Tuesday, March 15, 2011



Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Lady Gaga's "The Monster Ball" tour in Las Vegas, 07/13/2010

Like her, or hate her, she is probably the hottest star in the world, right now.
I saw her "Monster Ball" tour in Las Vegas, this last Friday night.
This show was as much visual, as it was musical. She had an elaborate stage, complete with a large fame monster. This large stage prop tried to attack her during the song "PAPARAZZI". She changed outfits many times in the nearly two hours she played.
The show was opened by a group called SEMI PRECIOUS WEAPONS.
They, music wise, seemed kind of a mismatch for Gaga's style of music.
The singer though, seemed like he may be as much of a statement for the LGBT crowd, than for his musical prowess. Lady did not take the stage until nearly 45 minutes until after the opening act ended, The crowd seemed very non-confrontational, and mellow.
Besides being musical, and visual, Lady Gaga tried to put out a message. The message was to try to be comfortable with who you are, no matter what is wrong with you, and whatever way you might be sexually oriented.
She played many familiar tunes, if you listen to pop music, today. She did nearly every song you wanted her to play. The stage was very glitzy, and she had probably 10-15 back up dancers.
So, why was this not my favorite show of the year?
Despite her enormous talent, I felt she pandered too much. She spent more time trying to get the crowd to see how cool she is, than letting it be just about music.
The whole show, though brilliant in many ways, seemed like a young girl who just wanted people to like her. Her outrageous costumes, her nearly half-naked outfits, just, screamed I need to see A PSYCHIATRIST, and be analyzed.
Maybe part of Gaga's appeal is that she is a young girl, searching for connection, and she is getting it from nearly 20,000 or more fans, every night.
Time will tell, if she is more flash, than substance. There definitely is some substance there.
I am glad I got to see this show, for the fact that she is THE MOST TALKED ABOUT PERSON in the music industry, right now.
That being said, this is not an artist I, personally, would care to see again.
All in all, well worth the money of an admission, though.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Adam Lambert, Seattle, WA. 07/20/10

If you watched American Idol in season 8, you may remember Adam Lambert. Adam Lambert finished as a runner-up that year. He had dark hair, and wore eyeliner. It later came out that he was homosexual, and though none will admit it, his homosexuality may have been what cost him the coveted title. This being said, Adam Lambert SHOULD have won. He was beaten by Kris Allen. Kris Allen had a nice singing voice,and did some cool, different, arrangements of familiar songs that year, but an American Idol winner? Had America lost it's collective mind?

Adam kicked off his first headlining tour, aptly titled the "Glam Nation" tour, on June 4th, in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. It made Seattle on Tuesday, July 20th. I was fortunate enough to get to participate in a lunchtime meet and greet with the local radio station I listen to. We had catered lunch, got to see him do an interview with the local DJ's, then we all got pictures and signed discs. As there were only 5 other winners, and their guests, it was very intimate, and informal. That evening, it was off to see him at The Showbox Sodo. His show was opened by Allison Iraheta, the 4th place finisher from Idol, also from season 8. She is an 18 year old rock belter. Her set was entertaining, but nothing special. She got the crowd into it, when she did a fun version of Pat Benatar's "Heartbreaker".

Out comes Adam, shortly after. His stage is not elaborate, but there are various pictures of him all over the back curtains, in various poses. He comes out in a glittery outfit, and a top hat, that looks like something a ringmaster from Hell would wear. I actually expected many costume changes, knowing that many consider him nearly as much of a style icon, as a singer. Though there were a couple, not nearly what I thought there'd be. He performed selections from his current disc "For Your Entertainment". This music translated better for me, live. Songs I didn't care for, on the disc, were given new life as songs that were actually fun, and great concert songs .He had back up dancers with him on stage, and I really felt like I was seeing something theatrical, and special. He did interesting versions of Johnny Cash's "Ring of Fire" and Led Zeppelin's "Whole Lotta Love", in addition to his own stuff.

What made his show great for me, though, is the same thing that makes him great. That is, his amazingly theatrical singing voice, his bravado, and his "Except me, this is the way I am" attitude. He is truly a chocolate swirl, in a pool of vanilla. He would not be the performer he is, and have gained the following he has, if he was just like everyone else.

The Showbox Sodo, where the capacity is around 1500, was sold out months in advance for this show. After seeing the show, I can see why....One of my friends commented, when I said I was attending Adam Lambert's show, that I should take my bubble gum with me.

Honey, this show might have been a lot of things, but bubble gum IT WAS NOT!

If you are interested in seeing Adam live, for yourself, he will be back in the area, playing the Puyallup Fair, with guitar phenom, Orianthi, on Tuesday, September 21st. I dare say, I don't think you would be disappointed, and you may even come away thinking "I saw someone on his way to greatness."

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Lilith Fair in Ridgefield, WA

In case many of you aren't aware of what Lilith Fair is, I'll use the wikipedia definition: a concert tour and traveling music festival, founded by Canadian musician Sarah McLachlan, Nettwerk Music Group's Dan Fraser and Terry McBride, and New York talent agent Marty Diamond, which took place during the summers of 1997 to 1999. Its website says that it will return in 2010. It consisted solely of female solo artists and female-led bands. In its 3 years, Lilith Fair raised over $10M for women's charities throughout North America.
Well, this year, it's back, and bigger and better than ever. As many of you know, I have a real weakness for female singers, to begin with, so a festival like this, is right up my alley.
Yesterday's festival in Ridgefield, WA. (20 MINUTES FROM PORTLAND, OREGON, AND CONSIDERED THE OREGON STOP) was nothing short of spectacular. The first act I saw was Marie Digby. She looks like her name should be Marie, as in Osmond, but it is actually pronounced MAR-E-A. She gained some notoriety doing a white bred cover of the Rihanna song, "Umbrella" and became a YOUTUBE sensation. It was early in the day when she played, and she played on what they called a second stage. The second stage was a tiny stage set up on the grounds, away from the main stage. Marie was less than spectacular, but the big smile she had on her face, made it seem like she enjoyed what she was doing.

Keep in mind, main stage acts didn't come on until nearly 6:00 pm, so I stuck around the second stage, and watched the second act, Grace Potter and the Nocturnals. I guess they have been around awhile, but I had never heard of them until the last couple of years, when a friend said I'd really like them. Like them, I did. Grace, to begin with, is an attractive blonde, that can rock with the best of them. she played a piano, or a flying V guitar, for most of her set. I really liked their set, but what cinched liking them for me was this insane rocked out version of Blondie's "Heart of Glass".

The next act I saw, also on the second stage, was "A Fine Frenzy". I've been privileged to have seen them 4 times before. They are considered "alternative" as to what their genre is, but personally, I think they just aren't sure where else to put them. Alison Sudol, their singer, is a wonderful vocalist with a soft voice, an excellent piano player, and has even dabbled with a bit of guitar. Their debut album "One Cell In The Sea" sold over 300,000 copies. Alison is fun to watch. She has bright red hair, and an easy smile. She was only allowed 30 minutes to play, and mostly covered her latest disc, "Bomb in a Birdcage", with the exception of the song, "Almost Lover" from her first disc, a fan favorite. It was a true testament to this group, that there were so many people there watching them, as it was raining sideways in a non-covered area, when they played.
Unfortunately, I missed most of Colbie Caillat, and Erykah Badu, as I was waiting to speak with Alison, so I'm not really able to say much about either of them. As both of their sets were short, there just wasn't any extra time.
In fine fashion, I was able to find a single front row ticket for the mainstage that's face value cost was $293 out of Ticketmaster for $72 and $30 for overnight shipping..
Sheryl Crow was the first act that I saw on the mainstage. I first saw Sheryl 15 or so years ago, and have always enjoyed, what I consider to be a mostly upbeat sound. She was fun, and did a great set, with the possible exception of trying to do the most cliched song in the book, Led Zeppelin's "Rock and Roll". For me, she was a little out of her element with that one.
Next mainstage group, was the country group, Sugarland. I was NOT a fan. What I knew best by them was them adding to the Bon Jovi song "Who Says You Can't Go Home". Jennifer Nettles voice, in my opinion, is a bit too twangy for my taste, if I was going to sit down, and listen to their recordings.
That being said, their LIVE performance completely BLEW ME AWAY. They were energetic, they made good use of the stage, and had the crowd COMPLETELY eating out of the palms of their collective hands. I will say, after that performance, I've become a fan of theirs.
The last performer was Lilith Fair organizer, Sarah McLachlan. Sarah has just recently put out her newest studio work, other than her Christmas album, for the first time in many years. To me, Sarah has a beautiful voice, but her stage performance seemed stiff, and uninteresting. Part of this may be attributed to the fact that there was someone there filming her performance, and she may have been asked to stay in a certain area of the stage, I don't know. She would not be a performer I would need to see again.
The Finale was ABSOLUTELY spectacular! Every woman that had participated in the show that day, came onto stage, and did a cover of "Because The Night" a song written by Bruce Springsteen, and supposedly The Patti Smith group. (YEAH, RIGHT!) in 1978.
All in all, for me, it was an excellent concert, despite finding the staff at The Sleep Country Amphitheatre, to be a bunch of people that didn't know what they were talking about. That is another story, though.
photos from the show will  be added later.......

Friday, June 11, 2010

Things (and people) are not always what they seem....

As I wanted to keep this blog new and fresh with thoughts on shows I've recently seen, the Seattle area is in kind of a lull for shows, lately. With the big show of the year, the U2/The Fray show, being put off until probably next summer, I really don't have anything people probably want to hear about for at least, another couple weeks.

This being said, I'm going to tell a story of things (and people) not always being what they seem. Back in the 80's, after high school, I got to know a man named Marc Kramer. At the time, I thought Marc was a real stand up kind of guy. Marc ran one of the ticket outlets in our state, pre Ticketmaster. As I went to a lot of concerts, I got to know Marc pretty well. When people asked how I ended up with such amazing tickets to shows back then, it was Marc Kramer. Marc had an idea, you see. One that, I'm sure, must've made him A LOT of money, and would have probably been extremely against the law, if guidelines had been set in to motion, at that time. If you were a regular concert goer, who spent a decent amount of money with him, Marc would set up an account for you with his office. You were able to upgrade your standing with Marc by buying more tickets to more shows. The more seats you purchased with Marc, the better seats he would pull you for the next show, too. I was just the kind of person that was probably his PRIME demographic for what he wanted to do, and right up until the end, always had a few hundred dollars in my account with him. I would get weekly phone calls from Marc saying "Ned, Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band are coming to the Tacoma Dome, and tickets are going on sale this weekend." "I would say, "Pull me some tickets, Marc" and I had them without even having to wait in line, as Marc would have the money to pay for them with money I had in my account with him. It was as simple as that! As I got smarter, I realized even if I didn't like the act, it would help me to find people that wanted to see the show, because I would be getting people tickets to shows, and improving my rating on where my next set of tickets would be. ALONG comes another act I really didn't care if I saw, at that point in time. Prince and The Revolution on the "Purple Rain" tour. I had seen the movie, thought it had some pretty cool songs, but his persona back then, was nothing I cared to see live, or so I thought. The seats came back from Marc, and they were second row, dead center on the floor. The girls in community college were literally having a war over who was going to be my date. I went to the concert, with a lady friend from community college, and we had a great time, I actually thought I was going to be the guy that Sheila E. stripped onstage, and I came away with a whole new appreciation for Prince, both as a talented songwriter, and an excellent showman. (Not as he seemed like he would have been to me, at the time.) Marc ended up doing a lot of really cool things for me, including asking if I wouldn't mind delivering some tickets for him. He wanted me to go up to BC PLACE, in Vancouver, Canada, and drop off 16 tickets to Michael and the Jacksons "Victory' tour, and for doing this he would give me 2 free tickets, and transportation up in a motor home with some of his BIG SPENDER clients. I said, "Why me?" He said, "Because I can trust you, Ned." So yes, because of Marc, I got to see Michael Jackson, in all of his moonwalking glory, with his brothers. Marc tried to open a new ticket office, and do it on funds people like me had invested into our accounts, but it never ended up happening. For the first time, since I started up with him, I only had $20 in my account, at that time, which I lost. Several people were swindled, Marc's new office never opened, and Ticketmaster came into being, shortly after that. They instituted guidelines after several antitrust issues. I never heard from Marc again, and it showed me that things(and people) aren't always as they seem ......So, for those of you that have asked how I got such great seats back in the day, that was how. Thanks for reading, hope you found it interesting.

Monday, June 7, 2010

KISS-My first show, and a good place to start.....

My very first experience with concerts, I saw the group KISS on the Dynasty tour in 1979. It happened the night before Thanksgiving, and my grandmother in Eastern Washington was not very happy that we were not going to do Thanksgiving Dinner with her, because her 14 year old grandson was going to his first rock concert.
I went with my best friend, Kentt, and our mothers took us. I posted the "I  Was Made For Loving You" video, because that was the tour. This was KISS toward the end of their heyday, but to a couple of fourteen year olds, it was about as cool as it could get.
There were Pyrotechnics like I'd never seen before, or since, for that matter. There was an elevated drum set that rose nearly to the top of the Seattle Coliseum, Gene Simmons, in all his blood spitting glory, the boys in their crazy costumes. WOW! They were cool! They weren't just about the music, but about putting on a high energy production. To me, it was nothing short of SPECTACULAR! I thought ALL concerts would be like that, after.
KISS still has a special place with me, even after all these years. There is nothing like your first, right?
My second concert wasn't until nearly 9 months later, but even back then, I knew that there would be many more concerts in my future. Besides, after mom had seen KISS, and had joints passed around to her, she wasn't too thrilled with the idea of me going to other concerts, anytime soon. Someone told her she should be at home, watching "Little House on the Prairie". She is still insulted by that remark, today.
I started this blog with the group KISS, not because I am a member of the KISS ARMY(I'm not, by the way....), Not because they are the greatest rock & roll band ever, (some would argue) but for no other reason than they were the first rock concert I had ever been to. I got to where I wanted to see if all bands were as good live, as they were. Just for the record, back then, few of them were as cool, or as great at live performances as KISS. Had their show not been everything I hoped it would, things may have gone a different way. I want to thank my friend, Kentt, for making sure that KISS was my first concert, and not letting me talk him in to The Village People, as I wanted to go see that year.....LOL!

Kiss - I was made for loving you


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