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)!

Summer Songs – Playlists on Parade

Originally posted 2010-08-28 10:00:32. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

By Chris Moore:

As the summer months draw to a close, I figured it was about time to share my summer themed playlist.  What follows are twenty-five songs that celebrate the warmest season of the year, either in name or in spirit.

I’ve included the classics, like “Summer in the City” and “Hot Fun in the Summer Time,” as well as lesser known gems like America’s “Indian Summer” and the Prelude era Moody Blues track “Long Summer Days.”

Just for fun, I’ve thrown in “Summertime” by DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince, and I’ve made sure to update the list with the best song about summer to be released in years, the Barenaked Ladies’ “Summertime”

So, there’s a little bit of everything:  retro classics (Mungo Jerry), all-out rock (the Who), indie (Dashboard Confessional), acoustic (Jack Johnson), dated eighties pop (Miami Sound Machine), rap (DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince), and songwriter rock (Bob Dylan).

From me to you, I hope this’ll help you to keep on keepin’ the summer alive!

1)  “Indian Summer” – America

2)  “Summertime” – Barenaked Ladies

3)  “All Summer Long” – The Beach Boys

4)  “Summertime Blues” (Live) – The Who

5)  “Summer Skin” – Dashboard Confessional

6)  “Banana Pancakes” – Jack Johnson

7)  “It Must Be Summer” – Fountains of Wayne

8)  “Long Sweet Summer Nights” – The Thorns

9)  “Feels Like Summer Again” – The Wallflowers

10)  “The Other Side of Summer” – Elvis Costello

11)  “Hot Fun in the Summer Time” – Sly & the Family Stone

12)  “Summer in the City” – The Lovin’ Spoonful

13)  “Summertime” – DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince

14)  “San Francisco” – Brett Dennen

15)  “In the Summertime” – Mungo Jerry

16)  “Summer Means New Love” – The Beach Boys

17)  “Asleep on a Sunbeam” – Belle & Sebastian

18)  “In the Sun” – She & Him

19)  “Hot Summer Nights” – Miami Sound Machine

20)  “Walk in the Sun” – Bruce Hornsby

21)  “Keep An Eye on Summer” – Brian Wilson

22)  “Long Summer Days” – The Moody Blues

23)  “Keepin’ the Summer Alive” – The Beach Boys

24)  “Summer Days” – Bob Dylan

25)  “Your Summer Dream” – The Beach Boys

Where has the summer gone?

Originally posted 2012-02-11 12:13:28. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

By Jeff:

A couple of months ago, I was going into school to clean out the classroom. I had had the busiest of my 3 years at my school, being a coach, a moderator, and of course a teacher. Thankfully I didn’t have to move too many things, or take much down. I even arranged the desks in a configuration i’d like to try for the new school year.

But after that last day, I had a field trip to Boston with the Saturday Program students the next Monday. That was fun and busy, but exhausting.

Then a week later, it was off to UNH for 2 weeks of training. Training for a course it doesn’t look like i’ll be teaching this year. It really is a shame, though. This past year I taught a Saturday program at Fairfield University for high school freshmen. It was like a TAG program (Talented and Gifted). The students were very smart, with-it, and fast. The course was a lot of fun to teach, and the kids loved it. Attendance was exemplary for a saturday program that draws from the inner city.

But it looks like we are unable to continue the program this year because G.E., who was the source of our funds, decided to cut our grant – despite basically giving a 4 year commitment.

So these poor kids who had such a good time with the first year, cannot continue.

Despite this, if the program DOES continue at some point in the future, i’ll be ready to teach it.

So after that, I had a couple of weeks off which included a trip to the ever famous and heavily reported Jim Fusco’s wedding. And it lived up to expectations.

Then a nice week-long vacation at an all-inclusive resort (see my post last week for a couple of thoughts about that).

But I am realizing that, holy crap where has the summer gone? I go back to school in 2 weeks. It really goes by way to quickly.

It almost (emphasis on almost) makes me want to work all year so I don’t have an extended break to look forward too. I think I’d appreciate vacations a little more.

I didn’t get a chance to record a whole bunch of videos and I have not gotten any writing done. All my time spent playing guitar has been for the purpose of learning and recording songs for this site.

Unfortunately for me, while I feel relaxed and energized, I still feel like I’ve got nothing done. It’s a terrible feeling.

And my immediate future is going to be busy as well. This semester I’ve been asked to teach 4 classes instead of the usual 3 (for a nice pay boost), and at some point during this semester my life is going to change forever.

Yeah it’ll be a very exciting next few months.

But in conclusion, I really dislike the fact that time feels relative. The upcoming year, while it will be exciting, will move at a much slower pace, as opposed to the breakneck speed of summer I have experienced.

But at least you’ve got us for entertainment all 52 weeks of the year!