JUNE 2009              back

Ian Hunter: June 24th at Rockefeller Park

It's that time of year again when there are so many free concerts that sometimes I just can't keep up. Two weeks ago I missed David Byrne for free (I predict that will be my biggest musical disappointment for the summer) so I was not going to miss this.

Ian Hunter was never much of a singer and that hasn't changed, but he's always had great rock & roll songs and sometimes a good voice is not required for that. This show featured a collection of fan favorites like Once Bitten Twice Shy, All The Way To Memphis and the iconic All The Young Dudes which was written by David Bowie but made into a rock classic by Ian's band Mott The Hoople. The crowd singing along with the familiar chorus was somehow a moving experience. (All The Way To Memphis)

Another thing that hasn't changed for Hunter is that he still is cranking out some great rock tunes. Along side the classic hits he and his impressive "Rant Band" performed a number of tunes from his soon to be released "Man Overboard" which sounded great. The tunes were catchy and melodic but with Hunter's unmistakable rock foundation. I think the CD may do well.

 

Calexico opening for Andrew Bird: June 18th @ Radio City Music Hall

Calexico is an Arizona band that blends country, psychedelic rock, surf music and Mexican mariachi influences, to name a few, into a unique sound that has made them one of my favorite bands in recent memory, as well as one of the most musically adventurous groups in music today. I wouldn't buy a ticket at Radio City just to see an opening act, but these were comps from my membership at WFUV so I'd have gladly paid twice as much!

They perfromed a handful of songs from their recent release Carried To Dust, including one of my favorites Two Silver Trees, some old favorites like Crystal Frontier, another of my favorites, and their cover of the psychedelic rock classic Alone Again Or, originally performed by Arthur Lee's Luv group, including the  memorable trumpet solo which was so good that it was emotionally moving. Here's a video from another live performance that gives you a good idea: (Alone Again Or)

At the core of the group is Joey Burns and John Coventino but they've surrounded themselves with such good musicians that they were recently the house band at Carnegie Hall's tribute to R.E.M.  (REM tribute)

Andrew Bird was the headliner for this show and in all fairness to him I have to say I was there to see Calexico, was only vaguely familiar with Bird's work and didn't stay long enough to give a fair evaluation. He's a multi-instrumentalist, singer/songwriter who utilizes tape loops (recorded live on stage which makes it artistically acceptable) of whistling, violin and guitar riffs to augment the live performance. The music is intricate and I think I may have liked it under other circumstances, but I was tired and Andrew Bird was not my mission this night.

Here's a video recorded in a radio studio of one of the songs he performed while I was there: (Imitosis)

And another (slightly shaky) of him with Calexico at this show: (Tables & Chairs)

 

Lisa Hannigan Lisa Hannigan: June17th @ Outpost in the Burbs

You may be familiar with Outpost In The Burbs as I've reviewed a handful of shows there since beginning this site, but they work out of three venues and this was my first time at The Universalist Unitarian Church. Beautiful!

You may also be aware of the recently concluded debut season of the PBS music series "Inside the Artists Den" which featured K.T. Tunstall, Crowded House, Raphael Sadiq and Ingrid Michaelson to name a few. This show was being filmed for the second season of that series and will be seen on PBS sometime this fall.

And finally, you may be aware of Irish singer/songwriter Lisa Hannigan from her work as Damien Rice's sidekick. I say sidekick as opposed to backup singer because of his oft tendency to feature her singing lead vocals even when appearing on shows like Letterman.

When I saw Damien Rice in 2007 at Radio City Music Hall, he announced, after shouts of "Where's Lisa?", that she was in the studio working on a album of her own material. That solo debut, Sea Sew, was released in Europe last year and just recently here in the States, garnering critical praise both times and leading to an appearance on The Steven Colbert show. The only other musical acts Colbert has booked have been Neil Young, Coldplay, Tom Waits and R.E.M. Good company!

She played mostly selections from the CD including Lille (the single), Splishy Splashy, Sea Song and I Don't Know which she announced had been renamed I Love Steven Colbert. I already knew she had a beautiful voice but her songwriting was impressive and she's a talented multi-instrumentalist beautifully playing guitar, banjo, harmonium (a small reed organ with a squeezebox back) and melodica (a keyboard you blow into like a clarinet). In fact, two highlights of the show were when she picked up the melodica and jammed with the band. (Sea Song)

She was backed by drums and upright electric bass and two other multi-instrumentalists who played trumpet, piano, guitars, banjo, toy glockenspiels and an assortment of contraptions. All very impressive.

All I can say about the performance is that more than once she gave me goose bumps, I'd see her again in a minute and I'll likely purchase the CD (And I'll certainly be watching when it appears on PBS). On a non-musical note she was more beautiful than any picture I've seen of her.