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Archive for the ‘concerts’ Category

Nov-7-2009

at the stadium: u2360 boston

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i got to go to boston 2 on my sabbath which turned out to be a pretty good show! boston 2 is distinctive because it was the only show so far that opened with magnificent and not breathe….in fact, breathe disappears from the set entirely.  your blue room showed up again to a stunned crowd. only me and 4 other diehards enjoy it. i did get to hear stay! which is partly what i was hoping for. the show has more hits and familiar tunes tonite which i am happy about because…..

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its a show that i got to go with my brother in law, trent, my sister anita and efc folks now residing in the boston burbs. my family is not as fanatical as i am so less your blue room-y and more mysterious ways-y worked for them. the shows are never just about the shows and reuniting with family and dear friends makes the show for me.

the crowd responds well to the band and we all have a great, great time. it is also snow patrol’s last opening gig for the band so there is a celebratory, wistful tone to the evening.

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our seats are slightly off to the side, swinging toward the back of the show so for the first time, i get to see the full stage and light show. pretty impressive. though i am further away than i was in chicago….the setlist, the 360 screen and stage still make for an intimate experience. and you can’t beat the price….these were $50 seats which surprised me since comparable tickets at other venues ran for $100 plus. though for the same price, ga’s could have been bought but trent likes his personal space and doesn’t like to stand the whole time.

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now the downside…..the drive to the stadium and the exodus from the parking lot was frightful. where were the attendants who collected our $45 for parking? you heard right…$45 for parking! then they split leaving the masses to navigate for hours out of the lot. it made me think twice about coming back to gillette again….but i won’t have to make that choice as boston does not get a third show….because boston did not show up! tons of seats were available and conveyed to the band-we don’t need another 360 show. you only have yourselves to blame, boston.

meanwhile, sold out chicago and new york will get another 360 appearance in 2010(maybe even two more).

Posted under concerts, u2
Sep-17-2009

the magical fall: rumsey playfield with counting crows

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its a new tradition for us in the fall…a concert at the charming rumsey playfield in central park. this time with counting crows and their traveling circus of bands. the venue is very intimate and outdoors to boot with a gentle breeze, the sunset, the swaying trees and a sublime, satisfied vibe that embraces the last moments of the summer, anticipating the cooler fall. a great way to welcome my favorite season.

here we are treated to a few songs not on the setlist tonite as a pre-show. a nice thank you for people who showed up early.

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my boy, justin brought me to the general admission show and in exchange i passed on my secrets to lining up, sizing up the line, crowd and venue….getting us into the front row. this was the closest that justin has ever been to one of his favorite bands. he is shocked that this was possible! glad to show others how we roll.

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i had a great time hanging out and listening to a few bands that i don’t normally get to hear. it was a spectacle as three bands often performed together, doing each other’s songs and having a good time performing. the downside, of course, is that we came to see counting crows…and wished there was more of them and less of the others.

we wrapped up the night with a trip to the shake shack. a great warm up to things to come…..

Posted under concerts, fall
Dec-17-2008

the magical fall: snow patrol weekend

i love fan clubs…..in particular, snow patrol’s online community….here’s a few reasons why….a few very good reasons…

back in our usual spots at the front of the stage…this time for our first go around at the bowery ballroom…a tiny venue that houses 400. we might as well have been on stage with the band. snow patrol were literally on top of us.

when we looked up, we saw gary….he was spitting on us….we had to dodge it all night.

i didn’t know toby mcguire was in the band….its actually nathan. but he bears a strong resemblance to spiderman….and ironically, the band had a track on the soundtrack of the last sequel.

here’s paul going at it….in fact, the whole band was.

this was a great, great show. snow patrol is not my band…they are more theresa’s band but the energy was too much for the tiny stage and room….typical for a first show after a layoff and typical for a nyc show….bands usually bring something extra for manhattan especially when they love nyc. the sonic boom flooded the ballroom and hit those of us in the front first.

despite being one of the bigger(indie)bands in the world to command an audience, they were real down to earth dudes. self deprecating, genuine and still grateful for their current position in the stratosphere. i saw the band just walking around outside right before the show…..just walking around. no pretense. no security. just happy to be here.

they responded to a lot of the crowd except the party girls who kept letting them know that there were up for anything after the show and the after party. i guess they recognize gold digging trouble….and ignored it all night.

instead, they went all family values….they brought these two kids out from minnesota….i think they are brother and sister to sing….sp discovered them on youtube doing their songs. a nice innocent moment for all of us.

tickets for this show were going for hundreds and i heard even upwards of $1000. how often do you see a headliner play in such an intimate place? but i got these tickets via the fan club presale, paid face value and avoided some facility charges(that’s the deal with fan club purchases)…the magic continues. and continued.

the next day, i brought jeremy to this sirius radio taping in the late afternoon. it was a special performance and interview with the band for 40 fans or so. only pastors, chefs and others with flexible work scheds can make it to these things. i got(won)these tickets via the fan club too. unlike other fan clubs that charge me tons of money for eh benefits, i had access to these performances and unique fan experiences for free! all this just for signing up online….no fees.

the band performed inside this glass cube….paul joked with the audience, pretending to swim their bowl like a fish.

before the performance, gary handed out the klondike bars he said were left for him and the band. here he is standing right above us dishing out ice cream sandwiches.

i was the only one in my immediate area to get a Neapolitan….strawberry, chocolate and vanilla.

this show was very intimate with songs, jokes, interspersed with questions from the host and fans in the audience with a lot of great insight into the creative process which i love. it was very relaxed vibe like the band was just playing in your living room.

after the show, nobody kicked us out so we hung around and took pictures with gary. the rest of the band just assumed no one wanted pictures with them.

gary says hi back, derek.

Posted under concerts, new york
Nov-11-2008

the magical fall: coldplay

the magical fall is in full swing as we headed to nj and the meadowlands for a coldplay show. i got to see a free show at msg in the spring but coldplay decided not to make a return visit to the city on this leg. i likely will not see them again on this tour if they do wind up playing a full show at msg since their shows are pretty uniform. their sunday and monday shows at izod were nearly identical!

i haven’t been to a show at the meadowlands since i went to see u2 with debby fung two tours ago way back in 2001. i think the arena was named something else but i forget what. its hard to find a sponsor for this place especially since the nets are rumored to be moving to brooklyn in a few years, rendering this a tenant-less arena….not too marketable.

here we are at our pretty decent seats right by the side of the stage….i thought we would be closer to mid arena. norm and steph had tickets in the next section but we were on opposite ends of our sections so it felt like we were two sections apart!

as we waited for things to start, we saw the crowd rise, take pictures and react to gwyneth and her mom blythe danner make their way to their seats across the arena from us. they seemed to enjoy the concert a lot.

my hair is long and floppy these days. no more spiking for a bit. i’m tired of gel….and it being the reason i have to check bags in. $15-$25 per bag!

i didn’t get any good shots of the opening act, duffy….mostly because she played in the dark with minimal lighting effect. she was a treat since i rarely know the opening acts…but duffy has been headlining her own club shows and i have her debut cd after i saw her tear it up on conan. while i enjoyed her, most were waiting for coldplay. she did her best to charm and warm the crowd. she said that this was the largest crowd she had ever played in front of.

coldplay started the concert with new songs from their latest album and then proceeded to forget they had  new material and went into their greatest hits mode. the crowd was into the latter but i want to hear the new tunes. however, it’s nice to hear old favorites. they did play more of their new stuff later.

this was the best coldplay show i’ve seen….they’ve become(even more)polished and create an intimate, light and playful connection with the crowd. they move around a lot and play with fervent energy. i sometimes complain that their shows with the cameras on are better than when they are off. but they brought it tonite!

the other knock on them of course is that they play short shows. they played like 17/18 full songs; they only had a one song encore. and they played under an hour and a half. by contrast, u2(old guys)play 23/24 full songs and go for nearly 2 hours. billy joel(another old guy)played 3 hours at shea over the summer….twice!

but what we got from them was magical. my favorites of the new songs live were lovers in japan, death and all of his friends and viva la vida. of the older stuff, i still love fix you…their most transcendant song. the hardest part and the scientist(acoustic)were also excellent. i wish they would have played longer versions of god put a smile on my face and talk. i could have done without speed of sound.

i joked with justin that most people will sit for the majority of the show waiting and standing only for yellow. that joke became prophecy as the people around me did not really know the new stuff.

i stood, sang and cheered the whole time. i do love you coldplay….but play longer shows! especially since you’ve jacked up the prices.

still a nice little night with my sweet t. she was pretty happy.

Posted under coldplay, concerts, fall
Oct-8-2008

the magical fall: swell season

live music is one of our loves. live music outdoors, weather permitting is a special treat. live music outdoors in central park….to start the fall….magic. the swell season, the couple from the movie once has been touring doing music from the film as well as old frames songs and new pieces.

i wish i knew some more of their older stuff. we were hoping for more songs from the movie. but glen hansard puts on a great great show with high emotion and energy. he led the crowd in some singing which he confessed he was warned not to do because “nyc is too cool for school” but he did it anyway. after the third sing along with the very reactive crowd, he declared that he felt like bono!

marketa did some numbers too. i love a band with multiple singers, voices and styles. same vibes but different voice mediums to transmit.

she was charming, imp like and joyful. she was walking around amongst the crowd beyond the safety of the artists area and was very much like a regular person. maybe she can run for vice president too.

she looked a lot thinner than she did in the movie. either the touring has been a grind or the camera does put on the lbs. or both.

rumsey field is a great venue: intimate and smaller than you’d think….perhaps half the floor or less of an arena. with trees all around, the night sky and the autmn breeze….a terrific place for the swell season. keane did a show here last year too but i got scared off by the ga/standing room only not knowing how big the field was…strange fear since theresa and i frequently go to ga shows and have no problems getting in the front row. btw……

we got railing……it was a pretty casual atmosphere. at first i was kicking myself for not getting there earlier. but i got a good spot that made it easier her to come in and not get angry stares. but she wound up coming down the middle of the field anyway and was the most hated woman in the place. but she don’t care.

and we had a magical romantic night in the city of blinding lights.

Posted under concerts, fall
Aug-14-2008

a killer(s) week

we were pretty content(ecstatic)with getting tickets to the small borgata show of 3,700 in atlantic city. at the time, it was the only north american appearance in 2008…later, when other shows were announced, the ac show was still the only local appearance.

but then the killers announced a fan club only show at the highline ballroom in chelsea, with a capacity of 700. we had last seen the killers with 50,000 plus in austin in the heat and in nyc at the garden with 20,000. if 3,700 was going to small and intimate, what would 700 be like?

this is a true fan club perk. some clubs offer gear, cd’s and access to tickets….but i’ve never seeen a band do a show just for fans.

the highline ballroom is right next to the highline, an old stretch of elevated train tracks that is set to be a park and oasis of nature in the city. in the future, this will be one of the blazing hot places to live but haggling over property has slowed the process.

the usual suspects lined up for the tiny show at the highline after getting tickets through the fan club site: the victims! steph’s brother lawrence joined us in the late afternoon. he was confused why we were there so early for a 9pm show…

but he figured out early as we wound up in the second row. normally our early showing would yield a “better” result but the venue was so tiny….and even though we were not in the front, we were closer to the instruments, the band, the everything than we normally would be when we are in the front…at msg, acl and as you’ll see in atlantic city.

the show was electric. the boys had not played since last fall and had all that energy unleashed for their club. people from across the country and the world joined the mostly nykr crowd. they were alive the whole night! just about any show you can see after a band has been hiatus will have this explosion. sometimes, things come across slightly unpolished(a transition here, getting lost in the setlist there) but bands are eager to justify their existence and their souls are overflowing with emotions to be put on display with the audience being the beneficiary.

there’s no zoom here folks….they were this close. it was like we were on stage with them. if the drummer is about halfway on stage and the bass player(with the black bass) is on the far right, you can get a feel for the space.

the only downside of the night was that theresa almost went to jail when the drunk girl in front of her was flailing and almost swung her head into theresa’s face. she was getting dangerous. we tried to back up and give her some room but she kept pushing the radius of her head whipping. she gave theresa the finger when theresa said something. probably thought theresa was a meek asian girl from the table tennis squad. theresa’s more like the enforcer from the mixed martial arts street gang. luckily, the drunk girl’s (more)sober, cooler head, clearer thinking friend saved drunk girl’s life. the friend stepped in, tried to make peace and kept drunk girl’s spasms to a smaller range. so theresa did not go to jail. and the drunk girl did not go to the morgue. all this was happening under brandon flowers.

the setlists had a ton of b-sides from their sawdust album. they also did a few new songs: spaceman and neon tiger. they also did acoustic versions of sams town and smile like you mean it. my new live favorites were sweet talk, under the gun and shadowplay. here’s a sample:

friday, brandon lee took us to atlantic city to see brandon(flowers). we got there just as the security guards were figuring out what to do with the growing crowd. one of them went to the office and informed me that wristbands would be handed out soon.

we inadvertently created the crowd when we were talking to the guard and they finally dispersed us because they can’t have a cluster on the floor near the casino. they say its a fire hazard but i think its merely a profit drain.

theresa and i hung around like sharks with a taste of blood in our mouths awaiting the coveted wristbands. a few venues use this method…you get a numbered band and you come back later and line up in order. it costs money so some places forego it. but places like the boston garden which is near major mass transit entrances and at this casino where they would rather have you gambling…they don’t want people hanging around.

finally, the office delivered the wristbands, we got on line and snagged prime spots. feeling lucky about getting railing.

we had a few hours to kill so the kids played penny slots. casinos always have a hint of desperation to me so i try to avoid it and walked around instead.

later, we got some burgers and cheesesteaks at the food court because no one wanted to give the celebrity chefs in the hotel $50 for an entree.

food and gambling were not why we were here….we had our eye on the big prize.

prize obtained.

the benefit of the front row goes beyond the obvious. what is not clear immediately to those in rows 2 to the near back is how hot it will get in the middle. it can be a sauna with the humidity supplied by mr. i’ll shower after the concert and ms. jumps around a lot and mr. and mrs. i’m with fatty. it would kinda be ok if the sweat on you at the end of the show was yours and yours alone…but its not…so its(really)not ok. the front row gives you a vent…a steady stream of cooler air. and often, bands have fans blowing from some location and you get some of that breeze too.

another great attribute is that you can lean or sit against the railing. standing is much easier when you are supported by steel infrastructure. in between acts, we turn around and put our backs to the barrier to stretch and rest. if we do sit, our backs enjoy the same support.

other benefits we’ve gotten up front are safe places to hang our jackets or bags; leftover water bottles from security’s stash after the concert; setlists, picks and other props off the stage thrown into the audience.

its worth the extra effort and on occasion the loss of some sleep to get there early for a show.

the killers fans ahead of us in line were pros and had the same game plan we did(i guess we’re pros too)so we did not get the spot we had projected and wound up on the left…closer to the guitarist and away from the lead mike and the bassist. however, we noticed that the string of big light boxes did not have many gaps for the band members to cross over from the stage to the audience. serendipitously, there were a few gaps for them to step out and walk toward us…..

…right in front of the spot where we were parked. so the whole night they were in and out and up and down, right in front of us.

another great show with a few setlist changes and just tighter musicianship. the band is from las vegas so being in a casino seemed to really feel like home for them. brandon flowers is an underrated front man…he is teriffically expressive, fearless in jumping on and off of things on the stage…dave keuning, the guitar player is equally into it….the drummer, ronnie vannucciis almost always ripping it…mark stoermer, the bassist provides the steady focus holding down the band.

some postscripts: here we are at the end of the night with some of the flowers thrown from the stage…most of the flowers were given to people in the front row. refer to earlier comments about front row benefits.

our own brandon flowers! good night, everyone!

Posted under concerts, killer victims fan club, killers, new york
Jul-18-2008

free stuff in nyc: conan, coldplay and shakespeare in the park

the irony of living in this expensive city is that there are so many free things to do. sometimes, there’s even free swag! theresa says they have to make it up to us for what we pay in housing and taxes. however, when i look at gas prices around the country….i think we got it pretty good with only having to pay $81 per person per month for travel costs. i’m not looking forward to paying what it will cost us to drive around california in about a month.

before we lose conan to said california and the tonite show, we will try to catch our boy as much as possible. i have a closet full of free conan late nite t-shirts. strangely, no t-shirt this time around.

the fan club include me, t, steph and my favorite australian….theresa had to work so this time we invited conan studio newbie, jason tseng. green was the clearly the color of choice as steph and i continue to exhibit uncanny fashion prophetic abilities and were dressed in that color…..pei li sorta got the memo.

based on our place in line….as well as our usual luck….guess where we sat in the studio?

no front row at the free coldplay concert at msg…well, sorta…..front row in the upper level!!!

this is coldplay’s only nyc appearance this go around listed so far…and all the tickets(all of them!) were given away for free(free!) via a lottery held worldwide. had no luck winning the lottery but its better to have friends than luck. my groomsman and lifetime friend, steve lau and i have been getting tickets for each other for the past decade. a few u2 shows, an upcoming sox/yanks game at the stadium and of course this……

the concert itself was short…16 songs but just over an hour. this is their usual amount of songs but usually they go longer time wise. but when you consider old heads like u2, bruce springsteen and even bon jovi play 20-24 songs and for hours…you wonder what coldplay is thinking. the excuse used to be that they did not have enough songs. we’ll see what the story is this time.

good to hear the new tunes but i suspect most came to hear the greatest hit parade. whenever i hear a band, i want to hear new stuff….it sounds different live! the new album has some instant hits and a few gems that need multiple listenings…and live versions would help. but i’m in the minority:people came to hear yellow and in my place.

chris martin is a good showman….when the cameras are on. most people think he’s on all the time because they usually see him at the grammies or the mtv movie awards. but i’ve seen him do a few subdued shows when there was no tv or filming. if he wants to propel his band to u2, e street band or even richie sambora status, he’s got to bring it every night. i’ve seen more energetic shows from arcade fire, mute math and the killers.

but i give coldplay mucho credit for doing a number of free shows. none of those bands i mentioned have done a free show……yet. more on that soon.

our annual rite of summer is taking in free shakespeare in central park. the delacorte theatre is an open air semi-circle venue that has the park as its backdrop. with a light summer breeze and the setting sun fading into dusk, its a magical atmosphere. this year’s offering was hamlet which features a violence warning and disclaimer. just the way shakespeare should be: bloody.

in the interest of keeping the arts accessible to the common man, all the tickets are free. you can however make a donation and surprise! they thank you with a handshake and a ticket!

but unless you are willing to make a “donation”, you have to get tickets the old fashioned way:

you have to get in line! and early! they hand out tickets at 1p but some camp out or come before dawn. we usually shoot for 6am or a bit earlier.

no cutting. no saving spots. no leaving the line. no switching out or swapping people or relieving people(though we have done that out of necessity….but people really can’t tell us asians apart!….does steph in a cap really look like theresa in a cap??)

being used to waiting for u2 all day long, this is easy time. we’ve waited at 5:30am until 9p for the boys to take the stage. besides, we have portable lounge chairs that even have foot rests. you do have to sometimes brave the elements but the passing rain is worth it! each person can ask for 2 tickets and they will do their best to accommodate groups.

and viola! the twins sans hats, dave and i wait for our friends and dates for the evening show.

“twins”: look at that skin tone difference: its like day and night!

Posted under coldplay, concerts, new york