Tag Archives: Gorillaz

Wrapping up 2010

Wow, where do I start….

As evidenced by the previous posts I had a pretty amazing year of concert-going.  A near lifelong quest completed, an epic show I’d missed 30 years ago revisited.  A music oriented couple weeks in London.  Countless HOF members of the Rock Hall of Fame….heck a ton of them in just a single week.  Shows with good friends old and new.  Hard to even wrap my head around the whole thing.

Here’s the list:

Keb’ Mo’ – Coach House – Jan 14

The Blasters, John Doe, Rumble King – Coach House – Feb 20

Peter Gabriel – Hollywood Bowl – May 7

Styx, Kansas, Foreigner – Citizens Bank Arena – May 19

Richard Thompson – Royal Festival Hall – June 19

Green Day, Joan Jett – Wembley Stadium – June 19

Elvis Costello – Royal Festival Hall – June 20

Glastonbury – June 23-27

Jackson Browne – Albert Hall – June 29

Jack Johnson – O2 Arena – June 30

Laura Marling, Fanfarlo, Peggy Sue, Smoke Fairies – Hyde Park – July 1

Hop Farm – July 2-3

Jools Holland – Kew Gardens – July 6

Barenaked Ladies, Kris Allen, Angel Taylor – Greek Theatre – July 22

Blondie, Gorevette – Pacific Amphitheatre – August 8

Rush – Irvine Meadows – August 13

Al Yankovic – Pacific Amphitheatre – August 14

Scissor Sisters – DAR Consitiution Hall – August 23

Neil Finn – Largo – September 11

Muse, Passion Pit – Staples Center – September 25

Gorillaz, N.E.R.D. – Gibson – October 27

Bonobo – Music Box – November 26

Roger Waters – Staples Center – November 29

Roger Waters – Honda Center – December 13

Roger Waters – Honda Center – December 14

Twenty three shows and two festivals in all.  I don’t think I could even pick a “best”.  However a few things to note do occur to me.

Worst sound, Scissor Sisters.  Horrible mix that completely left the vocals out, and it’s not like I had a crappy seat, I was in the 5th row.  Really guys?  Totally detracted from an interesting performance.

Only show I left early, Jack Johnson.  It was okay, but very one-note.  I like his studio stuff, but in a huge arena it was lost.  Put the same show in an intimate venue and I might have loved it.  Add to the experience that I was a bit sick that night and it was just not a compelling show.

Most disappointing, Muse/Passion Pit.  Passion Pit left me cold and Muse after all the hype just didn’t live up to expectations.  Lot’s of copped riffs and wasted technology that didn’t go anywhere.  If you want to use technology look to Gabriel, Waters or even the Pet Shop Boys.  This was “sound and fury that signified nothing”…

Most intimate, Neil Finn.  The Largo is magic when Neil plays there and the September show was no exception.  An obscure setlist that actually added to the special feeling of the evening.  You knew even while watching this was the sort of thing that would never be duplicated.  Jackson Browne in the acoustic tent at Glastonbury was a close second.  While the masses grooved to Stevie Wonder….Jackson held court for a few hundred lucky folks and spun magic with his sidekick David Lindley.  Moving and unique almost sell short just how very special a way it was to end my Glastonbury experience.

Surprises…How awesome Gorillaz were in LA after disappointing in Glastonbury.

Bonobo, Midlake, Hot Chip, Fanfarlo, Laura Marling, Mumford & Sons, Two Door Cinema Club, Magic Numbers, The Bees….none of whom I knew before 2010 and who all get extensive spins regularly on my ipod now.

How great Rush could be at doing “Moving Pictures” after being somewhat average the other time I’d seen them previously….this show made up for that one in spades.

Disappointment….U2 having to cancel in Anaheim and Glastonbury…(of course it does give me a couple shows to look forward to in 2011 already…)

Well, that’s it…another year in the books, and an amazing one at that.  Curious to see what 2011 (and beyond) will bring?  But, it’ll be hard for any year to reach the heights of 2010 for me.

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Gorillaz in LA

Tonight (well, technically last night) was my Gorillaz make-up show.

If you’ve been following closely, you’ll recall that I lasted about five songs at their Friday night Glastonbury performance.  Too crowded, too far away, poor views of the videos and stage made it not very fun….so, I moved on.  When they announced this tour, I noted the LA show and after a lot of thought decided to go see them once again under hopefully better circumstances.

Glad that I did.

It was torturous getting up there from work, an accident in Glendale cost me any time I had to eat dinner at Citywalk.  I arrived with just enough time to pay for “preferred parking”…basically, a little closer but the preferred part seems to be that they “prefer you pay twice as much”.  I walked from the lot to the Gibson and reflected back on some of the folks I’d seen there through the years…Stevie Wonder, Linda Ronstadt, Tom Petty, Boz Scaggs, Steely Dan (3 times!) and hoped tonight would live up to the months I’d spent waiting.

I grabbed a quick concession plate of over-priced “chicken” strips.  Not the dinner I was hoping for, but the open act was already three songs in before I reached my seat.

N.E.R.D. was a pretty good mash of hip hop and rock.  Not a turntable in sight.  They had a solid beat with two drummers and a surprisingly powerful sound.  They played a number of songs off their upcoming release and rocked out a nice hour-long set.  One title that jumped out at me was “Hot n Fun” and I wish I knew the name of their closing song which flat out rocked and ended on a drum solo and nice vamp by the band.

I noticed that the headliner let the opening band lighting director have some fun too.  The light show was beyond what a lot of headliners will allow an opening act to use.  This was pretty much the whole rig in action.  I note that because when I see that sort of thing it tells me the headliner isn’t on a power or ego trip or worried about the opener showing them up.  (Yes, those silly sort of games do go on.)  I appreciated that Gorillaz didn’t limit the opener in that way.

After a 20 minute or so break the house lights dropped and a group of female string players filtered onto the stage.  There was an opening video featuring Murdoc and D2 (two of the cartoon “members” of the band).  Then the lush orchestral opening of Plastic Beach followed by a video cameo from Snoop Dogg of “Welcome to the Plastic Beach”.  I remembered how frustrating it had been at Glasto with the video far out of sync from the audio.  It was nice to see it as intended.

Next up came a solid version of “Last Living Souls” that lead to an absolutely  brilliant version of “19-2000” with Miho Hatori providing her original part alongside the band.  She was the first by far from the last guest who would perform tonight.  But, I remember thinking at that moment how great the band sounded.  A huge part of that was Paul Simonon on bass.  He added a muscular underpinning the whole night and was frankly just amazing to watch.  I kept visualizing his iconic picture from London Calling and realizing that along with Mick Jones there on stage that I was finally seeing a couple of rock legends who had eluded me seeing them back in the 80’s….(There’s a story there, that I’ll save for later…but it involved of all things seeing Loverboy instead of the Clash…to my eternal chagrin.)

19-2000 lead into Bobby Womack joining the band for a better-than-on-the-CD version of “Stylo”.  Next up was two of the strongest cuts off Plastic Beach.  Melancholy Hill and Rhinestone Eyes…wow, I thought…they were playing a lot of the bigger songs right up front.  I wondered how this whole show would play out.  On the next song came the next big guest…De La Soul doing “Superfast Jellyfish”…another one that was even better played live than on CD.

Reaching back to their beginning, they pulled up “Tomorrow Comes Today” and then were joined by Little Dragon for a wonderful version of “Empire Ants”.  Basically, they could do no wrong….

Then, Lou Reed joined them for “Some Kind of Nature”….

…he’s a legend, he was in  Velvet Underground…he’s F-ing LOU REED….

And, he totally sapped the momentum of the show.  His deadpan delivery is fine on the recording, but live he seemed completely lost vocally.  He also completely missed his guitar solo and sort of stood there with Paul Simonon edging over to him to maybe remind him what the thing was that he was wearing around his neck.  He finally tore off a disjointed sort of Lou Reed-ish sort of solo and wrapped the song.  (He flew from NYC for this?…seriously?)  After a quick hug with Damon, he shuffled off the stage looking like someone’s grandfather who’d taken a wrong turn and ended up in the wrong place.  He’s a legend, I have great respect for what he’s done.  But, it made me a bit sad to see him….and it totally sapped the energy from the show.

Glitter Freeze was okay, but it seemed like the band wasn’t completely recovered when they tore into “Dirty Harry”.  Nicely done and things began to slide back into gear.  Out came a young guy named Daley to do their new song, “Doncamatic”.  It was serviceable, but not anything that blew me away.  In fact, it was a good opportunity to grab a quick seat and relax my knees for a moment.

I was soon back on my feet for El Manana and the show was finally back on track after the Lou Reed misstep.  A solid version of “White Flag” gave way to a nice version of “To Binge”…another of the deeper tracks from the CD that improved live for me.  “Glitter Freeze”, then “Punk” and the main set wrapped with “Plastic Beach”.

After a few moments, the band came back out with Bobby Womack for a version of “The Cloud of Unknowing”.  Then, back came De La Soul for a terrific version of “Feel Good Inc.” that lead to “Clint Eastwood”….frankly it was just a triple punch of awesomeness….

The show wrapped with a “Don’t Get Lost in Heaven” and “Demon Days”….

As I wrote on my final note for the night….F-ing BRILLIANT show!

And it was….Maybe one of the better shows that I’ve seen this year.  The parade of terrific guests, the fantastic band…seeing absolute legends rocking out together was everything that I’d hoped for.  I was even able to tolerate the accident that I got stuck behind on the way home by playing Dirty Harry at full volume while I sat stopped in the fast lane of the 5 fwy.

Tired, but happy and off to bed.

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Glastonbury – Friday

Glastonbury – Friday

After my second night of “camping”…

(Camping at Glasto is really shorthand for sleeping on the ground in a field while dealing with loud and rude assholes yelling all night, laying on an air mattress that kinda-sorta stays inflated; all the while trying to stay the right temperature alternating between a thin blanket and the thinnest sleeping bag ever manufactured).

….anyway…

Friday morning dawned a bit better.  I knew what to expect from the “facilities” now and had a general morning plan for getting ready to face the day.  I headed to the efest campsite gathering and sat there and chatted for a couple hours with folks.

I headed out for my first real band on a stage at Glastonbury.  The Magic Numbers at the Other Stage.  The crowd was not too heavy (most folks were hearing Rolf Harris at the Pyramid).  They sounded really good, even though I wasn’t familiar with all their material.  However, when they hit one song I did know well “Forever Lost” it really clicked and for the first time I got a taste of the “Glasto Spirit” people keep talking about.  Laying in the grass, drinking a soda and listening to a good band.  It was a cool moment…maybe one of the first of the Festival so far.

I split for the Pyramid as their set ended and caught the last song of Rolf Harris….”Tie me kangaroo down sport”….the one song by Rolf Harris that I could actually name…so woot for that!

The field cleared a bit and I moved down to the barrier by the stage and listened to Kemi Kuti (son of Fela Kuti).  It was an awesome groove of Afro-pop and under the blazing sun hit just the right spot.  I also had a great conversation with a fellow about my age who is a biker and who’d ridden his BMW in for the show. He and his mate were a couple cool guys and we chatted a while during the Kuti set…that’s just the sort of random encounters that make Glasto special.  Everyone is just there to have a good time and be happy.

So, a couple hours in and I’ve seen two acts and parts of a third and met some cool folks. Exactly what I was hoping to experience.

I wandered to see what I might find next and in the heat, saw a refuge from the sun (huge tent) called the “Queens Head Stage”.  It featured an expanse of shade…that was too good to pass up in the blazing midday sun.  So, I went inside and plopped down.  Checking my schedule I learned that Friction Plane was up next.  Oddly, I’d seen them open for the Police a few years ago…a gig I assume they mostly scored based on the fact the lead singer/bass player is named Sumner, and is the son of Sting.

They didn’t make much of an impression on me as an opener a few years ago, but playing a set up close in a cool-ish tent on a hot day seemed to improve the quality of their music.  I stayed for most of the set.

Something that I learned early was that you rarely hear an entire set by anyone.  There’s just too much to take in and always someplace else to head for to try and catch.  I began to think of it as sort of a sampler of tons of music that’s just held in a really big field.

I climbed the hill and walked into the welcome shade of the Acoustic Tent and heard one song by Laura Henwood in the process.  Staying there in the shade, I hung out and next heard a group called Danny and the Champions, cool folk-ish stuff, much better than I expected from them based just on the name…(which didn’t impress me, sounds like an oldies revival act.)

They were okay, but I decided to move on before the set ended and headed for West Holts when I stumbled onto a group called Bonobo.  They had a great groove (Trip-Hop) and I sat down and listened to them much longer than I’d intended.

Part of the whole wandering thing is taking advantage of the gems that you find.  I’d have never set out to see them, but I liked them so much I bought their CD back in London later.

When Bonobo ended I headed back to the Other Stage to catch Phoenix.  It was a bit crowded, so I hung to the back and listened to most of their set.  Good “indie” pop and they lived up to the hype well enough that I enjoyed them.  After their set I climbed the hill to my tent and listened to MGMT from a distance…sadly, I think a further distance might have been better…not very impressed with MGMT live.

I headed back down to see Florence and the Machine and the field at the Other Stage was completely jammed packed.  Literally there wasn’t a spot to stand and watch that I could find anywhere.  I circulated the edge field and heard a few songs and finally headed off to the chill and charge tent to post quickly on Facebook and to charge my phone.

I headed back for Hot Chip and found a spot close to the barrier.  They sounded great and they played a nice selection of tracks off of all their CD’s.  My view was a little impeded by the BBC camera jib, but I still had a great spot at the corner of the barrier to watch their sunset lit performance.

Near the end I made a rather bad call, I snuck away and missed the last few songs of a band I was enjoying to see Gorillaz.  The crowd for Gorillaz made the packed field for Florence earlier look absolutely spacious.  I twisted my way deep into the middle of the crowd there at the Pyramid…literally, there had to have been at least 80k people there.

Gorillaz started playing and frankly the sound sucked out there.  The video screens sucked too.  They started and stopped and re-started.  The Plastic Beach stuff was a cool idea, and had I been a quarter mile closer and able to lean on something or sit down…I might have enjoyed it.  As it was, I gave up after 4 songs.

Glasto Tip Three:

Be flexible.  If one thing isn’t working, move on.  Glastonbury is a bit like life.  You’ll get a mix of good and bad.  Enjoy the good and leave the bad stuff by moving on.  It’s never going to be perfect, so accept it.  Overall the good will usually always end up outweighing the bad in the final tally.

I struggled out of the packed field and headed in a random direction.  The first stage I reached was the Queens Head again.  Inside a decent band was playing.  The Bees.  I didn’t know a single song by them, but they were really good.  “Listening Man” jumped out as my favorite song of the set.  I stayed for the whole set and even bought their CD back in London.  I’d have never discovered them if I’d have stayed at Gorillaz.  So, like life…sometimes the bad things that happen will open the door for something unexpected and good (even better) to be available to you.

After the Bees ended I stopped at the Bourbon Street bar and heard a random band of kids playing funky R&B and blues…never caught their name.  But, they were fun and along with the Bees made up for missing the big headliner of the night.

From there I made it West Holts and Kemi Kuti (from the Pyramid earlier) was playing.  I caught about half his set (that ended about midnight).  Pretty much the same as earlier…but, I liked it earlier, so that was cool.

I went to the Arcadia to see the fire show and hung out for a half an hour or so watching the indescribable and really (weird) show.  I can’t begin to describe it, but here’s a sample:

Really tired, I headed out down the track towards my tent.  I passed New Model Army cranking out post-punk in the Avalon, but didn’t stop.  I crawled into my tent…

…and then was kept awake by loud shouting assholes for most of the night.

Apparently, it’s just amazingly funny to get drunk for the first time and walk through an area where thousands of people are trying to sleep shouting at the top of your lungs.  (Who knew?)

I guess in any crowd of that size you’ll always get the jerks….Still a great day of tons of new music.

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Greeting FROM Glasto

One of the phone companies has a “chill and charge” area with free computers.  I saw an opening and popped in to do one quick post here.

Been camping since Wednesday, (it’s Friday now).  Been a blur of good and bad.  But, the bad will soon pass and the good has been really cool.

Already seen today:

Magic Numbers, Femi Kuti, Friction Plane, Laura Henwood, Danny & the Champions, Bonobo (best of the day so far), Phoenix, La Roux and Florence and the Machine!

Still to come: Hot Chip and Gorillaz.

More updates and TONS of photos later.

JT

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Gorillaz

So, not Coldplay after all on Friday night.

Rather a good thing I think overall.  I’m not a Gorillaz fan by any stretch, but I read some really good reviews of their headline slot at the recent Coachella.  Plus, Mick Jones and Paul Simonon are part of the band…yep, I’m  seeing half the Clash play at Glastonbury…darn cool really.

Because I’m trying to make informed decisions on which bands to see, I went and bought the two most recent CD’s last night on the way home.  I found some pretty good gems buried in there…”Feel Good Inc”, “Rhinestone Eyes” and “On Melancholy Hill” have all jumped out at me.

Here’s the first single if anyone wants to check them out.  (with a special guest star or two)

And hey…HALF THE CLASH on stage!

I hope it lives up to it’s potential.

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