TOP DAWG ENTERTAINMENT: THE CHAMPIONSHIP TOUR FT. KENDRICK LAMAR AND SZA At Madison Square Garden, Tuesday, March 29th – The set was a fun, joyous homecoming for the Maplewood, New Jersey native. SZA dealt with her vocal problems early, and the second on the bill to Kendrick Lamar singer couldn’t find a way to not perform: this was a triumph for SZA some six years after she started.
John Prine At Radio City Music Hall, Friday, April 13th – Not quite a benediction and we didn’t get an encore, but I forgive him because the forgiveness tree begins with the best show of the year.
Robert Plant And The Shape Shifters At the Beacon Theatre, Wednesday, Friday, February 14th – When compared to his closest contemporaries, say David Gilmore, he has managed to be the biggest low key figure in rock, a classicist scoping the width and breadth of sound but playing theatres, with a small strong band, and very little stage effects, allowing his voice to lead the way, as he moves and grooves with vigor.
Steve Earle And Sarah Jarosz At City Winery, Tuesday, January 16th – The first fifteen minutes last night was Earle redux, you sat with your mouth agape. Just Earle, his guitar, a harp, and a hacking cough from a cold, and songs that flowed with effortless skill and power. At first I thought he was rushing them, a little Ramones-y, but it was much more a matter of getting to the point, making his point, and moving on. A seamless immersion in Earle country folk god.
The Mercy Suite: The Songs Of Tomas Doncker And Yusef Komunyakaa At La Mama, Tuesday, January 30th – This is what Tomas called treats
Jackson Browne At the Beacon Theatre, Friday, May 18th – for 150 minutes Jackson gave us an etched picture of loss through the years as timelessness, except better played, of what it might mean to love a woman. And the audience, and I, lapped it up. Like most of his audience, I am stuck in the 1970s (he fell to earth on 1980’s Hold On) and despite that, just about every single song was excellent
Justin Timberlake’s “Man Of The Woods” Tour At Madison Square Garden, Thursday, March 22nd – Then a funny thing happened on the way to the Bono-ing, Timberlake got his mojo back on this first rate, big time, tour. A spectacular career spanning (no NSYNC but otherwise) masterpiece of staging and song and dance
Sam Huber At The Bitter End, Monday, April 16th – Addicted to the funk Sam is all sexual aggression and art dance moves, with a new album on the horizon and a tour to complement it, he has the cockiness of a man who knows he has brought his version of funk, a Euroglimmer black sound that on a song like “Measure For Measure” brushes next to jazz before settling in everywhere he wants to be. Then he took us there.
Birkin/Gainsbourg: The Symphonique With Jane Birkin And Wordless Music Orchestra At Carnegie Hall, Thursday, February 1st – It’s all a little bit of an over reach, but since it is Birkin’s history to overreach towards, and since Birkin is a sublime interpreter of the self-reflected world of songs like “Ballade De Johnny Jane” and “Baby Alone In Babylone” it would be the essence of sophistication to whinge about it
Lana Del Rey At the Prudential Center, Friday, January 19th – The Hitchcock blonde after therapy that works but not all the way.
Denny Laine At BB Kings, Tuesday, January 9th – Throughout the evening, despite his scruffed up ageism, Denny was charismatic with an easy going on top of it all; you can see why he has managed such a long career.
K.D. Lang At The Beacon Theatre, Monday, March 28th – She is a very pleasant singer, I don’t mean her voice, I mean her attitude, the way she breaks into dance mid song, the way she brings the songs to life with a deeply reactive “The Mind Of Love,” with its “Can your heart conceal what the mind of love reveals” sorrow.
Lorde At Barclay Center, Wednesday, April 4th, 2018 – Seeing the two close friends mid stage, sitting cross legged while Jack strummed his guitar was simultaneously inside baseball arrogant and sweetly disarming. They acted like the sort of guys who, if you meet at a party look right through you and you can’t even say mean girls rude, you just don’t exist.
Tyler The Creator At The Theatre At Madison Square Garden – Saturday, February 24th – the concentrated power and glory of his rapping and his backing, Tyler isn’t the scatalagocial, daddy issues, homophobic mess he once was
Jools Holland “Piano, Vocals and Drum Frenzy”at the Blue Note, February 3rd – he was as charming as you could imagine, self-deprecating, witty, and so easy going you fell into his boogie woogie groove with ease
Bad Bunny At United Palace, Thursday, March 1st – It was the first night of Bad Bunny’s “La Nuevo Religion” tour, already headlining and not even an album out yet. Perhaps the jitters got to him a little, more likely he can’t quite read his audience yet
Jessi Mason At Groove, Friday, January 5th – During an impeccable hour long performance at Groove in the Village last night, Jessi Mason proved the power of the version: she covered James Brown, Dusty Springfield, Bruce Springsteen, and Radiohead, and if you include her original song “Blue,” which doubles as a Joni Mitchell tribute, the musically distilled and protean young singer songwriter placed her own shimmering jewels on stage
Elvis Costello and The Imposters Capitol Theater, Port Chester, NY Friday March tth – My guess is that the Costello not in Vegas concert we got, just about 150 minutes, was a rejigger from what was not to be. An all business, full on head rush for the first set mostly featuring ol’ little hands of concrete on lead guitar and sounding like a no new york rescue case performing hard shards of white lighting runs to stuff you’d expect
ANDREW LLOYD WEBBER in Conversation With GLENN CLOSE, Monday, March 5th – Baron Lloyd-Webber, took us on a hop skip and a jump through his backstory. Andrew discusses his father William Lloyd Webber, a composer and organist, telling Andrew “If you ever write a melody half as good as as Richard Rodger’s “Some Enchanted Evening” I’ll tell you,” and never telling him.
Brett Eldredge’s “The Long Way” Tour At The Hammerstein Ballroom, Saturday, May 5th – With great songs, a fine singer, and an adoring audience, Brett shoulda killed it and yet he didn’t. The difference between Brett and, say, Luke Bryan, isn’t that Brett has better material (material he co-writes) or a better voice, but that Luke, for all his friendliness, comes across like a rock star and Brett comes across like an opening act, even when bringing his dog on stage and having the audience serenade the woof with “You Are My Sunshine”,” he can’t quite balance his show right.
Steve Earle At City Winery, Monday, February 19th – The problem with the nearly 105 minute set is that Earle seemed a little sad and it is off putting. Maybe it’s his singing, a melodic croak that seems wrapped in a battleground against all the outside forces -his singing is almost melancholic, almost elemental. Earle is at his best not on “Jerusalem,” and not when digging into his belief in God, but on the heart aching “Goodbye”.
Red Bull Presents A Conversation With Robyn, Moderated By Kindness, At The Museum Of Modern Art, Monday, May 21st – A masterclass in pop song construction circa 2018
Stephen Schwartz’s 70th Birthday Concert At Hudson Theatre, Monday, April 24th – many of Broadway’s biggest stars came out to honor Schwartz in trickly unctuous blather
“1964”… The Tribute Featuring Robert Miller and the Orchestra, At Carnegie Hall, Saturday, February 17th – While Helen found their visual naffness a problem, I didn’t care, it was the complete inability to sing these songs well enough that I couldn’t get over
Bananarama at the Playstation Theatre, Saturday – February 24th – The girls are not back, this was their first NYC concert ever, and it was syb Spice Girls, if not, indeed, sub Little Mix
Stew And The Negro Problem At Lincoln Center’s “American Songbook,” Wednesday, February 7th – Mark Stewart (aka Stew) has that rare ability to be simultaneously unctuous and obnoxious, the motor mouthed black rocker’s public fellatio of American Songbook and Spike Lee, sitting front and center , was only slightly less offensive than his cool breeze self-regard
Johnny Marr At Gramercy Theater Thursday May 31st – Sure he can (could?) compose a song and sure he is one of the greatest guitarist of his generation, but he is no front man.
enjoyable and soulful romp
oedipal vulnerable and blue collar visceral
another full day of music
his weakest album to date
hoedown, snappy , country slappy
two nights with Olivia Rodrigo at the Greek
classic rock or classic prog
Welch’s best album since Lungs
the best song on Harry’s third album
Creem – America’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll Magazine, Reviewed Issue By Issue – November 1972 (Volume 4, Number 6)
Lester Bangs is threatened with possible death