The Specials and Terry Hall

specials_band2_144dpiTerry Hall’s artistry is one of Britain’s fairly well-kept secrets. Sure, the average music fan outside of the U.K. who knows a bit about punk and new wave music from the late 70’s through the 80’s will know of ska sensation The Specials, and might have known about Fun Boy Three – at least their song “Our Lips Are Sealed” (a much bigger hit for co-writer Jane Wiedlin’s The Go-Go’s.) But fewer yet will know about the bands Colourfield or Vegas (with Euryhmics founder David A. Stewart), or in fact any of Hall’s rich and varied solo work. Terry Hall lent his compositions, his smooth expressive voice, and his at times political, satirical, or dryly-humorous lyrics to many bands and projects over the years, delivering them in his distant yet passionate style, improving everything he touched.


Hall first came to be known with ska revival band The Specials in the late 1970s. Keyboardist and political activist Jerry Dammers formed the Specials. The lineup shifted for a couple of years, gelling into the most known lineup of Hall, Dammers, vocalist Neville Staple, guitarists Roddy Byers and Lynval Golding, bassist Horace Panter and rocksteady beat drummer John Bradbury. Dammers started the 2 Tone Records label in 1979, released the band’s first single “Gangsters” and then their self-titled debut album. The Specials music combines the primarily joyful sound of ska music with often politically charged and socially conscious lyrical commentary, peppered with the energy and attitude of punk.


After their second album More Specials, and the non-album single “Ghost Town,” Hall, Golding, and Staple left the group to form Fun Boy Three, who were active from 1981 to 1983. The rest of the musicians in The Specials soldiered on in various forms and bands including Special AKA, Special Beat (with members of the Beat), Sunday Best, and others. Dammers disbanded The Specials in 1984. There have been reunion shows, four album releases and various lineups of the band since that demise, but all without Dammers and most missing one or two other key members including Hall. Interest peaked beginning on the band’s 30th anniversary in 2009, which led to several tours, including one of North America in 2013 and another this year, which stopped in San Francisco at the Warfield Theater September 23, 2016.


The show was fantastic. Today Hall, Golding and Panter represent the original band, with rock-steady Libertines drummer Gary Powell just this year replacing ace John Bradbury, after his unfortunate passing in 2015. Byers left in 2014, and Staple hasn’t joined due to health issues since 2013. Nevertheless, with Hall, Golding, and Panter up front and the full compliment of musicians alongside them, the band sounds amazing and the performance is spirited. Hall himself doesn’t move a lot, and expresses himself infrequently as is his norm. Quips like (paraphrased) “hey what’s this picture of Santa doing on my can of Coca-Cola? Pepsi is the anti-Christ!” belie his continuing acerbic wit, while his real focus is on faithful delivery of the vocals, a treat for any long time fan of Hall’s restrained vibrato.


The band organized the set list creatively, starting at a slow pace with the hit single from their EP Ghost Town, building the intensity gradually over the next hour, until unleashing the one-two punch of “Nite Klub,” which drew of bit of “slam dancing” from the standing-room only crowd up front. Highlights included one of my favorite Hall compositions “Friday Night Saturday Morning,” which evoked the crowd to croon its instant-ear-worm chorus “I go out on Friday night and I come home on Saturday morning.” Later in the set, “Doesn’t Make It Alright,” and the second a-side single from the EP, “Why?” had us thinking about the sad state of race relations in America:

I’m proud of my black skin and you are proud of your white, so
Why do you try to hurt me?
Do you really want to kill me?

Fittingly, at this point Golding admonished us all not to vote for Trump! The band continued to build the momentum, performing most of their first two albums and the Ghost Town EP to the adoring crowd. By the end, after cranking thru up-tempo songs like “Concrete Jungle,” “Little Bitch,” and “Too Much Too Young” they eased off the gas with covers “Enjoy Yourself,” and “You’re Wondering Now.”


Dammers once said that when a new innovative music comes to the fore, it can be embedded with political lyrics – he intended that The Specials be able to address the issues of racism, something every fan of the band knows well from their lyrics and between-song banter. Hall continued in this vein with Fun Boy Three, Colourfield, and his later solo work. It’s a successful brew – one that cemented the group’s reputation and importance for their fans. It’s very hard to believe that this groundbreaking band will see the 40th anniversary of their founding next year. These reunion shows are, still, highly recommended. Now, I can still wait and hope for, someday, a solo Terry Hall concert as well!

Electric Light Orchestra’s Summer Bash

elo2016_bow_144dpiElectric Light Orchestra (ELO) was an enduring British band that deftly combined orchestral instrumentation and infectious pop rock. Founder Jeff Lynne was principal writer and producer, leading the band through several incarnations, all influenced by The Beatles, Chuck Berry and other rock pioneers. From 1972 to 1986 ELO racked up more than a dozen top 20 songs on UK and US charts. Now billed as Jeff Lynne’s ELO they have been back out on the road with Lynne up front, long time band member and arranger Richard Tandy on keyboards and a crack group of musicians and vocalists, including Lynne’s daughter, as backup.


Seeing the new ensemble September 10, 2016, on the second of three sold-out nights at the Hollywood Bowl was like stepping back in time, as Lynne, band, and orchestra faithfully replicated every note of the original ELO compositions, along with a few newer tracks from Lynne’s most recent album. At around 80 minutes, incredibly, nearly every track on the set list was originally a hit or at least massively popular FM radio staple for ELO, including “Evil Woman,” “All Over the World,” “Livin’ Thing,” “Telephone Line,” “Turn to Stone” and on through seventeen songs, ending inevitably with “Roll Over Beethoven,” which as one would expect, highlighted the immense contribution of the Hollywood Bowl orchestra let by conductor Thomas Wilkins while fireworks lit the night sky. Highlights for this fan included “Mr. Blue Sky” during which original Tandy mouthed the refrain on an original or sound-alike vocorder, and “Wild West Hero,” a suite that always showed off their more creative side.


Lynne has never been much of an extrovert onstage. Going right back to the band’s beginnings he stands in place, letting the music and his clear vocals communicate his message, saying almost nothing between tracks save for brief salutations. In fact, original band members who are no longer part of the group, including long time partner Roy Wood, along with violin and cello players were the most physical performers, accentuating the music back in the day. Today a lot of the expression falls to always-upbeat bass guru Lee Pomeroy and a couple of the other current players who are inclined. To augment this, the staging has always been and continues to be spectacular. The band made extensive use of unique lighting including then-emerging laser lights, and they continue in this tradition today. The stage at the Bowl, with its semi-oval canopy, lighting rig, front projections and fireworks, as seen recently when Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour played there, offer an opportunity to masterfully present these impressive lighting and visuals. It’s an entertainment on its own-threatening to but not rendering music as accompaniment to the spectacle. Instead, Lynne’s ELO with orchestra gave us a perfect show, leaving the audience enthralled long after the last notes faded.


For this short tour, Lynne scheduled a mere five nights in Los Angeles and New York. They play Wembley in London next year – the only scheduled appearance I see for now. In my view, this would be worth a trip over the pond or for Brits, into crowded London for an evening of strange magic!


Coldplay Hot This Summer

Coldplay launched their A Head Full Of Dreams Tour this year in Latin America at the end of March and on September 3, 2016 brought the spectacle to our 49ers (Levi’s) stadium in Santa Clara, south of San Francisco. It was an amazing night of lights, confetti, stagecraft, and music, courtesy of Chris Martin and band. The event marks the group’s seventh full-length tour. Their popularity has grown to the point where they can fill massive stadiums with adoring fans, fans like me.


Followers of Coldplay take no issue with their often-sentimental lyrics and heartfelt delivery by heartthrob Martin. I’ve read some number of critics who are dismissive of this band and their music exclaiming, “There’s no crying in a rock concert!”. Fair enough, Coldplay’s songs veer towards “adult contemporary,” with few gritty guitar licks, in favor of acoustic guitar and piano. Martin’s heartfelt vocals themselves express a seeking and yearning; lyrics plumb romantic topics of love gained and lost, of self-discovery and change. This is, after all the man who very publicly decided to undergo a “conscience uncoupling” with ex-wife Gwyneth Paltrow, then penned a song called “Fun” featuring the lyrical refrain “Didn’t we have fun” to honor what they had together. Very adult. For an older example, from X&Y (2005) take concert favorite “Fix You” and the lyrics

And the tears come streaming down your face
When you lose something you can’t replace
When you love someone, but it goes to waste
Could it be worse?

Lights will guide you home
And ignite your bones
And I will try to fix you

coldplay_fixu_72dpiThose receptive to emotional import can find no better example of an act capable of delivering this kind of material with unabashed reverence. At this most recent show, Martin sang the first half of this staple “Fix You” on the stage walk, lying on his back, and you could hear thousands of young girls, and guys, but yeah, more girls, providing a sweet chorus for the band.

The payoff to all of this, when one is open-minded, is that the music and the band’s delivery can evoke strong emotions and even lead to transcendent moments of peace and inspiration. The messages are strong, the poetry is very well written, the delivery is exciting, and the music is beautifully played in concert. The sometimes overlooked band mates, including guitarist Jonathan Mark Buckland, bass player Guy Berryman and drummer Will Champion have each grown in ability and technique over the years and make a fine ensemble. The band also considered “creative director” Phil Harvey a fifth member of the group.


The set list this time out covered the breadth of their many albums, including a handful of tracks from the new album, but coldplay_chris4_72dpialso their first hit “Yellow” and “Don’t Panic” from their debut, Parachutes (2000), still my favorite. One of the new ones, played on the b-stage, “Everglow” led to a moving video tribute to Mohammed Ali, followed later by a nod to David Bowie with the cover “Life on Mars” performed with the Oakland School for the Arts choir, who also joined for final encore “Up&Up.” These were nice touches that kept interest high through the buoyant 23-song set.



The tour features design by Misty Buckley, deployed by Stageco Staging Group, just as with this year’s performance at the Super Bowl 50 Halftime show. The gear includes risers, a catwalk, lights and screens that fill 12 big rigs; it’s exceptional staging. Bursts of confetti shaped like stars and butterflies (yes, that’s right!) rain down from above while Martin sprints and spins from the main stage to the mid-stadium mini-stage, plying his trademark athletic performance. Martin draws the crowd in, encouraging all to sing along, coldplay_confetti_72dpiplaying a number of tracks with the band from the b-stage at the far end of the stadium, and popping up near the end of the show on a third stage, far to the rear and side, which along with cloud shaped projection screens, gave even those in the “nose bleed” seats a view. All the while, every audience member was given a wristband that lit up in sync with the songs, turning Levi’s Stadium into a sea of colored lights – no cigarette lighters for this crowd! It’s all part of an inclusive celebratory night of uplifting music and dance, with at least of bit of grit in parts to go with the butterflies, and yeah, a tear or two, or buckets…depends on you.




Putting on Perfume

My daughter has long been a source of inspiration to me. She has a deep and abiding interest in music, dance, and art, and her tastes have been carefully cultivated. She’s introduced me to many newer bands like Beach House, Warpaint and Mac DeMarco, both of which are now part of my own collection. When in middle school, the kid got very interested in Anime, taking colored pencils to paper to draw her favorite characters, inspired by books and movies, particularly the beautiful, surreal treasures of Hayao Miyazaki. Fast forward to high school and she took to electronic dance music (EDM) expressing her version of artful dance by incorporating lighted hula-hoops. For a graduation present my wife and I played chaperone for her and friends to go to Electric Daisy Carnival (EDC) in Las Vegas, where a film crew captured her hooping, placing a row of Vegas dancers behind! Proud Dad, check.

Perfume at The Wiltern Theater, Los Angeles, CA

I’ve endeavored over these years to support my aijou and join in on her love of all things Japanese and EDM. The concerts are hard for me to appreciate, as it’s difficult to accept the genre when the performer is just triggering deafening pre-recorded content, and no one is actually playing an instrument or singing. However, I’ve tried, and do see where some of the acts rise to the level of art. This even when at EDC I was asked by one young attendee “what are you doing here?!” I will say it’s a lot easier to see EDM events as concerts worthy of attendance when they transcend the repeated “drops” and incorporate dance, lighting effects and stagecraft to improve the level of entertainment.

Perfume_promo_72dpiWhile one such act, Perfume, won’t be everyone’s cuppa, they most definitely rise above the robotic crowd. This group of three young women, all exceptional singers and dancers, hail from Japan, performing their own version of J-pop/techno-pop internationally to great acclaim. But what brought them more to my daughter’s attention was their spectacular use of video imagery, as seen on their many Youtube videos. The imagery is not just lighting and film, but carefully choreographed graphic art and illusions that are projected onto layers of screens, which alternate between being translucent and opaque. As the dancers move in and around the panels, the effect is that they seem to appear and disappear instantaneously while graphics and filmed images take over. It almost defies explanation, but I’ll try: the dancers execute tight moves, suddenly seeming to transport across the stage to new locations, reappearing in unexpected places, or dancing in place encapsulated in or morphed into an image such as a planet, swirling shaft of light or other visual artifact. It’s truly impressive.


After struggling to find the right sound and approach early in the millennia, Perfume released their major label debut in 2005. By 2010 they performed to 50,000 fans at Japan’s biggest venue, Tokyo Dome. Since then their popularity has grown around the world. The three performers, A~chan, Kashiyuka, and Nocchi are brilliantly choreographed by dance instructor MIKIKO. Their expressive, cute dance moves, combined with perfect three part harmonies, and colorful costumes would be enough to raise interest in a large fan base. But their additional secret weapon comes in the form of visual artist Daito Manabe, who first added his craft to that 2010 show in Tokyo.


Manabe creates visual art that forges “a tighter, happier relationship between man and machine.” When applied to Perfume’s effervescent electro-pop act, the result is magic, best described on the site: “The group performs their futuristic electro wearing elaborate white dresses that act as a canvas for a constantly morphing kaleidoscope of digital graphics, which in turn interact with the images being projected on screens behind them.” Actually it’s now “images projected in front of and behind them” as special screens are mounted and mobile, able to be carried by the dancers such that the surfaces themselves can move and change as the dazzling effects play out. This effect must be seen to be appreciated:

Tokyo Dome:



Last week, on Friday August 26, 2016 at the Wiltern Theater in Los Angeles, now long into their career, and after multiple international tours, Perfume simplified their show a bit to make it more organic and personal. The stage was massive, stacked three levels high with a series of movable steps that allowed the group to traverse floors, eliciting cheers from the enthusiastic crowd. Extensive graphic effects were saved for just a few points in the show, while the majority of the songs were performed without special screens and effects; the scene at stage level projected above and behind them in real time, more like a basic singing & dancing act. While I would have liked to see more focus on the type of imagery made famous by Manabe, what they did do was joyful and captivating, more human than machine-like. I would have expected their vocals to be performed live – instead both the music and three part vocals were pre-recorded, as has been their way – forgivable really since the dance and visuals are so involving – and much preferable to a guy and a button! The young women haven’t yet mastered English, so their salutations and exclamations between songs were simple and seemingly innocent. At one point they selected an audience member who was bilingual to translate their greetings and admonitions to be happy and dance along together with them – very endearing.


Check Youtube for videos of the band, and also take a look at some recent contestants on the show America’s Got Talent and elsewhere who have used this same motion-capture and projection technique to create incredible illusions on stage. Besides Perfume and others, what’s possible is probably best seen by viewing performances by Japanese artists Hara and SIRO-A.



Nosaj Thing:


Adele Says “Hello”

Adele brought her current tour to the Oakland Arena August 2, 2016, just after two sold out nights in San Jose. The concert was fabulous in every way, from the production design, to the sound, the band, and Adele herself, who was in great spirits and exceptional voice.

The concert production (featuring creative direction and stage design by Es Devlin) focused appropriately on Adele and her vocal performance. There were no dancers, no special effects. She arrived on a “b stage” placed near the rear of the floor, starting off with “Hello,” and over the course of the concert did several songs from that position. But most of the time, she stood in front of her band that was arrayed within a diamond-shaped stage behind, at times behind a gauzy curtain that could be opaque or translucent, allowing for some nice multiple-exposure visuals via 12 projectors, and some shadow play when the band was lit from behind the curtain. One thing noticeable was how frequently white spotlights were trained on Adele with a lack of color in the rear and front-stage visuals, except for during the James Bond theme “Skyfall” when she and stage were bathed in red light. In one very impressive moment, Adele returned to the b stage for several tracks, ending with the closer “Set Fire to the AdeleRain_72dpiRain” at which point she was surrounded on all four sides by real falling water, giving the illusion of her singing within the rainfall. Then for the encore, graffiti cannons fired away, sending up white strips of paper each adorned with a lyric, or phrase that appeared to be hand-written… my wife and teen girls scooped up tons of it! Lighting designer Patrick Woodroffe and LD Adam Bassett and the stage design team did her proud, achieving the intended focus on her performance with these elegant touches.


As to Adele herself, her voice was in perfect shape. The songs she close spanned her catalog sounding as good as or better than the original studio versions. The set list was well balanced, the only cover being a sweet take on Bob Dylan’s “Make You Feel My Love.” Most were played faithfully to the originals, with two tracks done acoustically, “Million Years Ago,” and “Don’t You Remember.” Adele generally stood in place, whether main or b stage, swaying or turning a bit all while projected on front and rear stage screens to get everyone in the audience a great view.


What was unexpected for this uninitiated attendee is just how personable and funny Adele is. She greeted fans warmly, even pulling one couple on stage for selfies. She told stories from different points in her career, often in a self-deprecating way that was very endearing. There was a lot of this between song chatter, but it never wore thin, particularly since so many of her tracks are melancholic, a fact Adele herself pointed out, admitting that a lot of her songs are depressing. Yet there were enough upbeat tracks in the playlist, and between those and the banter, there was a celebratory air in the room.


All in all a wonderful, heart-warming and entertaining evening from this pop megastar, who deserves every accolade.


Rush Balance Left and Right Brain

Rush_ESLImage_72dpiRush could be described in a number of ways; they are rock gods, storytellers, and virtuosos. They are the rare band that evolved without trading away complexity or progressive tendencies and yet became incredibly successful, their popularity waxing rather than waning in the 1980s and beyond. As most readers will know, there is a question now as to how many more times Rush will play live, whether a one-off or a proper tour, given the status of the three band mates, and the vagrancies of time.


I missed seeing Rush in the 1970s and was first introduced to the band by my hard-rocking college roommate Dave Kain, who was a major fan. I really liked parts of Farewell to Kings (1977), and had no exposure to Hemispheres (1978), instead I identified most with the sound and lyrics on Moving Pictures, released in 1981. Here is what I’ve learned while researching my book, on late 70s Rush.

Geddy Lee (bass, vocals) and Alex Lifeson (acoustic and electric guitars) formed Rush with drummer John Rutsey in Toronto in 1968. In 1974, they released their first album, Rush, which sounded a little like Led Zeppelin. It included the first classic Rush song “Working Man.” Rutsey left after the first record and was replaced by ace stick-man Neil Peart. With that, Rush recruited not only one of the world’s greatest drummers, but also one of rock’s best lyricists. By 1977, Rush was bringing their epic songs and instrumental virtuosity to arenas in the US, Canada, and Europe.

Rush_farewell-to-kings-cover-600x600The band’s fifth and sixth studio albums, A Farewell to Kings (1977) and Hemispheres (1978), are two of a kind. They were both written in the Wales countryside and both contain lengthy compositions on grand themes such as space travel (“Cygnus X-1”) and Greek mythology (“Hemispheres”), and songs inspired by Romantic poetry (“Xanadu”) interspersed with short, intimate pieces (“Closer to the Heart”). The two albums are also connected by one long song in two parts. A Farewell to Kings ends with “Cygnus X-1,” the first part of a two-part epic that lasts 28 minutes. The second part, titled “Hemispheres,” kicks off the next album, Hemispheres.

Rush’s concerts for the two albums were a feast for the ears and eyes. The success of 2112 (1976) had allowed them to buy some shiny new instruments. Peart added a wide array of percussion to his arsenal: a gong, orchestra bells, tubular bells, temple blocks, and crotales. These expanded his sound palette and helped him to become one of the most versatile drummers of the period. In addition, Lee bought some new synthesizers (a Minimoog, an Oberheim polyphonic) and a Taurus foot-pedal keyboard. Lifeson showed his versatility by switching from acoustic to electric guitar, playing foot-pedal keyboard and changing his sound with a wide array of effects pedals. Watching Lee sing, play intricate lines on his bass guitar, and play a pedal keyboard with his feet all at the same time was riveting. No matter how complex and cerebral their albums were, when they played live they were always raw and visceral, and no one ever seemed to make even the slightest mistake!

Rush_HemispheresCover_72dpiThe tours for these two albums were reportedly extremely difficult for the band, not only because of the complexity of the music, but also because of the everyday circumstances of being on the road in the 1970s. They headlined both tours, but, unlike Led Zeppelin, Rush didn’t have a snazzy jet to fly from gig to gig. Driving in a van 300 miles each day across the vast expanses of Canada and the United States to reach their next destination, they dubbed the Farewell to Kings tour the “Drive ’til You Die” tour. These die-hard musicians never wanted to disappoint their fans, playing when they were sick and sleep-deprived, rarely missing a gig.

Fans recall these performances as legendary in great part because of the backing films by Nick Prince, the swirling smoke effects, and the band’s high-powered performances. The wider array of instruments expanded the overall complexity of the material, but the band still rocked hard, wringing emotion from Peart’s two-part science fiction epic. These rock gods embodied the story’s new deity, Cygnus, the god of balance: a perfect blend of Apollo (the logical thinker) and Dionysus (ruler of emotion). Mind and heart united, a balance of brain and boogie… Rush triumphed at the end of the 70s, perfectly positioned for the mega-success the experienced in the 80s.



Exit … Stage Left (1981)
Replay X 3 box set
Mercury (2006), 59 min., 1.33:1




Although short clips of early Rush concerts have been included in documentaries and as bonus material on DVD sets, the best way to see them during their epic period is to the watch Exit … Stage Left, filmed in Montreal. This concert video is on Disc One of the box set Replay X 3, released in 2006 (each of the three discs from the set is also available separately). Although the concert was filmed in late 1981, after they had released Moving Pictures, the band plays three classics from their epic period: “Xanadu,” “Closer to the Heart” and “The Trees.” Geddy and Alex’s double-necked electric guitar and bass can be seen in action in “Xanadu,” as well as Peart’s wide array of percussion instruments. The sound is a bit muddy and the lighting could be brighter, but it hardly matters in this epic display of creativity.








Alice Dies Again…

Wakeman2016Cooper_StoneFreeAd_72dpiQuite a weekend just passed at the O2 Arena, London. The Stone Free festival featured a series of bands over two days, June 18th and 19th, 2016 headlined by American rock legend Alice Cooper on day one then on day two Britain’s treasure, Rick Wakeman. It was both a complementary and divergent pairing, Alice heading a list of bands Saturday who are principally heavy rock ‘n’ rollers, such as The Darkness and Apocalyptica, and Wakeman with various progressive rock bands on Sunday including among others Steve Hackett and Marillion. I’ve seen this type of pairing before in Britain, last year’s Ramblin’ Man festival paired The Scorpions opposite Camel, and it’s entertaining just to walk around and people-watch. It’s easy to guess who came to see which bands as the rockers tend to favor adornment of leather, skulls, and crosses, and the proggers, well, they tend to arrive in carefully selected t-shirts commemorating Yes, Genesis, ELP, and so on. I started the weekend by picking up a Wakeman t-shirt so as to immediately declare my allegiance.


Having said that, I was also very excited to see Alice Cooper on “Classic Rock” day, as it was to be my first time seeing him after all the years I’ve spent in concert halls. For anyone not familiar with the history, Alice Cooper shows have featured dancing skeletons, attacking spiders, an 8-foot-tall Cyclops, broken baby dolls, and fully functioning guillotines all fronted by Alice’s vaudevillian protagonist backed by a rock ‘n roll band that Cooper_DVDCover_3x4_72dpiwould influence rock and metal upstarts for decades. In 1974, after racking up seven albums and countless concert performances, the original ban split. Singer Vincent Furnier legally adopted the name Alice Cooper, and embarked on a long and fruitful solo career. His first album and tour spawned the movie Welcome To My Nightmare that screened in 1975 at my local movie palace. I took to this film immediately, reveling in the clever stagecraft that included dancers appearing to step in and out of a movie.


Now more than 40 years on, and many solo album releases later, Alice still rocks — the concert was fantastic. As you might guess, these shows are quite well rehearsed now, a bit less anarchy on stage, replaced by more carefully crafted choreography, better lighting and effects. Yet the feeling of spontaneity and naughtiness remains, still aided with stage antics, props and costumes, continuing Alice’s long string of compelling rock ‘n’ roll Grand-Guignol, attended by the faithful and curious alike. The set list was packed with classics, beginning with “The Black Widow,” and “No More Mr. Nice Guy.” He included several hit singles ending with “School’s Out” and the encore “Elected.” Late in the set list, Alice covered four songs by departed rockers, revealing a tombstone flag for each as he honored Keith Moon (“Pinball Wizard”), Jimi Hendrix (“Fire”), David Bowie (“Suffragette City”) and Lemmy (“Ace of Spades”). Alice’s voice sounded great — he’s kept the growl, but can still deliver a ballad like “Only Women Bleed.” Of all the fine musicians on stage, Nita Strauss stood out for her demonstrative searing leads on guitar. But this show has been and remains about the performance, about making a rock concert interesting by investing the proceedings with theatrics, in this case celebrating all things macabre. And, as is tradition, Alice died once more on the guillotine, guilty as always.


p.s. oh yeah, and time to pick up some leather, skulls and crosses to balance my allegiences!


Ear Candy for the Hungry Audiophile