Tag Archives: Greek Theatre

100th Post and a late review…

Interesting timing I suppose…my 100th post was going to be about the Return to Forever show at the Greek Theatre last month.

And, in I suppose that I’ll get to that in due course here in this post.  But, first I guess I should explain how my “Big Week” of concerts changed right after the BNL show reviewed in post 99.  The day between BNL and RTF I received a call that my sister in Texas was gravely ill and not likely to survive the night.

Unable to get there (I thought) in time, I booked the first flight I could with some miles to leave Wednesday morning, and I still attended the show at the Greek.  Then, I spent all of the next day flying and driving.  Getting to Cushing, Texas sometime after midnight the next day.  To make a long story short, my sister made an amazing recovery that the doctors couldn’t really explain.  I stayed a week and by the time I left she was pretty much back to where she had been prior to her hospitalization.  I, on the other hand was somewhat worse for the wear and off my game for a few days.  Now, I”m finally getting back to catch up on things like missing blog posts.

Why do I mention this?  Well, I feel a certain responsibility to uphold my promises and I promised (anyone reading and myself) to review each show I attended.  So, now that things are finally somewhat back to normal…I figured I’d get back to it and catch up on the RTF show.

RTF IV and Zappa Plays Zappa – September 20, 2011 – Greek Theatre

I had a long standing plan to go to this show with one of my best friends since we were about seven years old, Dave.  He’s a huge fan of RTF and we’ve both listened to them since we were teenagers.  We set out early (for reasons I’ll explain in a bit) and stopped at Olivera Street for a great lunch before arriving at the Greek around 4pm.  The reason we were so early is that a friend of mine was the LD (Lighting Director) for the tour and he’d invited us up to see the soundcheck!  Sure enough, he met up outside and hung an “all access” pass around our necks and in we walked to the strains to RTF warming up.

But, it wasn’t that we got to hear them…we followed my friend up to his console where he was programming….on stage…about 10′ from Chick Corea….

Yep…I was on stage while a group of some of the best jazz musicians who ever played did their soundcheck.  They finished checking and my friend called Chick Corea over and introduced us.  So, now I’m talking to Chick Corea….and posing for a photo….

Me with Chick Corea

Well, I pretty much could have gone home happy at this point….

We listened to Zappa plays Zappa soundcheck and hung out with my friend and caught up while he gave us a tour of the backstage areas in the dark time before the house opened and the first band played.

Let me say, Zappa plays Zappa was a huge surprise to me.  They were amazingly good young musicians.  I’m not a huge Zappa expert, but I knew a few of the pieces they played…”Dancin Fool”, “St Alfonso’s Pancake Breakfast” and “King Kong” which featured Chick Corea out as a guest of the band.  I have to say that their engineer Glynn did one of the best mixes I have ever heard in that venue.  It was spot on perfect, as was the band.  A huge surprise I would go back and see them again in a heartbeat.

Return to Forever was up next and they didn’t disappoint.  I can’t say I’m a jazz expert or that I even listen to a huge amount on a regular basis.  But, their album “Romantic Warrior” has been a favorite of mine since the 70’s.  The history of the players alone is just staggering.  Stanley Clarke, Lenny White and Chick Corea would likely each be in a top five (ten?) list of greatest players ever on their respective instruments.

Here’s their setlist:

Medieval Overture
Senor Mouse
Sorceress / Shadow of Lo
Renaissance
After the Cosmic Rain
Romantic Warrior
Spain
School Days

The last two pieces being amazing jams, as you can see in this clip of Spain: (It also give you a taste of my friend’s work on the lighting for the show)

I can’t get totally specific on the technical merits of each player or composition….all I can say is it was a honor to see such a talent group of musicians all on one stage at one time.  And excellent musical evening was helped along by the phone call that I received mid show that my sister was improving.

So, a darn good night all around….good music, good friend and good news all at the same time.

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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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