For a person so beyond their years in sheer talent, chronological age can be rather insignificant. In Laura Marling‘s case, her age is relevant only in that she can now enjoy a glass of wine on stage. Long-time fans have experienced this coming-of-age with Marling, surely the most noticeable change between tours. The quality of her voice and the content of her songs maintain their excellency.
The crowd was captivated as Marling delivered a beautiful set at Hotel Cafe Sunday night. As she tuned her guitar between songs, the room remained silent. “My father dreads coming to my shows. He just can’t believe I don’t do more to make everyone feel comfortable,” Marling said.
One of the unique things about a Laura Marling show is precisely that – these moments between songs, their silence further punctuating the songs themselves. Perhaps the reason her father noticed is because it’s rare – the uncomfortable silences as everyone hangs on whatever it is Marling may do next – tune her guitar, critique her wardrobe, or offer additional insight about a song. The crowd doesn’t stir, fidget with their cell phones, nor move to the bar for a drink. They are spellbound.
At one point, Marling mentioned that she was a bit nervous about the transparency of her dress. “My mom always said to wear matching underwear in case you get hit by a bus. . . but she didn’t say anything about standing in a room full of people in a see-through dress.”
Marling played for just over an hour. As she made her way toward the end of the set, Marling explained that she doesn’t do encores, joking it’s one way she avoids awkward, self-conscious moments. I can tell you about the silences and stillness between songs, but her performance and the songs themselves are something you should experience first-hand.
Peter Gabriel is currently touring in honor of the 25th anniversary and re-issue of his album, So, with the band from the original tour — bassist Tony Levin, guitarist David Rhodes, drummer Manu Kache and keyboardist David Sancious.
When Gabriel took the stage at The Hollywood Bowl Saturday night, he prefaced the show, to let the crowd know what they could expect. He explained that the set would be divided into three sections, like a good meal or story. The first section would be the quiet section, the foundational history. The second piece would be the “rock bit”. During the third segment – “the dessert” – Gabriel and band would perform the album So, straight through. In his attempt to set expectations, he had already exceeded them.
Then came the music. The entire show felt like an encore, brilliant song upon brilliant song. Gabriel kicked off the set with “Come Talk To Me”. His voice sounded spectacular, the band incredible. Next up, “Shock The Monkey”, which made me question whether we’d already moved on to the “rock” bit. But no, this was still the set-up, the first couple of chapters, reeling the audience in deeper and deeper. “Family Snapshot” concluded the first segment. It may have been the introduction, but the crowd was already on its feet.
“Digging In The Dirt” initiated the second segment – the rock bit. “After all that digging, it’s time to enter a ‘Secret World’,” Gabriel said, announcing the next song, one of my personal favorites. With the “rock portion” of the show, came an equally energetic light show, appropriately accompanying Gabriel and band through “The Family and The Fishing Net”, “No Self Control”, “Solsbury Hill”, and “Washing of The Water”. By this stage, the crowd had already gotten their money’s worth and Gabriel hadn’t even begun the advertised portion of the concert, playing So, start to finish.
Gabriel continued to mesmerize the crowd during the “dessert” section of the set. “Red Rain”, “Sledgehammer”, and “Don’t Give Up” hit with such force and momentum, I don’t recall breathing. Song by song, Gabriel delivered So spectacularly.
Gabriel’s stamina and energy is enough to embarras those far younger who even considered sitting down during the show. Even when he sang the entirety of “Mercy Street”, lying on his back, Gabriel’s performance was powerful beyond belief.
As the audience was being transported through time, John Cusack walked out on stage and presented Gabriel with a giant boombox, reminiscent of that famous scene in Say Anything. Raising the boombox above his head, Gabriel began “In Your Eyes”, the anthem song featured in Cameron Crowe’s anthem of a movie. The crowd sing-a-long was in full effect, but simultaneously and respectfully gave way to the divine sound of Gabriel’s voice. Gabriel made a point of thanking and acknowledging Cusack as well as Cameron Crowe, who was also in attendance. “Cameron Crowe made this song famous,” he said.
Upon completing “dessert”, Gabriel returned with dessert wine, closing the evening out with “Biko”.
Not many artists can successfully tour on an album that’s more than a quarter of a century old. Given his body of work, Gabriel could do it successfully, many times over. Each song tells a story so engaging, so universal, that you yearn to hear it repeatedly. Collectively, they make up an album that speaks volumes, So.
A limited edition So box set, special edition 3 CD set, and newly remastered CD will be released on October 23. For more info or to pre-order, please visit http://petergabriel.com/
Great Northern kicked off the evening with songs and a performance that sucked you in like a good novel. It almost felt like a trick; a welcome trick. The songs went places I didn’t expect them to go, not because they were new to me, but because they actually had an arc, momentum, story, and fervor to them that (I feel) is becoming a lost art in both mainstream and indie music.
Becky Stark took the stage next and cooed songs about love. Optimism and naivety were in a constant dance. On the surface, rose-colored glasses. Yet Stark allows you to peer through the window, and deep into the uncertainty that sparks a once silent prayer into a song.
Next up was one of my favorites, Daniel Lanois. Among the things I love and respect about Lanois:
He’s a kind, wonderful person
He’s a brilliant musician
He has produced some of my favorite albums
His instrumental songs express more than many songs that have lyrics
He is a reminder to make sure we let people know how much we appreciate them, every time we have the opportunity
Lanois sounded amazing. His shows are always a treat. They will spoil you, as you constantly feel you’re being rewarded, just for being there, just for being alive. If you don’t think you’ll remember to check his website for shows in your area, set up a Google alert. If you’ve seen Lanois before, see him again. And again. And again.
Father John Misty’s entertaining set concluded the night. This was my first time experiencing Josh Tillman’s solo endeavor, though I’ve surely heard the buzz. At this point, buzz makes me skeptical so I’ve been cautiously and intentionally avoiding Father John Misty. Last night’s performance was a buzz killer – in a good way.
Tillman’s voice, his expressiveness, the content of his songs and the improvisational way that he delivers them is refreshing. Tillman is an artist who’s adept at integrating the current environment into his show, giving me confidence that although I’ve only seen him once, every show is unique. The audience’s enthusiasm often sparked banter, mid-song, that Tillman artfully wove into his performance, so that it was additive rather than distracting.
Tillman’s quick wit is as admirable as it is entertaining. It requires full presence and awareness in each moment, while he is simultaneously lost in song. I look forward to seeing him again.
Thomas Lindsey kicked off the night with tremendous courage, backed by his exceptional talent. The crowd at The Troubadour was living Friday night like they earned it – cocktails flowing, conversations buzzing – the room was charged. . . and loud. With no introduction, Thomas Lindsey took the stage, looked around, and began to sing. No instruments. No band. It took Lindsey precisely 17 seconds to silence and command the attention of everyone in the room.
Given Stewart’s talent and true genius, his shows are something that need to be experienced first-hand. He takes music, rock & roll, community, collaboration, and style to new heights. If you pay attention to the subtleties, you’ll also discover his quick and poignant sense of humor. Something about Stewart – everything about Stewart – will make you feel more alive, infinite, and connected. He reminds you that rock & roll is meant to be fun, celebratory, and invigorating.
As is the case with Stewart, Stewart’s 12-year old daughter, Kaya, is a talent you need to see for yourself. She will blow you away, period. Kaya raises the bar. The music business should be afraid.
Stewart was joined on stage by a great group of exceptionally talented friends. Among my favorites – and I’ve seen her before – is Orianthi. If you don’t know who she is, look her up. If you haven’t seen her perform, prioritize it on your to-do list. She’ll simultaneously kick your ass and melt your heart, simply in the way she plays. Then, after a couple hours of giving everything she has to live music, she comes off stage and gives everything she has to fans, signing autographs, posing for pictures, and having in-depth, meaningful conversations. If you didn’t know better, you’d think everyone Orianthi met in the crowd for the first time was actually a long-time, dear friend. Again, she’ll kick your ass and melt your heart.
You had to be there. I was there and came home so amped up I couldn’t sleep. Time for coffee.
Here are some pictures:
Thomas Lindsey silenced the entire room, using nothing other than his voice
Metric‘s live shows are consistently phenomenal. I’m so excited to be giving away a pair of tickets to see them at The Greek Theatre! I saw Metric’s secret show earlier this year and the new songs are as wonderful live as your old favorites.
One lucky Rock Is A Girl’s Best Friend reader will win a pair of tickets to see Metric at The Greek Theatre LA on Tuesday October 9. Here’s what you need to know to enter:
The contest begins now and ends at 12:01am ET October 1, 2012 (9:01pm PT September 30)
You will see there are several ways you can enterand you can get additional entries for each thing you choose to do. You can follow us, tweet about us, like us on Facebook, and more. ENTER NOW
Winner (1) will be selected by random.org and notified via email on October 1, 2012. Winner will have 24 hours to respond before a new winner is selected
Your tickets will be available for pick up at Will Call at The Greek Theatre on the evening of the show
Transportation and accommodations not included
Metric (photo by: Justin Broadbent)
Metric is currently on tour in support of their fifth studio album, Synthetica. For every ticket purchased a download of their first single, “Youth Without Youth” will be delivered to fans as well as a digital copy of Synthetica and 5 Synthetica Reflections tracks.
The new album follows on the 2009 self-release of Fantasies, which debuted Top 10 worldwide on iTunes Rock Albums charts and made Metric the first band to achieve its first Top 20 hit at U.S. commercial radio on a self-release. In addition to playing packed houses the world over in support of Fantasies, Metric picked up JUNO Awards for “Alternative Album of the Year” and “Band of the Year,” contributed the lead single to the Scott Pilgrim vs The World soundtrack, and landed on the Academy Awards’ short list for Twilight‘s “All Yours,” which they co-wrote with composer Howard Shore. They have since partnered up with Howard Shore on another project: The score to David Cronenberg’s latest film Cosmopolis, which was composed by Shore and performed by Metric.
Lead single “Youth Without Youth” was released digitally throughout North America on May 1st, tackling the topic of a fraying social state with bristling energy, lyrical complexity and driving rhythm. Strong beats and futuristic, yet organic sounds propel Synthetica from the pulsating, grimy throb of lead track “Artificial Nocturne” through the infectious singalong of “Speed The Collapse,” gut-wrenching meditation “Dreams So Real”, and hypnotic morality twister and album closer, “Nothing But Time.” In all, fans can expect a typically unforgettable night full of highlights from both previous Metric releases and the powerful, catchy, and lyrically captivating new Synthetica.
For “official” information about The Greek Theatre, you can check out their website, but here’s my take: The Greek Theatre is one of my all-time favorite music venues. Start to finish, The Greek Theatre is an EXPERIENCE! You can get there early, picnic, and drink wine. If you don’t mind a walk, you can park on Vermont and enjoy the walk to and from the venue. If you’re reading Rock Is A Girl’s Best Friend, chances are you’re not the type to leave the show early, so you can take the easy route and commit to the stacked parking option. The venue is beautiful, outdoors, surrounded by trees. The sound is impeccable. I’ve seen some of my favorite shows at The Greek and I’m very excited to share these opportunities with you.