Concert Review: The Cult Keeps its Following

British rockers The Cult brought their loud, gritty rock to a packed Roseland Theater in Portland on Monday night playing their iconic 1987 album Electric in its entirety amongst a boisterous 23-song, two-hour long set.

The Cult hit it big in the mid-1980s and for whatever reason fail to receive credit for ushering in grunge rock. Their brash, hard power-chord brand of music pre-dates the so-called grunge movement of the early 1990s, supposedly borne by Nirvana and Pearl Jam, by nearly a decade. Yet stand-outs like “Peace Dog” and “Spiritwalker” somehow get lost on those who opine in the music industry.

Celebrating 30 years, The Cult retains the distinguished vocals of Ian Astbury and the guitar work of Billy Duffy, both original members.  The current lineup with Chris Wyse on bass and John Tempesta on drums has been intact since 2006. The Cult’s sound is prominent and perhaps, at times, comes across analogous in nature (even “Love Removal Machine begins very similar to Rolling Stones’ “Start Me Up”) but it’s all overshadowed by the fluid rhythmic harmonies that brought them success in 1985.

A somewhat weak sounding “Wildflower” opened the show followed in order by the rest of Electric. The band performed like a well-oiled machine barely taking a break between songs and cruised through the album with the exception of “Born to Be Wild” which was thankfully replaced with “Zap City.” Even Astbury said his band’s version of “Born” was inferior to the original as he introduced the replacement.

“Bad Fun” and “Peace Dog” were delivered with solid, rock precision and Duffy cracked out a great solo for “King Contrary Man.” The Cult finished what amounted to the first set with “Honey from a Knife.” The band left the stage for five minutes leaving the audience with a bizarre, very pixilated video to watch before returning with the fantastic “Rain.”

The video wasn’t the only sour note to the evening. The Cult failed to take the stage for an hour after opening band White Hills ended their set. Once 45 minutes passed with no Cult members in sight the audience barked noises of their own urging Astbury and company to get going. Finally around 9:45 did the lights go dark. What’s even more insulting is Astbury asked the audience how many needed babysitters for the weekday evening.

So, he recognizes the sacrifice of his fans yet takes his sweet time getting the show underway. Children like Justin Bieber and Madonna abuse such privileges on their fans but hard rockers like The Cult should know better. The tardiness dampened the overall solid performance from the band and 75 minutes in felt more like two hours and it was time to wrap things up.

Additionally, the second half of the show slowed tempo a bit with Astbury engaging more with the crowd. “New York City” was a pleasant surprise and crowd favorite “Sweet Soul Sister” and the genuinely punk rock “Phoenix” helped redeem the stagnant “Lucifer” and “Embers.” Both those songs should have been dropped in favor of “Fire Woman” one of the band’s biggest hits in the United States that was surprisingly left off the setlist.

All was well for the most part once the power of “She Sells Sanctuary” closed out the evening. The Cult encored with “Spiritwalker” and of course, as promised, a long drawn out “Sun King.”

The Cult Portland Setlist (Roseland Theater):

  1. Wild Flower
  2. Peace Dog
  3. Lil Devil
  4. Aphrodisiac Jacket
  5. Electric Ocean
  6. Bad Fun
  7. King Contrary Man
  8. Love Removal Machine
  9. Zap City
  10. Outlaw
  11. Memphis Hip Shake
  12. Honey from a Knife
  13. Rain
  14. New York City
  15. Sweet Soul Sister
  16. Lucifer
  17. Embers
  18. Phoenix
  19. Rise
  20. ?
  21. She Sells Sanctuary
  22. Spirit Walker
  23. Sun King

Written By: AndrewT

Concert Review: Rush Caravans Through Canada

Rush brought their Clockwork Angels show to Vancouver, BC Friday night at Rogers Arena, the final stop of the tour in their home country, and put on a stellar concert for their fellow Canucks and a bunch of Americans too.

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Rush guitarist Alex Lifeson doing three things at once

The Toronto-based trio sounded as strong as ever in their 26-song, nearly three hour set, proving their mettle after nearly 40 years and 20 albums together. The band, fresh off a brief interlude that began Wednesday in Red Deer, AB (a show the band gave all the proceeds to Alberta flood relief), concludes the two-year Clockwork Angels tour next week in Missouri.

The 2013 leg of the tour which began in April and included a 10-date stint in Europe was no different than the 2012 tour. The band uses several setlists but only changing in and out a handful of songs for variety.

Rush opened with an ensemble of songs showcasing the 1980s. Fan favorite “Subdivisions” started the night then “Big Money” and “Force Ten.” The band dug further into their catalog dusting off “Grand Designs,” which felt out of sync for the intro and the song just never really caught on, the wonderfully affective “Middletown Dreams” and “Territories” all off 1985’s Power Windows.

Singer and bassist Geddy Lee, who turns 60 on Monday, was pitch perfect the entire evening and his falsetto was solid. He seemed stronger as the evening wore on with the second half of the performance show-casing nine songs from the Clockwork Angels album which includes vocal ranges singers half Lee’s age can only wish to reach.

Guitarist Alex Lifeson anchored stage right and his virtuosity at the guitar is unmatched by anyone playing today. Watching him blaze through a flawless and worth-the-price-of-admission solo on “Analog Kid” defies the imagination when considering the man battles psoriatic arthritis. Rush also seemed to find their groove after that song – seventh up on the night – diving into a moving “The Pass” and ending the first half of the concert with “Where’s My Thing” and the simply awesome “Far Cry.”

Geddy edit

Rush bassist Geddy Lee

The Clockwork Angels tour brought a first for drummer Neil Peart – showcasing his deft skills with three drum solos. Mr. Peart often comes across as a wizard who effortlessly instructs his drum sticks to perform at his command. The customary 360 degree drum set kept him busy all night and, a few times, rotated so Peart never had to turn his back on the audience.

Rush saved all the material from Clockwork Angels after a brief intermission and began with “Caravan.” The album’s title track came second which is a tremendously arranged song with complex time changes and multiple tempos throughout. The string-ensemble, also a first for Rush, played from a raised platform behind Peart. They muddled “Caravan” a bit but proved to be a solid addition to the tour. The ensemble was down one player from last year but the seven players added an interesting dimension that freed Lee, Lifeson and Peart from triggering even more sounds and effects than normally required.

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Drummer Neil Peart

“Headlong Flight” is one of the best songs on the album and the live performance takes it to another level. Peart dove into his second solo of the night during the middle of the song and all three eventually jammed together an exhilarating hard-rock performance that brought cheers from the crowd and a reminder of why Rush is the best in the business.

After the Clockwork songs, Rush jumped back in time with “Dreamline” and then came Peart’s “official” drum solo, a shorter version than past tours. Peart lost his grip on one of the sticks during the middle of it which kept him offline for about two seconds though to him it probably felt like two minutes. The solo which had an almost odd new age sounding music accompaniment proved to be the low point of the evening. Perhaps the minor flub removed Peart’s dedication for the remainder of the solo but overall it was stale and flat.

Rush ended the second set with “Red Sector A,” “YYZ” and crowd favorite “The Spirit of Radio.” They encored with “Tom Sawyer” and “2112” – Overture, Temples of Syrinx and Grand Finale.

Rush’s musicianship is well-renowned which explains much of their fans’ frustration for the 14-year snub by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame committee. Rush celebrates 40 years next year and watching the band play at such a high level for a nearly three-hour show only endears them more to their legion of devotees. Rush brings a rare talent and professionalism that precludes anyone from saying “You should have seen them back in the day.”

For Rush, right now, it is “back in the day.”

Rush Vancouver Setlist (Rogers Arena):

  1. Subdivisions
  2. The Big Money
  3. Force Ten
  4. Grand Designs
  5. Middletown Dreams
  6. Territories
  7. Analog Kid
  8. The Pass
  9. Where’s My Thing (Featuring drum solo)
  10. Far Cry
  11. Caravan
  12. Clockwork Angels
  13. The Anarchist
  14. Carnies
  15. The Wreckers
  16. Headlong Flight (featuring drum solo)
  17. Halo Effect (guitar solo intro)
  18. Wish Them Well
  19. The Garden
  20. Dreamline
  21. Drum Solo
  22. Red Sector A
  23. YYZ
  24. Spirit of Radio
  25. Tom Sawyer
  26. 2112
    1. Overture
    2. The Temples of Syrinx
    3. Grand Finale

Rush Portland Setlist (Sleep Country Amphitheater):

  1. Subdivisions
  2. The Big Money
  3. Force Ten
  4. Grand Designs
  5. The Body Electric
  6. Territories
  7. Analog Kid
  8. Bravado
  9. Where’s My Thing (Featuring drum solo)
  10. Far Cry
  11. Caravan
  12. Clockwork Angels
  13. The Anarchist
  14. Carnies
  15. The Wreckers
  16. Headlong Flight
  17. Halo Effect (guitar solo intro)
  18. Seven Cities of Gold
  19. The Garden
  20. Manhatten Project
  21. Drum Solo
  22. Red Sector A
  23. YYZ
  24. Spirit of Radio
  25. Tom Sawyer
  26. 2112
    1. Overture
    2. The Temples of Syrinx
    3. Grand Finale

Written By: AndrewT

How to Wash Concert Shirts

Little is more sacred to the concert goer than the tour or concert T-shirt.

I can attest to this. I have many.

Most are now stored away in a bin but I am known to wear a current one at least once a week. The concert shirt takes on different meanings for different people but I believe a common theme is the wearable collectable or keepsake.

In the “old days” I usually bought a concert shirt at any show attended. It was for me a reminder or bookmark, if you will, that I attended this concert during said year. To attend a show without walking away with a tour shirt almost negated the fact that I was there. In the 90s, concert shirts were a rip off – typically $25. Today, they are highway robbery – now $35 and up. For a T-shirt!

Exhibit A

Exhibit A

Nowadays, I do not buy a shirt at every concert attended. Not just because the shirts are expensive and I’m of the age that

wearing one makes one pause, it’s just that I have so many and well I have other more distinguished shirts to wear. Plus, concert shirts are not exactly made of the finest fade free fabric. Besides, unless I am a really big fan of said band, why wear one?

That’s not to say that every time I attend a concert I don’t look at what’s being sold. I still like the idea of buying some sort of memento and I always glance over at the merchandise booth to see what’s on sale. Sometimes a shirt is simply so cool looking I revert back to my younger self. But then the price and my burgeoning drawers tell me otherwise.

Exhibit B

Exhibit B

When deciding on a concert shirt to buy it’s always best to choose color wisely. Granted, for whatever reason, bands often employ ridiculous and extremely loud graphics that I wouldn’t be caught dead in (another reason why I tempered my shirt purchases). So, if likeable options exist, gray is your best bet. (See exhibit A) This 2002 Gin Blossoms shirt has been washed in warm and even had grease removed using harsh chemicals. It’s just as solid a wear as it was so many years ago.

Avoid the White t-shirt. It looks good for a few washes and then it undoubtedly gets dingy. The cure? Hot wash and in worst case scenario bleach. This is the death nail for the shirt. Any newness of graphics and tour dates are gone and the shirt instantly looks 10 years old.

The most common tour shirts are black and red is gaining in popularity. Handled with kid gloves, color and graphics need not be washed away in the spin cycle. How pray tell is this accomplished?

This brings me to how to wash your concert shirts. Whether or not this is an art form is anyone’s guess however this method

Exhibit C

Exhibit C

described below works and is beneficial to anyone who cherishes their concert shirt and wishes to wear it years after attending the tour promoted on their shirt. (See Exhibit B – a Rush shirt from 2013 washed once compared to Exhibit C – a New Order shirt from 1993 washed numerous times.)

First of all, always wear a regular t-shirt under your concert T. In the winter months this allows you to delay washing by as many as two “wears” and in the warmer months keeps your souvenir from absorbing sweat. This is critical because of how you will wash your tour shirt. The methods outlined below work for all colors:

  • Never wash your shirt in warm or hot water. If your washer, as does mine, offers the “Cold Tap” option – use it! The tap is typically colder than the washer’s temperature-controlled cold setting.
  • Use Woolite! For your darker concert shirts use Woolite Dark.
  • Use a delicate or “medium” wash setting. That high spin will suck the life out of your shirt.
  • Never put your shirt in the dryer. Ever. Always hang dry.
Rush old

Exhibit D

 

Using these techniques gives years of wearing enjoyment. (See exhibit D for a Rush shirt from 1990 that did not get special treatment.) If followed religiously, that concert shirt from 20 years ago can still get a starting rotation nod. Of course, wearing and washing once a week, like any article of clothing, degrades the fabric and graphics over time rendering it useless.  Space out your wears and when signs of aging appear cut back to special occasions.

 

 

Written By: AndrewT

Concert Review: Fleetwood Mac Goes Their Own Way

Fleetwood Mac played to a sold-out Rose Garden in Portland on Sunday night showcasing their hits and some deep album cuts in what’s more or less a 35th anniversary tour of the release of Rumours.

The 23-song set, including eight from the seminal album, felt cumbersome at times and even dragged at points during several moments. However, the highlights certainly carried the evening that lasted more than 2 ½ hours and proved why 35 years after Rumours, the band carries on today nearly as strong as ever.

The set opened with what should have been a rousing “Second Hand News” but it got bogged down with the treble levels a little too hot. The first few bars were nearly unrecognizable. The sound issue did not get fixed until “Sara” – nine songs in. Crowd favorite “The Chain” second up on the night, failed to impress and felt like a sound check performance. “Rhiannon” didn’t fare much better but the band segued into a decent jam that got the night rolling.

Four songs from the follow-up to Rumours, 1979’s Tusk got the nod. Introduced by singer/guitarist Lindsey Buckingham as an album probably not regarded as very funny by record executives, it clearly shows the band trying to do something different with “Not That Funny” and the title track, which sounds like an African tribe dance, but neither song radio friendly nor really car friendly.

Funny enough, both songs worked quite well live as did the new song “Sad Angel” off the band’s recent EP. “Sad Angel” has a great beat and rhythm but the studio version is detracted by Buckingham’s almost loud whisper of a vocal which thankfully was not duplicated on stage.

The legendary Stevie Nicks looked stunning wearing all black and at 65 manages to look barely 50. The only indication of her age was when she skipped the higher notes most notably on “Dreams” and Rhiannon.” But that soprano? It doesn’t come more beautiful than that. Her acoustic duet with Buckingham on “Landslide” was itself worth the price of admission. The two continued with “Never Going Back Again” showing exactly why Rumours is one of the best-selling albums of all-time.

Fleetwood Mac doesn’t give hard-charging power chords or complexly arranged songs with variable time signatures which in a live setting may explain some of the tedium. Great listens while relaxing at home but in the context of a live show some of the songs came across flat.  “Gold Dust Woman” felt tiresome which was followed by the lethargic “I’m So Afraid” – until Buckingham closed with some blistering solo work. “Go Your Own Way” which ended the first set was borderline butchered and “World Turning,” opening the first encore, featured a less than magical drum solo by  Mick Fleetwood that felt more like he was getting his bearings.

Despite that, Buckingham took on “Big Love” without any support and surpassed the album cut. “Don’t Stop” was flawless and Nicks was solid on “Stand Back” from her solo album The Wild Heart. Nicks’ performance on “Silver Springs” and set closer “Say Goodbye” left you wanting for more.

The stage show, save a large screen in the back, was virtually non-existent and Nicks did herself no favors trying to perform on four-inch heels. Her spinning act was reduced to a few slow circles and at times she looked arthritic trying to get around on the things. Buckingham looked no worse for the wear. He’s not an overly technical guitar player but he employs a unique multi finger-flickering that somehow produces melodious and articulate sounds even though it looks like he’s just strumming.

Backing up the band included a second guitarist and percussionist, a keyboardist and two background vocals. Notably absent was Christine McVie, who retired from touring in 1998, limiting the band from playing the more pop-oriented songs like “Everywhere” and “Hold Me.”

Fleetwood Mac Portland Setlist (Rose Garden):

1. Second Hand News
2. The Chain
3. Dreams
4. Sad Angel
5. Rhiannon
6. Not That Funny
7. Tusk
8. Sisters of the Moon
9. Sara
10. Big Love
11. Landslide
12. Never Going Back Again
13. Without You
14. Gypsy
15. Eyes of the World
16. Gold Dust Woman
17. I’m So Afraid
18. Stand Back
19. Go Your Own Way
20. World Turning
21. Don’t Stop
22. Silver Springs
23. Say Goodbye

Written By: AndrewT