30th Nov2012

DVD Review: The Beach Boys Live in Concert: 50th Anniversary

by rockchicago

 

The Beach Boys 50th Anniversary tour kicked off  April 24th in Tucson, AZ and ended in Wembley Arena in London after 75 dates. The concert filmed for the DVD took place on July 7th in Phoenix, AZ at Grand Canyon University and features 21 tracks including 2 songs from their 2012 release “That’s Why God Made The Radio.” This concert is packed with many classics and hits from The Beach Boys vast catalog. The 50th anniversary tour was the first time that Brian Wilson has toured with the band since 1965. The show began with “Do It Again,” included a medley of “409,” “Shut Down,” and “I Get Around,”and closed with “Fun Fun Fun.” From That’s Why God Made The Radio, they played “Isn’t It Time,” and the title track. If you haven’t heard either song, they’re definitely worth a listen as well as the whole album. The band traded off lead vocals on each song. Brian Wilson sounded great on “Sail On Sailor,” which was originally sung by Blondie Chaplin. For those who saw the Beach Boys live on their 50th anniversary it is a great way to relive the experience. For those who did not get to see the Beach Boys live this is as close as you’ll get. It was great seeing Mike Love and Brian Wilson together on the same stage again. I also enjoyed seeing David Marks back with the group and playing lead guitar. Over the years The Beach Boys have had a large touring band, but their backing band for the 50th anniversary tour was probably the largest. It consisted of members from Brian Wilson’s band and The Mike Love Beach Boys touring band. What was nice about the large band was they were able to do what they did in studio on songs like “Good Vibrations,” and “Kokomo.” This DVD is a must have for any Beach Boys fan young, old, and new or long times fans.

Here is the complete list of sings performed in The Beach Boys: Live in  Concert:

“Do It Again”

“Catch a Wave”

“Hawaii”

“Marcella”

“Isn’t It  Time”

“Little Deuce Coupe”

“409″

“Shut Down”

“I Get  Around”

“Heroes and Villains”

“Sloop John B”

“Wouldn’t It Be  Nice”

“All This Is That”

“That’s Why God Made the Radio”

“Sail On,  Sailor”

“Good Vibrations”

“California Girls”

“Help Me Rhonda”

“Rock  and Roll Music”

“Kokomo”

“Fun, Fun, Fun”

 

Reviewed by Alex Kluft

28th Nov2012

“Werther” Lights Up the Lyric Stage

by rockchicago

 

The story of the young Werther is the classic Goethe tale of true love, unfulfillable desire, social tension, and middle class repression. When it was first received in 1774, the novel broke all conventions, creating a frenzy among the younger generation, inspiring many to sport the very garb the protagonist wears. It remains a cornerstone in Romantic era Literature, not only for its compelling narrative, but for the themes which have become Romantic era archetypes.

Massanet’s adaptation of Werther was born as much out of political interests as artistic ones. During the latter part of the 19th century there had been a great deal of interest in Goethe’s works, having had an enormous influence on 19th century cultural philosophy. The completion of the opera required a considerable amount of time, two years, an unusually long period for the fluent composer Massenet, whose skill and knowledge of theatrical drama is evident from the opening overture to the tragic concluding bars. Above all, the strength of the opera is the variety of vocal writing and the mellifluous nature of the music. The lush harmonic writing is shear ear-candy. For one’s well versed in the genre of Opera, the score alone is worth the expense of a ticket. However, the traditional nature of the work, and abundance of conventional operatic idioms may be daunting for opera neophytes.

Lyric Opera’s production includes an impressive array of singers, including Mathew Polenzani (Werther) and Sophie Koch (Charlotte) who carried the burden of their characters’ emotional complexity while delivering vocal lines of great polish and precision. Both stars received immediate cheers and thunderous applause in response to each of their climactic arias, and deservedly so.

Though the singing was of the high quality that one has come to expect from Lyric Opera productions, the production itself, the staging and the set, was problematic, confusing, and overwrought with cheap symbolism.

At the onslaught, the curtain is drawn and we are confronted with a complex set: there is a living quarters set up at the base of the stage, there is an elevated platform where the majority of characters are occupying. There is a large stack of luggage on the far left of the stage that acts simultaneously as a staircase. There is a metal bar that surrounds the set that shifts between the colors red and blue periodically. There are also metallic trees in the middle of the set. We see two elegant farm houses, as if in the distance.

The abundance of material has achieved the opposite of the desired effect. Rather than clarifying the surroundings and creating a world in which the characters may exist and thrive, the set has made it difficult to discern where one section of reality begins and the other ends. The impression is that there is forest within the house, which is filled with knickknacks, on top of which people must climb in order to gain access to the next floor. Meanwhile a man lives alone in the basement, peering occasionally out from a window seeing it all happen.

It seems the faith has been misplaced in the set of the production, rather than in the singers, who carried the dramatic impetus and communicated sensibilities of repression and inner bedlam in their performance.

Reviewed by Edo Frenkel on 11/23/12

28th Nov2012

Lights Out With UFO in Chicago

by rockchicago

 

Heavy Metal Royalty returned to Chicago  last Thursday in the form of UFO.  The English hard rock giants performed to an over capacity House of Blues. If it wasn’t for UFO the hard rock and heavy metal landscape would be vastly different.

This was my first time finally getting a chance to see UFO live. How could you not be a fan or at least respect the blue print of rock that they helped start. The venue was packed and the people watching was almost as good as the show itself. I am thirty nine and I can easily guess that I was one of the youngest there without a doubt.

When the curtains opened and UFO took the stage, simultaneously there were finger pointing, fist pumping, signs of metal and of course air guitaring and even more so a lot of air drumming. The band jumped right in with their classic, “Lights Out.”  Unfortunately they stuck to the original and not their famous live recording from Chicago  where they changed the chorus to Lights Out Chicago instead of Lights Out London. It wasn’t just that, the song was missing something. The tempo was slower and it lacked the balls that it should have, especially right out of the gate.

The first few songs seemed a little lackluster. The crowd was digging it but they weren’t going nuts like an old school rock show should be. It was very melancholy to say the least. Like I said it was an older crowd and maybe its catching up to the majority of those fans who just can’t rock on a school night anymore. I started getting into it more when they pulled out my favortie tune by them, “Out in the Street.”  It is a more mellow tune but has such a fantastic keyboard part and sounded great live.

On guitar and carrying the band was Vinnie Moore. He joined the band in 2002 after Michael Schenker left the band once again after a succesful reunion with the band. Every solo Moore did was amazing, an art that is missing in the current rock scene. Lead singer, Phil Mogg still has swagger but his age is catching up to him. His voice wasn’t bad but definitely isn’t what it used to be. He pulled the mic away on a lot of the high notes and he’s moving slower these days. All in all they are just looking old but I am glad they are still out there doing what they love.

The crowd finally opened up in the middle of the set. The sing alongs kept getting louder and even the lighters came out during “Love to Love” instead of cell phones which was nice to see. At this point is when the people watching was fantastic. The balding rockers with their pony tails still intact thrashing their heads back and forth was a glorious sight to see. The moment that unfortunately sticks in my head was while making a quick bathroom break I had to make my way through some drunk older ladies dancing. As I tried to slide around them one of them decided to grope me and totally snuck her hand on my ass and went for the taint. Yes, you read that correctly. A concert first for me. So I can now check off getting sexually harassed by a cougar from my bucket list.

The show concluded with some of their greatest hits including, “Too Hot Too Handle,” “Rock Bottom” and the set closer, “Doctor Doctor.”  It didn’t seem like they were coming back for an encore but the “UFO” chant was loud enough to pull them back on stage for “Shoot Shoot.”  The band was solid enough and it was an overall good time. They are just old now and the vibe and the music are just a little slower.  I always wanted to see them and I am glad I got the chance but at this point I will just crank their albums and enjoy them the way I remember.

Reviewed by Todd anthony on 11/15/12

28th Nov2012

Steetlight Manifesto Sweep the House of Blues Away

by rockchicago

Photo by Alex Kluft 

 

Tuesday Nov. 20th, they rocked the House Of Blues Chicago to a near sold out crowd. There was so much jumping around that the venue shook throughout their performance. Before the 1st song , “Everything Went Numb” was over there were already crowd surfers coming over the barricade in front of the stage. The set included “Never Be Afraid,” “Watch It Crash,” Somewhere In Between” and an encore of “Point/Keasbey/Counterpoint” and “The Big Sleep” What makes a Streetlight Manifesto show so much fun is the high energy level from the band and audience. As well as the fans singing along to every song. Although they’ve only been around for the past decade, Streetlight Manifesto has certainly revolutionized Ska.Be sure to check out their upcoming album “The Hands That Thieve” which will be out January 2013. Their tour ends on Dec. 16th in Washington D.C.

Reviewed by Alex Kluft on 11/20/12

Setlist
1.   Everything Went Numb

2.   We Will Fall Together

3.   The Three of Us

4.   Down, Down, Down to Mephisto’s Cafe

5.    Never Be Afraid

6.    Forty Days

7.    Intro: This is a Call to Arms

8.    Here’s to Life

9.    Watch It Crash

10.    A Moment of Silence /A Moment of Violence

11.    Who Hides the Night (Oh Me)

12.    A Better Place, A Better Time

13.    Somewhere in the Between

14.    Point/Keasbey/Counterpoint

15.    The Big Sleep

27th Nov2012

The Live Debate Debut at The Ace Bar 11/28/12!!

by rockchicago

The Live Debate feat. Matthew Muñiz, Jody Miller, Anthony D’Amato and Jonah David will be debuting music from their new upcoming album live on November 28,2012 at Ace Bar (1501 W. Fullerton) at 8pm. Tickets are $7. The Live Debate will be accompanied by Trumpets, Cello & Violin.

 

Also on the bill are Chicago regualars Derek Outson, Diana Lawrence and Tatiana Hazel. The concert is presented by GET OFF THE COUCH.

 

“I first heard Anthony D’ Amato when I saw The Rocky Horror Show around Halloween at O’Malley’s Liquor Kitchen, where he was playing the role of Dr. Frank-N-Furter. His voice blew me away with his R&B style and his unique approach. After seeing him perform, I check out his band The Live Debate online, and really enjoyed the music. I really hope everyone else does too! – Kevin Pollack (CEO/President of Rock Chicago Magazine)”

To find out more about The Live Debate, visit their website at www.thelivedebate.com

26th Nov2012

Chris Isaak Shakes Up The Chicago Theatre

by rockchicago

 

Chris Isaak and his band packed the house at the historic Chicago Theatre this past Saturday for what was a great mix of old classic tunes and familiar Issak hits. I’ve been listening to Chris Isaak for a good while and when I heard he was coming to The Chicago Theatre I couldn’t miss it. The opener was Kat Edmonson and her guitarist, Steve Greenlee.  The two had an incredible harmony together. Kat’s voice ranged from jazzy influences such as Ella Fitzgerald to almost Fleetwood Mac like tones. It was an interesting mix of jazz, folk, and country tracks that the audience clearly enjoyed. Kat had also mentioned that she was just on tour with Gary Clarke Jr., which makes complete sense. The two groups go together very nicely as does Kat and Chris Isaak. The guitarist’s smooth acoustic guitar tone accompanied Kat very nicely in the duo. I’m really glad actually that Kat Edmonson was the opener because I had never heard of her before. One of the best ways to discover new music is to see them perform first. The two played a good handful of songs and I think got the audience prepared for what was in store.

There was a short intermission before Isaak went on. When Isaak and the band came on they opened with “American Boy”, a tune off his 2002 album “Always Got Tonight”. They sure perked the audience back up after the opening tune. Since the show was around the holidays Isaak and his group also played quite a few Christmas songs. Me being not quite ready for Christmas joy was a little disappointed to first hear a rendition of “Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer” being played. I definitely warmed up to it though. Who couldn’t resist Isaak’s voice and the shredding folk rock guitars?

This was my first show at the beautiful Chicago Theatre but maybe it was just the audience, but I could have done with a lot more volume from the band. However, I was clearly in the younger minority at this show. There was still a good amount of younger folk there though, which was nice to see. After a few more hits such as “San Francisco Days”, “Wicked Game”, and of course “Baby Did a Bad, Bad Thing” the band switched it up to the “Beyond The Sun” part of the performance. At this point, Isaak grabbed his signature acoustic guitar, the bassist switched to a double bass and the keyboardist hopped onto an upright piano. Beyond The Sun is Chris Isaak’s latest studio album where he covers a bunch of old classic Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley, & Carl Perkin’s tunes. The album itself was recorded in the historic Sun Studio in Memphis, Tennessee where all the greats and the original “Million Dollar Quartet” recorded. The band went on playing a bunch of classics such as “Ring of Fire”, “Can’t Help Falling in Love”, & “Great Balls of Fire”. Over all which Isaak’s voice melded perfectly with the classics.

The band showed extreme skill in unleashing song after song, switching styles and music genres more than a few times. Isaak even mentioned that that specific group had been together for a long time, watching them interact together it really showed.

Isaak’s performance was very entertaining. He sure does know how to get people up on their feet and the ladies screaming. I think the mix of classics and Issak hits worked out perfectly and turned out to be quite a performance. Chris Isaak is definitely one of those artists that you have to keep an eye on, I think his success is warranted and he will continue to rock for years.

Reviewed by Will Sullivan on 11/24/12

26th Nov2012

Men Without Hats Does “The Safety Dance” at The Mayne with Bow Wow Wow

by rockchicago

 

Canadian New Wave Group Men Without Hats and England’s Bow Wow Wow played the Mayne Stage Saturday night. This was the first show I saw at the Mayne where the floor was a dance floor, which made perfect sense for this type of music. There wasn’t one song that didn’t make the audience want to dance. Each group played for an hour. Men Without Hats was very Synth Driven whereas Bow Wow Wow was all about the drums and bass. Men Without Hats came on first and played a set that included “I Got The Message,” “Head Above Water” “Living In China” the song they are best known for “Safety Dance” and an encore of Abba’s “SOS.” The only original member left in the group is singer Ivan Doroschuk backed up by two female keyboard players and a guitarist. Doroschuk sounds exactly the same as he did 30 years, and didn’t stay in one place long. With so many synth driven songs it was hard not move around.

 

Bow Wow Wow started with the band playing an instrumental before singer Annabella Lwin. The band consisting of original bassist Leigh Gorman, guitarist Phil Gough, and Devin Beaman on drums was incredible, especially the sound of the bass and drums which really drove the music. Bow Wow Wow was a lot of fun to watch. Their set included “C30, C60, C90,” “See Jungle” “Go Wild In The Country,” and their biggest hit “I want Candy.”

Reviewed by Alex Kluft on 11/18/12

Photos by Alex Kluft

20th Nov2012

Morris Day and The Time: Swagger With a Smile at The Venue

by rockchicago

 

If “class” and “swagger” had a child, that child would be named Morris Day.  Day’s effortless “cool” is an inviting look into a 30+ year career shaped by musical excitement and a flawless live show!

The lights dim at 9:10pm and the band walks out onto The Venue’s beautiful stage dressed in dark suits and sporting fedoras.  Drums, bass, two keyboards, and an electric guitar lay down the foundation of a swinging groove as the guitarist takes to the mic and questions, “ARE YOU READY CHICAGO?”.  The sold out crowd erupts and jumps to their feet.  The music intensifies and the lights begin to circle.  “Please put your hands together for MORRIS DAY!”.  Out comes the quint-essential hype man holding a gold framed mirror.  Following comes the strutting Morris Day.  Hype man and Day reach center stage, mirror is held up, Day pulls out a long comb from the inside of his gold, sparkle, zoot suit coat, the grooming ensues, and the crowd roars!

The opening hit “Get It Up” sets up the theme for the party with lyrics, “Get it up.  Get ready for a real good time.  I’m going to try to blow your mind.”  Within the first 2 minutes of the band’s appearance on stage, you are quickly reminded of the influence Prince had on his high school cohort.  The precision of the band’s flawless choreography, the powerful musical arrangements, and the front man’s commanding presence are all credited to Day’s time under Prince’s guiding wing in the late 70′s.

The first three songs were an assault of high energy tracks physically forcing everyone in The Venue to smile, clap, sing, and dance.  The dedicated fans bellowed out every single word as Day’s hypnotizing charm drove the musical train through their tenacious set list.

Finally, a “break” is given as the drummer, Jellybean holds down a funky groove and the rest of the band sits back in the cut.  Day takes to the microphone and  greets all of his adoring fans as he graciously thanks everyone for supporting their career “since 1981”.  Once again the crowd screams and smiles grow larger as they are reminded of how long Day’s music has enriched their lives.  These fans are hardcore.  Men in zoot suites and women dressed to impressed, fans wanted to show their support in every way possible.  Men wanted to be him and the women wanted to woo the self proclaimed playboy.

As quickly as they sat down, half of the crowd was brought back to their feet as Day dictated, “Band, hit me 5 times!”.  The crack of the snare drum, the synchronized bounce of the band, and the finger points and leg shakes of Day brought the energy in the room up yet another level.  Weather you knew the music or not, the simplicity of the lyrics and the message coupled with  the inviting depth of the music made the party environment comfortably nostalgic.

The intensity of the set came down 25 minutes in as Day and hype man made their way backstage.  The band began teasing a ballad as the bass player asked, “Do you want to sing the slow jams?”.  Women shrieked as the band jumped to the intro of another ballad.  Day’s voice is heard as he sings the first 3 lines of the song and then apologizes, “I’m sorry you have to hear my voice from back stage right now, but I’m half naked.”  Women shrieked even more as the band swells.  Day makes is way back on stage with a long tench coat draped over his zoot suit.  He brings the crowd and the volume of the band down with his hands, calls for “six hits”, and as directed, the band slams six tight punches as they plow right into “The Bird”.  All of a sudden, audience members flood the stage and swarm Day.  Emulating a much “cooler” line dance, the make shift back up dancers all follow Day’s lead as they wave their arms and glide their feet to song.

The feeling of an anxious unknown was prevalent through the 55 minute set as the band jumped from one song right into another.  The theatrical antics and constant connection to the fans engaged even the security staff who could not resist an occasional shimmy here and there.  Day left the stage and returned shortly for the expected encore.  There was one more song everyone needed to hear before the night was complete.  Day taunted the crowd and asked, “Is there something else you all want to hear?”.  Simultaneously, the crowd screamed “YES” as the lights lit up the entire venue.  As everyone hoped, the 1983 hit, “Jungle Love” satisfied their musical appetite and the 7 minute extended jam proved to be the climax of the entire set.

Morris Day and The Time are a prime example of artists and performers that continue to do what they love simply because they have to.  The live experience is the heart beat of this machine.  Sure, appearances in the movies Purple Rain and Jay And Silent Bob are credible, commercial accolades, but   you won’t see Morris Day and The Time at the Super Bowl or in a slick car commercial anytime soon.  They have stayed tried and true to their niche brand of entertainment and they are not begging to be noticed.  In an ever changing industry, genuine passion and hard work have consistently been rewarded through longevity.  Long live Morris Day and The Time.

Reviewed by Edmer Abante [a.k.a. MER] on 11/14/12

19th Nov2012

Interview with Actor/Comedian Kevin Pollak

by rockchicago

To listen to interview click here: Interview with Kevin Pollak

 

Rock Chicago Magazine’s Kevin Pollack interviews Actor/Comedian Kevin Pollak at the IMPROV in Schaumburg on 11/17/12.

19th Nov2012

Kevin Pollak Brings the Laughs to the IMPROV

by rockchicago

To listen to the interview click here: Interview with Kevin Pollak

 

Saturday night, I went down to the IMPROV in Schaumburg for something I would’ve never thought possible; to watch and meet actor/comedian Kevin Pollak. Little did I know it would be as funny as it was. You may remember Kevin Pollak from such films as The Usual Suspects, Grumpy Old Men, Casino, The Whole Nine Yards, etc. Having the same name as him has been interesting for a long time, with a lot of people thinking I’m him, and he knows that funny enough. But it was finally nice to put a face to the name.

Kevin Pollak recently released a new memoir called How I Slept My Way to the Middle: Secrets and Stories from Stage, Screen, and Interwebs. Throughout the hour-long stand-up show, Kevin recited a lot of his jokes from his book; even quoting something Matthew Perry wrote in the book about him. Having read the book already before seeing the show, some of the material wasn’t as funny for me as it was for others, since I knew a lot of the jokes from the book.

Though, there were a lot of jokes that cracked me up as well as the rest of the audience. Kevin went into stories of different situations where he met other celebrities and did impressions of them. I do admit reading the book is one thing, but seeing the stories in his book come to life on stage with Kevin re-enacting them works better. He sped through some of his famous impersonations including his famous Christopher Walken, Robert DeNiro, Jack Nicholson, Peter Falk, Alan Arkin, William Shatner, and his newest one Jason Statham. His Christopher Walken impersonation is so famous he’s the number one result if you search “Christopher Walken impersonation” on Google. Kevin also developed a weekly comedy podcast called Talkin’ Walkin (www.talkinwalkin.com) where Kevin speaks only as Christopher Walken while discussing life and the cornucopia of crap that fills it.

In the interview, which you can hear above, Kevin also speaks about his Award-Winning online chat show Kevin Pollak’s Chat Show (www.kevinpollakschatshow.com). Started in 2009, Kevin said he’d never thought it would come to where it is today. Kevin’s had several famous guests on his show already including Alan Arkin, Dana Carvey, Matthew Perry, Paul Rudd, Jason Lee, Rob Reiner and many, many more.

Overall, as a stand-up comedy show, Kevin Pollak is a great joy to watch. Not only is he extremely funny, but he’s a great guy to meet and talk to as well. He did say the IMPROV is one of his favorite places to perform in the country. I can totally see why. When he first came out, the audience was cheering. Whenever Kevin did and impersonation, the audience was cheering; and at the end of the night, the audience was cheering for more. But, alas, we couldn’t get that. I guess we’ll just have to wait till Kevin comes back to Chicago. What was great at the end of the show was Kevin was nice enough to do a meet-and-greet with all his fans, sign books and take pictures.

To find out who’s coming to the IMPROV next visit: www.chicago.improv.com

To find out more about Kevin Pollak visit: www.kevinpollak.tv

Reviewed by Kevin Pollack on 11/17/12

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