All posts tagged: live review


CONCERT REVIEW: Maxwell, Massey Hall, Toronto, ON, July 5, 2016

Back in 2009, when Maxwell’s critically acclaimed BLACKsummer’snight marked the singer’s return following an eight-year hiatus from the music industry and served notice that he remained a stunningly singular creative force, it seemed reasonable to expect that the next installment of a planned trilogy would be forthcoming shortly. Well, it took seven years before the release of blackSUMMER’snight—an eternity in pop music terms—but, judging by the rapturous reception the singer received from a nearly sold-out Massey Hall on Tuesday night, absence has only made the hearts of his fans grow fonder. After regular tour opener Ro James was a disappointing no-show, Maxwell’s eight-piece band—in what’s becoming a bit of a trend in 2016—took the stage to a Prince song (it was “Let’s Go Crazy” for the Dixie Chicks a few weeks ago, “Kiss” on Tuesday) and settled into a luxurious, steady groove. A dapper Maxwell—fitted grey suit, slim grey tie, sunglasses—soon joined them, and it immediately became abundantly clear that the Brooklyn native had not lost one step since his last Toronto visit at the …

Salt-N-Pepa with En Vogue. Can you guess the song?

CONCERT REVIEW: FLOW 93.5 Throwback Birthday Bash featuring Salt-N-Pepa, En Vogue, Maestro, Fat Joe and Choclair, TD Echo Beach, Toronto, ON, September 27, 2015

FLOW 93.5 has long been Toronto’s pre-eminent R&B/hip-hop radio station, but in recent years it has begun to tweak its format to move away from contemporary/Top 40 hits in favour of a classic hip-hop format. The FLOW 93.5 Throwback Birthday Bash—I’m still unclear as to why a station launched in March 2001 would celebrate its birthday in late September, but feel free to chime in with an answer in the comments—was certainly a reflection of that shift to “All The Best Throwbacks,” featuring a lineup of classic acts headlined by En Vogue and Salt-N-Pepa. Kicking things off on Sunday afternoon was Choclair with a brief set that closed with a medley of hooks from standout hits from the 90s (“Hip Hop Hooray,” “Shimmy Shimmy Ya”) and a short rendition of his debut single, 1999’s “Let’s Ride.” Choclair was generally well received by fans who made it out to the sand-filled venue before sundown, but it was a bit disappointing to watch him finish with an abbreviated version of what remains to this day his biggest …

Lloyd Cole

Live Review: Lloyd Cole, One Lucky Guitar, March 21, 2015

Lloyd Cole is the type of songwriter who incites travel, perhaps because he himself is nomadic and restless–a musical omnivore who’s traversed sparse folk, Velvet Underground-esque rock, electronica and dour jangle-pop (to name a few) during his three-decade career. And so when my husband and I found ourselves taking an unexpected Saturday trip to Ann Arbor, it felt oddly perfect to detour south and see Cole play a solo acoustic set in an unorthodox, BYOB space in Fort Wayne, Indiana, a mere two-and-change hours away. We hopped on the freeway, squinting through early-spring sunshine that made even the barren, browned farmland seem verdant. After a quick liquor store stop — pint of Guinness, $3.41 after tax–we reached the outskirts of Fort Wayne’s downtown. Our destination was an intrinsically Midwest mixed-use countercultural oasis: a sturdy building where a yoga studio, an alt-weekly and the marketing firm One Lucky Guitar share office space. Cole was to play in the latter company’s cozy, brick-walled back room, The B-Side, which was adorned by a velvet painting of headband-wearin’ Bruce Springsteen circa …


Inside the Art of Outside Lands

Outside Lands came and went last weekend, blowing in and out of the Golden Gate Park with the signature stomp, rock, and dazzle that’s it’s become equanimous with since Another Planet first unleashed it upon San Francisco six summers ago. This year, the dazzle was bigger and brighter than ever, the rock louder, the stomp harder, and widespread and whimsical art lavished the weekend with a warmth and brightness that superseded the grey skies.


High Sierra Highlights: Top 10 of 2013

High Sierra Music Festival is easily one of the happiest places on earth. People return year after year (after year). They bring their kids. They fill up inflatable pools. They make signs that light up and camp with dozens of friends and family who fly in from all over the country. They stay up all night and then all day and then all night again. It’s a hard party to deny, and High Sierra has cultivated a magic over the years that instantly binds people to the experience.


Live Music: Alt-J at the Fillmore, San Francisco

Alt-J (so named for the neato triangle you can make using your keyboard—∆) headlined a sold-out show at the Fillmore the other night. The band got together in 2007 at Leeds University, but it wasn’t until 2012 that they released their first full-length. They presumably spent those years injecting elements of every genre they’ve ever been influenced by into the eclectic tapestry of their sound. An Awesome Wave is a beautiful, incongruent piece of work. It reflects tedious discipline and a vast array of influences, a collection of disparate pieces presented in a bizarre cacophony of noise and layers, strung through with instrumental interludes, startling vocals, and pretty keys. Even when they reached deep to meld together such jarring oddities like dirty bass to melodic folk, it works. The album flows. It doesn’t sound hollow or overly ambitious. The shit is totally catchy, all 14 songs through. 

Photo by: Andy Siddens

Live Music: Midge Ure Live in Cleveland, January 16, 2013

Midge Ure has engendered quite a bit of goodwill over the years, thanks to a long musical career spanning myriad genres. In the ‘70s and ‘80s alone, the Scotland native did time in amiable rockers Slik, Irish hard rock legends Thin Lizzy, post-Sex Pistols project the Rich Kids, synthpop innovators Visage and New Romantic hitmakers Ultravox, while also developing a solid songwriting and solo career. He leveraged that goodwill into a well-received—and well-attended—show on January 16 at Cleveland’s Beachland Ballroom. (Although Ure was in Thin Lizzy for only a short amount of time, many in the audience apparently came because of that stint.) Backed by Los Angeles band Right The Stars, which also opened the show with its own set, Ure began his 16-song set with a rich rendition of 1991’s gospel-tinged “I See Hope In The Morning Light.” Throughout the soaring song, he had a beatific look on his face, which only increased after the song ended. “It’s nice to be back,” he said jovially, his Scottish accent readily apparent. “In fact, it’s nice …


SnowGlobe Music Festival: 13 Highlights for 2013

Partying for three days straight in single digit temperatures? Who wouldn’t be at least a wee bit trepidatious about uncomfortable at best, unbearable at worst, conditions for a music festival? But for thousands of denizens who descend onto South Lake Tahoe during that ecstatic stretch of time around the New Year holiday, wintry weather is part of the allure. For the second year in a row, the AEG produced SnowGlobe Music Festival swept into a local community college campus for a three-day extravaganza, and the kids came out in droves to party it up through New Year’s Eve. I attended last year and had a great time; the weather was mild and the event very well-managed. But this year I was a bit more hesitant when the forecast prophesized what seemed to me an arctic apocalypse


Live Music: The Motet in San Francisco

Just before Christmas, the Motet lit up a little pocket of San Francisco, bringing a much-needed boost of merriment to a holiday season that felt to me more sad and stressful than festive, stamping on the waning days of a stale and stifling year their infectious thirst for celebration. With a cold rain falling outside, an eclectic group of show-goers young and old ditched their umbrellas to sweat it out and dance around to the Motet’s electric jazzy funk.

Leonard Cohen

Live Music: Leonard Cohen @ HP Pavilion, San Jose

Only Leonard Cohen could transform a space as impersonal and corporately stamped as the HP Pavilion into a dazzling concert hall on a tired Wednesday night. Suburban yuppies filed in alongside the bohemian art elite (with every age and type of person in between) to take up cramped rows of seating that arc the hockey ring where the San Jose Sharks slam into walls and rocket pucks into a net. Only there was no reminder of anything brash or hostile. No suggestions of other events that have taken place in the same venue over the years. For when Leonard Cohen performs live, he completely consumes the space he’s playing to, painting it over with his refined baritone. And for those sitting rapt in the wings, it’s a hypnotic, completely transfixing experience. You scarcely remember to breathe.


Woods at the Preservation Jazz Hall West at the Chapel, San Francisco

Last week, Woods had the honor of being among the first bands to play San Francisco’s newest venue: The West Coast outpost of New Orleans’ legendary Preservation Jazz Hall. “The Chapel” is a well-named sister venue; the pitched ceilings and worn red walls obviously recall a place of prayer, and the building, at 19th and Valencia Street, was indeed a church and mortuary back around the start of World War 1. The Chapel has an accompanying bar that serves Cajun bites and booze and the venue itself has a great balcony that offers primo viewing for non-VIPs. 

Fall 2011 205

Live Music: Future Islands @ Bottom of the Hill, November 15, 2011

Straight out of Baltimore by way of Greenville, North Carolina, Future Islands brought their own brand of crazy to Bottom of the Hill on Tuesday night. The show, headlined by one of the Wham City collective’s flagship groups, was among the most entertaining live musical moments I’ve experienced in recent months, and I stood there, along with the rest of the sold-out crowd, unable to wipe the stupid smile off my face throughout their set, immersed in the intoxicating force of nature that is this band I’ve come to love very much. Though their newest record, On the Water, is a more brooding, forlorn affair than In Evening Air, the ecstatically dancey full-length debut that first garnered them scores of accolades upon its release in early 2010, none of the mania has gone missing from their live show. In other words, despite the somber subject matter of lost love and crushing heartbreak, when it comes to delivering the goods live, Future Islands proved on Tuesday night to be harnessing even more of that deranged catharsis …