Monday, April 27, 2015

Spandau Ballet

Soul Boys of the Western World & Finale Tour

This British New Romantics group became a huge success during the 1980's with songs such as "True" & "Gold."   Topping the charts for over 500 weeks in the UK, Spandau Ballet is back on tour in the United States for Spandau's last go-around with new music for adoring fans. The group itself dates back to the whirlwind days of the late 1970's and is back on tour for one last dance.
A vibrant club sound that once was the backbone, the nerve center for a great mix of heavy bottom dance grooves, lives again at the House of Blues.  
Tony Hadley

The show kicked-off strong with "Soul Boy" in this standing room only crowd of 1300 spectators. Notably performed, was "Highly Strung"  as Spandau Ballet performed all the classics under the lavender stage lights that illuminated the House of Blues music hall. Members include: Tony Hadley (Lead Vocalist), Gary Kemp (Lead Guitarist) Steve Norman (Saxophone/ Percussion) Martin Kemp (Bassist) Toby Chapman (Keyboards) and John Keeble (Drummer). Spandau Ballet dedicated the next set-list to Steve Strange, whom recently passed away in March 2015. Strange was a well know singer and pioneer for the New Romatics movement. Furthermore, Strange managed the Blitz Club in Soho and central London. "We did not have any money back then, explained saxophone player, Steve Norman. During Norman's interview with the Telegraph, he added that Mr. Strange, aka Stephen John Harrington was a generous and caring human being with a massive heart."
Gary Kemp

With this intention, the music hall became a substantial heartbeat, as the room filled with a steady drum tempo by Keeble. Together, the crowd attempts to Free-Style-Step and completing Open Turns to "Reformation" in this sold-out venue.  Hadley may see you running in his dreams, but he will not see anyone trying to do the Moonwalk on this packed dance floor. Equally important, is the low vibrato that Hadley delivers after all these years. A classically trained music instructor could perhaps tell that Mr. Hadley still has the vocal pipes of a 30 year old singer.

Steve Noman
As the white hot spotlight glowed around Norman and his Brassy Sax with "I'll Fly For You." That smooth bass line continues along with harmonizing vocals that moved the audience in mind and spirit. If you took a deep breath and closed your eyes, one could feel the music of Spandau Ballet in the Soul. On-lookers danced that night away as Gary Kemp & Hadley went on stage to preform "Empty Spaces" and "Gold "unplugged, with a double neck custom guitar. Powder blue lights dimmed the stage as the duo sang each note with heartfelt passion. But who could forget those  "Soul Boys"  once they jammed out with a wild instrumental for about 20 minutes. Dancing stage lights that flickered to the beat of the bongos pumping the crowed more until Midnight.

All Photos by: The Evil Genius, Spandau Ballet 2015©
Ultimately, Spandau Ballet has never lost the bass thumping grooves, nor did they lose those power vocals that each possess. And as they closed the set out with Gold, Gary Kemp make a deep connection with his audience. Tony Hadley raised his martini class for one last Salut to good heath for his audience. A distinguished gentleman that would never stray from the New Romantics Movement. The eyes never lie and that Spandau Ballet may return in the near future.


Saturday, April 25, 2015

Whiskey of the Dammed

Hardcore Hoe-down at the Hard Rock in Chicago.

Wow! This was an awesome night. We had just witnessed Whiskey of the Dammed preform at the Hard Rock Cafe in Chicago.  But first, let me tell you about Anthony Stagg. Who in the Hell is that guy, you may ask? Well, when you have a magazine editor covering the bar bill, it's good ettiquite to know the hired hands in this blue-collar town filled with white-collar crime.  Stagg's just received his two year employee pin at the Rock, and escorted Miss Gina and I at our reserved table. "Everything is on the house Mr. Pelletier," explained Stagg. Your magazine said to run a tab and not worry about a thing. "Great," I said. Just give us a few minutes and we'll be ready to order."

We ordered our drinks first, and began to talk about Maiden Chicago. Yeah, I like those guys, said Stagg. They're big-time and that music ain't easy to play."  "Well," I replied with a smile, the bass player is a friend mine and likes that Trooper beer. Stagg paused momentarily, taking our order. Yeah, I wasn't aware of the Trooper beer until that night Maiden Chicago played that night," he said. I told Anthony Stagg about Bill Swanson giving me a Trooper beer and ordered another Guinesss.

Ah- but that Maiden story was written years ago.  Now the time has come to cover Whiskey of the Dammed, from Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  A genre of  Celtic Rock, feel good music for the entire family. The show was full throttle in the beginning with a nice steady tempo and raw sound. Members of this Irish Nun flogging ensemble include: Eoin McCarthy (Guitar/ Vox) Matt Schuetz (bass) Brian Link (Accordion) and drummer, David Web. The never ending flow of toe tapping music, Guinness stout and moonshine madness consumed this drunken pirate. "RRRR, Mate, bring us more drink," I said, as the the night went on.

There were not fancy stage lights, no mosh pits and the crowd seemed a little subdued. Web's energy was eccentric as he banged away at two sliver beer kegs during one of the songs.  Schuetz offered a solid foundation as Link filled in the rest of these drunken sailor tunes. The mood was winding down as the stage lights dimmed.  The once fast and heavy Celtic rock, sound was now that of a quiet whisper and it was time to go home.

In any case, the bar bill was well over $200.00 and the party was over. I asked the Whiskey of the Damned if they had a set-list. "Nope," said Eoin. With that, I wished them a safe and successful tour.
If all goes well, Whiskey of the Dammed should be ending a summer tour in Murrieta, California, in late September. If you like Paddys' as much as I do, you'll dig this group for sure.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

OK Go: Show Review at the Metro.

                                 Okay, Go and Celebrate!

OK Go.
Originally formed in Chicago during 1998 and later transplanted in Los Angeles, OK Go has now become a YouTube video sensation. "I Won't Let You Down"  uses excellent stop motion photography, amazing camera angles and a snappy dance beat that is now rocking the charts. Lead vocalist, Damian Kulash and bassist, Tim Nordwind were childhood friends in some fancy art camp in Michigan. The two 11-year old boys reached for inspiration from an art instructor that would always say, "Okay, Go,"and that is how ideas are born. Other members include Andy Ross (lead guitarist)  and drummer Dan Konopka that make-up this American alternative power rock group.

Equally important, is the odd mix of people that gathered at the Metro in Chicago to commemorate an Easter weekend they will never forget. There was more joy and laughter as concert goers were all jazzed up to see OK Go. It was time to check in and receive my press credentials from a bouncer named Mando. He had a cold stone look of a convicted felon. Bank robbery, perhaps? His checkered past was no concern for this writing assignment, so rest easy folks. The time has come for an evening of celebration!

The night kicked off with dancing and drunkenness as the confetti cannon exploded with red and yellow ticker tape. 1200 spectators filled this sold-out energy box at the Metro as the theory of Thermodynamics continued to emit musical fusion with this spectacular phenomenon. As a result, OK Go started out with thirty minutes of fist pumping, heart thumping, feel good music for their adoring fans.  However, the second law of Thermodynamics were now equal and efforts began to weaken for this standing room only event. The crowd listens to a tale about Kulash's  K-9 troubles and something that happened three weeks ago.  Next, purple lights glow the venue. A nice slow beat brings down the throttle of madness, "Skyscrapers" was  played and, that is how things went down in the Windy City.

OK Go had a very childlike stage presence that had everyone screaming for more music. Red and white swirly hard candy light effects, more confetti explosions and busting out with a cover song by Led Zeppelin was definitely one big party. Bright red lights glowed and flashed to the classic hit of "Black Dog," and chants to the known lyrics full this tangible energy box inside the Metro. Afterward, the fuel that kept this crowd burning with a heated desire depleted. Based on the laws of physics, stars are powered by nuclear fusion or in this case a large fan base. So with that in mind, the hour was getting late and it was time to find a new star to call home. 

In the same fashion, OK Go have become big stars in a small Universe. Their music, stage performance and killer light show will outshine most of the new stars. Once this happens, the illusion of time and dark matter shall be revealed. Speaking of Dark matter, Mando was still holding his post at the door. Your worst fears could come true, should you meet this man in a dark alley. Or even worse, your eighteen year old daughter invites Mando over for Easter Dinner. This is why good energy is vital to our celebration of life. Without positive elements, we could easily be sucked into a vortex of fear and control.  Don't let this happen to you. Okay, Go and live for today!