Tag Archives: Muse

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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Muse at Staples Center

I passed on Muse at Glasto to see Nick Lowe, a snippet of the Pet Shop Boys and Midlake.

I knew they’d be in So Cal and figured that I had tome to see them here if I decided it was a good idea.  Frankly, with a few exceptions of songs most of their CD’s I’d listened to had left me cold.  I just couldn’t really get into them.  I wavered and passed on the Thursday night show in Anaheim.  But, on Friday I read a rave review in the local paper.  He compared them to U-2, Radiohead, Coldplay, Pearl Jam and Green Day amongst others….wow.  Everyone seems to rave about them.  He basically said this is the last time you’ll see them short of a stadium.  Quite a hard sell.  He even compared the opener “Passion Pit” to Hot Chip, La Roux and Phoenix.

So…with that in my head, I popped onto Ticketmaster and up pops a really great single seat…

So, I pull the trigger and buy a ticket for Saturday night at Staples (a venue that I really dislike as well).

I arrive a bit early, but all the restaurants are jammed.  So, I opt for a concession stand pizza and diet soda.

Passion Pit hits the stage at 7:30pm…by 7:51pm I am completely tired of his “minnie mouse” voice and their bland offering….sadly for me the set lasted another 21 minutes….

Sorry, but having just seen Hot Chip, La Roux AND Phoenix at Glasto I have to say…I’d prefer any of those three to this group.  They were nice and humble sounding when they talked, but sort of like Owl City in the same bland way.  Actually, I’d prefer Owl City and their lightweight electro-pop fare to these guys.  Sorry, I’m sure you are good ernest kids…but I hope that they all finish the college degree as a fallback option….

Muse, Muse, Muse….

What can I say?….

I was amazingly disappointed after all the build up.  First there was a video display of escher like guys climbing stairs endlessly on the large LCD rigs above the stage.  After a bit of that they opened the show with a massive display of ego.  Literally placing themselves on pedestals above the stage and also doing a kubuki drop….(Very 80’s Def Leppard guys, but not that well executed.)  Of course, “Not that well executed” was a major theme for me in regards to their show.  They had a lot of cool toys and underused and misused most of them.  Aside from the kubuk drop, they had lasers (ELO used them much better back in 1978! on the Big Night tour), stage elevators (ditto with ELO in 1978), LCD walls/curtains….(seen much better stuff from Tom Petty, Green Day and numerous others), Video content itself…(Rush, Green Day set the bar here).  Even the wardrobe was derivitive!  Matt Belamy had a stage costume ripped almost directly off from Chris Issac.

I compared them (unfavorably) to Rush who I saw last month.  Both are power trios, both try for epic songs and both live very much on their stage reputations.  Rush had some awesome video content, great lighting and some cool tricks with the lighting rig, a sense of humor, terrific musicianship…the whole package.  Muse seemed to be missing each of those elements.

Notice that I haven’t mentioned U2 yet?  The review that I had read compared them very favorably…and I don’t see it.  Technically U2 created shows on the last few tours that were above and beyond anything anyone else is doing.

Muse is not doing that, they are just hashing up a bunch of half-baked stuff that others have done better…which leads me to their actual music…

Here are some of my exact notes:

3rd song…Dick Dale riff…

Supermassive Black Hole…Tom Morello riff and solo…

Hendrix Star Spangled Banner intro…Led Zep riffs on the outro…

Direct Queen rip off….

Mix of Queen and U-2 riffs on this one…

Cover of “House of the Rising Sun”

This one sounds like Dazed and Confused dropped onto a Judas Priest song…

Hey, why not some Iron Maiden riffs on this one before we’re done….

Now, for example when I’ve seen Green Day they did an awesome set of covers that paid an obvious homage to those who’d come before and influenced them.  Beatles, Stones, Who, Otis Knight…it was a great stew of songs and done with style and humor.  Muse on the other hand “borrowed” all those riffs  but delivered them in a pompous and self important manner that I found very off-putting.

Guys…I saw Queen in their prime and you’re not them, nor Zep, nor the Who and while I never saw Hendrix…I’d have to say you guys are barely another version of Frank Marino and Mahogny Rush (See Frank could play a mean Hendrix riff too).

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that the folks around me were all thrilled and digging the whole show.  They were also mostly kids who I doubt have been exposed to the giants these guys are standing on the shoulders of.

I tried to sum it up to Julie when I got home and this was what I came up with….

Lets say you have a talking horse.  That’s an amazing thing and people will come from miles to look at, and hear him talk.  But, after a while a talking horse will have the novelty wear off, then he’s just another voice talking; and you hope he will have something interesting to say.  I never found that core of anything interesting to say buried anywhere in this show.  So, I was just left with a talking horse, interesting for a minute…but not worth my time once the novelty wears off and I can tell that there’s really nothing there of any lasting importance.

Thousands of Muse fans I’m sure disagree with me, but I’d suggest a they dig a little deeper and listen to some Hendrix, see a U2 show…Or watch a video of Queen in the late 70’s.  I’d do any of those before I’d head back to a Muse show.

Looks like I made a good choice at Glastonbury to skip them, and a bad one to second guess myself and waste an evening on them here in So Cal.

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Saturday “must see” list

So here it sit tonight, worn out from a four mile walk with light pack (trying to get ready for all the walking) and a hard cider in my hand (a festival tradition I’m told, so getting ready for that as well.)

We’ve covered Friday’s clashfinder so now lets move on to Saturday:

The early part of the day has no really compelling acts that I need to see so far.  The openers for the main stage have been announced and it was a little bit of a letdown after all the build up about the 40 anniversary.  Saturday is someone called “Tinchy Strider”…apparently a rapper, apparently a pass for me.  However on the Park stage is someone a little interesting…Candi Staton.  Nothing like a blast of disco to start the morning.

Next up will be the Lighting Seeds or Reef.  Unless something else grabs my attention.  Don’t know much about either band, just know the names really.  Then, maybe off to see Coheed & Cambria?  Listened to a little of their stuff and it’s interesting in a “Rush” sort of way.

But then is my first real clash of the day.  Do I leave Jackson Browne early to see Imogen Heap?  I have three shots at seeing Jackson, but he never disappoints.  Imogen is a wild card, I know a little of her stuff.  So, I guess I’ll just have to see how JB’s set starts then decide if I should slip away halfway through.

Then, comes another slot where I see some names I know, but nothing excites me enough to say that I really have to see any of them.  So, I’ll likely see some mix of Seasick Steve, Kate Nash, Devendra Banhart, Beach House and the Avett Brothers.  I hope something out of that list grabs my ears.  Then, Dead Weather is playing, and I’ve hear lots of critical raves…but the couple songs I know didn’t grab me that much.  I may opt for the National who I have a couple CD’s by and find a bit more to my taste.

Now comes a three-fer on the acoustic stage.  Al Stewart into Imelda May into Nick Lowe.  Two of my favorite songwriters sandwiched around a young rockabilly singer with some great pipes.  Looking forward to settling in and relaxing after all the rushing around in the afternoon.  Now that means I’ll likely miss Shakira, the Cribs, the Editors and the Scissor Sisters…can’t be helped, seeing Nick Lowe is a rare chance I can’t pass on.  And even though I’ve seen Al Stewart many times, to see him at Glastonbury (he played the 1st one in 1970) is another rare treat I can’t pass on.  That means I’ll also miss Laura Marling, but I’ll see her in London the following week, so more about her later.

But, the closer of the day presents a difficult decision.  Muse, Pet Shop Boys, Parliament or Midlake?  Muse is “the next big thing”…seen PSB and Parliament….so while I’d be happy to see either of them again, I have to look to the pair I haven’t seen live.  That being said…Midlake has really caught my ear with their new CD “Courage of Others”.  Great moody prog-ish rock.  Plus, it will be MUCH less crowded and I’m there to see cool new stuff.  So, I’m leaning toward Midlake, but Muse may draw me in.  Or, I may see how Muse starts off and then rush to Midlake?  Decisions, decisions….

So, Saturday really has two big clashes (Muse or Midlake & Jackson Browne or Imogen Heap), the rest is made of of “must see’s” or “don’t cares that much”…

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My Concert Agenda for London

Well, since this is going to be a trip mostly about seeing concerts, I now have most of my shows scheduled and tickets bought…Only one more show to still book, and more about that later.

The Plan:

June  19 – Richard Thompson – “1000 years of popular song”.  I have the CD of this show he did a few years back.  He touches on songs from the 12th century right on up to Bowling for Soup.  This is part of the Meltdown Festival at the Royal Festival Hall and he’s one of those guys who somehow I’ve missed each time he’s passed through town.  Critically, he’s names as one of the top 20 all time guitarists.

June 20 – Elvis Costello – Solo Acoustic. Also part of Meltdown.  Really, what can you say about him?  Plus, seeing him in London…should be awesome!

June 23-27 – Glastonbury….MUCH more about this later…

June 29 – Jackson Browne & David Lindley.  Found a great single floor seat for Royal Albert Hall when I get back from Glasto.  They are playing twice at the festival, but knowing I can see them here will free me up for others acts at the festival itself and reduces my potential clash list of bands by one.

June 30 – Jack Johnson at O2 Arena.  Another show I found a great single for.  Love his music and never seen him live.  He’s also playing Glastonbury, but for the reasons above, knowing I’ll see him in London takes another potential conflict away at Glasto.

July 1 – Laura Marling – Serpentine Sessions in Hyde Park.  Honestly, don’t know much about her, but the little I’ve heard puts her into the Regina Spektor, Imogen Heap class.  Close to my hotel (short walk) and I’ve always wanted to see a show in Hyde Park.  She’s also at Glasto and Hop Farm.  But, the setting of Hyde Park is too cool to pass up.  Support acts still to be named…so many be Mumford & Sons who record with her?  One can only hope…

July 2 – Hop Farm with Van Morrison!  Just amazing…a chance to see Van in the UK at a really interesting sounding smaller festival.  Still no idea who else will be playing, but Van is enough draw to get me out there…

July 3 – Hop Farm day 2…No ticket yet, but leaning this way.  Bob Dylan, Ray Davies top the bill….pretty sure I’ll end up going to this.

A small gap with the potential to see Dr John, CSN or Buddy Guy…still not nailed down…and I may need a night off…:)

July 6 – My last night- Jools Holland at Kew Gardens.  An outdoor show in a botanical garden with one of my favorite bands that never tours the US.  A suitable way to wrap three full weeks of music.

So, there you have it.  Less than three weeks that includes pretty much a who’s who of the rock and roll hall of fame (U2, Stevie Wonder, Ray Davies, Jackson Browne, Elvis Costello, Van Morrison, Bob Dylan) my favorite songwriters (Squeeze, Nick Lowe, Al Stewart, Willie Nelson, Jack Johnson, David Lindley) and newcomers that I’m enjoying already (Muse, Midlake, Hot Chip, Magic Numbers, Imelda May, Laura Marling)…and all to be seen live and in person in less than 20 days in the UK!

WOW, am I excited?…a little, just a little….

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