“Wishlist” (Pearl Jam Cover)

Originally posted 2009-03-23 23:32:01. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

For Pearl Jam chords & lyrics, CLICK HERE!

By Chris Moore:

You know what I wish?  I wish that I would wake up tomorrow and there would no longer be anyone on the entire planet who smoked cigarettes.  Never mind the health risk — which, by the way, there are few ingestible products that come with a “may cause cancer” label.  The concept of breathing tar into your lungs aside, let’s consider the ramifications to non-smokers on the road. For instance, I sat in a McDonald’s drive-through tonight for ten minutes and was delighted by not only the automobile emissions but two smokers puffing away.  The breeze was such that my car was filled with noxious fumes.

In a sense, this was great, because the fish filet and large fries actually seemed healthy by comparison!  :-)

Seriously, though, what really gets me is the disposal of the butts.  It’s happened so many times recently that I’ll be driving down the road and someone in the car ahead of me will flick a lit cigarette out of their window.  I don’t know if it’s due to me being older, a generally law-abiding dork, a teacher of transcendental texts like Emerson’s “Nature,” or a combination of the three, but this is enough to drive me crazy recently.  To paraphrase our friend Matt Griffiths from the WCJM morning show, it’s just enough to tweak my hypothalamus and send me into an uncontrollable rage!

I suppose I simply can’t imagine driving in my car, holding a lit piece of paper in my hand, and saying to myself, “I’m done with this.  Why not chuck it out the window?”  Since when did that become the acceptable form of cigarette disposal?! Think twice ye smokers, lest you piss off the drivers behind you (such as myself tonight when a highly tossed butt bounced off my car, lit ashes flying everywhere)…

For those of you wondering what this has to do with my post tonight, prepare to be dazzled.  Well, maybe not dazzled…

Just as I have ranted about something that has bothered me and later wondered if it was too negative, so did Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam decide that he should try writing something positive.  Out of a lengthier “stream-of-consciousness exercise,” we have the “better wishes” presented in this little gem of a song.  It was an instant favorite of mine upon first listening to Pearl Jam’s 1998 album Yield.  As with Binaural, I wasn’t sure what to expect with this album, as it sold less and seemed generally regarded as at least somewhat inferior to previous releases such as Ten and Vitalogy.  But I love this album, and I love this song.  For once, the song I love most is actually in my vocal range!

Okay, so that’s not entirely true.  My first pick for a song to learn and play would have been “Do The Evolution.”  For any of you familiar with that song, you should be sitting at your computer laughing at simply the notion of my attempting to sing a song like that!  I understand my own limitations!  :-)   That being said, you should take the time to search on YouTube for “Pearl Jam Evolution” and watch the official music video; it’s simply amazing — a very cool use of animation to visualize the lyrics to a song.

Along with my acoustic cover song music video tonight, I also send a shout out to my girlfriend Nicole who is a big fan of this song.  (I hope you like it!)  As she is currently in possession of my CD copy of the album and my iPod is tied up with my Bob Dylan playlist (518 out of 622 tracks!), I had to rely on my iPhone to listen to “Wishlist” tonight as I wrote out the lyrics and chords.  What a Mac nerd I am… but I love it.  Speaking of Macs, if I don’t end up writing a full review of U2’s No Line on the Horizon, please allow me to go on record saying that “Unknown Caller” has to be the worst track on the album for a number of reasons.  It’s only redeeming quality is that Bono makes lyrical references (“force quit and move to trash”) that bely his computer loyalties…

Although I have so much more I could say — about Pearl Jam’s re-release of Ten tomorrow, this song, other music, the fact that my dad and I just bought tickets to see Bruce Hornsby at the MGM Grand on Friday(!), life in general — I think this is enough for one night!  As a final note, please allow me to point out that this is officially the tenth post in the Pearl Jam category here at the Laptop Sessions, rounding us off to an even ten just in time for the re-release of Ten for tomorrow’s New Music Tuesday, March 24th, 2009!

For all you new music fans, don’t forget to stop by the blog tomorrow night for an all-new high-quality Jim Fusco Tuesday.  I have it on good authority that he’ll be taking it to a WHOLE…  NOTHA….  LEH-VAL….

See you next session!

Wilco Summer 2009 REVIEW – Wappingers Falls, NY: Saturday, 7/18/2009

Originally posted 2009-07-19 02:14:31. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

For the Set List, CLICK HERE!

By Chris Moore:

As you walk in the gates at a Wilco concert this summer, your ticket is scanned and you are handed a free tour program.

That’s right; I said “FREE.”

And this is no cheap artifact thrown together for the sake of it.  This is a 34 page program, printed and bound as professionally as any other band’s tour program for which you would probably spend in the ballpark (pun intended) of $15 to $20.  Inside, you’ll find exclusive band photographs, the “Wilco Top 5-a-go-go” (a set of “Top 5” lists from the band members), interviews with Jeff Tweedy and Derek Welch (who designed the Wilco toys and the Nudie suits you see in the artwork for the new album), reproduced handwritten lyrics for “Country Disappeared,” a brief word from Glenn Kotche about a custom aspect of his drumset, a scorecard listing all the Wilco songs across the x-axis and all the locations for the summer tour down the y-axis, cartoons, and more…

I think you get the idea.

Although I didn’t know it when I entered the gates Saturday at Dutchess Stadium in Wappingers Falls for my first Wilco concert, this is precisely the type of show the band was about to put on: one jam-packed with more effort, creative energy, and ability to impress than I ever thought possible.

Over two and a half hours — and that’s AFTER Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band left the stage — Wilco played a full set with two encores that added up to 29 songs.  The band entered by simply strolling through a gate on the first base line, walking across the outfield, and running up the steps to launch immediately into a rocking version of “Wilco (the song),” the opening track from their new album.

Throughout the night, Jeff Tweedy and the boys of Wilco played predominantly from their most recent four albums (Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, A Ghost is Born, Sky Blue Sky, and Wilco (the album) – six songs a piece, except for Sky Blue Sky‘s five), but they also played three songs from their third album Summerteeth and dusted off one each from their 1995 debut album A.M. (CLICK HERE to read a review of A.M.), its 1996 followup Being There, and the first Mermaid Avenue.

The first 22 songs — the main set — came at a rapid pace, as the band members somehow maintained the same soaring level of enthusiasm for recreating some of their best songs, as well as some deeper album cuts, onstage with either note-for-note perfection compared to the studio versions (“I Am Trying to Break Your Heart,” “Shot in the Arm,” & “Walken”) or by introducing interesting new rythyms, riffs, and other interesting aspects to their interpretations (“War on War,” “Too Far Apart,” & the by-now-classic concert version of “I’m the Man Who Loves You”).

Throughout the night, Tweedy interacted with the crowd in his characteristic way, the night’s main topics being the mosquitoes that were swarming the stage — “Does anyone have any DEET?” he asked — and the glow sticks that were being tossed around amongst the audience members at the foot of the stage — he mimed a set of “try to hit me, I dare you!” arm motions during one song, causing a volley of glow sticks to shower the stage, showing off the audience’s profoundly poor coordination.

“You guys have really bad aim,” Tweedy laughed at the end of the song.  That prompted a few more glow sticks to be launched in his direction, but he managed to duck each of them.

The first encore only included two songs, but it stretched on for more than twenty minutes.  The first song, “Poor Places,” was a heartfelt rendition of Yankee Hotel Foxtrot‘s penultimate track.  It was followed by a scorching, more than full-length version of A Ghost is Born‘s “Spiders (Kidsmoke).”  The latter is one of the songs that showed off the considerable talent and electric stylings of the three guitarists — Tweedy, the incredible Nels Cline (who truly brought a distinctive guitar style to the band when he joined in early 2004), and Pat Sansone (who was really unleashed in the second encore when he engaged in a volley of solos that passed between him and Cline as though they were firing automatic weapons).

The encore ended with Tweedy calling for the audience to clap to the beat, raising their arms above their heads.  As the instrumentation dropped away, he issued a challenge; apparently, the Brooklyn, New York crowd at Keyspan Park couldn’t keep up the beat after the band stopped playing.  Instead, they sped up rapidly.

For a brief moment after they stopped playing, I thought this crowd would fare better… but it was not to be so.  The members of Wilco motioned for the crowd to slow down and Tweedy started laughing as they went back to their instruments for the final riff of “Spiders.”

“You guys were good,” he politely exaggerated after the song ended.

When they left the stage for the second time, I thought for certain that the show had ended.  After all, they had played 24 songs and it had been two hours since they took the stage at 8:30pm.

And yet they still returned for more!

The second encore kicked off with an upbeat rendition of “The Late Greats” that had the entire crowd moving — from foot-tapping to full-out dancing — and smiling.  Next came the first single off the new album, “You Never Know,” complete with note-for-note perfect George Harrison-esque slide guitar by Cline.

“You have time for a couple more?” Tweedy asked, to which he received the deafening screams of the crowd.

When they kick-started “Heavy Metal Drummer,” you would have thought this was Lynyrd Skynyrd about to play “Freebird” for the response that issued forth from the audience.  They played a great version, but nothing could have prepared me for their interpretation of “Hoodoo Voodoo.”  With lyrics that Woody Guthrie wrote for his children but was never able to record, this track appeared as one of the Tweedy leads on Mermaid Avenue. I’ve always liked this song, but I’ve never loved it the way I did for those five minutes they played it, complete with a new driving guitar riff, pitch-perfect vocals by Tweedy as though we were in the studio with him back in 1998, and outstanding guitar work by Cline and Sansone.

Even though Tweedy had only asked the crowd if they had time for “a couple more,” Wilco launched into one final song.  By this time, the concert had to end at some point.  “I’m A Wheel” was just as good a song to close with as any that remained unplayed from their catalog.

As the song ended, Tweedy said a brief farewell, and Wilco turned on the crowd and exited from whence they had come.

Walking to my car, I realized that this is a fifteen year old band that is somehow in their prime now.  I’m so accustomed to seeing bands that have been playing for decades, that I forget sometimes that it is a different experience to attend the concert of a band that still has something to prove to history — namely that they deserve a place in the memories of rock music fans for all time.  I entered Dutchess stadium a big fan of the band, but tonight, Wilco had me convinced that they deserve that aforementioned place.

All in all, this was by far the best $42 I have ever spent.  If you have the opportunity, get out there and see this band at the peak of their game (ballpark pun, this time, NOT intended…).

Bob Dylan Summer 2009 REVIEW – New Britain Stadium: Wednesday, 7/15/09

Originally posted 2009-07-16 01:00:18. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

For the Set List, CLICK HERE!

By Chris Moore:

Willie Nelson sounded as good as he ever has, and John Mellencamp brought a tremendous amount of energy to the stage with his talented band (he described them as being built for playing in garages and bars, but they handled a ballpark quite nicely).

But then Bob Dylan broke the roof in and set fire to the place as a parting gift.

(Well, there wasn’t a roof to begin with, but let’s not quabble over details…)

After more than three hours of opening acts and transitions between sets, Dylan came out just after 9pm on Wednesday, July 15th, 2009 at the Rock Cats’ baseball stadium in New Britain, CT.  At the precise moment the lights came up, I also took in my first breath of a suspicious smelling smoke…

Anyway, Dylan kicked off the first two songs on electric guitar, soloing along with his band members.  (There’s a great photo in a recent online Rolling Stone article that looks just like what I saw tonight.)  He added new lines to “Rainy Day Women #12 & 35” — “Everybody must get stoned,” for the layperson — and rollicked through “Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again” — a true Fusco-Moore favorite — as if it were a new song on his most recent album.

There’s always something special about seeing Dylan play guitar, but he wasn’t the only one in the band whose skills on the axe were highlighted.  Both of the other guitarists in his Never-Ending Tour band were allowed to bring more of their guitar work into the mix than in past concerts — take the infectious new guitar riff in “Tryin’ To Get To Heaven” or the simple but catchy licks in “Jolene.”  More than once throughout the evening, an acoustic guitar could be heard high in the mix, which has become a rarity in recent years.

By the time Dylan retreated to his keyboard, the momentum had already been established and only continued to build.  He romped through “The Levee’s Gonna Break” and soon after beat out a typically heavy version of “High Water (For Charley Patton).”  Although his set included mid-tempo (“I Feel a Change Comin’ On”) and slower (“When the Deal Goes Down”) songs, Dylan’s predilections certainly lay in the in-your-face, bass-pounding-through-your-chest, guitar-and-harmonica-solos-wailing variety.

That's as close a picture I could get with the police in full force around the ballpark...

That's as close a picture I could get with the police in full force around the ballpark...

Last year was a great show.  But what impressed me this year was just how clear Dylan’s vocals were tonight.  Now, I’m not suggesting a possible vocal cord surgery has occurred to restore him to his Nashville Skyline crooning, but he annunciated each word and clearly showed more respect for the tunes and melodies of his songs than he has in the past decade or more.

For years, I have been defending the gruffness of Dylan’s voice as simply one more of the many voices he has taken on over the years.  However, I have never been able to justify his oftentimes uniform low-to-high singing of each line of every song.

Tonight, with only a couple exceptions, he truly broke that mold all over the place.

Although the show was heavily weighted toward his newer material — 8 of the 14 songs were from his most recent four albums — the crowd seemed to enjoy the concert as much as I did, and although it was difficult to see from the outfield where we were standing, it looked as if most people stayed until almost the very end.  (Why anyone leaves before the encore, I’ll never know.  Dylan by now famously leaves “Like A Rolling Stone” and “All Along The Watchtower” for the additional set.)

I can’t believe it’s over.  It was an excellent concert, made all the better for having someone to go with this year.  Now, I have only to set the timer and wait in anticipation for next year’s Dylan tour schedule.

Until then, I’ll have to be content to continue listening to Together Through Life and revisit Modern Times, Love & Theft, Time Out of Mind, or, as I did on the long ride home through traffic, the Bootleg Series recording of the 1966 Royal Albert Hall electric set with Dylan and the Band (my favorite concert recording of all time)!

Bruce Hornsby: LIVE IN CONCERT – MGM Grand, Mashantucket, CT (March 27, 2009) – REVIEW

Originally posted 2009-03-28 23:43:50. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

By Chris Moore:

Right off the bat, I have to address how proud I am of myself that I was able to suppress the strong urge to title this concert review “That’s Just the Way It Was.”  As tempting as it was, I’m sure it’s already been used somewhere by someone…

At 8:02 on Friday night at the MGM Grand, only two minutes after the official start time of the concert, Bruce Hornsby appeared unceremoniously by walking out of the shadows, approaching his piano from stage right.  No announcements, no opening band.  (For a moment, I thought this might be a technician coming out for one last equipment inspection – and, if you’ve ever seen America perform, you know how many times it’s possible for a techie to inspect and tune  the guitars!)

As he neared the piano, he surveyed the assortment of papers strewn about the top of his piano.  Notes to himself?  A set list?  Lyrics for the less familiar tunes?

Negative, on all accounts.

Apparently, Hornsby does not work from a setlist.  Instead, he takes in requests from the audience before shows in the form 0f handwritten song titles slipped onto the stage.  His offical website reports, “Yes, it’s true. Bruce does not have a set list for his concerts. He comes up with the set list through requests from the audience. So, if you attend a concert, be sure to carry paper to write your requests on and place them on the stage.”  This is a novel approach, to be certain.  I wanted to participate in the process, but I have only been a “greatest hits” fan.  Aside from that, I would have had to design a paper airplane that was a marvel of physics in order to have my request reach the stage from my seat in the “Parterre” section of the MGM Grand theater, which is French for orchestra seats (and, apparently, English for “far away from the stage, but still technically on the ground level”).

After a brief, positive commentary from Hornsby about the array of requests, he started into the first song.  From the moment his hands touched the keys, it was apparent that he is truly a masterful musician, one of the few that is able to blend intricate classical arrangements into catchy pop/rock, country, and bluesgrass songs.

His first couple selections were played alone, but he was soon joined onstage by the Noise Makers (J.T. Thomas on keyboards, Bobby Read on saxophones (etc.), J.V. Collier on bass, Doug Derryberry on lead guitar, and Sonny Emory on drums).  Soon after, they launched into the first song with which I was familiar.  “Every Little Kiss” was all piano riffs and rock’n roll catchiness.  Well, maybe more adult contemporary than rock, but…

This was the first of several “greatest radio hits” tracks that Hornsby and the Noise Makers performed, much to the delight of my father and I.  Overall, the set list was a diverse collection of the hits, the deep tracks, and covers.  Some were note-for-note replicas of studio versions, such as “The Good Life,” while others were stripped apart and turned inside out, like “The Way It Is.”  There was a definite, if controlled sense of a jam band mentality.  During the final jam of the main set, Hornsby slipped from one song to the next, folding in a couple of high-energy verses from Bob Dylan’s “It Takes A Lot To Laugh, It Takes A Train To Cry.”  I had begun to tire of the jamming by the end of the show, and this fine touch really brought it all back home for me. (Please send your criticisms of that shameless pun to Chris, care of a comment below…)

At one point, Hornsby left the piano to strap on his accordion and take center stage for two songs.  As he approached the microphone with the new instrument, he commented that he had recently been with Levon Helm.  He introduced the following song by saying that this would please those in the crowd who enjoyed nostalgia, as this was a track from the band — namely, “Evangelne.”  The version did not disappoint and proved further that Hornsby is nothing if not an excellent multi-instrumentalist.

Hornsby was a personable, likable figure onstage.  In between songs, he kept a running commentary going, reflecting on the state of the economy and thanking everyone for coming out to see him perform all the same.  Early on, he revealed that Foxwoods management had told him to play for only 65 minutes.  Just over an hour for some who had paid $50 plus a “convenience” charge — that’s outrageous!  In his very laid-back manner, he said about as much and said they would stretch it to 90 minutes or so.  It sounded as if they told him that 65 minutes was the suggestion and 90 minutes was the outside limit.  He was true to his word, as the main set took the show’s running time to just over an hour and a half plus an encore.

Later on in the show, he expressed how happy he was that he remembered all the words to a track from his first album, a song that he played by request.

On the whole, this was a truly enjoyable concert.  I have an increased respect for Hornsby’s abilities as a pianist and performer, the Noise Makers were a flexible and vastly talented group, and the MGM Grand is a comfortable environment with excellent acoustics.  For my taste, there was too much of a jam band mentality on many of the selections — even Hornsby commented at one point that, due to the time limitations, the songs would be shorter than usual.  Maybe that’s not a bad thing, he said.  He continued, “There’s a fine line between self-expression and self-indulgence,” glancing with a grin to his bandmates.  I couldn’t agree more.

This concert was a bonding experience of sorts for me, as my father is a longtime fan of Hornsby and an even longer-time fan of the song “The Way It Is.”  While we both enjoyed the show, the low point of the show was indisputably their performance of the aforementioned hit single.  Aside from the initial keyboard blast of the familiar riff, the song was given a new, more jumpy tempo and the tune was stripped apart into an understated sequence of lines.  There was none of the charm of the studio version, and all biases being admitted, this version was nothing to brag about on its own.  For those five minutes, I appreciated what it must be like to attend a Dylan concert expecting to hear faithful versions of his hits, only to be met with deep tracks and rearranged versions.  Still, I maintain that the Dylan live experience offers up new and interesting, entertaining takes on his songs, whereas this was disappointing from all angles.

Regardless, the show as a whole was well worth the $35, and is an experience that I will remember fondly for years to come.  Part of that comes out of a bias, but this time a positive one!