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Z100's Jingle Ball 2011 At MSG, Friday, December 6th, 2011, Reviewed

2010 was the year dance broke the US charts, in 2011 this was much less true. At least that's the common wisdom. But it misses the point. What happened on the charts in 2011 was the death of the Hot 100 -albums sold to their fanbase and sunk without a trace. All the action was on the Top 40 and the Top 40 was ruled by dance, which made last nights "Jingle Ball" the most consistent night of live music this year. 10 artists and everybody at the top of their game with a revolving stage leaving the down time to just about the length of a commercial break (which they air on the screens).

MSG looked gorgeous, all red and green, with an onstage balcony for some lucky fans, and a fantastic sound system. When acoustics suck during a techno heavy show all you can hear is the bass. Last night the bass only dominated when necessary, when David Guetta pumped it to 11 on "Where Them Girls At". Speaking of which, the girls were at Madison Square Garden". I've been going to Jingle Ball for years, decades, and they girls haven't changed a bit, God bless em. I think they're taught those earsplitting screams at birth. The pumped up kids leave their loudest screams for unannounced guests the Script's lead singer  Danny O'Donoghue -whatever that implies for the rock star.

The evening opens with Hot Chelle Rae "remixing" "Tonight Tonight" with Zcentric lyric  and continues with Foster The People, who should really re-record "Don't Stop (Color On The Walls)" which is a drag on Torches, but a crazy blast live. "Pumped Up Kids" is exactly what you thought it was.  Big Time Rush introduce Demi Lavato as "a real rock and roller" . Which she isn't, though her four song 20 minute set is loud enough, even "Skyscraper" rattles the walls. Demi looks healthy after her well publicised eating disorders. Good for her.

Gym Class Heroes have the weirdest set. Three songs, a terrific "Cupid's Chickenhold/Breakfast In America". Travis McCoy is at his best here, an inspired Charlie Manhattan sample, and Travis gets all of it. They end with Travis's solo "Billionaire" and in the middle a new one. They skipped "Stereo Hearts"! Chloe Kardashian introduces LMFAO – or LMF as Helen Bach quipped. We get the one with afro, Berry Gordy's kid Redfoo. Apparently Sky Blu hurt his back playing shuffleboard. We give him a shout out. Enough of this is background tapes and pro tools where he isn't missed. Redfoo sings the hits and  some pretty great dancers join him busting moves.He changes Miami to "I'm In New York, Bitch" and pulls off his pants for "Sexy And I Know It".

Kelly Clarkson plays a couple of songs off Stronger, very loud, very hard, with three (count em) guitarists, an instrument not in great demand tonight.and a singalong to "Since You've Been Gone". Kelly brings out Demi for a duet on "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas". I wish people would go and listen to Judy Garland's original every now and again.

Then a huge turntable -like mammoth. With David Guetta plastered in red and blinking on and off. With 15 minutes to prove it, Guetta does so and more so. A perfectly formed series of hits to the pleasure zone. There is no better than DJ than Guetta; he is doing something that seems to be eluding everybody from Dr. Luke to Tiesto: how to be a rock star DJ. Guetta crosses over. "Where The Girls At" is a huge song anyway, but the bass he lays on top is a thundering beat. More importantly, he includes the great deep album track "Titanium" and ends with his first number one, "Without You".

Finally, it is Mr. 305! With his shades and ice gray-blue suit, shaved head and glistening brow, the man is all that. And he can dance like all get out. Pitbull used to be a rapper, but last night rapping was absolutely secondary to dance grooves. We get a lot of Planet Pitt. "International Love", " and "Hey Baby (Drop It The Floor)'. As well as perennial fave "Hotel Room Suite" and the huge hit "Give Me Everything". Pitbull is a smart dancer, he can move like heaven, and he has a wild, expressive face, almost cheeky! I saw him a couple of years ago and he hasn't missed a step.

Surprise guest Kreyshawn sang "Gucci Gucci" mid floor and made a believer of me and the other surprise guests, and sole representative of rock and roll, Irish lads the Script get huge shout outs from girls for "For The First Time". I didn't miss rock music at all. It's simple. Mainstream dance is great, mainstream rock is terrible. For rock and roll you need to go the fringes.

The headliner is  Lady Gaga,. I wasn't really thrilled to see her again, she's had a bad year, but this was a Christmas miracle. She kills it. The time constraints cut the crap monolgues,  and rid of us of the tedious, momentum killing , breaks while she changes the stage and her costumes.The first concert Lady Gaga attended was a Jingle Ball when she was 11 years old and the headlining gig last night  made her happy. "I LOVE YOU NEW YORK" she screams, it was true. "I'm so happy to be home". You could tell. She also dropped the outlandish costumes and outlandish wigs and make up. This all worked for her because it allowed you to just relax and enjoy the show. She was terrific, terrific. "Just Dance", "Bad Romance" "Poker Face"  and personal fave, "Telephone". That left her time for "White Christmas" -which I didn't like, but she had so much good will accrued by that point, I didn't mind, and the three best songs off  her latest, "Edge Of Night", "You And Me" and "Born This Way".

I hope Lady Gaga learns from this concert. She is a gifted woman, the songs will work on stage, if she just picks up the pace and let them speak for her.

Jingle Ball 2011? Grade: A

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