Elbow – The Seldom Seen Band

One of my favourite bands almost slipped through town without my knowledge.

I’ve been waiting FIVE years to see Elbow play in Vancouver. With only a brief 30-minute opening slot at the Commodore in support of Grandaddy in 2003 (a show I opted out on at the time, assuming they’d hit the road on their own soon after), a headlining gig was long overdue.

But, when an amazing band like Elbow, who hasn’t seen much commercial success, even with vast critical acclaim and endorsements from major artists like REM and U2, comes to town, how is one supposed to even know? If it wasn’t for my quick glimpse to a telephone pole on my way home from work and my utter astonishment and surprise (I actually gasped aloud) when I saw they were playing here – I would have missed the show and likely never even known I had.

Thankfully, I did see the poster, and I am beyond happy to report, I have now seen Elbow live, and let me tell you, it was well worth the wait!

Whoever chose St Andrews Wesley Church as the venue is my new hero. I cannot imagine a better setting for Elbow’s emotive, atmospheric brand of brit-rock. The rich sounds of the 5-piece combo with the addition of two violinists throughout the set, and the soothing vocals of lead-singer Guy Carvey seemed a natural fit for the dimly lit cathedral and was the closest I’ve come to a religious experience.

From the politically-charged lyrics of Leaders of the Free World (“the leaders of the free world are just little boys throwing stones”) to the tales of unrequited love in Great Expectations, (“you were the sun in my Sunday morning”) a song, Carvey explained as when he “got married to the first women he ever loved…on a bus….but she didn’t know about it,” each song ended with such power and fullness that it seemed like a grand finale of sorts.

Between the healthy mix of older songs and new tracks off their latest album, “The Seldom Seen Kid,” released April 22nd, Carvey warmed the crowd up with his story-telling of his childhood days as an altar boy with drummer Richard Jupp (“we wore dresses for Jesus”) and chatted with various members of the audience. And the audience ate it up. When they weren’t bursting into standing ovations or laughing hysterically at Carvey’s rambling stories and witty remarks, the crowd was on the edge of their pews, silent in anticipation between songs.

It was one of those shows that leave you wanting more. My back was sore from the wooden pew and my ears were throbbing from the speaker right beside me, but it didn’t matter this time – I could have stayed another two hours just as happily.

The thing about Elbow, is that they just aren’t your normal rock band. There’s no pretension, ego or attitude, just music. They are just a bunch of blokes from Manchester who love doing what they do. Simple as that.

Like A Vancouver Virgin….

BIG Concert Announcement this morning! Madonna is coming to Vancouver! While hard to believe, it will be “her madgesty’s” first stop in our fine city and she will be joining the ranks of the Rolling Stones, U2 and Pink Floyd by playing BC Place! While I haven’t been much of a Madonna fan for the past, oh, 20 years or so…I have to admit, part of me really wants to go. I mean, I’ve never been to a pop concert and if there was one I was going to go to, she would probably be the one to see. With all the stage set-ups, costume changes, dancers and lord knows what else that goes on at a Madonna concert, I’m sure it would at the very least be entertaining! Tickets go on sale Saturday, May 24th at 10 am and range in price from $55 to $350.
Oct 03- East Rutherford, NJ – Izod Center
Oct 06 – New York City, NYMadison Square Garden
Oct 07 – New York City, NYMadison Square Garden
Oct 15 – Boston, MATD Bank North Garden
Oct 18 – Toronto, ONAir Canada Centre
Oct 22 – Montreal, QCBell Centre
Oct 26 – Chicago, ILUnited Center
Oct 30 – Vancouver, BCBC Place Stadium
Nov 01 – Oakland, CA – Oracle Arena
Nov 04 – San Diego, CAPETCO Park
Nov 06 – Los Angeles, CADodger Stadium
Nov 08 – Las Vegas, NVMGM Grand
Nov 11 – Denver, COPepsi Center
Nov 16 – Houston, TXMinute Maid Park
Nov 19 – Philadelphia, PAWachovia Center
Nov 22 – Atlantic City, NJ Boardwalk Hall
Nov 24 – Atlanta, GAPhilips Arena
Nov 26 – Miami, FLDolphins Stadium

Madonna’s “Sticky & Sweet” North American tour dates:

Kanye’s Glow in the Dark Tour

By Guest Contributor: Alon

On April 16, accompanied by some friends, I embarked on a four-hour drive to Seattle, to see one of my favorite musicians, Kanye West, live in concert. For West, along with lyrical hip hop up and comer Lupe Fiasco, Caribbean pop diva Rihanna and rock-rap powergroup N.E.R.D., April 16 marked the first of over 40 dates in the highly-anticipated Glow in the Dark Tour.

As fans entered Key Arena, they were showered with complimentary glow in the dark headbands and a variety of merchandise for sale, from “Stronger Glasses” to t-shirts. After a half-hour or so, all the lights in the arena suddenly blacked out and a voice greeted the audience. The voice belonged to Grammy-winning MC Lupe Fiasco, who was the opening act on the tour. Fiasco and his FNF label-mates, dressed in all red, went on to deliver a simple and clean set, mirroring Fiasco’s pure, lyric-driven musical style. Lupe performed various mainstream singles, such as Superstar, Kick, Push and Hip Hop Saved my Life, but also made sure to incorporate lesser-known songs into his routine, including my personal favorites Daydreamin’ and Streets on Fire.

After a brief intermission, Pharrel’s rock-rap power-group N.E.R.D took to the stage. N.E.R.D’s performance, in contrast to Lupe’s simplistic one, incorporated everything from smoke effects to a large L.E.D screen, which made for one “trippy” backdrop. The group literally shook the arena, bringing every fan in the stadium to their feet and turning what was a hip-hop concert a few minutes prior, into an all out rock show. In fact, N.E.R.D rocked out so hard, that by the end of their set, lead singer Pharrel had lost his voice!

After another brief intermission, Caribbean diva Rihanna took to the stage. Rihanna, dressed in hot pink, took the concert in yet another direction, incorporating backup dancers, props, costume changes and flashing lights into her performance. As the lights flashed, the dancers danced and the fans screamed, Rihanna performed all of her biggest hits, including Pon de Replay, Don’t Stop the Music and fan favorite Umbrella, which brought everyone in the stadium to their feet once again.

As Rihanna’s set came to a close, the crowd was left with the longest intermission yet. As we waited impatiently, we watched as the stage was completely dismantled and transformed into something which looked like it flew in from outer space. Little did we know, that lights, metal objects, smoke machines, projectors, firework starters and a giant L.E.D backdrop were all being installed right in front of our eyes, to make way for the night’s headliner Kanye West. As fans impatiently began to chant “Kanye…Kanye” repeatedly, while doing “the wave”, suddenly the lights went out and a remix of Stronger began to surface out of the dark.

Though prior to this point, I was already thoroughly impressed with the concert, Kanye’s set took the Glow in the Dark Tour out of this world…literally. The rapper’s 2+ hour solo performance, featured a theatrical storyline, which involved West attempting to fix his spaceship and return back to earth, after completing his journey to find and bring back creativity. Every song performed by West was somehow incorporated into this storyline and placed in a strategic order to achieve a specific effect, with the L.E.D backdrop and stage tilting, flashing and serving as a beautiful centerpiece for some of the coolest graphics, patterns, images and 3D holograms I’ve ever seen. Though most songs came from West’s latest release Graduation, every album was covered in the set and in addition, every song was remixed specifically for the concert, with various sounds, instruments and effects added in to perpetuate the space theme of the concert. You could also tell that Kanye was giving it his all, as throughout the performance, the rapper was sweating bullets and almost collapsing out of fatigue. However, West went on for 2+ hours with no breaks, to deliver perhaps the greatest live rap performance I have ever seen in my life.

While I came into the show expecting a few good performances, The Glow in the Dark Tour completely surpassed my expectations. Not only did the concert provide me with some great live music, but it also showed me that theater, technology and a wide variety of musical genres could all be integrated into one tour, to create something truly spectacular.

“Steppin’ Out” to Joe Jackson

Vancouver Concert Review

I had the opportunity to see Joe Jackson at the Chan Centre in Vancouver last night. While not familiar with most of his music, I was told that it would be a great show and I’ve always wanted to check out the Chan Centre, as I heard it was an amazing venue – so off I went!

The Chan Centre is located at the northern end of the University of British Columbia campus overlooking the ocean. Nestled amongst the cherry blossoms, the unique circular tower looks more like a power-station than a state-of-the-art theatre.

Once inside, the crowd was buzzing. Many fans have been waiting over 10 years for Jackson to return to Vancouver. Shortly after 8, the lights dimmed and the audience erupted in applause and cheers, while Jackson walked on stage, sat at his grand piano and started the set with his 1982 hit Steppin’ Out to the audience’s absolute delight.

Playing with only two other musicians (the incredibly talented bassist Graham Maby and drummer Dave Houghton), the trio’s tunes filled the auditorium crisp and clear as if they were playing right in your ear.

Jackson was in good spirits with his quick British-wit on form cracking jokes between many of the songs. He seemed sincerely appreciative of the warm reception, even stating at one point that he was surprised by the turn-out as he was half-expecting to show up to “two men and a dog.”

Along with older hits like You Can’t Get What You Want (Till You Know What You Want) and It’s Different For Girls, which were very well received by the crowd, Jackson played a number of songs from his latest album, Rain.

One of the highlights of the performance for me was a song called Solo which Jackson performed, you guessed it, solo. A heart-wrenching ballad, which Jackson explained, was about loneliness and solitude, had me fighting back tears to the sounds of sniffles all around me.

With his band back on stage, Jackson kicked things up a notch with a cover of his “American musical hero,” Duke Ellington’s Don’t Get Around Much Anymore and a unique piano-based arrangement of Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps) by his “English musical hero,” David Bowie. He teased the crowd saying he wanted to include a song by his “Canadian musical hero, Leonard Cohen, but sing it in a falsetto just to be perverse.”

Of course the crowd was eagerly anticipating Jackson’s biggest single, Is She Really Going Out With Him, which he held out on performing until the encore. The crowd clapped and sang along and ended the song with a drawn-out sing-a-long to the line “something going wrong around here.” The final song of the evening, A Slow Song, wrapped things up for the evening as each member left the stage one-at-a-time while Jackson continued on the piano. By the time he had finished the song the crowd was already on their feet with a final standing ovation.

And I say hello…

Hey! Thanks for checking out my blog! I look forward to posting new concert announcements, reviews and just general music talk all the time!

Why am I blogging about concerts? There’s nothing I enjoy more than live music! I’ve been to hundreds of concerts…I started a list once, but nearly drowned in a sea of ticket stubs…perhaps this blog will be just the place to complete that list!

This past year has been a big concert year for me. I ticked off quite a few boxes on the “Concerts I Have to See Before I Die” list, with the inclusion of The Rolling Stones, Van Morrison and Bruce Springsteen & the E-Street Band. I’m still waiting on Led Zeppelin to announce a tour (I’m convinced it’s only a matter of time) and Paul McCartney (1/4 of the Beatles is likely the closest I’ll ever come). Along with the legends, I’m a huge fan of anything “brit-rock” (SEE the Editors if you get the chance) and like to check out the local Vancouver scene every once in a while as well (insert shameless plug for my friends in Whitfield, Retrograde, TV Heart Attack & Sweetheart).

Well, stay tuned for much more! This is gonna be a big week for me!

Cheers, M