Still Growing Up "Accessible" isn't a word that's usually associated with Peter Gabriel. The occasional radio hit like "In Your Eyes" or "Sledgehammer" notwithstanding, the majority of Gabriel's body of work has been appreciated primarily by a corps of devout fans who view the one-time Genesis frontman and his discography of increasingly cross-cultural musical odysseys with varying degrees of reverence and awe. Up, Gabriel's first studio album in ten years, was released in the fall of last year to generally positive reviews, though its first single, "The Barry Williams Show", a send-up of exhibitionist daytime talk shows, suffered from dated subject material and failed to crack radio playlists. Now on the second U.S. leg of his tour in support of Up, Gabriel seems as uninterested as ever in making hits. In contrast to this "music for music's sake" attitude, he's renowned for his live stage presence and his penchant for elaborate production numbers. The previous U.S. leg was mostly made up of indoor arena shows with the players performing "in the round" on a central, circular stage that also served as a multi-level launching platform for Gabriel's arsenal of live eye candy. Having recently finished taking that show through Europe, the band is back stateside for a series of relatively cozy concerts on smaller, outdoor stages. Appropriately for this clammy, grey night at the waterlogged PNC Bank Arts Center, Gabriel and the rest of his seven-piece band opened with "Red Rain". Gabriel briefly took the microphone, as he did following nearly every song, to thank the crowd for their reception, then introduced "More Than This", from Up. After these two warm-up numbers, delivered competently but lacking a certain spunk, Gabriel and his band (save for drummer Ged Lynch) left their assigned stations to spin like tops at the front of the stage during an upbeat rendition of "Secret World". That song, which was the theme of Gabriel's last major tour, has often sounded better live than recorded, and it boosted the crowd's energy to a higher level that they maintained for the duration of the concert. The popular "Games Without Frontiers" followed. The crowd buzzed as Gabriel and his daughter Melanie, who has handled backing vocals on this tour, tooled around the stage on Segways in a synchronized dance of wheels, miming near-collisions in time with the chorus. This gave way to an a cappella intro to the ethereal "Mercy Street" as the stage darkened and a big, circular video screen behind the drum kit displayed an image of the full moon. "Don't Give Up" gave Peter and Melanie a chance to do a father-daughter duet, but the female vocal part, which was originally recorded by Kate Bush, tested the limits of Melanie's voice. A headgear-mounted camera rig that Gabriel wore during "Digging in the Dirt" gave the audience extreme, hypnotic close-ups of the bard's face as he wandered around the stage. "Growing Up", the theme song of the tour, is about the evolution of male-female relationships through different phases of life. It also featured the main set piece: a giant, translucent plastic ball, about the size of a Chevy Suburban, that descended from the rafters onto Gabriel, who waited at center stage with arms stretched upward in an obvious fertilization metaphor. Once nestled inside, Gabriel seemed driven by the pulsating beat of the song to bounce around the stage like Evil Otto, at one point knocking over his longtime guitarist, David Rhodes, who didn't miss a note. The crowd loved the ball, which behaved more like a larger-than-life extension of Gabriel than a stage prop. When the ball bounced, so did the audience. Peter Gabriel is 53 now, and the fact that he's getting a bit soft around the middle is difficult to disguise. Aside from a black, physique-concealing waistcoat, he doesn't try, and his between-songs monologue included the smattering of cracks about advancing age and receding hairlines that is typical for performers entering this stage of their careers. Unlike his contemporaries, though, his self-deprecation doesn't feel like an apology for getting old, and his behavior on stage was that of a man who is very comfortable in his skin. Gabriel's performance was a clinic in showmanship: he danced, goose-stepped and even pelvic-thrusted his way through the set list, implying to the mixed-generation crowd that it was okay to gyrate along with him, even if they hadn't brought their waistcoats. The crowd's gyrations were at their peak during the best-known songs, beginning with "Solsbury Hill". As that song ended, the lights dimmed, Gabriel vanished and the band settled into a quiet, moderate-tempo jam session for a couple of minutes. As Gabriel reemerged from the shadows in a coat festooned with miniature spotlights, the band erupted into "Sledgehammer" as the audience roared its approval. The festive mood was momentarily cut off when Gabriel prefaced the next song, "Signal to Noise", with a mild swipe at U.S. foreign policy, comparing America's position in the world to that of the British Empire at the beginning of the 20th century. The audience's response to Gabriel's politics was difficult to gauge: some listened, some cheered, others just talked among themselves while waiting for the music to start again. The beautiful Sevara Nazarkhan, a singer from Uzbekistan who had performed the opening act, joined Gabriel for the finale, "In Your Eyes". With mantis-like bassist Tony Levin providing the basso profundo title vocal and Nazarkhan handling the Youssou N'Dour part, the band brought the house down. "Come Talk to Me" and the touching "Father, Son" (inspired by yoga classes that Gabriel took with his 91-year-old father) closed out the show. Peter Gabriel long ago carved out his own niche in popular music but continues to defy classification within it. His genuineness suggests that he would be doing what he does regardless of how many people were listening; his fans intuitively know this, which is why they listen. Though his Genesis pedigree probably helped him early in his career, it's not difficult, nearly thirty years later, to imagine him having developed a comparable fan base without that notoriety. Because his albums emerge with the frequency of cicada seasons, it's not clear how many more times we'll have the opportunity to see Peter Gabriel live. Do it while you have the chance.
In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.
Pauline Black may be called the Queen of Ska by some, but she insists she's not the only one, as Two-Tone legends the Selecter celebrate another stellar album in a career full of them.
Being commonly hailed as the "Queen" of a genre of music is no mean feat, but for Pauline Black, singer/songwriter of Two-Tone legends the Selecter and universally recognised "Queen of Ska", it is something she seems to take in her stride. "People can call you whatever they like," she tells PopMatters, "so I suppose it's better that they call you something really good!"
Encounter Across the Abyss: Examining the Ontology of the Self in Toni Morrison's 'The Origins of Others'
Morrison's prose is so engaging and welcoming that it's easy to miss the irreconcilable ambiguities that are set forth in her prose as ineluctable convictions.
It's a common enough gambit in science fiction. Humans come across a race of aliens that appear to be entirely alike and yet one group of said aliens subordinates the other, visiting violence upon their persons, denigrating them openly and without social or legal consequence, humiliating them at every turn. The humans inquire why certain of the aliens are subjected to such degradation when there are no discernible differences among the entire race of aliens, at least from the human point of view. The aliens then explain that the subordinated group all share some minor trait (say the left nostril is oh-so-slightly larger than the right while the "superior" group all have slightly enlarged right nostrils)—something thatm from the human vantage pointm is utterly ridiculous. This minor difference not only explains but, for the alien understanding, justifies the inequitable treatment, even the enslavement of the subordinate group. And there you have the quandary of Otherness in a nutshell.
A 1996 classic, Shawn Colvin's album of mature pop is also one of best break-up albums, comparable lyrically and musically to Joni Mitchell's Hejira and Bob Dylan's Blood on the Tracks.
When pop-folksinger Shawn Colvin released A Few Small Repairs in 1996, the music world was ripe for an album of sharp, catchy songs by a female singer-songwriter. Lilith Fair, the tour for women in the music, would gross $16 million in 1997. Colvin would be a main stage artist in all three years of the tour, playing alongside Liz Phair, Suzanne Vega, Sheryl Crow, Sarah McLachlan, Meshell Ndegeocello, Joan Osborne, Lisa Loeb, Erykah Badu, and many others. Strong female artists were not only making great music (when were they not?) but also having bold success. Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill preceded Colvin's fourth recording by just 16 months.
In terms of continuity, the so-called promotion of this entry as Miller's “third" in the series is deceptively cryptic. Miller's mid-'80s limited series The Dark Knight Returns (or DKR) is a “Top 5 All-Time" graphic novel, if not easily “Top 3". His intertextual and metatextual themes resonated then as they do now, a reason this source material was “go to" for Christopher Nolan when he resurrected the franchise for Warner Bros. in the mid-00s. The sheer iconicity of DKR posits a seminal work in the artist's canon, which shares company with the likes of Sin City, 300, and an influential run on Daredevil, to name a few.