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LIVE SHOW REVIEWS


Eddie Van Halen & David Lee Roth

Van Halen - Nikon at Jones Beach Theater, 8.13.15

by Michael Sherer

Since 2007, Van Halen has consisted of Eddie, Alex and Wolfgang Van Halen (son of Eddie and former wife Valerie Bertinelli) and original singer David Lee Roth. One wouldn’t be able to guess that Dave and the rest of Van Halen, especially he and Eddie, had a falling out in 1985 that led to twenty three year split when seeing them hit the stage at Jones Beach in Long Island, New York for their first of two shows there. The first thing we saw was Alex sit down at his sprawling drums. Then came Dave and Eddie sauntering out, spinning around arm-in-arm, and shaking hands while grinning at each other. Finally, Dave kissed Eddie’s hand.

Dave has said that they had the same same old conflicts immediately upon his return to the band, but my solid guess is that the joy and excitement of playing together in the group that they were in since the mid ‘70’s, and in front of huge adoring crowds, makes that go away for the duration of the performances. Surveying the packed audience of about 15,000, I saw a lot of guys in their 40’s and ‘50’s cheering them on. I fit right in as a 45 year old.


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Ginger Baker

Ginger Baker’s Jazz Confusion - BB King’s, NYC, 6.17.15

by Michael Sherer

As is often the case with jazz based groups, this band said nothing as they took the small stage of BB King’s and began delivering their first song, “Footprints”, by saxophonist Wayne Shorter. (This was their sole cover song.) The only man to eventually speak throughout the set was Baker, and his first words were about how he was in hospital and at death’s door with pneumonia just a couple weeks prior, but that God didn’t want him yet. Baker added that he thanks the Almighty for that.

Baker, 75, a habitual cigarette smoker for at least fifty five years and former heroin user for many years is actually quite lucky to be alive. He’s frail, but yet defies his outward weakened state when behind a drum set. Not with power, speed or flash, but with his lifelong gift of great timing, finesse, dynamics, accents and especially the difficult odd time signatures that pointedly separates him from the majority of rock drummers. Baker, after all, started as a jazz drummer in the ‘50’s, and has never left that mindset. If anyone in the audience was expecting even one Cream song, or anything resembling rock, they were in the wrong place. Baker, notoriously cantankerous and volatile, made it clear that has has no tolerance for any prodding from the crowd for such music. He summed this up by getting right to the point when quipping: “Hecklers Will Be Shot.”


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Belle & Sebastian stinking up the Pabst Theater

Courtney Barnett

Enduring the petty jealousy of Belle & Sebastian - Milwaukee, 6.19.15
by Sal Serio

I’m not sure who else recalls the sad condition of 1970s and 80s concerts when the headlining band would deliberately sabotage the opening group in various ways to ensure they would not be upstaged, but it seems those days have not entirely gone away. Truth be told, many elements of this concert pairing befuddled me. Diminutive yet charismatic Australian rocker Courtney Barnett has been surfing a wave of popularity, topping the CMJ charts, and appearing on major late night television programs. Yet, she was opening for boring old fart Scottish band Belle And Sebastian?


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Todd Rundgren

Todd Rundgren - The Highline Ballroom, NYC, 5.6.15

by Bruce Alexander

As he has been for well over forty years, Todd Rundgren is again out on tour promoting his new recording “Global.” Rundgren usually changes up his shows and it’s usually a mixed bag. This was certainly the case here.

Rundgren was actually the only musician on stage. There was a DJ and two dancing girls dressed in futuristic space age disco jumpsuits. Rundgren came out dancing as well, and did some aerobics for good measure. This was all with psychedelic, trippy background strobe lighting. It was a very weird show


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The Blues Magoos

The Blues Magoos - The Bowery Electric, NYC, 5.23.15

by Bruce Alexander

The Blues Magoos is a band from the psychedelic past, and they’ve reemerged to put on great live shows as they always have. I just saw them in a small club in the East Village just like the old days. Having the two original main guys - guitarist/vocalist Peppy Castro and keyboardist Ralph Scala/lead vocalist made for a great night of mind blowing music.

They started heir set with “Rush Hour,” a song from their classic record Electric Comic Book. They followed with more songs from that album. One was a B-Side called “Pipe Dream,” which was quite amazing.The band did a killer version of “Gloria,”  which had the whole crowd stomping. Peppy then introduced a new song, saying that he and Ralph it wrote while having food in Chinatown. It’s called “Crapo De Stinko,” and was quite amusing. They then performed another great tune from their ‘Psychedelic Lollipop” album called “Gotta Get Away,” which lead right into a rip roaring take on The Seeds’ “Pushing Too Hard.”


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The Sonics - Irving Plaza, NYC - 4.7.15

by Bruce Alexander

The Sonics, a band formed in ‘60 in Tacoma Washington by then teen-aged guitarist Larry Parypa are still performing, which is quite amazing. The audience was a mix of young hipsters and older people that are the band’s contemporaries.

This group were the original frat party band along with The Kingsman and The Wailers. With the Garage Rock Revival going strong they reformed in ‘07, (after a few other brief reformations), to play two sold out shows at Warsaw, a small club in Brooklyn, NYC.


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