Bruce Springsteen-CONSOL Energy Center, Pittsburgh Tue, Apr 22…15 New US Tour Dates Announced

Recently announced!

Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band have announced 15 new tour dates in the US starting with April 8 in Cincinnati, OH, on the heels of concerts in South Africa, Australia and New Zealand. Tickets on sale beginning Friday, February 14, in some markets.

4/8 – Cincinnati, OH – U.S. Bank Arena
On-sale 10am February 21 – ticketmaster.com

4/12 – Virginia Beach, VA – Farm Bureau Live at Virginia Beach
On-sale 10am February 21 – ticketmaster.com

4/15 – Columbus, OH – Nationwide Arena
On-sale 10am February 21 – ticketmaster.com

4/17 – Nashville, TN – Bridgestone Arena
On-sale 10am February 15 – ticketmaster.com

4/19 – Charlotte, NC – Time Warner Cable Arena
On-sale 10am February 21 – ticketmaster.com

4/22 – Pittsburgh, PA – Consol Energy Center
On-sale 10am February 14 – ticketmaster.com

4/24 – Raleigh, NC – PNC Arena

On-sale 10am February 21 – ticketmaster.com

4/26 – Atlanta, GA – Aaron’s Amphitheatre at Lakewood
On-sale 10am February 15 – ticketmaster.com

4/29 – Sunrise, FL – BB&T Center
On-sale 10am February 15 – ticketmaster.com

5/1 – Tampa, FL – MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre
On-sale 10am February 15 – ticketmaster.com

5/3 – New Orleans, LA – Jazz & Heritage Festival
On-sale now – nojazzfest.com

5/6 – Houston, TX – Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion
On-sale 10am February 28 – ticketmaster.com

5/13 – Albany, NY – Times Union Center
On-sale 10am February 14 – ticketmaster.com

5/14 – Hershey, PA – Hersheypark Stadium
On-sale 10am February 14 – ticketmaster.com

5/17 – Uncasville, CT – Mohegan Sun
On-sale 10am February 14 – ticketmaster.com

5/18 – Uncasville, CT – Mohegan Sun
On-sale 10am February 14 – ticketmaster.com

 

Jay Z’s Pittsburgh Performance is Priceless

Would it surprise anyone that a non-rap fan would risk bitter cold temps, running a 101+ temp of his own, and downing some extra special codeine enhanced cough meds to suppress the bronchitis tackling his immune system would risk his general health just to see the music mogul called Jay-Z?  I mean, c’mon, we are talking one of the biggest acts out there today, one of the ‘household namers’ , the mover, the shaker, Mr. Beyoncé, Mr. Beats headphones, “99 Problems” Guy, and yet ticket sales are one? Only roughly 7500 Pittsburghers pre-bought tickets.  Huh?  I don’t even like this type of music and I am out here half dead to see this guy and you aren’t? What gives?

This is Mr. Shawn Carter’s first solo tour in four years, promoting his 12th studio release, “Magna Carta … Holy Grail”.  Creative director Timbaland was on hand commanding the keys/beats and well, creatively directing.  The stage set was truly visually  impressive, at least structurally, a geometric build that was somewhat old-school in it’s inception.  Jay Z hit the stage with “U Don’t Know” and “Crown” and stayed very much in the ‘Magna Carta’ vein for the first half of the show. Being that “Magna Carta … Holy Grail” is up for nine nominations at the Grammy Awards, and Jay Z and his wife Beyoncé are performing Jan. 26 at Los Angeles’ Staples Center, maybe that’s the point.

But, it didn’t take long for the old faves and the stuff that made him legend to roll out the goods such as “99 Problems”, “Dead Presidents II”, “Big Pimpin'”, Jigga What, Jigga Who”, “Dirt Off Your Shoulder”, “Empire State of Mind”, “Izzo”, “Hard Knock Life” and “Young Forever” which was dedicated to Nelson Mandela.  If the lack of a crowd was any bother to Mr. Carter, it did not show, he was smiles from the beginning to the end and looked like he was having a blast.  There are many reasons that the man is who he is, and has the rep he does.  He lives up to every one of those expectations and puts on a hell of a show without the need for tons of bells and whistles.
Maybe much of Pittsburgh was not willing to shell out a few dollar,s or brave the cold, or whatever their excuse was to miss the man they call Jigga.  What they missed was an experience to see someone who is a master at his craft perform…which is for many a music fan, priceless.

First set of photos  ©2014 AWeldingphoto and Pittsburgh Music Magazine

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second set of photos courtesy of  ©2014 MPapphoto and Pittsburgh Music Magazine

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Jeff Dunham comes to Pittsburgh and leaves me disappointed

Written by: Valerie Wallach

            Friday, Dec. 6, stand-up comedian Jeff Dunham hit the stage for a nearly sold-out show at the Consol Energy Center during his “Disorderly Conduct” tour. It was a full house brimming with an overwhelmingly middle-aged fan base; not surprisingly, since Dunham’s career debuted in the 1970’s and took off in the 80’s. He is credited with reviving ventriloquism and doing more to promote this dying art form than anyone within the last several decades, which clearly proves to be Dunham’s strong suit. Utilizing a wild assortment of characters he flaunts an extraordinary voice-throwing talent. Thus, I give Dunham credit where credit is due, but the unique delivery of his material does little to advance its crude, uninspired content.

Prior to the show, a mega screen displayed various word games, trivia about Dunham’s career, and advice from ‘Walter’—Jeff’s most beloved dummy, the ill-tempered senior citizen. Eventually, Dunham was introduced to the stage by a video montage of each of his characters being arrested and interrogated by Dunham himself. The idea had potential but turned out to be quite cheesy, particularly when Achmed the ‘dead terrorist’ ignited a bomb during police line-up in order to—quote, “start the show off with a bang.”

Dunham made his grand entrance and laid out his plans for the evening, stating that his set would “mix together his biggest hits from previous tours and newer stuff that hasn’t been heard before.” Everyone in the audience cheered excitedly, and I will admit that something about Dunham’s down-to-earth style made it seem as though he could be anyone’s next door neighbor. He even incorporated a slideshow of family photos, such as one picture that his daughter took of him in a Batman onesie, which received big laughs from the crowd and certainly proved that he can laugh at himself. After at least twenty minutes of the slideshow, however, I practically forgot whether I was attending some sort of boring family reunion or a comedy show.

The first figure to finally take Dunham’s side was Achmed the Dead Terrorist, an overtly anti-Semitic skeleton of an Arab extremist. His “suicide bomber humor” included every pun about a bomb that you could imagine (example: his favorite TV Show is 60 Minutes “the ticking sound makes me homesick”) culminating in a musical rendering of “The Twelve Days of Infidels.” To me, the skit was too blatantly racist and lost its flair after the first few jokes. It became clear that the puppets are merely Dunham’s carriers for delivering some very stereotypical ethnic slurs, and it is in this way that Dunham gets away with such controversy, since it visually appears to be the character’s opinions and not his own. I mean, considering Dunham grosses nearly as much money in tickets as the great Jerry Seinfeld, I had hoped for something more progressive and subtly clever. But, to each his own, I suppose.

The next figure was a dummy of Dunham himself—matching outfit and all. I actually found this skit to be the funniest, for as Dunham begins to advertise his own merchandise in the middle of the show, the dummy mocks him and physically tackles him to the ground. The audience laughed wildly as Dunham wrestled with the puppet version of himself; this hilarious display of self-deprecation was fresh and inviting.

“And now we get to the free part of the show,” announced Dunham, as he presented his newest figure “the president of the coffee drinker’s association”—a shaky, cracked out caffeine addict. Claiming he had just written the material in transit that day, Dunham used notes throughout. The jokes were fairly funny but predictable (example: “decaffeinated coffee is like cheeseless pizza or sexless marriage.” “I tried AA; I went for five years for the free coffee.”) Still, the crowd responded favorably, and Dunham said he’d be keeping this little coffee lover around.

~~Insert yet another commercial, this one for “Achmed’s Bomb Sweeper,” a free game on the iPhone and Android. ~~

Peanut, the manic purple creature, was the third figure of the night. The jokes returned to making fun of Southerners—particularly people in Alabama which was the previous stop on his tour—along with racist NFL anecdotes, a couple of jabs at Obama, a handful of obvious sexual innuendos, and other such careless, run of the mill jokes that characterize Dunham’s comedy. It seemed a shame that the content could not match his undeniable skills in ventriloquism; the sound effects and foreign accents (all done without ever moving his lips) were certainly impressive. He managed to bring each character to life with great ease.

The show closed with ole’ Walter, whose cynicism towards marriage, distrust of foreigners, and aversion towards homosexuals seemed to appeal to the older audience. But, honestly, these jokes are hardly worth replicating. We all adore the late Archie Bunker who succeeded with this same sense of humor back in the 70’s, but four decades later it is no longer original or appropriate. ‘Tis time to put this bunk out to pasture, if you ask me.

Dunham then held a question and answer session with Walter using questions submitted by the audience (as if his humor hadn’t already run dry). For example: Do you smoke after sex? “I don’t know. I’ve never looked.” The crowd was cracking up laughing, as they had been throughout the entire two-hour show, while I was ready to get up from my seat and leave, as I had been throughout the entire two-hour show. In other words, it’s a matter of individual taste. Dunham is hugely popular; I just do not personally understand the integrity of his humor, other than his tremendous talent as a ventriloquist.

And though seeing this particular talent up close was an interesting experience, I would recommend taking a peak at his routine online before paying $60 for an overpriced, overrated comedic performance.

Live Photos ©2013 Coda Photography

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Josh Groban puts on a Brave performance in Pittsburgh

Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh was once again packed to capacity for Josh Groban on November 2, 2013.  Groban is no stranger to Pittsburgh, having spent six months studying here at Carnegie Mellon University before being signed and whisked away into super-stardom.  The trajectory of Groban has been a swift one since he was seventeen and he has become a household name since and a huge favorite among the ladies, not only for his swooning voice, but for his boyishly good looks as well.

While Groban may often be lumped in with the Bublé’s and such of the genre he is very vastly different and thus what makes him stand out.  His operatic style and panache is quite evident right from the opening notes.  When the lights went down it felt more like a theater production, violinist and trumpeter suddenly appearing in the audience, lights dazzling to the drums, and the symphonic type music sending the audience to a frenzied buzz in anticipation of their beloved musical wonder boy.  And then he appeared, opening up with new song “Brave”.

In-between beautiful renditions of songs like “Vincent Starry Starry Night (a Don McClean cover)”, Groban told tales of his day in Pittsburgh and remembering why they call it the ‘Burg- due to freezing as he prepared for his performance when they had just covered the ice that the Pittsburgh Penguins play on.  He went on to explain how much he loves singing in other languages just before he went into “Un Alma Mas”, a skill that so sets Groban into a different category than his contemporaries.

Josh went on to welcome the audience in his somewhat spastic speech pattern injected with humor, especially the first timers, “Welcome to the cult”.  Then he went into something very special where he answered questions submitted by audience members.  Calling out those in the audience by seat and name, he then interacted with them and read their questions.  The first of these was, “If you could have anything in the world named after you what would it be?”  After joking about, “What like a show pony?  Here comes Galloping Groban around the corner only to be beaten by Bouncing Bublé!” (An amazing moment of self deprecation and humor).  But then he answered truthfully that he would love to have ‘An Art Center’ named after him where he could give back to what has been given to him.  Great Answer.  The second question that came up was, “My fans would be surprised to know that I keep a _____ in my house.”  Well, of course this led up to some very sly innuendos that got the audience laughing hysterically.  What we came to learn though through all this is that Josh can’t cook, he has a dog that travels with him everywhere and thus he has dog toys everywhere in the house, and occasionally one will find a girlfriend in the house (although Groban did make an allusion to her possibly being inflatable).  The third and last question allowed us all to see his impression abilities when he was asked, “What song are you embarrassed you know the words to?”  This is when Groban broke out into some Beiber, moves and all, joking with the questioner by pointing back at her and saying in his best Beebs “I love you girl”, as well as cranking out some “Banana Phone”.

After this great interaction came a very heartfelt rendition of songwriter Jimmy Webb’s “The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress” , as well as “Remember When It Rained”, a duet with opener and the Voice alum Judith Hill.  Groban’s band then jammed with “Dream On” which featured violinist Christian Hebel and musical director and guitarist Tariqh Akoni and a full band jam afterwards that showed off Groban’s own percussion skills with a scaled down drum set a la Sheila E.

Josh Introduced his next song “To Where You Are” by discussing how he got a part on Ally McBeal due to Robert Downey Jr.’s troubles at that time and he then went on to talk about his own  Find Your Light Foundation, a come-what-may umbrella organization to help children in the many broken systems around the world. These have involved healthcare, food and shelter, education, and relief donations for tragedies that would occur without warning.  The more Josh talked and sang the more endearing he became and one could see what ‘the cult’ was all about.

A gorgeous rendition of the old Irish song :She Moved Through The Fair” was a true highlight with the band coming out to the center stage to play basic instruments to a medieval tune.  Judith Hill once again took the stage for a duet of “The Prayer”. a song that Groban first did at seventeen years old at The Grammy’s rehearsal with Celine Dion, an amazing story that almost did not happen.  The East Coast Inspirational Singers joined him on the stage then to sing Stevie Wonder’s “I Believe (When I Fall In Love It Will Be Forever)” that led to the big encore.

What any Groban fan will tell you before the show that they cannot wait for is, “You Raise Me Up”, his seemingly most beloved hit.  There were not too many dry female eyes in the house at that point, leaving The Consol Energy Center to look somewhat akin to getting hit by a case of Beatlemania.  Groban has an amazing career past him and ahead of him.  It’s nice to think part of his history belongs here in Pittsburgh and maybe that is part of why the town clings to affectionately to him.  For now they will cling to the memory of the evening until he returns again.

All photos ©2013 AWelding and Pittsburgh Music Magazine

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Drake Gets The Party Started In Pittsburgh

“Would You Like a Tour?” Apparently, the answer is a resounding yes.  Pittsburgh became party central on October 18, 2013 as Drake began his tour in the Steel City amidst a crowd starving for a good time.  As the second major act to open a big tour here in one week (the other being Pearl Jam), Pittsburgh is starting to feel like a launching point for big acts to get their traveling circuses on the road.  But this night was unlike anything this reporter has ever seen.

Coming out from the photographers holding area I was immediately amazed by the party atmosphere that was happening all around.  It’s not the stereotypes of marijuana and alcohol, because that happens at plenty of shows.  It was more the setup of Consol Energy Center that night and the amount of people with a drink in their hand and actually feeling like you were at a party.  On the sides of the stage was an area that was standing room only that seemed like a backstage soiree.  Everyone was on their feet, mingling, talking, dancing, and that was before Drake even came on.Behind the soundboard was a platform for a VIP section as well which had it’s own celebration happening.  Of course the seats in every direction were filled with a very diverse crowd ready to let loose.  Opener Miguel got the throng going with his brand of R & B with huge enthusiasm from Pittsburgh.  But of course they all came to see Drake.  With a very open stage, with a futuristic centered circular clam-like structure with varying levels and bottom lit, along with a huge backscreen, the curtain withdrew and the anticipation was palpable.

From the depths of the stage Drake rose and the event truly began.  The bass was so booming that the ground underneath your feet literally was moving, almost forcing you to move.  The ganja was in high gear as was the alcohol at full flow for the work weary crowd.  The party was peaking at the perfect moment and all hands went up as legs and hips moved about in abandon.  Drake sang in a silhouetted type state as the backscreen projected an extremely bright melange of pinks and blues.  Opening up with “Tuscan Leather,” Headlines” and “Crew Love” he moved like a snake ready to strike, poisonous and dangerous, but beautiful at the same time.

The known guest highlight of the evening almost did not happen. Just before the tour, Atlanta rapper Future, made some remarks regarding Drake’s new album prompting Drake to throw him off the tour and reportedly having Future readying a $1.5 million dollar lawsuit in return for lost wages.  All seemed to be patched up though as Drake introduced Future as “his brother”.  And then it was on.  The crowd went nuts and Future got it amped up just a bit more, including what seemed like his biggest fan, Drake. “Same Damn Time” was a massive sing and dance-a-thon as the thumping shook the rafters.

What is most striking about Drake’s fans is that they hang on and know every word of every song.  Drake is particularly known for his lyricism, prompting Lil Wayne to say, “I can tell, you know, I don’t know nothing else out there that can touch it, including my stuff. That kid is on another planet.”  Some of those tunes he belted out were (surprisingly) a cover of A$AP Rocky’s “[Expletive Problems]”, his own “HYFR, “The Motion”, duets with Jhene Aiko for “Come Thru” and “From Time” , “Hold On”, “We’re Going Home” and “Connect.”

But the huge highlight of the evening, at least for a hometown Pittsburgh crowd, was the appearance of the beloved Wiz Khalifa as he came out for “Black and Yellow” with Drake.  Talk about everyone going nuts.  Maybe Drake heard Pearl Jam brought Jason Grilli on stage last week and wanted to one up them?

All photos ©2013 AWeldingphoto and Pittsburgh Music Magazine (shot from the soundboard, first 2 songs only)

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Drake emerges from the depths
Drake emerges from the depths

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Drake takes in the sights and smells
Drake takes in the sights and smells
The crowd goes wild
The crowd goes wild

Michael Bublé Shows Why He Is ‘To Be Loved’ At Pittsburgh’s Consol Energy Center

No one told me he was going to be that funny.  I mean, I knew the guy could sing.  But to say that Michael Bublé is a just another entertainer is like saying Sydney Crosby is just another hockey player. Bublé is at the top of the game, an all star so far above his peers that it’s no wonder that he is considered by many to be the second coming of Sinatra.  What is obvious are those boyish good looks, those classic dance moves he pulls off, and those gorgeous notes his voice belts out at every turn.  What one does not get to witness unless you actually go see him is Bublé’s humor.  And it’s not just canned stage banter…most of it is very on the spot wit.

What is most endearing about Bublé’s shows might be his interaction with the crowd.  For example, the calling out to the individuals who made signs, especially the girl whose eighteenth birthday was that evening and just wanted a hug.  She not only got a hug but Bublé and the crowd singing Happy Birthday to her.  Some fans brought gifts for him, the most special being a little Pittsburgh Pens baby “onesie” for his newborn (Bublé is a well know hockey fan and he reported that Penguins own Sid the Kid called him before he went onstage).  {pix below} But what became the most hilarious moment of the evening and a great example of his quick humor was the introduction of an elderly couple celebrating their 61st anniversary.  In typical Pittsburgh fashion the woman gave her man a big kiss and he said to Bublé “Let’s go Bucs!”  With this Bublé replied, “I don’t think I can say that outloud here!  But now I know how you guys have lasted for 61 years!”  Then a pregnant pause and, “Ohhh, let’s go Bucs!?”  The crowd ate it up. (Second most hilarious moment was probably the mock ESPN intros of Bublé’s band complete with his brutal introductions).

The night was filled with great American standards and his own work.  Songs like, “You Make me Feel So Young”, “That’s All, “I’ve Got The World On A String”, “Everything”, “Home”, “Burning Love” (awesome Elvis!) were amazing as well as his Motown set with openers Naturally 7 (these guys do things with their voices that defy description…unreal).  The surprise of the evening definitely had to be his inclusion of Daft Punk’s, “Get Lucky” and the highlight would arguably be his cover of the Beatles “All You Need Is Love” with paper red and white hearts pumped out all over the audience.

Bottom line is that even a guy who worships at the altar of Black Sabbath can appreciate a stellar talent like Michael Bublé and will not miss an opportunity to see him perform ever again.

All photos  ©2013 AWELDINGPHOTO and Pittsburgh Music Magazine

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Muse Brings The Madness To Consol Energy Center In Pittsburgh

It had been some time since Pittsburgh had seen the likes of Muse visit, the last time only witnessed by the “in the know” and hip crowd that latched onto the mighty sound from the English trio at Mr. Smalls.  The band wasted little time in making a grand entrance with a stunning yet not overpowering stage set to “Isolated System” as the box, within box, within box, within box visual screens spilled from the ceiling like an accordion to cover the stage in what you just knew would eventually open up to the three of them blasting away into “Supremacy”.

Having never witnessed Muse in person, I was unaware of what to expect.  Many of those hipster fans were now too cool to go see them since Muse had hit mainstream popularity.  I had only really caught the wave when my wife started playing “Knights of Cydonia” (definitely the highlight song of the evening) around me, a song that had such an awesome blend of rock, metal, and opera, it was like the rebirth of Queen for me.  I was immediately impressed and delved further into their catalog that showed what diverse and impressive musicians they are, especially leader Matt Bellamy.  Matt was on fire last night in Pittsburgh, jamming, dancing, singing, doing all that an enigmatic leader should for a capacity crowd. He was mesmerizing and soulful, fully passionate and clearly enjoying himself thoroughly. Matt spoke rarely, and instead let his guitar project the prose, proving himself in the ranks of guitar gods; something I was not expecting but was all the more elated to witness, a true genius with his instrument.

The crowd was full throttle from start to finish, completely amped and ready for action even when openers Cage the Elephant started up the event. But certain songs really brought out the electricity such as “Time Is Running Out” which turned into a full force sing a long as hands held aloft and the sea of bodies on the floor bouncing in unison became one.  On one of their most impressive songs of the evening, both visually and musically was “Madness”.  Matt wore special glasses that displayed lyrics as his mic/cam dropped from the rafters to focus up close and Wolstenholme (bassist) played the beats from his guitar’s implanted device, lasers billowing into the crowd, punctuating the rhythm as Bellamy’s soul filled guitar ripped through the electro beat; the live scene actually turned into an MTV video right before our eyes. And as the crowds psychs took control and their kush kicked in (for those so inclined), the drums pounded by Dominic Howard drove the crowd further and further into a hypnotic haze of beautiful tones that somehow juxtaposed a myriad of styles into the Muse blender to become a unison of unique musicianship.

Some of the  really cool things that occurred last night in Pittsburgh were some fillers and a special song for a fan.  When my fellow photographers and backstage handlers came out to the front of the stage we quickly saw numerous fans with signs that asked the band to play “Fury”, a song rarely played in the States.  As a special tribute to Kathyrn, a fan who was seeing her 100th show, Muse made good on her and many others request of playing the song, making her and many others night.  But, for this fan my fave moments were the little punctuation slipped in of playing “House of the Rising Sun” and after playing the very punk-like “Agitated”, dropping into Rage Against The Machine’s “Freedom” as the box within box contraption took them in again just as it unveiled them in the beginning.

The band quickly returned, since they were against the clock and the union overtimes on a Sunday night at Consol, and flew into their encore of “Unsustainable” as Bellamy laid on the front of the catwalk and held out the mic, reaching out to the audience to sing.
“Uprising” was definitively punctuated by Matt spearing his amp with his guitar and repeatedly throwing it into the air, much to the crowds chagrin.  All in all it was an evening not to be missed for one never knows when Muse will bless us with their presence again.

All photos © 2013 AWeldingphoto and Pittsburgh Music Magazine

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The Eagles Take It Easy On Pittsburgh

The Eagles performed last night at The Consol Energy Center in the heart of downtown to a capacity crowd of die hard fans. As a tie in with the career spanning documentary History of the Eagles, it was  announced March 21 an eleven date North American tour in support of the documentary would occur, including Pittsburgh.  Henley said that the tour, “could very well be our last…we’re gonna include at least one former band member in this tour and kinda go back to the roots, and how we created some of these songs. We’re gonna break it down to the fundamentals and then take it up to where it is now” (Ultimate Classic Rock).

The band chose to roll through their repertoire chronologically, even so much as starting off the evening with just Don Henley and Glenn Frey on acoustic like they did in the old days when they were part of Linda Ronstadt’s band.  They told tales of how the band formed and one by one the members came out progressively as the songs built upon one another.  It certainly was amazing to see Bernie Leadon, who is just amazing on guitar, back up there under the lights with them again.  They also let part of the documentary do part of the talking on the big screen to fill in some of the gaps so some set and equipment changes could be made.

For most it was a trip down memory lane, a very laid back evening (at least at first) filled with California country rock tunes from an era gone by that have tested time.  For whatever it’s worth, the most lively parts of the night were when Joe Walsh shined with his contributions of James Gang material (i.e. Funk 49)…which was just a great example of how some of the dynamics within The Eagles changed within the history of their music with their members: good, bad, or indifferent.  Choosing to sit for some of the evening and just jam out, The Eagles provided their fans with a hell of a set list filled with hits and some very deep cuts to chew on:

Pittsburgh 7/23/2012

Saturday Night

Train Leaves

Peaceful Easy Feeling

Doolin Dalton

Tequila Sunrise

Already Gone

Doolin Reprise

Already Gone

Best Of My Love

Lyin’ Eyes

One Of These Nights

Take It To The Limit

Pretty Maids

I Can’t Tell You Why

New Kid In Town

Love Will Keep Us Alive

Heartache Tonight

Those Shoes

In The City

Life’s Been Good

Long Run

Funk 49

Life In the Fast Lane

Hotel California

Take It Easy

Rocky Mountain Way

Desperado

All photos  ©2013 AWelding photo and Pittsburgh Music Magazine

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Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers Give Pittsburgh a Night Full of Hits

Tom Petty looks like he is having the time of his life.  And why wouldn’t he be?  The guy is seriously a musical legend walking among us and living the dream.  Playing a packed Pittsburgh Consol Energy Center last night, June 20, 2013 to a crowd that ran from septuagenarian to tweenager, Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers proved why they are Rock N Roll Hall of Famers.  Even though not a huge Petty fan, this writer was stunned at how many songs I was singing along every word to without any thought at all.  Tom Petty is a part of Americana and is intertwined into the very fabric of our musical history, thus being my main motivation to see this phenom.  But, the man and his band do not disappoint for all the right reasons.  The sparse stage filled with vintage equipment was carefully  highlighted only by necessity lighting and two big screens up top for the back rows.  Otherwise it was all classic rock n roll output with very little stage banter other than Petty telling the crowd ‘what a great day (he) had in Pittsburgh’ and ‘that (he) hoped that the crowd was in for a long night because he didn’t have anything to do for a few hours’ (add in your own thunderous applause).  There really is no criticism to be had here.  After honing your craft for close to 40 years you come to expect that, but the point is Petty lives up to it every night and still loves what he does and does not go around bitching about it, something a few younger bands could take note of.  After Petty (and Elvis) left the building last night Petty made one more fan that night, proving after all these years the man is still doing his job.  There’s a lot to be said for that.

Setlist via setlist.fm

  1. (The Byrds cover)
  2. Encore:

All photos ©2013 AWeldingphoto and Pittsburgh Music Magazine

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The Eagles invite JD & The Straight Shot to Open on July Tour

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Blues-rock band JD & The Straight Shot have announced that they will be opening for music legends the Eagles on the “History of the Eagles” tour this July. The tour kicks off on July 6 in Louisville, KY with 12 concerts scheduled through July 25. In celebration of the release of the Eagles’ documentary, History of the Eagles, which made its television broadcast debut on Showtime last month, the Eagles with opener JD & The Straight Shot will perform concerts in Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Cleveland, Ohio; Toronto, Ontario; Grand Falls Windsor, Newfoundland; Ottawa, Ontario; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Uncasville, Connecticut; Boston, Massachusetts; Washington, D.C., Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; and Bethel, New York. For tickets and more information, visit: www.thestraightshotmusic.com.

 

Frontman Jim Dolan founded JD & The Straight Shot in 2000 with friends from the office. Dolan works as President and CEO of Cablevision, Executive Chairman of Madison Square Garden, Inc. and also oversees New York sports teams such as the Knicks and the Rangers. Although it began as a side project, JD & The Straight Shot has migrated in a new direction over the past several years – recording and touring heavily to promote their new unique sound and new members.Relix Magazine explains, “JD & The Straight Shot is more than a businessman’s vanity project – it’s a legitimate band that continues to evolve.”

 

The band’s creative nucleus is Dolan, guitarist Marc Copely (B.B. King), and guitarist Adam Levy (Norah Jones, Amos Lee) – this trio pens all the band’s music and lyrics. Instrumentally indispensible is keyboardist Brian Mitchell (Bob Dylan, Levon Helm) who also adds harmonica and accordion to the sonic stew. Rounding out the band are some of pop music’s finest session players, drummer Shawn Pelton (Rod Stewart, Pink, Daryl Hall, Buddy Guy), bassist Zev Katz (Aretha Franklin, Elton John), and violinist Lorenza Ponce (Sheryl Crow, Ben Folds, Bon Jovi).

 

JD & The Straight Shot is no stranger to playing with impressive headliners as they have already opened for Eagles’ members Joe Walsh and Don Henley as well as ZZ Top and Willie Nelson this past spring. The band has also played with musical greats such as the The Allman Brothers Band, Robert Randolph and more.

 

With the release of their fourth studio album last summer, JD & The Straight Shot continues to showcase their signature bluesy sound while incorporating distinct New Orleans root influence. The album, Midnight Run, was produced by Kevin Killen (U2Peter Gabriel) at New York’s famed Avatar Studios.

Check out more on JD & The Straight Shot here: www.thestraightshotmusic.com

Facebook:   https://www.facebook.com/jdandthestraightshot

YouTube:     http://www.youtube.com/jdstraightshot

 

 

History of the Eagles Tour Dates:

Saturday, July 6 KFC YUM! Center Louisville, KY
Sunday, July 7 Summerfest Milwaukee, WI
Tuesday, July 9 Quicken Loans Arena Cleveland, OH
Thursday, July 11 Air Canada Centre Toronto, ON
Saturday, July 13 Salmon Festival 2013 Grand Falls Windsor, NFLD
Monday, July 15 Scotiabank Place Ottowa, ON
Tuesday, July 16 Wells Fargo Center Philadelphia, PA
Thursday, July 18 Mohegan Sun Uncasville, CT
Friday, July 19 Comcast Center Mansfield, MA
Monday, July 22 Verizon Center Washington, D.C.
Tuesday, July 23 Consol Energy Center Pittsburgh, PA
Thursday, July 25 Bethel Woods Center for the Arts Bethel, NY

Black Keys “Tighten Up” Their Grip In Pittsburgh

Real old electric blues had a specific tonality and sound. Robert Johnson, Muddy and even Buddy Guy didn’t have any Bonamassa, or Hendrix “Red House” tones, like any of the big “blues” guys today. Missing was the “Dumble” sound or any of what I would call contemp-blues tones in their guitars. Doyle Bramhall III maybe one of the few guys that goes back and forth between contemp-blues and old electric-blues along with Clapton.

Ole school electric-blues is thin in it’s presentation. Auerbach steals a page out of SRV’s book when we discuss tone…obviously not style or even choice in guitar for that matter. Auerbach is the king of “dumble” sounding blues. Influencing new hitters like Gary Clark Jr. I always refer to his really cool rig rundown being a player myself. Gotta love the squishy tweed deluxe Japanese fuzz-wah sounds.

The guitar in those bands (often with piano, mouth harp, or other instruments in the mix) just totally stood out. Dan Auerbach is a traditionalist and fails to completely conform to modern blues sounds. Many people were confused with the muffled sound of his guitar.  People who know The Black Keys realize this is the palette that Auerbach paints from and we dig it!

Nobody seems to go for that sound anymore. Yet a lot of covers of the originals do it with a more mid-rangy, chirpy, OD sound. In fact, a lot of the old electric blues wasn’t even close to being in OD territory.  This territory was fantastic when Carney and Auerbach went two piece during the early middle part of the show doing down home versions of Thickfreakness, Girl On My Mind and Your Touch.

I can see where in today’s world, we have changed our tastes, and it could wear thin over a whole set, but for those of us “chasing the tone”, it might be a cool idea, for authentic blues sound, to play a couple of songs on the bridge pickup, and let the bass and drums (and maybe piano) cover the low and mid ranges. This would be my only complaint after watching The Black Keys rip it up last night at Consol Energy Center, Pittsburgh PA.

Tempo discussion was also thrown around the crowd. Patrick Carney always charges out of the gates like a bull at Pampalona.  He leads and very rarely follows. So when Auerbach starts most of the songs you have an unpredictable dichotomy between chase and follow.  Now don’t be misled by my observations which tend to be highly critical when analyzing live music. I truly loved this show and everything about it.  The magic is never lost in their set which is listed below (thx to “Setlist“).

Little Black Submarines was a highlight for a lot of people starting off with great acoustic sound similar to the record and eventually morphing into it’s muscle flexing power rock ending.  The rest of the set lived up to it’s billing and The Black Keys deserve the success they’ve garnered in the past 3 years. They’ve always seemed to carry that blue collar swagger with them and they truly appreciate their fan base.

The rule being that if you really dig at least 3 releases from a band you may be hooked. I loved the Magic Potion CD the first time I heard it and everything they put out after it.  I guess we must concede the fact that Ohio is the home of one of the best bands from the rust belt.  Maybe there’s another Black Keys in the making, in some basement in Pittsburgh. We can only hope.  But, I have a feeling that those guys from Akron will be around for a long time.

All photos ©2013 AWeldingphoto and Pittsburgh Music Magazine

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Flaming Lips Bring The Space Opera To Pittsburgh’s Consol Energy Center

“The promoter wanted me to tell everyone in the seats way up there that this building has an excellent ventilation system,” Wayne Coyne began to express to the Pittsburgh crowd, “and he said it’s okay that you guys smoke pot up there.”  Wayne Coyne is a funny dude, not in a comedic sense, although that comment sure got the tuned up Steel City audience in high gear for a night of melodic celebration.  Coyne is just well, ‘different’.

Coming out onto a high rise platform with snaked light up tubes wrapping around in some space ship Matrix 2001 Odessey love ship, taped up with aluminum and tubing reminiscent of pulsating organisms, Wayne literally clutched a baby doll for at least the first three and a half songs, often caressing it, sucking its toes and hands, as though it were a living child in his hands.  His outfit of metallic leather, silver metallic beads glued near his eyes, with the look of a blue bearded cross between Jim Morrison and Bob Dylan playing with toy trumpets and bellowing out for the crowd to make more noise from behind the thick smoke was like an alien presence before all.

Even if one were not truly familiar with the band that has been around since their hit in the nineties with, “She Don’t Use Jelly”, the surrounding light show, the atmosphere, the showmanship and the sheer magnitude of the presence that the band exudes combined with a musicianship that is rarely found in many popular groups is enough to keep most concert goers enthralled.  The Pittsburgh crowd appeared more like stunned.  With a true understanding of how integral the visual is with the visceral and the cerebral and the soulful much like in the vein of Pink Floyd, The Flaming Lips have that certain something that puts one into an otherworldly state without the use of chemical enhancement (although it may not hurt).  It’s surrealist art for your ears.  With any luck they will bring their space opera back to visit us again soon to explore their new effort “The Terror” further and Mr. Coyne can continue being ‘different’ because that’s what makes him and his band so exceptional and beautiful and confusing.  Babydolls, toy trumpets, and all.

Setlist: Look…The Sun Is Rising ,The Terror ,The W.A.N.D. ,Virgo Self-Esteem Broadcast ,Silver Trembling Hands ,Try to Explain ,One More Robot ,Sympathy 3000-21 ,“Heroes” (David Bowie cover,) Do You Realize?? , Always There, In Our Hearts

All photos © 2013 AWeldingphoto and Pittsburgh Music Magazine

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Easter Day is GREEN DAY in Pittsburgh: A Letter to Billie Joe (The PMM review)

A letter to Billie Joe:

Maybe it was the sight of a drunken, dirty Easter bunny throwing candy to the capacity crowd at Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh on Easter Sunday night.  Maybe it was the super soaker hoses, and the toilet paper rollers, and the t-shirt launchers.  Or maybe it was the jaded cynical critic within me that had seen it all too many times.  Don’t get me wrong, I like Green Day.  I like you Billie Joe and am very sorry that you have gone through the trials and tribulations you have.  But the dichotomy and downright hypocrisy of a “drunken” Easter bunny with empty bottles in an Easter basket is not the message that a guy straight from rehab needs to promote.  I could care less about most bands and what they comment upon, be it sex, drugs, politics, whatever.  What I’m saying is, “Armstrong we’ve got a problem”.  It’s a mixed message.  You’ve become a damn cliché.   And I freakin’ hate that for you.

Your band and yourself were tight.  I enjoyed some great songs like, “Oh Love”, “Holiday”, “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” (all in a row by the way- nice work!), “Christie Road”…well you know what you played.  The “Disappearing Boy” with the quick flashes of covers from The Beatles, Ozzy, and Skynrd that bled into the sing-a-long of Guns n’ Roses “Sweet Child O’ Mine” into AC/DC’s “Highway to Hell” that turned into your old hit “Brain Stew” was brilliance.  But you’ve been at this for a long time and I expect nothing less.  It’s not my first time at The Green Day Rodeo.  Something is missing Billie Joe and I hope that it is not something within yourself.

I really liked when you brought up your fan for the second song, “Know Your Enemy” after your opener “99 Revolutions”.  He was awesome and the on the lips kiss and how you rolled with it was great.   I loved when you did the same thing here in Pittsburgh during the American Idiot tour with a guitar player and gave him the guitar afterward.   It’s part of why I can’t help but like you.  I, like many in the audience, hitting the middle age skids, discovered you guys sometime around ‘Dookie’ or just before.  We’ve been with you ever since.  Even when you were thinking that you were going to be destined to doing greatest hits tours to the summer sheds.  That is until ‘American Idiot’.  The game changer.  You have been on a roller coaster ride ever since.  I am happy for you and sad for you all at once.  For as you know there is a price to that success that you have achieved and as the leader of the pack, you pay the dearest.  Your battles with the bottle are quite understandable.

So, that’s why I have to ask you to go back to taking a break.  Yes, there were moments of the old Green Day last night.  And there were glimpses of you having fun.  But, there was a lot more “phoning it in” moments witnessed, rock god clichés, gimmicks, worn out tricks, and the lack of the old punk ethics.  You’re not a hypocrite bro.  I know you’re not; or maybe I just hope you are not.  Let Green Day get off this media rocket ship ride and quit listening to the managers and record company execs who will bleed you until you are dust.  Play some clubs.  Do some festivals.  Do less.  Less can be more (hard to tell someone who just put out three records, huh?).  No offense, but I hope I don’t see you for some time.  And when and if I do, I hope that you have dropped the act and gone back to what Green Day did best at one time.  That was to be true to themselves.

Signed,

A. Welding

All photos property of AWeldingphoto and Pittsburgh Music Magazine ©2013

The drunken bunny invades Pittsburgh...
The drunken bunny invades Pittsburgh…
Consol Energy Center pre-show
Consol Energy Center pre-show

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A fan gets chose from the crowd to sing
A fan gets chose from the crowd to sing

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Fulfilling a dream
Fulfilling a dream

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Afterglow...
Afterglow…
The fan plants one on Billie Joe
The fan plants one on Billie Joe

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The glory of 'singing for' Green Day
The glory of ‘singing for’ Green Day

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers Thursday, June 20 – 7:30 PM at Consol Energy Center

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Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers belong to a special class of artists. A class comprised of those few acts that have sustained decades-long careers despite the restlessness of popular music’s audience.

They have scored hits in five different and have sold tens of millions of records along the way. Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame during their first year of eligibility and have garnered accolades and awards too many to mention. Through it all their uncompromising integrity has never wavered while their concert tours have become things of legend.

Tom Petty has said the Heartbreakers are first a live band. Critics have said they are one of the few great live rock ‘n roll bands still playing today.

Presale begins: Thursday, March 14 at 10:00 AM
Presale ends: Thursday, March 14 at 10:00 PM
PASSWORD: MARYJANE

4 ticket limit. Enter password MARYJANE into the “Internet Presales” box only.
Tickets go on sale to the general public Friday, March 15 at 10:00 AM.

Bon Jovi Rocks Pittsburgh ‘Because They Can’

Last night AEG Live brought Bon Jovi back to Pittsburgh on their “Because We Can Tour” to a sold out Consol Energy Center. Performing on an open style stage, Jon Bon Jovi got the party started immediately by opening with their smash hit, “You Give Love a Bad Name”. The crowd was overly enthusiastic and primed when the band hit the stage at 8:10 pm and the band certainly reacted in turn. With a large majority of the crowd appearing to be loyalists since the bands inception in 1983, it was interesting to see their reaction to tunes both classic and ‘not so classic’. The fever pitch seemed to never wane for the Steel City audience. Bon Jovi is on the early leg of their world tour in support of their new album, What About Now, which will be released on March 12, 2013. The tour will started in February and will visit North America, Europe, Africa, the Far East, Australia and Latin America.

Check out our exclusive pictorial below and stay tuned for a very special announcement about our contest for a signed Bon Jovi “Because We Can” tour poster, exclusive print from the show and Pittsburgh Music Magazine t-shirt!!!

All photos ©AWeldingphoto 2013 and Pittsburgh Music Magazine

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Setlist 2/21/13
You Give Love a Bad Name
Lost Highway
Whole Lot of Leavin’
Because We Can
That’s What the Water Made Me
It’s My Life
When We Were Beautiful
What About Now
We Got It Goin’ On
Keep the Faith
(You Want to) Make a Memory
Amen
I’ll Be There for You
Army of One
We Weren’t Born to Follow
Superman Tonight
Wanted Dead or Alive
Who Says You Can’t Go Home
Bad Medicine
Encore:
Blood on Blood
Born to Be My Baby
Someday I’ll Be Saturday Night
Have a Nice Day
Runaway
Livin’ on a Prayer
Encore 2:
I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead