Best Of 2019: All Concerts In Order Of Preference Through November 30th, 2019
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
Tavares At The second annual Classic Summer Disco Extravaganza At The Italian Center, Stamford, CT, Saturday, August 10th – The entire day and night long disco festival was astounding, but the four brothers known of Tavares, the second best band on the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack album, who have sung together since 1959, had lost nothing over the years with half an hour of nonstop hits, were beyond great and became living legends for anyone who saw them
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
Titus Andronicus At Bowery Ballroom, Saturday, November 23rd – Titus Andronicus were not what they were but they were what they are, the greatest rock and roll band in the world
Vampire Weekend’s “Father Of The Bride” Tour At Madison Square Garden, Friday, September 6th – While losing none of his legacy, Ezra performed with a relentless rock transcendence of both tightness and looseness, a Vampire Weekend who could become Phish if they so choose
The Who’s “Moving On” At Jones Beach, Sunday, September 16th – Up close, Roger was a very friendly presence, kidding with the front row, dropping his mic on the ground, laughing through two delays as the monitors and mics went out, funning on Pete when he spoke like Chevy Chase on SNL, getting to the point of it fast when Pete complained about the sound (“How does it sound to you guys?” he asked). And altogether Roger proved himself well past the point where he was willing to indulge in show biz tantrums.
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.
The Milk Carton Kids At Zankel Hall, Friday, November 1st – They leave “New York” for the encore but while Boston AT CHEAPER PRICES got a four song encore, we had to settle for two. “We work just like anybody else, 70-80 days a year, 90 minutes a day,” Joey cracked. In the end, the briefness of the set is my only real beef with the sublime evening of sad songs by happy people
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.
Madonna’s “Madame X” At Howard Gilman Opera House, Thursday, October 3rd – for all its strangeness and weaknesses, it is very, very real and perhaps I shouldn’t have snarked at Baldwin, perhaps it is an unusual but not illegitimate project to disturb your fans, to punish them for loving you
King Crimson At 50 At Radio City Music Hall, Saturday, September 21st – At Radio City Music Hall, a non-believer might settle down with a feeling of resignation, the way one does for Phish or Dead And Company. But they were better than that.
Tyler The Creator’s “Igor” Tour At Madison Square Garden, Thursday, September 12th – Tyler The Creator entered the arena to “Igor’s Theme” and was astounding for the first 30 minutes, six songs straight off his album about a (homosexual) romance from “I think I’ve fallen in love” to “you make my earthquake” (and don’t let the “girl” pronoun bother you, that’s a sop for Charlie Wilson)
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.
The second annual Classic Summer Disco Extravaganza At The Italian Center, Stamford, CT, Saturday, August 10th – rock nyc’s SohoJohnny Pasquale’s second annual event, part of the proceedings going to the American Cancer Society, was a relentless dream show of disco superstars and the best of vibes.
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.
Gilbert O’Sullivan At City Winery, Tuesday, July 9th – Here he is, selling out City Winery, returning to where what might have happened didn’t, at 72 years of age it is the career and life he made for himself. In 2019, something rhymed
The Legends Of Vinyl DJ And Artists Hall Of Fame Awards At Amadeus, Tuesday, September 17th – Upon induction to the The Legends Of Vinyl DJ And Artists Hall Of Fame Awards, she roared “For all of you who said ‘disco sucks’? Go fuck yourself…” A blessedly profane response that you wish somebody had thought of in 1979
Bob Dylan At Beacon Theatre, Friday, November 29th – What the hell, Bobby’s been to sugar town and shook that sugar down. See you next year
Khalil Kain And The True Groove Allstars At Kings Theatre, Thursday, September 26th – The evening was a record release party for Kain’s new EP Lamb To The Slaughter, released today, and Kain took the moment with the same command he has on screen, he is, simply, mesmerizing, with an intensity that he turns on and off
FKA Twigs At Kings Theatre, Wednesday, November 20th – Sure, she, unlike a lot of people, can dance, her outfits are beautiful and eye catching, and like Aretha Franklin circa Sparkle, she is confused and confrontational to the need for a submissiveness that echoes Mary Magdalene’s towards Jesus (though not as pretentious as it sounds)
The Who’s “Moving On!” At Madison Square Garden, Sunday, September 1st – They want money because they want money. Last night they deserved to be paid.
Bon Iver At Barclay Center, Friday, October 11th – With the five piece band, and the greatest sound system known to man, a mind boggling bank of PCs handled by sound engineers, they were there for the most detailed emergent of doctored instruments to fill Barclay Centers with minutia: interesting and unnecessary
Shawn Mendes At Barclay Center, Saturday, August 24th – Shawn is not phoning in anything as he travels the world with his four piece band and his LCD screens and brings love and romance to deserving teenage girls.
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.
Mary J. Blige And Nas’ “Royalty” Tour At Barclay Center, Wednesday, August 28th – This is why some people are royalty, this is why sometimes a great musician can work through everything in the world.
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.
XXL Freshman Class 2019 At Playstation Theatre, Monday, July 23rd – YBN Cordae killed it
Tomas Doncker And The True Groove Allstars Celebrate At Berlin, April 30th – Seconds as a birthday party for Yusef Komunyakaa, as well as an album release party. Cupcakes for all.
The Original Misfits, Rancid, The Damned, At Madison Square Garden, Saturday, October 20th – the Misfits played a packed with beloved songs set which, like punk itself (which is why it lives on 30 minute gigs), got a little tedious
The Charlie Daniels Band And The Allman Betts Band At the Beacon Theatre,Wednesday, November 13th – Charlie does the exact same thing he has done for decades, and I am happy to have seen him do it… just not that happy.
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
The Avett Brothers At Barclay Center On Saturday, October 5th – The Avett Brothers don’t have the voices -they aren’t the Everly Brothers, they harmonize sweet but it is too light for what they are attempting.
The Rolling Stones At MetLife, Thursday, August 1st – Never worse at a nightmare venue hellbent on getting you stranded.
Blink 182 And Lil Wayne At Barclay Center, Friday, September 20th- Blink-182 sucked, Lil Wayne was a mammoth disappointment, and Neck Deep are welcome back whenever they choose to visit.
Mark Knopfler At Madison Square Garden, Wednesday, September 25th – An old fashioned and boring performer completely unsuited to Arenas. I was waiting patiently for “Local Hero” but by the time it arrived, I was long gone.
Cher’s “Here We Go Again” At Barclay Center, Thursday, May 2nd – she was a rap superstar type self immolated mollster
Global Citizen At Central Park, Saturday, September 28th – I really don’t get why the sets are THAT truncated, give em half an hour folks… oh wait, the songs are few because the artists want to have their two cents on saving the planet (The Tao: “Do you want to save the world? It can’t be done”).
Beck’s The Night Running Tour At Forest Hills Stadium, Saturday, August 17th – Beck and Britt have been doing this for a quarter of a century, Cage for over a decade. It shows.
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
Lynyrd Skynyrd And Hank Williams Jr At Forest Hills Stadium, Sunday, July 14th – Hank Williams Jr claimed if we don’t like it we can kiss his ass. Kiss it, kick it, send him back to his hayseed bullshit Alabama. Fuck em both.