where we'll join our heroine in her travails in search of kick ass music and more

Friday, June 12, 2015

Belle & Sebastian @ Radio City Music Hall - 6.10.2015

If you used to follow this blog - eons and eons ago - you’ve probably long ago gave up hope that it would ever be updated. It has been 5 years after all since my last post.

I have actually left the house in the intervening years, but I’d never get around to writing. But I was inspired by my last show to write again, at least for this one. 

I hadn’t seen Belle & Sebastian since their show over at the Nokia Theater in Times Square back in 2006. They put on a good show then, but the audience was dreadful, no enthusiasm, no joy, just a bunch of shoe gazers and meanies - someone actually boasted on their way out about having bullied someone into not singing along. I remember thinking that these people really didn’t seem to have realized what Belle & Sebastian are all about and that the band deserved a better crowd.

Well, that better crowd came along last Wednesday. Belle & Sebastian played a sold-out Radio City Music Hall, and were welcomed with open arms and much loud whooping...a lot of it from me :D

The opener was a band called Real Estate, whose band members hail (w/one exception) from New Jersey. They were sweet - calling out their parents from the stage - and played some very catchy songs, at least one of which had a definite Belle & Sebastian vibe to it. Not too surprising as they mentioned seeing B&S as teenagers and how wowed they were to now be opening for them. Lots of people were still slowly drifting in during their set, but by the time Real Estate finished playing they’d managed to get half the orchestra to give them a standing ovation. Not bad for some boys from Jersey.
Real Estate in action.

After a bit of a wait between the two bands, we were treated to a giant projection of one of the cover girls from the new album “Girls in Peacetime Want to Dance” introducing the band.

Ladies and Gentlemen...Belle & Sebastian!
There would be other giant video projections during the show which I think greatly added to the show. I’m not usually one for fancy graphics, since only a few bands know how to use it properly - U2 and Radiohead come to mind - but these really worked well. They weren’t distracting but complimented the songs very well. 

No, not an iPod commercial ;)

The first song - Nobody’s Empire - was a bit of a slow starter, with some of the crowd, at least in the orchestra in front of me, remaining seated. But as soon as ‘I’m a Cuckoo’ began all hell broke loose…well, it was still a Belle & Sebastian show, but all hell within the context, i.e. everyone got up and started to move their little booties. Even some of the older booties got into it - shout out to the older lady in front of me grooving along :) 

Stuart and Stevie front stage.

Very creepy monk and creature :)

I think I had that telly! And those antelope!

‘Perfect Couples’ had the perfect blend of graphics and song, featuring an elaborate choreography of various young folk entering and leaving a tastefully decorated living room, projected behind the band.

Let's Dance!

Stuart spoke a bit about how he usually didn’t write songs for specific people but that he had done so for the following one, Piazza, New York Catcher, and how it had been written for his now wife, while they were falling in love all over the world.

If You’re Feeling Sinister and Dear Catastrophe Waitress pretty much brought the house down.

Back Up Dancers return! Much to everyone's delight - they were great :)

I think Belle & Sebastian have been channeling some Di Chirico mayhaps...

"Dance my pretties, dance!"

And then the band brought on some lucky audience members - pre-chosen as they had badges around their necks - to the stage where they danced alongside the band for two songs, one of which was ‘I Didn’t See it Coming’. 

Do not adjust your sets. This is only an optical illusion. ;)


I want to dance up there...bwahhhhhhh!

They took a ‘break’ and then came back for a two-song encore, ‘Lazy Line Painter Jane’ featuring a duet with Dee Dee of Dum Dum Girls and culminating with an amazing performance of ‘Judy and the Dream of Horses’.

It wouldn't be a Scottish rock show without some fine bag-piping in action.
The end.

I’d come to the show with friends but ended up walking back to my train station on my own - about 20 blocks or so, around midnight - and felt light as air humming all the songs I’d just heard  that night.

I came to a realization that evening. I’ve long been a fan of Belle and Sebastian but there’s no band out there right now that makes me as happy as they do on a regular basis. This is not a diss on other bands, many of whom I’ve followed and been a huge fan of at various points of my life, but right now my go-to band of choice is a little band from Glasgow that’s out to conquer the world with their infectious dance tunes :)

Nobody's Empire 
I'm a Cuckoo 
The Party Line 
The State I Am In 
Dirty Dream Number Two 
Perfect Couples 
Piazza, New York Catcher 
The Cat With the Cream 
If You're Feeling Sinister 
The Wrong Girl 
Dear Catastrophe Waitress 
If You Find Yourself Caught in Love 
The Boy with the Arab Strap 
I Didn't See It Coming 
Sleep the Clock Around 

Lazy Line Painter Jane  (with Dee Dee of Dum Dum Girls)
Judy and the Dream of Horses

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Deolinda @ Joe's Pub - 10.4.10

I almost didn't make it to this show. Been sick a lot lately and started to get really ill right before moi and the boy had to head out to meet our friend Soft-Spoken Feisty Lady. But I got a burst of 'I'm-not-going-to-let-a-random-illness-keep-me-from-yet-another-show' rage and with the help of probably too many meds provided by our fine friends at McNeil Pharmaceuticals, I stumbled out into the rainy cold evening and rushed to the city.

We'd booked a table, b/c that's the only guaranteed way of getting a seat at Joe's Pub. Little aside: they have a good racket going there. Book great acts to come play at their venue and then make everyone buy at least $12 worth of food in order for them to get a seat. Doesn't seem so bad in theory. Twelve dollars, that's nothing surely...unless the food is a bit oh, let's say abysmal. Particularly for someone with any sort of dietary restriction, aka 'must-everything-in-the-menu-have-cheese-in-it-for-crissake's!'

But enough griping about the food...except for one more thing. I thought most money in establishments was made from drinks. Soo why not just have a $12 minimum which includes drinks? Wouldn't that be more profitable? Ok, rant over ;o)

The boy and myself managed to just make our reservation and met up with SSFL inside - who by the way was let in to Joe's Pub even though she didn't have her ticket - very classy Joe's Pub! Thankee kindly for your er, kindness :o)

We snuggled into our teeny table...which was center stage! Right up against the stage! Very cool! I'd been to Joe's Pub before but had either had a table further back or had had to stand over by the bar because I hadn't snagged a reservation (not so great btw, to have to stand over by the bar - don't really recommend it. If you remember nothing else from this review, remember to make a reservation as soon as you get a tix. Heck, have a friend call for a reservation while you're getting tixs!). This was the first time I'd managed such a great spot. I had the boy sit the closest to the stage, so I could sit a bit further back to better enjoy the show. Hey, I was the main fan in the party, so I got the better seat ;o)

We still hadn't quite managed to finish our food when Deolinda came on stage. Ana Bacalhau - the lead singer - told us (in great English) a little bit about the tour - how it was their first time playing in New York City and talked a little about the first song.

Deolinda - Luis Jose Martins, Ana Bacalhau, Ze Pedro Leitao and Pedro da Silva Martins
She also kindly named each song before performing it, which made my life a lot easier since I never seem to manage to note down the set list. They started out with Se Uma Onda Invertesse a Marcha (If a Wave Inverted the March) and proceeded to put on an amazing show.

I really liked her storytelling - she'd make sure to set the stage for each song, telling us a little bit about what it was about. And she hoped that by her gestures and body language, those that didn't speak English would come to understand what she was singing about.

Ana introduced Patinho de Borracha (Rubber Duckie), by saying it was about 'people who like to talk about themselves, but pardon my French, they're full of it'.

About halfway through she moved a bit to the back of the stage and explained that the two following songs were the closest Deolinda had that were like classical Fado. And for Fado, the fadista (or fado singer) always stands next to the guitar player while singing). She then proceeded to belt into Cancao da Tal Guitarra (Song of that Guitar) and O Fado Nao E Mau (Fado Isn't Bad) and gave a rousing performance worthy of the best Fadistas.

'Ah Grande Fadista!'
She then told us a little bit about 'Marchas Populares' (Popular Marches), a Portuguese tradition which most famously takes place in Lisbon during the month of June honoring the city's patron saint, Santo Antonio.  Each neighborhood will come up with their own choreography, music, song and costumes, and parade down the city streets in a competition to determine the best 'marcha' each year. Deolinda has come up with their own version of a 'marcha' - A Problemática Colocação De Um Mastro (The Problematic Placement of a Mast). It was very rousing, very patriotic, until the little twist in the end - all in all a very funny and entertaining rendition.

There had been singing along all throughout, due to the 50-50 ratio of Portuguese to English speakers in the room. But when Fon Fon Fon  or in English, Fon Fon Fon ;o) started, that's when everyone really joined in. This is a song about a girl who loves a tuba player in a philarmonic band. All her friends say that the sound of a tuba isn't romantic and her parents disapprove, but she's fallen for the fon fon fon that her namorado makes. Wonderfully fun performance with lots of audience participation.

They then said their goodbyes and we all started to clap wildly to have them return. Ana thanked us and said she would be playing a more melancholic song - Clandestino (Clandestine) and then insisted that we all sing along during the 'last' song Movimento Perpétuo Associativo (Perpetual Associative Movement). She said that this song was about those people who always got very excited about things, about revolutions, that got everyone riled up. But then when it was time to act, they'd say 'Vai sem mim, que eu vou la ter', or 'go without me, i'll catch up', i.e. yeah, i'm not going. She then spoke in Portuguese for the first time (minus the time she sang of course) to the audience and asked how many Portuguese were there. And if we'd sing the refrain extra loudly to make sure that the English-only speakers around us would be able to follow along. And surely we did! The audience proceeded to sang its little heart out and sang the band off the stage as they took their goodbyes.


But we weren't ready to say our goodbye yet. The audience kept on singing the refrain of the last song until the band came back on stage for a third time and finally sang their last song Eu Tenho um Melro (I Have a Blackbird).

Great performance, full of life and joy and fun. I hope they'll come back soon to NYC and get ever more popular in the US. I'll certainly do my best to spread the gospel :o)

P.S. They were super friendly to their fans and stayed on after the show to sign autographs and take photos. That's where I got the 'stolen' set-list (thanks to the help of my boy) signed by all 4 of them. Thanks so much Deolinda!

'Stolen' and Signed Set-List :o)
P.P.S. Just had to point out a fun little detail that I noticed - the singer's built in pocket on her dress to house her mike transmitter. Soo clever :o)

Monday, August 9, 2010

Gogol Bordello @ McCarren Park Pool - 6.20.08

So I went to this show oh, about 2 years ago...
And somehow never got around to writing anything about it.
Well, it's too fucking late now ;o)
But I do have some pics and videos of the evening that I thought I might share with all of my readers - all two of you ;o)

Without further ado....
My photographic essay entitled:

Gogol Bordello Rocks Brooklyn 

Yes, yes, i know, the title is incredibly creative - what do you want, it's been two years :p

The insanity just beginning :o)

I think this gig security was rethinking having come in to work today ;o)

The littlest Gogol Bordello fan

More and more fun :o)

No, it isn't just Eugene Hutz in the band :p

What's that accordion player doing blocking my view of Eugene?!

'Now with crazy coloring' ;o)

 Supertheory of Supereverything  - Gogol Bordello @ McCarren Park Pool 
(my apologies for the quality)

Eugene in top form

Crazy finale...well, a bit of it ;o) 

Amazing finale featuring a samba troupe

Friday, June 5, 2009

Art Brut @ Mercury Lounge - 6.2.09 (pics & vids to come)

Art Brut is in town!...or at least will be until this Friday, June 5th :o) So you should run (it’s ok, I’ll wait) and get yourself some tickets for their gigs at Mercury Lounge. You’ll probably have to look in craigslist since I think all nights are sold out, but it’ll be worth it – you won’t have a funner time at a rock show this year.

…the above paragraph has pretty much ruined any suspense this blog entry might have had, seeing as I’ve just instructed you all - all two of you: thank you loyal readers ;o) – to head out to see them. Dammit! I need to build up to it like my 12th grade high school teacher instructed.

But they were great all around. The audience started hooting before they’d even made the stage…which wasn’t so hard seeing as they all had to walk through the audience in order to make it on to the stage – for those who haven’t been, Mercury Lounge is pretty small.

Eddie Argos, the lead singer, takes the mike wearing his long trench coat and his fabulous eyebrows and starts by telling us all about where we could find more info on Art Brut.

H – t – t – p - : - / - / - w – w – w . - m – y – s – p – a – c – e -. – c – o – m - / – a – r – t – b – r – u – t

Yep, he spelled it all out, complete with hand gestures for the dashes and all. And then he started to spell it out again, but stopped after a couple of letters ;o)

They started out with their new single Alcoholics Anonymous which was just a blast of fun to begin with.

And of course the energy only increased through the night, along with the size of my hair – it was a very humid night ;o)

The crowd was an interesting mix and I was glad to see some ‘oldies’as my concert buddy of yore affectionately refers to them, i.e. anyone over 45, really enjoying themselves and getting into it. Just as sometimes the younger NYC crowds can be a bit apoplectic, so can the oldie contingent in an audience – the whole ‘I’m-going-to-just-stand-as-still-as-humanly-possible-and-not-even-acknowledge-that-I’m-in-a-rock-venue-surrounded-by-sweaty-people’ vibe. But not this group – pretty much everyone around me was getting into Art Brut. And how could they not? They’re freaking infectious ;o)

Eddie introduced Moving to LA by dedicating it to his cousin who’s a pilot (who was supposedly at the show)…and who lives in Palo Alto, which was the closest Eddie could get in a song ;o) He tried to point in the right direction – LA’s direction – and got mixed responses as to what the correct direction would be. Decided to stick with the direction he had chosen and said that for the following night he’d change it.

During Modern Art, Eddie decided to come out and meet us plebes, which isn’t that hard to do in a venue like the Mercury Lounge – ‘oh, look,let me just step off this wee stage, and there I am in the audience’. He came out and told us a rambling story about going to the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam [alfacinha heartily recommends it btw – kick ass place] , all whilst moving about within us…well, as well as he could giving the short leash he was on, i.e. his mike cord. At some point the mike gave out (as it had earlier in the evening, when Ed their poor sound guy had gone through a few malfunctioning mikes and eventually had to tape the wire to the mike stand just to get it to work), and Eddie tried in vain to yell out the remaining bit of the explanation. He ended up getting back on the stage and yelling out the rest from there, with so-so results – I imagine the people in the back didn’t quite manage to get the gist of it ;o)

And if they didn’t already appeal enough to all us geeky folk…before introducing DC Comics and Chocolate Milkshake, Eddie mentioned how he’d visited the actual offices of DC Comics and had had a great time. When I sent this song’s lyrics to a good friend, he remarked that itwas his new anthem…except it’d be Marvel Comics instead ;o)

Eddie extolled the joys of transport and introduced The Passenger -‘like the Iggy Pop one’ - by saying how rubbish LA mass transit is and how much better the ‘NY tube or metro or whatever it’s called’ is.

He also ended up introducing quite a few songs by saying how most of them were about him being naked - ‘Here’s another song about me taking off my clothes’.

Earlier in the evening, one of the opening bands – Mystery Murder - had spotted a guy who had come to the previous night's show as well. At some point during the gig, Eddie turns to this same guy and lets him know ‘that the set list for every night was going to be the same – the songs were just going to get louder.’ :o)

They also played at least one cover, the Ramones’ The KKK Took My Baby Away, although they introduced it as a little song they had just written up that day, so they might be a little off in playing it ;o) It was a blasting cover, full of energy and fun.

They also played Direct Hit, Pump Up the Volume, My Little Brother,Twist and Shout, Emily Kane, Bang Bang Rock and Roll, Bad Weekend, Nag Nag Nag Nag, Formed a Band, and Demons Out. I’m surely missing quite a few songs, but these were the ones both me and my boy could remember afterwards.

As has become customary during Formed a Band, Eddie told all of us to, well, to go form a band. He also told some of us that we were now in a band, and a very select individual few that they were a band.

I had an amazing time and my boy was doubly excited about now being in a band ;o)

P.S. I have to mention how much I liked the first opening band's last song – Les Sans Culottes’ cover of My Sharona (in French!). I was really sorry to have missed the beginning of their act.

P.P.S. Murder Mystery, the second opener, started out really well with a couple of lovely songs which reminded me a bit of Andrew Bird, but then quickly fell into some more bland ‘American rock’ sounds, reminiscent of some warmed-up Beach Boys stuff. I was really disappointed, given their great beginning. But they redeemed themselves in the end, first by bringing out a cello player as well as a couple of violinists and a trumpet player for a lovely song – at that point, they looked like an American version of Belle and Sebastian on stage :) But their final song was even lovelier, with the singer’s sister (and resident band drummer) taking the lead mike and singing a great ditty.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Bat for Lashes @ Bowery Ballroom - 4.30.09

The ever kooky, ever lovely Natasha Khan , better known as Bat for Lashes, came to town yesterday and brought along her coterie of musicians, unusual instruments, taxidermied animals and bric-a-brac.

My concert buddy for the evening, the lovely L., and I, arrived at the Bowery with…let’s say, plenty of time to spare. So we hung out in the downstairs lounge, chit-chatting away until about 9 when we figured the opening act might come on. We found a nice left of center spot, about 5 people away from the stage, and settled in awaiting the first set. The musicians came on stage and suddenly there was an eerie silence. It became very church like, that time right before the service is about to begin. The venue was far from full at that point, but those that were there gave all of their attention to the musicians on stage…and then they started to play. And unfortunately quickly lost the crowd.

They were called Lewis and Clarke and hailed from Pennsylvania. The band was made up of a cello player, a viola player, a guitarist that occasionally played his guitar with a bow (who also did double duty on a keyboard) and the lead singer who played acoustic guitar. Their songs were very plaintive and seemed to be about living in economically depressed towns (I could be completely wrong about that – it’s just what jumped to my mind while I was listening to them). Their music reminded me of the best kind of atmospheric music – the kind that rather than being obtrusive, just drifts you off into another realm. The lyrics were alright, but I honestly enjoyed the instrumental intros to the songs much more. I felt like they could stand in their own right, rather than as a piece of a lyrical song. Although I enjoyed it and it seemed as if those right around me enjoyed it as well, the rest of the crowd started to get quite noisy and well, disruptive to the performance which was mostly a quiet sort of musicianship.


The lead singer was a bit too quiet and the viola player looked terrified to be on stage. But they completely came through with a louder song towards the end that rallied the crowd a bit. My main complaint (and my friend’s as well) was that they didn’t really allow a song to end before starting another one, missing out on quite a bit of applause b/c of it. I ended up being confused about whether a song had actually finished and held my applause, only to realize too late that they had started a new song and had meanwhile received zero applause. I know that’s not why they play – solely for the applause – but I’m guessing that it’s a good thing and musicians enjoy being acclaimed. Instead they received some confused stares from audience members like me ;o)

I had been told, when I called up the box office during the day, that the headliner would come on at 10 pm…well, 10 pm came and went and still no Natasha. The roadies seemed to be having the hardest time with setting up all the various instruments and mikes. Some in the crowd (maybe not realizing what was going on) started yelling out ‘Bring her out!’. Yeah, that’d be great. She’ll now sing for us a capella w/o any instruments or amplification ;o)
So everything eventually gets set up and she comes out to many cheers and whistles and generally lustful yells from the crowd ;o) And well, she just looked darling, looking like a cross between a Pierrot, a super hero and a 70’s disco girl.

They’d staged the stage much as one would think a quirky (and dark) young girl might have her bedroom arranged. A stuffed crow perching on one of the keyboards, a dancing girl’s legs as the base for a lamp and her corset as the shade, two creepy looking twin angel dolls (complete with pulsatingly glowing wings), a largish statue of Jesus, a collection of small madonnas – you know, the usual sort of stuff ;o) I’m sure I probably missed some stuff. I ended up way over to the left of the stage, leaning over on the first band’s amps and instrument cases, so I might have missed out on some stuff directly to my left.

She came on very confident and just started belting out her wonders of songs. I’d seen her before, at this same venue coincidentally, and this time she seemed a lot more sure of herself, very confident, like she’d grown up quite a bit since the last show. Natasha started out with a couple of the new songs, which sounded great live, before getting into her first album’s work.

She seemed really happy to be there and her new back up band seem to match her exuberance, particularly the lone male in the band, who played keyboards and whatever that instrument was inside the antiquey-looking box with forged iron handles.

The crowd was definitely appreciative, possibly a little too much, yelling out whoops and hollers even during quieter moments within the first few songs. I actually had to put some tissue paper inside my right ear to keep my ear drum from oh, popping out due to the enthusiasm of the girl next to me ;o) Otherwise the sound was pretty dead on – no problems with it being too loud and I could actually understand most of what was being said by her, in contrast to the show I went to the night before at Webster Hall, where I understood practically nothing of what they said…then again they were Swedish so maybe that’s why I couldn’t understand them ;o)

Bat for Lashes played about 30 or 40 minutes and then said ‘Good night New York. Thank you’…or something to that effect :o) And then b/c of my extreme left stage point of view, I was able to see them exiting out the stage and just staying with inches of the doorway, ready to jump back to the stage within a minute or so…which they did.

They played another 30 minutes or so, mixing in the new ditties with the slightly older ones. She enchanted the crowd with her rendition of favorites: The Wizard, Priscilla, Sarah.

She introduced What’s a Girl to Do by saying that we might know this next song and of course the crowd went mad. She and her guitar player dueted on Horse and I (I think), sitting side by side at Natasha’s keyboard and it was just beautiful to watch.


I wish I remembered more song names as it would make it a whole lot easier to post on this show. But I’m forever bad about that sort of thing.

They finished off the show and were leaving for the night, but the crowd kept on asking for one more song. Natasha obliged and came out and thanked us and said that there was only really one more song they could play and finished out the set.

I thought she was amazing and I loved that she seemed to be enjoying herself so much.
Great show :o)