Their Flag is Planted Deeply in the Ground

The very talented and thankfully local band, American Revival is back with a new lineup and new EP called Thank Ya Kindly. Folks, the lads have done it again. It’s a North Woods corker!

From the first few wonderful seconds of the opening track’s acoustic guitar, I fell head over heels in love with their new EP. “95” opens up the record by firmly planting an alt-country flag in the ground and it’s very, very deep. The track also has a Byrds-like feel to it that I found refreshing and inspiring to the point of where I really wanted to take a road trip to..well…anywhere! Ah, the magic of music…

The second track, “Japanese Shark,” reminded me of why I love the voice of Thomas Pendervas as much as I do. It’s so all-encompassing and full, towering over the music in such a unique way that it actually magnifies each track as opposed to overwhelming it.

“Texas” reminds me of Nebraska-era Bruce Springsteen with its haunting pastoral of our nation’s largest state. With this intriguing track, an exploration of thoughts as they travel from season to season, Pendervas taps into his existential intelligence and paints a story that is deeply touching. The EP’s last track, “Lights,” is a rousing number that does what every good song should do: make the listener feel nostalgic for a time that perhaps they have never had.

I certainly felt that way.

For those of you lucky enough to live in the Twin Cities, American Revival is having a CD release party on March 8th at Mayslack’s and a follow up show at one of my absolute favorite venues, the Kitty Cat Club, on March 15th. I’ll likely be at the latter on as my birthday is on March 16th and it might be nice to celebrate the opening minutes of it at 12:01am with one of the best bands in the Midwest!

The Power and Mystique Of Minneapolis

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On the fourth song into their set in the Main Room at First Avenue last night, Tom Chapman, lead singer of Battle, East Sussex’s Keane, realized he was going to have a personally transformative evening. It was during the devastating and tender track from their 2004 debut, Hopes and Fears, entitled “We Might As Well Be Strangers.” I saw him look out into the audience during the peak of the song and his face visibly changed.

The mystique that is the club First Avenue wrote its fire in the sky long ago, even before Purple Rain. It used to be a cool place to hang out even when it was a Greyhound Bus Station back in the 1930s, with its art deco vibe, air conditioning and floor checked terrazzo (which is still there today and serves as foundation of the pit). In 1970, the club opened with a two set performance by Joe Cocker and his Mad Dog Englishmen. Fitting, really, that a Brit Rocker should christen what was to become the musical mecca of the Midwest.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOver the years and as seen by the many stars painted on the exterior of the building, god-like geniuses from rock mythology have played the Main Room and the glorified closet known as 7th Street Entry, located in the same building. Clearly, the weight of this history overwhelmed Chapman, keyboard player Tim Rice Oxley, drummer Richard Hughes and bass player Jesse Quin. But they didn’t fail under the weight of it all. Instead, they rose to the occasion played a 21 song set that heated up the hearts of the 1500 strong audience in from the below-zero temperatures outside.

After each song, I turned to my show companion, Todd (an Essex man, born and bred for musical mythology just like me) and found that his jaw was nearer to the floor than mine. We were bearing witness to yet another legendary performance at First Avenue being born. It was a shovel to the head stunning show with Chapman’s choir boy voice at the center of it all. Keane prides itself on being flawless during performances and last night was no exception. They were greatly aided by the addition of a new sound system (and a wider pit area…so long, spirally staircase with forbidden step!) and the magnificent crowd that became immediately connected to the band early in the evening.

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It was this synergy that created something quite magical last night and the emotion was evident on Tom’s face, growing stronger with each song. The set list  was a nice collection of their now 10 year history. Highlights for me were “My Shadow,” “She Has No Time,” and, of course, “Bedshaped,” one of the top ten most romantic songs of all time. Their new album, Strangeland, is a return to the feel of their debut and contains many fantastic songs, the title track being one of my favorites. The first cut on the record, “You Are Young,” is a wonderful testament from parent to child and has now become the show opener. I recommend picking up the deluxe edition as it has four extra tracks.

With each song, I gazed around and looked at the denizens of the Ave and saw it all wash over and comfort them. Lovers snuggled, arms were raised, several thousand photos were taken and every word was sung by a chorus. Before the traditional show closer, “Crystal Ball,” Tom let his feelings on the evening be known. He was humbled by the connection that was made between band, venue and audience. He struggled to find the words to describe the nature of the relationship between music and Minneapolis and it was in this moment that I realized how deeply honest he was being.

Words don’t come easily when the power of the heart and soul drives the light that is within all of us.

Here are the rest of Keane’s tour dates in the United States. Here is the link to my photos of the evening.

He Stands The Test of Time…Like Beatles and Stones

(Beady Eye, Live in the Main Room, First Avenue, 5 December 2011)

Liam Gallagher is doing just fine without Oasis. Well, actually, he took most of Oasis with him and formed a new band called Beady Eye so he’s not really suffering. Last night, this new outfit descended on First Avenue and put on a corker of a show. Part of it had to do with the venue, of course, as I hadn’t seen Liam in such a small setting for quite some time (1994, at the now departed Uptown Bar on Oasis’ first ever US tour before the “Supersonic” single had even come out).

Here was their set list.

Four Letter Word
Beatles and Stones
Millionaire
Two of a Kind
For Anyone
Three Ring Circus
The Roller
In the Bubble With a Bullet
Bring the Light
Standing on the Edge of the Noise
Kill for a Dream
The Beat Goes On
Man of Misery
The Morning Son
Wigwam

Encore:
World Outside My Room
Sons of the Stage

As you can see, no Oasis songs were played but that was just fine with me. Beady Eye’s first album, Different Gear, Still Speeding, brings a fresh mix of styles as well as familiar, Beatles-esque yarns. Highlights for me last night were “The Roller” (another channeling of Liam’s inner Lennon), “Bring the Light” (the first single from the album which I didn’t really like right away but has since grown on me with its Jerry Lee Lewis piano…ballin’!) and “Kill For A Dream” (I think I got a contact high from this number and the pot was from 1967).

The show also saw Liam being his usual self (posing god like, picking fights with the crowd, general misbehavior fueled by titanic hubris) which made me crack up several times. The rest of the band showed the crowd their musical talents as well. Gem Archer and Andy Bell were both fantastic on the guitar. Chris Sharrock drummed his fucking heart out. Matt Jones added several layers of texture with his keyboard work.

I’ll be looking forward to the second record which Liam has promised will drop late next year. Mega!

Check out the band’s remaining tour schedule for the US.

Here is my photo album from the show.

How’d You Like That, How’d You Like That, How’d You Like That…I Liked It!!! [The Kooks at First Ave]

“How many bands can you name that have only three albums out and, after a 21 song set, you still want more?

Not many. But that’s the beauty of Brighton’s The Kooks. The recently released Junk of the Heart is yet another example of how Luke and the East Sussex lads are extremely gifted when it comes the composing pure pop songs. Like their first two releases (Inside In/Inside Out, Konk), every track on their third offering is fantastic.

Last Sunday night, the Main Room at First Avenue saw the Kooks bring their uncanny knack for the 3 minute, insta-catchy tune to town. Their set list included tracks from all three of the records.

THE SETLIST
Is It Me?
Always Where I Need To Be
Sofa Song
Matchbox
Rosie
She Moves In Her Own Way
Sway
Runaway
Eskimo Kiss
Killing Me
Seaside (Acoustic)
Tick of Time
See The Sun
How’d You Like That
Mr Nice Guy
Ooh La
Shine On
Do You Wanna
Encore:
The Saboteur
Junk Of The Heart (Happy)
Naïve

Highlights for me were some of the new songs (“Rosie,” “Runaway,” “Junk of the Heart”) as well as the ever sturdy “Sofa Song,” “She Moves In Her Own Way” and “Sway.” “Eskimo Kiss,” a track from the new record, was really a treat and managed to capture a Simon and Garfunkel sentiment both thematically and stylistically. Luke ran around the stage doing his best to capture all our attention with his Jim Morrison-esque affectations.

After asking the question posed above at the end of the 75 minute set, my favorite show companion and I started listing the songs we wished they had done as well.

“Eddie’s Gun?”
“Yep.”
“Love It All?”
“Oh, that would have been mega!”
“Jackie Big Tits?”
“No doubt!”

We kept going until we had named all their songs on all their albums and singles.

The Kooks are heading out west which includes a stop on December 9th at the Wild Horse Pass Hotel and Casino in Chandler, AZ for our esteemed host. Catch them if you can!

Here’s the video I took of the last song of the night, “Naive.” I apologize for the bumpiness…I was dancing around and being pleasantly jostled.

Home Town Boys: The Time live in Minneapolis

I wish I was Morris Day.

This desire might seem odd coming from someone who is quite literally whiter than anyone – including all white people – on the entire planet. As Morris said long ago, “You got to shake your ass like the black folks, you might get some tonight!” Needless to say, I can’t really shake my ass without eliciting laughs and hardy guffaws from my family and friends. This has always been a source of enormous consternation on my part given the undeniable fact that I love funk and soul so much that they are pretty much exactly like my blankie that I had when I was a kid.

When it comes to the greatest funk band in history I’m not white, though, I’m CLEAR. And I always will be for The Time.

I had heard the original line up of Morris Day, Jerome Benton, Jesse Johnson, Jimmy Jam, Terry Lewis, Monte Moir and Jellybean Johnson was back together again making a new record produced by Jam and Lewis. More importantly, there was little or no involvement by Prince. It would truly be a Time record unlike their first four releases. My favorite of those four will always be Pandemonium simply because the tyrant from Chanhassen allowed Jam and Lewis to really take the reins and make a great record with some of his songs. In so many ways, that record sums up the very essence of the band: silly, fun, happy, sexy, and super funkilicious.

Of course, I had seen Morris Day’s touring version of the Time with Jellybean, Moir and sometimes Jerome over the years but not the original (and best) line up. The yearning to see the original line up has always been strong and when I heard about the new record, I was amped that a tour would be forthcoming. That feeling went nuclear when I heard that two quick gigs were planned to get the band “feeling tight again” as Jimmy Jam put it. One was scheduled in Detroit and one in the band’s hometown – my hometown -Minneapolis. I found out about it two days before the show and snagged a ticket immediately.

The venue that was chosen was quite ironic. Now called Club Epic, it used to be Prince’s old club from the 90s, Glam Slam. They have since remodeled and it really looks and sounds fantastic. Everyone was in a great mood, dancing to the DJ and waiting for the band to come on. When they did, it was (pardon the pun) Pandemonium. Minnesota loves it’s hometown heroes and the adulation was insane – stunning really – when Morris and Co. first took the stage.

Their set list was the same as the Detroit show two nights earlier, and simply spectacular. “Wild and Loose” and “777-9311”, both almost 30 years old now, sounded as fresh as ever. Songs from Pandemonium (“Blondie”, “Jerk Out”) were completely out of sight. I also quite enjoyed “Skillet”, a hilarious number about the joys of cooking and food.

The real treat of the night was Jesse Johnson. That guy can fucking play the guitar! There were moments when I felt the spirit of Jimi Hendrix and this was never more true than his mini 4 song solo set in the middle of the show. Playing old and new songs, Jesse stunned the crowd with his prowess on his gorgeous white Fender. Honestly, I really felt blessed to witness it.

The show wrapped up with the customary girls on stage for “If The Kid Can’t Make You Come”, a loving and dedicated-to-Minneapolis “Ice Cream Castles”, a heartfelt and surprisingly crushing “Gigolos Get Lonely Too”, a military crisp version of “The Walk” with the whole band dancing, and anyone who wanted onstage for the melee know as “The Bird”. As the rest of the band filed off to await the encore cheers, Jimmy Jam and Jerome Benton stayed on stage to thank all of us for starting their careers and talked a little bit about the new record due soon. Jimmy Jam is just a class act. No doubt about it. Everyone came back out and they did “Jungle Love” (natch!), and were then sent off into the night dreaming of phone numbers, sticks, COOL, birds and gigolos. Weary eyed, I dreamed of what always do…

I wish I was Morris Day.

More photos after the jump…

Continue reading “Home Town Boys: The Time live in Minneapolis”

Creating Nostalgia: Midlake at the Cedar Cultural Center

That’s one amazing thing about music, the way it enters people’s worlds to become part of the soundtrack of their lives–Tom Petty, 2009

I agree completely. In fact, I think it goes even further. What if you hear a band that reminds you of a time in your life long before the band was releasing music? That’s just how I felt the first time I heard Midlake.

I had read about the Denton, Texas band in (of course) NME back in 2006. They were raving about the album Trials Of Van Occupanther, specifically the track “Roscoe.” I listened to it, downloaded the track immediately, and ordered the album from Amazon. The memories it brought back made me that impulsive.

My mind was instantly transported to the late 70’s and my old Realistic radio next to my bed. I had a tiny record player before that when I was four years old but really hadn’t had my own stereo. I listened to my dad’s or my stepdad’s stereo which, with their extensive record collections, was amazing.

Still, I always enjoyed those alone moments with my crappy AM radio…listening to WLS in Chicago…going through puberty…becoming a young man….having whatever the DJ played be the soundtrack to my life. One band I heard quite a bit over the airwaves back then was Fleetwood Mac. The sounds, feelings and texture of Midlake connected me right away to Fleetwood Mac and that exact moment in time…just as Tom Petty describes above.

I missed them when they came through on the Van Occupanther tour so when my friend Brian told me they were coming back, I grabbed the extra ticket that he had. They were playing at the Cedar Cultural Center – a mellow 70’s hippie band for a mellow 70’s hippie venue…combined with that junior varsity gymnasium feel which also contributes to that 70’s aura. I had seen White Rabbits there so I knew that the whole vibe would be insanely mellow. And perfect.

The band played a fantastic set, drawing from their new record, The Courage Of Others, as well as Van Occupanther. Every song was instantly transformative and transporting. I felt like I wasn’t really there at all. It was 1977…I was 10 years old…I had just seen Star Wars for the 7th time…and a whole world of great music was opening up to me and became the soundtrack to my life. Yet, the music was from thirty years later. Why is that?

Think about the answer for a moment. And that would be why I love music.

Check out the band on the remainder of their tour.

North South East and West: The Church @ the Varsity in Minneapolis

The Church
Varsity Theater in Minneapolis
June 21st

“I’m ready!” my friend Steve exclaimed loudly after taking a bong hit whilst standing on his head. It was the dead of winter in Minnesota in early 1988. Steve, my roommate Matt and I were about to listen to the new album by the Church entitled Starfish– purchased only hours earlier.

Steve had been into the Church way before I had. When I first met him in the fall of 1982, he had already worn out his copy of The Blurred Crusade…a drippingly wonderful psychedelic chestnut reminiscent of late 60s jangly guitar water colours. I’ll never forget the first time he played “You Took” for me. Talk about a shovel to the head stunner of a track.

As we sat blissfully stoned in the dead nut cold of 1988 and listened to what would be the biggest album the Church would ever make, we were in heaven. Starfish is  a gorgeous piece of music that will always stand the test of time. A few months later, Steve and several of his friends went to see the Church when they came to town. For whatever reason, I didn’t go. It was probably a girl.

As the years went on, I followed the Church as they made album after album. I always dug every one. They came to Minneapolis many times and I just never got around to seeing them. That’s just how it is sometimes with bands. So when my friend Brian called me up and asked, “Hey, do you want to see the Church on Sunday?” I knew that God had sent me a message.

Still basking in my last trip to the Varsity for Doves, Brian and I walked in to the theater to find a very sparse crowd. I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised given our state population’s reticence to go anywhere other than the cabin or the chair in front of the TV but…MAN…did many people in Minneapolis miss a great show.

They opened with “Tantalized” from Heyday -letting us know straight from the start that this was going to be seriously tight. Drifting between new and old material, focusing on their quite good new album Untitled #23, The Church brought us all on a galactic journey that soothed my mind and heart with cosmic dust. “You Took” was loud and amazing. I thought of Steve’s grinning face, of course, as he watched me dig it for the first time 27 years ago. “A Month of Sundays” was gorgeous. “After Everything” was quite sad but exceptional. “Deadman’s Hand” and “Pangea,” both from the new record, stood up against any song from Starfish.

They closed the set proper with “Under the Milky Way” and “Reptile” which sounded so lovely and beautiful that any regret I had had about never seeing them vanished in thin air. My mind drifted back to the Elm Street apartments in 1988 and without so much as a drop of alcohol or a puff of smoke, I felt marvelously high.

Check out The Church’s latest album, Untitled #23:

Web SiteThe Church

The Church is playing next on…..

JUN 24 WED THE INTERSECTION * GRAND RAPIDS, MI
JUN 25 THU THE MAGIC BAG * FERNDALE, MI
JUN 26 FRI BEACHLAND BALLROOM * CLEVELAND, OH
JUN 27 SAT REX THEATRE * PITTSBURGH, PA
JUN 28 SUN THE STATE THEATRE * FALLS CHURCH, VA
JUN 30 TUE RAM’S HEAD ONSTAGE * ANNAPOLIS, MD
JUL 1 WED THE TROCADERO * PHILADELPHIA, PA
JUL 2 THU SHOWCASE LIVE * FOXBOROUGH, MA
JUL 3 FRI TUPELO MUSIC HALL * LONDONDERRY, NH
JUL 7 – TRALF MUSIC HALL *BUFFALO, NY
JUL 8 WED IRVING PLAZA * NEW YORK, NY
JUL 9 THU THE RIDGEFIELD PLAYHOUSE * RIDGEFIELD, CT
JUL 10 FRI SWYER THEATRE * ALBANY, NY
JUL 11 SAT – CISCO OTTAWA BLUESFEST
JUL 12 SUN – IMPERIAL THEATRE, QUEBEC CITY.

And When You Will Walk, You’ll Be Walking With Me…

Doves
Varsity Theater, Minneapolis
May 28th

“Hey, George, where are you? You should be here man.”

I didn’t think it was possible after seeing Friendly Fires, White Lies, Travis, Franz Ferdinand, Bloc Party, and Keane (my Brit Rock Love tour) for my musical taint to be more stimulated. I should’ve known better….it was Doves.

Four years ago, almost to the day, I went to the Vic Theater in Chicago with my friends George and Annette. George I had known for 26 years and Annette for just under one year. It didn’t really matter how long I knew them because it was the first time in a long time that I was seeing a show with two people who LOVED music…who felt its power in every fiber of their being…who knew, like I always have, that music is the daily (hourly) healing elixir for the soul. And it was in Chicago…a town whose tendrils latched onto me in a wonderful and parasitic way long ago. We were ready to soak in the aural salve that is the eternal bandage to all people. And we really fucking did that evening because…it was Doves.

I look back on that night now and realize in hindsight how significant it was for me. It was the genesis of a journey on a path filled with heart. Had I not gone down that path, I would not be the person I am today. And I thank God every day for each minute, hour, day, week and month of the past four year’s quest. It’s  forged me into the man I am today and, in the best possible way, it’s still not over.

As with any bit of travel, be it physical, mental, emotional or spiritual (and in this special case, it was all four), the music you hear at that defining moment…the alpha, if you will…is to be fucking cherished. Doves were the soundtrack to that journey. This band is very, very close to my heart because they have been the underlying and terribly gorgeous hum ever since that moment four years ago.

So, I had my doubts that I could top that night back in Chicago. George was supposed to come up but couldn’t due to a conflict. Annette is living her life in Chicago.  I thought of how much I missed both of them and wished they could be drinking up the magic musical potion with me. I have to admit that the melancholy for my friends was taking its toll on me as I walked up to the Varsity Theater in the Dinkytown area of Minneapolis. Dinkytown is a four square block commercial area located right next to the University of Minnesota campus. In my day, back in the 80s, it was really not all that great. Now, it is mega. The Loring Pasta Bar, the Kitty Kat Club (so cool), the Library ( a sports bar), several cafes with outdoor seating populate the small area giving it a very warm and Parisian/Florentine feel.

As I sauntered up to the Varsity, a movie house in my day, I checked the set times with the bouncer. 9pm for Doves and it was 8pm. So I had an hour to BS with my friends at the aformentioned Kitty Kat Club for a couple of pre show cocktails. I took a few steps down the street to where the Kitty was and turned to see…Jimi Goodwin, bass player and lead singer of Doves, having a smoke and taking in the sights. WOW!

Squelching the urge to be like one of those girls in the Ed Sullivan Theater when the Beatles played there in 1964, I said, “Hey, Jimi, how’s it going?”

“Good, man.”

“Take a pic with me?” I asked with the girl inside of me jumping around like a giddy cheerleader.

“Sure.”

“And could you say a little something on a quick vid to my buddy George who couldn’t make it.”

“Of course” I started the camera.

“Hey, George, where are you? You should be here man,” Jimi said with a smile to the lens.

Other folks happened by and noticed him. He signed all our tickets and I had one more thing to say to him.

“Winter Hill…amazing fucking song, dude.”

“Tough one, innit?” he said and he looked directly at me. I knew what he meant. And when he looked at me he smiled to see that I got it too. Any notion that this night would not live up to that night four years ago was fucking out of the mother fucking window at that point. I just had a conversation with Jimi Goodwin about the meaning of one of his songs…a meaning that had direct bearing on that night four years ago…a meaning that had direct bearing on me. I had not heard a single, live note yet and I was in heaven.

My friend Heather happened upon me during all of this exchange and was kind enough to take this picture at left. After me talking a mile a minute, at the Kitty,  about how fucking top gear it was to meet Jimi, we boogied back to the Varsity and parked ourselves in the pit.

They opened with “Jetstream”, the first track from their new album Kingdom of Rust. They wrote it to be an alternate soundtrack to the opening moments of the 1981 film, Blade Runner. How cool! After that was “Snowden,” with the twins, Andy Williams (drums) and Jez Williams (guitar) sounding magnificent. And then came “Winter Hill”. On first listen to this track, it might seem to the small minded that the lads from Wimslow are straying into “Every Breath You Take” territory. But no…no no. “Winter Hill” is about sacred love – the kind that you get from being on a journey filled with heart…the kind that stays with you forever.

The rest of their set was an excellent mix of tracks from all four of their albums. “Rise” was triumphant. “Pounding” kicked ass. “Words” was stunning. “The Greatest Denier” caused me to reflect very deeply. In so many ways, I am the greatest denier of the human condition. As the last song of the set proper began, “Caught by the River,” Jimi sang:

“Son
What have you done?
You’re caught by the river
You’re coming undone

Life
You know it can’t be so easy
But you can’t just leave it
Cause you’re not in control no more

And you give it all away
Would you give it all away now?
Don’t let it come apart
Don’t want to see you come apart”

Can someone explain to me how melancholy, through music, can actually be a good thing?

Carrying this feeling further, the first song of the encore was the rarely played “Northenden” with only Jimi on acoustic guitar and their tour keyboard player Martin Rebelski providing accompaniment. As Andy and Jez came back on stage, Jimi went back  to the drum kit. Andy had his harmonica with him and stepped up to the mic so we knew what was next…”Here It Comes.” Doves have always impressed me with their ability to swap around instruments and play whatever they need to play to suit the song.

“The Last Broadcast” was next which re-ignited my interest in that song. Finally came the ultimate exercise in self actualization, “There Goes The Fear,” and as this last song echoed into the night..the perfect song for the perfect moment…the realization swept over me that while this night wasn’t “better” or “worse” than that night four years ago, it was different…different in the most touching way. As Jimi had told me a couple of hours before,

“Tough one, innit?”

Doves will be playing Detroit, Toronto, Drummondsville East, Montreal, New York, Philly, DC, and Boston in the next few weeks before heading back to the UK.

Visit: Doves.net

Bedshaped and Legs of Stone: Keane @ Myth

“Everyone knows that the biggest wankers in any band are the drummer, the keyboard player, and the lead vocalist. And that’s their whole band, innit?” So sayeth Noel Gallagher on the subject of Keane. While there is a small grain of truth to what the elder of Brit Pop says, Keane is still a massively good band.

The first time I saw them, back in 2004 on their Hopes and Fears tour at Quest (formerly Glam Slam and home of the sound system that gargles old-man-in-a-rest-home-testicles), honestly, they didn’t need any more than those three instruments. Richard Hughes’s drums were explosive. Tim Rice-Oxley’s (could he HAVE a more Brit sounding name?) keyboards filled the full melodic and sonic spectrum. And Tom Chaplin?

The voice of a fucking angel.

I challenge any of you Ickmusic fans to listen to “Bedshaped” and not have your heart melt into a lysergic acid diethylamideinduced water colour of gut wrenching, broken hearted nostalgia. There is a man or woman out there – for all of you – who is the purest definition of this song. So with all due respect, Noel – you are incorrect.

Imagine my surprise when Keane took the stage last Friday night at Myth in Maplewood (see: essentially Wisconsin) with a bass player in tow and Tom sporting a…Fender guitar?

After three albums, Keane has decided to build upon their three piece arrangement and expand their width of vision. Their new album, Perfect Symmetry, gives a giant shout out to the entirety of the 1980s while sounding wonderfully modern at the same time. Their first track of the night, “The Lovers Are Leaving,” found me reminiscing of Roxy Music (Avalon era), ABC, and Spandau Ballet, yet remaining fully entrenched in a 00’s dream pop bliss. As their set progressed, remaining mainly with their current effort and Hopes and Fears, I was perfectly and willingly trapped in that bliss.

Snapping out of hypnosis and midway through their set proper, the band left the stage to leave only Tom and…an acoustic guitar. Knowing what the next song would be (because I peeked at setlist.fm), I was stunned. One of my two favorite Keane songs: “Your Eyes Open”. An absolute stunner played with quiet certitude. Perhaps it was the minor key.

The band then rejoined him for the obligatory “unplugged” moment at the front of the stage. The first song from their second album, Under the Iron Sea, was played: “Try Again.” And then, in an extremely touching moment, Tom said, “We put this song in the set list earlier this afternoon, when it was quite sunny here in Minnesota. And then it started pissing down in English style!” Thus, we heard “Sunshine” and our hearts were warmed.

As the set concluded with more songs from Perfect Symmetry and the very last song of the set – the triumphant “Crystal Ball” – I found myself hearkening back to the awkwardness of the 8th grade dance…the 80s rag back in full force…wondering if falling in love for the first or last time was ever worth it. They left the stage to exulting hand raises and the anticipation of…the encore…and…that song. THE song.

It was nice to hear a new song (“My Shadow”) at the start of the encore. It was even nicer to hear more from Iron Sea, the other hit from that second effort, Is It Any Wonder?. The anticipation was palatable. The crowd could taste it in the air. Their hearts were ready. Mine certainly was.

And then it came.

Starting with the warmth of gentle kiss, building to an orgasmic cascade of sonic love in its purest form, and then going back and forth between the two…mother fucking “Bedshaped”… played with all of the softness and terror that all things carnal bring. As the final notes echoed through the club and the band left the stage, I shuffled off the floor of the pit through the empty cups and bottles. And, as it always is with Keane…my heart warmed and broken at the same time.

Keane will be playing in DC, Philly, Boston, Toronto, Cleveland, Montclair, and NYC in the next two weeks.

Hear: Bedshaped (mp3)

Links: Keane’s Official Site | MySpace

The Truth About Funk

Behind the scenes, I have quite a cool little network of like-minded folks when it comes to the music of Prince. We have a soft spot for that golden era in Prince music – the 80’s – when he was as prolific as ever. We also have fond memories of his side projects and off-shoots from that era – the Time (of course), The Family, Madhouse… So how cool is it to see that some members of these groups – St. Paul Peterson, Jellybean Johnson, Jerry Hubbard, and the great Eric Leeds – have come together to form The Truth.

Their mission? Keep the Minneapolis Sound alive! And throw in some old school funk from the likes of Funkadelic, Cameo, and the Ohio Players while they’re at it. The guys are tight and funky as hell live, very true to the originals, and boy can they play the sheeet out of some Prince jams… “Erotic City”, “DMSR”, and even “America”.

The kicker? A new live album recorded at Minneapolis’s Fine Line that showcases their conglomerate of Prince-inspired talent. Who knows how they feel personally about their old boss, but make no mistake that they’re paying tribute to him, and to an era very important to a lot of us – an era that will never be matched.

This live album comes highly recommended… here’s a taste:

The Truth High Fashion (mp3)

Buy It on iTunes or CD Baby.

Visit the band on MySpace.

The Truth is:

  • St. Paul Peterson (The Time, The Family) on bass, vocals, guitar and keyboards
  • Jellybean Johnson (The Time, The Family) on guitar
  • Odell (Mint Condition) on guitar and vocals
  • Jerry Hubbard (The Time, Jesse Johnson) on bass, keyboards, guitar and vocals
  • Chance Howard (Prince, The Time) on bass guitar, bass synth and vocals
  • Kip Blackshire (Prince) on vocals, keyboards and guitar
  • Kirk Johnson (Prince) on drums and vocals
  • Eric Leeds (Prince) on saxophones, keyboards and vocals
  • Donnie Lamarca (Johny Lang, Mick Sterling) on keyboards.