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!

“A Winter’s Tale” (Moody Blues)

Originally posted 2009-12-08 00:06:19. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

For Moody Blues chords & lyrics, CLICK HERE!

By Chris Moore:

Hello and welcome to another all-new edition of the Laptop Sessions.  To kick off another full week of new material, I’ve reached into the Moody Blues catalog of songs — specifically from their 2003 album December — to bring you a cover song version of their cover of the Mike Blatt and Tim Rice song “A Winter’s Tale.”

Now, although I am an English teacher, this is not to be confused with the William Shakespeare play “The Winter’s Tale.”  Not only is there a notable difference in parts of speech (namely the indefinite – “a” – versus the definite – “the” – articles), but there is also a big difference in tone.  Still, “The Winter’s Tale” is quite a trip.  Consider, for instance, that this play contains one of Shakespeare’s most infamous stage directions: “Exit, pursued by a bear.”  What I find the most interesting is that there is contention over whether he used an actual bear for the original productions, or simply a man dressed in a bear costume.

I would assume the latter, but the former is just so much more fascinating…

But this is all beside the point.

“A Winter’s Tale” is one of those songs that is indisputably beautiful, sung perfectly by Justin Hayward.  For those who have seen them in concert recently, you may have noticed my apparel is a nod to Hayward’s typical onstage wardrobe.  That wasn’t too difficult to arrange, as I simply removed my tie and jacket and voila!  Of course, this is also one of those songs that, upon playback, forces me to remember I’m a rhythm guitarist hammering away at what is such a subtle, pretty song at heart.  During our MoU Christmas concerts, Mike would front the band on this one, fingerpicking and taking the lead — and for good reason!

The reason I’m standing up is because the song simply didn’t sound right when I played it sitting down.  I found I was having trouble getting comfortable as I played it.

Of course, the majority of the song being played on barre chords didn’t help either…

Several takes and several strained ligaments in my hands later, you’ve got yourself a new Laptop Session.

As a final note about the song, I found it very interesting that this song, originally written by songwriters Mike Batt and Tim Rice, hit #2 on the UK charts back in 1982.  Batt teamed up with Rice to write the song for performer David Essex.  Another interesting bit of trivia is that Batt went on to produce Justin Hayward’s solo album Classic Blue between 1988 and 1989 at Abbey Road Studios in London.  Classic Blue, ironically, is an album of covers.  The track listing includes three songs written by Batt, as well as classics from Brian Wilson, Lennon/McCartney, and Led Zeppelin.

I hope that you enjoy this installment of the Laptop Sessions, and I encourage you to hurry back for more very soon.  In addition to your regularly scheduled (yuletide?) cover song music video tomorrow, there may be a brand new Guest Session on Friday, as well as another edition of the Weekend Review.  If you missed last weekend’s music review, you should know that I just kicked off a top five albums of the decade countdown.  Each weekend between now and January 2nd, 2009, I will reveal another album on the list, as well as a full review.  Then, on January 2nd, I will post my full “Top Thirty Rock Albums of the Decade” list, along with my review for the number one rock album of the decade.

Thus far, the Barenaked Ladies’ Maroon (2000) has cinched the #5 slot.  Which album will rank as the fourth best album of the decade?

You’ll have to tune in to the Weekend Review to find out…

See you next session!

“A Winter’s Tale” Cover by the Moody Blues – Chords, Tabs, & How to Play

Originally posted 2009-12-07 22:35:01. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

To see how it’s played in the cover song music video, CLICK HERE!

“A Winter’s Tale”
The Moody Blues

Intro: F   Bb   F   Bb   F   C   F

F                                Bb
The nights are colder now
Am                                   Bb
Maybe I should close the door
F              C                       Dm
And anyway the snow has covered all your footsteps
Gm                         C
And I can follow you no more

The fire still burns at night
My memories are warm and clear
But everybody knows
C                 Bb              C         F
It’s hard to be alone at this time of year

F                                Bb
It was only a winter’s tale
Just another winter’s tale
And why should the world take notice
F                                    C
Of one more love that’s failed?

F                                Bb
A love that can never be
Though it meant a lot to you and me
On a world-wide scale
C                                        F
We’re just another winter’s tale

Instrumental:  F   C   Dm   Dm/C/Bb   C   F

While I stand alone
A bell is ringing far away
I wonder if you’re here
I wonder if you’re listening
I wonder where you are today
Good luck, I wish you well
For all that wishes may be worth
I hope that love and strength
Are with you for the length
Of your time on earth




Instrumental (x2)

Sing the following over the end of the instrumental:
Bb                           C           F            C – F
We’re just another winter’s tale.

** These chords and lyrics are interpretations and transcriptions, respectively, and are the sole property of the copyright holder(s). They are posted on this website free of charge for no profit for the purpose of study and commentary, as allowed for under the “fair use” provision of U.S. copyright law, and should only be used for such personal and/or academic work. **