Thursday, December 23, 2010

Peter Frampton To Play Frampton Comes Alive Next Year

As evidenced by KISS' Alive 35 tour, where the band played all of KISS Alive end to end, and shows like the current Roger Waters Wall tour, the hot thing right now is to dust off a classic album and play it live all the way through.

Matter of fact, that is what Rush is doing on its current tour, playing Moving Pictures end to end every night.

I think it's a great idea. Such care goes into the crafting and sequencing of albums (or at least that used to be the case), and if the whole piece is solid, then why not play it true to its released form?

Along those lines, Peter Frampton will celebrate the 35th anniversary of the classic Frampton Comes Alive by playing the whole damn double album on tour next year.

From this article on Planet Rock:

In an interview with KLOS, Frampton reveals that after he has finished touring his latest studio album, Thank You Mr Churchill, he will hit the road once more next summer to play special shows in celebration of his massive live album.

"2011 is the 35th anniversary of Frampton Comes Alive so we're gonna do Frampton Comes Alive 35,” he revealed. “For the first time since the 70s we're going to do a show where the second half of the show is the whole of Frampton Comes Alive.

"We're gonna have to dust off a few [songs] we haven't done in a while. We're thinking about using the intro music that's on the record. We're gonna have a big production and take people back to that time.”

I hope he comes to Portland so I can hear him say "Bob Mayo, keyboards!" finally after all these years. Frampton played a few years ago here in Portland and friends who saw the show said he is in top form and really kicked ass. I'll be watching for this one for sure. In the meantime, enjoy this:

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Concert Review - Roger Waters The Wall

I saw Roger Waters’ The Wall in San Jose last Tuesday and it took me a few days to put ‘pen to paper’ because I wanted to let it all soak in. Of course as expected the concert was unlike anything I have ever seen. I think the photos I took will do it far more justice than a detailed description but here are some thoughts:

Musically, Waters stuck to the script. There were the same extended pieces that the Floyd did back in the 1980 shows (three solos at the end of Brick 2 instead of one, the extended Mother solo, the ‘A Few More Bricks’ medley). These were included to add more time to the concert and allow more time for the Wall to be built. It was great to hear a really true rendition of the album with all of the music pretty much as I knew it.

His band was great – Snowy White and G.E. Smith on guitars. A younger guy who did the leads, who was a little over the top rocker-style for me, but played Gilmour’s parts very faithfully (on a Tele no less). Waters had a number of vocalists including a guy who did nothing but sing Gilmour’s parts. And of course Rog played loads of bass.

But truthfully I was not watching the band. They are all dressed in black and on a visual level, they are totally secondary to the Wall, the props and the amazing, amazing visuals that were broadcast onto the Wall itself. The Wall had an almost fluorescent glow to it all night when it was just being backlit. But most of the time, amazing videos were beamed onto the Wall, which then became basically a 240-foot long movie screen.

I mean, these visuals were insane and led the audience on everything from IMAX-style nausea-inducing 3D to transforming the arena much like the use of different movie sets would – look at my various photos below and you will see what I mean about how the Wall itself was the star of this show.

The props were all there: the enormous marionette teacher for Brick 2, the plane flying into the Wall at the end of In The Flesh?, the giant inflatable Mother, and of course the flying pig, which roamed the rafters of the arena during Run Like Hell. Rog used a number of videos from the Wall film, including the parrying flowers from What Shall We Do Now? and the whole The Trial sequence. It was great to see that original, grainy film animation and that Waters did not try and ‘update’ (ruin) it in any way.

One thing that was different was Waters himself. He admitted more than once during the show that when he wrote The Wall 30 years ago he was an ‘angry young man’ and even went so far as to say he didn’t feel that way anymore and was really happy to be playing the show for us. Which is great for Waters, but I kind of missed the angry, tortured guy in some of the gut busters like Don’t Leave Me Now and Nobody Home. He was almost campy in those songs and it didn’t work as well, but shit I wouldn’t wish him sorrow for my enjoyment, so what the hell! I am just glad to see this show.

My buddy and I were saying that The Wall stage show is an amazing concept that we really sort of take for granted because it’s been around about 75 percent of the time we’ve been alive. But what an idea, and to come up with this in 1980! Image the band meeting: “So we build a wall. In front of the band. After the first set, the audience can’t see the band at all. We have giant puppets and a flying pig. At the end we topple the wall into the audience and that’s it – no encore. Holy f’ing shit.

Thematically the visuals were true to the original themes of alienation between nations, people and institutions. Lots of imagery of the recent wars and the men and women lost in those wars and how senseless they are – driven by greed, and ideological and religious jockeying. On his Facebook site, Waters had asked people who lost loved ones in wars to send photos and information prior to the tour, and he used at least a couple hundred of those images over the course of the night.

I have heard that the crux of the story for Waters is the song Bring the Boys Back Home and I have to say that this was the only part of the show that gave me a giant lump in the throat. In Vera, he showed slow-mo footage of little kids in school classrooms in surprise reunions with their dads and this one girl’s face went from surprise to elation to just a waterworks as she jumped into her daddy’s arms. It may be the one image I always remember after the bitching animations and flying pigs and planes fade from my memory. It was heartwarming and heart wrenching at the same time when you really get to the emotion of what these wars do to little kids. I found someone's video of it and posted that below the photos.

So anyway, the North American leg of The Wall tour is almost over and I am damn glad I saw it. Here are some of my snaps for those interested:

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Thoughts on The Anniversary of John Lennon's Death

December 8 is a day that usually sees me pretty melancholy. I recall when I was a mere 12 years old my dad coming into the family room and gently announcing that John Lennon had been shot and killed. I pretty much retired to my own room for the rest of the night. It was one of the first deaths, and for sure the first violent death, I had ever felt had hit home in any way. Was not sure how to process the emotions so I played some Beatles on guitar and cried a lot.

Big stars die all the time. They fall into one of two buckets for me. Either 1) most of their work had already taken place and they had been out of the spotlight for a long time, which somehow makes it easier to swallow or 2) they had been recently active (like Roy Orbison or Richard Wright) and are a bit of a gut punch. Lennon clearly falls into this latter category and much like with guys like Stevie Ray Vaughan I often wonder what Lennon would have done with the past few decades since his death.

Would he have reunited with the other Beatles for Anthology, or Live8? Would he have put out spotty albums in the 80s but then released scattered moments of brilliance like some other Beatles we know? Would he have had another good run of albums and tours and then retired, boring with the business again? Would I have ever been able to see him in concert or even meet him? Of course we’ll never know.

I saw Roger Waters live last night on the 69th anniversary of Pearl Harbor (the giant plane flying into the Wall in the first number was an interesting juxtaposition to this anniversary although I realize it happens every night – I will post a full review with photos soon). I am tempted to try and get a ticket for tonight’s show to see if he mentions Lennon.

Anyway, time to get muddling at work but wanted to get these thoughts out of my head.

Lennon we still miss you. Wish you were here.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

The Stones' Gimmie Shelter Deconstructed

My friend Nedmusic turned me onto this incredible breakdown of the Stones' classic 1969 song Gimmie Shelter. Someone has been able to isolate the vocals, rhythm guitar, second guitar/piano, bass and drums into five separate tracks. It's breathtaking to hear all the parts broken out like this. Spend some time checking this out if you dig the Stones - unreal.

Also credit must be given to the original Dangerous Minds post, where all of this came from.

Vocals (Mick Jagger and Merry Clayton):

Keith Richards' main guitar. Note the interesting punch ins and outs of Keith's licks to compensate for the fact that this is probably a four-track recording!

Charlie Watts' drum part plus percussion:

Bill Wyman bass:

Keith's second guitar and Nicky Hopkins' piano (at the moment it looks like this one has been taken down by YouTube):

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

DVD Review - Ladies and Gentlemen: The Rolling Stones

The Stones are like cockroaches - they seem to have been around forever and just won't die. Despite the fact that their last truly great album was put out in 1981.

But every few years they churn out a new collection of tunes and hit the road to smash touring records yet again. There are glimmers of greatness - the Shine A Light movie for example has some really cool moments. And if their recent albums were pared down from 15 tracks to the 10 strongest, they'd be pretty good.

But honestly, the band jumped the shark once Keith cleaned up. Coincidence? No idea but I am reading his autobiography and we'll see if I can glean any tidbits for you all.

My favorite era of the Stones is the Mick Taylor era. So I was majorly geeked to get the recently released Ladies and Gentlemen: The Rolling Stones, a concert film from the 1972 Exile on Main Street tour.

This DVD reminds me of why I fell in love with the band in the first place. Charlie and Keith are the tightest rhythm section around. Bill Wyman pumps out some great bass lines. Jagger is at his full-throated screaming pilled-up best. But the real star of the show is Mick Taylor, who basically solos throughout every song, adding those tasty, tasty licks that seem so effortless but add incredibly to the music.

Highlights are the roughly 10-minute Midnight Rambler, Tumbling Dice, Gimmie Shelter and an unreal version of Love In Vain. In his book, Keith talks about how the young pre-fame Stones just wanted to 'be black guys' and play the blues. Later of course they got into other areas but the blues was always their fallback, and Love In Vain is top of the pile here. It does not hurt that Taylor gets two solos - one one slide and one not.

Even tracks like Dead Flowers - a song that seems like a bit of a novelty on the studio release - shine, as Keith and Mick share the mic for the harmonies and Taylor adds tasty leads throughout.

The bonus features include the band rehearsing stuff from Exile to get ready for the tour. That is worth the price of this DVD alone. Unreal.

Watching this DVD made me reach back into the bootleg community and score copies of live shows from 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975 and 1976. There are some real gems out there, people. This band was tight in the 70s, despite the stories of addiction and debauchery. Especially look for the March 1971 Leeds, the October 1973 Brussels, and the July 1972 Madison Square Garden shows. All very good.

And get this damn DVD - it's great! Here is a clip: