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Archive for the ‘Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts’ Category

[ATTENDED: October 8, 2014] An Evening with Neil Young

2014-10-08 22.40.54 Sarah has wanted to see Neil Young for decades.  However, we’ve had bad luck (or high prices) with tickets so we never went.  But when I saw that he was performing in Philly for not too too expensive, it was time to get Sarah to see her man.

I myself have enjoyed Neil Young for a while too, so this wasn’t like a sacrifice or anything.  I had just never gotten around to seeing him either.  Over the years he has played with some amazing other bands (not to mention Crazy Horse), like Sonic Youth and Pearl Jam–two tours that I should have gone to but didn’t.  But this night was all about Neil.  It was just him and his guitar and his guitar and his guitar and his guitar and his guitar and his guitar and his guitar and his banjo and his piano and his piano and his organ and a bunch of harmonicas.  (He had about 8 guitars on stage and he played every one of them).

I don’t usually check setlist before shows because I like to be surprised, but with Neil, ever the curmudgeon, you never really know what you’ll get–perhaps he’ll do an all Trans night.  So I scanned a set, saw a few hits and felt secure in letting him give us whatever he wanted.

2014-10-08 19.42.37-1Outside the theater–the Academy of Music, to which I had never been–there was a big silver bus (not an Econoline van) with the license plate ZUMA, and we knew we were in the right place.  Then we entered the old building and went up the less than impressive stairs (it looked like a middle school stairwell).  And we proceeded to go up and up and up and up to our seats.  We were about ten rows from the top of this building.  And the theater was breathtaking (especially since we were out of breath from climbing 8 flights of stairs).

But it 2014-10-08 19.52.35was stunning to be eye to eye with a chandelier.  However, the building is not deep, so we weren’t that far from the stage.  Of course, mostly we saw the top of Neil’s head (and the top of his piano–which was cool).

Before the lights dimmed we got the great announcement to “please refrain from shouting out song titles,” which I loved–if only the latecomers had heard that message as well.

And then, lights went out, flashlights appeared and Neil shuffled on stage–in jeans, a T-shirt, a flannel type shirt over it–and sat down in the middle of the stage.  He picked up one of the guitars (he already had his harmonica clipped on) and busted out “From Hank to Hendrix.”

Okay, so I’ve been listening to Neil for a long time–I’ve gotten nearly all of his records, I’ve heard a bunch of live things, saw him recently on Jimmy Kimmel–nevertheless I was absolutely blown away by how good his voice sounded.  It was clear and strong and nothing like the 68 year old guy shuffling around on stage should be able to possess.  And his guitar playing sounded crisp and clean, his harmonica was spot on–it was so perfect sounding.  Perhaps it was the venue, but it was the purest sounding concert I may have ever heard.

When he finished the song, Sarah, overcome said, “Okay we can go now.”  That’s how good it was.  [You can read her review here].  But of course we didn’t go.  We sat, rapt as he picked guitars to play, “This one was a gift from Stephen Stills.” [Audience guy: How is he?] “He’s good.”  And on that guitar he played a Buffalo Springfield song.  Then he played “Only Love Can Break Your Heart.”  At this point I stopped trying to keep track of the guitars he played. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: September 13, 2014] King Crimsonkc

When I saw that King Crimson was touring I asked some friends if I should go see them.  I’ve been a fan more in theory than in practice.  I like a lot of their stuff, always planned to listen to them more, but I barely scratched the surface of their output (they’re the kind of band who has released dozens and dozens of things with varying project names and incarnations and since they’ve been recording since 1969, it’s daunting to say the least).

So when two friends basically said they’d give their eye teeth to see the show, it was a quick decision to get my tickets.

It was time to brush up on my back catalog.  I had no idea what they’d be playing, so it was something of a crap shoot what discs to look into.  As it turned out between the two old CDs and the one live CD that I bought, I covered nearly everything that they played.  And that was pretty awesome.  I had grown to really enjoy the CDs over the last few months and to see it done in front of me was… well, it was amazing.

King Crimson haven’t toured since 2008, and I have never seen them before.  This line up was new for the touring band as well.  It was the first time that Adrian Belew hadn’t toured with them in decades.  But there were some old favorites playing:  Tony Levin, frequent KC contributor and amazing bassist (bass and more); Mel Collins, played with KC in the 70s but hasn’t since, and here he is (Sax, flute); Jakko Jakszyk, recent contributor to Fripp’s projects and the real unknown for me (guitar, vocals).  And then the three, yes, three drummers: Gavin Harrison has played with KC before (drums), Bill Rieflin, mostly known for playing with Ministry (!) (drums), Pat Mastelotto has played with KC before, including with Bill Bruford (drums).  And of course Robert Fripp (guitar).

So, do you need three drummers?  Isn’t that overkill?
Yes and yes.

The three drummers were utterly amazing and they were the focus of the show.  As you can see from the photo, the drums were out front so you could watch everything.

Before I get into the show, The Kimmel Center is beautiful and the sound was amazing.  I had first row balcony seats.  My one seating gripe: I was in front of Fripp, but he basically sat sideways facing the stage (and his wall of gadgets) so I never really got to see him do anything. He was in profile most of the night, and I saw his hands moving, but that was it.  So, next time, pick stage left to sit.  Also, bring binoculars, because why not.

Back to the three drummers up front.  Mastelotto on the left (I could see him perfectly), Rieflin in the center and Harrison on the right (profile, but he was very visible).  Behind, l-r Collins, Levin, Jakko and Fripp.

As I said, though, it was all about the drums. (more…)

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