Review: Rush – Time Stand Still (Documentary)

rush-time-stand-still

So you’re saying there’s a chance?

However high, or low, the possibility, Rush fans shouldn’t hold their breath for their beloved members of the famed Canadian rock group to return to the stage, though the door wasn’t exactly slammed shut during the documentary of Rush Time Stand Still shown nationwide on Thursday for one night only in select theaters around the country.

The much anticipated film chronicling what’s believed to be the band’s final major tour picked right up where R40 left off in 2015 – sold out – albeit in a movie theater. After an animated short and a 20 minute introduction titled “Salute to Kings” featuring interviews with Gene Simmons of KISS, Ann and Nancy Wilson of Heart (with Nancy describing Rush music as a dog whistle only heard by males), and Taylor Hawkins of Foo Fighters, among others “Time Stand Still” began with a backdrop of the concert from Portland, OR and some haunting words from Rush bassist and vocalist Geddy Lee when he said walking away from it is not fun before cutting to Lee in the backseat of a car heading to the first show of the R40 tour.

Time Stand Still (available Nov. 18 on DVD and Blu-Ray) follows in the same vein as 2010’s Rush – Beyond the Lighted Stage but proved less about the band’s history, as the first documentary covered quite well, and more about now. Narrated by actor Paul Rudd, the film followed Lee, guitarist Alex Lifeson and drummer Neil Peart from opening night in Tulsa, OK to the final show on Aug, 1, 2015 at The Forum in Los Angeles with various snippets and interviews in between.

A handful of super fans were featured including one gentleman with a 90-plus page of documented Rush memorabilia he owned, the founder of RushCon and one of the more emotional moments talked to fan George Summers from Scotland who survived a brutal car crash and used Rush’s music, specifically the fantastic “Everyday Glory,” (finally gets its due!) to help him through injury and recovery.

But the stars of this movie of course make up the stars of Rush. Lee, Lifeson and Peart re-told a few stories of the past – some rather comical – “The Bag” – others touching – Lifeson finding out the lead truck driver was getting married and stopped the caravan to bring some champagne and celebrate with the engaged couple in the cab – and one hilarious – the speed metal arrangement for “Subdivisions.” But most accounts discussed the rigors of touring, the love of the band from devotees and touring personnel, and a mostly unwilling embrace of the inevitable end.

Surely, time is the infinite jest on Rush and their fans.

Age knows no boundaries even when it comes to childhood heroes who seemingly return every few years like clockwork for nearly half a century. Peart struggled through a painful foot fungus during the R40 tour and Lee and Lifeson recounted seeing the drummer’s hands during the final shows which were cracked and calloused. The men laughed at their own expressive demeanor when it came to their personal pain threshold over the years but marveled at Peart’s stoicism. Lifeson, too, struggles with arthritis which Lee described as a ticking time bomb.

Time Stand Still neared tenebrific at times in terms of any future dates to the stage. Peart said he was done with touring after the band’s first tour. And, not until the Clockwork Angels tour did he feel happy about a tour. In fact, R40 was an 11th hour approval after the mates got together to discuss the band’s future – Peart was out with a slight window –  and it was Lifeson who said, “Let’s do it one more time” that fully opened it.  Lee appeared genuinely doleful, at times.

Time Stand Still was well-done and felt like a Part 2 or continuation of Beyond the Lighted Stage. Yet, Donna Halper, the woman credited for bringing Rush to the United States was nowhere other than a camera shot of a poster thanking her, and perhaps a bit too much time committed to the RushCon founder. You have to wonder who got left on the cutting room floor.

The end of touring enveloped the hour and 40 minute long film, yet, still no one broached the subject of Rush creating new music, a topic not asked or really discussed during interviews of the band members since their “retirement.” Lee and Lifeson have indicated a willingness to move forward together with Lee saying their music would sound like Rush without Neil. But writing and recording a new album is something easily done with today’s technology allowing Lee, Lifeson and Peart to collaborate from the comfort and confines of their own homes. If they so desire.

Indeed, a glimmer of hope remains to freeze the moment of Rush a little bit longer. “If there’s more there’s not a lot more,” said longtime manager Ray Danniels and as “The Garden” from Clockwork Angels somberly played while the cameras followed Lee and Lifeson off The Forum stage into the backroom, before the screen went black, Lifeson perhaps nudged the window slightly ajar.

But it wasn’t enough to diminish an overall presentiment of closure.

Written By: AndrewT

Concert Review: Pet Shop Boys Bring Some Super Songs to Portland

pet-shop-boys

The Pet Shop Boys returned to Portland on Tuesday just three years after their first ever visit but this time the 80s icons took the stage at the Keller Auditorium in support of their 13th album Super which was released in April.

Sticking to their new foray into heavy bass beats and dance riffs as the last two albums attest, the evening felt very much like attending a nightclub though all eyes were directed towards the stage and the stars of the evening. Singer Neil Tennant and keyboardist Chris Lowe moved briskly through a 23 song set stretched over an hour and 45 minutes that sent thumping vibrations into a decent sized audience turnout from the start of the show through the final act.

But if the pop kids of the 80s who loved the pop hits of the same era were expecting the British duo to whisk them through a nostalgia act of radio hits and all those celebrated cuts, they quickly learned these two have been busy writing and recording new music.

The Boys started the show with “Inner Sanctum” off the new album, hit a familiar-favorite mixed with a cool dance beat in “West End Girls” then a return to the new album with the single “The Pop Kids” before another trip 30 years back to their first remix album Disco for the catchy and underrated “In the Night” then again to current fare with “Burn.”

By now, Tennant and Lowe changed outfits losing the odd looking pumpkin shaped headwear and were joined by three additional musicians on keyboards, organic drums and electronic percussion. The evening  continued as PSB dove into 2013’s Electric performing “Love Is a Bourgeois Construct” one of two songs from that album this evening, “New York City Boy” off 1999’s Nightlife and a touch of Caribbean on “Se A Vida É (That’s The Way Life Is)” from Bilingual  now 20 years old that felt a bit flat.

“Twenty-Something” brought the new album back to the stage and then the very popular “Love Comes Quickly” continuing the 30 year cycle trend but it was the last song played off the group’s smash album Please. The catchy “Love etc.” came next off 2009’s Yes album and then an extended run of new songs that unfortunately failed to capture the charm of so many of their hits.

The rather dark piece off Super “The Dictator Decides” featured a strange video backdrop with ants and its slow pace meandered a bit. Electric’s “Inside a Dream” didn’t help much to pick up the tempo. Nor did “Winner” which represented 2012’s Elysium and by the time the opening tract off 2002’s Release “Home and Dry” was done people started taking their seats.

After an instrumental with Lowe taking the spotlight which apparently is called “The Enigma” Tennant returned to the stage for the great “Vocal” another cut off Electric and the energy missing for the last 15 minutes or so slowly returned. “The Sodom and Gomorrah Show” tapped into 2006’s Fundamental and PSB of course continued with the religious theme bringing “It’s a Sin” infused with a delectable dance mix and a boost in bass that started a string of five fetching fan favorites to close the show.

By now everyone who sat was back on their feet and stayed upright as the Pet Shops Boys brought to life their third album Introspective with “Left to My Own Devices,” touched 1993’s Very with the cover song “Go West” and closed out the show with “Domino Dancing” and their other popular cover “Always on My Mind” both off Introspective.

The evening was signature Pet Shop Boys though much less choreography and those inspired Broadway style themes from past tours. Lasers throughout the night, along with a large video screen behind the stage and some interesting costumes changes. And the bass. Boy, was it heavy. Sometimes overpowering but often joyous nonetheless. Tennant’s vocals flowed smooth like melted butter. Flawless and sounding no different than when he and Lowe burst into the music scene in 1986.  You’d never know he turned 62 this summer.

Of course, not every new album can hold the same magnetism the Pet Shop Boys captured for their past efforts as their latest releases have more or less evolved from their keyboard centric beginnings but each possess a couple of solid gems worthy of rolling out that keeps the Pet Shop Boys Charm intact rather than the 20 or so minutes of mid-show dawdling when even the performers looked a bit bored.

“Happiness” the opening tract off Super though it may be lyrically challenged is certainly the most fun song off the album and no need to forget about Electric as “Axis” or “Fluorescent” would have helped keep up spirits.

At any rate, nearly half the setlist accounted for songs just 10 years old or less. If you haven’t been paying attention, the Pet Shops Boys have released five studio albums since 2009 and seven since the start of the new millennium. And, it’s certainly a welcome field to experience live such a wide variety of the band’s efforts as they could easily unveil two solid hours of hits and radio fare.

Instead they celebrate their present and honor their past.

Pet Shop Boys Portland Setlist (Keller Auditorium)

1.  Inner Sanctum
2.  West End Girls
3. The Pop Kids
4. In the Night
5.  Burn
6. Love Is a Bourgeois Construct
7. New York City Boy
8. Se A Vida É (That’s The Way Life Is)
9. Twenty-something
10. Love Comes Quickly
11. Love Etc.
12. The Dictator Decides
13.   Inside a Dream
14. Winner
15. Home and Dry
16. Instrumental – The Enigma
17. Vocal
18. The Sodom and Gomorrah Show
19. It’s a Sin
20. Left to My Own Devices
21. Go West
22. Domino Dancing
23. Always on My Mind

Written By: AndrewT

Concert Review: Def Leppard Never Gets Old

Def Leppard at Matthew Knight Arena in Eugene, OR

Def Leppard performs at Matthew Knight Arena in Eugene, OR

Def Leppard returned to the Pacific Northwest on Friday for the fifth time in seven years this time filling the smaller and more intimate Matthew Knight Arena in Eugene, OR in support of their latest album Def Leppard out nearly a year ago.

The setlist didn’t change much from past tours – of course you’re there for all those yummy arena rock anthems and the radio staples – but the classy Brits sneaked in three off the new album and added (for some reason) a cover song in a solid 17 song set that lasted just more than 90 minutes.

Def Leppard got started with the first tract off the new album “Let’s Go” which completely falls in line with the band’s stockpile of songs. It sounds like Def Leppard and feels like Def Leppard. It’s got a familiar hook (Sugar anybody?) and was that both Phil Collen and Vivian Campbell playing the guitar solo, together? It rocked and so did the next one – “Animal.” (Never gets old.)

Singer Joe Elliott really shined on this one, the song now almost 30 years old, off their smash record Hysteria. The band continued with “Let It Go,” don’t get it confused with the first one, because it sounds nothing like it and is 34 years older. It’s an oft overlooked gem from 1981’s High ‘n’ Dry and the boys shredded through it adding a menacing jam to close it out that reduced the album version to rubble.

Def Leppard Guitarists Vivian Campbell and Phil Collen

Def Leppard Guitarists Vivian Campbell and Phil Collen

The big single off their latest record came next -”Dangerous” – and yes it gets airtime. Well, on Sirius radio, at least. Campbell got the go ahead on this one and proved why Def Leppard chose him nearly 25 years ago to replace the late Steve Clark. The 80’s smash “Foolin’” followed and then the female centric “Love Bites.”

“Armageddon It” (never gets old) continued the eventual six scoop dip into 1987’s Hysteria with Campbell in the driver’s seat. Not sure if the band dropped an octave or two, but something proved peculiar about the live treatment on this one as it sounded really fresh and a bit different. Don’t worry, it kept the album version intact. Just goes to show how well the 12 times platinum album stands up over time.

Def Leppard covered the David Essex song “Rock On” from their 2006 covers album Yeah! OK, so technically, sort of, they played a Def Leppard song but with all the gems on their new album it sure would have been nice to hear another one. It’s not a bad song, in fact they gave it justice, it’s just not their song and with such a deep catalog available, even without offering another new tune, let’s consider the covers album recess but don’t include it on the touring setlist.

They followed with the new “Man Enough,” see they could have done back-to-back off Def Leppard, like, oh perhaps the fantastic balled “We Belong”? Really just about any song off the new album. Anyway. It was great at least to get three songs and you’d think the band would showcase more off their first studio album in seven years and 11th overall. But enough of that.

Guitarist Vivian Campbell

Guitarist Vivian Campbell

Because “Rocket” (never gets old) came next which started an eight song run of their most popular fare with “Pour Some Sugar On Me” (really never gets old) closing out the first set and the band returning with “Rock of Ages” and “Photograph” (never… you get the picture) for the encore.

Def Leppard has seemingly been touring non-stop for the last few years. This show felt like a second leg of sorts from last year’s show with Tesla opening and REO Speedwagon taking over for Styx. The band recycled some of the imagery and big screen backdrop used on songs like the cursive writing to “Love Bites,” the old style TV screens on “Hysteria” and the trip down memory lane for “Photograph.” They indeed do a great job with the video production element which often upstages their playing! On “Rock of Ages” a camera mounted on Collen’s fretboard showcased a mesmerizing view of the guitarist playing.

It’s been 36 years since Def Leppard stepped foot on American soil and while all the members are well into their 50s they seem no worse for the wear and show little signs of slowing down. The new album confirms the band still has the creative juices flowing and they don’t appear content to rest on their laurels and just repackage a Greatest Hits show every year. Of course, their collection of greatest hits alone outpaces some bands entire collection of songs (at least listenable ones anyway) and they probably could get away with doing so. In many respects though, it’s felt that way, especially as openers for KISS a few years back but a mush deserved rest to come and Def Leppard should be back.

REO Speedwagon at Matthew Knight Arena

Like Styx, REO Speedwagon does seem content on touring, till the end, their greatest hits. They put on a solid performance but if you’ve seen them once in the last five years or so that’s pretty much what you’re going to get, every time.

It’s more of a nostalgic trip as the band hasn’t released a new album in nearly 10 years and the newest song featured – their smash hit “Can’t Fight This Feeling,” from 1984. REO Speedwagon is just about a full time touring act nowadays and they could probably play the songs in their sleep by now. Singer Kevin Cronin has done a great job adapting his vocals to a range he can reach and all those 80s hits still hit you as hard as they did more than 30 years ago.

REO Speedwagon played a 10 song set for about an hour which opened with “Don’t Let Him Go” and included the underrated “Time for Me to Fly” and “Roll With the Changes” and of course “Keep On Living You” a song born from a simple three-chord piano riff Cronin said got stuck in his head one early morning so he got up at 4 a.m. to write it down. And their lives haven’t been the same since.

Def Leppard Setlist – Eugene, OR (Matthew Knight Arena)

  1. Let’s Go
  2. Animal
  3. Let It Go
  4. Dangerous
  5. Foolin’
  6. Love Bites
  7. Armageddon It
  8. Rock On
  9. Man Enough
  10. Rocket
  11. Bringing on the Heartbreak
  12. Switch 625
  13. Hysteria
  14. Let’s Get Rocked
  15. Pour Some Sugar On Me
  16. Rock of Ages
  17. Photograph

Written By: AndrewT

Album Review: Switchfoot – Where the Light Shines Through

Switchfoot

Switchfoot hits new heights with their 10th studio album Where the Light Shines Through, out today, featuring delightful melodies, fun arrangements and an overall shift towards a new sound and musical direction.

Don’t worry superfans, the album isn’t a drastic departure from past releases it’s just different, and refreshing in a number of ways, most notably by showing the band’s ability to think outside the box and produce a 12 track album (15 tracks on the Deluxe Album) that almost feels like they’re starting anew.

Perhaps, most surprisingly, is the rocking  and upbeat nature of the album considering it was born from, as singer Jon Foreman said, “one of the darkest times I’ve ever been through.” Contrarily, it pops from the opening song to the closer and unlike their last effort, Fading West, which took the live treatment to really show the strength of the songs, Where the Light Shines Through is indeed an immediate ray of sunshine.

The album opens with “Holy Water” featuring an awesome chorus followed by one of the album’s best songs and simply nothing you’ve ever heard from the San Diego five-some in “Float.” Think Beck’s “Dreams” and finally Tim Foreman gets to shine on bass. One listen and you’ll be begging for more.

The title track infuses a bit of country and a touch of gospel into that familiar Switchfoot sound before the band hits you over the head with the emotional pull of “I Won’t Let You Go.” It’s as deep as any song Switchfoot has ever written (If you can let the pain of the past go/Of your soul/None of this is in your control/If you could only let your guard down/If you could learn to trust me somehow/I swear, that I won’t let you go) and shows a never before heard dynamic and range to Jon Foreman’s vocals. This is the song missing from Coldplay’s last two albums.

Don’t let the start of “If The House Burns Down Tonight” fool you, it’s pace turns quickly and is reminiscent of some of Billy Joel’s work from the 80s. “The Day That I Found God” is perhaps the band’s most vocal pronouncement, song wise, of their Christian faith. It’s a modern day psalm full of lamentation, some questions and finally reality.

“Shake This Feeling” continues with solid harmonies and could very well serve as one of several applicable singles on this album. “Bull in a China Shop” is another anomaly in the Switchfoot catalog, with a really clever guitar hook but the excessive repeat of the chorus bogs it down quite a bit and feels like the band found that fun hook but didn’t know exactly where to go from there.

“Live It Well” is the most Switchfoot of all the songs and could easily slide right in on any one of their previous albums.

It’s rarely if ever a good idea to combine a rapper and a rock band but “Looking for America” which features Lecrae (wow, he’s really making the rounds with Christian rock bands) isn’t all that bad (though it does comes across trying to hard to be Eminem) and considering the recent events in Dallas it’s got some seriously germane lyrics – America who are you?/Underneath the red blue and white?/America who are you?/I wonder who you are tonight/America who are you?/Is God still on your side?/I want to see a nation rise above the fear and fight that haunts these streets tonight

“Healer of Souls” brings the fun back with a catchy pop rhythm the Black Keys would appreciate and the regular album ends with “Hope Is The Anthem” the only other song that embraces the traditional Switchfoot sound.

The Deluxe Edition of the Where The Light Shines Through includes three additional songs which, quite often, when bands offer the “Deluxe” version the extra songs come off more as second hand, or those left off a previous album or just didn’t make the cut for the current album but worth sharing anyway. It’s never really made sense to me, if they’re good enough for a “Deluxe” album then they’re good enough for the regular album.

However, these songs indeed continue Switchfoot’s foray into new territory with the very different, very cool,  and somber sounding “Light And Heavy.” “Begin Forever “ and “When Was the Last Time” wrap it up and definitely feel more like songs from When the Light Shines Through but don’t necessarily give the same punch as the rest though “Begin Forever” definitely delivers grow-on-you attributes.

Some of music’s best songs, and albums for that matter, often result from the songwriter’s personal struggles with “fill-in-the-blank.” Where the Light Shines Through  is no different. Foreman said he turned his scars into songs and the album is the band’s most personal to date.

It’s also one of their best.

Grade: A-

Switchfoot – Where the Light Shines Through track list

  1. Holy Water
  2. Float
  3. Where The Light Shines Through
  4. I Won’t Let You Go
  5. If The House Burns Down Tonight
  6. The Day That I Found God
  7. Shake This Feeling
  8. Bull In A China Shop
  9. Live It Well
  10. Looking For America
  11. Healer Of Souls
  12. Hope Is The Anthem
  13. Light And Heavy*
  14. Begin Forever*
  15. When Was The Last Time*

Written By: AndrewT

Concert Review: Boston Gives Portland a Little Peace of Mind

Boston Review Feature

With all that’s happening in the world today, it’s nice to just sit back, watch the pros and take a chance on rock ‘n’ roll.

Boston brought their 40th Anniversary tour to Portland, OR on Saturday to a lively and robust crowd at the Moda Center, setup in the smaller Theater of the Clouds amphitheater format, tackling all the fan favorites in a well-polished and consummate performance extending nearly two hours and 22 songs.

Tom Scholz, who is more or less Boston at this stage being the remaining founding member, ripped through classic song after classic song and a whole bunch of deep album cuts and seemingly never stopped playing whether it was for his signature guitar sound, signature keyboard sound or on acoustic guitar.

The band, make that Scholz, started things off with the very apropos “Star Spangled Banner” complete with a backing video of the American flag and then everyone else dropped in with “Rock & Roll Band.”

Boston Star Spangled Banner

Boston tore through three more classic radios cuts with “Smokin’,” “Feelin’ Satisfied,” and the quintessential “Peace of Mind.” Then a break from the traditional radio fare as they tackled deeper album tracks off their first three records like the very cool “Cool the Engines” with an awesome video backdrop of the signature guitar-shaped  spaceship which led right into “We’re Ready” continuing the space theme with a rocket launch video. Boston included “Higher Power” an ode to Alcoholics Anonymous recorded for their Greatest Hits  release in 1997 and of course dedicated their beloved ballad “Amanda” to everyone with the same name.

Tom Scholz

Tom Scholz, writer, guitarist, performer and conductor of Boston

Boston didn’t play anything off their latest Life, Love & Hope out in 2013 or Corporate America from 2002. But it was pretty clear they wanted to break out mostly the songs from the albums that’s kept the group delighting audiences for 40 years. Long time guitarist  Gary Pihl, who has worked on every Boston album since Third Stage back in 1986, asked the crowd if they wanted to hear anything off Life, Love & Hope or something from their 1976 self-titled debut album and clearly the crowd wanted a track from one of the best selling albums of all-time which brought forth “Peace of Mind.”

Despite the sometimes revolving door of members and the devastating loss of original singer Brad Delp in 2007 to suicide, Scholz has done wonders finding accomplished musicians to fill the void. Current singer Tommy DeCarlo who jumped on-board in 2007, does a solid job reaching those iconic high notes and duplicated Delp’s tone throughout the evening, really shining on “More than a Feeling,” “Foreplay/Long Time,” and “Used to Bad News” but a bit off for “I Think I Like It.”

Guitarist Beth Cohen sang on three songs which made little sense considering DeCarlo was handing the mic just fine and had the prowess to rise above the soaring guitars. Cohen’s vocals were completely washed out during “Long Time Segue” and “Higher Power” the latter she almost looked lost at times. She did pull through with “Walk On.”

Gary Pihl

Gary Pihl, guitarist for Boston

Regardless, Scholz’s mastery rules the stage. He’s the brains behind each and every song, all delivering straight up guitar-centered rock, somehow sounding like half a dozen guitarists on stage at any given time, yet it was just Scholz and the right-hand man in Pihl but when the two worked the fretboard together playing the same chords and riffs, it was spellbinding.

Big, bold and beautiful.

Scholz was not only never without an instrument in hand but rarely not playing. He left the stage once, briefly, during “Something About You” but when he wasn’t ripping off solos mid-song (nice smashing guitar work on the E jam instrumental!) he used them as segues between songs. By the way, he’s pretty adept on the keys, too.

Boston let it all out for the title track off 1994’s Walk On during an extended jam session as Scholz commanded the keyboards and turned fooling around with various sounds and instrumentation into an art form. That led right into “Foreplay/Long Time” which closed the opening set as Scholz remained behind the keys, allowing Pihl to lead on guitar but watching (and hearing!) the two jump on the acoustic section together injected new life into this oft played radio tune.

Dennis DeYoung

Dennis DeYoung – the Voice of Styx

Boston encored with the relaxing beat of “Used to Bad News” and “Party,” both off 1978’s Don’t Look Back. And, oh but they did. It was a most welcome and entertaining trip through the past.

Dennis DeYoung, the original singer for Styx, opened for Boston and played an exceptional hour-long 10 song set of all Styx songs including “Mr. Roboto,” “Babe” which he wrote for his wife in 1979 (who helped with back-up singing duties) that became a cornerstone of the Cornerstone album, and the iconic “Come Sail Away.”

At 69 years young, DeYoung looks more like a Presbyterian minister then a rock and roll singer but his vocals? Flawless. Sounds just like they did 40 years ago.  Considering he didn’t play any of his solo music, you have to wonder where it all went wrong and what could have been had the two sides of Styx figured out how to live with each other.

Boston – Portland (Moda Center) Setlist

  1. The Star Spangled Banner
  2. Rock & Roll Band
  3. Smokin’
  4. Feelin’ Satisfied
  5. Peace of Mind
  6. Long Time Segue
  7. Cool The Engines
  8. We’re Ready
  9. Higher Power
  10. I Think I Like It
  11. Don’t Look Back
  12. Something About You
  13. Amanda
  14. The Launch A) Countdown B) Ignition C) Third Stage Separation
  15. More Than a Feeling
  16. “E” Jam (instrumental)
  17. The Journey
  18. To Be A Man
  19. Walk On
  20. Foreplay / Long Time
  21. Used to Bad News
  22. Party

Written By: AndrewT

Concert Review: Lit Reignites the Flame in Washington

Lit Feature Photo

Lit Performs at Clearwater Casino in Washington

Where have you been Lit?

It’s been years, almost decades even, since the Southern California punk pop band stepped foot in the Pacific Northwest and they finally did somewhere off the coast of Washington. Actually, Lit performed at a sizeable, yet eccentric, bar on Thursday inside the Clearwater Casino in Suquamish, WA that technically is right off the Port Orchard waters west of Seattle.

The one-off concert came on the heels of Lit’s sold-out and venue closing performance at the House of Blues in Anaheim, CA last week. So for those who waded through a forest of evergreen trees the pleasure was all theirs. It’s not every day, or in the case of Lit, every year one of 1990s biggest acts plays a small, intimate venue in front of a few hundred fans – in other words, at a bar.

Lit played a very efficient 17 song set that took about an hour and 20 minutes including radio favorites, should-have been radio favorites and a bunch of new songs the band is putting together for an upcoming new album.

The evening started with the new tract and the most appropriate “Welcome to the Party,” the rocking “Four,” followed by the catchy “You Tonight,” and the new song “Bikini Top” before singer A. Jay Popoff started passing around the Jägermeister. Lit continued with the great “Zip-Lock” before tackling another new song “Back With You” and then bringing the tempo back up with “Over My Head.”

Kevin Baldes of Lit

Kevin Baldes of Lit

The band that pretty much writes lyrics shedding some light on their, shall we say, misbehavior – sometimes involving alcohol – showed a rare emotional side with the more or less coming of age “Fast” about just how fast life goes. Indeed it’s been more than 25 years since these guys got together, forming in high school, then rising above some of the musical muck that came out of the 1990s and early 2000s and riding the wave of alternative rock that propelled them into stardom with the smash album A Place in the Sun in 1999.

Of course they played the favorite of anyone who has ever been involved with someone who is just so “Miserable,” they showed some new artistry with the country-infused “Just Feels Right” or as A. Jay says, “That back yard music I love” and they closed the show with the always awesome “My Own Worst Enemy” featuring one of the most recognizable licks in rock music.

Lit has not been prolific in album releases, their last coming four years ago with the very solid The View from the Bottom. They lost original drummer Allen Shellenberger to a brain tumor in 2009 but the core of singer Popoff, his brother and guitarist Jeremy Popoff and bassist Kevin Baldes remain along with an additional guitarist and drummer Terry Stirling Jr. who is the second since the band decided to carry on after Shellenberger’s death.

Though they’re in their 40s, you’d never know it.  The band formerly known as Razzle proves very much youngsters at heart hopping all over the stage, indeed confirming to be the life of the party. Baldes rocks out on bass like nobody’s business all while drinking from a can of Lite beer, singer Popoff is as a charismatic front man you’ll ever see belting out the same vocal chords he did 20 years ago and brother Jeremy looking ever-so intimidating, effortlessly leading on guitar and somehow managing to lay down some slick chords while holding his axe in often the most un-ergo dynamic position possible.

Clearly, Lit never stopped rocking and based on Thursday night there’s no reason to believe they’re going to stop any time soon. With a new album on the horizon, it looks like Lit is ready to strike a new path towards their future.

Lit helps rekindle the 90s with Everclear, Sugar Ray and Sponge on the Summerland tour starting in July and coming nowhere near the Pacific Northwest. Again.

Lit Setlist at Clearwater Casino Resort

  1. Welcome To The Party
  2. Four
  3. You Tonight
  4. Bikini Top
  5. Zip-Lock
  6. Back With You
  7. Over My Head
  8. Easy
  9. The Wall
  10. The Broken
  11. The Last Time Again
  12. Miserable
  13. Something to Someone
  14. Just Feels Right
  15. Fast
  16. Happy in the Meantime
  17. My Own Worst Enemy

Written By: AndrewT

Concert Review: Portland Finds The Cure in Ridgefield

The Cure Feature Photo

The Cure played at Sunlight Supply Amphitheater in Ridgefield, WA on Saturday night

Their last trip to the Portland, OR area came more than a decade ago and it’s been nearly as long since they released an album of new material but regardless the 15,000 strong who packed the Sunlight Supply Amphitheater in Ridgefield, WA on Saturday definitely know the Cure.

The Robert Smith fronted group played 34 songs for nearly three hours covering almost 40 years of music and if you arrived expecting a setlist of pure singles and radio fare you were in for a surprise whether it was a pleasant one or seemingly endless.

No new album in tow either, but don’t believe for a second this was a Greatest Hits tour. In fact, if you’re not well-versed on what’s clearly a deep and satisfying catalog of Cure songs you likely discovered some new offerings, even if the tracts were 30 years old.

The band nonchalantly took the stage at 8:05 p.m. opening with “Shake Dog Shake,” “A Night Like This,” then (remember?) “The Walk” and finally “Push” with that great opening jam before tackling some traditional favorites  with “In Between Days,” the quintessential 80’s hit “Just Like Heaven,” and Smith bringing those yearning vocals on “Pictures of You” before diving back into deeper album cuts.

With the exception of “Lovesong” the rest of the opening set consisted as Smith said, the “usual mix of weird stuff and not so weird stuff.” Actually if you want the proof to dispel any notion the Cure is simply a goth rock band, a description Smith also rejects, simply listen to “The Hungry Ghost, “Want,”, “The Hanging Garden,” “One Hundred Years,” and “Give Me It” – straight up rock songs that out-shined their studio versions on the live stage which closed out the opening set.

The Cure at Sunlight Supply

Robert Smith of the Cure

The first encore arrived after just 18 songs, yes first encore. The band returned and played five more deep album cuts before encoring again. One more five song encore ensued mixed with more obscure songs and B sides along with “Fascination Street” and “Burn” their smash contribution for the soundtrack to the feature film The Crow in 1994.

The Cure returned for yet a third and final encore ripping off another six songs including “Hot Hot Hot!!!” Let’s Go to Bed” and closing the show with their iconic hits “Close To Me,” “Why Can’t I Be You,” which got everybody dancing and “Boys Don’t Cry.”

The only duds on this night came with the nearly 30 year old “The Snakepit” which sounded like a brand new song Smith and his bandmates were rehearsing which stalled the show a bit – requiring a few songs to get back to pace – plus ending the up-until-now make-out session by at least one couple, and “Freakshow” the lone song played off 2008’s 4:13 Dream the Cure’s last studio album.

Smith, guitarist and lead singer, is the sole original member of the Cure which has seen a number of contributors since the band’s inception. In many respects Smith is the Cure. It doesn’t matter who makes up the ensemble backing him. His vocals, one of the most recognizable in rock music, can hardly be replaced.

Now 57, Smith still dons the emblematic white make-up and crazy hair and sounds no different than he did in the band’s 80s heyday even if he looks a bit different. He’s not 27 anymore!  He ripped through song after song never missing a note and playing electric or acoustic guitar on most.Robert Smith of the Cure

The current lineup includes long time bassist Simon Gallup, who joined the Cure after their first album in 1979 and left in 1982 thanks to a falling out but returned three years later. His bass lines bellowed through the night and helped provide a distinctive element to a number of tracts including “Lovesong,” “A Forest,” “Let’s Go To Bed,” and a cool funky beat on “Lullaby.”

Smith is also backed by keyboardist Roger O’Donnell now on his third stint with the band, 20-year drummer Jason Cooper and newest member and mad scientist Reeves Gabrels, a doppelganger to Doc Brown, who spun off some solid shredding and solos when Smith wasn’t on lead.

The Cure wasted little time between songs executing them one after another.  Smith presence was his stage presence as far as the audience was concerned. He doesn’t interact much and spoke just a few times introducing a couple of songs but with such a heavy English accent, which obviously doesn’t come through when singing, we shan’t understand him anyway, so it was just as well.

Perhaps the only waste of time was the encore, make that the encores. Sure, it’s their thing to leave and return a number of times but three (and sometimes four!) encores throws a wrench into the fluidity of the show. Besides the encore has lost its grace over the years as it’s evolved from the audience truly wanting the show to go on to simply a tradition and now a number of bands choosing to forego it altogether.

So, when people begin to trickle out during Encore 2 even if some of the Cure’s biggest songs had yet to play you’ve either got tired audience members and/or people who don’t know the show isn’t over, anytime soon. Regardless, you certainly get your money’s worth with the Cure.

But too bad this show wasn’t on Friday. Apparently, Saturday the Cure is not in love thus leaving off the setlist one of their most beloved songs.

The Cure – Portland (Sunlight Supply Amphitheater) Setlist:

  1. Shake Dog Shake
  2. A Night Like This
  3. The Walk
  4. Push
  5. In Between Days
  6. Just Like Heaven
  7. Pictures Of You
  8. High
  9. This Twilight Garden
  10. Lovesong
  11. Lullaby
  12. The Snakepit
  13. From The Edge Of The Deep Green Sea
  14. The Hungry Ghost
  15. Want
  16. The Hanging Garden
  17. One Hundred Years
  18. Give Me It
  19. Other Voices
  20. M
  21. Charlotte Sometimes
  22. Play For Today
  23. A Forest
  24. Step Into the Light
  25. Never Enough
  26. Fascination Street ( Extended Mix )
  27. Burn
  28. Wrong Number
  29. Hot Hot Hot !!!
  30. Let’s Go To Bed (Live Album Version)
  31. Freakshow
  32. Close To Me
  33. Why Can’t I Be You?
  34. Boys Don’t Cry

Written By: AndrewT