Show Reviews

by Max Ink Staff Writers


 - photo by Michael Sherer

- photo by Michael Sherer

Don McLean - BB King’s, NYC, 2.19.15

Show Review By Michael Sherer
Posted: Feb 2015
(1504) Page Views

Don McLean has the rare distinction of having a massive number one hit on his hands as early as his second record, ‘71’s break though ‘American Pie,’ where the title song was a eight plus minute smash. Another song from the record, ‘Vincent,’ about Vincent Van Gogh, was also big, reaching number twelve on the U.S. charts, but number one in the U.K. American Pie title song holds the record for the longest number one hit, and wasn’t always played in full on the radio, especially on AM. FM was still in hey day at the time, and often did play long songs. It had the power to break a song, as it did here. It would be the first and last time that McLean had this level of commercial success. He’s always been critically lauded though, including by fellow esteemed musicians and singers, such as Roy Orbison and Brian Wilson.

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Justin Hayward - photo by Michael Sherer

Justin Hayward - photo by Michael Sherer

Justin Hayward - The Concert Hall, NYC, 11.1.14

Show Review By Michael Sherer
Posted: Nov 2014
(3091) Page Views

With The Moody Blues being one of the most respected, intelligent, and experimental bands to come out of ‘60’s England, and with more than 70 million records sold, their guitarist, singer, and songwriter Justin Hayward can quite comfortably afford to do what he fancies. For now, it’s touring in support of his recent solo album, “Spirits Of the Western Sky”. Hayward is employing a simple, understated approach here, with only another guitarist, the talented Mike Dawes and keyboardist/background vocalist Julie Ragins accompanying him. Hayward’s fine voice is entirely intact, and he’s looking fit and healthy. (And smartly dressed.)

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Alice Cooper & Anthony DeCurtis - photo by Joyce Culver

Alice Cooper & Anthony DeCurtis - photo by Joyce Culver

Alice Cooper With Anthony DeCurtis, 92Y, NYC, 10.27.14

Show Review By Michael Sherer
Posted: Oct 2014
(2273) Page Views

Following a screening of a recent documentary film about Cooper, called ‘Super Duper Alice Cooper’, Anthony DeCurtis and Cooper sat down to talk for a packed house. One of the first questions DeCurtis asked was about the character of Cooper, and where it came from. Cooper, who’s actually named Vince Furnier, explained that most of the performers that he’s been into become someone else on stage. He went on to say that he wanted to be this insane persona that was far removed from the average, simple, American guy that he really was. He secretly wanted to be more like Alice, but never had the nerve.

Initially, The Beatles, but more so the Stones a bit later, planted the seed of what he wanted to do in a rock and roll band. It became clear that a villain type persona was desired, as Furnier saw that his parents hated the more debauched Stones, and that he wanted strong reactions like this. Cooper noted that with his generation being the first to be brought up with television, the medium had an enormous impact. So did black and white horror movies at his local theater in his native Detroit. The most pivotal was called ‘Hell’s A Poppin’, which Furnier saw at ten years old. He said he wanted the insanity of all that, with the schlock element as well, but also the dangerous and scary sides, all in a rock and roll package. Key to this is that it be vaudevillian. He also wanted desperately to be Zorro throughout, which is where his sword came from later. Interestingly, Cooper said it belonged to the one and only Errol Flynn.

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George Benson - photo by Michael Sherer

George Benson - photo by Michael Sherer

George Benson - BB King’s, NYC, 10.23.14

Show Review By Michael Sherer
Posted: Oct 2014
(1201) Page Views

With George Benson releasing his first record exactly fifty years ago, he has enough material to play for at least week straight. In terms of selecting hits though, they began ‘76, with Benson’s breakthrough smash record, ‘Breezin’, which has sold over 10 million copies. This, by th way, makes it the best selling jazz type music of all time, although it’s quite pop infused. Benson opened with its title song, and delved into a trove of more hits from there. They included: ‘Give Me The Night’, ‘Love X Love’, ‘Turn Your Love Around’, ‘This Masquerade’,  ‘On Broadway’, ‘Moody’s Mood For Love’, ‘Love Ballad’, ‘Lady Love Me (One More Time)’, ‘Nature Boy’, ‘Nothing’s Gonna Change My Love For You’ and ‘The Ghetto’. Benson, 71, is a guitar master and can still play at a very high level. His main guitar, a pearl white signature GB 10 by Ibanez, was the only guitar he played. It looked striking against his blue suit.

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Aretha Franklin & Clive Davis - photo by Michael Sherer

Aretha Franklin & Clive Davis - photo by Michael Sherer

Aretha Franklin & Clive Davis with Anthony DeCurtis, 92Y, NYC, 10.1.14

Show Review By Michael Sherer
Posted: Oct 2014
(1607) Page Views

Before I address the event, I’d like to provide some key context. Aretha Franklin, 72, has been recording for fifty eight years, and is revered to a degree that few singers are. In my view, her best period was the late ‘60’s while recording for Atlantic Records, her second label after Columbia. One of the main reasons for that was due to the great guidance of its vice president, the late Jerry Wexler. Wex, as he was commonly known, also produced Aretha’s best records for the company, and right from the start. The key to this was bringing Franklin back to her church roots with Southern musicians, and making it a soulful, gritty affair. This was in stark contrast to what the late John Hammond did at Columbia, which was to mold Franklin as a “middle of the road” singer in a Rosemary Clooney type fashion. It was only when Franklin was set in Wexler’s cast that she could become her true self and be dubbed “The Queen Of Soul.”

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Lenny Kravitz with Anthony DeCurtis - 92Y, NYC

Show Review By Michael Sherer
Posted: Sep 2014
(2293) Page Views

Lenny Kravitz’s has been a busy man lately. His 10th record, called “Strut,” just came out. So did a hard cover, career spanning photo book, simply called “Lenny Kravitz”. Then there’s a film coming out next year that features Kravitz, called “Who Shot The Sheriff.”

Kravitz, 50, was welcomed with a standing ovation when host Anthony DeCurtis announced him to the stage. He immediately appeared relaxed, informal, somewhat soft spoken and thoughtful. The first topic of discussion was the new record. In answering DeCurtis’ question regarding where inspiration came from for the new record, Kravitz replied that it wasn’t anything specific. He said that he had just wrapped up his Black and White America world tour, had filmed for two films prior to that, and wound up on the Atlanta based set of the latest Hunger Games series installment, called “Catching Fire.” His role is that of as a fashion whiz named Cinna. This is an apt one, as Kravitz has always been quite fashion conscious and is very into clothing and having his own style. This event was no exception, as Kravitz was dressed to impress in mostly black.

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Periphery rocking the Majestic - photo by Sal Serio

Periphery rocking the Majestic - photo by Sal Serio

Periphery’s “Escape From The Studio Tour”
Live at the Majestic Theatre; September 21, 2014
Show Review By Sal Serio
Posted: Sep 2014
(1694) Page Views

Often, I have unease and doubts when a metal show is brought to Madison, as far as whether there truly is an audience that will turn out to show their support. Especially if it’s a progressive and mega-heavy band, as opposed to the more generic pop-metal heard on the radio. The Periphery concert at the Majestic provided some welcome relief to this trend, in both the music’s challenging aesthetic, and the solid turnout there to appreciate it.

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 - photo by Bruce Alexander

- photo by Bruce Alexander

Matthew Sweet - City Winery, NYC, 7.18.14

Show Review By Bruce Alexander
Posted: Jul 2014
(1534) Page Views

Matthew Sweet has been playing these annual gigs at The City Winery for some time, now. For this round, he performed a selection of favorites from his past albums. He started his set with “Time Capsule”, a tune from his Altered Beast album. “Birddog,” a recent tune from his “Sunshine Lies” release followed.

Not only is Sweet an excellent songwriter and singer, he also knows how to wail on that guitar of his. Sweet’s band is a tight group of players that consists of Ric Menck banging out wild percussion on drums, Dennis Taylor providing rock solid guitar riffs and Paul Chastain playing amazing bass lines.

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Deborah Harry & Chris Stein - photo by Michael Sherer

Deborah Harry & Chris Stein - photo by Michael Sherer

Deborah Harry & Chris Stein, with Anthony DeCurtis, 92 Y, NYC, 5.28.14

Show Review By Michael Sherer
Posted: Jul 2014
(2576) Page Views

As the band Blondie is in its 40th anniversary, its co-founders Deborah Harry and Chris Stein sat down with journalist Anthony DeCurtis for a conversation at the fabled 92 Y. Harry came out with black tape over her mouth, which got some laughs. Stein asked her if it meant that she wouldn’t be talking, and Harry in turn removed the tape and said that she would speak.

Harry, 68, was rather reserved throughout, with Stein being the more talkative of the two. Stein, 64, has been photographing since ‘68, and is a graduate of the School of Visual Arts in lower Manhattan as a photography major. Stein has spent much time putting together a forthcoming photography book that has lots of photos of Harry and the band from their earliest days. There was good deal of discussion on the book, which I enjoyed. Being a photographer myself, this was the most interesting part of discussion for me. It became more so when many images from the book were shown on the screen. Some were really quite good.

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PULSE Art Fair - Metropolitan Pavilion, NYC, May 8 -11, 2014
PULSE Art Fair - Metropolitan Pavilion, NYC, May 8 -11, 2014
Show Review By Michael Sherer
Posted: May 2014
(672) Page Views

Since its inception in ‘05, the Pulse Art Fair has been a popular draw both here in NYC and in Miami. It’s prime mission is to allow for the discovery and acquisition of cutting-edge contemporary art, often by young artists. It’s held at the Metropolitan Pavilion, which is in the Photo district area on West 18th Street in Manhattan. Tthere were two highlights for me, and they’re both from young Cuban artists.

One was an interactive installation called Nearness by Arlés del Rio. It was presented by Times Square Arts and the Cuban Artists Fund and was financed by The Rockefeller Brothers Fund. It was initially featured in the plazas of Times Square from July 8–August 18, 2014. del Rio utilizes space and physical barriers to challenge participants to consider penetrating forbidden areas to satisfy their curiosities and desires toward it. The Times Square exhibit consisted of 17 life-sized orange sculptures, assembled from galvanized steel, iron and concrete. They’re in the form of human cutouts of various sizes, and have a silhouette like quality. Participants are able to easily to pass through the panels, which serve as a metaphor for the social, political, cultural and personal barriers that separate strata of people. The indoor art fair version consisted of a much smaller scale presentation made of black, chain link fence material with the cutouts within. The concept and metaphor was the same, though.

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Lisa Robinson with Mick Jagger, '70's

Lisa Robinson with Mick Jagger, '70's

Lisa Robinson in conversation with Fran Lebowitz, 92Y, NYC, 5.8.14

Show Review By Michael Sherer
Posted: May 2014
(1983) Page Views

Lisa Robinson and her close friend of 41 years, Fran Lebowitz, had quite an engaging and humorous chin wag, as the British say. Robinson’s new autobiography, “There Goes Gravity,” was the catalyst for their sit down at the fabled 92Y on the Upper East Side of NYC.

Robinson has been a music journalist since 1969. She’s written for several magazines, the long defunct and Michigan based Creem being the most interesting in my view, and has been with Vanity Fair since ’99. The ‘70’s and ‘80’s saw very few women holding down this role, as the music world has been, and still is for the most part, run by men. Interviewing musicians, singers and entertainers has been Robinson’s specialty, and she’s done countless numbers of them.

Fran Lebowitz, a writer also, began being read by the public when she was hired by Andy Warhol to contribute a column to his Interview paper in the early ‘70’s. She became popular very quickly, due to her acerbic, dry wit and keen observations. A stint at Mademoiselle magazine followed.

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Kyng rocking the Majestic - photo by Sal Serio

Kyng rocking the Majestic - photo by Sal Serio

Kyng at the Majestic Theatre
April 19, 2014 in Madison, WI
Show Review By Sal Serio
Posted: Apr 2014
(2059) Page Views

The night before Easter Sunday a gathering of the black concert t-shirt contingency gathered at the Majestic Theatre in Madison for a different type of resurrection. Namely, a resurrection of the rock ‘n roll ritual, punctuated by fists and horned-hand-signals held high. And beer. Lots and lots of beer.

This show was headlined by Italian rockers Lacuna Coil, who are on the road promoting their new album ‘Broken Crown Halo’. While Lacuna Coil are an exciting live band, whom I’ve seen on stage many, many, times, the real draw on this particular evening, for me personally, was the So. Cal. hard rock trio Kyng. This gives me pause for a moment to reflect on the too-cool-for-school routine of many to show up late, just for the headliner, and totally blow off the opening bands. I can not express enough how much I feel this is in grievous error. So many times I’ve caught some impressive up-and-coming group, that I previously knew nothing about, just because I made the effort to get there early and show the openers some respect.

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