When people think of Colin Hay, I’d imagine the first thing they think of is his band Men at Work. Understandably so. While Men at Work only released three albums and the original lineup was only together for seven years, the band left a lasting mark on the music world, particularly in the 80’s music scene. And who can think of Australia without their mega-hit, “Down Under” popping in their head? That being said, I have always been told just how great Hay’s solo work is, and that if he comes through town I should absolutely see him. So I did just that. I was fortunate to finally see Colin Hay on May 15, 2019, at The Commonwealth Room in Salt Lake City.
When I got the invite to review Flora Cash I did a little research about the band to get myself familiar with them leading up to the show. I became fascinated with their history and origin. Female vocalist Shpresa Lleshaj hails from Sweden. Male vocalist and guitarist Cole Randall is from Minnesota. Shpresa discovered some of Cole’s tracks on SoundCloud. She began commenting on the tracks and they started sharing their music back and forth. They then started conversing over Facebook Messenger, then they’d talk on the phone, which was followed by lengthy Skype collaborations. They finally met in Minneapolis. They than headed to Sweden to begin their career as a band. This ultimately led to their marriage and the band Flora Cash was born. Flora Cash is currently supporting lovelytheband on their current Finding it Hard to Smile U.S. tour. The tour stopped at the Depot in downtown Salt Lake City on Tuesday, April 23.
Conan Gray seems like an artist who is skyrocketing. The truth is Gray has had been around since 2013. He first came on the scene with his well-followed YouTube Channel, then releasing self-penned songs on that channel in 2015 eventually being signed to Republic Records. In late 2018 Gray released his debut EP, Sunset Season which was followed by a tour where he has sold out most cities. Conan Gray finished off his first North American headlining tour to Salt Lake City with a sold out show at Kilby Court.
Ben Folds entered my radar in a real way at a Tori Amos concert. He’d just embarked on his solo career and she gave him a leg up by letting him open for her Lottapianos tour. He has grown as an artist since then and seems to have taken a cue from her refusal to draw harsh lines between the rock and classical music worlds. Ben was backed by the Utah Symphony Orchestra (along with a choir) which plumped out and embellished his melodies as well as faithfully performed pieces from his sonically ambitious So There album, written with an orchestral arrangement in mind. My one disappointment was that they did not perform Ben’s “Concerto for Piano and Orchestra” which topped Billboard Classical and Classical Crossover charts.
After seeing Noah Kahan play a sold-out show at The State Room back in October I thought I knew what was in store when I heard that he’d be supporting James Bay at The Union on March 23. Back in October, Noah put on an exceptional show. The crowd was into it, and they left more than satisfied with the evening. So I had a feeling there would be more of the same at this show. If anything, I thought perhaps it might be a bit of a letdown because Noah would be opening. I had no idea things would go like this.
Usually, when you see a band you like in concert multiple times, you know what you’re going to get. After a while there is only so much a band can do to keep the show fresh and new for their fans. We as fans will generally accept that because we’re there to hear the songs we love live, so even if we’ve heard them play the songs the exact same way for years, we’re cool with it because we’re happy a band we like has stopped in our city again. That’s not to say the song, or show has become dull. I’m only saying that you eventually figure out what a band is going to do. For example, there are a number of bands that I like, that I’ve seen multiple times, and when they start testing the effect on their guitar, I know what the song is before it even starts. Or if they play a fancy intro, I can make out what song it is already. Sometimes part of the fun of a live show is guessing what the song is before it starts. But try not to be a song predictor too often. It might get old to your friends or those around you. Anyway, the reason I’m rambling about all this is because I just saw Muse in concert. And they put on one of the best live shows out there today. If not the best!