I was introduced to Gregory Alan Isakov by my friend Justin. He used to talk to me about Gregory in a matter of way as if to assume that I knew who he was. He mentioned him in this way so often I started to think ‘This Isakov guy must be pretty good if Justin is just figuring that I know who this is.’. So I checked him out and I felt foolish for having not been familiar with him sooner.
I was really excited to be seeing Gregory for the first time at the beautiful Eccles Theater in downtown Salt Lake City. I absolutely love the Eccles Theater. Having just celebrated its second anniversary in operation, the Eccles Theater has brought some great acts, both theatrical and in concert to our capital city. The sound is incredible in there. It’s perfect. There is something about a seated venue built for theatrical and orchestral performance that helps make the sounds of the strings come to life while the band is playing. There isn’t a bad seat in the venue, and I’ve been everywhere from the tippy top row to the front of the house, to the box seats on the side. I have yet to see a poor performance there.
When Sebastian Bach stepped out on to The Commonwealth Room stage, all of a sudden everyone in attendance time-warped back to the late 1980’s. I was standing at the front of the house waiting for the show to start, and I was talking to a man who had loved Sebastian Bach and his former band Skid Row since their inception. This was going to be his first time seeing him perform and he couldn’t have been more excited. If I was to guess, the man was in his late 50’s. Once the show started, I looked back at him and he looked as if he was in his twenties again. Of course, it was the way his eyes were looking at the stage, but it was crazy how youthful he all of a sudden looked.
Back in January when it was announced that Journey and Def Leppard would be playing together at Vivint Smart Home arena in September, I knew the wait would be long, that the anticipation would be high, but the show, when it finally got here, would meet all expectations. And did it ever. With two mega power hit machines like this, it was almost impossible not to know a song, or enjoy all three hours of music. It was an incredible night of music. I have seen both bands before, but never together. Seeing these two bands on the same lineup is an experience unto itself.
If you’ve ever seen Luke Bryan in concert you know a few things: 1. Women (and some men) will never tire of Luke shaking his booty, 2. There is no better place to people watch in the state of Utah (and I’ll explain why) and 3. It doesn’t matter if you know one Luke Bryan song or all of them, you know that Luke likes to sing about. Loving people, and drinking.
Luke Bryan draws from a number of areas to bring an outstanding performance for his fans. He may not be the strongest singer in country music, but people love his songs and performance so much that it just doesn’t matter. He may not be the next Glen Campbell when it comes to playing guitar. But who is? But he plays well enough to do an entire acoustic set in his shows, and no one is complaining. He may not be the world’s greatest dancer or booty shaker.. oh wait, he might be. His fans love the booty shake! I may not be the one to make that call. He really might be the best booty shaker. To his fans, he clearly is. Anyway, my point is, his combination of talents and his fan-friendly songs are why he once again played to a packed USANA Amphitheater.
As I mentioned, the people watching is amazing at a Luke Bryan concert. It has already been well reported that Luke’s booty and hip shaking are a major reason why his fans are there to see him. Because of this, the fan reaction to this is something to behold. The way these fans react to Luke’s moves is
For those who’ve seen a concert at Velour Live Music Gallery, you know that your experience there will generally consist of young, college-aged up and coming bands. On the rare occasion you’ll see a band that has their origin in Provo and at Velour return from the road to do a homecoming show. And on the rarest of occasions, you’ll see someone in their 70’s stopping through town to play this venue. Well, last night was that very rare occasion. Jim Avett, the 71 year old father of his famous sons, The Avett Brothers, played what looked like a sold out seated show on Wednesday night.
Jim Avett is performing at the Velour Music Gallery in Provo, Utah on Wednesday, September 19. Jim’s last name might ring a bell. He’s the father of Seth and Scott Avett, better known as The Avett Brothers. I had reached out to Jim’s management to request an interview and I received an email and phone call from Jim himself the following morning. That isn’t common with artists, but as I soon learned, Jim operates on a very personal level. We played a bit of phone tag, and I we finally connected on Mr. Avett’s return call. I answered with “Hello, this is Kevin.”. He responded, “Well get over yourself”. His southern wit and North Carolina accent were thick and I immediately knew this was going to be a really enjoyable conversation. And it sure was. Jim told me that he’s been told he’s the easiest person to interview ever because he does all the talking. And he’s right. But I had no desire to interrupt anything he was saying. He answered my questions eventually, but in the process shared wonderful stories of life, music, and love. You’ll see that this interview starts with him talking. I pretty much thanked him for taking the time, and he was off and running. I loved every minute of it! Hope you enjoy this as much as I did. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Jim Avett!
I was invited ten months ago to cover Jade Bird’s opening set for Son Little at The State Room. The last thing I wrote in that article was “I fully expect her to be headlining show in Salt Lake City in the future.”. Well, folks, the future is now. Jade played her first headlining show in Salt Lake City in only her second ever stop in our city.
Playing Kilby Court is like a right of passage for musicians. It’s small, it’s a little worse for the wear, and yet, how happy are we when bands come play a large venue and they say something to the effect of “I remember playing down the street at Kilby Court!”? And the joy of having seen them there first! Well, Jade is an artist on the rise and one day she’ll be saying those words.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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 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
If I Was
Fade to Grey
I Remember (Death in the Afternoon)
All Stood Still
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.