# Tuesday, October 1, 2019

CobhamBrecker (2)Maybe it was the rain. Or the fact that it was a Sunday. Or because they performed 2 shows on  the same day.

But the City Winery was barely half full for the legendary drummer Billy Cobham and his Crosswinds Project, which featured his longtime collaborator trumpeter Randy Brecker.

CobhamBrecker (3)Cobham and Brecker have a long history together. They co-founded the jazz-rock fusion band Dreams in the late 1960s before launching successful careers as solo artists and collaborating with many of the jazz greats. Brecker found great success pairing with his brother Michael as The Brecker Brothers, while Cobham co-founded the Mahavishnu Orchestra with guitarist John McLaughlin.

Sunday they were together again, along with 4 other musicians (guitar, bass, keyboard, and bassoon) at the City Winery. I caught the second of two shows and the band was tight and energetic.

Named for his classic 1974 album, the Crosswinds Project played the full Spanish Moss Suite from that LP, leading in with a beautifully rendered solo keyboard version of "Savannah the Serene".

CobhamBrecker (1)It was Cobham's band and he led the way, but each of his band took turns with outstanding solo and ensemble performances. I was particularly impressed with keyboardist Osam Elelwy, who brought both energy and emotion to the evening's performance.

At 75 years young, Billy Cobham is celebrating his legacy and still sharing continuing to pour himself into his music. It will be tough to match the influence he has had on musicians in the past, but he is still inspiring audiences.

Tuesday, October 1, 2019 9:32:00 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Tuesday, September 3, 2019

IMG_5744Glenn Tilbrook celebrated his birthday with us in Chicago.

Tilford - along with Chris Difford - are the driving force behind the band Squeeze. Squeeze began as a New Wave band in the late 1970s, but progressed to become one of the most creative bands of the early 1980s - producing some very inventive melodies, rhythms, and arrangements. Difford and Tilbrook were the founders, songwriters, and leaders of the band and they are the only two original members to remain with the group today.

Saturday night at the Chicago Theatre, they were joined by a very good backing ensemble, especially a drummer, filled with kinetic energy and a masterful keyboard player.

From the moment they walked on stage, they were focused on the music. The band played four songs before they paused to greet the audience.

Mixed in with some lesser-known album cuts, the band played many of their hits, including "Annie Get Your Gun", "Cool for Cats" (a rare Difford vocal), "Goodbye Girl", and "Up the Junction". Highlights of the evening included an acoustic version of "Tempted" and a rousing version of "Black Coffee in Bed" to close the night.

The seats at the Chicago Theatre were a little too close to allow any pogo dancing; but the audience got on their feet when they recognized a song.

IMG_5748During their heyday, Squeeze was moderately popular on American radio stations, while they enjoyed much greater success in their native UK and on my college dorm room stereo.

At the end of the show, Difford wished his friend a Happy Birthday, showed a video from back home, and led the crowd in singing "Happy Birthday".

We all celebrated.

Tuesday, September 3, 2019 9:34:00 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Saturday, August 24, 2019

Weinberg-10A jukebox (for those too young to remember) was a machine filled with black vinyl discs - each containing a different song. They could be found in a lot of bars and diners and patrons could insert one or more coins and select the songs they wanted to hear.

Max Weinberg's Jukebox works on the same principle. A screen next to the stage continuously scrolled a list of almost 200 songs and Max periodically went into the audience to ask what people wanted to hear. And then he and his band played those requests.

Weinberg (for those too young to remember) rose to fame as the drummer of Bruce Springsteen's legendary E Street Band; and later led Conan O'Brien's house band for both the Late Show and the Tonight Show.

Max Weinberg opened his City Winery show Friday evening with Cream's "White Room" and Tom Petty's "American Girl" before soliciting requests from the audience. Anything on the scrolling list was fair game and the list was packed with classic rock favourites from The Beatles, The Who, The Stones, Springsteen (of course), and a host of others. Max played the drums and was accompanied by 2 guitarists and a bass player - each of which took turns singing lead.

In 2+ hours, I counted 26 songs performed by the band, including "Lola", "Drift Away", and "Me and Julio" - each delivered with tight playing, high-quality musicianship and great enthusiasm.

It was like listening to a really good bar cover band with one famous guy in it.

Weinberg-22They closed the night with a trio of high-energy Springsteen songs: "Pink Cadillac", "Dancing in the Dark", and "Glory Days". For the final song, Max invited audience members to join the band onstage.

A great concert (for those too young to remember) happens when both the audience and the performers enjoy themselves. This was one of those evenings.


More photos

Saturday, August 24, 2019 7:01:42 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Santana-41Santana and the Doobie Brothers were two of my favourite bands as I was growing up in suburban Detroit. Sadly, I never had the chance to see either of them in concert. Until this week.

Both bands were on stage Sunday night at the Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre in Tinley Park.

DoobieBrothers-62The Doobie Brothers opened the show with an energetic performance - their trademark funky mix of rock, blues, country, and soul.

Michael McDonald is not part of the current Doobie lineup (a stand-in sang "Takin' It to the Streets"), but the last 1970s core of Tom Johnson, Patrick Simmons, and John McFee were there and this was the version of the band I first fell in love with. This was the first time I've ever seen a warmup act come out for an encore, but the audience loved it when they returned to play "Listen to the Music" and "Black Water" (my personal favourite).

DoobieBrothers-37After a brief intermission, the sun set, the lights dimmed, and Santana opened their set with "Soul Sacrifice", their percussion-heavy instrumental from their 1969 debut album.

The centerpiece of this band is and has always been Carlos Santana, from whom the band takes its name. But Carlos has always surrounded himself with excellent musicians and they proved their prowess tonight. Instrumentals alternated with vocal songs; hits alternated with deep cuts; ballads alternated with songs of high-energy and the band was great throughout. It was particularly special when Carlos took over with a guitar solo. At 72, he remains one of the world's great guitarists. He can showcase his technical prowess and bring emotion to his music.

Santana-76 Santana has been able to stay relevant through five decades by reinventing themselves - not only artistically, but also commercially.

He played to the audience between songs, mentioning the influence of Chicago Blues legend Otis Rush on the arrangement of "Black Magic Woman".

Santana-26 After an encore that included the 1999 mega-hit "Smooth", the band finally left the stage - over 4 hours after the show began.

This was my first visit to the Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre, my first time seeing the Doobie Brothers, and my first time seeing Santana. It was a night to remember.


More Santana photos

More Doobie Brothers photos

Wednesday, August 7, 2019 7:14:00 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Frampton (6)A father and son sharing a passion is a wonderful thing.

Sunday night in Chicago, Jason Bonham's Led Zeppelin experience opened for Peter Frampton, where Jason played tribute to his father. Jason is the son of the late Zeppelin drummer John Bonham and he has assembled a group that sounds exactly like his father's band - down to the musical arrangements and a voice replica of Robert Plante.

Bonham's band would have been a great concert on its own, but the main attraction was Peter Frampton, the 69-year-old singer / guitarist, who recorded his first hit at the age of 18 with Humble Pie.

The thing I love about Peter Frampton is that he continued to evolve, without rejecting his past.

Frampton enjoyed his greatest commercial success in the 1970s, culminating with the recording and release of "Frampton Comes Alive" - Rolling Stone Magazine's 1976 album of the year.

Frampton (9)Sunday night in Chicago, Frampton drew extensively from his hits of that era - "Baby, I Love Your Way", "Do You Feel Like We Do", "Show Me the Way", ...), even opening with "Something's Happening", the song that opened his legendary live album; but he also exposed us to much of the new material on which he has been working the past 4 decades. He played from his cover of Soundgarden's "Black Hole Sun" from his Grammy-winning 2006 album "Fingerprints" and several tracks from his recent "All Blues" album.

Between songs, he charmed us with stories of his career and the musicians with whom he has interacted.

His 3-song encore consisted of songs from "Humble Pie", the band he co-founded at the age of 18.

No artist has become more associated with the Talk Box than Peter Frampton and he used it in this show - but sparingly enough that it remained fresh and not just a gimmick to prop up his songs.

DGAndTimThis was Frampton's final tour. He is retiring due to a diagnosed with a degenerative muscle disorder that will ultimately impair his ability to play guitar. But there was no evidence of any health problems at this show. His energy was high, and his playing was flawless. He and his band were on stage for nearly 2 hours.

I was excited to finally see Peter Frampton in concert - decades after originally discovering his music. And more excited that I shared the experience with my 25-year-old son, who seemed by far the youngest attendee.

A father and son sharing a passion is a wonderful thing.

Tuesday, July 30, 2019 2:36:44 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Sunday, June 30, 2019

MickJaggerFrom a distance, you would swear he was half his 75 years. You would never guess he underwent heart surgery two months ago. Only the cracks in his face revealed Mick Jagger's age. Not his body, which gyrated and strutted and danced for 2 hours as the legendary Rolling Stones performed before an overflowing Soldier Field in Chicago Tuesday night.

Most viewers saw him from a distance in the cavernous stadium. But the energy was high, and the audience sang and danced along with the band. Mick, Keith Richards, Ron Wood, and Charlie Watts have been recording and touring together for decades. People may think of them as the new member's, but Darryl Jones (of south Chicago), who joined the band when bassist Bill Wyman retired in 1993; and Chuck Leavell, former Allman Brothers keyboardist, who has been with the band since 1982 also have a tenure longer than most bands exist. Yet, they are newbies when compared with thier septuagenarian teammates.

This was my first time seeing the Stones and it may be their last visit to Chicago. Now in their 50th year, this year's "No Filter" tour will take them to 13 cities in the U.S. And they chose to open in Chicago, after Jagger's illness forced them to reshuffle the tour schedule.

To the delight of the crowd, they heard many references to Chicago. Mick noted the band had played the city nearly 40 times. And he introduced the new Chicago mayor and governor, who were in attendance, noting that Governor Pritzker had signed legislation that day legalizing cannabis in January. "Some of you may have jumped the gun," he quipped.

Of course, the Rolling Stones drew heavily from their catalog of hit songs - from opening with "Jumpin' Jack Flash" and "It's Only Rock 'n' Roll" to their encores: "Gimme Shelter" and "Satisfaction". But they included a few deeper album tracks, like "Bitch" and "Slipping Away".

It was mostly an evening of high energy rock and roll and blues; but a highlight of the night was when Mick, Keith, Ron, and Charlie brought their instruments (including a small drum kit) to a platform that extended 30 yards out into the audience to play two acoustic numbers: "Play with Fire" and "Sweet Virginia".

When the evening ended, it felt like they had given all they had and all we needed.

After 50 years, the band knew every note by heart, but still brought energy and made us feel they were having a good time after all this time.

Sunday, June 30, 2019 9:45:00 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Tuesday, June 4, 2019

GeorgeClinton-1It's a good thing The Aragon Ballroom in Chicago's Uptown has such a large stage. They needed all of it to hold about 20 singers and dancers and rappers and guitarists and horns and drummers that make up George Clinton's Parliament Funkadelic.

But even with its large size, the Aragon stage could not contain the entire band for the entire concert Friday night.   At least three musicians jumped over the front into the orchestra pit and ran out into the audience during the performance.

Many years ago, Parliament and Funkadelic were two separate bands (although with largely the same members), but today Clinton has combined them into a single entity - Parliament Funkadelic.

GeorgeClinton-2Clinton conducted... no, that's not the right word... Directed...? No... He more or less presided over the band's performance, stepping forward occasionally to acknowledge a performer, deliver a few lyrics, or lead the audience in handclapping. In fact, the 77-year old spent much of the concert sitting on a chair in front of the drum set.

The show started slowly, not helped by failing sound systems and the poor acoustics of the Aragon; but Clinton gained energy as the night went on.

The crowd expressed most delight when the band broke into their old songs - "Give Up the Funk", "Flashlight", "One Nation Under Groove", ...)

GeorgeClinton-3With no seats on the ground floor, the audience could not help but dance, clap, and wave their hands through much of the show. It wasn't perfect, but the crowded stage delivered enough to delight those who made it out for the night.

His health is failing, and his energy is waning, and this will likely be his last tour. But he gave what he could to the crowded ballroom audience, who waited through three warmup acts to see the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer.

Tuesday, June 4, 2019 9:31:00 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Saturday, May 11, 2019

AlGreenA pile of roses sat on a table far at stage left.

The band entered the stage and played a few minutes of a funky groove before Al Green walked out and picked up a handful of flowers and handed or tossed them to ladies in the audience. He repeated this gesture multiple times during his  performance.

This was an appropriate beginning to Green's performance. He did not as much perform for the audience as he charmed them. And, for the most part, they were delighted to be charmed.

It was Green's first tour in seven years and his stop in Chicago Tuesday night was a popular one.

The audience sang along to songs that were never pop hits. But, when he played some of his most popular songs ("Let's Stay Together", "Here I Am", "Tired of Being Alone", "I'm Still In Love With You"), everyone rose to their feet in appreciation.

I remember these songs as soulful melodies, delivered at a slowburn pace. But Green's band (9 instrumentalists + 3 backing vocalists) increased the tempo, delivering each one a little funkier than the original.

Green played mostly R&B and soul, but mixed in a bit of Gospel music. Al Green is an ordained minister with his own church in Memphis and he moved us with his rendition of "Amazing Grace". A medley of songs by the Temptations ("My Girl"), the Four Tops ("Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch"), and Otis Redding ("Dock of the Bay") pleased the audience.

The band closed with a rousing rendition of "Love and Happiness".

At 73, Rev. Green is a few years older, a little thicker in the waist, and lacks some of the energy he possessed during his popularity of the 1970s and 1980s. His performance lasted only about an hour and did not include an encore; but he still can hit the high notes that made him famous; and he still projects joy while singing the songs that brought joy to so many of us during our youth.

Saturday, May 11, 2019 9:08:00 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Friday, April 5, 2019

Yeah, it's a mighty long way down rock 'n' roll!
As your name gets hot so your heart grows cold!
And you gotta stay young man, you can never be old!
All the way from Memphis!

-Mott the Hoople

MottTheHoople (1)In 1974, Mott the Hoople recorded and released a live album, probably without realizing it would be their last. Ian Hunter's decision to pursue a solo career led to the band's breakup a few months after the album's release.

In 2019, the surviving members - guitarist/vocalist Hunter, keyboardist Morgan Fisher, and guitarist Ariel Bender - reunited to tour North America. Wednesday night, that tour landed at the Chicago Theatre and a legion of gray-haired and graying haired fans came to pay tribute.

The opening act was The Suburbs - a pretty good band from Minneapolis, whose music sounded like the synth-heavy, horns-enhanced music of 1990s MTV. The singer joked "As you can tell, we are very young", even though gray hair sat atop the heads of most of the band members. They filled a pleasant 40 minutes.

Around 9PM, the stage darkened, and the recorded music of Gustav Holst filled the theatre as Mott the Hoople marched onstage. The spotlight shone on Hunter and Fisher, who performed an acoustic version of the opening of Don McLean's "American Pie". After the line about "the day the music died", Hunter asked: "Or did it?" and the rest of the band launched into an energetic version of "The Golden Age of Rock 'N' Roll". They had begun the concert exactly as they had begun the 1974 tour!

For almost 2 hours, this trio and the five others in the band entertained a theatre full of aging rock fans. The band consisted of keyboards, guitars, bass, drums, and one virtuoso, who kept switching instruments.

MottTheHoople (2)Through power rock and rockabilly and ballads, the band kept the audience on their feet, singing along and cheering on the heroes of their youth. Mott the Hoople was known for great originals, like "All the Way from Memphis" and covers like Lou Reed's "Sweet Jane" and they played plenty of both on this night. Other highlights of the night were "I Wish I Was Your Mother", "Roll Away the Stone", and "Walking with a Mountain", which featured a blistering guitar solo by Bender. For local color, they sang the chorus of Hunter's hit "Cleveland Rocks", replacing the iconic line with "Chicago Rocks" to the pleasure of the locals. On the rock numbers, the band sometimes featured 4 guitar players - not counting the bass guitar.

Of course, they finished the night with David Bowie's "All the Young Dudes" - Mott the Hoople's biggest hit.

It was amazing how much the band sounds the same, despite 45 years apart and vocal chords and fingers that are in their seventh decade. More impressive was how much fun they seemed to be having and how that fun energy transmitted itself to an audience. Band members and audience members connected with one another and for a couple hours, it was as if all the years had not passed and we were all still young fans and rock gods.

Friday, April 5, 2019 12:30:14 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Tuesday, March 5, 2019

HamiltonCombine a history lesson with great music, great dancing, and a very talented cast and you begin to understand "Hamilton". The extremely popular Broadway musical has been playing continuously at Chicago's CIBC Theater for over two years, and I finally saw a performance Sunday afternoon.

This hype for this show was considerable, but Sunday's performance was up to matching it.

The show's story focuses on the friendship and rivalry between Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr. Both were major figures in early American history. Hamilton was the first Secretary of the Treasury, who built the U.S. financial system. Burr was a Senator, a state Attorney General, a Vice President and (spoiler alert) the man who killed Hamilton in a duel.

Some actors got the day off for this matinee performance - most notably, JJ Jeter for Miguel Cervantes as Hamilton and Keith Webb for Akron Watson, but I would not have known I was seeing understudies without looking at the program. Jeter and Webb captured the spirit of their characters - Hamilton's idealism and Burr's ambition - perfectly.

A high point of the interpretation was the character of Thomas Jefferson, who was portrayed as a cocky Prince clone, returning from Paris to set the new country afire.

One of the most interesting aspect of the Hamilton musical is that nearly every major part is played by a person of color - African-American or Latinx. George III was the only speaking role is played by a Caucasian. Of course, the leaders of 18th century United States were almost all white. But this change works well and fits the music, features a lot of R&B and Hip-Hop influences.

I bought tickets to treat myself to a birthday present and I invited my son to join me. We both enjoyed it immensely. I would not be surprised to see this show run for another 2 years in Chicago.

Tuesday, March 5, 2019 9:45:00 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
# Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Joey DeFrancesco TrioJazz musicians are famous for playing the notes around the melody, adding their own interpretation of a tune. But the tremolo of Joey DeFrancesco's organ does much of that for him.

the Joey DeFrancesco Trio brought played a delightful set Sunday night at the Jazz Showcase in Chicago's South Loop. Most songs began with a mellow feel, then increased in energy until each was swinging and/or rocking.

Like most great band leaders, DeFrancesco knows to find and showcase great musicians. In this trio, it was saxophonist Victor North, whose solos captivated the audience. Drummer Khary Shahee was solid throughout and seemed determined to play every solo with his eyes closed.

David and JoeyThe Trio played a mix of originals ("Blues in Three", "Trip Mode") and arrangements of other composers tunes, including an extended version of Cole Porter's classic "Night and Day".  One highlight was the beautiful melody of "Easy to Remember" and the final song of the night – an up-tempo, frenzied piece in which each member of the band tried to outperform one another in turn.

It wasn't a long set - maybe 75 minutes - and the second set was canceled due to low ticket sales; but those who came out saw an excellent performance.

Tuesday, December 4, 2018 9:28:00 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
# Sunday, September 16, 2018
Altan2018-45 Altan2018-50
Altan2018-52       Altan2018-55

People filled every seat and stood in the back on the 4th floor of the Irish American Heritage Center in Chicago. Some were fans, some musicians, and some were just curious to see and hear Altan.

For over 30 years, Altan has been performing and recording traditional Celtic music and Thursday evening the quartet performed a free concert as part of the World Music Festival.

For over 2 hours, they delighted the audience with music and stories; originals and traditional folk songs; reels, jigs, and ballads.

Each of the musicians - Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh (lead vocals and fiddle), Ciarán Curran (bouzouki), Dáithí Sproule (guitar and vocals), and Martin Tourish (accordion) - were masterful in their own right. But it was Ni Mhaonaigh who stole the show with her fiery fiddle playing and angelic voice.

The audience clapped along and some danced up the center aisle, Riverdance-style. By the end, we were all smiling. Those who did not know Altan and those who did not know this type of music and those who did not understand the Gaelic lyrics had been won over. And so had I. It may have been the Guinness served in the back of the room, but more likely it was the excellence of the musicians.

More photos

Sunday, September 16, 2018 9:23:00 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Saturday, September 15, 2018

IMG_2199Stereophonics are Kelly Jones, Richard Jones, Adam Zindani, and Jamie Morrison. But mostly Kelly Jones. Jones is the lead singer, front man, plays many guitar solos, and writes most of the band's music. This is not to say the rest of the band doesn't contribute. They provided excellent musicianship when the band took the stage at Chicago's Vic Theatre Tuesday night.

IMG_2237Tuesday night, thanks to my friend David, I got my first experience at the Vic and my first experience seeing Stereophonics.

Ramona's Flowers opened with a brief set, playing some solid melodies reminiscent of late 80s alternative rock.

IMG_2250But the theatre was full, and they came to see Stereophonics. The crowd did not just listen. They sang along to almost every song, making their voices heard above the amplification. From my vantage point near the stage, it sounded like Jones had brought a choral along to accompany him.  Stereophonics has a much larger following in the UK than in the US and I heard many British accents in the crowd.

The concert did not disappoint. From their high-energy opening "C'est La Vie" through their 6 encores, the crowd was on its feet most of the night.

IMG_2268They played original songs all night until the very end, when they closed with a rousing rendition of "Sweet Home Chicago", delighting the locals and immigrants in the audience alike.

It was a good experience for me and for the thousands of British expats who packed the theater.

Saturday, September 15, 2018 9:21:00 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Sunday, August 19, 2018

ELOticketIt has been a long time.

Electric Light Orchestra had not played a concert in Detroit in 37 years. And it has been about the same amount of time since an ELO single cracked the US top 40. 

But despite peaking in the studio in the 1970s, enough 50-something rock fans remembered them with enough fondness to pack Little Caesars Arena Thursday night in Detroit.

Only Jeff Lynne remains from the ELO of their heyday; but Lynne was always the face of the band, as the lead singer, songwriter, and producer of most of their songs and albums. At age 70, Lynne looks the same as he did decades ago, his aging face hiding behind long brown curls, a beard, and dark glasses, just as it did during the band's heyday. His voice is still strong, although he delegated some of the lead vocals to another singer.

I made the trek to Detroit from Chicago in large part to reunite with some old high school friends and enjoy a night of memories.

Mr. Lynne did not disappoint. Known for pop melodies over complex arrangements, he brought with him a string section and 4 keyboardists to accompany his rock band and backing vocalists.

ELOinconcertThe set list was strong on the hits of the late 70s. For about 90 minutes, he played songs like "Evil Woman", "Do Ya", "Rockaria", and "Sweet Talkin' Woman" took me back to my high school and junior high school days. The acoustics were surprisingly good for a hockey arena and the sellout crowd responded to each memory the band played. He even played "Handle With Care" from his days with the Traveling Wilburys supergroup, delighting the audience with videos of him recording with Tom Petty, Roy Orbison, George Harrison, and Bob Dylan. ELO closed the set with some of their biggest hits: "Don't Bring Me Down", "Turn to Stone", and "Mr. Blue Sky". They were gone from the stage for barely a minute before returning to play an extended version of Chuck Berry's "Roll Over Beethoven".

For me, it was a chance to reconnect with my past. Old memories, old friends, old songs, and my old home town made Thursday night a special memory.

Sunday, August 19, 2018 11:34:23 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Sunday, May 13, 2018

Freddy Cole at the Jazz ShowcaseFreddy Cole looked every bit of his 83 years as he was helped onto the stage last night at the Jazz Showcase in Chicago's Printer's Row.

Until he sat at the piano. At that point he was transformed. For an hour and a half, he showed a strength and grace that belied his 8 decades. His command of piano and vocals was a strong as a man half his age.

He launched from one song to the next, never taking a break to chat with the audience until the final few minutes.

Although Cole can claim 3 Grammy nominations, he will always be remembered as the younger brother of legendary singer Nat "King" Cole. But he does not shun that comparison, as his set included three of Nat's songs (Paper Moon, L-O-V-E, and A Blossom Fell) and he recently released an album of songs made famous by his brother. Close your eyes and the richness of Freddy's voice is reminiscent of his late brother's talents.

Cole stuck mostly to ballads, but pleased the local crowd near the end of his set with a rendition of Ray Price's swinging "On the South Side of Chicago", which brought an ovation from his hometown.

His piano and vocals were accompanied by drums, upright bass, and guitar. Of course, the attention was mostly on Cole, but his talented Adam Moezinia took many solos. Bassist Elias Bailey stayed in the background until the last few songs when he became more and more bold with his solos and complex playing.

Freddy and DavidIn the end, Freddy Cole closed the set with a song called "Goodbye", accepted a standing ovation, and was helped from the stage, again transformed into a fragile old man. Until the night's second set.

Sunday, May 13, 2018 2:49:00 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Monday, April 16, 2018

AWBThe Average White Band are anything but average.

45 years ago, a group friends in Dundee, Scotland got together to play funky music, then moved to America to launch a recording career.

Saturday night at the Promontory in Hyde Park, two of those original Scottish band members - Alan Gorrie and Onnie McIntyre - joined with 5 newer band members to prove they still have the magic that launched an international career decades ago.

AWB-83 I attended the second of their two sets, where they played a few ballads mixed in with their signature funk. Vocalist Brent Carter, formerly of Tower of Power, showed impressive range for the band and tenor saxophonist Fred Vigdor led the 2-person horn section. They were helped along by alto saxophonist Cliff Lyons, drummer Rocky Bryant, and keyboardist Rob Aries. But it was Gorrie who led the way with excellent bass playing, backing vocals, and a charming persona for the audience.

They played many of their hits, such as "Cut the Cake", "Work to Do", and "Oh Maceo". The room was full and the level of energy rose as as the show went on. The band returned to the stage for a single encore - their only US #1 single "Pick Up the Pieces".

By the end of the evening, most of the audience was on their feet, including yours truly. It was a show I wish could have continued for longer into the night. Despite their name, Average White Band was exceptional. I find myself playing AWB and other funk bands as I write this on Sunday evening.


More photos

Monday, April 16, 2018 1:41:00 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Sunday, March 11, 2018

20180310_211841Although he was born and raised in Port Arthur, TX and raised on his father's Louisiana music, CJ Chenier has strong connections to Chicago. He recorded 3 albums for Chicago-based Alligator Records and he is a frequent performer at Fitzgerald's Night Club in the Chicago suburb of Berwyn.

It was in Berwyn that I saw CJ last night. The tickets were a birthday gift and one of the best I've received in a long time. Chenier played for hours, bringing the high energy I had come to know from his recordings, but had never seen in concert.

He was accompanied by drums, bass, an excellent guitarist, and someone playing the vest frottoir - a tin washboard that hangs from the chest, that was invented by CJ's legendary father Clifton and his uncle Cleveland.

The frottoir added some texture to the music; but it added more to the visuals of the concert, given its wearer's high energy dancing and playing.

CJ, of course, sang and played his signature accordion. His music kept the packed club bouncing all night. The high point came when he and 3 members of his band unplugged and wound their way through the crowd for an extended jam.

20180310_22073120180310_220734
CJ photobombs DG's selfie!

He continues the Zydeco tradition of his father's band (Clifton passed away in 1987), but CJ adds a funky sound all his own. The result kept the audience energized throughout the show.

If you are reading this and wondering what to get me on my birthday next year, check the local concert calendar around March 1. Be warned: It will have to be pretty darn good to top this one.

Sunday, March 11, 2018 9:35:31 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
# Friday, February 16, 2018

Steve Earle has been writing and recording songs for over 4 decades. On Monday night, he brought those songs to the City Winery in Chicago's Fulton River district.

This was my second night in a row at the City Winery as I saw JD Souther the night before. Earle and Souther share a Texas upbringing and a talent for writing great music.

Steve Earle is as much a storyteller as he is a songwriter. Listening to his music you can hear the influences of his old friends Guy Clark and Townes Van Zandt. Between songs, Earle would talk about his life and his music and his romantic streak and his many failed marriages. He expressed a strong wit - in both his lyrics and his banter.

Every song was a joy to listen to as he moved effortlessly from blues to country to Irish folk songs. It was just him and his guitar or mandolin (and sometimes harmonica) but that was enough. A packed theater appreciated all he brought.

Now in his 60s, Earle continues to make music and to tour constantly.

And to make audiences happy.

Friday, February 16, 2018 7:07:00 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
# Thursday, February 15, 2018

JD Souther wrote the soundtrack to my youth. His songs were recorded by many of my favourite artists, including Bonnie Raitt, the Eagles, and Linda Ronstadt.

Sunday night at the City Winery I had a chance to return to those days when legendary songwriter performed. For over 2 hours, Souther sang songs he wrote and (mostly) others made famous. His tenor voice still sounds great and was accompanied only by himself playing acoustic guitar or baby grand piano.

He is mostly known for the songs he wrote and co-wrote for the Eagles and he played many of these, such as "Sad Café", "New Kid in Town", and "Best of My Love". He also played his composition "White Rhythm and Blues", one of my favourite Linda Ronstadt songs and "You're Only Lonely", the only top-40 hit recorded by Souther.

Souther spent most of the evening playing ballads, but changed it up for the encore, getting the audience clapping along to the catchy "Heartache Tonight."

The place was not full on a cold and snowy Sunday night. But Souther is a big baseball fan and announced before his last song that he planned to return to Chicago in the spring and take in a Cubs game. So you will have another chance to see him. And you should take it.

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Me and JD after the show.

Thursday, February 15, 2018 4:22:13 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
# Friday, December 22, 2017

Me and Roy Roy Ayers is 77 years old and stutters when he talks. But not when he sings. And definitely not when he plays the vibraphone. And play he did last night in front of a packed house at The Promontory in Hyde Park.

Ayers mixed a few ballads with the jazz-funk that he helped define. Backed by a band consisting of bass, drums, keyboard, and another vocalist, Ayers played for about 90 minutes, drawing on his 99 albums with such songs as "Red, Black & Green", "Don't Stop the Feeling", and his interpretation of Sam Cooke's "You Send Me".

The keyboardist was the best of the bunch, coaxing a variety of sounds from his instrument during his many solos. I wondered why the stage setup hid so much of him from the audience's view.

And then there was Roy and his vibraphone. Ayers still sounds great when he does his thing with his vibes.

Also Me and RoyI bought a ticket at the door and had to stand in the back with some folks who decided it was ok to engage in loud conversation at the concert. But I had a chance to shake the hand of Mr. Ayers after the show and tell him how much I enjoyed his music.

And to wish him luck on his next 99 albums.

Friday, December 22, 2017 10:33:00 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
# Saturday, October 7, 2017

TheChurch02This week, I went to The Church on Friday night.

In this context, The Church is the Australian rock band and they were performing at Park West in Lincoln Park, Chicago.

It turns out that The Church has had a long career beyond their 1988 "Starfish" album - the CD my brother gave me decades ago that I played repeatedly in the 80s and 90s. "Starfish" was their most popular album, but they were almost a dozen songs into their set before playing the first song from this album - "North South East & West".

TheChurch01They filled the night with music from the early 1980s (lead singer Steve Kilbey joked that he was 2 years old when he wrote one of the songs) and from their latest album ("Man Woman Life Death Infinity", which was released today). In almost 4 decades, the band has released dozens of albums and they drew on many of them tonight They alternated between straight-ahead post-punk rockers and the ethereal music for which they are most well-known.

TheChurch03For me, the high point was hearing "Under the Milky Way". It was like a visit from an old friend and the emotion of the harmonies and acoustic guitar still speak to me after all these years.

My first visit to Park West was an enjoyable one. It was a good night to visit The Church. ie


Saturday, October 7, 2017 6:56:20 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Monday, August 21, 2017

BennyGolson Last week, I took my son to his first jazz club. We saw Benny Golson at the Jazz Showcase in the South Loop. He liked it.

Golson has been performing tenor saxophone publicly for decades and has accumulated a number of stories of his interactions with many of the all-time greats - from Dizzy Gillespie to Eric Burdon. He spent much of this evening telling of his days with other musicians, preceding each song with the tale of how that song came to be. For example, he spoke of writing "I remember Clifford" after learning of the death of his friend Clifford Brown; and he talked about playing "Whisper Not" for Dizzy Gillespie and trying to remain cool after Gillespie asked if he could record the song.

At 85, Golson is showing his age. He no longer has the stamina to maintain the long slow notes that many of his melodies demand.  But on this night in Chicago's South Loop, he surrounded himself with some excellent musicians (piano, upright bass, and drums), who made up for that with their solos.

And Golson is best known for his songwriting prowess and nearly every song he performed was his own composition. And his melodies are still lovely.

And my son enjoyed his first jazz concert.

Monday, August 21, 2017 12:04:29 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Wednesday, August 16, 2017

YoussouNDour0130 years ago, I received as a gift the album "Nelson Mandela" by Youssou N'Dour. I was hooked. N'Dour exposed to me an engaging style that combined traditional rhythms of his native Senegal with western instruments.

Thursday night at Millennium Park, I finally had the chance to see N'Dour in concert. He did not disappoint.

Throughout the show, everyone smiled and danced to the music. The audience enjoyed themselves, Youssou enjoyed himself, and the band enjoyed themselves. Except for the rhythm guitar player, who remained stoically stone-faced throughout the performance, despite being surrounded by smiling musicians and fans.

YoussouNDour02N'Dour shared the stage with about a dozen other musicians, including two keyboardists, 3 guitarists, 4(!) drummers, and 1 dancer.

They played danceable Afro-pop for over 90 minutes and came back for an encore to the delight of the crowd.

The show was a treat for those of us who love African music. Next to the stage, I saw people dressed in African garb dancing to the music. A few rows back, I saw middle-aged white Americans tapping their feet. Even though none of the songs were sung in English, Youssou and his band made a connection with an audience far from his homeland.

By the end of the show, even the rhythm guitarist had to smile.


More photos

Wednesday, August 16, 2017 7:07:21 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Tuesday, June 20, 2017

I was in college when I discovered Jean Luc Ponty. My friend Tom had a copy of Enigmatic Ocean and he played it for me and I loved Ponty's style of jazz-rock fusion.

Shortly thereafter, I headed to the local used record store to add Enigmatic Ocean, Cosmic Messenger, and Imaginary Voyage to my vinyl collection.

I spent many hours replaying these albums and others over the years; but I never had the chance to see Jean Luc in concert.

Until last night.

Jean Luc Ponty and his band played 2 sold out shows at Chicago's City Winery Monday and Tuesday night. I was lucky enough to get a ticket to the Monday night show.

Ponty is focusing this tour on "The Atlantic Years" - performing the songs he recorded in the 1970s and 1980s - exactly the time that I discovered him.

Ponty, now 74 years old, brings the energy of a much younger man to his performance. He played 2 sets and 1 encore over more than 2 hours, drawing music from the 1970s and 80s.

As one would expect from a craftsman like Ponty, he surrounded himself with top-notch musicians for this tour: Jamie Glaser on guitar; Wally Minko on keyboards; Baron Browne on bass; and Rayford Griffin on drums. The group was talented and tight and matched Ponty's energy.

Jean Luc did not speak much between songs, which allowed him to focus on the music; but it was good to hear he retained his accent from his youth in France.

He closed his second set with an amazing version of Enigmatic Ocean, which began slowly and ethereally before building to a rocking frenzy.

Local violinist Edgar Gabriel joined the band on stage for an encore to match Ponty's and the band's intensity for one extended song.

Jean Luc Ponty changed the way we view the violin in jazz music and he continues to turn heads today. I was happy to finally catch his energy in concert.

Links:

Jean Luc Ponty homepage

My photos

Tuesday, June 20, 2017 11:27:04 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Sunday, March 26, 2017

AlStewart2017I was 16 years old when I got my first real job. The day I received my first real paycheck, I drove from work to the bank to local record store and bought Al Stewart's Year of the Cat LP. I took it home and played it repeatedly, memorizing every word of every song on both sides.

Nearly 4 decades later, I finally had a chance to see Al Stewart live - Thursday evening at the City Winery. And here's the kicker: He played the entire Year of the Cat album! Every song, in the same order as on the album. It was like getting a visit from an old friend. The concert transported me back to my teen years, listening to my LP on my parent's Wi-Fi at top volume in the family basement.

In between each song, Stewart explained something about the song's meaning or told a story of its origin. He was surprised that a song about the Rhodesian civil war (On the Border) would become a top 40 hit; All airplane metaphors in Flying Sorcery are about the ending of a relationship; Broadway Hotel often inspires each audience member to attempt to seduce the attractive stranger next to him or her.

Stewart was backed by the local Chicago band Empty Pockets, which also opened the show with a short set of their own. They were joined by Marc Macisso on flute, harmonica and saxophone - most notably saxophone which he wielded with power and passion.

AlStwesart and Me The band played a few songs before and after the complete Year of the Cat set, including his other hit Time Passages. But it was the re-playing of the album that we all came to hear. And that we all enjoyed.


More photos of this concert

Sunday, March 26, 2017 5:14:35 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Saturday, March 25, 2017

KrisKristoffersonI took a chance. The show had been sold out for over a month. But I drove to the City Winery in the West Loop anyway. And I was rewarded with a ticket close to the stage. And I was not disappointed.

Kristofferson played for 2 hours with a very brief (maybe 10 minutes?) intermission. He played

He didn't bring a band. Just himself and his guitar and harmonica. It was enough.

At 80 years old, Kris Kristofferson still carries an impressive stage presence. There were a few missed notes on his guitar, and a few missed high or low notes in his vocal range, but his wit and charm more than made up for any shortcomings brought on by his age.

For Kristofferson, it has never been about his singing or his playing. It was always about his music and his storytelling. And he captivated a packed house Wednesday night on stage. He sang love songs and drinking songs and ballads and each one struck the audience as if the story were written and sang only for each of us.

My only complaint is that he apologized too much for any lapses in his musical technique. The audience didn't care. They wanted to hear him sing his stories.

And he did.

And I'm glad I was there to see and hear it.


Photos of the concert

Saturday, March 25, 2017 4:52:30 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
# Sunday, March 12, 2017

DelbertMcClintonDelbert McClinton has recorded dozens of albums over the past 45 years, but it was always his live shows that brought him the most praise.

Friday night, McClinton brought that live performance to S.P.A.C.E. in Evanston. For over 2 hours, he entertained a packed room with a mix of originals and cover songs.

McClinton has a devoted audience and all night long this crowd shouted requests and sang along to lyrics they had memorized.

Now, in his 70s, McClinton still has the powerful, gritty voice that made him the ultimate Texas roadhouse singer. What he has lost in range he makes up for with emotion.

For this show, Delbert's only instruments were his voice and his harmonicas. But he was backed by an outstanding 7-piece band, highlighted by Bob Britt on guitar, Kevin McKendree on keyboards, Dana Robbins on saxophone, and Quentin Ware on trumpet. This was a group of top-notch musicians who complemented one another very well. Instead of an intermission, Delbert stepped off the stage for 10-15 minutes in the middle of the show and allowed his band to play a trio of songs without him.

Delbert McClinton is often cited as the definitive Texas roadhouse musician. And Friday, he showed us why. Powerful vocals, a tight band, and a connection with the audience in an intimate venue made me glad I finally saw him live after listening to his recordings for years.

Sunday, March 12, 2017 7:55:56 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
# Thursday, March 9, 2017

MarciaBallBandMarcia Ball rocks. Her songs rock. Her band rocks.

And Tuesday night in Chicago, she and her quintet rocked the City Winery in Chicago's West Loop. For over 2 hours, she played her Texas mix of stride piano, boogie-woogie, rockabilly, and the blues. Lots of blues

Ball showed off a powerful voice that could not possibly come out of his tall, slender woman. But even more impressive were her keyboard skills. When she sits at a piano, she owns it. Her band wasn't far behind, led by excellent guitarist Mike Schermer and outstanding saxophonist Eric Bernhardt. Each stepped to the front frequently for skillful solos.

MarciaAndDavid Ball sang mostly originals from throughout her long career and from her latest album – The Tattooed Lady and the Alligator Man; but she mixed in a few cover songs, such as Randy Newman's Louisiana 1927 and Frankie Ford's Sea Cruise.

This was the last night of a long tour before she and her band head home; but they brought energy that night and the crowd fed off it.

If you get a chance, go see Marcia Bell. You will not regret it.

Thursday, March 9, 2017 5:40:57 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
# Tuesday, March 7, 2017

20170304_214526In the 1960s Booker T and the MGs pioneered the Memphis Soul sound, recording numerous hit records. In the decades since, Booker T. Jones has recorded and produced countless records with the likes of Neil Young, Drive-By Truckers, Ray Charles, and Albert King.

Today, Booker T is in his 70s and still going strong.

I had the pleasure of seeing his current band at S.P.A.C.E. in Evanston. Although not a long show (about 80 minutes total), he delighted the crowd with a top-notch performance by him and his band.

Of course, they played the hits of the MGs, such as Hip-Hug-Her, Hang ‘em High, Soul Limbo, and their first and biggest hit Green Onions; And they played music he is associated with, such as Born Under a Bad Sign, which he co-wrote for Albert King, and Grandma's Hands, which he produced for Bill Withers; but they also performed a number of cover songs, spanning genres from Outkast's hip-hop hit Hey Ya to Muddy Waters's blues classic Mannish Boy.

I was surprised to see Jones step out from behind his signature organ and play some songs on guitar and perform lead vocals on some.

Jones's band - a quartet of drums, guitar, bass, and organ - is highlighted by his son Ted on guitar. Ted has an engaging stage presence and is a solid musician like his father. Booker and Ted performed a moving rendition of Prince's Purple Rain together as the other 2 band members left the stage.

Booker T Jones has received numerous honors throughout his career. He has been awarded a Lifetime Achievement Grammy and is a member of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

And Saturday night in Evanston, I finally got to see him perform live.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017 10:25:43 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
# Thursday, February 16, 2017

LMB01Last week, Ladysmith Black Mambazo brought a bit of South Africa to Chicago. The vocal group performed at The Old Town School of Folk Music Saturday February 11.

LBM was formed by Joseph Shabalala in Ladysmith, South Africa in 1964. Shabalala did not make this trip, but a number of his sons still perform with the 8-man group. Westerners learned of their talents in the 1980s when they recorded the classic "Graceland" album with Paul Simon; but they have been touring and recording on their own for decades. Their tight harmonies and blend of African and western music make them appealing to audiences all over the world.

LBM delighted the audience in a too-short (about 80 minutes) performance before a sold-out theater. They blended harmonies and melodies and humor and Zulu dancing to entertain us. There were no instruments because there was no need for instruments.

LMB02They sang some songs in English and some in the Zulu language. "Homeless" and "Diamonds on the Souls of her Shoes" from "Graceland" were crowd pleasers; but most of the night consisted of traditional African songs and their own compositions. For most songs, a different member of the band would step to the front of the stage to sing lead, while the remaining 7 harmonized behind him. Some songs were accompanied by coordinated Zulu dances.

The night concluded with a stirring rendition of "Amazing Grace".

Ladysmith Black Mambazo has long been on my list of bands to see live. Now I can cross them off the Bucket List. Until the next time they come to town.

Photos

Thursday, February 16, 2017 7:03:59 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
# Sunday, January 22, 2017

After all these years, Webb Wilder still knows how to rock.

Last night, during my first visit to Fitzgerald's in Berwyn, IL, I had my first experience seeing Webb live. The small club was packed, but I was lucky to find a seat with 2 friends who had an extra chair at their table. When the show started, I gave up my seat to an elderly woman and moved up to watch the show next to the stage.

For over 2 hours, Webb and his band - The Beatniks - showed off some amazing guitar work. They moved effortlessly between the rockabilly of “Ju Ju Man” to the psychedelic "Voodoo Witch" to the hard rocking "Sitting Pretty".

The band was an excellent collection of musicians. Just 2 guitars, a bass guitar, and drums filled the place like a much larger band. The lead guitarist (I cannot find his name online) manipulated a control panel at his feet to make it sound as if he were playing dozens of different guitars.

Now in his 60s, Webb Wilder still brings the energy of his shows at small clubs like Fitzgerald's. If you are a fan of roots rock, I recommend seeing him live.

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Sunday, January 22, 2017 7:32:44 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
# Tuesday, December 13, 2016

StanleyClarke (7)This is not the Stanley Clarke I remember. I remember Stanley Clarke in the 1970s and 1980s recording Jazz-Rock fusion and collaborating with the giants of the day, such as Chick Corea, Al Dimeola, and George Duke. He was all that was new and modern with his electric bass and his giant afro and his talking guitar.  The albums he recorded with Return to Forever are among the best of the genre.

Friday night at S.P.A.C.E. in Evanston, IL, Clarke began as the electric jazz hero. Now in his mid-60s, he no longer sports the afro, but he retains the energy of his early days.

StanleyClarke (32)Clarke began the show, electric bass in hand, playing songs reminiscent of his fusion heyday. But halfway through his set, he swapped the electric bass guitar for an upright bass. One song later, his keyboardist slid from an electric keyboard set to a baby grand and suddenly the jazz was more straight ahead. And more sweet. The music ranged from fusion to funk to bee bop, including a few bars of Coltrane's classic "A Love Supreme".

His quartet consisted of 2 keyboardists, a drummer, and Stanley himself. The 3 others were between a third and a half Clarke's age, but they blended really well and Clarke still brings the energy of his own youth.

Clarke ended with an frenetic encore that included a call and response with the crowd.

His drummer - Mike Mitchell, aka "Blaque Dynamite" - was especially impressive.

Based on the energy and enthusiasm I saw Friday night, I expect Stanley Clarke will be entertaining audiences for a long time.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016 10:33:00 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
# Tuesday, June 14, 2016

I was in high school the first time someone asked me to name my favourite band. and I had to think about it for a while before I decided it was Steely Dan. They set themselves apart from others making good music because I enjoyed all of their songs and because they played a variety of music and because their style of combining jazz arrangements over pop melodies was so different from what other artists of the last 1970s were doing. Walter Becker and Donald Fagen established themselves as one of the great songwriting pairs in pop music history and always surrounded themselves with top-notch studio musicians.

Decades later, Steely Dan remains one of my favourites; but, remarkably, I've never seen them perform live. That changed last night when I caught their performance at the FirstMerit Bank Pavilion in Chicago. They did not disappoint.

Steve Winwood warmed up - another artist I've always enjoyed, but never saw perform live. Winwood had a successful solo career in the 1980s and he performed the popular "Higher Love" from this era; but most of the performance was taken from his earlier bands, such as Traffic and Blind Faith. He closed with a rocking performance of "Gimme Some Lovin’", a song he wrote and recorded for the Spencer Davis Group in 1966 at the age of 18. 

Steely Dan hit the stage on a muggy night as the sun set and a breeze thankfully blew off nearby Lake Michigan. Steely Dan's core remains singer/keyboardist Donald Fagen and guitarist Walter Becker.

Fagen was the leader on stage, introducing most songs and singing lead. Becker is a great songwriter, but had little stage presence (although he did sing lead on "Daddy Don't Live In That New York City No More". But these limitations are easily ignored when one surrounds oneself with an excellent set of musicians.

And Becker and Fagen brought with them an excellent band which they referred to as "The Steely Dan Orchestra". The two highlights of this orchestra were drummer Keith Carlock and lead guitarist Jon Herington, both of whom have traveled with Becker and Fagen for over a decade.

The 3 female backing vocalist provided depth to most songs and sang lead on "Dirty Work", a song originally sung by David Palmer before Fagen took over all lead vocals.

I loved the live arrangements of their songs. Most did not stray far from the excellent studio arrangements that made Steely Dan famous in the first place, but they toyed with some songs, including a slow jam version of "Josie".

Seeing Steely Dan after all these decades of listening to their music was like meeting an old friend after a long absence - Familiar yet somehow new.

I fell in love with them at My Old School and now they had me reeling in my years.

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Tuesday, June 14, 2016 2:08:00 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Gary Numan was everything I did not expect.

GaryNuman (5) He came to Chicago for 3 nights  at Metro night club in Wrigleyville. Each night he promised to perform a different album from early in his career -  "Replicas" on Sunday; "The Pleasure Principle" Monday and "Telekon" on Tuesday. I chose to attend Sunday because his 1979 album "Replicas" has always been my favourite of his. This was an album I embraced in high school a year before the rest of America learned of Gary Numan with the release of "The Pleasure Principle" and its wildly popular "Cars".

For me, Replicas was always the definitive Gary Numan album. Its layers of electronic melodies and its lyrics about a dystopian future spoke to the adolescent me and the album still holds up decades later.

GaryNuman (2) Numan performed every song from the "Replicas" album and I was impressed by his enthusiasm for songs that he released 3 decades ago.

I don't recall ever attending a concert in which I knew in advance the songs the artist would play. But he surprised us - first by mixing the order of the original album and (more significantly) updating the arrangements.

The electronic music that made him famous is still impressive. "Down in the Park" and "I Nearly Married a Human" featured impressive keyboards and unusual sounds. But, he transformed "Me! I Disconnect From You" from a hypnotic synth-pop tune into a rock song that any post-punk garage band would be proud of. The guitar bass drums came to the fore on a number of his songs, making them more rocking and less ethereal.

Replicas I expected a stiff, robotic, stoic Gary Numan - similar to the mannequin pose on the Replicas album cover. Instead, the audience was treated to an energetic performer dancing to his songs and bringing a renewed passion to his old music.

The only downside was the venue. The fact that Metro only accepts cash was a disappointing surprise, but its General Admission format made it difficult for most attendees to see the stage. There are a limited number of tables one can reserve at more than double the GA price and I'm debating doing this when Echo & the Bunnymen play there in the Fall.

GaryNuman (3) But I found a bit of floor space to enjoy the show and enjoy it I did - from the music to the strobe lights. Thanks to Numan's energy this concert exceeded my expectations.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016 3:56:18 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)