Tag Archives: Concerts

The perfect encore

Last night I went to see The New Pornographers perform at the Orpheum Theatre here in Madison. While the absence of Neko Case was disappointing for me (get better soon Neko, we missed you!), the concert was a good one. But I’m not going to talk about the whole show, if you’re interested Muzzle of Bees has a good review on their website. I want to talk about the encore the band performed.

After a good long set of music, The New Pornographers thanked the crowd and left the stage. Here it comes, I thought. It’s such a cliché, the way rock concert encores happen these days.

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Youssou N’Dour performs in Madison

From the African country of Senegal, Youssou N’Dour is perhaps the most widely known afro-pop musician performing today. He has achieved superstar status virtually everywhere outside of the United States. I have been wishing to hear him perform live since 1990 when I first read about him, and purchased his new CD at the time, Set. Last night, Youssou and his band, the Super Etoile of Dakar, finally played a show close enough for me to attend. Seventeen years of anticipation is a lot to live up to, but the charming master of mbalax (a blending of traditional Senegalese music/rhythms, afro-cuban music, and popular western music) exceeded my high expectations.

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Ryan Adams and the Cardinals in concert

I’ve been looking forward to seeing Ryan Adams in concert since I first heard his outstanding release, Gold back in 2001. Last night that six year wait was over, when Ryan Adams and the Cardinals played a sold-out show at Madison’s Barrymore Theatre.

The band started the concert with a amazingly tight version of “Goodnight Rose.” Toward the end of the song, they jammed a bit, started fading out and sang the word “goodnight” in an almost mantra-like manner. I expected the song to continue to fade out and finish, when the band crescendoed and launched into the final chorus of the song. Wow! This is going to be good, I thought.

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Wilco’s live shows keep getting better

I’ve been to five concerts of the band Wilco, and every time I see them, they never disappoint. Perhaps my fondness for their music clouds my judgment, but with each concert I go to, they seem to get better and better. Last night, I was at Madison’s Overture Center where Wilco performed an outstanding show to a sold-out theater.

The band touched on every album from their career last night, playing more tunes from their back catalog than I expected. Some of the best songs of the night were older ones: “Too Far Apart” from their first album, A.M., and “I Got You (At the End of the Century)” from Being There. I also enjoyed the songs from my favorite Wilco disc, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot: “I Am Trying To Break Your Heart,” “War On War,” and “Jesus, Etc.”

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Tragically Hip plays Madison

When the band Tragically Hip plays in their native land of Canada, they are so popular they have to play in arena-sized venues. Here in Madison, they cannot fill a small venue like the Barrymore Theatre. At last night’s show, the theater looked to be about half full to me. More’s the pity. I’ve seen Tragically Hip several times, and from my experience, I believe the band would play their hearts out whether they were in front of 20,000 or 10. They certainly did last night.

The Hip (as their fans call them) opened last night’s concert with the first track from their latest, and very strong release, World Container. “Yer Not The Ocean,” an ode to Lake Ontario, very much in the style of The Who, was a perfect way to begin the show.

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Neko Case mesmerizes

Last night I went to the Neko Case concert at the Barrymore Theatre here in Madison. Her wonderful Fox Confessor Brings The Flood was my favorite album from last year, and I was very excited to see her perform live. I was not disappointed.

Hearing the music and that gorgeous voice resonate through the sold-out theater was an enchanting experience. From the Patsy Cline like crooning of the opening song, “A Widow’s Toast,” to the defiant (and almost shouting) end chorus of “Maybe Sparrow,” Neko’s voice was indeed the star of the show.

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Bob Dylan at the Kohl Center

Last night I went to the Bob Dylan concert at the Kohl Center here in Madison. When you go to see such a legendary performer, you bring a lot of expectations along. After all, you’ve heard those classic songs a hundred times before, in their original recorded form.

Over the past several decades, Dylan hasn’t been one to reproduce the song’s original studio sound in concert, and he certainly doesn’t sing the same way he did twenty (or even ten) years ago. However, the outstanding backing band, and that sometimes raspy voice did have more than their share of shining moments. That was especially true when they performed the bluesy songs like “Lonesome Day Blues” or “Rollin’ and Tumblin'” (a song from his newest and highly acclaimed disc, Modern Times). Musically, another strong moment came when the band opened the encore with another of the new songs “Thunder on the Mountain.”

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Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers

Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers stopped in Madison last night in the middle of their 30th Anniversary tour (they’ve been around 30 years already?). They played an outstanding show here at the Dane County Coliseum.

Because of the busy day I had at work yesterday, and the gloomy weather we’ve been having for the past week or so, I really had to drag myself off to the show. However, when Tom and the band walked out on stage and started playing the opening riffs of “Listen to Her Heart,” I was instantly glad I came. Judging by the crowd’s enthusiastic welcome, I wasn’t the only one.

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My Morning Jacket

The band I was looking forward to most at this year’s Summerfest was My Morning Jacket. Coming off the heels of one of my favorite albums of 2005, I had high expectations. I wondered how this unique band’s recorded music (which sounds elaborately produced) would come off live. I was not disappointed. The show started off with the opening drones of “Wordless Chorus.” When the lead singer got to the line “We are the innovators, they are the imitators” I thought, “you can say that again.”

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The Summerfest cup runneth over

I’ve spent the past few days in Milwaukee, hanging out with friends and going to Summerfest. One of the great things about the fest can be amount of talent that’s available. With the main-stage amphitheater and seven major side-stages there is of a lot of music going on. Sometimes, the quality of the acts on a given night can be so high it’s tough to decide which act to focus on. In some ways this can be a bad thing. Because there are so many bands you want to see, you can end up seeing a smattering of a lot of acts, missing out on each band’s entire performance.

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