Bloc Party w/ IO Echo
Jan. 15, 2013
Anyone at the Fillmore last night might have thought British indie-rock band Bloc Party has a new single out called "Charlotte." Thanks to singer Kele Okereke's constant references, no one forgot what city we live in. I don't think I've heard any band address the town it was performing in more frequently.
Oh, and the show? It was solid. Plenty of the tight, tangled, angular art-rock guitar riffage Bloc Party cribbed from Gang of Four, and lots of pouty, Cure-ish vocals with the occasional Morrissey-like falsetto sweep - but without the mopey theatrics. And the band hit all the right notes and covered all the bases, from the old ("This Modern World," "Helicopter") to the new ("Octopus").
Check out some photos and the setlist below.
Tremont Music Hall
Dec. 18, 2012
Joking that he didn't speak the language and couldn't understand anyone in the crowd, singer Micky Fitz was in good spirits. The band blazed into its set with "Blind Justice," which immediately whipped the crowd into a furious frenzy. The area in front of the stage was filled with flying bodies as fans jumped from the stage and danced in a tight circle pit. Fitz fueled the fire by encouraging sing-alongs at every stop.
Time Warner Cable Arena
Nov. 15, 2012
Sure, she flashed that ass. But nothing about the current MDNA Tour is wholesale gratuitous. Nothing is all that surprising, either, if you've kept up with news of Madonna's other stops on the tour, which kicked off in Tel Aviv this past May.
In one of several disturbing but exhilarating sequences, a hard and defeated-looking Madonna lay at the edge of a massive stage that extended halfway across the arena floor - the same place that two months ago saw chipper, smartly dressed Democratic delegates cheering the nomination of President Barack Obama. Clad in an all-black stripper's outfit, complete with thong and shiny stilettos, Madonna crawled and slithered about the floor in an ominous sendup of her notorious early performance of "Like a Virgin" at the 1984 MTV Video Music Awards. Taunting audience members gathered at the lip of the stage, slightly disheveled but revealing a still-firm bum and muscular arms and legs, she sang - slowly, menacingly, in a minor key and over somber orchestration - a radically reworked "Virgin."
Madonna was begging for money; she wanted cash, she said - dollars, big dollars. And she was getting it. As hundreds of bills showered the stage, she slithered about, completely decontextualizing her old "Material Girl" persona as she gathered up each one. "If you're going to look at the crack of my ass," she spat, "you better raise some cash."
The goal of the sequence - which came more than halfway into a two-hour show that ran from the dark violence of "Gang Bang" to the exuberance of her full-chorus treatment of "Like a Prayer" - was to raise money for the victims of Hurricane Sandy in New York City, the town that gave Madonna her start more than 30 years ago. But she wasn't going to just place donation buckets in the arena lobby. No, Madonna was going to do it Madonna's way - theatrically, provocatively, uncomfortably, in a scenario that was designed to polarize the audience.
Center of the Sun
Nov. 3, 2012
Set amidst a backdrop of thunderous drums courtesy of Benny Gascho, crunchy chords from Young and In the Way guitarists Chris Nolen and Rick Contes and bass rhythms by ex-Grids' Joe Elmore, singer Ally Hoffmann gets dreamy while keeping her head out of the clouds. The music is rooted in rock and some '80s gloom while keeping itself free from overly pop ideas.
Hoffman's lighter tone balances the shoegaze-based music's darker overtones for a sound that's easily accessible and kept the Milestone crowd entranced. "I think a few people were actually gazing at their shoes," one crowd member joked as the set came to a close.
Chris Robinson Brotherhood
Nov. 2, 2012
Robinson, with his full greying beard, clearly relishes his new group and its laid-back vibe that combines elements of classic rock in the vein of the Tulsa, Okla., sound that bred musicians like Leon Russell and stoner-fried jams in the spirit of the Grateful Dead.
The hour-and-15-minute first set got started with the rollicking, "Let's Go Let's Go Let's Go" as the band scattered a mix of songs from each of its two albums along with the sporadic cover. The first set included the Dead's "Bertha" and a sped-up, country-rock rendition of Carl Perkins' "Blue Suede Shoes."
Grace Potter and the Nocturnals
Time Warner Cable Uptown Amphitheatre
Oct. 5, 2012
After finger-picking an intro while letting the audience know the song is about having a "little too crazy" friend whose life ended too soon, Potter began "Stars" from the band's latest album, The Lion The Beast The Beat.
Having seen Potter a handful of times — from the early days at the Visulite Theatre a few years ago, through festivals like Bonnaroo and larger venues including the Fillmore — I went into the show expecting the usual amount of blues, soul and rock in a high-energy performance.
However, with her stripped down version of "Stars," Potter not only offered a more intimate view of her persona, but exposed another side of her songwriting. While the song has a slow bluesy roll on the album, in this acoustic format, it bordered on country. While Potter could easily become "just another pretty face" with growing popularity and building fame, she still puts the music first.
Sept. 26, 2012
It's always profoundly sad to watch a troubled artist melt down onstage. We’ve seen it with Scott Weiland, Courtney Love and Axl Rose, and we saw it Wednesday night when Fiona Apple's performance at the Fillmore in Charlotte turned into a train wreck of tragic and frustrating proportions. It’s not the first time Apple has gone off the rails on stage. Even at her most lucid, she’s an eccentric — and that eccentricity is part of the reason we love her and her music.
But when Apple appeared in the spotlight just after 9 p.m., more gaunt than ever, her face pasty and hair a dull reddish-brown, things went awry from the get-go. She warbled her words, couldn’t reach the high notes, couldn’t stay on the beat. She squirmed at her piano seat during the once-majestic and nuanced “Shadowboxer,” the third song of the night, as her voice totally blew out on the vulnerable line, “You have no reverence for my concern.”
The audience ate it up. People sang to all the words. They helped pick her up when she was clearly so very down.
Mary J. Blige
Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre
Sept. 15, 2012
“Empty Prayers” may not be one of Blige’s most memorable ballads, but the grit and passion with which she delivered it Saturday night made it one of those quintessentially Mary J. moments in a 90-minute set that often felt as much like the sharing part of a 12-step meeting as it did a concert. It was Blige’s second Charlotte appearance this month, falling closely on the heels of her performance at the Democratic National Convention. It also was the final night of her Liberation Tour with fellow tortured titan of '90s soul D’Angelo, whose relatively low-key half-hour set featured sometimes radically altered versions of his well-known songs like “Brown Sugar” and “(Untitled) How Does It Feel."
Both D’Angelo and Blige have talked publicly of their struggles with substance abuse, and on Saturday Blige reminded the Charlotte audience of her dark period after a simmering performance of the healing title song from her 2001 album No More Drama, which rides a sample of the melancholy piano theme to '70s soap opera The Young and the Restless. Blige almost died in the early '90s, she told the audience, and it was her fans who helped see her through it. “I love y’all,” she said. “Thank you for staying with me. Thank you for not leaving me. I need y’all.” Then she led the crowd in a singalong on her cover of Chaka Khan’s 1975 hit with Rufus, “Sweet Thing,” from Blige’s 1992 debut, What’s the 411?
Metric w/ Half Moon Run
Sept. 17, 2012
For the most part, Metric's 15-song set cruised along as expected — energetic synth-rock driven by the vocals and high-stepping of singer Emily Haines. Set against a wall of square lights, the band cruised through a handful of hits — including "Youth Without Youth," "Help I'm Alive" and "Gold Guns Girls" — and songs from its latest album, Synthetica.
However, it was the last of a trio of encore songs that stood out from the pack. Haines and guitarist James Shaw stood front and center of the stage, bathed in a few white lights and performed an acoustic version of "Gimme Sympathy." It not only gave Haines time to shine as a vocalist against a simpler backdrop, but brought forth a stronger connection to the 1,000 or so people in attendance.
The song was the perfect bookend to a night that got started with a 40-minute set by Half Moon Run. The Montreal-based quartet drew growing applause throughout its set as the band won over the crowd with a combination of sparse indie-folk, stellar harmonies and, at times, heavy percussion.
106.5 The End Weenie Roast f. Garbage
Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre
Sept. 16, 2012
Manson was clearly in the spotlight — literally — from the moment the quintet hit the stage. As her bandmates — drummer Butch Vig, guitarist Duke Erikson, guitarist Steve Marker and touring bassist Eric Avery (formerly of Jane's Addiction) — sat in the shadows, the flame-haired fireball practically did an aerobics workout as she bounced around the stage singing hit after hit.
Wearing a pair of boxing shoes, 46-year-old Manson was in fighting form with her vocals, displaying perfect power and poise despite obvious in-ear monitor problems. While sound may have been an issue on stage, the band sounded great from the amphitheatre — the kickdrum and bass providing enough booming low-end to the band's upbeat pop-rock anthems.
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