MUSE is a huge band. Both in terms of their following and sound. So it was a great surprise to hear the band would be playing a relatively small show at New York’s Summerstage in July. And an even greater surprise to hear the show would be a benefit for the Coalition for the Homeless, a local non-profit. Fans applauded this gesture by buying tickets en masse and selling the show out in minutes. MUSE’s Matt Bellamy, Dominic Howard and Chris Wolstenholme (and the rest of their band and crew) dropped by The Late Show With Stephen Colbert earlier in the week to perform “Dig Down”. Check out photos and a couple of videos from Summerstage as well as the Colbert video below.
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Rhiannon Giddens began her Freedom Highway tour at a surprising place. Sing Sing prison in New York. There, she addressed the inmates (and the NY Times reporter) and performed songs from the new album, describing the prison as “perfect for what this album is about and the sort of social consciousness and activism that surrounds this record.” The album highlights Giddens’ earthy-roots music and her original, often political lyrics (her previous solo album post-Carolina Chocolate Drops was a covers record). She doesn’t shy away from issues political, historical or contemporary, racial or social.
As Giddens tour continued, she arrived at somewhere a bit more glamorous, Lincoln Center, for the final show of the 2017 American Songbook series. She had performed in the series twice in the past few years, and this was her biggest show at Lincoln Center yet, in front of a sold-out crowd at Alice Tully Hall. Her backing band included multi-instrumentalists Dirk Powell and Hubby Jenkins, Jason Sypher on bass and Jamie Dick on drums, as well as her sister Lalenja Harrington providing back-up vocals and her nephew Justin Harrington rapping a song near the end of the powerful show. As Billboard noted, “Giddens’ vocals—which reveal her extensive operatic training—were front-and-center on such show highlights as Aretha Franklin’s “Do Right Woman” and Patsy Cline’s “She’s Got You,” which gave the originals a run for their money; and the Mack Gordon-written “Underneath the Harlem Moon,” which Ethel Waters recorded in the 1930s. “There’s a lot of good stuff to be found,” Giddens said of the last song. “It makes all the digging worthwhile.” Photos from Giddens performance, as well as upcoming tour dates, are below.
For me, the time between falling in love with an album (and possibly hearing the band for the first time, to be honest) and seeing that band perform live, has probably never been shorter than it was for Slowdive. Their 2017 come-back, self-titled release is one of my favorites of the year and one of PopMatters’ Picks. Right from the get-go, with the first track “Slomo”, Slowdive had me hooked on a band over two decades old.
Fortunately, the band had scheduled shows to support the album including two nights at Brooklyn Steel. When the group finally took the stage after 9 pm, the audience collectively stood poised at attention. And Slowdive kicked off the show with “Slomo” but sadly, a couple of minutes in, one of the sound guys came on and pulled the band off-stage—there was an issue with a monitor or something. So I didn’t get the full cathartic experience of “Slomo” at the beginning, but I did hear a lot of powerful songs from their back catalog and the new gems, like “Sugar for the Pill”. And I wondered if the band would have made something as great if they had remained together for most of the past two decades.
The new (to me) Infinity Music Hall in Hartford played host to Brooklyn dhol and brass band Red Baraat on a post-show Saturday during March Madness. Those two factors likely had a measurable impact on the attendance, but those faithful fans who made it out were seriously into the music. Some were even families with kids—and all were dancing unabashedly to the bhangra fusion.
The 30th anniversary benefit concert for the Tibet House US organization was the gemstone in a slew of events celebrating the 80th birthday of Philip Glass. Glass is the artistic director for the annual benefit shows and this year’s slate featured many familiar faces from recent years including Patti Smith, Iggy Pop, Scorchio Quartet, Lavinia Meijer and Laurie Anderson. It also included the Alabama Shakes and New Order.
The latter’s Bernard Sumner joined Pop for “Stray Dog” and Joy Division’s “She’s Lost Control”. Sufjan Stevens was introduced by the Executive Director of the ACLU Anthony Romero before he spoke briefly about love then performed “The Star Spangled Banner” with the aid of the Scorchio Quartet. Patti Smith wrapped up the evening with a cover of Dylan’s “Hard Rain Is Gonna Fall” and led nearly all the musicians in a rousing “People have the Power” set. Smith’s final words to the audience were rousing—she implored, “Use your voice, be vigilant, be strong, be happy.”