I wasn't really aware that Primus was coming to town, or even touring. Or even still together. A friend of Cyn's mentioned it on Facebook, so I decided I'd go. I'd always wanted to see them, having missed them back in the day. Said friend wasn't able to go, but I still went down. It was at the Eagles Ballroom, which I've been to many times. It's been a while, though, and they've been slowly improving it. It was nearly sold out, I guess, but fortunately I was able to buy a ticket at the door! They routed attendees through a security stop in the basement. Then up the stairs and outside to the fenced in front courtyard/patio/smoking area/food truck zone, and back in and up the stairs to the ballroom on the third floor.

Clutch played first. I guess it was a co-headlining show, since they played over an hour, and had use of the light show. I was totally unfamiliar with this band. I had no idea what they actually sounded like, never having even heard a song, as far as I know. They were decent. Kinda headbopping metal. The vocalist does kind of a talky/yelly thing. I was enjoying it for a while. About halfway through I felt like I had heard it already.

I mentioned the venue is improving slowly over time. Improvements have not been made to the ventilation. It felt like it was 110┬░ by the time Primus started.

Primus took the stage after a relatively short changeover. The driving force Les Claypool, with power members Larry LaLonde (guitar) and Tim Alexander (drums). Claypool does a lot of wild playing - slap bass, quick picking with chords, or an electric stand-up. LaLonde makes a lot of noise. Claypool does a lot of repetitive riffs, while LaLonde... makes a lot of noise. It's interesting, for a while. I'm sure it's much more interesting when you're high. I was disappointed by Alexander's work. It often seemed disjointed. That is, not always connected to what the other guys were playing. Or maybe I just didn't notice when he was better integrated.

Right now, I'm listening to a recent concert of theirs. It sounds great. Based on this, I'd have thought I'd enjoy the show better. But maybe the heat was getting to me. Or that I was stuck behind some tall guys, and someone with a kid on their shoulders. Or maybe that I wasn't high and couldn't appreciate the finer points. Or keeping an eye on the nearby mid-floor mosh pit. Or being distracted by being crammed in with tons of other people. In the heat. A girl in front of me passed out. I probably lost five pounds of water weight. Or maybe it was that, being at the show, I felt like I should be getting into it more.

The last song before the encore got quite a bit more musical. I hoped they'd do more, but they left the stage. I was contemplating leaving early, to beat the crowd - there's only one exit - but the only song of the encore was similar, so I stayed. The show, with both bands, was just over three hours.
The Femmes played the newish stage at the Summerfest grounds. It's good it has a roof, since it was raining, but it doesn't have walls, so we had a chilly breeze for a while, and a bit of water drifted through.

Ava Mendoza opened. She opened for the Femmes on last year's tour. Heavy guitar with occasional vocals.

I guess it was a co-headlining tour between the Femmes and Echo, but Echo only played an hour, maybe less. But then the Femmes only played an hour and fifteen minutes, so.

I wasn't expecting to enjoy Echo. I was never really into the 80's British alternative music. In fact, I remembered disliking the band at the time, but I'm probably misremembering that. So they started playing and they weren't bad. Their first few bands had kind of a punk sound. The singer had a raspy voice and he kinda pushed it. Reminded me a bit of early Iggy Pop. So that was kind of odd, since I expected more of a smooth, moody vocal sound. But I really didn't remember them at all, so I was like, whatever. But then the songs turned poppier. I could tell that the music was the kind of music that should have the kind of voice I expected. So I became less enthused. For their encore, they played "Lips Like Sugar," which I definitely recognized. Since 2005, the band has consisted only of founding members, singer Ian McCulloch and guitarist Will Sergeant. They brought another guitarist, a bassist, a keyboardist and a drummer. McCulloch stood in shadow and behind mirrored shades at the front of the stage. He and the band never really seemed to connect with the audience.

Then they cleared the stage and set up the Femmes equipment from scratch. It took over an hour, and the band went on around 10:30.

They opened as a trio, with "I'm Nothing." Gordon Gano on guitar, Brian Ritchie on acoustic bass, and John Sparrow on drums. It was interesting to hear them open with a song that isn't a big hit. They followed that up with "Memory", which opens their 2016 album, We Can Do Anything. I'm a little embarrassed to say I don't have that one, so I don't know that song. Not that it really matters - their songs are so catchy, you can't help but get into them. Then "Life is an Adventure", another song from a late-period album (Rock!!!!!, 1995) that only the hardcore fans have. At some point in the first few songs. Blaise Garza joined them on saxhophones. The fourth and fifth songs were big hits, "Blister in the Sun" and "Kiss Off". Then a couple new songs, "Good For/At Nothing" and "Love Love Love Love Love" from their 2015 EP, Happy New Year.

For "Country Death Song" Gordon played banjo, and Jeff Hamilton came out to play mandolin. Then "I Could Be Anything" followed by "Jesus Walking on the Water." Gordon played fiddle for that one, and Mendoza joined them on guitar. Mendoza, Hamilton, Gano and Ritchie each had a solo, so that was fun. Then the lighters came out for "Good Feeling." Then the electric bass came out for "Old Mother Reagan", "Gimme the Car" and "Freak Magnet". Then Ritchie handed it off and took over the xylophone for "Gone Daddy Gone". Then we experienced "Black Girls" and the noise jam. They had six or eight guys with horns, plus Mendoza on guitar and Garza with a melodica. I forget what Hamilton was doing. Sparrow had a nice drum solo. Then "I Held Her In My Arms" and they ended up with "American Music." After a short break, the encore was "Dance, Motherfucker, Dance" and the perennial closer, "Add It Up."

The set list comprised almost exactly the same songs as last year's tour, but in a different order. Possibly shorter. The review in the newspaper says they only played for 75 minutes. I've always been a little disappointed that they usually play only about an hour and a half.

The sound was... I'm not sure. I could usually hear all the instruments, but I can't say it was mixed well. The saxophone was usually too loud, as was Ritchie's voice during the second half. Garza usually stood behind his contrabass saxophone where I couldn't see him (I discovered this is a contrabass sax, not a subcontrabass as I previously thought). And Mendoza would stand directly behind him, from my line of vision. Sparrow has a lot of energy. He really goes to town on that little kit (snare, tom, two cymbals and a Weber grill). I noticed how the band's sound is very bottom-heavy. Ritchie's bass takes a prominent position in their music. Garza mostly played either his contrabass or baritone sax. Gano's guitar playing is not melodic. More percussive. Or just noise.

Set list )
I went down to Veteran's Park to see Copper Box. They play all over eastern Wisconsin. Festivals and such. They're a lot of fun. A guy plays keyboards, accordion, sousaphone, trumpet and sings. A girl plays guitar, tenor and baritone saxes, flute and sings. A guy plays bass and occasional ukulele and guitar. A guy plays drums. They play... rock, zydeco, polka, swing... ish. They did a sax and sousaphone version of Aerosmith's "Last Child." And a polka version of "Comfortably Numb."

Best band ever? No. A good way to spend an evening? Definitely.
We had free tickets to Summerfest, so we went. Saturday afternoon. They had these School of Rock kids playing all over the place early in the afternoon. Most of them weren't very good. I was reminded that while you can get really good at playing the guitar, having a good voice is not something you can learn.

So we sat through Substitute, a Who tribute band. They were OK, as far as tribute bands go. The music was great, but that's because The Who is great. The lead singer had a voice that was kind of in the same ballpark as Roger Daltrey, but he didn't have the range. And Daltrey isn't someone I'd say has a lot of range. The guitarist sang Pete's songs, and he did OK there. They didn't have a keyboardist onstage, so all of the keys, synth and violins were prerecorded. And the horns were nonexistent. The sound could have been mixed better. Other than that, it was great!

After that, we walked the park again, and left.
King Crimson at the Chicago Theatre. We had great seats - third row balcony, not the closest, but we could kinda see the expressions on their faces, and we were high enough that we could see all the action. I like being able to look down on the drum kits. My only disappointment is that we were to the right, so I was looking right down the neck of Robert's guitar. While I could see his hands, I couldn't see his fretwork.

There were large signs on the stage explaining that we were being asked not to use our cameras or phones until after the show. Then there was a recorded announcement (by Fripp) explaining the same, with the addition that when Tony gets out his camera at the end of the show, we can get ours out as well. And also that there would be an intermission.

I love King Crimson. But I'm not... a well-versed fan. I'm very familiar with Discipline. And then my familiarity starts at the end and trails off as we go back in time. I like their last three seventies albums, but only a few tracks really stand out and are recognizable. Like "Easy Money" "Talking Drum" "Red" and "The Great Deceiver". Since this band is known for doing a lot of the seventies material, I probably should have brushed up. But I didn't, so most of the first half was kinda lost on me. They did the first two parts of "Larks' Tongues" which I'm not too familiar with. Two songs from Lizard (including a long section from the title track), "Fallen Angel" from Red, which I didn't recognize, but sounded like it was from Red. And the "Islands" from Islands, which I didn't know at all. But then there was "Neurotica" from Beat, which I didn't recognize, and "Radical Action III" which was new. I didn't recognize, but I did recognize it as new music. I was thinking, during this set, that these concerts are generally more interesting than enjoyable.

Then there was a twenty minute intermission, which took place after the first set, but before the second set. I would have liked to chat with my friend about the show more, but I had to go buy merch.

The second set was quite enjoyable. They did three new songs, and a couple of older ones I didn't recognize, but the songs were so cool, I didn't mind much. There was more prominent drumming, and said drumming was cool. They did "Indiscipline," which is an Adrian tune, so I was a little surprised to hear it, but Jakko put a tune to the words and sang it. Not sure why. Then there was "The ConstruKction of Light" "Easy Money" "Level Five" and "Starless". And several new tunes. I wish I could remember which ones had the extended solos and drummings.

The encore was Bowie's "Heroes" (Fripp played on the original) and "21st Century Schizoid Man." Heroes was lots of fun, and "Schizoid Man" has lots of everything, especially drums.

Fripp had a small keyboard set up in front of him. Mellotron, I guess. I've never seen him do that before. I've also never seen Crimson with a stand-alone keyboardist before. Last tour had Bill Rieflin playing keyboards occasionally, alongside his drum kit. He had stepped back from the band and was replaced by Jeremy Stacey on both drums and keyboards. But he came back for this tour to play "keyboards, synthesizer and fairy dust." I couldn't see his hands, so I couldn't always tell what he was playing, given that there were other keyboardists on the stage, and sometimes guitars sound keyboardish.

Jakko Jakszyk is the vocalist. I remembered from the last tour, that he sounded very much like Jon Wetton. But for the first song that he sung, he sounded horrible. Not like Wetton, and not even good. Not sure what was up with that, but it could have been a bad monitor. The next couple of songs he did, he sounded better, but still not quite like Wetton. After that, he sounded just like I remembered - just like Wetton (or Lake). Jakko was bouncy and animated sometimes, unlike Fripp, seated beside him.

The drummers were Pat Mastelotto, Gavin Harrison and Jeremy Stacey. It was really interesting watching the three drummers. I've always wondered what the point having more than one is. And how do they play together? I'm kinda figuring it out now, at least for this band. When they play together - playing the same thing - it's thunderous. But they're not always playing together. At those times, they seem somewhat relaxed. This gives them the chance to figure what's best to play. They do improvisation well, or at least structured improvisation.

Mel Collins played Saxes and flutes. Soprano, alto, tenor and baritone saxophones, as well as at least two flutes. He gear list mentions two flutes, but he also played a bass flute. He played on every song. I don't think this was necessary. I know a lot of the songs were reworked for the eight-member band, but I think there were songs he didn't add to.

And of course there was my man Tony. What can I say? Tony is awesome. He played bass guitar, stand-up electric bass and Chapman Stick.

The band took the stage at 7:45, and the show ended shortly before 11:00. Not counting the intermission, they played for over two and a half hours.

Set 1
Larks' Tongues in Aspic, Part One (from Larks' Tongues)
Neurotica (Beat)
Radical Action III (Radical Action)
Cirkus (Lizard)
Lizard ((c) The Battle of the Glass Tears (i) Dawn Song (ii) Last Skirmish (iii) Prince Rupert's Lament) (Lizard)
Fallen Angel (Red)
Larks' Tongues in Aspic, Part Two (Larks' Tongues)
Islands (Islands)

Set 2:
Pictures of a City (In the Wake of Poseidon)
Indiscipline (Discipline)
The ConstruKction of Light (The ConstruKction of Light)
Easy Money (Larks' Tongues)
The Letters (Islands)
Interlude (Radical Action)
Meltdown (Radical Action)
Radical Action II (Radical Action)
Level Five (The Power to Believe)
Starless (Red)

"Heroes" (David Bowie cover)
21st Century Schizoid Man (In the Court of the Crimson King)
I've seen U2 several times over the years, but their more recent albums didn't excite me much. And so their tours didn't much either. Or at least I decided I didn't need to see them every tour. But this time they came around to play The Joshua Tree in honor of its 30th birthday. So that sounded like a good excuse to see the band again.

I got good seats. Upper deck, but in the front row, and alongside the stage, so we were pretty close. Not as good as the lower deck, but I was happy.

They started off with "Sunday Bloody Sunday." Larry walked out from the back of the stage, all the way to his kit on the B-stage, accompanied by a Pogues song. He sat down and started playing. That went on for a few bars. Edge started walking out, and started playing as his feet hit the runway. Then Bono, then Adam. Then more big hits: "New Years Day", "Bad" and "Pride".

After those heavy hitters from before Joshua Tree, they took to the main stage for the big opening - "Where the Streets Have No Name". The red wall behind them, this time with a silhouette of their Joshua tree. That's not a song I call out as one of my favorites, but you can't deny the call - it's just an amazing opener. It draws you in. They played them all in order, something they weren't sure they'd do, when they were still planning the tour. "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For, followed by "With or Without You", which is not one of my favorites. Then "Bullet the Blue Sky" which is. From there out, I just love the album. Much of it is fascinating, and the way it flows, it just draws you in. "Running to Stand Still", "Red Hill Mining Town" and "In God's Country". Then "Trip Through Your Wires" and "One Tree Hill". Bono told the story of a young man in New Zealand who asked to join their crew on the road. He became part of the family, but was killed in an accident. He was the inspiration for One Tree Hill. The finale is the killer "Exit" followed up with "Mothers of the Disappeared". It was inspired by the mothers who lost sons in the conflict in Nicaragua.

There was a short break and they came back for the rest of the show. The rainbow of "Beautiful Day". Then "Elevation". Then they played one of their Passengers songs, "Miss Sarajevo", with Pavarotti on recording. This was accompanied by video of the Syrian refugee camps, and introduced by a teenage girl there, named Omaima. She shared her wish for all to be happy, and for her to visit America, the land of dreams. Then "Ultarviolet (Light My Way)". It was dedicated to women. Bono introduced it with mention of the band's wives and supporters, plus the women on the crew. During the song, video showed photos, names and dates of many women from history. Politicians and suffragettes, businesswomen and laborers, artists and activists.

The band came back out to the B-stage for the encore. They did "One" but I decided I'd better take a bathroom break and pick up a program. As I came back in, they led the audients in "Happy Birthday" for Island Records founder, Chris Blackwell, who was there at the show, and who will turn 79 in a couple of weeks. Then they finished up with their first hit, the bouncy "I Will Follow".

The Lumineers opened, but we had other things to do, so we only caught the last four songs, one of which I recognized - the one about Ophelia. I'm sure they'd be a lot of fun to see in a small venue. They were just tiny people on a small section of stage in an enormous space.

setlist and photos )
After Patti's goofy New Years Eve show, this one was serious. She did Horses straight through. She even mentioned between songs, that the story she was telling us was not on the album. :-)

She started the show with one of the all-time greats - Gloria. I was dismayed to see the audients sit down when the song started. What?! How can you sit for that one!

Back in the nineties, I picked up the album to find out what Patti was about. I didn't even really know what she sounded like. I wasn't sure what to make of it. It didn't really do anything for me. I played it again the next day, and I kinda liked "Redondo Beach". But I picked up the energy of "Land". So I played it again and Gloria hit me. Hard. There was so much energy and abandon, it was amazing. The song does it to me every time. But this time I had to sit. I couldn't believe it.

This was by far the biggest place I've ever seen her, and the only one where people remained seated. Of course, I'm always down front where there are not seats, and I never look back at the sections with seating. She said that the show wasn't sold out, but there weren't very many empty seats, as far as I could tell.

Predictably, there were a lot of old people in the crowd (meaning, older than me), but there were a lot of young people in the crowd - 20's and 30's.

Patti was her usual tolerant-to-a-point self. Some guy came up to the edge of the stage to take a photo, and it didn't seem to bother her, but later on the guy did it again, and there seemed to be some sort of altercation between him and someone else. So Patti told a story about some guy getting thrown in jail for trying to film a documentary, and ended it with a complaint about people who miss the show because "they're fucking filming it." Later, she complained about the stage not being a garbage can, and she threw people's crap off it - shoes and socks, apparently. Later, she seemed a bit conciliatory about her outburst, and said that we shouldn't do that because she already does it. One person is bad enough.

The date was March 9th. That is a pivotal date to Patti. 38 years ago, her midwest tour passed through Milwaukee (the last time she was here), and a few days later, in Detroit, she met her future husband, Fred "Sonic" Smith, on March 9th. And in 1989, that's the date that Robert Mapplethorpe died. This time, Mayor Barret proclaimed March 9th, Patti Smith Day. She brought the framed certificate to the show and displayed it on the drum riser. She was tickled by it, and at the end of the show, she was almost offstage before she remembered it and went back to get it.

She had a few stories about the music. "Break It Up" was for Jim Morrison. It was spurred by a dream she'd had about him. "Elegie" was written (with Allen Lanier) in memory of Jimi Hendrix. Near the end of the song, she named artists and loved ones who had died. After Horses, they did three songs that had a connection to her late husband, Fred. "Frederick," of course, and two songs that were written while he was away, including "Because the Night." "Ghost Dance" was dedicated to Standing Rock. She had printed lyrics for "Birdland". The encore was "My Generation." Just Tony Shanahan was about to break into the bass solo, at the point on the record where she yelled "John Cale!", she said "happy birthday John Cale!" It was, in fact, Cale's birthday.

A review of the previous night's Mpls show said "Another highlight in the later portion of the performance was the song “Citizen Ship,” which Smith dusted off for the first time in decades and souped up with additional emphasis on the song’s anti-wall, pro-refugee message." I didn't notice the change of lyrics, but that one's a favorite of mine, so it was good to hear. She hadn't played it in almost ten years? Politics was in full swing, of course. "Donald Trump is 70! I'm fucking 70!" "Now is the time for us to misbehave. We must misbehave in a loving way." And of course, "People Have the Power."

After "Break It Up," she had the album in her hands, and explained that now we had to pick up the record, turn it over, put it down on the turntable, bring the arm over and put it in the groove...

The band was Patti, Lenny, Jay Dee, Tony and Patti's son, Jackson Smith. Through Horses, Tony played keyboards and Jackson played bass. But for a couple of songs, Lenny played bass and Jackson guitar. For Elegie, Jay Dee came out to play bass. For the second half, Tony mostly played bass, and Jackson played guitar.

Horses Set
1. "Gloria: In Excelsis Deo"
2. "Redondo Beach"
3. "Birdland"
4. "Free Money"
5. "Kimberly"
6. "Break It Up"
7. "Land:"
8. "Elegie"
End of Horses set
9. "Ghost Dance"
Fred "Sonic" Smith Tribute Set
10. "Dancing Barefoot"
11. "Frederick"
12. "Because the Night"
End of "Sonic" Smith Tribute
13. "Citizen Ship"
14. "People Have the Power"
15. "My Generation" (the Who cover)




Read more... )
It was cold in Chicago. Nasty cold, or at least it seemed that way since I left my warm coat in the car. Note to self: Park West has coat check. Doors opened at 8:00, which is when we arrived, and the line (mostly general admission) stretched about two blocks. I left my companions in line and went for a jog around the block to warm up. It didn't work. We finally got in, and got a good place to stand, down front.

About 9:20, The Nuggets took the stage (at least that's what Lenny called them). This was Patti's band minus Patti. Lenny Kaye is known as a proponent of garage rock, and put together some compilation albums called Nuggets. So that's what they played, or course - garage rock. Eight fun, short songs. Fun!

"Crazy Like A Fox", "Night Time" (The Strangeloves), "Journey to the Center of the Mind" (The Amboy Dukes, sung by Tony Shanahan), "Nobody but Me" (The Human Beinz, sung by Andy York), "I Had "Too Much to Dream Last Night" (The Electric Prunes), "See No Evil" (Television, sung by Tony Shanahan), "People Who Died" (The Jim Carroll Band, sung by Tony and Lenny), "In the Midnight Hour" (Wilson Pickett, sung by Tony and Lenny).

I had trouble with my ears. I had forgotten to bring my good earplugs, so had to stop at a drugstore and pick up some cheap ones. They were so "good" that they blocked out everything but the bass, which came in through my head. I had to pull them partway out, to hear anything, and it still wasn't great. Much worse sound than with my good earplugs.

Then we had a break for quite a while. When Patti took the stage, more people moved in. It was pretty cramped for a while. Including some stinky hippie chick, and her big boyfriend. Due to all of this, I wasn't having a good time. Fortunately, Patti showed up. That helped. ;-) And over time, people left, for some reason. It wasn't too crowded late in the show.

So Patti took the stage. She came out by herself and read "Piss Factory." Then the band came out and they did "Dancing Barefoot", "Ghost Dance" and "My Blakean Year". There was a lot of talking and stories between the songs. I wish I could remember what they were about. After that she did the first of many covers of the night. I get the impression her NYE shows include more covers than usual. Partly because of the party atmosphere, partly to honor the year's lost souls. This one was George Michael's "Father Figure." Then "Break It Up" followed by "Jesus is Just Alright." After that was Blue Oyster Cult's "Astronomy" to honor its writer, and the bands founder and manager, Sandy Pearlman. Then "Ain't It Strange", "Peaceable Kingdom" and "People Have the Power". Patti mentioned that they had to add something to make the timing come out right for midnight, so she and Lenny did a cover of Debbie Reynolds's "Tammy". Practically unrehearsed, she said. And then the buildup of "Pissing in a River" followed by "Land" with some "Gloria". The obligatory "Auld Lang Syne" at midnight. Then the finale of "Because the Night", "People Have the Power" and "My Generation".

She brought a kid out on stage, who came all the way from Tokyo. She gave him her guitar and he played on "People Have the Power". He was going to leave, but she kept him on during "My Generation" and she had him help break the strings off her guitar.

Like I said, due to the party atmosphere, with more talking than usual, and the all the covers, the show was quite different. I think the usual tempo was broken up by the covers. The previous night was her birthday. If we'd known that beforehand, we might have gone to that one instead. Michael Stipe showed up to sing "Happy Birthday". That show started with all of Horses, was followed by five covers, then four of her songs, with "My Generation" as the encore. During one of the songs, I forget which, Patti lost her way. She stopped a couple of times to confer with Tony while the band jammed. She finally gave up and told the story of Scheherazade, which morphed into some strange bit including someone in New Jersey. Then finally went back into the song, or maybe another, I don't recall.

I think the show got out around 12:30. We took our friend home, and got to our home at 3:00.

setlist )


Oct. 28th, 2016 08:00 pm
I'm only a casual fan of Marillion, if I can even call it that. I've got a couple of their early albums, but only on vinyl, and they're a different band now. I've got two of their later albums, but I seldom listen to Marbles. But Anoraknophobia is one of my most favorite albums. So when I heard they were coming to Chicago, I decided to go. They never play Milwaukee, so I figured this was my only chance to find out what they were about.

They were playing two shows, the second of which was on a Friday night, which made it easier to go. As it turned out, it was the same night as the first World Series game at Wrigley field since World War II, which was only a few blocks away. That made parking very expensive, but we walked up to the stadium before the show, to see the crowds. Walking up the street past the theater, with the Cubs fans, we heard more than once, "Marillion? Who the hell is that?"

They opened the doors before 7:00. We went in around 7:30, and got a good place to stand, just in front of the sound board. The crowd was very prog. Mostly old (like me). Both male and female.

The opener was solo guitarist John Wesley. Wesley is a longtime Marillion opener, and Fish, Hogarth, Porcupine Tree and Sister Hazel sideman. I did not enjoy his set at all. I kept counting the songs, wondering how many more there would be. He redeemed himself a bit with the last one, which was listenable. He had a lot of fans, though, who would cheer for certain songs.

Marillion is five guys, Steve Rothery (guitar), Mark Kelly (keyboards), Pete Trewavas (bass), Ian Mosley (drums) and Steve Hogarth (vocals and other instruments). They're a very tight, smooth, prog-ish sort of band.

The show opened with "Invisible Man" with Hogarth's face projected onto the backdrop while singing the first part of the song. I didn't realize at first that it was not recorded video, and that he was actually singing live from backstage. They closed their main set with "Neverland", so they opened their set with the opening track from Marbles, and closed it with the closing track from Marbles. Those were the only two songs I could have recognized, but I did not, since I don't listen to that album much. About two thirds of their set was from their latest album Fuck Everyone and Run (F E A R). One of the few criticisms I have of the band is that most of their music tends to sound the same. But in this case it was nice, since I felt like I knew all the music, even though I hadn't really heard it before.

Not too far into the second song, "Power", Hogarth was striding toward the front. When he reached the corner of the stage, he turned and strode back to the back of the stage between the keyboard and drum risers, turned toward the audience and made a dramatic throat-cutting gesture and left the stage behind the keyboards. After a moment, Kelley looked after him wondering what just happened. The band slowed down like they were going to end the song, then started up again, like Hogarth was coming back. Then they stopped. And waited until he returned. He did, and was all smiles. They started up a new song in a bit more casual an atmosphere. He sat down at his keyboards and they played "Sounds That Can't Be Made". Here's Mosely's explanation of what happened: "After the first track they always do a jam. During the jam, Mark triggered the click track for Power and the rest of the band weren't ready and h couldn't start singing as it was all over the place. So he left the stage. Then they started again before h had time to get back to the mic. So he said let's give up and do another song instead! So all Marks fault:). No diva."

A couple of songs later, they did "Sugar Mice", Hogarth said it was a song about Milwaukee, though it was only set in that city. It was the only Fish-era song they played, and was probably the dullest song they played.

"Neverland" was introduced as winning a poll for the fans' most favorite song. I thought it was a bit long and repetitive.

So the show was a learning experience for me. I really did quite enjoy it.


photos and set list )
Milwaukee is a big city. Not big like NYC, Atlanta, Seattle, whatever, but big enough to host the biggest of the big bands. Bands like The Stones and U2 don't play here every tour, but often enough. But Milwaukee has a problem in being situated too close to Chicago. Many bands will skip Milwaukee, and just do Chicago and Minneapolis. They figure that Milwaukeeans can see them in Chicago. That's true, since it's less than a two hour drive away, but the problem is that they don't advertise up here for Chicago shows, because they'll sell out anyway. You really have to be on top of things to find out about the shows. It was tough in the mid nineties. You had to be following the news on your favorite bands, or have some line on what's going on down there.

I was reminded of this problem, when I was reading about a David Bowie tour tonight. A conversation from the time: "Did you hear David Bowie's on tour?" *Not extremely interested* "Yeah?" "He's touring with Nine Inch Nails." *freaks out* "OMG! No way! Where? When? How much are tickets?" "Chicago. They're sold out." *ack*

I'm a casual fan of David Bowie. I've never followed him very closely, and my favorite record of his is a compilation (or maybe Tin Machine), but hearing that he was touring with NIN just seemed right for him, and of course I was a big NIN fan.

Here's an account of the time:
In September of 1995, Bowie began the Outside Tour, with Reeves Gabrels joining him as his live band's guitarist. In a move that was equally lauded and ridiculed by Bowie fans and critics, Bowie chose Trent Reznor's Nine Inch Nails as his US tour partner. NIN & Bowie (as well as Kevin McMahon's Prick, Trent's fellow Nothing Records industrial artist and friend) toured as a co-headlining act: NIN appeared on stage first, always playing an equal amount of stage time as Bowie. As the crew changed sets behind a large backdrop, NIN would play several Bowie compositions ("Subterraneans", "Hallo Spaceboy", and "Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps)"), followed by two NIN songs with Bowie ("Reptile" and "Hurt"). This arrangement was an effort to keep young concert goers interested in staying for Bowie, though in each city few of the younger crowd stayed for the Bowie set.
That sounds like an amazing show. I would love to have heard the two artists performing each other's songs together. That in itself is extremely cool. And Prick was there too. One of the few shows that I'm perpetually disappointed to have missed.
I learned the Violent Femmes were playing Chicago, so I decided to take the day off and head to the city. I shot some photos, met a friend and we went to the show.

I had never seen them outside of Milwaukee, and was curious of the difference. I figured they'd have a lot more people with them while playing in the hometown, and I was right. The band was Gano, Ritchie and Sparrow, with Garza and three others. No Hamilton. They had the two roadies in the Horns of Dilemma, playing horns for "Black Girls" and percussion for much of the rest of the show, plus the woman named Jamie playing Trumpet.

My friend Brenda and I were down front in the crowd. A couple of large people moved in on our turf just before the show started, so it became even more packed. In the last third or quarter of the show, a bunch of kids came down and started moshing. It was distracting and a little annoying to have to spend most of your energy trying to keep your feet. And I pushed hard on the body passees, to move them away from us (I'm tall enough to get some leverage on them). Brenda and I got separated, and she was given some sanctuary right at the front. Man, I'm out of shape. Just a little bit of moshing and I was exhausted.

Other than that, the shows were similar. They played two songs that I was excited to hear. "Breakin' Up" was one. I didn't enjoy it as much as on the album. Too rough in concert? After fifteen songs, Ritchie strapped on his electric bass. That's always a good sign. I guessed they'd play "Gimme the Car." But Ritchie said they'd play a song they don't play very often. For a moment I thought that meant "Color Me Once," but he then said it was from their second album. It wouldn't be "Hallowed Ground" because there was no keyboardist on stage, so that meant "Never Tell"! I've heard it in concert many (several?) times, but it's probably my favorite Femmes tune. I danced my ass off (as did a very few people around me).

It was a fun show. As always. It was hot, and I was drenched in sweat. The moshers were only a little annoying. Between moshing and dehydration, I was exhausted by the end. I'm sure glad I bought water before the show!

As for the setlist, in comparison to the Milwaukee show...
They started both shows with "Blister" and "Kiss Off". Here, they added "Confessions" and "You Move Me", before "Good for/at Nothing", "Love Love Love Love Love", "Country Death Song", "I Could Be Anything" and "Prove My Love". Then they added "Breakin' Up" and "Believing in Myself". Then "Jesus Walking", before the added "Good Feeling". "Issues" and "I Held Her in My Arms" were common to both shows, but in Milwaukee, they had played "Old Mother Reagan", "Freak Magnet" and "Gimme the Car" between them. Here, they left out "Color Me Once", but finished up with "Gone Daddy Gone", "Black Girls", "American Music", "Memory" and "Add It Up". They switched the order of "Gone Daddy Gone" and "Black Girls". Other than that, each song that was common to both shows was played in the same order. Ritchie calls the songs from the stage. I wonder how much of the show is decided beforehand. "American Music" was called as a request by a kid in the balcony, though they always play it.

Ava Mendoza opened the show. She's a solo guitarist. She has quite a full sound. She sang a few songs, but I wasn't as thrilled with her voice. She has a low, husky sound, which fits her somewhat dark style of music. She joined the Horns of Dilemma for "Add It Up", and did the guitar solo near the end.

Singer/guitarist Gordon Gano and the Horns of Dilemma

Bassist Brian Ritchie

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fun Femmes

Jul. 7th, 2016 09:45 pm
The Femmes played a great show! It was the Harley stage at Summerfest, so it was back to balancing on the benches. It's been a few years for me, so my calves were feeling it the next day.

They started out with the usual, "Blister in the Sun" and "Kiss Off". After that they mixed it up a bit, including several new songs. The audience didn't get into them very much, of course, but soon they were back on track. They played an assortment of audience favorites - "American Music", "Gimme the Car", "Country Death Song", "Prove My Love", "Gone Daddy Gone", "Black Girls", "Jesus Walking on the Water", "I Held Her in My Arms", "Old Mother Reagan", "Freak Magnet" (I love that one!). Newish songs included "Good For / At Nothing" off last year's EP, Happy New Year, "I Could Be Anything" from their new album and "Rules of Success" from Something's Wrong. They also did "Color Me Once" which appeared on The Crow soundtrack. Probably my favorite of the night! As usual, they ended with "Add It Up". Checking with Setlist.com, I see that the first song of two in the encore was "Memory." They also did "Love Love Love Love Love" and "Issues" (all new songs) plus "Life Is an Adventure."

Ritchie played acoustic bass for the first half, and then electric for much of the second. Gano switched between electric guitar and electric banjo a lot. He played fiddle for two songs, and acoustic guitar for at least one. John Sparrow played a small kit - snare, tom and Weber Kettle, with two cymbals. He played cajon once or twice. Blaise Garza played tenor and subcontrabass saxophones. Also a melodica and the occasional percussion. Jeff Hamilton on electric guitar, mandolin and ukelele. When I first saw him with a trumpet during Black Girls, he was using it as a bottleneck slide, but I did see him blow it. Special guest Kevin Hearn of the Barenaked Ladies flew in for the show. He played accordion. I think he came out for the third song, and stayed. The various Horns of Dilemma members played various small horns, including an alto trombone. A couple of those guys filled in on bass and cajon in places.

The guys seemed to be having fun. That always makes it a fun show. The crowd slowly thinned out over the course of the show, so I ended up having about three spots to dance on by the end of the show. I was using most of it for "Color Me Once". Backing vocals were usually a bit off key. The sound wasn't always mixed well enough that I could hear all the instruments. Though the big sax sounded great, sometimes it was hard to hear when it was doubling Ritchie's bass. It was usually hard to pick out the accordion. Ritchie had a couple of good solos. He's added space for solos in a few songs, and plays the hell out of them.

My only complaint about their shows is that they only play for 90 minutes.

Opener was Midwest Death Rattle. They didn't sound as dark as you'd think based on their name. Good, solid rock. I need to pick up the album.

Violent Femmes, 7/7/16

Gano and Hearn
Gano and Hearn

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Stick Men

May. 6th, 2016 08:00 pm
featuring Tony Levin, Pat Mastelotto and Markus Reuter. I wish I could remember anything at all about the show, three months later. Markus sang a couple of songs? I thought I took photos, but I can't even find those.


Apr. 1st, 2016 07:30 pm
Emo Phillips is just as hilarious now as when I first saw him in the early eighties. Some of his jokes were old ones and some were new. He interacted with the audience more than I recall in the past.

Sample joke (probably butchered): Abraham Lincoln and Charles Darwin were born on the same day. But that's not the only thing they have in common - they're both enemies of The South.

There had been a rally for Donald Trump somewhere in the area not long ago. He asked if anyone had gone, and one guy clapped. So this was a source of material for the rest of the show.

The Tiny Band opened the show. They play an assortment of small instruments - ukulele, mandolin, small electric guitar, toy piano. Also a drum kit and plastic bags. Aside from that gimmick, they're lighthearted and humorous. They covered "Take the Skinheads Bowling," and "Piggies." They had a few humorous compositions of their own. Unfortunately, the toy piano sounded grating and their singing voices weren't the best. The plastic bags were fun, though. *rustle rustle rustle snap*


Mar. 25th, 2016 10:00 pm
Puscifer puts on a show.

This show included a Mexican wrestling match. Or show, really. The troupe of Luchadores, called Luchifer, put on a show of three rounds. Two teams of a man and a woman, with one more man coming out after a bit. It was goofy fun, even if it did go on for a bit. They had small bleachers set up at the sides of the stage, and they brought up the entire front row to sit on them and cheer for and boo the luchadores. They were done in half an hour and the band came out very shortly.

The drummer (Jeff Friedl) was front-center stage, guitar (Mat Mitchell) and bass (Paul Barker) stage right, and keyboard (Masha Zargaran, who also sang, played guitar and pounded a drum) stage left. The wrestling ring was left up (center-middle and back). Maynard Keenan and Corina Round stood behind mic stands in the middle of the ring. The stands had decoration at the top (that reminded me of bicycle sprocket rings and) partially obscured their faces. There was very little light on them - just two overhead purple lights that didn't really illuminate anything, and one very dim light that barely illuminated Carina. You could kinda see her face and arms, but she was wearing black, so that's about it. She also played guitar, banjo and mandolin, and we could barely see the instruments. But it got lighter up there as the show went on.

After a few songs, Maynard and Carina moved down to the floor. There was empty space between the drum kit and the bleachers on either side. Maynard had a red three-piece suit and a black luchador mask, open on top for his mohawk. Corina a black knee-length dress. They always seemed to be posing/dancing. Dance-posing? Waving their arms in the air dramatically, or crouching and repeatedly throwing their arms up. Maynard would sometimes stride in place.

In between "acts," the luchadores performed. The singers would periodically move back to the ring, or back down to the floor. In addition to the wrestling show, there was a cock fight in a miniature ring, that involved stuffed chickens mounted on wheels (RC cars? Roombas?). During most songs, the luchadores would dance in their bleacher seats, but sometimes they'd get up and posture at each other, and go to center stage to shove each other around. Once it was in slow motion.

But there was music too! Puscifer's music is generally dark and moody. Danceable, for the most part. The sound was mixed well, except I could never hear Carina's instruments. The band played for about two hours. There was a pause where the band sat down and Maynard took the mic to introduce them, before the encore.

The audients were under strict instructions not to take photos or videos. We were told when we entered the theater, that phones were not allowed to be in use at any time. I think Maynard has always been opposed to photography at shows (and generally doesn't want to be seen), but we were told to remain present and enjoy the show. We had great seats - ninth row. I sure wish I'd had my camera, though. I saw so many scenes that would have made awesome photos.

I'm not certain, since I haven't seen any other shows this tour, but it seemed like the Milwaukee audience was a little laid back. Less boisterous than I expected. I was also a little surprised at the age of the audients. They were all ages between 20 and 60, but it seemed the majority of people were in the forties. Must have been a lot of Tool fans.

setlist )
A 50th anniversary tour. Wow. Those guys are old! The band itself is older than me. This was kind of a bittersweet show. The greatest rock and roll band ever (in my humble opinion). They still rock, and it's great to see them up there at their age. But their voices are not so hot anymore. It's a little sad to see that happen. There's hardly a singer of that age who can still hold it together - OK, there's hardly a singer of that age!

They opened with "Who Are You." It's one of their greatest songs, so it was good to get it out of the way early. Second song was "The Seeker," one of my personal favorites. After that were more early hits, "The Kids Are Alright", "I Can See for Miles" and "My Generation". Then was "The Real Me," Another one of my favorites. Then "Pictures of Lily", which was a welcome surprise. Roger's voice sounded good for that one. "Behind Blue Eyes" and "Bargain" sounded great. "Join Together" isn't one of my favorites, but it sounded good. Then three Quadrophenia tunes sandwiched between two eighties songs. Then four songs from Tommy, including "Sparks". They ended the show with "Baba O'Riley" and "Won't Get Fooled Again". I think it was two hours and ten minutes, with no encore.

The band: Roger Daltrey singing, and occasional backing guitar. Pete Townshend, songwriter, guitarist, backing vocalist and occasional lead vocalist. Pete's brother Simon Townshend on guitar and backing vocals (since 1996). Zak Starkey (Ringo Starr's son) on drums (since 1996). Pino Palladino on bass (since 2002). They had three keyboardists, John Corey, Loren Gold and Frank Simes, who was also music director (all three since 2012). The one with white hair had a nice little piano solo at the start of "Lover Reign O'er Me." Palladino hardly moved through the show. Even less noticeable than Entwistle was.

Zak Starkey can really play Keith Moon's parts. He's an awesome addition to the (touring) band. Moon was his godfather, and gave him his first set of drums, at the age of eight.

Simon sang backing vocals, and he really was backing up both Roger and Pete. He is fifteen years younger than Pete, but his voice sounds similar enough, that he was singing the same lines as Pete (when Pete was doing backing vocals) and it sounded like Pete.

Pete sang lead on two songs. The first one, "I Am One," he sounded like he had a frog in his throat. I had the urge to clear my throat. Very rough. He sounded like this performance from three years ago, only worse. I don't remember which was the second song (embarrassed!), but he didn't sound quite as bad. But for that one, he had a lot of trouble reaching the notes. He no longer has any range. But he could cover that up a bit when he belted it out.

Roger's voice was a bit more interesting. Sometimes he had it, sometimes he didn't. He sounded good on "Pictures of Lily", which has softer vocals. Sometimes he could hit the notes when he belted it out, sometimes he couldn't. He could even hit some of the high notes. He still hit that awesome scream in "Won't Get Fooled Again." For the most part, his voice had lost its range, but there didn't seem to be any rhyme or reason as to which songs he could hit and which he couldn't.

Our seats were great. Row U on the floor. The back row of the front section. I didn't know you could still get tickets that good. We were supposed to see this show in October, but Roger contracted viral meningitis, and they had to postpone about a dozen shows. Before the show, we were wondering if Roger was feeling any residual effects of the illness, but he looked pretty good. He certainly wasn't looking tired by the end of 140 minutes.

Roger just turned 72 and Pete is 70. Aside from the vocal issues, they didn't seem that old. They were moving around better than Mick or Keith were when we saw the Stones a couple of years ago. Pete even did a little scissor kick.

Overall, I loved it. It's The Who, and they rock.

I was a little surprised to see they had an opening act. Tal Wilkenfeld. I thought her voice was a bit weak, and didn't care for her vocal melodies. I liked the other parts of her songs, though. She's a bass player, which is cool. She's played with Jeff Beck, which is probably where I heard her name before, but if you play with Beck, you're pretty good.

setlist )
We saw a concert at the Chicago Symphony Hall. Zakir Hussain and the Masters of Percussion. "International phenomenon Zakir Hussain, the greatest living master of the tabla, returns with his handpicked ensemble of world-class percussionists. Don't miss a performance that crosses the spectrum of Indian classical music, filled with 'mesmerizing improvisations, dazzling technique and beguiling wit' (World Music Institute)."

So it was Indian percussion music. I'm sorry, I don't know the names of the instruments, but there was one string player and four percussionists (including Hussain), each with his own type of drum. In addition, there were two Japanese drummers (it looked like the master with his apprentice or something, because only the elder was listed in the program. Oh, here it is: link.

I loved the thundering Japanese drums. They didn't quite mix with the Indian drums, but close enough. The Indian drums usually played solo. When there were more than two of them playing, it became more of a cacophony. It was interesting how many different kinds of sounds they got from each drum. Usually three distinct sounds - low pitch, high pitch and a hard tap on the wood.
I've always appreciated Frank Zappa's work, while never really getting into it. I only have a couple of albums, so I wasn't sure how much of the songs I would recognize. I did pretty well, being familiar with about half the material. It was a fun time, and there was great music and musicianship.
Barenaked Ladies were headlining, with Violent Femmes and Colin Hay opening. The show was at the BMO Harris Pavilion, which is a covered, outdoor theater, right on the lakefront in the Summerfest grounds. Being mid-June, in Wisconsin, it was cold. I think it was below 60 degrees. The rain started a short way into Barenaked Ladies's set, so we got pretty wet as we were leaving.

Colin Hay was the leader of Men At Work, back in the 80's. I expected something a little more upbeat, but he did half an hour of introspective, minor key, acoustic guitar songs.

The Femmes, being the second opener were given less than an hour to play. That surprised me a little, since they were the hometown act. The show started at 7:30, and they were offstage by 9:05. They packed in all their usual hits plus a few. Blister in the Sun, Kiss Off, Good For/At Nothing, Love Love Love Love Love, American Music, Jesus Walking on the Water, Old Mother Reagan, Freak Magnet, Hallowed Ground, I Held Her in My Arms, Gone Daddy Gone, Black Girls, Add It Up. I was disappointed they weren't given a little more stage time in their hometown, but that was a pretty good set.

New drummer, Brian Viglione (Dresden Dolls) really tore it up. Blaise Garza played Baritone, tenor and subcontrabass saxophones. Jeff Hamilton on guitar, mandolin and percussion. John Sparrow (literally) on cajon. Gordon Gano singing, guitar and fiddle, with Brian Ritchie on basses and marimba, of course. BNL bassist Jim Creegan took over on bass, while Ritchie played marimba.

Barenaked Ladies are a fun band. I like their songs. My only complaint is that they all sound the same. Fortunately, I like the sound. But I decided to leave early, to beat some of the rain. And beat the crowd in the rain. And get Cindy home earlier than the previous night. We left about halfway through, just before my favorite song, "Light Up My Room." Before we left, they had Colin Hay join them to lead "Who Can It Be Now?" Blaize Garza from the Femmes played sax, though his mic didn't work for his big solo.

Apparently, the roof of the pavilion is a bit leaky. And also, water ran down to the front of the audience area. It was several inches deep.

Violent Femmes - Brian Viglione, Jeff Hamilton, Gordon Gano, Blaize Garza, John Sparrow, Brian Ritchie.

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Rush R40

Jun. 12th, 2015 07:30 pm
Rush is on tour in commemoration of the bands 40 years together (41, actually, but who's counting?). Their show is a travel through time. They started with songs and set from their most recent album and tour, and ended in their earliest days. It was a fitting (apparent) end to their grand concert touring.

They started with three songs from Clockwork Angels, one of which incorporated a short drum solo. Then two songs from Snakes & Arrows - "Far Cry" and the instrumental "Main Monkey Business," which were excellent. Then Vapor Trails with "One Little Victory" (the original video seemed a bit tired). They skipped over T4E and went to Counterparts for "Animate." The first set was finished up with a couple of synth era songs - "DEW" and "Subdivisions."

It was hard for me to get into this part of the show. I'm not all that familiar with Clockwork Angels. I loved the two songs from Snakes & Arrows but after that I wasn't extremely enthused. The sound wasn't great, and most importantly, we were way in the back, only a few rows from the top. It was just harder to feel it from back there.

Workers in red coveralls kept coming out to adjust the set. They began with their steampunk set up, but shortly, a couple of guys came out to replace some of Geddy's gear with his trademark washing machine, like he had used in prior years. This continued through the set. At the same time, Alex's steampunk stuff was gradually replaced with a small Marshall stack. complete with dinosaurs and Barbies.

The second set continued the journey through time. It opened strong with Moving Pictures and Permanent Waves. "Tom Sawyer," "YYZ," "Spirit of Radio." Next was a song that I'm not thrilled about. "Natural Science" is not only dull but nine minutes long. I was thinking that as long as they were playing a long dull song, they should have done "Jacob's Ladder," since I like that one marginally better. They played it next. Both of them? Guys, they're nearly interchangeable - what were you thinking? Speaking of long dull songs, on other dates they dropped "Natural Science" and "YYZ," and did "The Camera Eye." Okay, I actually like that one.

But then they got into my favorite part. "Cygnus X-1." This one sounded a little different. Something about the live experience, I guess. It's not often a Rush song sound different live, so that was cool. They followed it up with "Cygnus X-1." Since they were going by album in reverse order, they had to play "Cygnus X-1 Book II: Hemispheres" which was from the Hemispheres album, before "Cygnus X-1 Book I: The Voyage" which was from A Farewell to Kings. They did "Prelude" from Book II, and then the first and third parts from Book I. Yes I know how pretentious that all is. Shut up. Neil did his second drum solo during that one. The solo was quite enjoyable, though not as long or as technical as his previous solos have been. I assume that has something to do with his chronic tendinitis.

After the whole Cygnus thing (or the various parts of the whole Cygnus thing) they did "Closer to the Heart." Beautiful. My favorite song of the night. The next one, "Xanadu," was a close second. It seemed abbreviated, though. Geddy played his double-necked Rickenbacker and a Minimoog, and Alex his double-necked Gibson. They finished up with Overture, Temples, Presentation and Finale from "2112." Fun stuff.

After a short break, they came back for the finale. "Lakeside Park" (from Caress of Steel), "Anthem" (from Fly By Night) and "What You're Doing" and the classic finisher "Working Man" from their debut album.

Before the start of the second set, they showed a video made up of outtakes from many of the videos they've showed at their concerts over the years.

When the curtain went up on "Tom Sawyer," their gear on stage consisted of Alex's huge Marshall stacks, and Geddy's similarly sized stacks of bass amps. Throughout the set, stagehands would come out periodically to remove some, until the end of the show when there were only a couple left. During the finale, their set resembled a school gymnasium. The video wall showed a basketball court and there were a few institutional chairs onstage. Geddy and Alex were each reduced to a single amp, Geddy's sitting across a couple of the chairs. And there was a big disco ball. While I sometimes found the stagehands distracting, it was a fun concept.

The sound started out horribly. It seemed like the sound crew was frantically trying to get everything set during the first song, like they hadn't had a soundcheck. It took a couple more songs to really get things dialed in, but things didn't sound quite right for several other songs or sections. The second half sounded pretty good, with the exception of 2112. It sounded thin, like they lost the tune, except on the most bombastic riffing.

The light show was good. A video wall on the back, with a couple of tall, narrow screens to each side. Two additional projection screens hung farther out to the sides of the stage. Lasers in a few songs. Spotlights shining upwards sometimes. Dear lighting designers. You always have spotlights shining on the audience at some point, and that's great, as long as they keep moving. Last night you had lights shining directly on my section of the audience for the entire drum solo. They were shining directly through Neil's kit, so I couldn't see him, and had to watch on the video screens. Not cool.

Section 313, row 14.

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August 2017



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