13. Pickin' Up The Pieces - Fitz and The Tantrums
Sunday, August 22, 2010
13. Pickin' Up The Pieces - Fitz and The Tantrums
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
Sunday, August 8, 2010
Wainwright entered the dark stage in silence, following the path of a spotlight wearing a long, black, elegant gown with a train that stretched across the stage. The audience was instructed that for the first set, we were refrain from applause until he had exited the stage. (The second set however, we could “applaud to our hearts content.”) Wainwright burst into the first track off his new CD, All Days Are Nights: Songs For Lulu, which was a great reminder of what an accomplished pianist he is with his hands flying across the keyboard. He continued through the entire work, only stopping for the occasional sip of water from a goblet. The visuals by Douglas Gordon on a screen covering the back wall revolved around a monstrous green eye with lashes that looked more like dangerous porcupine spines and scaled skin of a reptile. Wainwright has said that Lulu refers to the Louise Brooks character from the movie Pandora Box yet the theme also covers his relationship with his mother -- the song cycle of the CD providing the opportunity to work through his emotional turmoil of the past year with his mother’s death in January. After the last song, Zebulon, Wainwright lifted his long fingers from the keys and stood up slowly. He then turn to leave, retracing the path of his entrance with the measured steps of a modern dancer until the crowd could show their appreciation.
The second set allowed life to go on as Wainwright returned in style wearing a coral patterned suit with a matching shirt and white shoes. He smiled and returned to the piano, chatting about the drive to the suburbs and playing selections from his repertoire which included “Cigarettes and Chocolate Milk,” and “The Art Teacher.” His sister Martha returned for a few songs after opening up for him, even bringing out her baby boy (his first time on stage! I can only imagine the fun that child will have with Uncle Rufus.)
Wainwright mused how he’s at loss to explain a country that would have people from Snookie to Hillary, “varied?” He continued, “Not unique. Eclectic?” He then offered “Going to a Town” as a highlight for the encore, a beautifully stripped down version from the one on Release the Stars. The final song was “The Walking Song” by his mother, a lovely tribute after explaining how wonderful it’d been to witness the outpouring of love after her death from sarcoma cancer in January. Plus one dollar from every ticket went to research for the disease so he graciously thanked everyone for that.
PERSONAL PLAYLIST: Rufus Wainwright came into my life when he accompanied David Byrne on an aria back in 2004, a few years after his second CD Poses came out. I love his cover of “Across the Universe” on that CD and another favorite is the single “Hallelujah” (2009) a cover of a Leonard Cohen song. Just listening to his “Going to a Town” from his 2007 CD, Release the Stars makes my heart swell. His sexy take on “Bewitched,” the Rogers & Hart song from the musical Pal Joey, played during the credits of The History Boys – a perfect collaboration. I’ve also listed the first and last tracks of the new CD, perfect bookends to his newest work. Of course there's tracks available at his myspace as well. Enjoy!
- Au Fond de Temple Saint, David Byrne’s Grown Backwards
- Across the Universe, Poses
- Going to a Town, Release the Stars
- Hallelujah, Single (Leonard Cohen cover)
- Bewitched, The History Boys Soundtrack (Rogers & Hart song from Pal Joey, played during closing credits)
- Who Are You New York? All Days Are Nights: Songs For Lulu
- Zebulon, All Days Are Nights: Songs For Lulu
*** UPDATE Rufus Wainwright has since appeared on KCRW's Morning Becomes Eclectic which you can listen to at this link. Nice to listen in on the interview -- more than just banter during the concert, etc.
Monday, August 2, 2010
NPR’s Exclusive First Listen has opened up the gates for a preview of the highly anticipated third release from Canada's indie sensation Arcade Fire, released August 3rd. Between that and the opportunity to see the band play live at Madison Square Garden in NYC on Thursday night, August 5th on their Youtube channel, fans had an opportunity to weigh in on the new offering for themselves. Clips from the concert are posted there now -- it was a great concert full of energy on stage and in the crowd. It would have been nice to seen Spoon as well but a treat to have a front row seat for the Arcade Fire set in front of my computer along with 4 million other fans (if only I didn't have to hit refresh a few times!)
The Suburbs opens with the title track meandering along with images of kids running through yards. It’s a glimpse into frontman Win Butler’s childhood near Houston, Texas, as appropriately enough the band is his vision – with his brother Will and wife Reginé Chassagne beside him to round out a solid group of seven, plus additional musicians as needed. Things pick up by the second track, “Ready to Start” which along with “Empty Room” could be the instant classic “Keep the Car Running” was for their last CD, Neon Bible. The other tracks present a cohesive whole with Win Butler’s disctinctive voice riding the instrumental wave behind him, never overpowering and always in synch with the rest of the band. Some surprises included the hard rollicking sound of “Month of May” and the brazen synths of “The Sprawl II.” Mellower moments were presented during the stripped down “Wasted Hours” and the lovely symphonic end piece, “The Suburbs (continued).”
If I could pick any time and place to see Arcade Fire it would have been during their early days when they played the Judson Memorial Church in NYC's Greenwich Village, that shrine to early modern dance. The vast space of Madison Square Garden holds little appeal to me but sitting in front of a computer screen, I’ll gladly submitted to the vision of director Terry Gilliam. It’s online community at its best. The band hit the stage with the single off the new CD "Modern Man" and kicked it into high gear from there. I learned that while Win Butler may be the frontman of the band, giving a shout out to those of us online with a "Hi Internet," his brother Will Butler is the showman -- dancing wildly with a tambourine festooned with streamers, running circles around the stage and all sorts of energetic antics. Their new song "Rococo" provided a soaring redemptive moment with its staccato vocals urging a singalong with the audience. During the encore, "The Sprawl II" was restarted because of a drum machine, or so Win Butler said, but I'm thinking Reginé Chassagne really shouldn't be taking solos... I can only imagine the many takes it took in the studio to get it sounding on key which it certainly didn't live. (As one without a great ear for pitch I know if I hear it it can't be right!)
There was an online poll to see what people would guess to be the last encore of the show, "Wake Up," "Neighborhood #3 (Power Out)" or "Keep the Car Running." All were offered up as highlights in the show but the first one was chosen for the finale. Not sure if that was the winner of the poll but it made for a winning moment to close the concert.