Muse September 20, 2017 USANA Amphitheater

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Muse Setlist

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

Knights of Cydonia

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Donny & Marie Osmond Sandy July 11, 2017 Sandy Amphitheater

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ann Wilson of Heart Sandy June 27, 2017 Sandy Amphitheater

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Midge Ure Salt Lake City January 16, 2017 The Complex

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

UCR Interview- Midge Ure of Ultravox

Midge Ure of Ultravox is currently making his way across North America with his Live + Electric Tour.  Ure is coming to The Complex in Salt Lake City on Monday January 16, 2017.  Prior to his stop here in town, I had the opportunity to interview him. I believe our conversation will be of interest to any New Wave, New Romantic, or Electro music fan. I split my time during this interview between mustering as much journalistic integrity I possess and just totally geeking out.  I’m a huge Ultravox fan, so this was an absolute delight for me.  I hope you enjoy the interview as much as I had conducting it.  

Utah Concert Review: Hello Mr. Ure.  Where might you be calling in from tonight?

Midge Ure: I’m in deepest darkest Germany today.  

UCR: Wow, well how’s the tour going so far?

MU: It’s been going really well.  It’s a kind of a three piece, mainly acoustic stuff I’ve been doing.  It’s a tour called “Something from Everything”. I’m trying to play something from every album that I’ve done since 1978. So I’m choosing songs from Ultravox right through to now.  So it’s been going incredibly well because a lot of the songs I have never performed live before.

UCR: When you tour the states early next year, will you be continuing with this type of show, or will you be playing with a full band?  

MU: No, we’ve already done the first leg of the US tour back in October.  We did the East Coast and up into Canada.  So we’re picking that back up again starting in Vancouver and working our way across the West Coast through Salt Lake City, and down to Texas and finishing up in Nashville.  This tour we’ll be using two American multi-instrumentalist musicians.  One of whom I’ve worked with before. It’s basically a three piece power trio, but using synthesizers as well.  So we’re trying to incorporate a bit of everything.    

UCR:  I recently read a tweet from you where you were expressing frustration that someone in the front row was doing a lot of texting while you were performing.  I have to say that this is something that drives me nuts!  I think it’s so disrespectful.  

MU: (Laughing) Yeah.

UCR:  You’ve been touring for decades now, aside from people using their smart phone during concerts, whether to text or to record some of the performance, what else has changed over that time for you?

MU: Although I was tweeting about the annoyance of technology and the way people use it, it’s not about me and my ego.  It’s not, ‘How dare they not listen to me!’.  It’s the fact that people will sit in theaters and in cinemas and they’ll look at their phones.  Some will even make phone calls!  And you think, that’s just not the right thing to do.  So, although I was moaning about technology, I think the big change is technology.  The fact that an artist or a band can sit on the computer and book their own flights, book their own car hire, and they can liaise with venues on the road.  And you can do it on the phone while you’re touring as well.   You don’t need a massive office. You don’t need a huge road crew. You have to know what you’re doing of course, but the level I’m doing America right now, I could not have done this twenty years ago.  I could not have gone out without a road crew, or without a tour manager, you know, no one there to kind of back you up.  You’d need that kind of infrastructure.  Now you don’t need that.  You can kind of just do it yourself.  

UCR: That reminds me of when OMD reunited back in, I think around 2007.  After a successful European tour, they wanted to come here to the states and tour.  Concert promoters wouldn’t advance the money to put the tour together.  I guess they didn’t think they had the audience in America anymore.  So OMD decided to put the tour together on their own.  And it was a huge success, and they’ve been touring here ever since.  So to speak to your point, it seems it is possible now to tour without relying on others.  The advancements in technology allowed you to do it on your own.  It that pretty much what you’re saying?  

MU: Absolutely.  I have to look back over the years with me, or with Ultravox or whatever, and I find a twenty-year hole or a twenty-year gap where when I stopped being with major labels. I seemed to lose all connection with the US and Canada.  As I did with Australia and New Zealand and Japan. I seemed to have lost this flow.  So I had no way to get back in again.  So like you say with OMD, people ask you, “Well, how much do you go out for?”  and you tell them, and they say “No, we haven’t heard from you in twenty years. Why would we pay you that kind of money? Everyone has forgotten about you.”   If you’re determined to do it like OMD were, and like I am, I mean, I’ve toured the states maybe three or four times the last few years because I chose to do it. I don’t need to do it. But I chose to do it because maybe there’s a chip on my shoulder saying ‘Why did Ultravox never happen in America?’. Even though I know the answer, it still kind of grinds a little bit.  So I choose to come out to America and do it on a much lower level than I would in Europe or anywhere else really.  

UCR: Ok, so I have to know then, what are the reasons Ultravox didn’t happen in America?  

MU:  It’s probably a variety of answers.  This is a pick and mix. You can throw just the answers in a big pot and mix them up and that’s the reason.  Initially, only the coasts really got Ultravox, at least as far as we were concerned.  I’m not sure Ultravox ever played Salt Lake City, I don’t think we were ever in Utah. As far as we were concerned, it was College radio.  College radio got Ultravox. When we arrived first in New York, we were interviewed by a newspaper and this guy says, this is in around 1978, and the guy says “You guys speak really good English.”  And being British, we’re like “Yeah”.  He says, “I thought you were Germans.”  I think he had us mixed up with Kraftwerk.  And that was part of the problem.  The majority of America didn’t understand us.  They didn’t get what it was.  The record label was distraught that the Vienna album had an eight-minute instrumental as the opening track.  And they didn’t get it because radio played Styx, Boston, and Foreigner.  Corporate middle of the road rock.  So there was no space for something like us.  We were like the very point of the ship, and we got broken off.  And the bit that came behind us, got in. So we kind of helped to pave the way for the Depeche Mode’s, and the Orchestral Maneuvers in the Dark, and whoever to follow through.  That’s part of the reason.  The other part is when we toured America, which we did a few times, we could work our way up to performing places like the Avery Fisher Hall in New York, where they wouldn’t let amplifiers in there, but they let Ultravox in there because they saw Ultravox as art.  And we would play two to three thousand capacity theaters.  And then beyond that, the next step, the obvious step was to open for a bigger band. But we insisted on playing absolutely everything live.  There was nothing pre-programmed.  This was a logistical and technical nightmare because we didn’t have time to do a proper sound check.  So we stalemated at 3,000 capacity venues and we just kind of fell back and disappeared.  

UCR:  It must have been so frustrating to not have the necessary support from the media and your label when you had such a huge fan base everywhere else.  

MU: Of course I can see exactly where it all collapsed and fell apart.  Our record label didn’t understand us.  We were having number one records in the UK, and not seeing anything reciprocated in America. I can’t begin to tell you how hideously frustrating that was.  Ultravox would step off the plane to come and do a tour to promote an album, and the record company would say “Never mind guys, we’ll get them next time.” And I would say ‘Well, hold on, the album’s just come out.  How could it be dead in the water before we ever played a note?  How could this possibly be?’ It was because we were a square peg, and they were trying to push us into a round hole.  It just wasn’t going to happen.  They knew how to do Billy Idol, Pat Benatar and Huey Lewis and the News, and all that, but they had no idea what to do with us.  

UCR: Sometimes it’s amazing that these people are in the music business.  It would seem they rarely know what they’re doing.  

Other than maybe the size of the venues you perform in, what would you say makes a concert in America different than a concert overseas?

MU: You know what, there’s really not a massive difference I have to say. Audiences react similarly all over the world. There are subtle changes between audiences but American audiences tend to be a bit louder than European audiences.  Although, these days I supposed European audiences emulate American audiences with the shouting and screaming, whoopin’ and hollerin’ so maybe the UK and Europe audiences have caught up with how audiences react in American.  But there’s not a huge difference anymore.  I’m quite surprised at the level of reaction I get in America when I play what I think is probably quite obscure material.  The audience knows the songs!  The last time I played Salt Lake City was with the Retro Futura tour with Tom Bailey (Thompson Twins), Howard Jones, China Crisis, and I’m thinking well I haven’t been in Salt Lake City in ages, so no one is going to know me at all.  But I walk on stage and the whole place stands up and sang all my songs.  I was completely and utterly blown away.  So in my mind, my perception is, no one knows me except for hardcore fans that really get into the music and know my place in the chain, my little link in the chain.  When I was in Salt Lake I spoke to the audience afterward and I was signing stuff, and they said there was one radio station there that was a New Wave station and they played Ultravox and that type of music all the time, so they all knew the songs!  

UCR: What was the first concert you attended?

MU: Now this is going to sound bizarre, but the first one I remember buying a ticket was for Black Sabbath, but they didn’t turn up.  On the bill was Family who were a 60’s and 70’s rock band and another band.  So I watched the other two bands. I went to see Black Sabbath because my brother bought their album and I was 15 and wanted to be cool.  

UCR: With touring a lot yourself I’m sure you don’t have time to see a lot of concerts, but is there any band that you would like to see or that you make a point to see.  

MU: I’d love to see Sigur Rós. They’re an Icelandic band well worth checking out.  Really interesting music.  But they don’t tour very often. The last person I saw that I deliberately went to see was Kate Bush.  But I was completing the circle because I saw her first shows she did in London back in 1978.  But yeah, if there is someone I really want to see I’ll make a concerted effort to go see them.  However,  I’m a bit over going to sticky carpeted clubs.  

UCR: Eliminating Live Aid from your options, because that I’m sure was its own incredible experience on its own, what is one of your concerts that stands out to this day?

MU: Yes, there was a very famous venue in Glasgow back in the 70’s and 80’s, called the Glasgow Apollo.  After the single Vienna was successful, therefore the album was successful, Ultravox played the Apollo for the first time.  I walked on to a roar I had never experienced before in my life!  There were 4,000 people screaming, just shouting their heads off because it was my home city. Walking on there and performing in the venue that I saw T-Rex and many other bands perform.  I saw them all on that stage, and to walk on that stage and receive that ovation, was an experience I’ll never ever forget.  And it never gets as good as that again.  It doesn’t matter where you play, how big the venue is, or how magnificent the event might be, that first time you feel that it’s the best time ever!  

UCR: Thank you, Mr. Ure.  I really appreciate you taking the time. It has truly been an honor.  I’m really looking forward to the show.  

MU: Hopefully you’ll hear a lot of things you’ll recognize.  I’ll be doing more Ultravox songs on this set than I ever have outside of Ultravox.  I think you’ll enjoy it.  It’s good fun.  


Click here to purchase tickets to Midge’s Live + Electric show.  Keep in mind this is a 21+ show.  Hope to see you there! 

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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