Tag Archives: Smoke Fairies

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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Laura Marling

Started Thursday by packing my stuff to get the heck out of the “Holiday Villa” and move on to my next hotel out by the Docklands.  Fighting a mild cold and generally feeling crappy.  The shower broke for a second morning in a row and I was forced to simply leave it running.  The staff were nice, but my god…what  pit of a hotel.  And, I paid more for it per night than anyplace else on the trip.  I plan to let Hotwire know that their 3 star is a 1 star.

Just not wanting to lug my stuff onto and off buses or Tubes for 2 hours, I splurged for a minicab to take me straight to the Novotel at the Excel Centere.  It’s a Priceline purchase and a good value, if a bit out of town.  They were very nice and put me in my room early since I wasn’t feeling too great.  I proceeded to fall onto the bed and sleep the rest of the afternoon.  A shame to waste a day, but necessary.

I gathered myself up and headed off for Laura Marling in Hyde Park at the Serpentine  Sessions.  Some quick KFC (my first meal of the day) and a hike down Park Lane and I entered the mini festival site.

This was like the Anti-Glastonbury…I believe the word here is posh.

Men in suits, free wine samples, “luxury loos”….

I grabbed a free beach chair and kicked back with a diet soda.  The first act, Alessi’s Ark was competent in a bland sort of coffee house style.  I kept waiting for a version of “smelly cat” or something.  Not bad, just not really anything I couldn’t hear in 1000 Starbucks on any random night.

The second act, The Smoke Fairies were marginally better.  At least they had some slightly more unique harmonies.  I was staring to wonder if I’d ever see a decent opening act in London for any show?  I guess they blow the budget on headliners?  All of them were faceless, unmemorable and bland.

Then, finally something good…

Fanfarlo were awesome.

Here’s a video

Trumpet, violin and a guy who live sounded a bit like a young Brian Ferry at times.  By three songs I was hooked.  Finally a decent opener!  Their set was far too short and I would have gladly welcomed more.

Sadly, they ended and gave way to one more faceless, nameless act on the smaller stage.  It’s amazing the overall quality difference in some of these shows.

Finally, the headliner, Laura Marling.

I suspect you may hear a lot more about her.  I know she’s coming to the El Rey later this month on tour and I could see her having the stuff to break in the US.

She did a solid selection of material across both her albums.  Stand outs were the songs linked above as well as “Ghosts”, “I speak because I can”, “Alas, I cannot swim” and a nice cover of Neil Young’s “Needle and the damage done”.

Great show and a huge improvement over my previous night’s disappointment.

Off to Hop Farm and Van Morrison next!  Hopefully a nights sleep will help me shake this cold.

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