strumzilla

​A blog/journal about my life and the stuff I like. Popular subjects include music, guitars, gear, books, movies, video games, technology, humor.

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Joe Jackson Live, Dallas 2015

It was great to see Joe Jackson live again, for the first time in nearly 30 years. It was even more enjoyable to see a show with my old friend, Matt Garrett with whom I've seen some legendary concerts. Joe and his touring band: Graham Maby (bass), Teddy Kumpel (guitar), and Doug Yowell (drums) were fantastic and capable of covering a broad range of Joe's catalog and covers (Scary Monsters!) with their freakish musicianship and solid vocal skills as well. 

Joe (and his fans) aren't getting any younger, but for most of the gig you could close your eyes and it would be 1986 all over again. His piano playing has always been stellar and that combined with his beautiful grand piano and the always great sound at The Majestic Theatre made it sublime. We suffered a slight embarrassment of riches in that we were so close to the stage and had a bit of a proximity imbalance with the mix. Doug Yowell's deceptively diminutive frame belied a powerhouse player who literally beat the skins off his kit. That's not to say he wasn't subtle and nuanced when needed. Doug and the band join a long roster of amazing musicians that Joe seems to attract magnetically. 

Graham Maby doesn't need my description or endorsement. He's a legend in the Joe canon, and deservedly so. Teddy Kumpel was a previously unknown player to me but he adeptly covered a broad range of not only guitar tones but several other instruments during the performance (often covering brass, string and even vocal parts). Joe's set progressed in an additive fashion, with just Joe on piano and vocals for the first few songs and Graham joining for "Is She Really Going Out With Him?" followed by Doug Yowell, and finally Teddy Kumpel. They ended the set the same way, which is such a Joe thing to do. He's always had the aesthetic symmetry to his art, demonstrated in the global resonance of Big World, recently mirrored in the four "City" EPs that make the new album. The devil is always in the details and Joe's music has always had multiple layers to discover over progressive listenings. Supposedly some private New York gigs were recorded for television, hopefully these will surface at some point. 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Graham_Maby
http://www.teddyjam.com
http://www.guitarmoderne.com/artists/spotlight-teddy-kumpel#more-2828
http://fret-king.com/black-label/elise.html#.VhpfYBNVhHx
https://dougyowell.wordpress.com/

 

  1. It's Different for Girls 

  2. Home Town 

  3. Be My Number Two 

  4. Girl  (The Beatles cover)

  5. Fast Forward 

  6. Is She Really Going Out With Him? 

  7. Real Men 

  8. You Can't Get What You Want (Till You Know What You Want) 

  9. A Little Smile 

  10. Kings of the City 

  11. Poor Thing 

  12. Love at First Light 

  13. Another World 

  14. Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps)  (David Bowie cover)

  15. Sunday Papers 

  16. Keep on Dreaming 

  17. Ode to Joy 

  18. Steppin' Out 

  19. Encore:
  20. See No Evil 

  21. One More Time 

  22. A Slow Song 

New Music Appreciation Post

So I've been on somewhat of a new music surge (at least compared to the normal for me) as of late.  I think it started when I downloaded several songs on Neil Peart's house music set list (the one they play before the shows) from Itunes.  Among the groups I was newly exposed or gained a new appreciation for were:  Porcupine Tree, The Mars Volta,  The Tragically Hip, Jeff Buckley, King Crimson and early Genesis.  Porcupine Tree especially hit a nerve with me and I subsequently have bought four albums by them. I especially like "Fear of a Blank Planet", "In Absentia" and "Deadwing".  For reasons I'm not quite sure of, I also finally bought "Hunky Dory" by Bowie. I always liked the tunes from that album (Mick Ronson was a key player/producer) and I'm not sure why it took this long.  I had been listening to "Life on Mars" repeatedly after hearing it a recent movie ("Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou?"), and decided to get the album.  

I also recently bought albums by Amy Winehouse (Back to Black), Sheryl Crow (Detours) and Robert Plant/Alison Krauss (Raising Sand) but have only really got into the RP/AK effort.  In my explorations I also got to checking out Itunes mixes by other users. These are basically just mix tape made by other Itunes users, but the nice thing is you can search them by keyword.  So, in my typical music preference vein I searched for sad or melancholy mixes and actually found a really good one that has several tunes that I have grown quite fond of. Some of the artists on the mix were: "The Weepies", "State Radio", "City and Colour", "Jason Reeves", "Gregory and the Hawk", and "Cocunut Records".  It's a really great mix tape and I'll be checking out the other stuff from these guys in the near future. 

Concert Review - Police in Dallas June 26/27th 2007

The Police returned to the stage on their reunion tour for the first time in over twenty years and we were fortunate enough to catch them both nights in Dallas. Playing to a sold out crowd in American Airlines Center, they offered songs from their entire catalog with a pretty comprehensive set list. The band was energetic, played well and Sting is still managing to hit the high notes (evenon Roxanne) without any serious difficulty. The songs mostly featured slight to large modifications in key, tempo, improvisation or a combination of the three.  In most cases the songs stayed true enough to the original to please the purists and I found myself liking them more on the second night. 

There a few exceptions where I think the original flavor of the song was lost, especially in a song like De Do Do Do where Andy changed the chorus guitar to more of a punkish barre chord version and I really preferred it the original way. Kinda took the Andy out of that song in my opinion. The band stretched out and let Andy take fairly frequent solos and Sting engaged the crowd in the standard call/response he is known for. It may be subjective, but I really think the second night crowd was more energetic as well as knowledgable (it may have been the difference of 1st tier seats the first night compared to 17th row floor on the second as well).  The view on the second night was definitely better in our case. We were close enough to see facial expressions and what the fingers on the instruments were doing.  

The band stuck to the reliables in the equipment area with Sting playing his old Fender Precision (it may have been a re-issue), Andy playing a red Stratocaster (swapped out once with an identical model that was capoed on the 2nd fret), and Stewart had his typical full complement of Tama drums and additional percussion on a riser in the back.  Andy had a very geometric appearing set of Mesa Boogies in a mixture of rectangular and square cabinets that appeared custom designed just to allow them to make an interesting stack configuration, otherwise I can't really say what the logic may have been. The same went for Sting and his Ampeg amps. Looked cool, anyway.

The show featured a fairly sparse stage setup with the only enhancements being a set of stairs that encircled the entire back half of the stage and allowed the players to walk up behind the drum kit and interact with the seats behind the stage (yes, those were sold out too).  On the video side they had three very large screens up near the ceiling in the front, one on each side and one in the back so that everyone had a decent view of the band no matter where they were seated. Below the screens was a sort of colored display board like you see in sporting events that was used to display various mood centric and album related color schemes. That along with a modest lighting scheme added to the overall ambiance very well. The video screens mostly showed the players but occasionally featured song specific videos like for Invisible Sun. They updated the context of this song by showing what appeared to be mostly Iraqi children. Funny how the song is still very applicable today, over twenty years later. Not to mention Driven to Tears.

Note on these pictures: I didn't try taking a camera in so I have copied these from other users on Flickr. Most of them are actually from the the two Dallas shows.

 

Set List:

  • Message in a Bottle
  • Synchronicity 2
  • Walking on the Moon
  • Voices in my Head (short intro)
  • When the World is Running Down
  • Don't Stand so Close to Me
  • Driven to Tears
  • The Bed's Too Big Without You
  • Truth Hits Everybody
  • Every Little Thing She Does is Magic
  • Wrapped Around Your Finger
  • De Do Do Do De Da Da Da
  • Invisible Sun
  • Walking in Your Footsteps
  • Can't Stand Losing You
  • Roxanne

      Encore 

  • King of Pain
  • So Lonely
  • Every Breath You Take
  • Next to You

 

We really liked the opening band, Fiction Plane. They were enjoyable the first night and even better the second since we were a little more familiar with their tunes. Featuring a similar setup to the Police (Trio with the bassist as singer) they are clearly influenced by groups like U2 and the Police with a healthy dose of reggae in the beat. I found out later that the singer/bassist is actually Sting's son (wonder if they would have gotten the gig otherwise?) who actually follows in his dad's footsteps fairly well. His vocal range is a bit lower than Sting's but otherwise pretty similar in all respects. I liked them well enough that I have bought their album "Left Side of the Brain" and I really like it. 


 

 

Jimmy Page, Rush, Police, Yes, et al(83-85)…

After posting the tokalicious (that's a medical term, don't trouble yourself…) Rush stubs, I realized I had kept most of my concert stubs over the years and they were just languishing in a dark box for none to grow envious of see. I decided to give them a little photoshopin' (worthy of the arts & crafts club if I do say so) so here is the first collection of stubs from the 1983-85 tour seasons. I must add that I have unfortunately lost a few of my ticket stubs over the years (most notably from this time frame would be Van Halen on the Diver Down tour with Dave instead of the Samster).  Nevertheless, most of the most notable shows I saw in those years are on display here. Please share your concert photos, ticket stubs and hemp clouded memories from back then if you care to.

 Stub-Collage-83-85


Book Review - One Train Later

The autobiography by the brilliant guitarist for the Police. This covers his entire life until this point with a large portion detailing his musical career before the Police which unknown to me prior to reading this book was actually pretty successful. He was a member of much of the 60s musical movement in England and the San Francisco/California psychedelic movement. He bounced around to various bands and gigs and was pretty well known to many of the big players in those days including the Stones, the Who and others. He played with the Animals and had a variety of backup/session type gigs including Neal Sedaka to name just one. He was heavily influenced by Jazz at an early age and it's the variety of musical experiences he had that allowed him to develop such a unique sound within the Police that had never been heard before and has been copied but never equalled in the time since. It's a good book for Police fans and a great book for Andy Summers fans. On the tail of finishing this book, the news broke that the Police have reunited and are touring this summer. I just finished watching them open the Grammy's last Sunday (they sounded fantastic by the way, they haven't lost anything in twenty plus years apart) and have now found out they will play Dallas in June. I plan to be there if at all humanly possible. I was fortunate enough to see them play across the street from where they are playing this June on their last tour (Synchronicity). Update: I was able to buy two tickets for 17th row center floor at the Dallas show in June. I'm just slightly stoked, to put it mildly.