Björk’s “Cornucopia” at The Shed, Monday, May 6th – she expanded the concept of the album into a thrilling, astonishingly beautiful musical and visual illustration of a world where people and nature cross pollinate in matriarchal society. Imagine “Avatar” as a plant based human mash up
Paul Anka At Ridgefield Playhouse, Wednesday, May 15th – Leading his fifteen piece orchestra through Sinatra hits, some of which Anka wrote, as well as a hefty helping of his own songs, Anka was the embodiment of a form of artistry in its final stages
The True Groove Allstars At The Bitter End, Tuesday, May 28th – The always color blind Tomas Doncker puts on as strong a case for black music matters as you will ever see. Keith Shocklee of the The Bomb Squad performed a DJ set, Son Of Bazerk gave us half an hour of proto-hip hop meets old school rap, Tomas performed a truncated The Black Magnolia Project vset, and Khalil Kain introduced some spoken word off his upcoming album. This is black music matters today…. And The True Groove Allstars At “Get Out” Magazine’s Stage, Astor Place, Sunday, June 30th – The brave men and women of 1969 and 1970 beat back hate through pride. And The Allstars added their voices to the resounding victory
Morrissey At Lunt-Fontanne Theatre, Saturday, May 11th – The set was a thrilling, deep jump into his world: the insecurity of love and sexuality remains a light that will never go out as long as he is around.
Robyn’s “Honey Tour” At Madison Square Garden, Friday, March 8th – From here to the third mistake of the evening, a weak “Trust Me,” first song of the encore, she could do no wrong. Robyn gave herself completely to the beats, to the rave aesthetic, and to her audience. Her energy level was insane, and she can really, really dance and really sing, her back up band are somewhat anonymous but not in a negative way, they are like assistant chef’s working on a souffle.
King Princess At Irving Plaza, Thursday, January 24th – These sad songs aren’t suicidal sad, they are heartbreak sad, and yes, still cathartic and the fast ones are sexy and fun and lively and altogether it gives these young women the freedom to be who they are, to scream “marry me” to shout “I’m so gay” at the top of their voices and to look on the stage and not see themselves, like I said Mikaela is a real star, but who they could be. It was wonderful for them.
Jahn Xavier And The Bowerytones At Arlene’s Grocery, Saturday, June 8th – A variant on classic rock and soul, Jahn belted the songs with a reverberating baritone that seemed to come from… from who knows where? a tormented musical spirit who when he reaches the “I don’t want to know the future” takes the entire concept of confessional to levels so overpowering love and loss become one
Billie Eilish At Radio City Music Hall, Wednesday, June 19th – Billie Eilish launched her set with a titan singalong joined, and overwhelmed by 5,000 tween and teen girls mirroring something they didn’t 100% grasp: a belated, odd innocence, to “Bad Guy” off her debut album, plus one of the great, bewildering hooks of the decade, the pause, after a screaming, singing onslaught, dead silence for a heartbeat and then the acclaim of a what do you think, right? Who do you think I am? Well, d’uh.
Jessie Reyez At Governors Ball, Friday, May 31st – so bruised and beautiful, needy and fearless
Bad Bunny At Madison Square Garden, Saturday, April 27th – Light years ahead of the United Palace show a year ago, Bad Bunny’s multi tracked, superbly sung, high octave, sound of modern Latin pop in excelsis was a feat for the eyes and ears.
Amanda Palmer’s “There Will Be No Intermission” At Beacon Theatre, Saturday, April 20th – Amanda gave a great performance, not good, great. Yes, it wasn’t my world, and it wasn’t my dream, not at all, but she was magnificent: so gentle, kind, hurt, sad, clear sighted.
Brockhampton At Governors Ball, Friday, May 31st – Matt has a future in r&b blue eyed soul, and Kevin (“I only fuck black guys”) Abstract’s limitations are all sexual, a fine, pop rap flyboy. The band coalesces around different parts, with other people taking verses, and the stage, featuring a giant silver aeroplane and filled with boy band moves and uber-inclusive addressing.
Tommy James At Ridgefield Playhouse, Saturday, April 13th – James was in front of the best bubblegum songs just about ever, it was an entire honor to see him at all and to see him so completely capable of performing these songs and entertaining us as we should be entertained, makes the trip to anywhere he is performing worth the time.
Masters Of Ceremony At Barclay Center, Friday, June 28th – The evening had DJ Enuff killing it with 90s classics before the evening began promptly and continued with quick segues from set to set, fifteen minute sprints by one truly huge star till the next
The True Groove Allstars’ “Another Kind Of Night” At Parkside Lounge, Thursday, March 21st – It is less a scary transition and more an impacted singularity struggling against nihilism. In the end, The Black Magnolia Project, both as poems and as an album, is a deeply gorgeous and brooding dissertation on the need to face nihilism with hope.
Nick Mason’s “Saucerful Of Secrets” At Beacon Theatre, Friday, April 19th – Nick has done himself, his former band, and we, the fans, a great service.
Tomas Doncker And The True Groove Allstars Celebrate At Berlin, April 30th, 2019 – Seconds as a birthday party for Yusef Komunyakaa, as well as an album release party. Cupcakes for all.
Hugh Jackman’s “The Man. The Music. The Show.” At Madison Square Garden. Saturday, June 29th – There is a whole lotta things to love and admire about actor and Broadway Musical Star Hugh Jackman, perhaps the single sweetest bloke you have ever seen pull the heads off terrorists
Jenny Lewis At Forest Hills Stadium, Saturday, June 15th – Professional to a fault, Jenny opened with two of her best from the last five years, “Heads Gonna Roll” and “Wasted Youth,” before a Rilo Kiley track sandwiched between two songs she recorded with the Watson Twins, then it is all 2010s till her hour long set is up
Weezer At Madison Square Garden, Tuesday, March 12th – Weezer kept to the hits and performed them with solid enthusiasm to a solidly enthusiastic audience, all the hits, even the semi-ones like “Pork And Beans” and “Beverly Hills,” were a pleasure. It was a very good concert, catchy songs to sing on the way to the middle class abattoir
Bikini Kill At Kings Theatre, Wednesday, June 5th – Suck my left one, indeed.
Ariana Grande At Madison Square Garden, Tuesday, June 18th – Unlike her pop r&b settled into a four-octave soprano and first three albums, the last two have a complete side track and different way of doing business, and it is great to hear them live, but she doesn’t really sell them. The singing is fine, the music mostly taped and PC generated, though I did notice a guitar solo, but Ari isn’t all in at all, she is the biggest pop star in the world, but she doesn’t give sway to it.
P!nk’s Beautiful Trauma World Tour, At Madison Square Garden, Wednesday, May 22nd – We got it, you can perform on the trapeze
King Princess At Governors Ball, Saturday, June 1st – A little early to be coasting
Imogen Heap At Town Hall, Wednesday, May 8th – If there is anything more irritating than the 41 year old woman’s twee twittiness, I haven’t seen it
KISS at Madison Square Garden, Wednesday, March 27th At Madison Square Garden – Twenty years after I saw their first farewell concert, here they are leaving us again and sound exactly the same.
Michael Buble At Madison Square Garden, Wednesday, February 21st – Less a disappointing evening, and maybe a case where if all you have is Buble better Buble than nothing, more a case of a sound and an act that is so overplayed all you can do is wait patiently for it to end
Travis Scott’s “Astroworld – Wish You Were Here” Tour At Madison Square Garden, Saturday, March 2nd – The last time Travis was in town, baby Stormi was dancing in the green room with her Mommy Kylie, Kylie climbed on the rollercoaster at the end of the November show and into the future with Travis. This time round she’d had a huge fight with Travis over his (denied) infidelity and his family was nowhere to be found, Travis had cancelled a Buffalo show a week before.
Sarah Brightman’s “Hymn” At Radio City Music Hall, Wednesday, February 6th – It wasn’t an unpleasant evening yet it was also a trick evening, like Sarah’s crossover skills, or Andrew himself, it appeared to be high culture but it was shabby around the edges. Her voice couldn’t carry the evening
Cher’s “Here We Go Again” At Barclay Center, Thursday, May 2nd – she was a rap superstar type self immolated mollster
Interpol At Madison Square Garden, Saturday, February 16th – A tight knit rock band with the sort of moodiness you might get if you added Depeche Mode to Joy Division, the performance was a brooding, self-aware dance through their latest album and their backpages. But if Travis Scott overkilled with a rollercoaster inside the venue, Interpol underwhelmed without any close circuit TV and only a mirror ball to signify
Anderson .Paak At Madison Square Garden, Thursday, May 30th – Makes a solid case for himself, destroyed by a terrible mix.
New Power Generation At Sony Hall, Friday, January 4th – The band have moments that absolutely prove they were a great backing band (there are entire albums as well), but they are a backing band. If they had worked very hard on a streamlined funky set they might have pulled it off. Unlike the Revolution they have the skills. They just don’t have the willpower and so they follow the bottom line and, like the Revolution before them, NPG do the one thing Prince spent his entire career not allowing to happen: they exploit him
Ryan Adams is currently playing the best shows of his career
Creem – America’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll Magazine, Reviewed Issue By Issue – October 1972 (Volume 4, Number 5)
We leap ahead almost a year
A flatout triumph from a major performer
New Wave pop bliss out
I WISH I HADN’T GONE
a time-capsule type of roster
Creem -America’s Only Rock ‘N’ Roll Magazine, Reviewed Issue By Issue – November 1971 (Volume 3, Number 6)
“Sure, we don’t pay much but then who else do ya know who’ll publish you?”
in the immortal words of Jason Isbell to me at Gov Ball a coupla years ago: “let’s do this…”
one of the great top tens of the 2020
old school Puerto Rican underground sounds