Saturday, November 20, 2010

South up North

Madison Square Garden - the name alone conjures up images of greatness: sports, concerts, religion, the Penguins beating the Rangers in OT when their own goalie gets the puck in the net ... oh, sorry...that was at the Civic Arena...I digress.

The Garden has been known for some amazing shows - Led Zeppelin, The Concert for NY, the Grateful Dead, Billy Joel - you name it. I have seen Metallica, Jimmy Buffett and most recently, Manchester Orchestra and Kings of Leon at MSG and each show didn't disappoint.

Back down South to Bonnaroo, I was able to see these  Manchester Orchestra and Kings of Leon perform in front of tens of thousands of people in the hot hot hot Tennessee sun.  The crowd knew KOL, they were from Nashville and becoming more and more popular by the second.

Before 'Roo, I had heard of both bands. After 'Roo, I decided to really check them out. Manchester Orchestra (MO), at times and please forgive me if you don't agree, reminded me to Wilco but with a heavier edge. I like them - and want to see them grow. My favorite line from the night at the Garden was that they saw Wilco and the Flaming Lips perform there on a New Year's Eve and that they wished they could play the Garden some day. You wanted to hug them when you heard that. They seats weren't yet filled, but they had a few thousand listening to them and liking every note.

Kings of Leon -- what I love about them is that they CHANGE. They remind me of U2, not by sound, but by their chameleonness (yup, a new word). If you look at Achtung Baby back to Boy, every album sounds different. They re-invent themselves because they know what sold before and that they probably won't be able to replicate that (instead of Being John Malcovich, it's like Being The Edge, I am guessing that is what they assumed). You listen to their Youth and Manhood album and compare it to Come Around Sundown and they are different, more open to experimenting. It might be that they were able to grow overseas before making it big in the States, whatever it is - don't lose it. Change is good, trying new sounds and new feels might make you lose some fans but don't ostracize your artistic endeavors.

The band had a stage set that was incredible - complete with dozens of spotlights, a disco ball and vintage looking live screens. They could have walked out without the visual and just played their asses off - which they did. This set up seemed to work much better in the Garden than at 'Roo.

Meeting the crew that was filming their video for Pyro was even more cool when I saw them react when they heard the song live and felt it almost to be their song -- it is in a way. But, and thank you for being so cool Rob, as you said, the video was not yours, it is ours. Best of luck and I cannot wait to see it!

From Mary to Black Thumbnail everyone was on their feet. It wasn't like those concerts where people became disinterested and began to talk annoyingly at points. Everyone knew every song and they sang it, screamed it, danced to it.

My highlight was hearing Back Down South. I heard it first on that hot, steamy night in Tennessee. It makes me think of that wonderful weekend - standing next to my best friend, having the time of our lives, surrounded by people who loved music as much as we do.

Congratulations Kings of Leon and Manchester Orchestra, you made it in NYC!!


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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Surreal Music Moments

Ever have that moment? That time when you are listening to a song and it pieces all of the puzzle pieces together or it seems as if Martin Scorsese couldn't have scripted a better moment in your music memory?

Well - I have. There are several These aren't the "Oh my God, this is the best concert ever moments". These are the "Is this really happening?" moments. Here are some of the ones that I would place in my top surreal music moments.

Sitting in my flat in Belfast in the still smokey morning listening to David Gray and Fun Lovin' Criminals on my disc man in an attempt to drown out the sound of helicopters patrolling the streets after the riots that followed the pre-12 July bonfires

Belfast again: watching Braveheart at 3 in the morning while listening to Rory Gallagher and eating spaghetti Bolognese

Watching INXS in their home city of Sydney

Standing on the field of Three Rivers Stadium watching U2 perform

Standing inches away from Bono's boots while he waved an Irish flag and sang "Out of Control" with Manhattan as the back-drop


Standing in a muddy field at midnight in Manchester Tennessee with 80,000 people all singing "I will see you on the dark side of the moon" in unison while the Flaming Lips played

Buying tickets for Wilco in Pittsburgh and getting a three and a half hour show in return. This included an acoustic set off the stage complete with lamps and a kids drum set

Playing "family drums" with our DSO family at Nokia Theatre - and this included basketball legend Bill Walton and GD member Donna Jean Godchaux

Listening to My Sweet Lord by George Harrison in my car while driving to class at Pitt. I hit black ice when the line "Lord, I really wanna see you" came on and proceeded to slide sideways down the highway as did the truck in front of me. I repeated over and over - "not yet, Lord, not yet."

Hearing Belfast Child at a fish shop in East Belfast. This was the song that inspired me to write my Northern Ireland screenplay

Getting my Family Style LP signed by Jimmie Vaughan

Screaming the lyrics to Master of Puppets during a Metallica show at the Garden with my husband and realizing I had been screaming those lyrics for twenty years

Standing front row at one of the smaller Bonnaroo tents watching Levon Helm sing Chest Fever, The Shape I'm In and The Weight
And this list would not be complete without this one:

Getting engaged on stage at a DSO show in front of a full audience - any music lovers dream come true!!
Engagement 5.12.06
Levon Helm 6.14.08