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Ian Hunter, The Bell House, Brooklyn, NY: Welcome to Babylon March 30, 2012

Posted by Anton A in British music, Ian Hunter.
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Ian Hunter & The Rant Band traveled to Brooklyn tonight.  I could not help but heed the call.

 

 

 

 

 

 

They always deliver a splendid performance; tonight they seemed tighter than ever, perhaps an effect of their recent recording sessions for Ian’s new album.  Whatever the reason, they made the trip from Jersey worthwhile.

 

 

I entered the club literally as they were breaking into the opening song, All American Alien Boy.  It was nonstop music from there for four songs with Ian at the keys before he said a word to the audience; the band was rolling like a speeding train and the crowd in the sold-out room loved it.  Ian & The Rant Band play rock & roll like it was meant to be played, to my ears.

 

The backing chorus for All The Young Dudes consisted of opener Graham Parker – I was sorry to have missed him due to tunnel traffic – Lisa Ronson, Tony Shanahan and Graham Maby.

 

 

 

 

 

The occasion for this special show was a sad one; it was a benefit for bassist Graham Maby, who recently lost his wife Mary to cancer and was left with a load of expenses.  Graham, from Joe Jackson’s band, played a tour with the Rant Band a few years ago when Paul Page couldn’t make it.

 

Ian has expressed his disapproval of publication of set lists when he is playing shows regularly; he feels that this removes the surprise factor for audiences who have yet to see his current set.  Normally I wouldn’t go against that wish.  However, in the middle of this show, Ian announced, “This is the last time we’re going to do some of these songs.  We’re going to wash them out.”  Presumably the set list will be shaken up and have songs from the new album the next time Ian goes on the road.  That being the case, I believe that the current set list should be preserved for the splendid construct it is, and I’m taking the liberty of setting it down in print.  I hope that he won’t mind.

All American Alien Boy, American Music, Just Another Night, Cleveland Rocks, Isolation, The Moon Upstairs, Once Bitten Twice Shy, Arms & Legs, Flowers, Alice, I Wish I Was Your Mother, Wash Us Away, When the Daylight Comes, Sweet Jane.

Encore: It Ain’t Easy When You Fall.

Second encore: Roll Away The Stone, All The Way From Memphis, Saturday Gigs, All The Young Dudes.

More photos can be found here.

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The Pines, City Winery, NYC: Into the sky where falling stars disappear March 29, 2012

Posted by Anton A in American music, Pines.
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The Pines are, at the core, the duo of Benson Ramsey and David Huckfelt. (For those who follow pedigrees, Benson is the son of Bo Ramsey, who produces recordings and plays guitar for folk legend Greg Brown.) The two hail from Iowa and are currently based in Minneapolis. A rotating cast fills out the band; five musicians enhanced their latest album, Dark So Gold. For this tour, the duo played acoustic guitars and were accompanied by Benson’s brother Alex Ramsey on keyboards.

The Pines’ music is haunting and hypnotic. They sing of fading Midwestern landscapes, darkling skies over endless farms in the spaces that their characters inhabit. Their voices and guitars harmonize brilliantly, as if to emphasize that something always shines, however fleetingly, in the night. Their lyrics evoke a world of constant change where relationships that may or may not last are the only saving grace.

This is not a band that will leave you stomping and grinning; they’re nonetheless compelling. They touch something real in every song with the textures that they build from such sparse elements. They’re creating the most interesting folk-based music that I’ve heard in a long time. I won’t hesitate to see them again.

Southside Johnny & The Poor Fools, Mexicali Live, Teaneck, NJ: When the night has come March 17, 2012

Posted by Anton A in American music, Southside Johnny.
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Southside Johnny brought his Poor Fools to Mexicali on Saturday night. What a joy for us fans, to be able to see musicians of this caliber in such an intimate setting.

 

 

 

From the first notes of an imaginatively bluesy version of Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues, we were led on a journey through songs familiar and unknown, versions old and new.

 

 

Who would expect a hard rocking version of I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight? Johnny and the Fools have an uncanny knack for twisting a song around and making it their own.

 

 

As usual, the Fools were all over their various instruments.

 

 

 

It’s a treat to see Johnny playing guitar, expanding on his lead singer role with the Jukes.

 

 

 

I love the way they each take turns on the drums, bringing their own styles to the beat of each song.

 

 

This marked the first night that I’ve seen John Conte pick up a banjo.

 

 

 

Johnny and the Fools gave us another rousing evening. There are more in my future, and to my mind that’s a good thing.

 

 

 

 

The set list:

Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues, Love On The Wrong Side Of Town, Lead Me On, Postcards From Hell, Let’s Have A Party, Strange Strange Feeling, Down Home Girl, Can’t Let Go, Beneath Still Waters, All The Way Home, Ophelia, My Old Kentucky Home, Rosa, I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight, Parchman Farm, Johnny Too Bad, Princess of Little Italy, Stand By Me, I Don’t Want To Go Home, Ain’t No Free, Promised Land, The Fever, Walk Away Renee, Mind Your Own Business

Encore: Trapped Again

More photos can be found here.

Soulfarm, Highline Ballroom, NYC: Shine a light March 7, 2012

Posted by Anton A in American music, Soulfarm.
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Soulfarm played the Highline Ballroom to mark the beginning of the Purim holiday. What a celebration it was! Well over half the audience was in costume; everyone had a splendid time.

 

 

The band is one of the most eclectic I’ve ever seen, drawing from traditional Hebrew music, rock, folk, blues and the occasional Rolling Stones cover, with a heavy overlay of jam-band ethos. The resulting blend is something I can only describe as gypsy psychedelia. They left my head spinning.

Noah Solomon Chase leads the band on guitar, mandolin and vocals. Mitch Friedman plays bass.

 

 

 

C. Lanzbom, on various guitars, is Noah’s musical partner; they’ve recorded several albums together apart from Soulfarm. Ben Antelis keeps the beat on drums and percussion.

 

 

Dave Eggar brings a unique instrumental voice to the band, playing some of the most blistering rock & roll cello you’ll ever hear.

 

 

This is a band with a truly distinctive sound and heaps of energy. Like any good young jam band, they’ll play all night if you give them the chance. They wore me out; after nearly three hours, they were still going strong as I staggered out of the club to catch a post-midnight train back to Jersey.

More photos are available here.