outside of Collective Soul. It just makes us stronger when we get back together. We’re like “Woah Dude, we still have some magic when we’re together.”.  You can feel it, man, when we create together I still have those hairs that stand up on my skin. It’s a beautiful thing.

Photo By: Joseph Guay

UCR:  We touched on this a little, but next year Collective Soul will be celebrating 25 years as a band.  You have the benefit of playing a setlist that is filled with songs that have charted and some that have even reached #1.  I’m sure that took a lot of work. I’m curious with a band like yours, that has achieved so much success, what part of your career do you enjoy the most?  Is it the excitement of when you’re in the middle of making all of that happen? Or is it now where you have more control over your career, your touring, and I’m guessing your money?  What is better, the peak or the climb?

WT:  They are very different.  With us during the climb, during the beginning up until 2001 when we were with Atlantic Records, we were so busy and so focused on what we were going to do next, just so focused on taking steps forward to get to where we are now, it was hard to enjoy what was happening.  I mean, we were enjoying the moment, but we wanted to be that band that had a real catalog. We wanted to be that band that had more than one hit. So we were always going forward, forward, forward. So yeah, now there are different benefits being successful 24 years later.  We get to pick our schedule a little more, and we have a lot of fun. Me and Dean (Roland, rhythm guitar) grew up together so there’s a genuine friendship and a genuine love there. We don’t take it for granted, and we’re really appreciative. We appreciate the fans. We thank the fans every night, and we really mean it.  So yeah, it’s great to be in this spot all these years later. I think I’d have to say I like this spot better.

UCR:  Do you remember the first concert you ever attended?  

WT:  I think the first concert I had ever gone to was U2 Joshua Tree tour.  My dad was a musician so he played some big festivals here and there, but my first real concert I went to was that tour.  

UCR:  Did you happen to go to the Joshua Tree 30th anniversary tour?

WT:  No, Dean and Ed (Roland, lead vocalist) got to go.  I saw some video of it though. Those guys, they just can’t do any wrong.  It’s just so amazing man.

UCR: They really can’t.  I mean how after all these years can U2 still be thinking of all these new and innovative ways to do a concert?  It’s nuts!

WT:  How? Seriously, How? And it’s still as amazing as ever!  It’s original, but still themselves. And still just four guys on stage.  

UCR:  Do you remember the first time you performed live?

WT:  It would have to have been in a talent show in like third grade.  I put Ace Frehley makeup on and I played drums to Steve Martin’s “King Tut”.  It was a comedy record I liked in third grade for some reason in third grade. I had KISS’ guitarist makeup on, and I was playing drums.

UCR:  That’s quite the combining of worlds there.  

WT:  Yeah! (laughing)  I combined them all together.  I don’t know why or what I was doing.

UCR:  Do you have a show you’ve attended that you thought “This is the best concert I’ve ever seen.”?

WT:   Paul McCartney is clearly my main inspiration and main idol.  I got to see him live 4 or 5 years ago and I can’t really mess with that.  Whenever he’s singing and playing that’s pretty much the best for me.

UCR:  I saw him here in Utah around the same time and it’s almost like a religious experience.

WT:  Oh, it was definitely a religious experience for me.  I didn’t realize how emotional I’d be. Just walking him on stage, I got very emotional.  And I’m a professional! This is what I do, and I got, woah, I was like a kid fan again. It was weird.  

UCR:  I love hearing that.  That’s exactly how I was.  For me when he walked out it was this weird feeling of “That’s really him!”.  And then he brings out his iconic Hofner Bass…

WT:  Oh Man, I mean, I was happy, but I was tearing up!  I was 43 years old and I was like “What the hell is going on here?”.

UCR:  Last question.  You’ve played so many shows that it might be impossible to pin down just one.  So I’ll ask, what was your favorite tour you’ve been on?

WT:  The best tour was the ‘95 tour with Van Halen.  It was Sammy Hagar’s last record with the band. They just treated us like little brothers.  I was 24 years old on that tour. The fact that Sammy Hagar, and Michael Anthony, and Eddie Van Halen are still friends of ours, it just means the world to me.  So that’s what I’ll always reference as my favorite tour. And as far as shows, I’d say both Woodstock’s ‘94 and ‘99.

UCR:  That must have been nuts.  Just an ocean of people out there.  

WT: It really was.  You could not see the end of humanity.  You just couldn’t see it. Especially the first one.  They estimated around 400,000 people out there.

UCR:  What a sight that must have been.  Thanks again for taking the time. It was a pleasure!  

WT:  Cheers man!  We’ll talk again later buddy!  

Collective Soul will be here in Utah with 3 Doors Down on September 12.  Tickets are still available.  Click here for tickets!  

Also, check out Will’s solo album Serengeti Drivers. Available wherever you get your music!  

Midge Ure & Paul Young September 5, 2018 The Commonwealth Room Salt Lake City

I have been wanting to see a show at The Commonwealth Room ever since it opened in May of this year.  When I saw that Midge Ure was going to be playing there I was excited to know that I’d be seeing one of my favorite artists play this new venue.  Of course, I thought I would have attended at least a couple shows at The Commonwealth Room by the time Midge arrived, but for one reason or another, Midge’s “Soundtrack of Your Life” tour with Paul Young would be my first venture in the venue brought to us by the folks from The State Room.  

I was totally impressed with The Commonwealth Room.  It’s laid out similarly to The State Room in downtown Salt Lake City, but I’d say it’s more long, where The State Room is wide.  The sound in there is great, and there isn’t a bad view of the stage in the house. When the show was over we were kind of rushed to leave by security.  That was a little disappointing because my understanding is Midge usually comes out to the merch table after the show. I felt like that was what most the people still hanging out were waiting for.  But they were friendly in their escorting us out of the venue. So that’s nice. It would have been nice to have met Midge after the show though. 

When I spoke with Midge a week ago, he mentioned that the flip of a coin would determine whether he or Paul would go on first.  The coin landed on Midge and he opened the night. There was no opening act so he went on right after 8 o’clock. I must admit, Midge was who I was there to see, so I was hoping he would get to close the show.  Nevertheless, there he was on stage first. The benefit of that coin flip was I wouldn’t have to wait to see him. Once he was out there, I was worried about who was on first or last, I was just excited to be seeing him again.

Midge Ure

Midge opened with one of my favorite Ultravox songs “Passing Strangers”.  It was immediately obvious that this wasn’t only a favorite of mine, but a favorite of the entire audience.  The truth is, this was a very pro Midge Ure crowd. It almost didn’t matter what he said or played, the audience was behind him.  He even jokingly chastised a fan who was on their phone in the front row. He asked “Are you checking your Facebook? Is it that boring?”.  He said it all with a smile on his face, and the audience laughed and cheered. He mentioned, “They don’t realize that it illuminates their face like the sun.”.  I think it really did annoy him, but he pulled it off in a humorous way so that it didn’t create an awkward moment and ruin the positive energy of the show. But here’s a tip folks, maybe if you’re in the front row of a concert, don’t check your social media accounts.  Artists don’t seem to mind having their pictures taken, or even being videoed. But it has to be difficult not to take it personally when someone is looking at their email, or Instagram when they’re working their hardest to entertain you on stage. So please keep that in mind.  

Ure played a condensed set due to the double headlining nature of this tour.  I thought he did a great job mixing in his solo hits like “Dear God” and “If I Was”, with Visage hits like “Fade to Grey”.  Of course, the majority of his hour on stage was spent performing Ultravox classics like “Hymn”, “All Stood Still”, and the audience favorite “Vienna”. The crowd sang along and applauded each one of these songs.  These singles were never huge hits in America. So I think those in attendance delighted in the opportunity to hear these songs live. It took them back to a time when they really had to mine these gems from record shops and college radio.  Midge sounded fantastic and he was a pleasure to hear.

Midge also mentioned how talented the musicians he had hired to play for him and Paul Young on this tour.  They come from the Berklee School of Music in Massachusetts. And he was absolutely right, they were fantastic.  Not only with Midge, but with Paul as well. The three-piece consisted of bass, drums, and keyboards. The songs they were playing were most certainly older than them, but they played them with the proper styling and purpose that you’d hope to hear from a band playing music from a specific era of music.  I was really impressed with each one of them.

Midge’s set seemed so short.  It ran for eleven songs and for only one hour which felt like twenty minutes.  When he walked off stage, I looked around and many of the people around me stated the same sentiment to their friends.  “That’s it?” The song suspiciously missing from his set was “Dancing With Tears In My Eyes”. I think this left fans disappointed. I’ve noticed on other setlists on this tour the song was performed.  Curious why he didn’t play it. But I think fans being disappointed is sort of a compliment. “Leave them wanting more!” they say. And the crowd most certainly wanted more Midge Ure.

Midge Ure Setlist
Passing Strangers
Dear God
If I Was
Become
New Europeans
Fade to Grey
I Remember (Death in the Afternoon)
Fragile
Vienna
All Stood Still
Hymn

Paul Young

 

Paul walked on to the stage with the same backing band as Midge, but he brought with him his lead guitarist, Jamie Moses.  The song “Some People” began. The crowd clapped along to the beat, and then cheered when Paul made his appearance onto the stage. I thought Paul looked great.  He seemed happy to be in a great mood, joking with the audience and at times I noticed him joking around with the band mid-song.  

I thought there were times where Paul sounded great.  His voice has aged but he generally knows just the right area in a song to place his voice so that it still sounds good.  I always respect the professionalism of an artist that can adjust their voice to a song when they can no longer sing it like they did when they were younger.  Singers like Bono or even Midge come to mind. They find a new way to interpret a song so that it has the same impact, we’re just taken there in a different way.  So it was with Paul. The soulful raspiness of his voice brought the house down many times.

I thoroughly enjoyed guitarist Jamie Moses.  For one, he’s extremely talented. His playing gave Paul’s set a real soulful and bluesy feel.  The way Jamie and Paul engaged with each other was fun.  Jaime really added to the music and blended perfectly with the three other guys in the band.  It was a great move for Paul to bring him on tour.

I would say the only unfortunate thing was that after Midge’s set, a good number of people left.  So I’d say the audience for Paul was only about half of what it was for the beginning of the night.  That didn’t seem to bother Young because he still sang his heart out, and danced as if the place was at capacity.  Another admirable quality of a true professional. And those who stayed were delivered a good time.

Paul Young spanned his career catalog to the enjoyment of the crowd.  Songs like “Love of the Common People” which was featured on the Sixteen Candles soundtrack, and “Get ‘em Up, Joe” were well liked.  He received especially strong ovations when he sang “What Becomes of the Broken Hearted” and of course, his biggest hit,  “Everytime You Go Away”.  On the latter song, the audience sang along, and as I looked around people were signing it to each other with smiles on our faces.

Those that stuck around for the entire night were treated to an encore that included both Paul Young and Midge Ure on the stage together.  They covered the Thin Lizzy song “Boys are Back in Town”. Which was particularly exciting because Midge actually spent time as a member of Thin Lizzy in the late 70’s and early 80’s.  It was the most rocking song of the night so it seemed to give the band and Jamie a chance to really go for it. It was fun. Jamie and Midge would go back and forth with guitar riffs. I think this was a real pleasant surprise to the audience and they loved it.  

This was a really fun night and a ride back to the 80’s.  I think the general sentiment from the attendees was “More Midge”.  It was who they were there to see. I think they were surprised how much they enjoyed Paul Young, but at least for Utah, I think they would have preferred Paul open, and Midge give them a full set.  

I did enjoy Paul Young. He hadn’t played Utah in over twenty years so it was great to have him back.   They seemed to enjoy touring together. And the fact that they played together in the encore was a solid indicator of that. You don’t always see that with bands. Many times an artist or band that has already played will head out on the road or go back to the hotel when they’re done.  So it was cool to see these guys actually perform together.  I do want a full set from Midge, but tonight was not that show.  I still enjoyed it very much. I guess he’ll just have to come see us again soon.  

Smashing Pumpkins September 4, 2018 Vivint Arena

How do I go about discussing the Smashing Pumpkins Shiny and Oh So Bright tour, featuring a reunited line up of Billy Corgan, James Iha, and Jimmy Chamberlin?  How do I begin to comb over the 32 song setlist with all but 4 or 5 songs being from their first five albums? I should probably just share the setlist and let you imagine what this evening was like.  Nevertheless, I shall make my attempts to review what was a lengthy, and epic night from one of the greatest alt-rock bands of all time. Is that how you would classify them? Alt-rock? Or nineties rock?  How about 90’s alt- rock? That feels like a solid compromise.

So before we even begin to discuss Smashing Pumpkins, let’s have a conversation about Metric.  I had no idea they were the support band for Smashing Pumpkins until I was told the set times by the venue.  So for me, it was a happy surprise. I enjoy Metric. I think I’ve officially been to too many concerts though.  I know I’ve seen them live before, but I can’t remember when! Anyway, I thought they did a great job opening the night.  Their driving beats and lead singer Emily Haines clear vocals got the crowd going, as they trickled into Vivint Smart Home Arena.  I notice quite a few fans scattered throughout the arena pumping their fists in the air along with Emily during their closing song “Help I’m Alive”.  They received a very respectable ovation as they left the stage.

The main thing that surprised me about the show was the attendance. This show did not sell well.  The entire upper bowl was draped and covered. I was blown away. This band with this lineup seemed like a sure fire sell out.  I’m sure the absence of the lone original member not on this tour, D’Arcy Wretzky kept a few people away because it wasn’t a complete reunion tour.  But there’s no way that kept an entire upper bowl’s worth of people away. Did it?

I read an article in Forbes that gives some suggestions of why the tour didn’t sell well. I’ve heard outside of Chicago and Los Angeles, most of the tour hasn’t sold as well as anticipated. A few of the reasons being it’s at the end of the summer tour where some of Smashing Pumpkins contemporaries have come through town and the concert market was saturated and fans that would typically attend this show had already spent their concert budget on other tours.  The absence of Wretzky is mentioned, as well as the ever-polarizing frontman Billy Corgan. It’s an interesting read. Check it out. After you finish this review!!!

Despite the lower than expected attendance, those who were there seemed quite excited to see this show.  And as soon as the lights lowered, the roar of the crowd began. In the large digital screen that would move and separate throughout the evening, images of the band’s first five albums  Gish, Siamese Dream, Pisces Iscariot, Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness, and Adore would appear. Each album being cheered by the audience. Then at first in silhouette form, frontman and principal songwriter Billy Corgan appeared.  

He began playing his acoustic guitar.  It was immediately obvious that he was playing “Disarm”.  I saw some people look at each other and say “This is going to be a good night!”.  It really was a great way to start the show.

Following “Disarm”, the rest of the band stepped onto the stage to thunderous applause. The roar was due to getting to see James Iha and Jimmy Chamberlin on stage in Smashing Pumpkins again.  I must admit it was really cool to see them together. They followed with a blistering run of great songs in “Rocket”, “Siva”, and “Rhinoceros”.  Just one great song after another.

The first surprise of the evening was a cover of David Bowie’s “Space Oddity”.  Can’t say I saw that coming. But, it fit. They gave it their own style and it sounded awesome and odd and like a Smashing Pumpkins song.  Corgan was draped with a hooded cloak and walked onto a platform at the back of the stage looking out into a landscape of the universe.

The show went on for an hour before finally, James Iha addressed the crowd.  He was the first band member to speak up to this point. He was brief but said that they were glad to be in Salt Lake City and that they were just ⅓ of the way through the show.  And that it was going to be taken up a notch. I get it, Smashing Pumpkins aren’t a band that’s going to tell a bunch of stories and say things like “Hello Salt Lake City!”, or start a clap along, but a full hour before hearing from anyone seemed strange.  At least to me. They sort of just put their heads down and plowed into the setlist.

Another surprise following a couple songs, the stage went dark while the band switched guitars and moved throughout the stage, and a Mark Magrath of Sugar Ray fame appeared on the digital screen.  He was dressed as a 20’s era carnival showman. He introduced “Blew Away” and “1979”. I had no idea he was friends with the band. Maybe he isn’t and he just filmed the part. But it was an entertaining way to introduce the songs.

I have always found it so fascinating that Smashing Pumpkins covered Fleetwood Mac’s “Landslide”.  On paper, it doesn’t seem like a song they’d do or a song that would work for them. But it really does. Somehow Billy Corgan’s voice fits the song perfectly, and their arrangement is original.  I felt the same thing when I heard them playing it live. How did they ever decide to do this song? But I’m glad they did. It was an obvious highlight.

While the show was full of great songs from each album, which you will see from the setlist, I can’t help but talk about the songs they covered.  Like “Stairway to Heaven” for instance. I can’t have you look through the setlist without discussing that Smashing Pumpkins covered Led Zeppelin!  Billy Corgan began the song on keys, and at first, I thought he was just playing the intro and would then lead into one of their songs. But sure enough, they did the whole song.  And again, I was surprised they did it but impressed with how well it worked for them.

Finally, let me just comment on the band itself.  James Iha was a joy to watch, He has such a unique style of playing, and while he doesn’t posterize or move around the stage like many lead guitarists, he brings a strong stage presence to the band, and to the presentation.  

 

Jimmy Chamberlin was really fun for me to watch.  My seat was in a place where I was pretty much to the side and just above him. Drummers amazing me in general.  I don’t know how they do all that they do. But hearing him play in person was a real thrill.

Billy Corgan is such an interesting and odd frontman.  He said “Thank you kindly” a couple of times, and I think “Come on Salt Lake City!”. And that was about it when it came to speaking with the audience.  However, he seemed to communicate in other ways. The way he looked to the audience or pointed to certain people seemed to be his way of connecting with the crowd.  He adds such a dramatic element to the entire evening. He demands the attention of everyone’s eyes. He is an imposing presence, to say the least.

While often in the background, guitarist Jeff Schroeder who has been in Smashing Pumpkins since 2007 most certainly makes his presence felt with his playing.  And Katie Cole, sometimes hidden in the shadows on stage added beautiful backing vocals and keys. Now if you’re not going to have D’Arcy, then I suppose the next best thing is to bring on a bass player with a great pedigree in alternative music.  Jack Bates is the son of Peter Hook who was the bassist of Joy Division and New Order. While Jack comes from alternative royalty, he doesn’t rest on his lineage. He’s an exceptional bassist in his own right.

The night ended with another interesting cover of “Baby Mine”.  Yep, that “Baby Mine” from the 1941 Disney classic “Dumbo”. Again, it’s impossible for me to say how or why, but it worked.  Perhaps not as the closer of the entire show, but as a Smashing Pumpkins cover, yes. It had a darkness but a tenderness that only Smashing Pumpkins can pull off.  

I think the reason I decided to discuss their covers in this review is that it shows the strength and originality of this band.  Their original songs are theirs, but to make the songs of others feel like a Smashing Pumpkins song takes talent.   Their own songs were going to be great live, and they were. No one would expect any less. When Corgan stepped to the mic and said “The World is a Vampire” to start “Bullet With Butterfly Wings” the place went nuts!  And it was performed perfectly. And it was as great to hear live as I had hoped. But with these covers, it reminded me of just how unique and talented this band really is. It was good to see them back together.

 Setlist
Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness
Disarm
Rocket
Siva
Rhinoceros
Space Oddity
Drown
Zero
The Everlasting Gaze
Stand Inside Your Love
Thirty-Three
Eye
Soma
Blew Away
For Martha
To Sheila
Mayonaise
Porcelina of the Vast Oceans
Landslide
Tonight, Tonight
Stairway to Heaven
Cherub Rock
1979
Ava Adore
Try, Try, Try
The Beginning Is the End Is the Beginning
Hummer
Bullet With Butterfly Wings
Muzzle

Encore
Solara
Baby Mine

UCR Interview: Interview 2 with Midge Ure of Ultravox

Interviewed By: Kevin Rolfe

Midge Ure of Ultravox and Visage fame returns to Salt Lake City Wednesday, September 5 at The Commonwealth Room with another great vocalist from the 80’s Paul Young.  I had the opportunity to speak with Midge this last week for the second time.  As you’ll see from the interview below, he was a pleasure to speak with.  

Utah Concert Review: Hi Midge, I’m looking at your tour schedule. It looks like you’re next stop on the tour is the Bay Area.  

Midge Ure:  Yeah we’re heading towards there. We have two nights off from Portland.  So we’re in a little town called Eureka, in California. Which we figured out was named because of the gold rush 150 years ago.  So we’re moving on from here on the way towards San Francisco. So we’re stopping off again tonight, which gives me a chance to let my very sad voice recover a bit before we do the show in San Francisco.  

UCR:  That’s a beautiful part of the country that most people don’t get to go through.  So I’m glad you’ve been able to experience that.

MU:  Oh, stunning!  I don’t know why I’ve never done that drive before.  We deviated off the I-5 which I think we’ve taken for most of our journey and went to the northern part of the 101, which of course meets with the Pacific Coast Highway.  It was just outstanding. So we drove through the Redwood Forest and the national state park. It was glorious. Sometimes touring has its benefits!

UCR: Definitely!  I think those Redwoods are something you have to see in person to really understand just how massive they are.  

MU:  Paul Young and I had a photo taken of us at the base of one of them with our arms outstretched, and we didn’t quite make it the width of the tree.  We posted it and someone said we looked like hobbits. I think that’s pretty close!

(We share a laugh)  I looked up the picture on Twitter, and he’s right, they look hobbit-esque next to this enormous redwood!

UCR: So how are things going with Paul?  I was excited to see that you guys paired up for a tour.  How did that come about, and how is it all going so far?

MU:  Well, we’ve known each other for a long time.  And we’ve worked together live a couple of times with the Nelson Mandela concert, and Live Aid, but we’ve never actually toured together.  So Paul up until last year hadn’t toured America for twenty five years. A bit like myself, prior to me coming back and touring here again.  We had just kind of lost all contact. Paul did the Retro Futura tour last year, a multi-act bill, and absolutely loved it. And when he was talking to me about it I said, ‘Well why don’t we team up and tour like how I do America?”.  I pick up some American musicians, I have had some great connections here. We go out and do this kind of like it was in the old days. There’s no crew, there’s no sound guys, there’s no lighting rigs. None of that stuff like we have everywhere else.  You go out and you do it on a grassroots level. And it’s been an absolute ball I have to say. Because Paul and I got on really well, and Paul’s guitar player who he’s brought over from the UK, I know him as well. And I’m working with the three American musicians we have.  It’s just been absolutely brilliant. It’s been fantastic.

UCR:  Utah Concert Review spoke with you about 18 months ago, and I recall you mentioning then that you were touring with a couple of American musicians.  Are these the same guys? Or do you have a totally new lineup?

MU:  One of them is the same musician.  The guy who was playing bass and keys for me, he’s doing bass duties.  It’s funny, he played perfectly good bass for me when I toured here 18 months ago.  But when I hear him play Paul’s stuff, which is all really tricky bass parts, I mean really tricky, I mean it’s Pino Palladino sliding fretless bass things, and he’s got it absolutely nailed!  He’s fantastic. So he’s really gone up in my estimation. I mean, he’s far too good for me. So he knew a couple of friends who also went to Berklee School of Music and they’re all just phenomenal.  If I can tell you, the drummer plays better guitar than I do. It’s frightening. They’re sickeningly talented!

UCR:  So in general terms.  I don’t want to give away any surprises, but what can your Utah fans expect from this tour?  Do you and Paul Young play separate sets? Or do you intertwine your songs?  And do we get to see you play together?

MU:  It’s two separate sets.  Depending on which way the coin falls, either Paul goes on first or I go on first.  And then we realize, of course, even when we arrived here to start rehearsing with the band, it wasn’t until we were in the middle of rehearsals that the idea came up, ‘Hold on a second.  We’re both doing independent sets. Surely people will be expecting us to come on together to do something. So, we do. At the end of the evening, we come on and we do a track. Neither of our particular songs, but a track that’s connected with us.  It’s great fun. It’s a great way to leave the evening.

UCR:  I’m very much looking forward to that.  So in thinking about this co-headlining tour, I wondered, had you ever done a co-headlining tour when you were with Ultravox that would you enjoyed, or was at least memorable?  

MU: Ultravox was such a complicated band.  We never coheadlined with anyone. We never did any festivals as such.  In the early days, the equipment was so archaic. It was so incredibly basic.  It would take us up to five hours to do a sound check. So we couldn’t open up for someone.  We couldn’t do festivals where it’s a very quick turnaround. We refused to use backing tapes like many of the bands did back them because it was so much easier to have sequences on bass or synthesizers all recorded.  But we refused to do it. So this is a whole new thing for me, doing a double package, or a multi-act bill. I mean, the last time Ultravox played about five years ago we did some shows with Simple Minds. And that was a great compatible bill.  It was a Simple Minds show, and we were the special guests. That just proved to be a huge, hot ticket.

UCR:  I love that you mentioned the word “Compatible”.  I feel like there are so many package shows, or many of these shows billed as “80’s” tours where the bands are not at all compatible.   

MU: I think sometimes when you get packages put together by promoters, they have a very different idea of what will appeal to people.  So they find acts that come from the era but not necessarily from the same genre. And it just falls on the ground. Nobody wants to see this mishmash of artists just because they happened to be around in the same decade. You end up staring at the sky for an hour until a band you do like comes on.  It doesn’t work. No one ever said, “I like an entire decade of music”. Things change radically over a ten year period. But when you do something like Ultravox and Simple Minds, or myself and Paul there’s a reason for it. It works. It’s compatible music.

UCR:  So as you mentioned, this is a kind of bare-bones tour.  No crew, no manager, etc. Are you also responsible for what venue you’re playing in a particular city?  If so, how do you decide?

MU:  It’s the one thing we don’t do. I can do many things, but I can’t book the venues.  I wouldn’t know how to go about it.

UCR:  It seems like it would be impossible for you to personally know the best venue to play in each city.  

MU:  Absolutely.  You have to be advised on that.  And sometimes the agent gets it absolutely right and targets it just to the right size venue. And sometimes they get it completely wrong where you find yourself playing the equivalent of an airplane hangar.  You know some huge vacuous place that you’re never going to fill. But you have to trust them, that they know their job. They don’t come and tell me how to play my songs, and I don’t tell them where to book the venues.  But I can say, ‘I want to play in this city, or that city’ and they will make that happen.

UCR:  I have to say that you will enjoy the venue here in Salt Lake City.  It’s called The Commonwealth Room. It’s practically brand new. Maybe six months old.  In fact, your show was one of the first announced when they opened their doors. The sound is fantastic, and I think the size will be perfect for your show.  Everyone there is great. I really think you’re gonna like it.

MU:  Oh great!  I’m looking forward to it.  

UCR:  I wanted to talk to you about your album Orchestrated.  I have to tell you that I love the album. I think the orchestrations and arrangements in your songs are excellent.  I’ve seen other artists who have attempted to orchestrate their music and the idea is great, but if it’s not done right it just doesn’t work.  Your album works. Was it your idea? Or were you approached with the idea?

MU:  Thank you!  I think it’s one of those things when you do perform stuff that I’ve written or stuff that I’ve done with Ultravox with an orchestra it really suits it.  The melodies and the grandiose elements, the cinematic elements that were always in Ultravox and my music are just enhanced when you do it with an orchestra.  And it can be a very powerful thing when it’s done properly. I was extremely lucky that when this idea came to fruition, which mainly came from other people who had seen clips of me performing with the orchestra scene saying “For God’s sake, you’ve got to do something with this.”.  And it was one of those ideas in the back of my mind that I’ve toyed with for years but never really thought anything of it. I never really wanted to pursue it. And then when I started taking it seriously and looking at who my sidekick would be because I do not read or write notation.  I don’t write music. So I could not orchestrate if you put a gun to my head. I wouldn’t know where to start. So I started looking for someone who would be sympathetic to the music. And I went through a few who were probably very good orchestrators but just did everything that I didn’t want.  They just threw some strings on and did the same kind of arrangement, and had brass playing instead of synthesizers, and there just wasn’t any soul in it. So by chance, I met a guy called Ty Unwin who writes film music for television series and things, who happens to be a massive Ultravox fan. Who knew everything I had ever done.  He was as passionate about the project as I was. I met him at Howard Jones’ house a few Christmases ago at a party. And I just got a feeling. I didn’t know he was an Ultravox fan at the time. I just knew he did film music. So I got in touch with him a couple months later and said ‘If we were to try to do something together, how do you think it would work?’. And he said “Look, I’ll choose one of your songs, and I’ll do an arrangement for you.  if you don’t like it great, and we’ll walk our separate ways.” He chose I think it was “The Voice” he did initially. And when I heard what he had done with it I just knew he had got it absolutely right. He put this heart and soul and passion into it. So we spent the next year, to eighteen months doing the arrangements and choosing the songs. Because all of them could make the transition to that type of arrangement. So between us, we chose all the songs.  He was suggesting things I had forgotten. He knew more of my stuff than I did! It was just a marriage made in heaven really. I was so happy with the final outcome because my big worry, which you will no doubt agree, was that I was going to ruin the memory of the original recordings for people. I wanted to enhance the music. I didn’t want to detract from it. I didn’t want people going “Oh, God that’s dreadful. I much prefer the original version.” I wanted to take the songs and take them slightly somewhere else.  Make them bigger, or more intimate, or sadder, or happier or whatever it was. Just do something different. And that’s what took the time.

UCR:  I think because you had that concern, you were able to enhance those songs in the right way.  I suppose the positive of having a great new album like this is how great the response has been.  But also perhaps the burden is there is an immediate clamor for a follow-up.  So I have to ask, is there talk of an Orchestrated 2?

MU:  I’ve got no idea to tell you the truth.  It’s still all very new to me. It’s an odd thing having an album of orchestrated music because you don’t really have an awful lot of outlets to play it.  Radio won’t play it because the arrangements are too long. You don’t just go in with a razor blade and start chopping up the arrangement trying to get them on the radio.  It just doesn’t work. It’s a piece of music from start to finish. So you’re kind of limited in how you promote it to let people know it’s out there. So I’m still in the process of thinking this is still just a fresh idea.  So we haven’t started working on anything else yet. As I’ve said, there’s a wealth of material. Besides with all the great response we got, there’s a lot of people saying “Why didn’t you do “Visions in Blue”? Why didn’t you do “One Small Day”?”  And they just kept throwing songs at me. I was like ‘You’re right’ but couldn’t keep doing it. You have to get something done and put it out and a bit of a breather before you do part 2. So it’s a possibility. But so is going in and doing a completely electronic album.  I’ve got no idea where I’m going. I never have had. I go in and I follow whatever feels right to me at that moment in time. So I cannot commit to doing a part 2 straight away but it was received so well that it would be a bit of a sin to not follow it up and do something else.  

UCR:  Final question.  Something that I’ve been very interested in with artists that have been around for a while.  And you’ve been a recording artist for 40 plus years now. So you’ve seen peaks and valleys in your career, but now things are stable.  You can book a tour and people will always show up. So what do you prefer, the peak, or the climb? Did you like the challenge of trying to become a successful artist, or do you prefer now, to where you’ve had the mainstream success, but now you have the stability of what your career produced?  

MU:  You’ve got to, on a purely human level, you’ve got to look back on the moment where things started to happen for you.  Everything changes. Except you. Hopefully. Everything around you changes. People attitudes towards you change. All of a sudden there’s a little bit of respect.  All of a sudden whenever you open your mouth, people want to hear what you have to say. And that can be a heady mix for any young person. I was in a sticky, smelly, carpeted rehearsal room when all of a sudden my manager walks in with a bottle of champagne saying you’ve got two top 40 singles and two top 40 albums all on the same day.  And that’s a wonderful feeling to think ‘Wow, I’ve I’ve done something kind of worthy’. But it’s a bit like a party. It’s over and done with very very quickly. And you’ve got to think ‘Ok, that was great. That peak was just wonderful. And that’s elevated me to allow me to do other things that could be more interesting. That could have longevity.’  Because as you say there are dips and peaks, but that success would give me a road that I can follow with that behind me. That little bit of success behind me has given me this ability to go forward and explore and do the things that I want to do. My first taste of commercial success was with a record that I didn’t write and I wasn’t allowed to play on.  And I vowed there and then that I would never, ever, ever allow myself to be put in that situation again. And I’ve never done it. I’ve followed my own weird, strange, wonderful, exciting path. And the fact, as you say, I have 40 plus years as a professional musician in this industry, I am just grateful that I wake up and I’m still allowed to do it. And that you only get by being stoic or being fastidious, or being stupid.  By sticking to your guns and doing what you think is interesting. As opposed to like, DJs coming in and remixing your music because that happens to be the current fad.

UCR:  Thank you so much Midge.  I could talk to you all day.  But I want you to rest that voice.  Can’t wait for September 5!

MU:  Thank you very much!  It was great talking to you again.  See you then!

Midge was so generous with his time!  We spoke about many other things, including the possibility of doing a concert with a live orchestra.  He hinted that something is in the works, but was not at liberty to say what just yet.  So keep your eyes peeled for that.  

Midge’s latest album Orchestrated is available everywhere! 

Mide Ure will be performing with Paul Young at The Commonwealth Room on Wednesday, September 5th.  To purchase tickets click here.  See you there!  

 

Dierks Bentley w/ Brothers Osborne August 29, 2018 USANA Amphitheater

Photo By: Matt Wolf

Dierks Bentley brought his Mountain High Tour to USANA Amphitheater this past Wednesday with The Brothers Osborne and LANCO.  There was some shuffling of dates to make this show happen. I believe the concert was originally supposed to take place in July, then it was rescheduled for August 30, and finally, August 29 was the date they settled in on.  Dierks mentioned later in the show that he changed the date because the University of Utah was playing their football opener against Weber State on August 30th and didn’t want to conflict with that. I’m not sure if that was the real reason, or in jest, but the crowd sure loved it regardless.  

Brothers Osborne

I showed up as The Brothers Osborne took the stage.   I hadn’t heard too much from them so I was happy to get the chance to hear their music.  I was immediately impressed with lead guitarist John Osborne. The guy shreds. He had some amazing solos and brought a real rock sensibility to the already heart thumping country music.  T.J. Osborne was solid on vocals. He has this rich low baritone bordering on bass voice that had many men trying to sing in that range, and many women melting at the sound of his pipes. He did a great job of getting the crowd going by walking to both ends of the enormous USANA Amphitheater stage so he could reach the whole audience.  He called out to the lawn and they roared back with gratitude for being recognized.

Photo By: Matt Wolf

The exciting but sometimes difficult thing about being a support act is that it’s your job to warm up the crowd.  But it’s also your job to warm up the crowd.   It’s not always an easy task.  I noticed people here and there getting up and dancing, but the majority of the front half of the venue was seated.  T.J. commented that this was a show where people should be up and dancing, and encouraged the seated audience to do so going forward. Unfortunately, he said that right before they went into a slow song.  The timing wasn’t great for that comment, however, once that song was over, the band finished their set with some big time upbeat country songs. The audience rose to their feet and remained there for the rest of the Brothers Osborne’s set.  They finished with “It Ain’t My Fault” and the crowd was singing and clapping along as if it was the last song of the entire evening.

Photo By: Matt Wolf

While the crew was setting up for Dierks Bentley, there was a DJ set up on the back of the seated area facing the lawn section.  I believe his name was DJ AYDAMN. He played songs like “Don’t Stop Believin’” by Journey and “Back in Black” by AC/DC. But when he played country songs, the crowd really got into it.  He played “Friends in Low Places” by Garth Brooks and the place went nuts. I looked out into the lawn and people were dancing and singing as if they were actually at a Garth Brooks concert.  I have to admit, I didn’t expect to see that. It was pretty cool. If there was any doubt after Brothers Osborne, then the DJ assured me that the crowd was more than warmed up for Dierks.

Dierks Bentley

Photo By: Matt Wolf

The lights went out, and the entire audience stood right up.  They were clearly chomping at the bit for Dierks Bentley to come out.  He then appeared on a riser behind the drummer holding an acoustic guitar.  The crowd was so loud that I couldn’t make out what the song was for about twenty seconds.  Finally, I could hear that he was playing the title track off of his latest album The Mountain.  He then broke into “I Hold On”. It was a great start to a really good night.  Dierks ran out through the crowd, right by me actually.  Try not to get too jealous when I tell you that as he ran by me he gave me a high five.  Dierks sounded great, the crowd was really into it, and that combo will always make for a perfect concert.  

Photo By: Matt Wolf

If you’ve never been to a country concert, I recommend checking it out.  It’s just a totally different experience than other shows I’ve been to. There is this unique sense of being there for a good time, letting loose, and just enjoying the music.  Now you might be saying, “Isn’t that ever concert ever?”. And I get that you might think that. But there is just something different when it’s country music. Now I’m not even a die-hard country fan, I just totally appreciate the atmosphere at these shows.  Give it a try. You may not be converted to country music, but you’ll really enjoy the country music concert experience!

Now since this is the Mountain High Tour, Dierks mentioned how happy he was to be back in the Mountains.  The Arizona native talked about how much he enjoyed loved the west and returning to the region.  He said that this is the closest he’s been to his home state on this tour so he was treating it like a hometown show.

Photo By: Matt Wolf

I was disappointed to have missed seeing LANCO. People had been telling me that they are a great live band so it was unfortunate that I was unable to catch their set.  Because of this, you can imagine my excitement when I saw LANCO lead singer Brandon Lancaster walk out to do a song with Dierks. Dierks asked Brandon what song they were singing, suggesting that they do something from 90’s country music.  So Lancaster looked to Dierks band and said “Grundy”. Dierks looked over to the band, told them what key the song was in, and just like that they broke out into John Michael Montgomery’s 1995 hit “Sold (The Grundy County Auction Incident)”. It appeared as if every fan in attendance knew all the words to this country gem.  Dierks and Brandon looked like they were having a blast on stage. My guess is they’ve done this song or others like it on other parts of the tour, but the fun they seemed to be having looked genuine, as was the excitement of the crowd to see them together.

Photo By: Matt Wolf

The most poignant and touching moment of the concert was when Dierks dedicated his song “Riser” to Draper Fire Chief Matt Burchett who passed away in the line of duty while fighting one of the huge fires in California.  Dierks stated that “He didn’t get out, but because of him others are (out of the fire). Some family and friends of Chief Burchett were in attendance, and I’m sure it was a special moment for them as it was for us in the audience who weren’t privileged to know him.  

On a lighter note, Dierks made his way to the platform where DJ ADAYMN had been earlier in the night.  He brought his acoustic and sang a couple songs. He also invited a man on to the platform to shotgun a beer with him.  Dierks said that he was the reigning champ and wanted to see if the man could beat him. In surprising fashion, the man in the Dallas Cowboys hat won and the lawn went crazy for him.  Dierks then returned to the main stage to finish the remainder of his set. He closed out the main set with “Sideways” changing one of the lyrics to say “Hey I like your sign”, referring to some twins who had a bright pink sign saying “Twins Love Dierks”.  That had to have made their night. And it was an impressive improvised lyric change.  He then left and the crowd roared for his return.

Photo By: Matt Wolf

When Dierks came back, he was in pilots gear, standing on a platform that would take him into the air as if he was in an airplane cockpit.  He then sang, “Drunk On a Plane”. I’m not a fan of one song encores, but with the production value that went into this song, It made sense to end with this and close the show.  The audience could have listened to another hour. But isn’t that usually the case when we’re seeing bands we like?

Photo By: Matt Wolf

Dierks Bentley and Utah seem like the perfect match.  I can’t imagine anyone having a bad time at this show.  I found myself just picking a spot in the general admission pit, and seeing what was happening with the different people my eyes fell on.  People were always smiling, always singing, and high fiving when they heard a song they liked. What more can you ask for?!

Photo By: Matt Wolf

 

Stone Temple Pilots, Bush, The Cult, Bones August 20, 2018 USANA Amphitheater


By: Tiffany Mull

I’m always fascinated by the crowd drawn to particular artists. There are definite patterns and traits, a continuity that falls in line with the artist’s style. Looking around the Stone Temple Pilots/Bush/The Cult/Bones audience, I see an abnormal amount of men in billed hats (the metal/biker kind, not sports). There is also an abnormal amount of facial hair. These aren’t hipster beards, though. These are I’ve-never-had-to-go-to-an-auto-mechanic-for-anything-in-my-life beards. There is a higher number of women in tank tops with big, Amy Winehouse hair (okay, maybe not quite that big) and heavy eye makeup than you would see on a normal day. Everyone looks like they lift.

 

All the Clever Ones are Lonely

Bones (UK), the opener, was the most engaging act of the evening. Not to slight later performances, Bones was simply exceptional. I was pleased to see these two as clear inheritors and evangelists of the riot grrrl movement (as someone who remembers how important bands like Sleater-Kinney were to my angsty adolescence).

Their recorded music has a heavier, industrial feel thanks to electronic drum and bass (see “Pretty Waste”). The live performance was straightforward, hard rock. Their presence was conversational; they made friends with the audience between songs. Rosie’s lyrics, charged with themes of self-acceptance, were emphasized by Carmen’s well-tempered, aggressive guitar that rigidly enforced tempo.

The video for “Beautiful is Boring” mockingly inverts the way sexes are portrayed in male-centric rock media and the lyrics are just the message young girls need to hear. The live performance of “Beautiful is Boring” featured a hooking, synchronized stomp. The touring drummer was on point the entire show.

“This doesn’t mean we’re afraid of Americans. It’s a cover. You all seem really nice,” Rosie clarified before delivering a high-octane take on the Bowie classic (yes, harder and heavier than the original, go buy it already). She tinkered with her own accent, alternating between “I’m afraid I can’t,” and “I’m afraid I cawhn’t,” playfully amping up and dialing back her Britishness.

They executed a vengeful, blues-infused “Girls Can’t Play Guitars,” written after a bloke from their ‘hood in Camden, London told them it was impossible for girls to play the instrument well. Rosie’s scratchy vocals are a fitting vehicle for righteous anger. You had to smile whenever Carmen’s soaring guitar solos rendered Rosie’s lyric, “Girls can’t play guitars, it’s biologically impossible,” sarcastic.

 

She Sells Sanctuary

Everyone stood when the graying, grizzled masculinity of The Cult took the stage, hammering out “Wild Flower.” Dressed in black, sporting jackets, sunglasses, and even a bandana, they looked like gothic truckers. The band made thematic use of the enormous screen behind them, displaying a blurred, kaleidoscopic image of a flower for their first piece, followed by slowed close-ups of raindrops when the tempo picked up with “Rain.” “Lil’ Devil” was accompanied, unsurprisingly, by a fast-forwarded, go-pro view from a motorcycle. The long instrumentals on “Sweet Soul Sister” were Billy Duffy’s and Grant Fitzpatrick’s playground, the music oozing from their guitars as naturally as sweat, accompanied by the sparse, atmospheric keyboarding of Damon Fox.

Ian Astbury stood on the stage like lead, one leg pulsing to the beat, occasionally strutting to the drums and back. He chanted the band’s faux-mysticism through “Elemental Light,” “She Sells Sanctuary,” and other numbers, eliciting a trance-like state aided by John Tempesta’s tireless drumming. Ian praised a spastic, whirling, gray-bearded man immediately to my right, saying, “Thank you, brother, I appreciate your energy, representing The Cult flow.”

 

Mickey Mouse Has Grown Up a Cow

Bush made a loud entrance with “Machinehead” followed by “This is War.” Gavin Rossdale’s explosive energy lasted through the entire set. He bolted, bounced, and leaped across the stage. He was never not jumping; his calves must be rocks. “I don’t care if it’s a Monday night,” he said, “It’s a weekend for me. I’m on tour. Every night is the f***ing weekend,” before starting in on “Everything Zen” accompanied by female silhouettes on the big screen (who eventually murdered each other with chainsaws). “The Sound of Winter” came with a video of girls in miniskirts and nylons swimming underwater. A drum-heavy, grunge-rock cover of “Come Together” (The Beatles) worked surprisingly well. Robin Goodridge, Chris Traynor, and Corey Britz all gave solid performances.

Gavin asked the audience to take out their cell phones and light each other up so he could see our faces. We obeyed. He asked the venue to shine lights on the audience. They obeyed. “That’s beautiful,” he said, “we’re stratospheric, floating on a cloud, different people with different beliefs getting along together, coexisting.” This heightened the effect when all lights went out, replaced by a single white light on Gavin, his burnt voice modulating “Glycerine” alone on stage accompanied only by his own guitar. The band dramatically joined in for the last third of the song. These three-and-a-half minutes were the only time Gavin stood still.

Bush closed with “Comedown,” allowing the audience to carry one of the choruses: fandom proven.

 

It’s Just Burning, Itching Memory

Jeff Gutt, a new addition to Stone Temple Pilots, confidently stepped into the shoes of a rock god. His voice is more sonorous than Scott Weiland’s while maintaining the aggression necessary to the band’s sound. The band entered with ultimate swagger, slaying “Wicked Garden.”

 

Jeff’s presence was fluid and feline. He prowled across the stage, taut muscles crouching, swaying, and sashaying. His movements somehow flirted with the notion of effeminacy without abandoning virile manliness. Example: during the second number, Jeff stretched his lower body on the floor, using one arm to support his arched torso in a Little-Mermaid-on-the-rocks pose while simultaneously emitting a masculine howl into the mic in his other hand. The effect was alluring—for everyone.

 

Dean DeLeo, Robert DeLeo, and Eric Kretz were in full control of their instruments. The inevitable headbangers made themselves known during “Down” and again during “Dead and Bloated.” Jeff gradually stripped, first shedding his leather jacket, later flicking his sunglasses into the crowd, eventually unbuttoning, and then losing his shirt. He ran deep into the audience during “Roll Me Under,” squirming through people who—I’m sure—did not expect to be up close, much less delivering backslaps.

The band closed with the late Scott Weiland’s “Sex Type Thing,” an unsettling evocation/condemnation of toxic masculinity in the form of date rape. It’s always sounded a little too celebratory for my ears. Monday’s performance was no exception.

Erasure August 11, 2018 Kingsbury Hall Salt Lake City

By: Kevin Rolfe

Photo: Kevin Rolfe

We had to wait a long time for Erasure to return to Salt Lake City.  Ok, so it was about four years, but it felt like a really long time! Typically when Erasure comes out with a new album, their tour makes its way to The States fairly soon after their album is released.  The album World Be Gone came out in May of 2017, and instead of heading out on their own tour, Erasure accepted an invitation from Robbie Williams to be his support act on his summer stadium tour throughout Europe.  What a great opportunity to gain new fans that must have been. In watching several YouTube clips I found it so cool to see Erasure play in front of a new crowd that might not know all of their music. I saw them singing along to the songs they knew like “A Little Respect”, “Chains of Love”, or “Stop”, and applauding songs they weren’t familiar with, but really enjoyed.  However, this tour delayed them from setting out on their own headlining tour. I was happy for them that they were so well received though.

Photo: Kevin Rolfe

A year later, their World Be Gone Tour reached Utah for two sold out nights at Kingsbury Hall.  As I walked up to the front of the house to find a good spot to take photos, I looked out into the crowd to see what Erasure would be seeing for the evening.  I could see people in anxious anticipation, so excited that their favorite band was back in town. I could see a few men who were clearly dragged to the show by their wife or girlfriend.  I hoped they would be good sports.  Having liked this band since I was 12 it always throws me a little how old we’re all getting. I used to go to Erasure shows and look around and think how cool everyone seemed, and how they were so much older than me, but in a cool way.  Now we’re just old and maybe a little less cool. But that’s the magical thing about a concert, and live music. When the show started, the crowd became 25 again. And the worries of the day were gone, and inhibitions were out the window.

Photo: Kevin Rolfe

Erasure opened their set with “Oh L’Amour”.  The audience was immediately taken back to the place where they first heard this fan favorite.  It’s so interesting because this song was not a hit. But fans love it so much that it gets the same response, if not greater than some of their highest charting singles.  Everyone was on their feet dancing, and singing as if it was 1986.

Photo: Kevin Rolfe
Photo: Kevin Rolfe

The thing I love about an Erasure concert is they don’t shy away from the songs they created to give them the thirty plus year career they’ve had.  They play the hits! Songs like “Ship of Fools”, “Victim of Love”, and “Who Needs Love Like That” are songs they’ve played thousands of times, and yet they know what the audience wants to hear.  These songs are always met with loud applause. They did a great job of sprinkling in songs from their new album World Be Gone. These songs are so surrounded by classic songs that the crowd seems to be just fine with hearing them.  And they’re good songs, so that helps.

As a huge fan, I would be fine with some deeper cuts.  But their hits are so good I don’t even mind. They played “Phantom Bride” off of their album The Innocents.  The rumor was this was going to be the fourth single off of that album but it never happened. It’s a great song, and while never released as a single, whenever they play it (which isn’t often), it’s always one of the major highlights of the show.  A few more songs in this category would have made the song perfect for me, and a few others I spoke with after the show yearning to hear more of these songs.  But I’m sure if they did that, there are others who would have wished they played more hits.  I met a few people after the show who told me this was their first time seeing Erasure.  So for them, I was glad they got to hear such a hit-filled show.  

Photo: Kevin Rolfe

Erasure did an awesome cover of Blondie’s “Atomic”.  This is the third Blondie song they’ve covered over their career.  They’re starting to catch up with the number of ABBA songs they’ve covered. So far the tally is three (Atomic, Heart of Glass, Rapture) to Five (Lay All Your Love On Me, SOS, Take a Chance On Me, Gimmie, Gimmie, Gimmie).  Maybe we’ll have a Blondie-esque album on the horizon. Anyway, the song was covered brilliantly and can be heard on Erasure’s World Be Live album, which is a live recording of one of their London shows from this tour. I recommend checking it out!  

Photo: Kevin Rolfe

Vocalist Andy Bell sounded as good as ever.  The falsetto isn’t quite what it once was, but not many men in their fifties are singing with a strong falsetto.  So I’d say he’s still doing pretty great.  The thing I love about Andy’s voice is how rich it’s become. When he was younger, like many great singers, he had a huge vocal range and could go anywhere with it.  But because of that huge range, things can come easy, and singers like that tend to be a little wild with their voice, and uncontrolled. Now that Andy is older, I think he knows his limitations, therefore he sings more controlled, and focused.  I love how his voice currently sounds. There’s a fullness to it that I really enjoy. Don’t get me wrong, when he needs to open those pipes to hit those falsetto notes, he hits them. When he sings “Blue Savannah”, or “Drama” now, it moves me more than it ever has, and that’s due to the maturity of his voice.  He seemed in good spirits in this show. He spoke a lot more than I remember him doing in other shows. He joked with the audience telling them they were too young to remember some of their older songs. He also joked that he was only 14 when he auditioned for Erasure in 1992, making him seem younger. Fact is he auditioned in 1985 and I believe he was 20.  But everyone was in on the jokes and enjoyed the banter.

Photo: Kevin Rolfe

Vince Clarke.  What can I say about Vince Clarke that hasn’t been said?  The guy is a genius. That’s been said before. But it’s true.  I think because he’s in a band, he gets praise for the music he writes.  And rightfully so, however, I think his true genius lies in his technical wizardry.  The way he creates these sounds; these bleeps, loops, hooks, and beats and blends them together to make beautiful melodies and great songs is nothing short of extraordinary.  I love that the music is reprogramed for the live show.  It adds a special element to the live experience.  

Photo: Kevin Rolfe

The stage personas of Andy and Vince could not be more different, yet perfect.  Any, the flamboyant frontman dances around the stage in his skin-tight bodysuit and interacting with the audience with all the personality you’d want from a great frontman.  Meanwhile, Vince, ever the stoic, serious Synth Lord in a grey suit(See what I did there Star Wars fans?). On this tour, Vince is perched high above the stage surrounded by synthesizers, a laptop, and an acoustic guitar.  He has a microphone that allows him to speak into Andy’s inner ear monitors. They’re fascinating to watch because they seem so different on stage. One so subdued, and the other so high energy. The contrast is a consistent dynamic of their shows.  

Photo: Kevin Rolfe

The boys were joined on stage by backup singers, and twin sisters, Valerie and Emma.  Valerie has been singing with Erasure all but 2 of the tours I’ve seen them on. Emma sang with Erasure on the Wild! Tour back in 1989/90, and has since reunited with her sister and Erasure on the past few tours.  They sound great together, and exceptional with Andy. They bring a consistency to the shows and help Andy whenever he flubs a lyric. And he always flubs at least one line in every show.  It’s part of his charm!

 

Photo: Kevin Rolfe

The audience was so interesting in this show.  They sat a lot more than I’ve seen at an Erasure show.  It was always during the slower or newer songs, but it was something I hadn’t really seen before.  I was worried that they’d sit the whole time, but it was clear that they were conserving energy because as soon as they heard the first note of a song they liked, they launched to their feet and went crazy.  I mean crazy! Dancing like no one was watching, and singing like they were in the shower or in their car. You know the kind of singing when you close your eyes because you’re feeling so much.  During songs like “Sometimes” or “Stop” Kingsbury Hall was deafening!  

Photo: Kevin Rolfe

As I mentioned in my review back in 2014, I love seeing the mix of the audience here in Utah.  Andy Bell is an openly gay man and has been since Erasure has existed. Because he has always been open about his sexuality, Erasure has always had a large LGBTQ following.  But they also have a huge following here in Utah among the Mormons. So to see Mormons sitting next to a gay couple and singing these songs and dancing along with each other makes me so happy.  Again, it’s amazing what great music can do. People are bonding because they love this band and their songs.  In these moments no one cares who is from what church, or what their lifestyle is. They just want to sing and dance and have a great time.  I even saw one of those men who was with his wife or girlfriend and didn’t seem thrilled to be there, eventually dancing by the end of the show. He shrugged his shoulders, and just went for it. No one can resist a good beat. And Erasure songs are full of great beats.  I saw a woman with her husband talking with a gay couple before the show. Things seemed polite and friendly. The husband seemed to be trying really hard to be cool but was clearly not the most comfortable he’s ever been. But by the time Erasure came out to sing their encore song “A Little Respect”, he was singing with those guys, and even one time when the chorus says “Give a little respect, to me!!!”  he pointed to the gay couple and mouthed, “No, you!” and they retorted “No You!”. It was all in fun, but it was a special moment for me. We all do so much talking, and preaching about what should be what, but maybe we all just need to go to an Erasure concert, sing along with each other, and dance our differences away! Music has the power to do that.

Photo: Kevin Rolfe

 
Setlist
Oh L’Amour
Ship of Fools
Breathe
Just a Little Love
Chains of Love
Sweet Summer Loving
Victim of Love
Phantom Bride
World Be Gone
Who Needs Love Like That
Atomic
Love To Hate You
Blue Savannah
Drama!
Love You to the Sky
Sometimes
Always
Stop

Encore
A Little Respect

Don Felder August 11, 2018 City Park, Park City

Photo By: Matt Wolf

The Park City Institute is a non-profit organization, dedicated to bringing world-class performances and new ideas to the community have had an interesting turn of events leading up to this year’s St. Regis Big Stars Bright Nights Concert Series.  In December they were informed by Deer Valley Resort that they would no longer be hosting the series because they were going to be setting up a concert series of their own. This sent The Park City Institute on a months-long search to find a new home in time to host the great lineup of music they had scheduled.  

Initially, they landed on Quinn’s Junctions Sports Complex, but fate would eventually lead them to City Park in the heart of Park City.  While City Park may not be the most ideal place to host a concert series, once things get going, it was as good an outdoor venue as any.  Some of the setbacks are well, it’s in the middle of a park. So you can go take your kid to the playground, and catch a free concert because there is no more than a temporary fence that is easy to see past.  The same goes for the street and sidewalk. I noticed maybe a hundred people watching the show from outside the “venue”. So I guess the venue isn’t ideal for keeping people looking for a free show out. Otherwise, it does just fine.  The stage is big enough, the sound is good, and there really isn’t a bad seat in the house, I mean park. The show in the series I was fortunate enough to attend was Don Felder, former lead guitarist for The Eagles.

Photo By: Matt Wolf

Be for Don Felder took the stage a couple of women from the Park City Institute made an announcement from the stage that the organization was in need of up to $500,000 in donations or the concert series may not continue.  Those in attendance seemed concerned because it was apparent that they enjoyed coming to the series. It’s a great organization, and the concert series lineup is always good. So if you have the means, please donate. You can find all the info here.  

The transition from that announcement to Don Felder taking the stage was an awkward one.  It was just quiet, with no one introducing Don, then a video came on giving him an introduction.  I’m not sure how to have made that transition smoother, but it definitely could have been. However, Don took the stage, opened with “Already Gone” and things were smooth from there. 

Photo By: Matt Wolf

 

Don next played “Pride and Joy”, a song originally written and performed by iconic guitarist, Stevie Ray Vaughan.  Now to attempt to cover Stevie Ray Vaughan is one thing, but to do it really well is another. Now, I fully understand that SRV is one of a kind, and to his fans, no one will match him.  But I will say that Don Felder’s cover of “Pride and Joy” was great. It paid its respects to the original, and to Stevie, but it showed off the guitar playing chops that Don Felder truly has.  If was one of my favorite songs of the night.

Photo By: Matt Wolf

When Don played “Peaceful Easy Feeling”, he told the audience “You look like a peaceful crowd.”  I’m sure he was referring to the fact that most of the people there were still sitting in their chairs or on their blankets.  This isn’t to say that they weren’t into the show. They really were. But they weren’t up and dancing like I’m sure most artists would prefer.  I think some of this has to do with the show starting so early. There was an opener that went on at 6, and Don took the stage by 7. It was light out for the entirety of the concert. I think when it’s light out people are more hesitant to get up and dance.  That is at least until the alcohol kicks in!

Photo By: Matt Wolf

Don dedicated “Tequila Sunrise” to his former Eagles bandmate, the late Glenn Frey.  The audience cheered their approval. Glenn Frey passed away unexpectedly in 2016 at 67 due to complications from rheumatoid arthritis, acute ulcerative colitis, and pneumonia.  It was a class move by Felder and another strong moment in the show.

With about four or five songs to go, Don invited everyone to get out of their seats, come to the front of the stage and party.  There’s about a fifteen-foot gap between the stage and the front row of chairs and it filled up really quick. It was clear that the invitation to “party” was well received.  I’m sure artists are hoping that the audience will just jump to their feet on their own, but sometimes it just takes an invitation to do so and the whole place gets up. I admire Don for throwing out the invite.  It felt like the concert really took off from there. With songs like “Life in the Fast Lane”, “Heartache Tonight”, and “Take it Easy”, it was obvious to see why people were so willing to get up and dance and sing along.  

Photo By: Matt Wolf
Photo By: Matt Wolf

Felder finished the night by walking on stage with his infamous white double neck guitar.  This is the very guitar that he wrote “Hotel California” on. So when we saw the guitar, we knew what was next.  The crowd cheered, sang along, and stood in awe as Don Felder played the instantly recognizable guitar solos of “Hotel California”.  

Photo By: Matt Wolf

When the song finished, Don thanked the audience, acknowledged his band (Who were fantastic.  Seriously, so talented!), and walked off stage, never to return.  The crowd wanted more, and they cheered until it was obvious that the show was over. People have different feelings about the whole encore thing.  And I think Don would have done an encore, but when you’re playing in a venue that has a temporary stage in a park, sometimes there isn’t anywhere to go.  So walking off stage and back on for an encore might be more awkward than just staying there and playing straight through. I’m sure “Hotel California” is usually his encore, so I can’t imagine we missed anything other than the ceremonial walk off stage, walk back on stage.  

Photo By: Matt Wolf

I had a great time at this show.  Don Felder is a really entertaining performer and an amazing guitarist.  It was a fun and beautiful night at City Park.

 

70’s vs. 80’s Utah Symphony w/ Constantine Maroulis & Capathia Jenkins August 3, 2018 Deer Valley

I spent another beautiful Friday evening up at Deer Valley with the Utah Symphony.  Seriously, if you haven’t experienced a show there, get up there before the summer ends!  The air is so cool, and the skies and mountains are beautiful. It’s an amazing setting for a concert.  For this performance, the symphony helped the audience battled it out over the 70’s and 80’s. Two decades of great music. The featured guests for this performance were vocalists, Capathia Jenkins and American Idol finalist and Tony Award Nominee Constantine Maroulis.  

The concert opened with the Utah Symphony performing “A Fifth of Beethoven”, which is a disco version of Beethoven’s 5th Symphony featured on the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack.  This was a really fun way to start off the 70’s portion of the evening.  Following the opening piece, Constantine took the stage and sang “Nights on Broadway” from the Bee Gees. We were in the thick of the 70’s with this song. We jumped from there to Chicago’s “25 or 6 to 4”.  This is a song that Constantine has performed with the band Chicago. I thought he did a great job with this one. It’s a really good song, and it seemed to fit his vocal range perfectly.

Constantine then sang “Heaven on Their Minds” from the rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar.  I thought he sounded great, and this is one of the best songs from that musical, but it seemed like a strange fit for this concert. Yes, it was from the 70’s, but I think the crowd was a little surprised to be hearing a song from a musical.  It was a great performance, but maybe just not a great fit for this concert. Maroulis finished his set with the Utah Symphony by singing Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody”. This song went over great with the crowd. Especially the operatic break in the middle of the song.  The crowd was singing out “He’s just a poor boy from a poor family!” and “Let me go!” at the top of their voices! Constantine moved into the audience to sing the rocking conclusion of the song. He seemed like he didn’t want to leave the stage, but it was time for Capathia Jenkins to sing her 70’s songs.  Maroulis was given a loud ovation as he exited the stage.

Capathia has a beautiful voice.  This was displayed immediately with her opening song “You’re the Best Thing” from The Style Council.  This was another strange song selection. There are so many songs from the 70’s that I think a little of the performance was lost to the crowd not being too familiar with this song.  I think people had different expectations in mind for this show. Judging by the way many were dressed up, I think they thought they’d be hearing some songs they were more familiar with.  That being said, the songs they did hear, and the performances they witnessed were most certainly admired.

Capathia the followed up with Gloria Gaynor’s anthem, “I Will Survive”.  I think this was the type of song that the audience had in mind. Which was indicated by how quickly people rose to their feet when this song began.  Capathia’s voice fits this song just right. She seemed to be enjoying herself, and the audience was having a blast.

The intermission came quickly.  I was surprised that it was already time to take a break.  The great thing about the intermissions at Deer Valley is it gives me time to get a sense of what the audience thinks of the show.  And while the general consensus was that the song selection was a little different than expected, the talent and performances were excellent.  

The second half of the show began with the Utah Symphony performing a medley from the 80’s album “Hooked on Classics”, which was a compilation album filled with great pieces of classical music arranged in an 80’s style.  Just like “A 5th of Beethoven” escorted us to the 70’s, this was an excellent gateway into the 80’s.

Conductor, Edwin Outwater shared with the audience that there had been a contest to give someone the opportunity to sing the lead vocals on the theme song to “Ghostbusters”.  He mentioned that pretty much no one entered so he was left to find a vocalist. He had a friend from San Francisco who flew out to attend the performance, and on the way to Snow Park Outdoor Amphitheater, Edwin asked him if he wanted to sing the song.  I forget his first name, but I know he was referred to as Dr. Chang so that’s what we’ll call him. He’s a surgeon in the bay area. Dr. Chang walked up on stage with a lyric sheet in hand, and the Utah Symphony started the song. I know this situation just came together last minute, but it totally added to the excitement of the song.  There was curiosity as to how Dr. Chang would sound, if there would be mess-ups, or if it would all come together somehow. Well, the latter is what happened. There were a couple lyric flubs or coming in too early, but overall it was great. Dr. Chang sang the song well, and the audience cheered him on throughout the song. And of course, we all sang out “Ghostbusters!” when Dr. Chang held his microphone out to us.  

Constantine Maroulis returned to the stage and sang a “Roxanne”, by the Police followed by “Bring Him Home” from the musical Les Miserables.  This was another time where song selection seemed odd, but I have to say that Constantine performed “Bring Him Home” beautifully. I would have never thought of him to play the role of Jean Valjean in “Les Miserables”, but after hearing him sing this song, I can see it.  He finished his set with Guns n Roses’ “Sweet Child of Mine”. It’s not every day that you’re going to hear “Bring Him Home” and “Sweet Child of Mine” performed back to back in a concert. Especially by the same vocalist! It was a real pleasure to see Constantine perform.  

Capathia Jenkins returned to the stage to sing “What’s Love Got to Do With It” by Tina Turner, and “I’m so Excited” by The Pointer Sisters.  Much of the audience was on their feet and dancing. I hadn’t heard of Capathia before this concert, but she is a real talent. Which was on display when she sang “And I am Telling You” from the musical Dreamgirls.  I know I’m beating a dead horse, but I don’t know that anyone expected broadway songs to be a part of the evening’s song list, but it’s impossible to deny that the performances were great. And this number was no exception.  This song won Jennifer Hudson an Academy Award for this role/song, and Jennifer Holiday a Tony Award for originating the role. Capathia’s performance earned her a standing ovation. She was fantastic.

The concert ended with Capathia and Constantine singing Journey’s hit song “Don’t Stop Believin’”.  The audience was on their feet and in full voice for this one. Constantine sang this song when he was in the Broadway musical “Rock of Ages” so it was cool to see him perform the song again.  

I thought conductor Edwin Outwater was one of the major highlights of the concert.  He spoke to the audience often, introducing songs and conducting crowd poles on which thing was better in the 70’s or 80’s.  Poles like, 8 tracks, Cassette Tapes, Cd’s or Vinyl (Vinyl won). Or 70’s Chicago vs 80’s Chicago (80’s Chicago won). Or Pet Rock vs Cabbage Patch Kids (Cabbage Patch won). He was really funny and engaging with the audience.  The conductor doesn’t usually speak often, so I thought it was a fun addition to the show.

I’m a huge fan of the Utah Symphony. They’re versatile, talented, and always prepared.  If you get the chance, whether up at Deer Valley, or Abravanel Hall or anywhere else they perform, go see them.  You will not be disappointed.

 

Setlist 

A Fifth of Beethoven- Utah Symphony
Nights on Broadway- Constantine
25 or 6 to 4- Constantine
Heaven on Their Minds- Constantine
Bohemian Rhapsody- Constantine
You’re the Best Thing- Capathia
I Will Survive- Capathia

Intermission

Hooked On Classics- Utah Symphony
Ghostbusters- Dr. Chang
Roxanne-Constantine
Bring Him Home- Constantine
Sweet Child of Mine- Constantine
What’s Love Got to Do With It- Capathia
I’m So Excited- Capathia
And I am Telling You- Capathia
Don’t Stop Believin’- Capathia & Constantine