Category Archives: Concerts

STILL LIKE A MOTHERFUCKER: The Heartbreakers’ Classic LP, Revived

As released on DVD and LP to chronicle a series of 2016 concerts, and more recently celebrated on a 2017 mini-tour, the iconic punk album proves its staying power.

BY MICHAEL TOLAND

L.A.M.F., the only studio album by Johnny Thunders’ infamous New Yawk punk ‘n’ roll band the Heartbreakers, turned 40 in 2017, outlasting its driving force by a good quarter of a century, Thunders, a notorious junkie, having passed away in ’91 in New Orleans. In anticipatory celebration, Heartbreakers co-guitarist and torchbearer Walter Lure assembled a dream team of Thunders cohorts and acolytes to perform the album front-to-back in its original Track Records 1977 order for a short residency in mid-November 2016 at the Bowery Electric venue, recording the shows for a proposed album and video. (For a detailed review of the event, along with the Heartbreakers’ backstory, check out journalist/photographer Caryn Rose’s account at Noisey.) The video rendering recently arrived on DVD courtesy Jungle/MVD.

 

Joined by MC5 guitarist Wayne Kramer (who played with Thunders in the short-lived Gang War), Blondie/Plimsouls drummer Clem Burke (who came up on the same downtown NYC scene as Thunders) and erstwhile Replacements/Guns ‘N Roses bassist Tommy Stinson (the ‘Mats being one of the few American bands to keep Thunders’ reckless rock ‘n’ roll spirit burning), plus guests, Lure delivers exactly the kind of rock show you’d expect from someone who came up that close to the flame.

The quartet plays like they rehearsed just enough to be on the same page with the songs, but not enough to be anything close to slick. Lure and Stinson share the vocals, with the former keeping to NYC cool and the latter bawling like an out-of-breath animal, while Lure and Kramer faithfully reproduce the original LP’s clashing six-string chaos and Burke calmly makes the case for being the best rock ‘n’ roll drummer alive. The ad hoc band acquits itself nicely on the usual classics like “Chinese Rocks” and “Born to Lose,” with Kramer singing “Let Go” and Burke doing Jerry Nolan’s “Can’t Keep My Eyes On You.” D Generation’s Jesse Malin guests on a feral “I Wanna Be Loved” and a poignant “It’s Not Enough”; Cheetah Chrome romps through “Goin’ Steady”; up-and-coming New York rocker Liza Colby brings soul to “I Love You”; and Chrome and Malin team up on a blazing “Pirate Love.” The whole thing comes clanging to a close with a Kramer-sung “Do You Love Me,” the Heartbreakers’ roaring bash through a Motown classic.

Production values are catch as catch can, with frequent out-of-focus video, a squirrelly mix that favors volume over nuance, a director clearly flying by the seat of his pants, especially in the editing room, and no effort put into maintaining continuity between the three different performances captured in order to compile the film. It makes one wonder if the decision to shoot it was last minute. But you know what? That’s all fine, even appropriate. Johnny Thunders never chased perfection when he could nail the moment, and Lure and company blast through his legacy with a ramshackle joie de vivre that’s more about feel and soul than precision — just like the work of the man to whom it pays tribute.

EDITOR’S NOTE: L.A.M.F. Live at the Bowery Electric has also been released as a limited edition (950 copies pressed), colored vinyl collectible, arriving in independent record stores for the annual Record Store Day “Black Friday” event. (The LP appears to not be listed on the Record Store Day website for that Black Friday sale, originally billed as a “RSD Limited Run/Regional Focus Release; but the BLURT braintrust eagerly snapped up copies on Black Friday, and as of this writing it appears to be available online but with only 950 copies in circulation, it probably won’t remain that way for long.)

And bringing things up to the present, the real 40th anniversary-of-L.A.M.F. was celebrated this past November 29 and 30, also at the Bowery Electric, followed by shows in Brooklyn, Los Angeles, Solana Beach, and San Francisco, where they wrapped on Dec. 4. The mini-tour featured a slightly different roster of players. Lure, obviously, headed things up, and fellow ground-zero punk Burke was also on hand; they were joined by Mike Ness of Social Distortion on guitar, and Sex Pistols/Rich Kids bassist Glen Matlock. Malin again was a special guest, having helped organize both the 2016 and 2017 shows, turning in spirited vocals on “Pirate Love,” “It’s Not Enough,” and — in the Thunders-centric four-song encore — the iconic “You Can’t Put Your Arms Around a Memory.”

Memories, indeed.

 

Filthy Friends 9/23/17, Chicago

Dates: September 23, 2017

Location: Goose Island Block Party, Chicago

 

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Down at the Goose Island Block Party, our man with the plan in the Windy City had the best view of all…

TEXT & PHOTOS BY MARTY PEREZ

What a way to celebrate this year’s Autmnal Equinox.

And in the good company of some Filthy Friends, all the while being able to sample some new fall batches of local craft beer. Where did all this goodness go down, you might ask? Well, friends at a block party put on by Chicago’s oldest and largest craft breweries; Goose Island. Let us praise and raise a toast to sir John Barleycorn.

A spectacular setting sun illuminated the short, fun and upbeat set put forth by Corin Tucker and the Friends: Pete Buck, Scott McCaughey, Kurt Bloch, and Linda Pitmon. After that they had to cram into the van and bust out of Chicago for the drive to Cincinnati to make Saturday’s afternoon festival show.

Highly recommend catching thee Filthy Friends, should they make it out your neck of the woods. Considering the members of the Filthies and their varying schedules, it does make for a special occasion and/or a logistical nightmare to get all them Filthy Friends under the same roof for a house party.

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Puddles Pity Party 12/15/17, Nashville

Dates: December 15, 2017

Location: Marathon Music Works, Nashville TN

The singing clown at Marathon Music Works packs ‘em in.

TEXT AND PHOTOS BY: MARK JACKSON

Puddles, the 6’8” singing clown, who you might recognize from the hit TV show America’s Got Talent, first gained popularity on YouTube with the help of Postmodern Jukebox in a viral hit cover of “Royals” by Lorde. Puddles brought his modulated voice to a packed house at the Marathon Music Works on a Friday night. This show was a little different than most of the shows that I cover, as it was a combination of comedy and singing — a perfect night out for a couple, or a fantastic family night that is safe for any age children.

As you might suspect from a clown, Puddles, who doesn’t speak, did entertain the crowd with some comedy, such as a chair that he pretended to be so heavy that he could barely push it across the stage, playing a fake guitar, and a few props. This act could have very easily fell into the cheesy overdone traveling comedy show if it were not for the genius mind of Puddles who uses a projector with great videos and props that blend seamlessly with his magnificent voice to tell a story and keeps the crowd entranced. Puddles also used the crowd as part of the show, from bringing people up on stage during some songs, to become part of the show, to a crowd sing along karaoke style. I simply cannot stress enough how entertaining this show was, but the true magic of the show is the voice of Puddles.

Puddles covers a wide variety of songs and genres, but he makes them all his own. A few of my favorite covers of the evening were “Dancing Queen” by Abba, “Under Pressure” by Queen, “Space Oddity” by David Bowie, and “Losing My Religion” by R.E.M.,  but my favorite and the one I couldn’t wait to hear was Cheap Trick’s “I Want You To Want Me”.

Instagram: @markjacksonphotography1

 

 

 

Smith & Myers 11/11/17, Nashville

Dates: December 11, 2017

Location: Cannery Ballroom, Nashville TN

Live at the Cannery Ballroom with the Shinedown guys going acoustic.

PHOTOS & TEXT BY MARK JACKSON

Brent Smith and Zach Myers from Shinedown are out touring with an acoustic show covering several of Shinedown songs, but this is tour is so much more than that. This tour is a mashup of storytelling and cover songs in an intimate setting in smaller venues. The bad news for you is that if you don’t already have a ticket to this great night of music you have missed your chance as all remaining dates have already sold out.

Both Smith and Myers are from Tennessee which I think made this night even more special for the guys to play in the Music City. The guys had the night before off in Nashville, so Zach, who is a huge Garth Brooks fan and friend, surprised Brent by taking him to meet Garth, who was playing at Bridestone Arena.

The setlist changes nightly so you never know what you will hear, but that doesn’t matter because they are all awesome. The first song of the night was “Black Hole Sun” by Soundgarden. They also of course played “State of my Head,” “Simple Man,” “Cut The Cord” and “Second Chance” by Shinedown,.  The guys played everything from Adele to Tom Petty to Prince. Zach even told one of his secrets of how he, as a boy, wanted to be the guy in a boy band who didn’t sing, but who did the sexy breakdown talking in a song to the ladies. He even gave a little sample of how he would do it. I think the ladies in the crowd approved.

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The opening act who is from Myers’ hometown of Memphis was Zack Mack (Myers is also a member). Zack Mack returned to play with the boys a few songs at the end of the night. This was a night that people in attendance will be talking about for awhile.

Hollywood Undead + Butcher Babies 11/29/17, Memphis

Dates: November 29, 2017

Location: New Daisy Theatre, Memphis TN

New Daisy Theatre was the scene of the rock ‘n’ roll crime…

TEXT & PHOTOS BY MARK JACKSON

When I first heard that the Butcher Babies would be touring with Hollywood Undead I must say that I was surprised. The head banging, Scream rocking, hair whipping ladies of Butcher Babies just didn’t seem like the best fit for the rap rockers of Undead. It turns out that it’s a great fit and has introduced the band to a whole new group of fans.

As soon as the Butcher Babies hit the stage they began to win over the crowd and they didn’t slow down for the whole set.

After about a thirty minute timeout for the set changes and setup it was finally time for Hollywood Undead. As usual the guys took the stage wearing their masks. The first song of the night was “Whatever It Takes” and followed up with “Undead,” to which the crowd began to explode with excitement. Hollywood Undead had an excellent light show for the size of the venue, complete with several pyrotechnic sparklers that shot up about twelve feet high.

This was a great night of music—I recommend catching both groups when they are in the area. Hollywood Undead will continue touring the U.S. through December before Heading over seas in January. When they return to the States they will continue touring and playing festivals, including the Welcome to Rockville at the end of April in Jacksonville, FL.

Mark Jackson: @markjacksonphotography1

Spoon – 12/1/17, Poughkeepsie NY

Dates: December 1, 2017

Location: Chance Theater, Poughkeepsie NY

PHOTOS AND TEXT BY GREG KELLY

Spoon played to a full house of super attentive loyal fans at the Chance Theater. After playing two sold out shows in Brooklyn I knew this was going to be a packed theater. Opening the show with “Do I have to talk you into it” from the band’s newest release “Hot Thoughts”.  About half way through the show the band slowed it down with a heavy synth intro to the song “I’m not the one”, the crowd was entranced with lead singer Britt Daniels stage presence. These guys have been touring since the mid- nineties and it shows with how tight they play live. Closing the show with “Rent I Pay” the band and audience clearly had a great time together. I don’t know that Spoon will be playing that small of venue again, but I felt lucky to see such professional musicians in a more relaxed atmosphere.

Brian Setzer Orchestra – 12/6/17, Christmas Rocks! Atlanta

Dates: December 6, 2017

Location: Symphony Hall, Atlanta GA

For his 14th annual Christmas Rocks! Tour, at the Atlanta Symphony Hall, the Stray Cat became Santa Claws…

PHOTOS & TEXT BY JOHN BOYDSTON

One of the cool things about rock and rollers having incredibly long careers is that some of them never stop getting better.  A case in point is Brian Setzer – who jumped outta the gate 35 years ago already an accomplished, confident player and entertainer, mature beyond his years even.    Now, at 58, he’s matured yet retained the exuberance and swagger that has made him so fun to watch.  At his holiday performance this week in Atlanta, I had the sense I was at a Masterclass in guitar chops and showmanship.

Setzer’s currently in the middle of his packed house crowd-pleasing 14th annual Christmas Rocks! Tour with the Brian Setzer Orchestra.   He’s clearly the driver of this engine, a 19-piece big band swing orchestra; all eyes in the band are on him, digging and feeding off his non-stop energy, just like the crowd is doing.   So much going on, all very entertaining.   Every few licks Brian stops to smile at the crowd – hoping they are having as much fun as he is. They are.

Lots of timeless Holiday standards in the set – all of them re-worked to swing and rock.  Also lots of Setzer’s hits (Stray Cat Strut, Rock This Town) from his days as leader/founder of the The Stray Cats, the rockabilly trio that crashed the gates of American Top 40 radio with their Dave Edmunds-produced platinum LP ‘Built for Speed’ in 1982.

A highlight was about half-way through the show — the orchestra leaves the stage so it’s just Brian, standup bass, 3 piece drum set and a honky tonk piano — all wailing for 20-minutes of nothing but flat-out rockabilly starting with a full blown version of Johnny Burnette’s ‘Rockabilly Boogie.’  What a treat.

Other highlights were full-song heartfelt tributes to the recently departed Glen Campbell and Tom Petty.   For me, one of Setzer’s all-time greatest moments was his guitar solo in the movie ‘La Bamba’ playing ‘Summertime Blues’ as the late great Eddie Cochran.  He played that lick at this show, albeit in another song, and it was magic.

The 30-city tour in in progress in the US through December, then Japan in January.   The who/ what/ when/ where are here:  https://briansetzer.com/tour-dates/

I read a 2016 interview wherein Brian says another Stray Cats tour is going to happen, but for now, Here Comes Santa Claws, er, Claus.

(John Boydston’s bigger photo galleries are here: jobo.smugmug.com  (or follow him on Instagram @johnboydstonphoto)

The Descendents 11/3/17, Kansas City

Dates: November 3, 2017

Location: Uptown Theater, Kansas City MO

Live at the Uptown Theater for some legendary punkin’… Upcoming tour dates are HERE.

BY DANNY R. PHILLIPS

It had been twenty years, 4 months and 12 days since I last saw punk rock legends The Descendents live.

That day in 1997 was the typical Midwestern July: hot as fuck with no sign or hope of letting up.

I was in Lawrence, Kansas that day against doctor’s orders, being a month out from a foot surgery.  Resolve and painkillers got me through the day; I would see the Descendents.  As faux 1940’s swing bullshit act The Cherry Poppin’ Daddies set up to bore the main stage, The Descendents exploded on the flatbed trailer that passed for a second stage.

Frontman Milo Aukerman climbed the speaker stacks, flipped off the cops and sang with venomous conviction.  Stephen Egerton attacked his Lucite body guitar like a buzzsaw, while Karl Alvarez and Bill Stevenson kept the rhythm better than any section that day.  It is still, to this day, one of the single greatest performances I’ve ever witnessed.

I hated The Cherry Poppin’ Daddies with a passion but my admiration and fandom for The Descendents was solidified.

On November 3, 2017 the streak ended.  I was to re-live my youth, to go back to a time before kids, grey hair, an ex-wife and stress brought worry to my door.

This night, 20 years and some change later would be slightly different.  No longer was I a wide-eye fan of 22.  Now, I was a wide-eyed fan of 42, with life under my belt.  I’m older, wiser and thanks to my gig with Blurt Magazine, I have far better access to the action.

After picking up my credentials, I found myself backstage, chatting away with Stephen Egerton while being served coffee by Stevenson, one of my all-time favorite drummers.  My life has officially become a one surreal experience after another.  The Descendents had given me another memory I’ll never forget and they hadn’t even been on stage yet.

They walked onto the stage to a packed house at The Uptown, a deafening roar that threatened to bring down the rafters.  As they tore into “Everything Sucks” I watched years melt away to reveal the band I saw all those years ago.  As they blasted through their “hit” “I’m the One”, “Hope,” “Rotting Out,” breakneck versions of the already blistering  ode to the caffeine driven life “Coffee Mug” and the gem I first heard on Pump Up the Volume “Weinersnitchel.” Twenty-five tracks in the just over 2 hour set time, memories came flooding back.  With all the bad shit that has happened to me in the last few years, it was good to have a night where I had no fucks to give.  It felt wonderful, if just for a night.

What I saw on this night was exactly what I saw 20 years ago.  Not to say it was boring. It certainly wasn’t, in fact it was one of the best sets I’ve seen all year at one of my favorite venues.  What I saw was the same virile, aggressive punk giants that I saw two decades ago; years, day jobs and kids have not slowed them, they haven’t lost a step or the obvious joy they feel in front of a room full of like minded individuals, all running on the same frequency, all drinking in the moments as if it would be the last time they’d see this spectacle of punk rock superiority.

The Descendents, 30 plus years into a storied career, are still the band they always have been: aggressive, furious, lightning quick and, above all else, a band that believes in what they’re selling and has a great time doing it.

And so, the countdown begins: it has been 8 days since I last saw The Descendents live….

 

Alvvays + Jay Som 10/31/17, Denver

Dates: October 31, 2017

Location: Bluebird Theatre, Denver CO

Live at the Bluebird Theatre for a special Halloween fashion show… so to speak.

BY TIM HINELY

Why give out candy to the kiddos on Halloween when you can go see Alvvays! Yes, for this terrific Toronto band’s first sojourn to the Mile High City I was not gonna miss it but first I had to weather labelmates (Polyvinyl) Jay Som (who were all dressed as The Edge from U-2…that was great). I’ve seen Jay Som before here when they headlined over the Courtneys last year and I don’t necessarily dislike the band but I’m not falling all over them like a lot of of folks.

It’s a pop sound, one that’s occasionally dreamy, other times groove-oriented and at other times a big, grating mess (and I just don’t hear enough hooks). Leader Melina Duterte definitely has talent and most of the crowd seemed to love it so who am I to judge. Check her/them out for yourself and make your own informed decision (Everybody Works is their latest).

Canada’s Alvvays, hot on ther heels of their sophomore release Antosicalites, hit the stage at 9:15 PM sharp dressed as Oompa Loompas and from there it was an hour or so of melodic pop bliss! They remind me a bit of a few 80’s/90’s indie pop bands like Velocity Girl and Shop Assistants as well as current bands like Pains of Being Pure at Heart and Veronica Falls. Falling nicely into the pantheon of great pop bands.

They opened with “Hey” which is the new waveish song off the new album (and sounds just a wee bit out of place on the record) and from there proceeded to play mosty of the cuts from both of their records. After that first song the 1-2-3- punch of “Adult Diversion,” “In Undertow” and “Plimsoll Punks” knocked us all flat in the best way possible.

Mid-set they laid out the great “Saved by a Waif” and the Shop Assistants-esque “Your Type” and ended the set with another great trifecta in “Archie, Marry Me” (the surprise hit off their S/T 2014 debut), “Dreams Tonite” (my 9 year old’s favorite song) and “Party Police.”

They came back out and played the great “Next of Kin” and ended it with a cover of a Motorcycle Boy (who were a post-Shop Assistants band) cover of “Trying to be Kind” and called it a night.

The band is really flying high as this sold out show proved and they deserve it, they work hard and write terrific songs. Looking forward to see what they deliver on their next record but for now I’m still basking in this memorable Halloween. Alvvays and forever!

 

 

Primus 10/29/17, Port Chester NY

Dates: October 29, 2017

Location: Capitol Theater, Port Chester NY

Live at the Capitol Theater, of course.

BY GREG KELLY

After seeing Primus 30+ times I knew this was going to be a mind melting experience, and the ghouls and goblins came out in full force for the show. As I have said in past reviews The Capitol Theater in Port Chester New York caters to the family of concert goers with both a very relaxed atmosphere and incredible production. Primus is touring for their new album “The Desaturating Seven” based on the 1978 children’s book “The Rainbow Goblins”. The band played a full two sets of music, the first being a mix of what is now a huge catalogue to pick from. The second “The Rainbow Goblins” in its entirety.

Opening the show with “Those Dam Blue Collar Tweakers” Les, Larry and Tim showed that there songs defy time and genre. The band played with video screens showing—to say the least psychedelic images mixed with incredible laser show. The crowd absorbed the sound and lights the whole night! Some of the highlights of the first set were “Candyman”, “Mrs. Baileen” and “The Heckler”. The band took a short break and returned with “The Desaturating Seven”. Primus never lets me down and the new album is no different. Sometimes dark and very prog-rock, the band is and never will be interested in selling tons of records and putting out watered down mediocre music. Primus has a hard core following and tonight was no different. Closing the night with a Primus classic “Southbound Pachyderm”, the visuals of elephants jumping up and down was projected throughout the theater and played in my mind for hours and days afterward.