Show Reviews

by Max Ink Staff Writers


Cage the Elephant - Orpheum Theater Madison WI June 2016 - photo by Alexa Williams

Cage the Elephant - Orpheum Theater Madison WI June 2016 - photo by Alexa Williams

Cage The Elephant with Twin Peaks and Portugal. The Man - Orpheum Theater Madison WI June 11, 2016
Cage the Elephant conquers Madison's Orpheum Theater
Show Review By John Noyd
Posted: Jun 2016
(1662) Page Views

Returning nearly one year to the day, Cage the Elephant once again stormed Madison’s Orpheum Theater, packing a powerful new album along with a lightning-sharp line-up comprised of Chicago’s Twin Peaks and Portland’s Portugal. the Man. Originally slated for the Alliant Center, the downgrade in venue size only made the sold-out evening more the compact powder-keg of explosive commotion; capping one of first really hot days of the summer with one of this year’s hottest nights for monumental rock.

Big, loud bands practiced in the art of fusing electric blues, crunchy funk and jammy psychedelia into pro-active party-jams, the killer triple bill stoked technically proficient expedition of soulful out-of-control rock ‘n roll. Portugal, the smallest and least animated of the three, upped the ante with an energetic emcee assigned to pumping up the already-rabid crowd who also provided a valuable service grabbing exclusive on-stage video for a few lucky stage-huggers. The five-piece Twin Peaks shaked and quaked backed by two guitarists, three lead vocalists plus keyboards, bass and drums that kept them on a runaway train for their entire thirty minutes set. While headliners Cage, expanded their super-tight quartet with two additional players to upgrade their heavy sound into rafter-wrecking proportions.

A tight-knit nucleus of admirers converged early to catch Twin Peaks’ well-tended engine mow over a solid concoction of sweat-soaked and focused indie-rock romps. By the end of the Windy City band’s blustery set, the Orpheum’s main floor was a dense hive backed up to the sound board ready for Portugal’s churning journey. The rainbow-rockers’ galactic crashes and cosmic gospel united the audience in a communal trance that sky-rocketed in the last third of their hour-long set after a firing shot of the Stones’, “Gimme Shelter,” erupted into face-melting renditions of, “All The Light,” and, “The Home;” throwing in a roaring, “She’s So Heavy,” portion of The Beatles’, “I Want You,” before closing with a thundering, “Purple, Yellow Red and Blue.” A well-deserved breather gave people time to recover from Portugal’s feverish finish and to prepare for the evening’s main event. Fittingly, the core members of Cage slowly strolled out one at a time to ever increasing applause until lead singer Matt Schultz made his entrance, announcing, “Last time was memorable, let’s one up that shit.” Breaking into a bombastic, “Cry Baby,” from their recent, “Tell Me I’m Pretty,” Matt launched himself into the crowd,-surfing over a sea of appreciative supporters. Aided by fog-machines, strobe-lights and multi-colored lasers, the band quickly made good on their ballsy promise.

Informing the theater they were heading home for a short break after their Madison show, Cage the Elephant’s set list took on an sympathetic layer of homesickness. The group’s desolate themes telegraphed in jack-hammered ambitions appeared somewhat paradoxical; their potent odes to isolated heartbreak packaged in pro-active catalysts that bonded fans in pathological solidarity. As the crowd sang along to, “Back Against the Wall,” with full-throttled honesty, “..you got me where you want me again, and I can’t turn away,” the lyric’s unrequited insights met a tidal wave of compassion. The song continues, “I’m hangin’ by a thread and I’m feelin’ like a fool.” Closing the night with a solid three song encore and another crowd-surfing turn, the Schultz brothers would be fools to think anyone would leave them hanging on anything but hopes for another song.

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Zakir Hussain, Charles Lloyd & Eric Harland - photo by Michael Sherer

Zakir Hussain, Charles Lloyd & Eric Harland - photo by Michael Sherer

Charles Lloyd, Zakir Hussain & Eric Harland, The Town Hall, NYC, 6.11.16

Show Review By Michael Sherer
Posted: Jun 2016
(1402) Page Views

Atmosphere and cerebral/spiritual fortification are the first things I think of when I reflect on the excellent concert by the trio of saxophonist Charles Lloyd, tabla player Zakir Hussain and drummer Eric Harland. In the tradition of John Coltrane’s “Sheets Of Sound,” this group knew when to pour it thick and when to hold back and be very quiet and mysterious. While veteran Lloyd and the much younger Harland are more from a jazz - avant garde school, Hussain, also a veteran musician but not as far back as Lloyd, brings his spiritual, Indian background and excellence. All three men are so high caliber, and Lloyd plays piano and flute as well. He also makes some sounds on the drum set, and he and Harland switched places a couple times as Harland made some sounds on the piano.

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Gordon Parks - photo by Self portrait by Gordon Parks

Gordon Parks - photo by Self portrait by Gordon Parks

Gordon Parks Foundation Annual Award Dinner & Auction - Cipriani, NYC, May 24th, 2016

Show Review By Michael Sherer
Posted: May 2016
(459) Page Views

On May 24th The Gordon Parks Foundation held their annual awards dinner and auction to honor the late Gordon Parks. The elegant venue was at Cipriani, just east of Times Square in New York City. The mission of the foundation is, in their words “to honor individuals who have contributed their lives to the arts and permanently preserves the works of Gordon Parks and other artists, making it available to the public through exhibitions, books, and electronic media, and supports artistic and educational activities that advance what Gordon described as “the common search for a better life and a better world.”

Honorees include Founders of Public School and Creative Directors of DKNY Maxwell Osborne and Dao-Yi Chow, artist and entertainer Janelle Monae, photographer LaToya Ruby Frazier and Equal Justice Initiative founder Bryan Stevenson. Leonard Lauder and Judy Glickman Lauder were presented with the Gordon Parks Patron of the Arts Awards. The evening’s Co-Chairs included Alicia Keys, Kaseem ‘Swizz Beatz” Dean, Karl Lagerfeld, Usher IV, Grace Raymond and Alexander Soros. Guests included Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Robert DeNiro, Ronald Perelman, Sheila Nevins, Russell Simmons and Kathleen Cleaver, with musical performances by Jon Batiste and Stay Human.

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Keith Richards, 1971 - photo by Norman Seeff

Keith Richards, 1971 - photo by Norman Seeff

Norman Seeff at The Photography Show by AIPAD, April 14-17, 2016, Park Avenue Armory, NYC

Show Review By Michael Sherer
Posted: Apr 2016
(1626) Page Views

For the past 36 years The Association of International Photography Art Dealers, AIPAD, has been presenting its annual exhibition in the historic Park Avenue Armory in New York City. Featuring more than 85 prominent photography galleries from throughout the country, this is a major show. A variety of genres are on display, including contemporary, modern, nineteenth-century and photo-based media. I always have a great time and stroll up and down the labyrinth like set up in this very charming and classic venue.

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Freddy Cole - photo by Michael Sherer

Freddy Cole - photo by Michael Sherer

Freddy Cole & band - Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola, NYC, 2.11.16

Show Review By Michael Sherer
Posted: Feb 2016
(2510) Page Views

It was a real treat to hear this living legend, especially in the spacious, classy and high rise venue Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola, a part of Jazz at Lincoln Center. It’s located adjacent to Columbus Circle on Broadway at 60th Street, Manhattan. Mr. Cole, 84, still plays piano and sings at a high level and has a fine band. They are Harry Allen on tenor saxophone, Herman Burney on bass, Henry Conerway on drums and Chris Kaiser on guitar. Each instrument sounded clear and the blend of them all was very tasteful. The volume was just right.

The theme was love songs for Valentine’s Day, and there were many gems. My favorites were “Blame It On My Youth,” “Where Can I Go Without You,” “Since I Fell In Love With You,” “Never Trust A Woman’s Kiss,” “Say That You’ll Be Mine,” “It Was All My Fault” and “I’ll Be Seeing You.”

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Jerry Lee Lewis - photo by Michael Sherer

Jerry Lee Lewis - photo by Michael Sherer

Jerry Lee Lewis, BB King’s, NYC, 12.16.15

Show Review By Michael Sherer
Posted: Dec 2015
(2799) Page Views

West 42nd Street in NYC’s Times Square has an old nick name: “The Deuce.” BB King’s club on this street was treated to a romp from one of the pioneers and most influential of the first wave of rock and rollers from the 1950’s who also has a nick name, and a formidable one: “The Killer,” Jerry Lee Lewis, even at 80, rocked the house.

Lewis’ band came on with out him and played for a good twenty minutes. Led by guitarist Kenny Lovelace, all the band were from Nashville, with Lovelace saying he’s from Memphis after introducing the others. They were crack, veteran players who set the stage with an extended introduction for the ringmaster at his piano. Looking very good for his age and dressed in a dark suit upon strolling out, Lewis can still play and sing convincingly. The mostly full club ate it up with much enthusiasm, cheering several times. Prior to Lewis coming on a short documentary about him was played on the screens to the sides of the stage.

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Derek St. Holmes & Brad Whitford - photo by Michael Sherer

Derek St. Holmes & Brad Whitford - photo by Michael Sherer

Whitford/St. Holmes - BB King’s, NYC, 11.18.15

Show Review By Michael Sherer
Posted: Dec 2015
(2658) Page Views

The reunion of Brad Whitford and Derek St. Holmes, of Aerosmith and Ted Nugent Band fame respectively, has been a long time coming. They formed in the early ‘80’s after leaving their bands, those being Aerosmith and Ted Nugent. They released one record in ‘81, titled simply Whitford/St. Holmes, and soon fizzled out.

They’ve now written and recorded nine songs that comprise a new album entitled Reunion, being released early ‘16, unless you bought it at one of their shows during their brief club tour of ten dates. Their reunion is surely not about sales or making much money, though. It’s about the enjoyment of playing with an old friend in a relaxed, simple setting, that being clubs to intimate audiences as they did in their youth before any fame.

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Joe Jackson - photo by Michael Sherer

Joe Jackson - photo by Michael Sherer

Joe Jackson - The Town Hall, NYC, 10.21.15

Show Review By Michael Sherer
Posted: Nov 2015
(1966) Page Views

I find that versatility and having the ability to combine a cross range of musical genres is one of the most important qualities to posses. Joe Jackson, pianist, keyboardist, saxophonist, harmonica player, composer, lyricist and singer, certainly has it. And so does his band, as he’s not going to have any slouches with him. They combine jazz, swing, classical, rock, blues, salsa, techno, dance and more.

Jackson, 61, (born David Ian Jackson) has been recording since 1979, after being signed by A & M Records. He’s been prolific, having released nineteen more since his debut. Jackson’s latest was released early last month by Caroline/Universal. Titled Fast Forward, Jackson still sounds inspired and has always stayed true to his muse and broadening musical forays.

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Shirley Manson of Garbage - photo by Sal Serio

Shirley Manson of Garbage - photo by Sal Serio

Garbage with Torres at the Orpheum Theater Madison, WI
Garbage celebrates Twenty Years Queer 10/18/15
Show Review By John Noyd
Posted: Oct 2015
(2357) Page Views

Declaring their intentions right from the start, Garbage kicked off their sold-out Madison show with, “Subhuman,” and the line, “burn down your all your idols.” Dropping the curtain for, ” Supervixen,” the band exposed a well-oiled machine engulfed in blinding lights and purple haze with pink princess, Shirley Manson holding court. Celebrating the twentieth anniversary of their self-titled debut, the Twenty Years Queer tour spotlights the heady years of 1995-96 with a robust roster of international hits, b-sides and covers. Even the pre-show music of Cornershop and Stereo MCs circled around those transformational years when Garbage exploded on the scene with their techno-funky synthesis of rock and electronics; flirting with convention and trashing preconceived notions of gender and power.

As the city where much of this all started, Madison greeted the band with unchecked adoration, gobbling up every reference to Madtown Ms. Manson threw out, turning the Orpheum into a mosh-pit of mutual appreciation among old friends. “This is our home away from home,” Shirley announced at the beginning of their exhaustive two hour performance and soon followed it up with stories of being hammered at Cafe Montmartre, flying into Madison for the first time and her experiences with downtown hotels from cockroaches to yellow satin waterbeds.

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Phil Campbell & Lemmy - photo by Michael Sherer

Phil Campbell & Lemmy - photo by Michael Sherer

Motörhead - Nikon At Jones Beach Theater, Wantagh, NY, 9.16.15

Show Review By Michael Sherer
Posted: Sep 2015
(2145) Page Views

It’s been forty years since a thirty year old Ian “Lemmy” Kilmister started Motörhead in London, England. The band name is a slang term for a user of amphetamine. Many line up changes and fifteen million album sales later, the only constant throughout the four decades is Lemmy being at the helm, and a band that plays nasty, greasy, fast and loud rock and and roll throughout the world. Unfortunately, Lemmy has been drinking Jack Daniels and Coke and smoking a whole lot of cigarettes for over fifty years, and his health has been declining. Unfortunately, it may spell the end of touring soon.

With this very much in mind, I was determined to make the trek from Manhattan to Jones Beach, Long Island to see them for the first time. I was also keen on catching the opening act, Anthrax. Motörhead’s speed and aggression influenced legions of bands that followed them, Anthrax being one in the early 1980’s. They were in top form here, and are surely proud to be on the bill with Motörhead.

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Ace Frehley at Diamond Jo Casino - photo by Sal Serio

Ace Frehley at Diamond Jo Casino - photo by Sal Serio

Ace Frehley at Diamond Jo Casino in Dubuque, IA
September 11, 2015
Show Review By Sal Serio
Posted: Sep 2015
(3449) Page Views

September 11th… a date that will live in infamy. Not only because of the tragedy in New York City and Pennsylvania in 2001, but because of the brutal rock ‘n roll concert that completely leveled Diamond Jo Casino in Dubuque, Iowa, in 2015! This show was apocalyptic! Another conspicuous anniversary was that this Dubuque concert was almost 40 years to the day since the definitive live album of the 1970s, ‘KISS Alive!’, was released.

The large concert room at Diamond Jo’s (named the Mississippi Moon Bar) has always been a favorite concert venue of mine because of it’s comfort level, excellent sight lines, and the sound is typically impeccable. The Ace Frehley concert on 9-11 was no exception… but, now if they could only do something about the train tracks on 5th Street that lead in to the casino. I literally waited almost a half hour for the train to move out of the intersection so I could get to the place!

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Carlos Santana - photo by Michael Sherer

Carlos Santana - photo by Michael Sherer

Santana - Forest Hills Stadium, Queens, NY, 8.14.15

Show Review By Michael Sherer
Posted: Sep 2015
(1924) Page Views

Carlos Santana has a new and first time all Spanish language CD out called Corazón, and he’s on tour for it. He’s been performing since the late 1960’s, getting a huge and very early break with 1969’s Woodstock Festival in upstate New York with approximately 500,000 people in attendance. Venues and its audiences are a big part of the concert experience. For this concert, a tennis stadium in Queens, NYC was the locale. Opened in 1923, the newly renovated and reopened Forest Hills Stadium has about 13,500 seats, with some 1,200 of them having been added in the lower section. It’s been about twenty years since the was last used for a concert, and it was ‘77 that it ceased to be used for professional tennis and the U.S. Open championship.

The place looked to be at full capacity, with a wide cross section of fans. This is a very good thing, as it’s indicative of timeless and quality music that appeals to all ages, ethnicities and genders. Santana himself is of Mexican descent, and grew up in the Bay Area of Northern California. San Francisco was, of course, an absolute hotbed of counter cultural activity during Santana’s formative years, so he was in the right place at the right time.

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