Sunday, September 21, 2008

Max Weinberg is hilarious...

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Quick blurbs: TV worth watching.

I can't get over what a great show AMC's Mad Men is. It's based in the world of advertising in New York City in the early 1960's. The characters are fantastic, the show is filmed beautifully, and it's smart, funny, and totally entertaining. If you have an aversion to cigarette smoke the show may give you a headache just from watching it, after all it's 1962 and everyone still tore down Pall Malls like it was going out of style. (Hmmm. maybe it was.) The whiskey consumption during the work day is enviable, as well. It's nice to step back in time when things seemed a whole lot simpler (although, there's always a degree of looking back through rose-colored glasses.)

I'm also a huge fan of Gordon Ramsey's Kitchen Nightmares on BBC America. There's apparently an American version, but it's not as good as the language is scaled back and there aren't as many awesome quintessentially English putdowns. I find it amusing hearing grown men fighting in a kitchen and calling each other wankers and twats. In this show celebrity chef Gordon Ramsey has a week to fix a fledgling British eatery. Hilarity ensues as he insults the staff into getting things right. His big thing is "local produce prepared simply", so its great to watch him take apart some pompous French chef for using imported Greek bass prepared in some rediculous fashion. This isn't your everyday cooking show, and is well worth a look.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band / Gillette Stadium / Foxboro MA / August 2, 2008

Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band just capped off a year and a half of touring behind 2007's Magic CD. I was luck enough to catch my second show of the tour last month in Foxboro. Pretty much about everything about the tour has changed since I last saw the band in Boston late last year. The show is about 45 minutes longer, much more unpredictable set-wise, and of course, without organist Danny Federeci, who succumed to cancer this past April. Seeger Sessions keyboardist Charlie filled his shoes admirably throughout the last few legs of the tour.

The start of the show was delayed about an hour, thanks to a massive monsoon-like storm that passed through a little after 8pm. When the band did come out, they certainly played like they had something to prove.

The evening started off with a cover of Eddie Cochran's "Summertime Blues", with Clarence Clemons delivering the baritone couter vocals in his own inimitable way. This crashed headlong into the classic "Tenth Avenue Freezeout", sounding like it was straight out of 1975. Next up was one of the centerpieces of Springsteen's latest album Magic, "Radio Nowhere". Despite it's similarities to 867-5309, this song works incredibly well live and upped the intensity of the show very well.

"Lonesome Day" from 2002's The Rising followed next, and kept the pace of the show rocking, with plenty of audience participation during the "It's alright, it's alright, it's alright, yeah" singalong chorus. Perrenial favorite "The Promised Land" followed along with "Spirit In The Night" from his first album, featuring microphone acrobatics for the nearly 60 year old Springsteen, still as limber as a man in his 20's.

Next up was the "audience request" portion of the show, during which Springsteen decended in the the front area to collect signs displaying requests from the crowd. The first song he picked was indeed a deep cut, in fact, not played since the mid-seventies. The sign for "Little Latin Lupe Lu" contained the full lyrics as well as KEY OF F (even though Springsteen changed it to G) written on the back. The band nailed it, despite Springsteen's warning that "The band will not be ready for this one...they will not be ready, boy."

Next came requests for "Does This Bus Stop at 82nd St?" and "Hungry Heart", before the fitting "Who'll Stop The Rain?". Even though the rain had ceased before the show began, no one present was soon to forget the downpour endured prior to the start of the show.

Following the "request portion" of the show the band roared back with an electric version of "Youngstown" from 1995's mostly acoustic Ghost of Tom Joad album that featured blistering guitar playing from Nils Lofgren. "Youngstown" flowed seamlessly into "Murder Incorporated", which was orginally recorded for the Born In The USA album, but not released until 1995's Greatest Hits collection.

The Bo Diddley-flavored "She's The One" followed, as well as "Livin In The Future", the politically charged tune from Magic, which was only the second tune from the new album played this night.

"Mary's Place" from The Rising followed some intense "rock n roll" preaching from Springsteen, and lended itself greatly to the stadium atmosphere.

The standard "four-pack" closed out the main set, "The Rising", "Last To Die", "Long Walk Home", and "Badlands".

The encores kicked off with, as Bruce called it, "the rarely played, and even less rarely requested 'I'm Going Down'", which the band just about pulled off. It's a song you can tend to forget about considering it lives alongside the mega-hits on Born In The USA.

"Jungleland" was next, and this one pretty much epitomizes everything that a Springsteen live performance is. And the band totally nailed it, especially Clemons. Marissa got a great pic:

The encores were kicked into overdrive with successive barnstormers "Born To Run", "Glory Days", and "Dancing In The Dark", all performed with the houselights up. The crowd was delirious, and the band rocked.

The usual finale of the Irish style Seeger Sessions track "American Land" was followed by a declaration from the boss: ""Boston! Massachusetts! Rhode Island! Connecticut! Wherever the fuck we are!" before kicking into Rosalita (Come Out Tonight) to cap off a nearly 3 hour show that went 70 minutes beyond the 11pm curfew at the stadium.

I usually don't dig on the big stadium affairs, but we had fantastic seats on the floor, and it made all the difference in the world. This certainly topped the last Springsteen show I saw, even though it was in a much bigger place. The energy was palpable and Springsteen never fails to deliver.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Way Late...

I'll have my review of the Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band show at Gillette Stadium up shortly. Until then, here's the setlist.

Summertime Blues
Tenth Avenue Freeze-out
Radio Nowhere
Lonesome Day
The Promised Land
Spirit in the Night
Tunnel of Love
Little Latin Lupe Lu (sign request- 1st play since 1978)
Does This Bus Stop at 82nd Street? (sign request)
Hungry Heart (sign request)
Who'll Stop the Rain
Murder Incorporated
She's the One
Livin' in the Future
Mary's Place
The Rising
Last to Die
Long Walk Home
* * *
I'm Goin' Down (sign request)
Born to Run
Glory Days
Dancing in the Dark
American Land

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Neil Young Covers The Beatles

This is awesome:

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Billy Joel @ Mohegan Sun Arena- May 25, 2008

Well this was a pretty great show. My expectations were lowered somewhat as my friend Patrick had gone to the May 23rd show, and reported that the show was somewhat lacklustre. This was also confirmed by some posts to online Billy Joel discussion groups. The general thought was that Billy was sick or just not "into it."

Happily, this was not the case 2 nights later. This was my first concert at the Mohegan Sun Arena. The parking situation is awesome here, with perhaps the best designed parking garage I've ever seen. In and out. After a ton of shows at the BankNorth Garden and Tweeter Center in Massachusetts, this was much appreciated. It is kind of wierd to have to walk through the smoky casino floor to get to the arena, and past the pathetic old people pumping their pensions into the one armed bandits.

The arena is really nice, however, despite Connecticut's lame 1 beer per person beer law. Our seats were directly behind the stage, which actually presented a great view, as Billy plays with the piano sidewise to the audience. Anyway, here was the set:

Angry Young Man- His now-standard opener, Billy impresses right away with his piano skills. The guy is lightning fast. The sound was great for an arena, as well.

My Life- This classic came hot on the heels of the opener and sounded great, with Billy teasing some classical pieces in the intro. Lots of fun.

Vienna- The first surprise of the night, and it sounded great. Wasn't expecting to hear this one, and the crowd loved it too.

The Entertainer- Like the rest of the show, this sounded great. It's about this time in the show you start remembering how many classics Billy Joel had written.

New York State Of Mind- Lots of people loved this one, however its one that never really gelled with me for some reason. It's a nice enough song and it was played well.

Zanzibar- One of my favorites and certainly a musical highlight of the evening. Carl Fisher's trumpet parts cut through nicely and everything really came together nicely on this one.

Allentown & Don't Ask Me Why- Another pair of classics you sometimes forget exist. Sounded great (sense a pattern?) and the band appeared to be having a good time on this one, too.

Ain't No Crime- The real shocker of the night, which Billy introduced as "a song from the Piano Man album we haven't done live since forgive us if we fuck it up..." Not a lot of people knew this one, but it was rockin' and sounded fantastic.

Movin' Out- At this song they let the crowd come up and surround the stage. More fun times with classic stuff.

Keepin the Faith- Another favorite (played a couple of keys lower, but still sounding awesome).

Always A Woman- Was a nice little break in the energy, performed well.

Captain Jack- Between this and Zanzibar, my two major hopes were fulfilled. Awesome song, my favorite by Billy Joel, and it was fantastic.

Lullabye- My girlfriend Marissa wanted to hear this one. I told her there was not much of a chance he'd play it. I was glad to be proved wrong.

River of Dreams- I've always liked this tune. It was made even better with a near complete version of the Beatles' "A Hard Days Night" sandwiched in the middle. Great fun.

Highway to Hell- Billy's roadie Chainsaw handled the vocals on this AC/DC cover. it was fun, and it brought the energy in the room way up.

We Didn't Start The Fire- Billy gets up from behind the piano to play guitar on this one. Lots of fun trying to remember the words to this one.

It's Still Rock & Roll to Me- Billy has lots of fun playing with his micstand on this, twirling it and tossing it around, while hamming it up.

You May be Right- The hits just keep on coming...with Billy jumping off his piano and clowning around.

Scenes from an Italian Resturant- A mass sing along, a great time.

Only The Good Die Young- Everyone standing and dancing for this one.

Piano Man- The sing along of all sing alongs...capped off a great evening.

What a fantastic fun time. I thought this show, though much shorter than his last area appearance, was just as much fun. It would've been great to hear tunes like Great Wall Of China and The Longest Time, but I'm sure those will pop up elsewhere in this 10 night run at Mohegan Sun. Highly Recommended.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008


So since I last wrote, things have been steadily improving in almost all aspects of life. I've seen some hot shows, and everything is at a pretty good place. I will be adding more to this soon, including write ups of my travels and shows attended, etc.

Here's a picture my girlfriend Marissa took at the Billy Joel concert on Sunday night (May 25). I'll have a full write up of that show shortly. For now I'll say i was psyched to hear Zanzibar, A Hard Days Night, and Ain't No Crime, a tune not played live since 1975.