Today is: Friday July 3, 2020 | Status: Under Re-development | Version 2.99.03
Crowd-surfing Mime at the of Montreal Show Madison

of Montreal with Lily and Horn Horse

by John Noyd

A musical cornucopia brimming in kaleidoscopic show-stoppers, of Montreal has long put the sizzle in the glitter on record and in concert. Riding high on the new, love-struck, “UR FUN,” the antics of the band’s quasi-psychedelic romantics were bright and shiny when they visited Madison’s Majestic Theater. Frivolous mischief fitted into power-pop riffs with radiant stadium reach, the paisley pranksters threw a multi-sensory extravaganza that leaped, slithered and grooved from transcendent frenzies to churning jams with barely a breath in between.

Beginning with a dark stage and a recording of a weirdly whimsical, “I’m Glad To Be Me,” the lights came up to reveal three giant skulls washed in swirling colors that suggested a Mexican Day of the Dead fiesta, as the band and dancers kicked off the evening with, “Peace To All Freaks.” Flamboyant frontman Kevin Barnes’ hyper-verbose songs needed no introduction and defied explanation as the spectacle melted time and space joining old songs next to new in a vivid mythology versed in gender politics and accompanied by anthropomorphic gorgons, crowd-surfing mimes, middle-finger puppets and fun-loving Furbies.

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Joseph on fire Valentine's Day 2020

Joseph with Deep Sea Diver

by John Noyd

Last Friday night, Madison’s Majestic Theater was turned into the House of Love when Pacific Northwest bands Joseph and Deep Sea Diver turned up the heat on a freezing single-digit Valentine’s Day, doling out locomotive vocals and firing pile-driving kindness with upbeat themes burning in tender independence. Establishing a safe zone to open the flow of emotions, both bands immediately earned the audience’s respect as couples, groups, first-timers and long-time fans made room for each other, their swaying, their camera-phones and their singing along. Filled with honest songs dressed to kill, the Majestic couldn’t help but surrender to the feverish affection generated that night.

Moving Heaven and Earth with angelic harmonies and ground-shaking beats, Joseph’s three-sister voices carried confidence inside their questions, standing their ground while charging forward. Wisely dividing their set into thirds, the band began with a front-loaded half hour packed in dramatic passion and driven by oldest sister Natalie’s brisk guitar and three non-family musicians the twins fondly called their babies.  Opening with, “In My Head,” and the lines, ‘I always start at the very end,’ Joseph made every minute count from start to finish.

Letting their hair down, the middle section consisted of the three sisters on their own where they celebrated Valentine’s Day by asking the crowd their favorite love songs. An a capella rendition of Dolly Parton’s, “I Will Always Love You,” soared and snippets of Celine Dion’s, “Because You Loved Me,” and, “My Heart Will Go On,” brought de-thorned roses tossed from stage. Maria Carey’s, “Fantasy,” topped off the fun that included ace guitar shredder Jessica Dobson of Deep Sea Diver sitting in and rocking out.

Besides the crowd-sourced love songs and a sweet Tom Waits cover, Joseph focused their set-list on this year’s, “Good Luck, Kid,” and 2016’s, “I’m Alone, No You’re Not.” The final half hour reassembled the band and kept to the evening’s theme of fortified resolve and active compassion before ending with a touching story behind their lullaby, “Room For You.” “Fighter,” and Good Luck, Kid,” made an appearance as the encore and nicely summarized Joseph’s sweetness and strength. 

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Doug Aldrich and Dave Amato remembering Ronnie Montrose in Anaheim

Ronnie Montrose Remembered - 2020

by Sal Serio

A definite highlight for hard rock fans attending the 2020 Winter NAMM Show in Anaheim, California, was the 5th annual Ronnie Montrose Remembered tribute concert. Organized by later-day “Montrose” vocalist Keith St. John, and with proceeds going to assist the Sweet Relief charity fund which helps to aid musician’s medical needs, this was another star-studded rotating cast of rock n’ rollers all assembled to pay tribute to the late great hugely influential guitarist Ronnie Montrose.

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Joan Shelley and band December 7th 2019 The Back Room Milwaukee WI

Joan Shelley with Daughter of Swords

by John Noyd

Kentucky folk-singer Joan Shelley describes her latest album, “Like the River Loves the Sea,” as a haven for over-stimulated heads in uncertain times. Visiting Milwaukee’s Colectivo Coffee Back Room for the third time in as many years, Shelley created a welcome sanctuary playing songs anchored in tradition and transformed by a warm, rich voice detailing nuanced feelings and conjuring shaded places. Geography figures prominently in much of Shelley’s literate songwriting with a passive patchwork of pastoral allegories populating her set-list, from odes to hometown mountains to portraits of mounting storms. She drew primarily from her last three albums, chatting between songs with childhood memories sprinkled alongside adult confessions that drew warm smiles from the attentive crowd as her artistic eye and writer’s thirst revealed anecdotes inside lyrics expressing spiritual connections in shared awareness. Milwaukee was fortunate to host what Joan called her dream band with long-time cohort guitarist Nathan Salsburg shining a constant light on Joan’s lyrical delivery and sophisticated folk-songs via acrobatic trills and swift melodic runs; fluid bass player Nick Macri on upright and electric, both bowed and plucked, and drummer Spencer Tweedy who succeeded to drive each groove with nary a drumstick in sight, relying entirely on brushes to rally the troops. Each musician exhibited an unerring ear for cohesive allegiance, cradling Shelley’s polished Southern Gothic softness in waxing arabesques and subtle flutters employing graceful patience and mathematical restlessness. Seamless stories poured over rippling rhythms, the evening passed all too quickly traversing emotional landscapes and personal journeys quietly enlightening and casually comforting. Minnesota-born nomad Daughter of Swords started the night with a lovely solo acoustic session touched with sweet country warbling fusing cultivated roots to post-modern blues.

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Reina del Cid at Madison's High Noon Saloon Dec 1st 2019

Reina del Cid

by John Noyd

Minneapolis’ Rachelle Cordova, whose stage name Reina del Cid also refers to the band she fronts, wrapped up their Morse Code Album Release tour in Madison’s High Noon Saloon Sunday after the long Thanksgiving weekend. Officially the last show of the tour, the band theorized the Madison show may have the band at its sharpest performance-wise, but also possibly the stinkiest. As it turned out, the only time the crowd held its breath was in anticipation of the band’s next move as their casual professionalism brought a smart charm and joyous fluidity to an evening rifling through their rock-solid discography. The set-list’s subject matter ran the gauntlet, roaming from serial killers to ghosts, zombies and death-bed promises, with tangential banter that included Fond du Lac haunted houses, Google-less flip-phones and literary trivia. RCD’s chosen covers also revealed a sardonic side, from Janis Joplin’s snide, “Mercedes Benz,” and the done-me-wrong of Tennessee Waltz to the twisted love of The Cars’, “Just What I Needed,” and Bill Withers’, “Use Me Up.” Adept at casually radical folk-pop ballads, the outfit’s tight chops and agile faculties brought funk, country and blues into the already rich mix with ace sidekick and guitar wizard, Toni Lindgren laying amazing flat-picked bluegrass over “Sugar” Shane Akers’ sweet mournful dobro.  Powered by the versatile Andrew Foreman on bass and Nate Babbs on drums, Reina’s warm matter-of-fact sass jumped, nudged and uncoiled, beautifully accentuated by Joe Peterson on keyboards and harmonica. As the only act on the bill, RCD came on strong, paced themselves with tour stories and gave the gentlemen a break with a set within a set from Reina and Toni. Patterning the latest album and tour around the live spontaneity of her weekly YouTube series, “Sunday Mornings with Reina del Cid,” Reina combined coziness with catharsis, applying wicked wit simmered in friendly phrases to turn the last bits of a long weekend into a shiny final hurrah.

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