Saturday, September 25, 2010

Chelsea Handler

Tonight I decided to go and do something I have thought of since I started my blog. See a comedy show. This show had been on the radar for a while, and I was interested to see what Chelsea Handler would do in an arena. It was especially difficult to get a ticket on the sidewalk with my normal routine, due to the overwhelming rush of sor-ostitutes and bachelorette party goers, the ticket finding was something totally out of the norm for me. After telling a girl she was an idiot for taking her extra ticket inside instead of selling it to me, I finally got one from a desperate scalper. It turns out that bimbo sold her ticket to that scalper and my seat was right next to her. Oops. I found another seat and settled in for the show.

The opener was a comedienne named Sarah Colonna, a regular on Chelsea's show on the E! network. She came out with a bunch of yuk about birth control, Oprah, dating, and how much she drank and had multiple sex partners. For a comedy show, I didn't really laugh as much as I thought I might. Of course, the floozy crowd loved it.

I liked how the opener went right into the headliner, with no delay. Chelsea came out and started right where Sarah left off. Anyone who's seen her show knows how blue and crude she can be. It was fun listening to her antics. She is like one of the guys, not afraid of any subject and willing to say anything for a laugh. Her subject matter was great, mostly calling out guys for things they do while dating, mating, and otherwise just being guys. She talked about her early teenage "experiences". She also talked about people she didn't trust, like people who clap when the plane lands. That was pretty funny.

The whole thing lasted about 90 minutes, and there was no encore. If I had paid full price, I would have felt ripped off. Full price started at 50 bucks and only went up from there. Even the Scorpions show was longer and more involved than that. However, the slags seemed to love it and cheered with every male bashing joke told. I guess the target audience was satisfied, but I could have gotten the same result with a cold beer and a DVD on my recliner at home. In a venue like the Bridgestone Arena, it was anything but intimate and I ended up watching most of it on the jumbo-tron. I had a couple of good laughs but overall, I might as well have watched E! and Comedy Central and argued with drunk idiot bimbos at my own house.

Monday, September 13, 2010

The Black Crowes

Last night I capped off my weekend at the Ryman with a Black Crowes show. Getting there a little early, I must have asked a thousand people for an extra ticket before a guy finally came up to me and said "here man, take this." A free ticket. It was a miracle. The only extras I had seen were going for at least 60 bucks and it was after the show had started. Just goes to show, never give up on the ticket search.

I got to the balcony just as the Crowes were finishing their acoustic set opener, "Soul Singing", with the drummer playing a bass drum pep band style at center stage. I immediately went to my usual spot next to the light guy and focused my attention on the reason I really wanted to see this show. Luther Dickenson from the North Mississippi Allstars has been playing guitar for a couple of years and I knew this was gonna make for a good show. Not being a huge fan, I kind of knew what to expect but I had no idea what a show I was in for. The rest of the set was about as non-acoustic as an acoustic set can be. The guitar players played semi-acoustics and sat on stools, but the rest of the band played pretty full on. Even Luther played some rippin' solos. The set contained melodious versions of "Bring On, Bring On" and "Thorn In My Pride", and it was cool to hear the old hit "She Talks To Angels" as a set closer with Luther's flavor added in.

We took a long smoke break and missed the electric set opener, Joe Cocker's "Feelin' Alright", making it back to my seat in time for the last half of "Seeing Things For The First Time". It was clear that the band was ready to bring the boom with the second act. The guitar interplay between Luther and Rich Robinson sounded really natural with about a hundred different guitars throughout the night and perfect chemistry between the players. Sven Pipien was solid on bass and Adam MacDougal had the perfect rock key rig. The was a B-3, a clav, a Wurli and a Rhodes, and a stand-up piano. What else does a rock band need? As the set wore on, I was sure that every song would be the last one. They just kept on playing and the energy kept getting stronger. The last run of "Jealous Again", "Remedy", and "No Speak No Slave" were, in my opinion, the strongest of the night. The jam in NSNS peaked over and over again and they left the stage to a stained glass shattering applause. When they came back for the encore, it was no surprise when they played Eric Clapton's "Don't Know Why" and closed out with their staple hit "Hard To Handle". As they walked off the stage, Chris said "Thanks guys, we'll see ya' when we see ya'." I guess after this tour ends, so does the band, at least until they run out of money.

This show was almost like 4 shows in one. There was the incredibly righteous Luther Dickenson show, easily the highlight of the night for me. There was the Rich Robinson show, waiting with baited breath to see if he really was going to kill his brother or if he just looked like it. There was the Chris Robinson show, watching him dance around like a half velociraptor, half gay chicken, singing like only he can. And then there was the rest of the band show, with great keys, bass and percussion. There were even a couple of big legged women with plenty of soul singing back ups. But when all these things came together, the collective machine put one helluva sick mega-show. I'm glad I finally got to see these guys. They really are a great example of good ol' American rock and roll.

On a side note, I just wanna say how cool it is to be able to see two hall of famers in a row at the Ryman Auditorium. This place is a world-class venue. Sometimes it's easy to take it for granted when getting harassed by the senior citizen staff or waiting in the long bathroom lines, but seeing a show here creates a lifelong memory every time. Not to mention being able to cross the alley, sneak into the V.I.P party at Robert's Western World, drink free beer, and meet Patrick Keeler. Man I love this town.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

The Pixies

I can't thinka nothin...

If there is one band that could be credited with the sound of the 90's, it would have to be The Pixies. In a time where Guns N Roses, Motley Crue, and Poison ruled the rock waves, The Pixies came around with their version of what would eventually become known as "alternative" rock. This band left their unique stamp on music, influencing just about everyone from Nirvana, to Radiohead, Blur, and U2, while keeping a style that no one ever came close to duplicating, much like the Beastie Boys, Johnny Cash, etc. After an eleven year hiatus, they have been reunited since '04, almost as long as their original run. With this year being the 20th anniversary of the release of the classic album Doolittle, Black Francis and company have taken the record to the road, playing it in its entirety, B sides included. Apparently it was a good idea, as they sold out the Ryman so fast they had to add a second night.

Having already paid full price a few weeks ago for a ticket, I arrived in plenty of time to scope out my seat and wait for the openers to start. I wasn't too excited to see a folding table with a computer and a bunch of tweeky gear set up. When the F*ck Buttons (yep, that's right) started, I couldn't get out of there fast enough. With the intricate melodies and dynamics of the Pixies, don't give me a bunch of loud treble noise and seizure inducing strobe lights as a "supporter". I say, if they were going to go with an obscenity in their name, they should have gone with the Sh*t Buttons. This was a great way to empty the auditorium, totally flooding the smoking deck and merch lines, and giving me a chance to catch up with an old friend, the guy who actually got me into The Pixies.

After waiting for the F Buttons to end, then waiting for the crew to turn the stage over, the show finally started. Without turning down the house lights, the big screen started to show the Salvador Dali film Un chien andalou, about which "Debaser" was written, garnering a squeal from the crowd with the slicing of the eyeball. Then the lights went down and the band took the stage. They started with B sides from Doolittle, slightly confusing some of the fans. You could almost hear the collective wheels turning, as if to say, "wait, this isn't "Debaser", what's going on here?"

When they finally broke into "Debaser", the place went crazy. The band nailed every little sound and nuance from the record, and with two of the most recognizable voices in all of music, Black Francis and Kim Deal belted it out as only they can, while the rest of the theater sang along. Really, Kim Deal is one of my favorite singers in the world. Her voice is equal parts raspy and soft, perfectly complimenting Francis' screams and growls. As they rolled through the set, I could only stand and watch with awe. Joey Santiago was spot on with the lead guitar on songs like "Here Comes Your Man" and "I Bleed", and it was cool to see the band recreate all the noise on "There Goes My Gun" and "Silver". My personal favorites were "Mr. Grieves", "Hey", and the set closing "Gouge Away".

They came out for the first encore with more B sides. The slower U.K. surf mix of "Wave Of Mutilation" seemed to confuse everyone. Why would they play a song twice in one show? It was fine with me, as this was the only song I missed in the set due to a bathroom break. How often do you miss a song, only to hear it played again later in the show? Then they absolutely flooded the stage with smoke and gave a sick rendition of "Into The White", before leaving quietly again.

I thought the show might be over, but as the crowd continued to clap and the lights stayed down, we all realized that there would be a second encore. They finally returned and Kim coyly whispered "we also know some A sides." They tore into a run which ended with Bossanova's "Dig For Fire" and two of their most recognizable numbers from Surfer Rosa, "Where Is My Mind" and "Gigantic".

It was incredible. This band truly is one of the most influential bands in rock history. Seeing them play was something I will never forget, and will be a show to which all others are compared. My love for Kim Deal has only grown stronger, and the rest of the band just signed their application for the hall of fame. I hope they can stand each other long enough to celebrate 20 years of Surfer Rosa and Trompe le Monde. If they do, I'll be "one happy prick". Rock me Joe.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Laura McGhee

Tonight I went down to the Red Rooster on Music Row to see a fine lass play the weekly Billy Block show. Laura McGhee has brought her own version of Americana over from Scotland and has been sprinkling it over Nashville for about a month or so. I guess she is the first artist from Scotland to make the Americana top 40. That's quite the accomplishment. Tonight was the first time she has graced us with a full band since she's been here on this trip.

I arrived just as they were finishing sound check, which, from what I could tell, should have been a little longer as you couldn't really hear much of Laura's guitar or awesome fiddle for most of the set. After an excruciatingly long and cheesy ramble from Billy Block about all the sponsors and media outlets and bad jokes, etc., Laura finally kicked off her show.

Off stage, Laura McGhee is a sweet young lady with an infectious smile and a loud laugh. When she steps on stage, she turns into a rock star. She belts out her self-written songs with a full voice and plays that guitar like Robbie Robertson, with the whole strum-point thing down to a science, especially when she covered the Band's "The Shape I'm In". The rest of her set, all songs from her current release "Celticana", included songs ranging from a pop sound, all the way around to a country twang. Songs such as "Radio Love" and "King Of Selfishness" have a poppy shine while "Memphis Crawl" has more of a country feel. A strong catalog all around, this girl is going to take this town by storm. We might as well coin a new phrase, Nashville-Poppi-Countri-Scotti-Rockicana. Look out Neil Young. There is another foreigner beating down your door looking to take your Americana kingship away. Unlike you, this one deserves it.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

First Year In The Books

It just dawned on me that it's been about a year since I started this little hobby. All I can say is that it's been a great year. I have gotten to see so much live music. I have been to shows I've always wanted to see, some that I never wanted to see, and some that I didn't know anything about, all the while taking the new approach of documenting it along the way. There has even been a bit of controversy, which to me was hard to believe that anyone was reading, much less taking so seriously this little blog that I started.

The great thing about this blog is that it gives me an outlet for my opinion. That being said, just because it's my opinion, doesn't always make it right. One thing I've kind of wished for is more in the comment section. Come on people, if you agree, let me know. If you disagree and have a take other than "you're an idiot", let me know. Even if your take is "you're an idiot", let me know. Let's have a conversation and discuss our love of live music. Believe me, I'm no stranger to people disagreeing with me.

So here's to another good year. I'm looking forward to the Pixies at the Ryman next weekend and many more to come. I love doing this and I appreciate everyone who reads, and I hope that maybe I've turned someone on to something they've never heard of before.