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Band of Skulls – Debaser Slussen, Stockholm, 2012-05-10

2012-05-11 | Posted in Concert Reviews

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I’ve liked Band of Skulls ever since I heard them on WMMR while in New Jersey in May 2009. “I Know What I Am” is the perfect mix of The White Stripes-meets-a-full-backing-band. It would take three years until they finally decided to visit Sweden and I got the chance to see them live, but it was well worth the wait. It was the first time I got to see a band at Debaser Slussen, and it’s a tiny place. I would say that that it can’t have been more than a few hundred people there, and the place was packed! I managed to get a perfect spot front row center right after the opening act, Norwegian indie rockers Rumble in Rhodos left the stage. Rumble in Rhodos were really great, and I would love to see them headline at some point.

When the stage curtain opened again I found myself looking at Russell Marsden’s pedal board. Being a guitarist and guitar effects aficionado myself, it was quite interesting to see what pedals Russell had on his board. He seems to be quite fond of (or sponsored by?) Electro Harmonix, having both a Memory Man and a POG2 on his pedal board.

Band of Skulls opened with “Sweet Sour,” the title track from their second album, and the first thing that hit me was how loud they were. In recent years I’ve felt that the volume at concerts has been reduced considerably, but Band of Skulls really turned it up to 11. It was an awesome feeling to be in the front row and just feel the bass reverberating through my bones, and hearing the guitar straight from Russell’s amp rather than the PA.

Russell played a variety of Gretsch guitars, my favorite being his White Falcon, a guitar I’ve been partial to ever since seeing John Frusciante using it live for the Red Hot Chili Peppers song “Otherside.” Since it was such a small venue you actually stood up against the stage, so when Russell would come up front to do a solo, his guitar would literally be inches from my face. Experiencing music in such an intimate setting is really special, and you get a great feel for how tight Band of Skulls are as a band. Bassist Emma Richardson and drummer Matt Hayward provide a totally solid rhythm section for Russell’s embellishments. Emma looked really cool in her cowboy boots and black jeans. I really like how Emma and Russell’s voices complement each other, both when they’re trading lyrics back and forth, and when Emma sings backup to Russell’s vocals.

I was really glad that the band played most songs from their debut album Baby Darling Doll Face Honey, since this was my first time seeing them. My favorite part of the concert was probably the last two songs of the main set when they played “Light of the Morning” and “Death By Diamonds and Pearls” back to back.

After the show a guy from the band’s stage crew came out on stage and handed out stuff to people up front, and I was lucky enough to get a drum skin signed by the entire band. There’s a picture of it in the set below. It was a great show that really exceeded any expectations I had beforehand, and left me wanting more. Like Russell said at one point “It’s our first time in Sweden, and hopefully not our last.”

Setlist:

Start: 22:02

01. Sweet Sour
02. Lies
03. Patterns
04. Fires
05. Bruises
06. Wanderluster
07. Cold Fame
08. Bomb
09. Blood
10. Lay My Head Down
11. Hollywood Bowl
12. I Know What I Am
13. You’re Not Pretty But You Got it Goin’ On
14. Light of the Morning
15. Death By Diamonds And Pearls

Encore:
16. The Devil Takes Care of His Own
17. Impossible

End: 23:30

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Bruce Springsteen – LA Sports Arena, CA, USA, 2012-04-26

2012-04-27 | Posted in Concert Reviews

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We almost missed this show getting stuck in LA traffic trying to get off the 110 freeway. The only reason we made it on time was because we took another exit and I “guessed” my way to the LA Sports Arena. Pretty good for someone who’s not been in LA more than a couple of days! Ended up spending 40 dollars on parking, but what are you gonna do right?

This was my first time seeing Bruce Springsteen in the United States, and also my first time seeing the E Street band in an arena, as opposed to a stadium. It felt nice and intimate even though we were on the second balcony. The Boss came on stage playing “Badlands” with the house lights on. There were a lot of songs from Wrecking Ball, which I was happy about since I think it’s his best album since The Rising. The title track sounded amazing, and it holds a special place in my heart after being an honorary New Jerseyan for four and a half years of my life, having driven by the old Giants Stadium countless times.

Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine was in attendance, and played guitar on four songs. My wife actually spotted Morello in the stands across from us before the show started. Morello came prepared with his huge pedalboard. He played an amazing solo in “The Ghost of Tom Joad,” a song he covers with his Nightwatchman solo project. Between songs Morello, who was wearing a “Born to Run” t-shirt, would sit in the stands enjoying the show. It was really cool to see such an established musician enjoying a rock concert as a fan – you could tell he really dug “Born to Run.”

Bruce was in great shape as always. It’s really hard to believe he’s 62 years old. At one point he went out in the middle of the audience, where he chugged a beer he was given, and then proceeded to make his way back to the stage by crowdsurfing the entire way! He did a kneeslide across the stage, and leaned so far back holding on to his mike stand during “Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out” I thought he was going to break his back.

There were two tributes to the late Clarence Clemons, during “My City of Ruins” and “Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out.” During the latter Bruce asked “Are we missing anybody?” upon which images of Clarence was displayed on the screens while the music stopped for a (not so silent) minute. People were cheering for Clarence, and many in the audience were doing the “we’re not worthy” bowing gesture that had become so popular during the past couple of tours whenever The Big Man played a solo.

Speaking of Clarence, his nephew Jake Clemons did an excellent job filling his uncle’s shoes. He got a couple of standing ovations throughout the night. It seems he’s the only worthy successor to The Big Man. Bruce brings along a horn section for this tour, and many of the numbers are arranged with that in mind. This was also the first concert I’ve seen where he’s brought the missus along, Patti Scialfa. Even though Patti was there Springsteen still brought Soozie Tyrell along, bringing the total number of musicians on stage, Springsteen included, to seventeen, eighteen if you count Michelle Moore who joined The Boss for “Rocky Ground.” That’s a lot of people to put on your payroll.

The setlist was pretty good, although I still have not gotten to hear “Rosalita” at any of the six Springsteen shows I’ve been to. “She’s The One” was definitely the highlight of the night, with “The Ties That Bind,” “Candy’s Room,” and “Apollo Medley” being close contenders. Since we were in California Bruce and The E Street Band treated us to a cover of The Rivieras’ “California Sun” during the encore.

For the last three songs of the encore, “Born to Run,” “Dancing in the Dark,” and “Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out” the house lights were turned back on. During “Dancing in the Dark” Bruce brought his sister on stage for a dance. All in all it was a great show, not the best I’ve seen from The Boss, but even on an off day he surpasses all other live acts out there. Bruce played some really solid guitar solos throughout the night, an ability he downplays on his albums, and saves for the stage. The solo duel with Tom Morello in “The Ghost of Tom Joad” was nothing short of fantastic with Bruce bringing out the chops from way back when he set out to be the fastest guitar player in Asbury Park.

Setlist:

Start: 20:20

01. Badlands
02. We Take Care Of Our Own
03. Wrecking Ball
04. The Ties That Bind
05. Death to My Hometown (w/ Tom Morello)
06. My City of Ruins
07. The E Street Shuffle
08. Jack of All Trades (w/ Tom Morello)
09. Something in the Night
10. Candy’s Room
11. She’s the One
12. Easy Money
13. Waitin’ on a Sunny Day
14. The Promised Land
15. Apollo Medley
16. The Ghost of Tom Joad (w/ Tom Morello)
17. The Rising
18. Lonesome Day
19. We Are Alive
20. Land of Hope and Dreams

Encore: (22:34)
21. Rocky Ground (w/ Michelle Moore)
22. California Sun (The Rivieras cover)
23. Born to Run
24. Dancing in the Dark
25. Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out (w/ Tom Morello)

End: 23:08

Joe Bonamassa – Cirkus, Stockholm, 2012-03-19

2012-03-20 | Posted in Concert Reviews

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This was my third time seeing Joe Bonamassa in two years, including once with Black Country Communion. My impressions of this show compared to the first time I saw him was that this time around it seemed like Joe had taken one step further in the direction of rock music, moving away from the blues. I don’t have a problem with that since I like both sides of Joe, and an up-tempo rock show leaves a more lasting impression on me anyway.

I was very happy that “Slow Train” was still the opener. I thought that maybe I’d missed my chance to hear it live since Joe skipped Sweden on the Dust Bowl Tour. But it actually seemed that this was still an extension of that tour even though his new album Driving Towards The Daylight was just around the corner. “Dust Bowl” was another favorite of mine, which is weird cause I usually never like the new songs when I go see bands these days.

Joe explained to the audience that this was the band’s first concert with keyboardist Rick Melick, since he’d been returned to them by Russian customs. Melick was detained when the band was about to enter Russia because of some issue with his visa. The shows in Saint Petersburg and Moscow were done with Joe, bassist Carmine Rojas, and drummer Tal Bergman as a power trio while Melick spent a couple of days in lockup.

The best two songs of the night was probably the Black Country Communion tune “Song of Yesterday” and Bonamassa’s cover of The Who’s “Young Man Blues.” However “Song of Yesterday” was really lacking Glenn Hughes’ vocals. Don’t get me wrong, I love Joe Bonamassa’s voice, but the combination of both their vocals in that song is such a big part of its appeal to me. But the main riff is just so great and Joe’s solo was nothing short of phenomenal. “Young Man Blues” was such a perfect fit for Joe’s live show, and I hope he will keep it in the set for future tours.

Joe’s new drummer Tal Bergman is a really nice addition to the band. He did an awesome drum solo before being joined on stage by Joe on his white Gibson Don Felder EDS-1275 Double-Neck guitar. Between songs Joe mentioned to the band that he had played the same venue with Black Country Communion less than a year ago, joking that he had stayed in the spot where bassist Carmine Rojas was standing all night, implying that he was playing second fiddle to the always gracious Glenn Hughes.

The concert ended with the now standard set closer “Just Got Paid,” complete with Zeppelin’s “Dazed and Confused” riff tagged on for good measure. A great way to end the show that got everyone on their feet. If I was to compared the two times I’ve seen Joe Bonamassa solo, I would have to say that this concert was the better of the two, mainly because the song choices appealed more to me, but also because the show was twenty minutes longer. I thought that the drum and guitar solo was a really nice addition. Now I can’t wait for the next time Joe comes around, which shouldn’t be too far off, since he seems to visit Sweden at least once a year. He’s spoiling us!

Setlist:

Start: 19:29

01. Slow Train
02. Last Kiss
03. Midnight Blues (Gary Moore cover)
04. Dust Bowl
05. You’d Better Watch Yourself (Little Walter cover)
06. Sloe Gin
07. The Ballad of John Henry
08. Lonesome Road Blues
09. Song of Yesterday (Black Country Communion song)
10. Steal Your Heart Away (Bobby Parker cover)
11. Blues Deluxe (Jeff Beck cover)
12. Young Man Blues (The Who cover)
13. Woke Up Dreaming
14. Django
15. Mountain Time

Encore: (21:25)
16. Bird On A Wire(Leonard Cohen cover)
17. Just Got Paid (ZZ Top cover)

End: 21:49

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Bigbang – Göta Källare, Stockholm, 2011-12-09

2011-12-13 | Posted in Concert Reviews

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What a great show by Bigbang at the small club Göta Källare on Friday December 9th! For those of you that don’t know who they are, Bigbang is a trio from Norway consisting of Øystein Greni on guitar and vocals, Olaf Olsen on drums, and bassist Nikolai Eilertsen. They play their own blend of rock music that is heavily influenced by classic rock from the sixties and seventies. One band that comes to mind is Cream – both visually and musically. What makes Bigbang so good is Øystein’s stage presence and ability to entertain a crowd, but also the fact that all three members are so in sync with each other, which makes the music really dynamic.

The wife and I stood front and center right up against the stage. The band was really great and gave it all even though there were only a few hundred people in the crowd. They opened with the instrumental ”Major Pronin” which sounded great. Whenever Øystein would come out to the edge of the stage for a guitar solo, I would have to duck to avoid getting hit by the guitar neck – that’s how close to the stage we were! My favorite songs of the night were ”Where the World Comes To An End,” ”Wild Bird,” and ”To The Mountains.” Øystein acutally stage dived right over our heads during ”To The Mountains” – very cool indeed!

Because we were standing so close, we actually got the perfect live sound as opposed to hearing the concert through the PA like you normally do when you stand further back. The bass came straight from Nikolai’s bass amp, and the guitar straight from Øystein’s Fender and Vox amps while Olaf’s drums came through unmiked right in front of us. I also have to say that the crowd was really good, with everyone singing along, and jumping up and down.

A song that I wasn’t familiar with before but that I’ve really started to like since the concert is ”Isabel” from Bigbang’s album Edendale from 2009. Øystein played it on a Fender Stratocaster with a capo on the four lowest strings (E-G) and the B, and high E string open. The whole song is great with its haunting feel, but the solo at the end is just fantastic! Speaking of guitars, Øystein had some beautiful ones with him. It was the sunburst Stratocaster that I just mentioned, a Rickenbacker 12-string that he used for ”From a Distance,” and a beautiful vintage Gibson Les Paul Goldtop. He also had two really nice Harmony Stratotone guitars, one of which was in a Newport Green color. The concert ended with ”Girl in Oslo” which is a really fun song live when everyone in the audience is singing along. Thanks for a great show guys and please come back soon. I will keep spreading the word about this awesome band!

To hear Bigbang for yourself, head over to Spotify
Official website: bigbang.no Twitter: twitter.com/bigbangno

Setlist:

Start: 20:35

01. Major Pronin
02. Call Me
03. Where the World Comes to an End
04. Cigarette
05. Nothing Finished Yet
06. From a Distance
07. Wild Bird
08. Isabel
09. My First Time
10. Hurricane Boy
11. New Woman
12. Sing and Dance
13. To The Mountains

Encore:
14. Something Special
15. A Thousand Times Over
16. Girl in Oslo

End: 22:10

Pictures

Øystein Greni rocking out on stage.
I’m the long haired dude with the goatee right in front. :-)
(Picture from GAFFA.se/JimmyB.se)
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