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Archive for the ‘Blue Öyster Cult’ Category

[ATTENDED: October 25, 2019] Ghost

A few years ago Ghost had just popped on my radar when I saw that they were playing the Fillmore in Philly.  I didn’t go, but a friend of mine took his son and said the show was outstanding.

Before getting tickets for Starset, I had bought tickets for C. and I to see Ghost.  I had heard that their live shows were tremendous and I was pretty excited to bring him to a show like this.  When I looked for tickets, I knew we wouldn’t want GA Floor, but I didn’t know if we should go straight back or close to the stage on the side.  I chose close to the stage and I was pretty happy with the location although C. thought it would be better straight on.

I had no idea we’d be going to see two concerts in two nights.  But it was fun for him to compare the two styles of venue–club vs. arena.

Starset has a backstory and Ghost has a backstory too.  Ghost’s story is pretty fascinating.

But before getting to that I have to say that this show was spectacular.  Holy cow was it fun–the band was fantastic.  The stage set was incredible and Cardinal Copia was an amazing front man.

Now, onto the story of Ghost. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: December 8, 2016] Blue Öyster Cult

2016-12-08-21-26-13I saw a whole bunch of concerts this year. I didn’t expect to end my concert year with Blue Öyster Cult.  But, I enjoyed them when I saw them last, and when I saw they were playing at the State Theater in New Brunswick (and I was able to score a 4th row seat) I decided to see them again.

I didn’t realize that Blue Öyster Cult was also the first band I saw this year (back in January).  So, it was a year bookended with BÖC.

While I enjoyed the previous show, I thought it seemed like the guys were getting a little creaky (understandable since they are in their late 60s).  But they seemed much more “on” during this show.  Eric Bloom was chatty and fun, his voice sounded great and he seemed a lot more energetic than last time.  And that made the show much more fun.  As did sitting really close–I was able to actually see the BÖC on his guitar. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: December 8, 2016] Jefferson Starship

2016-12-08-20-07-51I had no interest in seeing Jefferson Starship, but they were opening for Blue Oyster Cult and, heck I love White Rabbit, so why not check them out.

This incarnation of Jefferson Starship is pretty hilarious because the only person in the band who was in the band when they were Jefferson Starship is guitarist David Freiberg (vocals, guitar) (almost–the drummer has a tenure there too, see below).  It’s particularly amusing because Freiberg was in Jefferson Airplane for their final tour, and then they broke up.  When Jefferson Starship began a couple years later, he was a part of the band until they went on hiatus in 1985.  But when Paul Kantner reunited the band in 1993, Freiberg wasn’t included (apparently because Freiberg didn’t leave immediately when Starship formed, like Kantner did).  They made up in 2006 and Freiberg and Kantner had been touring as Jefferson Starship.  Kantner died earlier this year, so Freiberg is the only person connected with the original band left.

Interestingly, he left when Jefferson Starship became Starship, (but not as quickly as Kantner) because he didn’t like the direction the band was going (and Grace Slick considered him “dead weight”).  So he didn’t do “We Built This City.”  However, Donny Baldwin, the drummer at our show played with Jefferson Starship for two years (when Freiberg was there, too) in the 1980s and moved on to Starship and DID play on “We Built This City.”  When they reunited, they had a different drummer, but Baldwin came back in 2008.  So, when they play “We Built This City,” and they do, the drummer is the only one who was responsible for it in the first place.  Crazy.

Incidentally, Freiberg more or less left because of “We Built This City.”  According to Wikipedia: He became frustrated with the sessions because all the keyboard work in the studio was being done by Peter Wolf (lead singer of the J. Giels Band who had played on the sessions for Nuclear Furniture and briefly joined the band on the road for the follow-up tour) and keyboards were the instrument Freiberg was supposed to be playing.  He left the band and the album (with “We Built This City” which was written by written by Bernie Taupin, Martin Page, Dennis Lambert, and Peter Wolf) was finished with the five remaining members.

2016-12-08-20-23-29How’s that for a convoluted history. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: January 30, 2016] Indigo Girls

2016-01-30 22.57.42When I was a radio DJ in college, I received a promo disc by a band called the Indigo Girls, which I listened to because Michael Stipe sang on one of the songs.  I really enjoyed the sampler.  The Girls’ harmonies were outstanding and the lyrics were clever and funny and very very smart.

And I’ve enjoyed them intermittently for twenty some years.  I even saw them at Newport Folk Festival back in 1998 when they put on a fantastic show.

Sarah has been a fan of the band for a long time as well.  She saw them at an even more unusual venue–at the American Library Association Convention in 2002.

Neither one of us had seen them in a “proper” venue and thought it would be cool to see them in this small theater in Montclair.

And man, did they sound fantastic.  Their first album came on in 1989 and their voices sound exactly the same.  Emily can hit the high notes and Amy still has that great gravelly sound (despite claiming to be ill and on steroids to get her voice to actually work–I never would have guessed).  And their harmonies are still perfect together. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: January 15, 2016] Blue Öyster Cult

2016-01-16 23.20.39I first got into Blue Öyster Cult in 1981 with “Burnin’ for You” (yep, I knew that before “Don’t Fear the Reaper”).  Fire of Unknown Origin was my favorite album for years.  When I got to college, I met my friend Nick when I drew the Blue Öyster Cult logo on my notebook and he saw it.  And then I found out that my neighbor Glen was the biggest Blue Öyster Cult fan, possibly ever.

He has seen them play a bunch of times, but for some reason I never went.  And that is my one major regret after seeing them–I wish I had seen them before when the whole band was together and when they were 20 years younger.  For while they did not disappoint, they weren’t quite up to the standards I had imagined.

The week before the show I listened to their whole catalog and imagined an ideal setlist–deep cuts and weird songs.  But honestly, they could have played any of their songs and it would have been great.

And I loved that they played a sampling of songs from throughout their career. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: January 15, 2016] Vanilla Fudge

2016-01-16 20.13.10I had never seen Blue Öyster Cult even though I’ve been a pretty big fan since college.  So when I saw they were playing at the Wellmont, I had to go see them.  As it turns out Vanilla Fudge was going to be the opener.

I have known of Vanilla Fudge, but I realized that I had no idea what they sang.  And when I looked them up, their biggest hits were all covers.  It turns out, that’s what they are–the world’s most successful and unusual cover band (Led Zeppelin opened for them in 1969, and Deep Purple got their organ sound from Vanilla Fudge).

Although they do covers, their sound is very much their own.  They don’t so much cover songs as transform them into their own style.  And that style is psychedelic and very heavy.

The band released five albums from 1967-1969 and then broke up.  They reunited and recorded an album in 1984.  Then split up.  And reunited in 2002 (with a different singer) and released an album of rerecorded old Vanilla Fudge as well as a cover of a Backstreet Boys and an N’Sync song (!).

Then the original lineup reunited in 2007 for an album of all Led Zeppelin covers called Out Through the In Door.  And then last year they released a new album called Spirit of ’67 (a collection of songs from 1967).  This featured all of the original members except the bassist who has retired.

So, here it is almost 50 years later and the original lineup (sans bassist) is still touring.  And they sounded amazing.  (more…)

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dotaSOUNDTRACK: ASIA-Asia (1982).

asiaI’ll finish off this run through Yes with one final offshoot project–Asia.  Geoff Downes (who had only been on Drama) and Steve Howe joined forces for this pop outfit with a hint of prog.  Indeed, this is an album that is just chock full of poppiness–despite all of the trappings of prog rock–synths, connections to Yes, a cover by Roger Dean and Carl Palmer from Emerson Lake & Palmer on the drums.

This album was huge in 1982 & 1983.  They had so many hits from it (okay well, only 3 singles, but surely everyone knows this entire album, right?).

“Heat of the Moment” opens with nice big ringing guitars.  And while the drums aren’t fancy, they are quite distinctive.  The synth isn’t too dated sounding, and the middle part with the guitar slide still sounds cool.  And of course, the chorus is practically irresistible.  “Only Time Will Tell” has a totally recognizable keyboard riff.  While the riff itself hasn’t been copied, the sound has and yet at the time, Asia made it seem fresh.  This song is so simple as it starts with just keys and drums and John Wetton’s voice.  There’s great harmonies in the chorus and dramatic keyboard splashes.  And once again, Carl Palmer’s drums are big and loud yet understated.

“Sole Survivor” opens with some darker chords nut some interesting noodling going on, too. (I always thought t was interesting that Blue Oyster Cult released a song called “Sole Survivor” the year before).  Despite the darkness of the lyrics and the music the chorus is also very catchy (I also like how nearly every verse ends with a different keyboard sound or riff).  This song also has an interesting break where things get quiet and feel very wasteland like.

“One Step Closer” has a some interesting riffs and another catchy chorus.  This is probably my least favorite track on the disc even if it’s got a good chorus.  “Time Again” has a cool dramatic opening and then a nice speedy bassline to start off with.  I like the way the chorus leads to some quieter moments of unusual guitar and keyboard sounds.

Side two has some slightly longer, sightly less poppy songs. And yet to me all the songs on this side are really good as well.  “Wildest Dreams” is a song that is a bit over the top (as all prog should be).  I remember loving the dramatic “We fight” section.  It seems a but silly but it was still fun to sing along to.

“Without You” is a slower darker song but with another big chorus.  It also has the most prog rock sounding keyboard solos of the 1980s.  There’s some time changes and even a big bell!  “Cutting It Fine” opens with some mellow guitar and then a really interesting guitar sequence.   It moves along quickly and dramatically and then stops for a quiet piano solo section (with a build up of strings, martial drums and horns–the drama seems like it is leading to something big but it just kind of fades out, which is a bummer.

“Here Comes the Feeling” ends the disc in more dramatic fashion.   I love the way the bridge builds and builds (with the “now i can…” section that leads to the long held sung notes.).   The solo section has some very yes-like moments from Howe and over all ends the disc with some wonderful prog moments.

As with apparently every progressive rock band of the era, this one was full of lineup changes too (don’t even get me started on King Crimson).  The four stayed together for the next album, Alpha, but Steve Howe left after that and then various other incarnations have toured in one form or another to this day (in fact they’ve released about 20 albums over the years.  Who knew?).

[READ: May 29, 2015] Death of the Artist

I grabbed this book from work because it looked interesting.  And it was.  I was more than a little confused as to how much is true.  And that was clearly the point.  Fransman totally pulled the wool over my eyes and I love her for that.

The premise of this book is that five artists are getting together for a weekend of debauchery.  They were friends in art school in Leeds when they were in their 20s.  Now, ten years later, they are reuniting in hopes of sparking creativity again.  Of the five only one is still doing anything “creative,” and they are all looking to reignite that spark.

And this book is the result of their week.

All five artists draw (or something) a story inspired by that weekend.  And in what turns out to be a pretty cool twist, Fransman has shaped the stories into a narrative. (more…)

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