The Power of Lowering Expectations – A Concert Review of The Police at MSG

Adapted from my initial concert review on my Livejournal site. The original piece was more of a play-by-play of each song at the show.

Concert Review:

The Police

August 3, 2007

Madison Square Garden

Maybe when Stewart Copeland is done being a drummer, he has a possible career as a political spin doctor.

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Presence of the Lords – A Concert Review of Eric Clapton/Steve Winwood at MSG

Concert Review:

Eric Clapton and Steve Winwood

February 25, 2008

Madison Square Garden

The knock on Eric Clapton is that he plays to the level of the musicians around him. His best days were in bands, surrounded by the likes of John Mayall and John McVie in the Bluesbreakers, Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker in Cream, Baker and Steve Winwood in Blind Faith, and Duane Allman, Bobby Whitlock, Jim Gordon and Carl Radle in Derek and the Dominos. As a solo artist, his albums and tours often turn into boring, uninspired affairs unless he’s collaborating with a talented musician that can push him, like a Mark Knopfler, a Stevie Ray Vaughan or a B.B. King.

Or a Steve Winwood. The two took part in the aforementioned Blind Faith, a supergroup whose hype far exceeded its actual output. The band, which began when Clapton and Winwood started hanging out after Cream and Traffic, their respective bands, broke up, was never intended to be anything more than an informal side project between two friends. Then Baker showed up and it turned into a “thing,” a “thing” that touched off a bidding war between record companies, a “thing” that caused riots to break out at their shows, and a “thing” that pushed Clapton away, causing said “thing” to die a premature death.

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Album Review: “Chinese Democracy” by Guns ‘N Roses

Another one of my old favorites from my Livejournal blog. If I could add anything, it would be that the album does NOT get better with age.

I have no idea if Axl Rose is a Star Wars fan.

On the one hand, I would doubt it. After all, Axl doesn’t strike me as the kind of sci-fi nerd that would wait in line for tickets and dress up like Obi-Wan Kenobi at Comic-Con.

On the other hand, the galactic soap opera that is Star Wars could very well have served as an inspiration for some of Guns N’ Roses’ high-concept and utterly confusing videos from their heyday in the early 90’s. “Don’t Cry” showed Axl’s domestic trauma and battle against his inner demons, kind of like Anakin Skywalker’s struggle with the Dark Side and his dysfunctional relationship with his son. “November Rain” showed Axl at his happiest, only to lose everything at the end, kind of like how Anakin seemingly lost everything as he made his transformation into Darth Vader. “Estranged,” uh, showed Axl playing with dolphins. I don’t have a Star Wars parallel for that one. Maybe the Ewoks? Maybe whatever Jar Jar Binks was supposed to be?

Why do I bring up Star Wars? Because, like Chinese Democracy, the Star Wars prequel trilogy took decades to develop and produce, cost untold millions, and generated such ridiculously high expectations upon its release that there was no way the final product could ever live up to the hype. With Chinese Democracy, Axl Rose has finally released his Star Wars prequel trilogy. It only took 14 years, an estimated $13 million (as of 2005), and more band members than we can count (including two separate tenures by guitarist Robin Finck, whose contract expired twice before the album was even close to seeing the light of day).

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Not So Bitter, Definitely Sweet – A Concert Review of The Verve at MSG

This is an old favorite of mine. I originally wrote it for my Livejournal blog and decided it was time to import it over here. Still holds up, except for the fact that the Verve broke up shortly afterwards. That and the Robbie Williams line about not wanting to rejoin Take That.

Concert Review:

The Verve

April 29, 2008

WaMu Theater at Madison Square Garden

When the Verve released “Urban Hymns” in 1997, they seemed poised to become the biggest of all the British pop bands that were invading America from across the Atlantic during the mid-90’s. Oasis had great hooks, but they were about as likeable as smallpox. Blur couldn’t escape from the shadows of their biggest U.S. hit, the ubiquitous “Song 2” (currently playing at some sporting event somewhere in this country). Radiohead were too esoteric and were about as interested in promoting themselves as Robbie Williams was in rejoining Take That. The Verve, however, had great songs, a unique psychedelic/rock sound, a loyal and devoted fan base, and a charismatic frontman in Richard Ashcroft.

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Hello Old Friends? – A Concert Review of Cream at MSG

Concert Review:

Cream

October 25, 2005

Madison Square Garden

Irony must have played a part in Simon & Garfunkel’s decision to call their 2003 reunion tour the “Old Friends Tour.” After all, it was clear that, despite agreeing to work together once again, the pair hadn’t completely moved on from their decades-long feud. Concert reviewers detected a lack of warmth between the two, forced humor that was repeated at multiple shows (they did the “this is the 50th anniversary of the year we met, but the 47th anniversary of our first fight” joke in Los Angeles, New York and Washington, D.C., among others), and noted that Paul Simon looked like he’d rather sink another $6 million into a disastrous Broadway musical than give Garfunkel any praise or credit for his contributions to the group. The only way these two were really “Old Friends” would be if you used the word “old” to mean “former.”

Those shows were a veritable love-in compared to the Cream reunion.

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Judge Calls $75 Trillion Damage Request in Limewire Request “Absurd”

Manhattan Federal Judge Kimba Wood Calls Record Companies’ Request for $75 Trillion in Damages ‘Absurd’ in Lime Wire Copyright Case. Not as absurd as Rebecca Black’s “Friday” – an Auto-Tuned stream-of-consciousness narrative that makes “Trapped in the Closet” seem like “A Day in the Life.” (subscription required)

UPDATE (10/26/12): I engaged in a little back-and-forth with Wikipedia over the validity of the $75 trillion figure. I managed to back up my reporting, though.

Judge Dismisses Most Claims in Suit Against Jackson Estate Over Final Tour

This is it (mostly). The plaintiffs, Allgood Entertainment were wanna be starting something by suing Jackson’s estate and AEG. Both sides were getting ready for a thriller in court, but the judge handed down a decision that plaintiffs considered to be bad. Okay, I’ll stop since I’ve had enough.

Do the Evolution – A Concert Review of Pearl Jam at MSG

Concert Review:

Pearl Jam

May 21, 2010

Madison Square Garden

It certainly seems as if Pearl Jam have mellowed in recent years. They’ve started making videos again. They’ve aligned themselves with the likes of Target, iTunes, and even the makers of Rock Band. Heck, I bought my ticket through Ticketmaster, the big, evil, corporate monster (that could get even bigger after their proposed merger with Live Nation) that Pearl Jam once accused of being a monopoly.

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Blast from the Past: Return of the Concept Album

Originally posted at: Columbia News Service. (Archived here)

Once upon a time, concept albums were hip. It was a long time ago, back when the shower curtain wasn’t the only piece of vinyl in your house, and the only CDs were the ones issued by banks. If you were bored of singing the standard pop ditties about love, cars and having fun, then concept albums were the way to go. Artists like Pink Floyd, the Who and David Bowie wrote about serious issues like war, madness and consumerism and elevated themselves as artists.

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Back to the Future – A Concert Review of U2 at MSG.

Concert Review:

U2

October 14, 2005

Madison Square Garden

It’s hard being serious all the time.

U2 realized that in 1988 after critics savaged their concert film “Rattle & Hum,” accusing the band of being pretentious and over-indulgent. It wasn’t their outspoken political views that got them in trouble. In fact one of the high points of the film was the band’s emotional performance of “Sunday Bloody Sunday” that took place hours after the Remembrance Day Bombing that killed 11 in Northern Ireland on November 8, 1987. Bono launched into an emotional rant during the middle of the song condemning the bombing and yelling “F— the revolution!”

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Celebrity Death Pools Make a Killing

Original article at Columbia News Service (archived here).

The reviews are coming in:

Looks like someone Dugg it.

Stiffs.com seemed pleased with my work. And I now write for Columbian Ewes Service, apparently. I guess. After all, Columbian Ewes need representation, too.

Elizabeth Taylor hasn’t been this popular since “Cleopatra.” The Rev. Billy Graham, who was recently ranked the most influential preacher in the world, has another No. 1 ranking – one that he’d rather not have. And Fidel Castro, after many near misses in the past, might finally accomplish this year what many have long hoped for him.

Strange as it sounds, people are rooting for them to die this year.

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There Will Be Cleavage – A Review of Rob Marshall’s “Nine”

Guido Contini is a legendary and groundbreaking Italian director who has grand plans for an epic film about his beloved homeland. The only problem is he doesn’t have a script. So, he does what any good director would do. He builds grand sets, commissions fancy costumes, runs up a huge budget, and casts big-name stars. Script? Who needs a script? The movie will write itself.

Unfortunately, in the case of Nine, the latest film from director Rob Marshall, life imitated art a little too well.

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