Show Reviews

by Max Ink Staff Writers


Pink Martini - Home for the Holidays - A Holiday Spectacular

Pink Martini - Home for the Holidays - A Holiday Spectacular

Pink Martini - Home for the Holidays
A Holiday Spectacular
Show Review By John Noyd
Posted: Dec 2020
(515) Page Views

A festive night of globe-trotting holiday cabaret, Portland Oregon’s Pink Martini delivered sophisticated cheer and musical good will in their yule-log livestream, “Home For The Holidays.” A talented family of like-minded musicians, Pink Martini’s show exemplified warm welcomes and cozy charm, uniting cultures and lifting spirits with tropical vibes infecting the winter songs, jazzing up old standards and creating new traditions with old friends. Segments featuring blues singer Storm Large, the real-life Sound of Music offspring Sofia von Trapp and Cantor Ida Rae Cahana enlarged the party and broke the livestream into bite-sized delights that made the hour plus show fly by, while the back-story banter between long-time members China Forbes and Thomas Lauderdale relaxing on a couch between sets added a casual atmosphere to make this feel more like a classy gathering than a staged performance. Expanding from their 2010 album, ‘Joy to the World,” the “little orchestra.” as they are affectionately known, gathered Lebanese snow songs, Spanish Hanukah songs and Chinese New Year songs for tender ecumenical merriment. Classic carols and show tunes from holiday movies rounded off the night with savvy nostalgia for gentler yesterdays and dreamier tomorrows. Watching the band unmasked performing around a thirty-four-foot Douglas Fir and hearing an unseen audience’s applause helped remove the dark cloud of this season’s quarantine, if only for a short time. Even after the credits ran a special Christmas sing-along acted as an encore in days when such common concert courtesies are sorely missed. The first of two Holiday concerts, New Year revelers are highly encouraged to check out PM’s, “Good Riddance 2020,” streaming December 31st.  Information and tickets can be found at http://ourconcerts.live/shows/good-riddance-2020

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Courtney Barnett: Live from the Royal Exhibition Building

Courtney Barnett: Live from the Royal Exhibition Building

Courtney Barnett: One Night Only
From Where I’m Standing: Live from the Royal Exhibition Building
Show Review By John Noyd
Posted: Dec 2020
(426) Page Views

Thursday, December 17th Courtney Barnett reassembles her band and premieres their one night only livestream; From Where I’m Standing: Live from the Royal Exhibition Building. In a pre-show interview Barnett admits the band’s under-rehearsed, she prefers writing to performing and has been known to write songs that languish unfinished… but she also loves a challenge, was eager try out some new material and get back together with her band. After years of non-stop touring, Barnett’s time off made the prospect of playing live again exciting and gave her the time to finish songs she had accumulated during the solo tour she was on just before everything stopped. A shy person at heart, Barnett felt playing a big hall without an audience worked to her advantage, giving her a better chance to focus and pour her energies into the songs.

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At Home with Lindsey Buckingham - 12/5/20

At Home with Lindsey Buckingham - 12/5/20

At Home with Lindsey Buckingham
a livestream event December 5th 2020
Show Review By John Noyd
Posted: Dec 2020
(328) Page Views

When I think of Lindsey Buckingham, I think about the tight precision of his studio work. So, I was pleasantly surprised when his at home livestream was indeed Lindsey at home; just him and an unnamed guitar tech feeding him a stream of freshly tuned guitars. Set in his home studio, the mood was loose, and the playing was beautifully intuitive. Three-quarters into the show, Lindsey mentioned his 2012 tour he dubbed the One-Man Show, where he brought click tracks and pre-recorded guitars to flesh out typically ensemble pieces. Though Lindsey closed out the night using pre-records in order to wail away in head-spinning frenzies on the last three songs, it was largely Lindsey singing classic cuts and a few rarities accompanied by a single six-string acoustic tweaked with subtle delay and nimble shimmer.

While he had performed a short set back in May 2019, this December show was the first time Lindsey played a full concert since bypass surgery damaged his vocal cords. Not taking the easy route, Lindsey sounded ferocious, choosing songs that often built into grand climaxes. In a Q&A session earlier that evening, Buckingham spoke about the past three years where his separation from Fleetwood Mac, his surgery and the pandemic put his latest solo album on hold and changed his normally busy schedule. Enforced leisure for a restless artist drew Lindsey’s focus to his family. He said he hadn’t really felt like writing much during his time locked down but was anxious to tour and show off the new album, which he framed as straight-ahead pop. Not previewing any new material during the livestream, Lindsey chose instead to focus on his impressive legacy, revisiting Mac classics, “Never Going Back,’ and, “Big Love,” as well as drawing from his solo work with wonderfully raw versions of, “Go Insane,” and “Trouble.” Lindsey even went back to the Buckingham-Nicks album with an incandescent instrumental, “Stephanie.” The set list showcased Buckingham’s nuanced chord progressions, casual hooks and unique fingering technique while highlighting timeless themes of romantic conflict and personal frustration.

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Greg Dulli - solo performance L.A.'s Gold Diggers - photo by Dave Robbins

Greg Dulli - solo performance L.A.'s Gold Diggers - photo by Dave Robbins

Greg Dulli
August 1st, 2020 L.A.'s Gold Diggers
Show Review By John Noyd
Posted: Aug 2020
(790) Page Views

When the pandemic locked everything down Greg Dulli was dealt a double blow. The tour for his new album, “Random Desires,” was cancelled and his second revenue stream operating two classic watering holes in New Orleans and three bars in L.A. was also shut down. A one-two punch that wouldn’t sound out of place in one of Dulli’s hard-luck story-songs where streetwise woe seeks out soulful poems.

Playing well over half the new album, Greg fleshed out the eighteen-song set with an array of gems from his time with the Afghan Whigs and Twilight Singers. Occasionally assisted by Dr Stephen Patt on pedal steel, bass and electric guitar, Dulli’s solo performance at l.A.’s boutique hotel, venue and recording studio Gold Digger’s was intimate, almost voyeuristic. The spacious venue was filled with unplayed musical instruments, scattered studio equipment and a few vacant-eyed mannequins for an effectively solemn space to absorb the music and focus one’s attention on Dulli’s literate visions and matter-of-fact abstractions.

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Crowd-surfing Mime at the of Montreal Show Madison - photo by Russell Kershaw

Crowd-surfing Mime at the of Montreal Show Madison - photo by Russell Kershaw

of Montreal with Lily and Horn Horse
March 10th, 2020 Majestic Theater Madison WI
Show Review By John Noyd
Posted: Mar 2020
(1089) Page Views

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  - photo by Dave Robbins

Joseph on fire Valentine's Day 2020 - photo by Dave Robbins

Joseph with Deep Sea Diver
February 14th, 2020 Majestic Theater Madison, WI
Show Review By John Noyd
Posted: Feb 2020
(765) Page Views

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 - photo by Sal Serio

Doug Aldrich and Dave Amato remembering Ronnie Montrose in Anaheim - photo by Sal Serio

Ronnie Montrose Remembered - 2020
Friday, January 17 at M3 Live in Anaheim during the NAMM Show
Show Review By Sal Serio
Posted: Jan 2020
(1015) Page Views

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 - photo by Dave Robbins

Joan Shelley and band December 7th 2019 The Back Room Milwaukee WI - photo by Dave Robbins

Joan Shelley with Daughter of Swords
Back Room Milwaukee WI December 7th, 2019
Show Review By John Noyd
Posted: Dec 2019
(711) Page Views

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 - photo by Dave Robbins

Reina del Cid at Madison's High Noon Saloon Dec 1st 2019 - photo by Dave Robbins

Reina del Cid
High Noon Saloon Madison, WI 12/1/19
Show Review By John Noyd
Posted: Dec 2019
(16011) Page Views

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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John Lohn of The Moody Blues at Northern Lights Theater at Potawatomi Casino - photo by Tommy Rage

John Lohn of The Moody Blues at Northern Lights Theater at Potawatomi Casino - photo by Tommy Rage

John Lodge of The Moody Blues
Live at the Northern Lights Theater in Milwaukee
Show Review By Tommy Rage
Posted: Nov 2019
(4638) Page Views

John Lodge of The Moody Blues dazzles Milwaukee at the Northern Lights Theater Potawatomi Casino with a brilliant night of music from The Moody Blues, and his stellar career.

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Armchair Boogie and their loyal crowd at the Sylvee - photo by Tony Mueller Phine Art Photography

Armchair Boogie and their loyal crowd at the Sylvee - photo by Tony Mueller Phine Art Photography

Armchair Boogie
Live at the Sylvee
Show Review By Tony Mueller
Posted: Nov 2019
(2228) Page Views

Armchair Boogie opened for Pigeons Playing Ping Pong at the Sylvee

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A view of Crumb and the crowd at Majestic on a Thursday night - photo by Tony Mueller Phine Art Photography

A view of Crumb and the crowd at Majestic on a Thursday night - photo by Tony Mueller Phine Art Photography

Crumb
Live at the Majestic
Show Review By Tony Mueller
Posted: Nov 2019
(1100) Page Views

Crumb showcased their new album at the beautiful Majestic Theater in downtown Madison.

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