Monday, November 26, 2012

Mick Taylor Slays Midnight Rambler with the Rolling Stones

OK here it is - thanks to jeffou67 on YouTube - the full glory of Midnight Rambler live from the O2 with Mick Taylor.

First up, it's odd when Mick Taylor is the most animated musician on the stage (Jagger excepted). Where back in the day, Taylor would stand in the back and rip leads, here he is literally chasing Jagger around the stage, trying to get his attention and mug it up a little.

Jagger is having nothing to do with it, but it's cool to see the Mick's jostle for the spotlight. Keith and Ronnie are content to chill with Charlie and let Taylor do his thing.

The playing? Very nice. The sound guys have to sort out some shit at the front end, but soon Taylor can hear himself and is laying down tasty licks like in the old days. There a few clams, but overall the performance underscores why the Mick Taylor era is the quintessential Stones era for many, including me.

I am really glad they are doing this again on Tuesday night, because I bet it will be tighter. One suggestion though - dude, lose the hoodie!

Here it is in all of it's raw glory:

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Stones Dig Deep for First Full 50th Anniversary Concert; Jeff Beck, Mick Taylor, Bill Wyman Guest

The Stones have just played their first full-length arena concert of its 50th anniversary tour. This is less than 12 hours old, so I am sure more video and details will emerge, but the just-posted video of Jeff Beck playing the old tune I'm Goin Down with the Stones is pretty amazing.

The posting party is not allowing people to embed the video, so check it out here. (Keith's solo is pretty good too).

As expected, Bill Wyman and Mick Taylor also sat in. I will post video of that as I find it. Here is the full set list - pretty cool first half! Some real untouched gems there:

I Wanna Be Your Man (first live performance since 1964)
Get Off of My Cloud
It's All Over Now
Paint It Black
Gimme Shelter (with Mary J. Blige)
Wild Horses
All Down the Line
I'm Going Down (with Jeff Beck)
Out of Control
One More Shot
Doom and Gloom
It's Only Rock 'n' Roll (But I Like It) (with Bill Wyman)
Honky Tonk Women (with Bill Wyman)
Before They Make Me Run
Midnight Rambler (with Mick Taylor)
Miss You
Start Me Up
Tumbling Dice
Brown Sugar
Sympathy for the Devil

You Can't Always Get What You Want
Jumpin' Jack Flash

Friday, November 23, 2012

Mick Taylor and Bill Wyman to Join Rolling Stones in London

According to Classic Rock Magazine, former Rolling Stones Bill Wyman (bass) and Mick Taylor (guitar) will join the band as special guests when the Stones play this month at the O2 Arena on Sunday, November 25 and Thursday, November 29.

This is truly exciting news, because I love both of these guys' playing. Certainly the Mick Taylor era was the hands-down best era for the Stones. It will be interesting to see how he fits in all these years later.

Taylor's role was always to tastefully noodle throughout the band's repertoire live. They even gave him two solos in some songs, such as Love In Vain (video below).

I hope he gets to play at least a couple of songs per night.

By the way, I have DVR'd the HBO Stones bio Crossfire Hurricane and hope to check it out this weekend. I'll let you all know what I think.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Concert Review – Rush (Key Arena, Seattle)

Made the dreadful six-hour round trip from Portland to Seattle and back to see Rush yet again, on the 26th show of the band’s Clockwork Angels tour on Tuesday. Was it worth it? Hell yes. Hell yes it was. So here is my review, along with some photos I snapped.

By the way: SPOILER ALERT – if you don’t want to know what the band is playing on this tour, stop reading, because that is the main focus of this post: the setlist.

Rush live is so amazing that it’s challenging to write about their shows. It comes down to little things like, how was Geddy’s voice? How was the mix? How was Neil’s solo? They never suck live, never have a bad night that isn’t better than most every other band’s best performance. So seeing Rush live really comes down to the setlist – what the hell are they going to blow our minds with?

The last few tours have been great dives into the past. Certainly the 30th anniversary tour was a celebration of the band’s whole repertoire, and the Time Machine tour was as well, with the band playing all of Moving Pictures for the first time ever. But now it’s time to focus on the present, and the excellent new Rush CD Clockwork Angels. After all this tour is supposed to promote that album, so I expected a lot of CA songs. And I got that. But I got more. A lot more. 

Rush’s set list on this tour is really out there. I think this is a ballsy set list move on Rush’s part, for two reasons.

First of all, if you are a fan of 70s Rush, forget it – you got nothing except the encore of 2112. If you dig 90s Rush, same thing – you get The Pass and depending on the night, Bravado or Dreamline (more on this in a sec). If you dig 80s Rush and their new CD, you are in for a treat. The band this week played two songs from Signals, two from Grace Under Pressure, one from Hold Your Fire, and, brace yourself – four Power Windows songs (Big Money, Grand Designs, Territories, and Middletown Dreams). They add a fifth every other night - Manhattan Project.

So, the first set is another Time Machine tour, but back to the 80s. Second set is heavily the new album. The gems squeezed in between represent different eras, but Permanent Waves and Moving Pictures are notably absent, as is every album from the 70s for the most part!

OK, and then dig this: For the first time, the band is rotating numerous songs in and out of its setlist every other night. In the past there have been one or two tunes like Vital Signs that they have swapped in and out, but this move almost makes them seem like the Grateful Dead – on Rush’s terms of course!

Dig it: they have a list of about seven songs (Middletown Dreams, The Body Electric, The Pass, Bravado, Manhattan Project, and two songs from the new album – Seven Cities of Gold and Wish Them Well) that they are swapping out every night. So that’s interesting.

And a big change for Neil – he had two (three perhaps) drum solos. In the first set, he did a pretty solid, improvised run around the acoustic kit for a few minutes. Brilliant. Then in set two he did another solo, which was on his electric kit and more focused on triggering sounds and setting soundscapes. The ‘third solo’ was really a very extended drum break in the new song Headlong Flight that lasted about a minute. Very different and neat way to feature Neil without a seven minute spot.

So, here was the setlist:

Set 1:
The Big Money
Force 10
Grand Designs
Middletown Dreams
Analog Kid
The Pass
Where's My Thing (with drum solo)
Far Cry

Set 2:
Clockwork Angels
The Anarchist
The Wreckers
Headlong Flight (with drum solo)
Halo Effect (with guitar solo intro)
Wish Them Well
The Garden
The Percussor (drum solo)
Red Sector A
The Spirit of Radio

Tom Sawyer
2112 Overture/Temples of Syrinx/Grand Finale

Yep you read that right – set two starts with nine (9) new songs in a row. Hope you bought that new album! Most of the songs are great with two or three exceptions. But any way you cut it, after an 80s-fest of a first set, they are really asking their audience for a lot of patience. When the band finally got to the final four songs of the night starting with YYZ, the audience unleashed two hours of pent-up energy and the place went mad.

Still, the band understands that its loyal fan base is tired of the same songs over and over again. So they have rightly been varying it up over the last 10 years. This 80s focused set lit is a surprise, but one I dig. I got into Rush in the 80s and my first show was Grace Under Pressure. So to see more half of Power Windows live again was killer for me. Yeah I missed Red Barchetta, Stick It Out, Freewill, Limelight and The Trees. But I’ve seen those songs a lot. Glad to check out some fresh stuff!

The band was joined for the second set by a seven-piece string section who augmented the band nicely and probably freed up Geddy from playing more keyboards and triggering samples. I could take or leave it, but it was cool. When the strings left and it was just back to three guys, the energy took off.

The stage set was sweet as usual, and the videos before and after the sets were also funny as usual. The sum total though was that the band gets better every time I see them. Geddy’s voice was strong, especially on all of those high-assed 80s songs. The guys just had a ten-day rest, so I am sure that had something to do with it. This set list is more song-focsed so there were less Alex Lifeson freakout jams, and I did miss that a bit. But I have to say, once the started Analog Kid, I thought to myself – the drive is already worth it! Here are some snaps:

Friday, November 02, 2012

Film Review - Led Zeppelin Celebration Day

I am in a ‘guys book club.’ Here is the way it works – we rotate months, someone picks a theme and a book to go along with it. We don’t read the book and we gather at some place that matches the theme to have a night out. Great concept, huh? We’ve “read” The Killer Angels (paint ball), Rat Pack Confidential (Portland Supper Club crooner night), and Adult Paparazzi - Nude Bowling Issue (bowling – maybe a few of us looked at this book too).

My night was in October, so of course I suggested we all ‘read’ Hammer of the Gods and attend as our event, the one-night-only theater screening of the Led Zeppelin film “Celebration Day.”

For those of you unaware, this is a two-hour concert film that captures the sights, sounds and smells of Led Zeppelin in 2007 when the band reunited for its first full-length concert since 1980 and its third reunion including the atrocious Live Aid appearance and the slightly less than atrocious Atlantic Records 40th anniversary show.

In those latter mini-gigs, the band was woefully under-rehearsed and mainly Page was the weak link. I’ll never forget them getting totally lost in the middle of Kashmir (the song) in the Atlantic records set.

For this 2007 concert, they were incredibly polished, confident and kick ass. I thought the weak link would be Plant, but he sounded great, despite the fact that the band tuned a handful of songs to a lower key to accommodate his voice.

But from the opening chords of Good Times Bad Times, the 16-song set picks up speed like Felix Baumgartner from 125,000 feet (minus the spinning) and just really never stops.

The set list was perfect – a good mix of songs they “had to play” per Plant, such as Stairway, Dazed and Confused, Whole Lotta Love and Rock and Roll, and deep cuts like For Your Life, In My Time of Dying, Trampled Under Foot and Misty Mountain Hop.

The film was all concert – no backstage or backstory, and showed precious little of the audience. It was all about the band and the interplay between all of the musicians

Thankfully John Paul Jones gets as much screen time as Page and Plant (unlike most of the concert videos of Zeppelin), as he is the true secret weapon of that group. In this concert film, you get to see how much he really does in that band.

Jason Bonham did his homework and was fantastic. Page does not quite have his chops back to 70s level but he was impressive nonetheless. If this band had indeed toured, he would have risen to a sick level of playing. But he is clearly confident and digging playing these tunes with his old band again.

In fact there are a lot of smiles all around, nicely captured by the film crew. It’s a real joy to dig this classic band kick ass one last time.

Celebration Day comes out on November 19 in various DVD, CD and Blu Ray formats will extra goodies like footage from the rehearsals. But I have to say, just the two hour concert is worth it.

I found this official video of Kashmir from the film. All of my book club buddies agreed that this song in particular blew everyone away. See what you think:

Here is the full set list:

1. Good Times Bad Times
2. Ramble On
3. Black Dog
4. In My Time Of Dying
5. For Your Life
6. Trampled Under Foot
7. Nobody’s Fault But Mine
8. No Quarter
9. Since I’ve Been Loving You
10. Dazed And Confused
11. Stairway To Heaven
12. The Song Remains The Same
13. Misty Mountain Hop
14. Kashmir
15. Whole Lotta Love
16. Rock And Roll

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Stones Roll In Paris Club Gigs to Warm Up for 50th Anniversary

The Stones are starting to do surprise one-off club gigs in Europe as part of the band's 50th anniversary gear-up. They have done two shows so far – last night and last Thursday, both in Paris.

The set lists lean a little on the ‘classic’ side for me. I seriously never need to hear You Can’t Always Get What You Want live ever again. But some of the other tunes: All Down The Line, You Got Me Rocking, Tumblin’ Dice, Miss You, and the new Doom And Gloom are keepers. And I can never hear enough Midnight Rambler!

Recent word is that Bill Wyman and Mick Taylor may take part in the four large shows that are booked in London’s O2 Arena on November 25 and 26, and New Jersey’s Prudential Center on December 13 and 15. That would be very cool to see as long as they still have their chops!

I am not sure how much this short official video from the first club show last week has been doctored, but it sounds pretty good to me. Usually I don't like it so much when bands that are on the older side slow their tempos way down (for example, Yes), but this songs works a bit slower, I think! What do you think?