Portugal, The Man – Live at Variety Playhouse

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Obscure band, right?  With my son in tow, we arrived at the ticket office to find out that the show was sold out… “but they may release some tickets later.  You might want to go eat or something and try then.”  Within 5 minutes, 10 tickets were “released,” and we were in.  Really?  Sold out?  I’m hip and don’t even know it.

A thoughtful consideration is that with ticket prices at $15 in advance, the band smartly plays to a generation that craves quality live music but often finds it unaffordable.  Kudos.

The opening act, Alberta Cross, took the stage promptly at 8:30.  Beginning with a pounding beat by their drummer, the band quickly stepped into a continuing rock frenzy through their set.   Lead singer Petter Stakee has a high pitched voice similar to Neil Young, enhanced by My Morning Jacket type reverb effects.

A quick rerun of their videos reveals a bit different band from what I heard, much less amplified.  That said, I liked them both ways, and they’ll remain a band of interest, especially with a new CD arriving next year.

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After moving their kit off the stage, PTM’s stage was seen a little more clearly, with a somewhat whimsical look.  My son guessed correctly that the balls were internally lit, and, from a lighting standpoint, the show was different in that the stage remained very dim, as Variety’s house lights (which are ordinarily superb) were used sparingly in favor of a floor based system.

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The break also allowed the opportunity for the many who had not yet shown up to work their way to the seats and the standing area in front of the stage.  It was nice, for once, to clearly be on the elder side of the audience average age.  Most appeared to be in college or mid-20’s, with many couples.  Once again, how did they hear of this band?  Sure, PTM played at the Bonnaroo Music Festival twice… but whatever type of music PTM plays, I hadn’t really considered it to be “bring a date” music.  So, I’m not so hip after all.

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PTM is categorized sometimes as psychedelic rock.  I didn’t find that to be true, but they had a mix of progressive rock flavored keyboards, Beatles pop hooks, and indie flavor (interpreted: I don’t know). 

PTM took the stage and played with rarely a pause between songs in their hour and 45 minute or so set.  Disappointingly, this was also a rare occasion in that the opening act’s audio was superior to headliner.  What can you do?

An early surprise was the band’s take on The Beatles’ “Helter Skelter,” which was a rocking affair accompanied by a small blast of dry ice.

Wrong.

That actually would be the smoke from possibly illicit consumables from those standing in front of the stage.  And elsewhere.  In fact, towards the close of the show, they would reveal their hands with actual lighters, as opposed to the digital renditions on smart phones preferred by my age group.  Still, the band threw the old folks a bone with a cover of Mott the Hoople’s “All the Young Dudes” a short bit later.port3

The band played with energy, especially bassist Zachary Carothers, who appeared to love both the music and his profession.  It’s unusual for a bassist, even one who sings backup vocals, to have a fronting stage presence over a guitarist, but it was deserved. 

Keyboards and drums were always tasteful and, at times, very enjoyable, but the band’s role is basically to support lead singer/guitarist John Baldwin Gourley.  Gourley has a very high pitched voice, I believe altered at times through electronic effects.  It’s a bit tiring to me on record, but in concert sounded very good.  As an aside, Gourley should consider buying a guitar that doesn’t need tuning between every song, or even during a song, though it never interrupted the flow of his vocals or segues to the next songs.

PTM played a generous portion of their latest CD, In the Mountain in the Cloud, which were already crowd favorites as evidenced by many who sang along.  Overall, it was a departure for me as most shows I favor are guitar showcases of some type.  Though there is a lot going on instrumentally, this was more of an ensemble approach.  Still, a concert/quality time with my son or stay at home?  It was a very enjoyable evening that obviously pleased their many fans.

Photo of the crowd taken by drummer Jason Sechrist at the end of main set:

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Steve Hackett - Beyond the Shrouded Horizon

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On the heels of Hackett’s live CD capturing his 2010 tour, he’s released a new studio CD.  To be fair, I’ve set aside any fondness for the “old” Genesis days when evaluating this, his 20th or so solo release.

The CD begins with a sinister, earthly guitar growl, strangely augmented by a dramatic synth.  This is just the intro to a heavy beat, synth driven concoction of I’m not sure what to feature Hackett’s fine guitar work, which then yields to a Midlake toned Brit-folk vocals that sing of Loch Lomond.  It’s a winning tone, and it’s somewhat disappointing that this tone was used throughout the CD.  Add a military snare, and the song changes direction, again, into a rollicking electric guitar solo… with an entirely different vocal treatment to keep it all together. 

Or does it?

In the hour or so of music provided, Hackett includes so many disparate elements, generally desired in “prog rock,” that it seems more of a “throw everything at it and see what sticks” approach.

“The Phoenix Flown” is a beautiful instrumental piece with, of course, a blazing guitar solo, that serves as much as a postlude to the opening “Loch Lomend” than a stand-alone song.  But it’s a good one. 

From the electric ear candy, we move to short acoustic guitar intro, entitled “Wanderlust,” to a fairly emotive “Til These Eyes,” sung by Hackett in a Greg Lake tone.  It succeeds, in part, due to its simplicity.  Surprisingly, guitar pyrotechnics are absent.

“Prairie Angel” captures Hackett’s beautiful slide guitar with a gorgeous melody, which strangely devolves into a pedestrian rock riff that annoys before it finally segues into “A Place Called Freedom.”  Other than the heavy-handed effects-enhanced refrain, this is a beautiful piece, which reclaims the murdered slide melody from “Prairie Angel.”   As a bonus, an enthusiastic, McCartney/Fireman “Sing the Changes” vocal section is a nice touch.

“Between the Sunset and the Coconut Palms” refrains from prog-rock overindulgence, and for that matter, Hackett’s fiery solos.  It’s a pretty song, and, though not filler, per se, it is certainly sleepier than most.

“Waking to Life” begins with a sitar, which, while very much a George Harrison fan, makes a sound that generally causes me to cringe.  Layer on top of that a female voice doctored to fit the Indian tone, and I can’t help but hear, oddly, a dance era Madonna.  It’s interesting.  But… 

While in the East, why not skip a few time zones to “Two Faces of Cairo.”  This song takes a bit too long (1:20) before it starts to take form.  Then it takes another 20 seconds before it gets to the guitar solo.  Inspiration from exotic locales I understand.  Great solo, as usual. But the song withers away like a desert mirage.  And, given the arid environment, the solo dissipates as well, leaving one thirsty for something more substantial.

Next is “Looking for Fantasy.”  A classical styled plodder.  Up next is “Summer’s Breath,” an acoustic intro…  Say, why can’t intros be part of the main song?  Just

 

asking.  … to “Catwalk.”  As it’s name might suggest, this is a rocker, think 80s era Robin Trower… tolerable riff, irrelevant lyrics and well intended vocal passion

 

that are placeholders until the guitar beast is finally released.

The CD closes with “Turn This Island Earth,” a 12 minute prog-opera of sorts, in that every dart was thrown at the board.  Some of it sticks… and some of it loses interest (tired riffs, orchestral sections).  It’s worth a listen, at least, and it’s likely to be regarded as the next “big thing” by Hackett fans. 

The next big thing for me, actually, is found on the bonus CD.  Unburdened by prog-rock tendencies, the “Four Winds” pseudo-suite are efficient and very enjoyable presentations of four guitar styles.  My favorite is “East,” as the tune brings a sense of humor.   The other cuts are entertaining, but the most enjoyable is Hackett’s cover of Jan Akkerman/Focus’ “Eruption,” which displays his mastery of control of guitar tone and technique.

Overall, Hackett fans should like this CD.  I like this CD.  But despite what seems to be a lot of effort, the disparate parts rarely build to an enjoyable whole.  None of the songs beg to be heard repeatedly, though many are enjoyable for guitar enthusiasts.

Recommended Songs: “Loch Lomond,” “The Phoenix Flown,” “A Place Called Freedom,” “Four Winds,” “Eruption: Tommy”

3 of 5 STARS

 

 

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Steve Hackett – Live Rails

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I’ve been an occasional listener of Steve Hackett’s solo albums over the last… 30 years?  Time flies.  Hackett was the lead guitarist for Genesis from 1970 through 1977.  I’ve always been a fan of progressive rock, and Genesis continues to appeal to me today due, in part, to Hackett’s great solos.

Live Rails offered a chance to sample Hackett as he plays today, while at the same time serving as a sampler for much of his solo work through the years.  Summary: Despite some awesome guitar solos, this set did Steve Hackett Live Rails Album Covernothing to move my appreciation of his work beyond his Genesis days – not that I wouldn’t love to see him in concert.  It’s just that the songs aren’t as good.

The CD begins with “Every Day,” burdened with a pedestrian riff that finally yields past uninteresting vocals to, as expected, an ear candy guitar solo.  This is a recurring observation throughout the double CD.  Sure, he’s keeping current with Vai/Satriani pyrotechnics (“Tubehead”), and it sounds like he’s even included a bit of Steve Morse.  Challenges and growth are good, and it makes for a great show.

But his solo songs lack the extra melodic sense that was brought by Genesis’ keyboardist Tony Banks, never mind the musical transitions required for featuring each.  Hackett only contributed to two CDs after Peter Gabriel left the band, and one can only wonder how well the band and he would have benefited in the era beyond Gabriel’s nonsensical lyrics.

For what it is, though, it’s well executed.  The inclusion of a saxophone as a pseudo replacement to Tony Banks works very well, both in cover songs and his originals (“Serpentine,” “Sleepers,” “Firth of Fifth”).

The vocals by committee highlight that none can carry a full set, but they’re basically placeholders in the song structures anyway.  “Still Waters” is a success, and they’re never bad.  The only real detriment to the music is Gary O’Toole’s drums, a pounding influence to be sure, but as unimaginative as you’ll find in progressive rock music.  His frenetic drum solo in “Clocks” fares well when measured in calories, but it never gains a bit of interest musically, which is a particularly poor way to end a concert.

Overall, it’s a great CD for fans of Hackett and for those who hang on every guitar note.

Recommended Songs: “Firth of Fifth” (always…), “Still Waters,” “Serpentine”

3 of 5 STARS

 

 

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2011 USMC Fall Mud Run

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I have a friend who had completed the “mud run” a couple of times.  I had seen a few pictures, and assumed it was a bunch of sloshing around in the mud for a charity.

Interesting, but…

Then another friend had a friend who had competed in a similar commercial event called a Warrior Dash.  It was about this time that I realized that the USMC Mud Run was more than I thought it was, and it piqued my interest.

Am I too old? Well, no.  Is my body too beat up?  No, actually.  Am I physically a couch potato?  Well, no.  I’m a computer chair potato, but I grow where I’m planted.  What the heck, why not?

Hello gym. Actually, I was already going to the gym when I decided to do this, but the fear of failure is a great motivator.  For six months, I went 4-5 times per week, which beget:

  • A loss of almost 20 lbs, without changing my diet.
  • 1.5” smaller neck size.
  • 2.5” smaller waist size.
  • 20% strength improvement
  • 5.2 miles of mostly running, courtesy of iPhone’s “Couch to 10k” App, an unforgiving trainer.
  • 5.2 miles of being able to breathe
  • 5.2 miles with a heart rate that doesn’t scare me.
  • Flexibility courtesy of yoga that I haven’t had in 20 years.

Consider, I’ve never run for more than a mile in my life… and maybe run a mile twice.

Finally, all the training and self questioning gave way to the turning of the calendar, and the USMC Mud Run finally arrived.

So, joining my friends, the Wilsons, as a team, we set off at 7:45 in the morning to face whatever came.  Amongst 2291 other teams, did we win?  No, not close.  But each of us, for various reasons, had already won when we first arrived. 

Below is a photo journal that features only a few of the obstacles/challenges along the course length.  Click the magazine, and it will expand to full screen.  Click a page once it’s opened, and it will zoom.  You’ll figure it out.

There were certainly scratches, bruises, sore muscles and the like, and they’ll all heal in time.  Rather amazingly, my favorite pair of old sneakers survived as well.

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I read the news today, oh boy!

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… from “A Day in the Life,” (Lennon/McCartney) one of the few Beatles’ songs where joint songwriting credit truthfully belonged.  

I’ve generally ignored the news for blog content, but sometimes…  in the absence of anything better to say, yeah.  Why not?

So, in the news…

Hank Williams, Jr. got booted from his Monday Night Football gig for comparing Obama to Hitler (Sure, this the condensed version, but after checking the facts, this remains an efficient summary, as much as he may disagree).  I’m all for free speech, and I’m also for the accountability that goes with it. 

The larger point that our erstwhile country singer was trying to make (but didn’t), is that Obama and the “left” are socialists.  Happily, Hank got his thoughts in order and produced a much more coherent… argument?  No.  Documented proof?  No.  An essay comparing and contrasting the liberal agenda with socialism?  Alas, no.  But he did filter his thoughts into a “Keep the Change,” a spiffy bumper sticker of a song, available for free from his website.  The chorus:

This country's sure as hell been goin' down the drain
We know what we need
We know who to blame
United Socialist States of America
How do you like that name?
I'll keep the USA and y'all can keep the change

In related news, hundreds and thousands of people have taken to the streets to protest Big Bank bailouts (maybe), Wall Street incomes (maybe), and making the “rich” pay their fare share (definitely).  They’re even in Atlanta, violating ordnances against overnight camping parks… yada yada yada.  Civil obedience obviously isn’t required when a point is trying to be made by people who are coddled, encouraged, and otherwise blessed by the media to be “in the right.”

As a solid middle class person, I don’t want to pay more taxes, but I’m more bothered by the 50% of citizens who pay NO federal tax than I am the 1% who have to pay 40% of it.  And the half who don’t pay get to have a say on tax policy?   Sorry, but I don’t see any sense of unfairness if only taxpayers were allowed to vote.  I know, unconstitutional.  Half votes then? In any case, the fair tax is as American as Apple pie.

In still other news…

I read today about Germany’s dissatisfaction with being saddled with 25% of the European Union’s loans/debt to Greece and Italy.  The same article mentioned that (*cough cough*)  one of three (1 of 3) workers in Greece is employed by the government.  And, of course, all the workers are up in arms about reductions in government benefits because, well, because, the politicians gave away far more than they ever had the resources for.  But I’m sure they got re-elected.

And, in other news back home…

Our wonderful Debt Super Committee evenly split between Democrats and Republicans who are tasked with trimming $1.2 trillion in deficit savings over the next 10 years is in a deadlock.  Sucks to be them, all stalemated like that.  It’s hard to imagine nothing getting done in Congress, but there it is.  For a change, the ratings agencies are waiting.  It should make for interesting theater, even if at my own country’s expense.

The benefits are the problem.  With 43% of the Federal Budget going to Social Security, Medicare & Medicaid, it’s hard to ignore “social spending.”

Some say we should cut the Defense Dept and the ever present but difficult to define “government waste.”  Of all the things that the Government does, I happen to think that the Armed Forces is a primary responsibility, greater than a system of justice, commerce, health, etc.  Those could be handled at local levels, if necessary.  You can quibble over an air-craft carrier vs. more tactical approaches to modern (terrorist) combat, but I have a sneaky feeling that international “demands” for natural resources, like oil, food, and, oh, rare metals, will prevail upon us on a larger scale in the future, and readiness for warfare means more than smart bombing the side of a mountain.

I know.  Gloomy.

Managing discretionary spending, though, is only the task at hand.  It’s not the cause of our budget woes.  Instead, I’ll blame a few generations of politicians.  No, I won’t take the easy road and harp their ability to get reelected by spending money which isn’t theirs and for which they truthfully have never been held accountable.  No, I won’t make that point.

Instead, I’ll point towards the reimaging of the average US Citizen.  Hank Williams, Jr. may not be the best spokesperson, but his catchy song gets much right.  I know people who came to the U.S. with nothing (or their parents), and built lives for themselves.  In each case, they didn’t come with expectations except the opportunity to provide for themselves.

But we as a society were not content to let charity sustain the unfortunate.  Instead, we turned to government as a more reliable provider for the needy.  I think that’s wrong.  I’m certainly not a Republican, because I think both parties have proven incapable of leading, having built and sustained a system where decisions get made for all the wrong reasons (cash).  But, I really do like the Constitution, and I frequently reflect on the wording “promote the social welfare.”  I think that’s great.  But it has a distinctly different meaning from “provide the social welfare.”  The result?  Too many forget about “equal opportunities” and demand “equal results” if they don’t get theirs…

Regardless of whatever good intentions turned the government into our keeper for health and retirement, it’s an entirely misplaced responsibility.  Self reliance used to be a trait for the American citizen, and it still is for some.

The others?  They have time to protest Wall Street payrolls.   Of course they’re jealous of the very large pay and bonuses that go to many corporate executives.  High pay used to be inspiration for advancement.  Now, thanks to the terminology thrown into almost every political budget discussion, the argument that “the rich must pay their fair share” has transitioned from an expected TV sound bite to a belief system that class warfare should be considered more practically than just for winning votes.

With 10% unemployment and another 5% (at least) having given up on finding work, I can’t help but wonder how much of the “jobless benefits” are a governmental payoff to stabilize society.  If not for government checks, how many would turn to looting, rioting, or even murder?  Some number, certainly.

I don’t have great expectations for a “Recovery.”  Sure, stocks can rebound and profits can be made, but the only manufacturing that has to be done in the US is for the construction of homes and other properties.  Hmm, 5 year supply of available homes, eh?  Without new homes, there’s reduced demand for everything that goes in them, from appliances to lamps to carpeting to, heck, art for the walls.

There is a world economy, and while the rest of the world’s standard of living may be on the increase, it’s unrealistic to expect that America’s can hold the line.  that’s an untimely message for today’s youth, who expected more.  The political jargon of “making tough decisions today so that our grandchildren don’t have to pick up the tab” was prophetic, but unheeded.  And, the context that was always implied was an additional tax bill.  That still lingers, but the collapse of jobs and available wages is the more immediate result of many poor decisions, by politicians and capitalists alike.  Dave Ramsey’s popular message of living within one’s means isn’t a tonic for the troubled; it’s a message with which every person, business, and government entity will have to come to terms, now.

So what is the greater likelihood?  That a visionary leader will emerge (and be elected) on the political scene or that the wannabe Bolsheviks camping on our streets will someday swell to an unruly critical mass?  It’s a bet I don’t want to take, because I’d fear winning it.

Below is a fine example of a young American that believes that the government should take from other citizens to so that he can benefit from the fruit of their labor.  And ask yourself, what is the definition of theft? 

 

“I do think, at a certain point, you’ve made enough money.”
-
President Barack Obama

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You close your eyes at night and see… what?

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And now… for that moment you’ve all been waiting for.  An “off the wall” post.

I have been blessed with the ability to fall asleep quickly at night. An environment with as little light as possible, a fan for both noise and a slight breeze, and a cool room are optimal, I’ve found. But, it hasn’t always been that way.

Many years ago, no doubt with my mind racing about something, I decided to forego counting sheep (which I suppose I could, but first, I’d have to imagine sheep, and why would I want to do that?) and instead focus on all five senses at once. It’s quite easy to focus on two senses – for example, what we see and hear, but pulling in what you feel, what you smell, and what you taste, all at the same instance, is a challenge. And one that reliably puts me to sleep when I have difficulty otherwise. Let’s take these one by one.

Smell: At it’s best, I’m smelling a pillowcase freshly scented of Odeur de Bounce. At worst, eh, nothing special.

Taste: Colgate… which is made in Mexico which reminds me I ought to try Crest, made in the USA.

Hearing: There’s the soothing noise from the fan, and, at times, the less soothing sound of our elder dog chasing sheep in dreamland.  Oh, plus the ringing chimes of tinnitus.

Feel: This is an interesting one, again while fixating on the other senses, but to be aware of each part of the body. Invariably, I find a wrinkle in the sheet or a joint that is not in a relaxing position and make the adjustment. It helps.

Vision: Blackness, right? Well, no.

At times, there are these light shows, sometimes even extraordinary light shows. Lava Lamp Glowing Green Clip ArtIt’s sort of a lava lamp movement of colors and shapes, usually beginning with purples but including other colors also, separately or all at once. Sometimes they all move together, sometimes they move independently… sometimes, I can even control how they move or, weirder, desire a certain color change or shape, and it happens. It’s just neat. This usually don’t last too long because… I fall asleep. I’m not complaining, because that’s the whole point of the exercise.

There is some similarity to seeing stars when I stand up too quickly, but without the disorienting “whoa” factor. Likewise, if I squeeze my eyes, I can certainly force some “action” into my closed eyes. But it quickly fades.

“Seeing colors when my eyes are closed.” Help me, Sir Google.

Lions and tigers and bears! Oh, my!

Chakras? Hmm. Really? Click on link. Read. Back. Click another. Read. Hmm. How about purple light? Associated with the crown chakra?

“The fact that the purple chakra color is so high in the frequency manifests as the closest to the Divine. To God if you like. This is the chakra that helps you to connect with the Godhead, Be that Yahweh, Buddha, Shiva...whomever, it is a connection with the creator and the energies of the universe, with the divine.”

Oh, my! Indeed. I was just trying to connect with Mr. Sandman.

Green. Sure, I like green. “… is a healing color aura.” Elsewhere, “represents healing of the mystic masters.” When I think of green, I think of the color of money, and as I’m not desperate for a physical manifestation of “the spiritual” or “the mystic” in my life, I can’t help but think that underlying these sentiments are people either in great need or some savvy folks who appreciate my more worldly association of green.

Next.

Lucid dreaming. Cool term. It makes me think of “Silent Lucidity,” the best song that Pink Floyd never wrote (Queensryche). But… no. I’m not actually dreaming.

Next.

Hynagogic imagery. Hmm. “… the state between wakefulness and sleep.” To include hallucinations. That’s comforting. Other related terms: “dreamlets”, the “borderland state,” “half-dream state,” “pre-dream condition,” and, my favorite, “phantasmata.” Creepy cool. But, no. Really, I just see some cool spots, blobs, and/or shapes of color. Sometimes.

Next!

Closed eye hallucinations or closed eye visualizations. Sounds close. But wait, they’re a subclass of hallucinations. Sounds like I’m a bit “out there.” As I tread along the path of delirium tremens, sleep deprivation, psychosis(!) and neurological disorders, they throw some terms together and come up with “hypnagogic hallucinations.” Sigh. At least they’re considered normal phenomena.

Next.

Phospenes. Like the gas? No, that’s “Phosgene.” Phosphenes are visual effects “characterized by the experience of seeing light without light actually entering the eye.” I can live with that. They’re introduced by mechanical (pushing against the eye), electrical (continual stimulation after the fact), or magnetic stimulation of the retina or visual cortex.

Well, I don’t rub my eyes before bed, but I have to give some consideration to electrical causes. I’m certain I can blow a fuse or two, and random firing of the cells sounds a bit like me. Magnetic? Well, the season of the electric blanket is almost upon me. I’ll have to give that consideration if the inward lights start to shine more frequently.

Meditation is also listed as a source. I’ve always wondered what people “meditate” about. If this is it, I’m kind of disappointed.

What’s the point of all this? They’re really cool to watch. Obviously, I have too much time on my hands, but I wonder how much more I would know if I had Google when I was a kid. I mean, in this short journey I adventured on further links about the demise of the French frigate Méduse and about Mauritania, a West Africa country that boasts the largest city in the Sahara.

 

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Wilco – Live at Cobb Energy Centre

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This was my first visit to the Cobb Energy Centre, a newer venue in the Atlanta area designed more for classical performances than rock music.  Arriving early, my concert buddy and I headed to the different levels to check the views.  This is a very nice facility, with excellent sight lines.

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Our seats were directly behind the soundboard,” meaning that the acoustics were for all intensive purposes trained for our ears.  We spoke briefly with the technician, who has mixed the sound for Wilco for 15 years, longer than most of the members have been a part of the band. 

The opener was Nick Lowe, a British artist who was a member of Brinsley Schwarz and Rockpile before releasing a number of solo IMG_5464albums over the last 30 years.  He took the stage at 8:15, launching into a breezy set of solo acoustic songs, only a couple of which were familiar to me.  He has a warm, soulful voice, sort of like Roy Orbison without the distinctiveness.  He chatted more with the audience between one song than most artists do in their entire performance… much appreciated.

Songs included his major hit, “Cruel to be Kind,” as well as “Ragin’ Eyes,” “I Live on a Battlefield,” “(What’s so Funny ‘Bout) Peace Love and Understanding,” “When I Write the Book,” “All Men are Liars,”  plus others as well as a song from his new release The Old Magic, the topical “House for Sale.”  He closed with a cover of Johnny Cash’s “The Beast in Me,” an excellent but curiously dark choice.  Still, it was a captivating performance, as evidenced by the all but complete quiet of the audience.  There was none of the usual murmur during an opening act.   Well done.

Among staging backdrops, Wilco’s was definitely unique.  At a glance, it appeared that a  Halloween flavor was intended, with small ghosts suspended from the ceiling and scarecrows to the side.  I’ve learned to never underestimate light shows, and these made for an interesting background with spotlights, bulbs set inside some of the “ghosts,” and projected patterns/colors also.

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Wilco took the stage fairly quietly, launching into the closing song from their new CD, Whole Love.  The song, “One Sunday Morning,” has a propelling guitar hook that moves the song along… whether it’s hypnotic or repetitive is up to the listener, but lead guitarist Nels Cline has a way of keeping things interesting.  Wilco would ultimately play 9 of the 12 songs from this CD, released just this past Tuesday.  “Art of Almost” followed, a Radiohead influenced departure from the band’s “normal” (they’re always quirky) sound. 

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I’m not sure if the playing three new songs up front diminished the crowd enthusiasm or whether the ambience a “performing arts theater” has a muting effect.  I think it was the latter, as the acoustics were splendid – to the point where lead singer Jeff Tweedy’s acoustic guitar could be heard as easily as Cline’s crazy electric solos.

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This was my first Wilco concert, and I’m a casual fan.  I like some of what they do, but they have the habit of taking a good song and upsetting it musically in jarring or abrasive fashion.  They have been termed “alt-country,” but the band is clearly a rock band today, one not afraid to use pedal steel here and there. 

The performance itself was not particularly energetic as rock shows go.  It leaned towards a musical performance, suitable for the setting.  Aside from Cline bending and swaying with his guitar, the concert was visually static… until keyboardist/guitarist Pat Sansone struck multiple cloying guitar hero poses at the concert’s end (his parents were in the audience… I’d guess it was for them).

All things considered, it was a very good show – an enjoyable evening in a great venue that let a band be heard as they should.

4 of 5 STARS

 

 

Set list:

One Sunday Morning
Art of AlmostIMG_5475
I Might
Muzzle of Bees
I am Trying to Break Your Heart
One Wing
At Least That’s What You Said
Capitol City
Misunderstood
Jesus, Etc.
Born Alone
Box Full of Letters
War on War
Standing O
Rising Red Lung
Impossible Germany
Dawned on Me
A Shot in the Arm

Encore:

Whole Love
California Stars
Hate it Here
Walken
Red-Eyed and Blue
I Got You (At the End of the Century)
Outtasite (Outta Mind)

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