Show Reviews

by Max Ink Staff Writers


Michael Schenker in Milwaukee, March 18, 2018 - photo by Sal Serio

Michael Schenker in Milwaukee, March 18, 2018 - photo by Sal Serio

Michael Schenker Fest obliterates the Pabst in Milwaukee! 03.18.18

Show Review By Sal Serio
Posted: Mar 2018
(1576) Page Views

For a Sunday night, guitar legend Michael Schenker and band did not hold anything back for those who needed to get up early the next morning. I knew going in to this that it was a long show, but I was still unprepared for just exactly how expansive and what an incredible event the Michael Schenker Fest concert was. Any fans of Schenker’s career, especially but not exclusively the Michael Schenker Group years, should not miss this experience. Again, it was a Sunday night in Milwaukee, and the day after Saint Paddy’s Day to boot, but there was not fatigue and hangover in the air, rather a bristling electric excitement from the moment I walked in to the ornate and welcoming lobby of the historic Pabst Theater. From the look of the audience’s black t-shirts, many longtime Schenker fans were in attendance, but quite a few younger faces were present as well.

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Denis Gagné of The Musical Box, at the Orpheum Theater in Madison, March 8, 2018 - photo by Sal Serio

Denis Gagné of The Musical Box, at the Orpheum Theater in Madison, March 8, 2018 - photo by Sal Serio

The Musical Box at the Orpheum Theater, 03.08.18

Show Review By Sal Serio
Posted: Mar 2018
(944) Page Views

A small but enthusiastic crowd assembled for this concert, and as the lights dimmed and the stage was bathed in fluorescent black lights, the five musicians launched in to “Watcher Of The Skies”, and it was obvious this was going to be a top-tier production. Adding to this excellence was a pristine audio presentation by the sound man; indeed, this may have been the most impeccable sound I have ever experienced in the Orpheum. Vocalist Denis Gagné was dressed in long black cape with striking chiaroscuro make-up on, made more intense illuminated by the black lights. Adding to the contrast were the other four musicians dressed in all white, while Gagné was in black. The current presentation by The Musical Box is an exact reproduction of the 1974 Genesis U.S. Tour titled “The Black Show”. As such, the second song of the evening was “Dancing With The Moonlit Knight”. Sébastien Lamothe, the Mike Rutherford member, faithfully and exceptionally played Rickenbacker double-neck 12-string and bass, with bass foot pedals, while Gagné accompanied with celestial flute. Stoic guitarist Francois Gagnon stayed seated for the entire performance, surrounded by vintage effects pedals.

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Anthrax live at the Eagles Ballroom - photo by Emily Sisson: (ESOfficial)

Anthrax live at the Eagles Ballroom - photo by Emily Sisson: (ESOfficial)

Killswitch Engage/Anthrax - Killthrax Tour
Live at the Eagles Ballroom
Show Review By Emily Sisson
Posted: Feb 2018
(829) Page Views

Personally, I grew up attending every concert I could afford to attend. I came from a family with a musical background and I always felt the most memorable moments were ones spent going to concerts with my best friend or father. Sure it was $40-$50 of my money that could have been spent on T-shirts or lunch, but that ticket was a sure sign that I would have a unique memory and story. The Anthrax and Killswitch Engage “Killthrax” show in Milwaukee WI was no different.

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Jann Wenner in conversation with Alex Gibney, 92Y, NYC, 11.1.17

Show Review By Michael Sherer
Posted: Nov 2017
(1420) Page Views

Rolling Stone magazine is fifty years old. Jann Wenner, 71, was 24 when he founded the then newspaper form publication in San Francisco with the help of veteran Bay Area journalist Ralph Gleason. (The magazine relocated to NYC, Wenner’s hometown, in 1977.)

Wenner was in conversation with Alex Gibney, the director of a new documentary called ‘Rolling Stone - Stories From The Edge,’ released by HBO. An engaging discussion between the men was enjoyed in an intimate theater at the 143 year upper east side old institution 92Y.

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Noah Gundersen High Noon Saloon

Noah Gundersen High Noon Saloon

Noah Gundersen with Silver Torches
High Noon Saloon October 12th, 2017
Show Review By John Noyd
Posted: Oct 2017
(1203) Page Views

A healthy helping of heart and soul powered Noah Gundersen’s Thursday night show at Madison’s High Noon Saloon. The five-piece band doubled up on keyboards and percussion to deliver a well-coordinated arsenal combating existential crises with ballistic conviction and social afflictions with vengeful chords. From the light-drenched staging to the well-executed pacing, Gundersen threw out musical life-lines and walked emotional tight-ropes with breathless power-ballads exuding a David and Goliath vibe, uniting the crowd and rallying hope all the while seamlessly moving from full band to trio then solo and back to full band. Opening with the slow burning, “After All,” and closing with the climatic, “Bad Desire,” the evening never stopped changing dynamics. A rotating wheel of funeral pyre finales and flickering intimate interludes that inspired alliances between dancing air-guitarists and romantic mosh-pit singers.
A far cry from his simpler acoustic folk beginnings, Gundersen’s recent album, “White Noise,” shows an artist whose compound sound drives earnest certainty into parading crusades and self-conflicting benedictions into crucial resolutions. In performance, the lengthier tunes like, “Cocaine, Sex and Alcohol,” and, “New Religion,” blossomed in epic connections dredging deep and soaring high as sister Abby’s violin swept through brother Jonny’s lusty drumming and ace guitarist in the shadows fleshed out Noah’s passionate passages with delicate intensity while supporting the roaring choruses with finely-tuned fury.
Opener Silver Torches consisted of lead singer Erik Walters playing a solo acoustic set that drew incredible fire from his bold, rich vocals for a ferocious busking of his new rockin’, “Let It Be A Dream.” Both acts took time to remove the spotlight from themselves and point out they had brought on tour a spokesperson for SOS Children’s Villages, an independent, non-governmental international development organization which has been working to meet the needs and protect the interests and rights of children since 1949. A giant clue as to Erik and Noah’s focus in song and beyond, their grateful sincerity filled the night. Frankly, compassion never sounded so fierce or so good.

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 - photo by Michael Sherer

- photo by Michael Sherer

Ted Nugent - BB King’s, NYC, 8.8.17

Show Review By Michael Sherer
Posted: Aug 2017
(1413) Page Views

Right wing politics and classic rock anthems come hand-in-hand at a Ted Nugent concert, and during his show in NYC, a much more diverse and liberal place than most any other, the Nuge needed to be careful and stayed clear of much talking about his politics. He stuck mainly to his meaty and very loud rock and roll for this nearly full club date in the heart of Times Square/tourist central location.

Supplying the volume were a stack of Kustom and Magnatone amplifiers. Nugent, bassist Greg Smith and drummer Jason Hartless could be heard from hundreds of feet away. Nugent, who in the ‘70’s wore a loin cloth on stage, opened with a energized rendition of America’s national anthem, “The Star Spangled Banner.”

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Mick Fleetwood and Anthony DeCurtis - photo by Gianna Bertoli

Mick Fleetwood and Anthony DeCurtis - photo by Gianna Bertoli

Mick Fleetwood in conversation with Anthony DeCurtis - 92Y, NYC, 8.1.17

Show Review By Michael Sherer
Posted: Aug 2017
(1434) Page Views

The first thing I was struck by was how very tall Mick Fleetwood is. At 6’6, lanky and dressed like an English aristocrat, the 70 year old drummer for Fleetwood Mac over its fifty year existence makes for quite an impression. The ensuing conversation between Fleetwood and Anthony DeCurtis, a veteran music based writer and journalist, centered around Fleetwood’s new book, called “Love That Burns - A Chronicle of Fleetwood Mac, Volume One, 1967-1974.” It was put out by Genesis Publications, a high end outfit based in England. On the cover of this very handsome and hand bound release is a doll made by Günther Kieser that was originally featured in the promotion of a Fleetwood Mac tour appearance in Munich, Germany in 1970. It’s included as a numbered print, co-signed by the artist and Fleetwood. It also includes illustrations by former band member Jeremy Spencer and selected memorabilia. Only 2,000 copies of the book were printed, rendering it an instant collector’s item. The cost? Well, be prepared to drum up the sum of 495 pounds, which is $643.

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McCoy Tyner Quartet - photo by Michael Sherer

McCoy Tyner Quartet - photo by Michael Sherer

McCoy Tyner Quartet - Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola at Lincoln Center, NYC, 7.18.17

Show Review By Michael Sherer
Posted: Jul 2017
(1130) Page Views

The Ertegun Jazz Hall of Fame at Lincoln Center honored 2017 inductee McCoy Tyner at Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola. The other inductees this year for the same honor are Tito Puente and Don Redman. It’s named after prominent financial contributor and supporter Ahmet Ertegun, the late co-founder of Atlantic Records in 1947 and a true jazz appreciator and aficionado. This prestigious honor is determined by vote between ten potential nominees by a fifteen musically orientated person panel. 

The concert began with Todd Stoll, Vice President of Education at Jazz at Lincoln Center, giving a thoughtful and sincere introduction, invoking Mr. Tyner’s importance and influence, and noting a bit about the induction process and history. From there, the other members of the quartet came to the stage and played for about fifteen minutes. Those musicians are bassist Gerald Cannon, drummer Francisco Mela, and saxophonist Sherman Irby. Mr. Tyner then joined them on a gorgeous Steinway & Sons grand house piano, whereby the whole quartet proceeded to play a stirring and excellent set.

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Yardbirds - photo by Michael Sherer

Yardbirds - photo by Michael Sherer

The Yardbirds - Highline Ballroom, NYC, 7.8.17

Show Review By Michael Sherer
Posted: Jul 2017
(1081) Page Views

The Yardbirds started in London, England way back in 1963. With a bunch of hits such as “For Your Love”, “Heart Full of Soul”, “Shapes of Things” and “Over Under Sideways Down” and as one of the inventors of the “rave up” and British psychedelic sounds, they are one of the most influential and copied groups of modern times. They were also one of the earliest British groups to earnestly cover American blues artists, including the Chicago blues of Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters, Bo Diddley, Sonny Boy Williamson II and Elmore James. Songs such as “Smokestack Lightning”, “Good Morning Little School Girl”, “Boom Boom”, “I Wish You Would”, “Rollin’ and Tumblin’” and “I’m a Man” all came of this reverence and made their young audience aware of these relatively obscure black, American blues artists.

Additionally, the group launched the careers of guitarists Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page, as each of them, in that order, started out in the group. It was Beck that initially brought fuzz tone, sustain, reverb, feedback, distortion and hammer-on soloing that fit well and helped propel the increasingly raw style of British beat music which spawned heavier groups such as Birmingham’s Black Sabbath.

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CoCo Carmel, Bobby Whitlock & Ricky Byrd in background - photo by Michael Sherer

CoCo Carmel, Bobby Whitlock & Ricky Byrd in background - photo by Michael Sherer

Bobby Whitlock & CoCo Carmel, BB King’s, NYC, 6.13.17

Show Review By Michael Sherer
Posted: Jun 2017
(1362) Page Views

To paint an overall picture of Bobby Whitlock, it’s clear that he’s a versatile and talented pianist, guitarist, singer and songwriter that’s written or co written some very well known and classic songs, especially in the blues-rock vein. His best known are from Derek & The Dominoes’ only record, 1970’s Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs. Whitlock wrote or co-wrote seven of the album’s fourteen tracks, including “Bell Bottom Blues,” “Tell the Truth”, “Anyday” and “Why Does Love Got to Be So Sad?”

Whitlock also played on George Harrison’s classic “All Things Must Pass,” (1971) and two records with Delaney & Bonnie in ‘69. It was through touring with them that Whitlock met Eric Clapton, who was also in their touring band. Clapton is, of course, the “Derek” of Derek & The Dominoes.

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Jimmy Webb & Graham Nash - photo by Michael Sherer

Jimmy Webb & Graham Nash - photo by Michael Sherer

The Cake And The Rain - A Tribute Concert To Jimmy Webb, Carnegie Hall, NYC, 5.3.17

Show Review By Michael Sherer
Posted: May 2017
(2018) Page Views

Legendary composer and lyricist Jimmy Webb had a well deserved tribute concert dubbed “The Cake And The Rain” at the highly prestigious and pristine sounding Carnegie Hall this past Wednesday evening. Proceeds go to the Alzheimer’s Association and I’ll Be Foundation, in behalf of Webb’s long time close friend and fellow songwriter Glen Campbell, who has unfortunately been stricken with the disease. Webb’s wife Laura Savini was the main organizer of this special event.

An eclectic gathering of artists were in tow to honor Webb’s long, successful musical journey. The concert coincides with the recent release of Webb’s autobiography, also entitled “The Cake And The Rain.” Webb, 70, played piano along with many of the performers. They included, in random order, Judy Collins, Art Garfunkel, Johnny Rivers, Graham Nash, Marilyn McCoo & Billy Davis, B.J. Thomas, Dwight Yoakam, Hanson, Toby Keith, Amy Grant, Michael Feinstein and Catherine Zita-Jones. They each sang two or three songs. Actor Michael Douglas (husband of Catherine Zita-Jones)  was the MC. Douglas and Webb were once roommates, hence their connection and long standing friendship.

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Jackie Mason - photo by Michael Sherer

Jackie Mason - photo by Michael Sherer

Jackie Mason - BB King’s, NYC, 5.6.17

Show Review By Michael Sherer
Posted: May 2017
(2926) Page Views

Jackie Mason has been on the comedy scene for sixty years, and is considered a living legend by many. He’s also had his share of controversy for his choice of material with such topics as politics, prostitution and race relations, as well as a major run in with Ed Sullivan when on his show in 1964. Sullivan had erroneously thought that Mason had given him the middle finger on air while performing, although Mason had in fact not. That’s a whole other story, though I’ll say that while the fallout was a disaster and derailed Mason’s career for two decades, it does provide a good antidote for Mason to tell during his show, as well as doing his famous impersonation of the wooden like Sullivan.

At 85, Mason (born Yacov Moshe Maza) has slowed down but he still has the goods and natural timing that a real comedian must have. And to his credit Mason has almost always written all of his own material. That also includes American politics and culture in general, observational commentary, international relations, antisemitism and Jewish culture. Mason is as Jewish centric as they come, (he refers to himself as “The Ultimate Jew”) and with his strong Yiddish based accent and highly distinct, staccato manner of speaking, he sounds like no one else. A critic for Time once wrote that he spoke to audiences “with the Yiddish locutions of an immigrant who just completed a course in English. By mail.”

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