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Archive for the ‘Princeton, NJ’ Category

[ATTENDED: April 18, 2018] Jeff Tweedy

I knew I was overbooking myself this particular week (this was my third concert in three days), but how could I pass up Jeff Tweedy playing in Princeton?  He’d never played here before.  Who knew when he’d do it again.  And I could get seats by walking right up the box office.

After seeing Wilco live I knew I’d want to see them again.  And while Wilco is much more than Jeff Tweedy, Jeff Tweedy by himself is pretty great.  Especially if you’re in Row E.

I came to Wilco pretty late in their existence.  I didn’t want to know about any alt-country bands back then.  Who needed to add -country to alt- music?  Well, then I heard “Via Chicago” live and I was hooked.  I have retroactively enjoyed all of their releases.

So how awesome was it that he opened with “Via Chicago” just for me? (more…)

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[ATTENDED: April 18, 2018] OHMME

I was slightly disappointed to find that Jeff Tweedy had an opening band as I was hoping for “an evening with” the Wilco frontman. When I looked up OHMME, really the only thing I learned from them was that they were once called HOMME.  But I’m not sure why they changes the name.

So I didn’t really know what to expect when two women came out on stage.  They each had a guitar and a microphone.

And then proceeded to play the most interesting duo rock that I’ve heard in a long time.

Macie Stewart and Sima Cunningham (I’m not even sure who was who) played a vast array of styles and sounds (often within the same song) using just two guitars (and a violin) and their voices.  It was fantastic. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: May 21, 2016] An Evening with Todd Rundgren

2016-05-21 22.05.52I was astonished to learn that I’ve gone most of my life not knowing that Todd Rundgren wrote “Hello, It’s Me” and “Bang the Drum All Day.”

How did I not know this?

Indeed it turns out I didn’t know much about Rundgren.  I knew he was in the band Utopia and that they played weird prog rock.  And I also thought he was kind of a control freak.  But I didn’t realize he had those huge hits (which might explain how he makes so many weird albums–and he has a lot of weird albums).

I don’t even know what made me get a ticket of this show.  I had recently been hearing a bit about him. I had looked him up on line or some reason (that’s how I knew he wrote those songs) and I recognized the photo to the right, an iconic photo from Something/Anything (which was used as the backdrop for the show).  When I saw that he was playing at McCarter, I decided it was time to check him out.  Now, I was going to see a show the night before and normally I don’t like to do two nights in a row, but since this show was so close by (and I knew I’d be home by eleven) I decided to go.  And I had a great time.

The blurb for this show started: “The classic rocker Todd Rundgren may be 67, but he shows no signs of slowing down.”  And that’s very true.

I managed to score a seat in Row J, which was so close to the man I could see him sweat (ew).  The only problem was the very tall man sitting in front of me (I should have asked him to switch seats with his tiny wife).

While I was waiting for the show to start, a woman sat down next to me with her husband and some friends.  She was super friendly (and a bit drunk) and we started talking.  She asked how big a fan I was of Todd.  And I had to admit that this was my first show.  She told me that she first saw Todd when she was 16 (or 19 who can remember) and has seen him every tour since then (she’s in her 50s).  She said he tours constantly and she will see him twice a year sometimes.

Normally I’m not much of a talker during a show, but I enjoyed having her next to me to occasionally guide me through what I was hearing.  Unlike the louts at the end of the row who were talking really loudly and making jokes throughout the show (and getting up to go to the bar every couple of songs).  They were big fans I could tell (they knew every song), but such disrespect I’ve never seen.

The lady (whose name I never got) told me that Todd makes a new playlist for each show and decides what he’s going to play an hour before he goes on.  That was pretty cool.  She told me a few other things that were interesting about him (he has a house that he built in Hawaii but he never goes there because he is always touring).  And that, amazingly, she’d never actually met him after all these years.

And then the lights dimmed and the band came out.  Followed by Todd.  And the crowd went berserk!  It was especially amusing because it was practically like a  Tom Jones show, with women throwing themselves at him (my seatmate remained remarkably composed).  These women (mostly) stood and applauded after each song, waved their arms and were so utterly into it, I was amazed. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: March 13, 2016] Avi Avital

aviA few months ago I wrote about Avi Avtal’s Tiny Desk concert.  I had never heard of him, but his mandolin playing was amazing.  And then about three days later I saw that he was going to be playing in Princeton.  Well, I immediately got tickets.

And today we saw him and he was even more amazing in person.

In the Tiny Desk show, he played solo.  But in this show (and tour) he played with two people accompanying him: Ksenija Sidorova on accordion and Itamar Doari on percussion.

The only complaint I had about the show was that there was no progamme, so I had to look up everything online to know what we had just seen.  Fortunately I was able to find a setlist, because I never would have remembered what he told us.

Anyhow, in this show, titled Between Worlds Avital and company explore the borders between folk and classical music.  What that means is that they play music from classical composers, but also some very traditional folks songs from around the world.

Mandolin doesn’t seem like the instrument of choice for classical music, but Avital, who has been playing since he was little is amazing at the instrument–playing incredibly fast and clear and managing all of those Bach notes like nobody’s business. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: February 9, 2016] Richard Thompson at the McCarter Theatre

2016-02-09 19.19.51This was my fourth time seeing Richard Thompson at McCarter Theatre (he says it was his 492nd time playing there).  And this time, I got my tickets early and scored ROW G!  Right in the center!

2016-02-09 19.24.13So there was the man just six rows away.  And I got to watch every amazing solos and chord changes and capo placements and tuning (that’s why I can’t play his songs) and everything else he could do with that one guitar.

For indeed, that’s what it was, just him and his acoustic guitar.  Standing in front of us for 2 hours and blowing us away.  When I bought the tickets, he was touring with a trio (last summer), so I assumed that this show would be the trio show.  But nope, it was just him.

And, more amazingly, he played with no opening act!  The night before he was at the Sellersville Theater (which sold out before I found out and although they called me about the waiting list, it was about 2 hours before show time, so there’s no way I could have gone) and had an opening act.  And the next show after this one he had a different opening act.  But we got just Richard (and we were home by 10, which is pretty awesome for us old people). (more…)

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[ATTENDED: December 10, 2015] A Christmas Carol

xmasLast night we attended McCarter’s production of A Christmas Carol for the second time (first time was two years ago).  We went specifically because it is the last time that they are doing this particular performance of the show (it has been the same for 16 years).  Next year they will be doing something entirely new.

We were pretty staggered by the pricing (last time we got super cheap seats but they were pretty far into the corner which ruined some of the magic).  But there was a Black Friday special and we had awesome seats (the woman next to me was mad that we paid literally half her price, muhahaha, Scrooge alert!).  But wow, what seats!

The show felt more magical and more moving than last time (I was a blubbery mess by the end).  It was awesome to see that the entire set was crooked (a great, disconcerting effect).  And to really see the sets come forward and the spirit of Christmas future as soon as he came out, those were very cool moments.  T. asked if we can sit in the front row next year.

2015-12-10 20.47.46It was also interesting to see who was different in the cast this year.  I recognized a few returning members–James Ludwig is awesome as Fred, Scrooge (Graeme Malcolm) was the same (and was awesome–I loved the way he did little things, like kick a rug into place, which were “accidents” but were totally in character).  And there were clearly some new faces and new actors.   You can see the whole cast at the McCarter site.

And I just read (in New Jersey Stage) that apparently many in the cast are quite well known:

Boasting a gigantic list of Broadway, regional and international credits, the cast of A Christmas Carol includes Leah Anderson, Allison Buck, Billy Finn, Kathy Fitzgerald, Nike Kadri, David Kenner, January LaVoy, James Ludwig, Bradley Mott, Anne O’Sullivan, Sari Alexander, Gabriel Bernal, Andrew Clark, Jean G. Floradin, Heather Gault, Michael John Hughes, Sophie Lee Morris, Gregory Omar Osborne, Patrick Roberts, Daniella Tamasi, and Arielle Taylor.

I just re-read what I had written two years ago and found that I felt exactly the same.  So for the rest of the post I am going to keep everything the same (with a few updates).

It’s like a Christmas tradition. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: November 19, 2015] Zoyka’s Apartment

zoykaI was offered free tickets to this show.  I read a brief review, saw the word “farce” and decided it would be fun to go to it.

This play was written by Mikhail Bulgakov, an author I’ve heard of but know little about.  Turns out that all of his plays were banned by the Soviet government.  Including this one, even though it was not an anti-Soviet play.  After the banishment, he wrote to Stalin requesting permission to emigrate, but was denied.

As this play opens, there is a lectern at which an announcer reads a 1990 review of the play by Frank Rich in the New York Times (which you can read here).  Perhaps the most fascinating thing that I heard from the review was this:

Boris A. Morozov’s production of Mikhail Bulgakov’s ”Zoya’s Apartment” at the Circle in the Square. Mr. Morozov is resident director of the Maly Theater in Moscow. His New York cast is headed by such actors as Bronson Pinchot.

Since Pinchot is my new favorite audio book reader, I immediately paid attention. (more…)

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