Friday, November 16, 2012

The Who in Brooklyn 11/14/12 - Quadrowhothewha...?

First saw The Who on their second farewell tour during the opening run of four shows at Giants Stadium back in 1989.  It was good I bought tix for another night of that run.  Since then I've caught a show on most of their US tours (including one of their six nights on the second - after the original - Quadrophenia tour run at Madison Square Garden in 1996).  Without reviewing my ticket stubs, I believe last night(November 14, 2012)'s stop in Brooklyn was Who show number seven for me. 

Would my first visit to the newly opened Barclays Center be lucky number seven and continue the run of great shows?

Sadly the answer was no.

Hopped on the train in Poughkeepsie and met up with my buddy Kevin (the biggest Who fan I know).  Good ride down to Grand Central where we grabbed the #4 Subway to the Atlantic Avenue-Barclays stop.  From there you get off the train, jump on the escalator and you are at the Barclays entrance.  Gotta love this set up!

Barclays itself is quite nice.  Super friendly and helpful staff in abundance.  Lots of food choices if you're hungry (including Juniors Cheesecake - nice!).  Maybe I need to investigate more, but the beer selection was limited.  Standard Bud, Bud light, Coors and Heineken I believe.  Some beer carts have Brooklyn Lager.  Prices were typical.  Our seats were the last row on the left side - you can see the view from the pics.  Went with the cheapest seats - $53 including all charges...pretty cheap for an arena show. 

Overall the actual arena area was nothing special - but the ease of getting and leaving there and food choices if you're running late and want to eat make it quite nice, but enough about the venue...

We did run a little late and got in a couple of minutes after 8:00pm (showtime was 7:30pm) so we missed opening band Vintage Trouble who's set ended as we were getting to our section after stopping for a beer.

We settled in and at 8:30 on the dot the lights dimmed.  The beach/sea video used throughout the performance came up on the video screen and as the "I Am The Sea" was played on an otherwise unlit stage to audience cheers.

Pete Townshend, Roger Daltrey and company then kicked in to "The Real Me" and the audience was up on it's feet rocking, this was then followed by the instrumental song "Quadrophenia" and the trouble with the show began.

Throughout the song, which is something of a prelude with teases of the songs to follow, the audience started to sit.  Let me add that much of this review regarding the audience does not apply to those on the floor, most of whom did stand for the entire show.  I'm describing my section which was typical of most of the above floor sections of this near sold out show.

This song also gave a hint that it appeared much of this audience did NOT want to hear Quadrophenia in it's entirety, but mostly just wanted to hear "Love, Reign O'er Me", the closing track from the album.  This song is teased right at the end of the song "Quadrophenia" and garnered a large cheer and people jumping up, only to sit down 20 seconds later when they realized The Who were not actually playing the song at this time.

The next song, "Cut My Hair" lost the majority of the rest of the audience with everyone just sitting politely.  I thought "The Punk and The Godfather" would get them back as while not a "hit", this song gets substantial play on classic rock radio (or at least on WPDH - the local Poughkeepsie "Home of Rock n Roll"), but overall it was as if the excitement had been sucked out of the room.  There was decent applause between songs but no electricity at all in the room.

This continued for the first 10 (of 17) songs of Quadrophenia.

I think part of the problem is that Quadrophenia is not necessarily "singles" friendly, but I know when I saw the band perform it in 1996 it was stellar and the crowd loved it.  Was the band lacking?

I say somewhat here.  In '96 you not only had the band, but also had the special guests (Billy Idol, Gary Glitter) who's appearances here and there throughout did add another level of excitement and cheers that would have helped immensely here.  And let me repeat was 1996...this is 16 years later...Pete is 67 and Roger is 68 and I'm sad to say this is the first time I've seen age (mostly in the case of Roger) having an effect on a Who show.

There was an oomph missing to many of the tracks.  It would come back here and there...for instance I thought "The Dirty Jobs" was very strong and it woke the audience up a little - but most of the audience didn't know it so they could only get so excited.

This was just the wrong tour for most of this audience to attend - other than Kevin, no one sitting around me knew any of the songs that don't get radio play.

Back to the age issue.  I don't think this was an issue for Pete.  Pete was very strong both on vocals and guitar, particularly in the second half of the show, and Roger can still sing - but some of the songs just seemed too much of a vocal work out which we'll get to in a bit.

I wonder if the issue with Roger was the main reason for doing a "Quadrophenia" tour as opposed to a Greatest Hits tour as Roger has nothing to do during much of this part of the show.  There are numerous 5 and sometimes almost 10 minute stretches where there are either no vocals or Pete (or Simon Townshend) is handling the vocal duties.

At an hour into the show, as The Who was performing "I've Had Enough", it was obvious that's how much of the audience felt.  Let me note that it didn't help that there was absolutely NO interacion with the audience at all, not even a "Hello Brooklyn" when they came out.  The Who would not acknowledge the audience until after Quadrophenia was complete.

I turned to Kevin as "I've Had Enough" was ending and said if anything will get them back into it, it would be the next song "5:15" with it's horns and plenty of airplay.  This song would prove to be a bit of a turning point in the show.

Much of the audience did recognize the song and were into it, but then it started going into an extended outro and John Entwistle appeared on the video screen playing along with the band which turned into him playing a video bass solo jamming live with Zak Starkey on drums.  I have to say it was very cool and the audience LOVED it and went nuts.  It was the first time in the show since the opening that everyone was fully engaged.

At this point in the show, Pete stepped up his game partly because more of the remaining songs allowed for him to play power chord guitar God.

A strong "Sea and Sand" followed into "Drowned" and the audience was definitely more into it, but were slipping.  Next up was "Bell Boy" were the video screen was another hit.

Roger sang the verses and then during the spoken parts, Keith Moon appeared on the video screen to perform with the live band on stage.  Like with the video of the Ox in "5:15", the audience loved it and went wild.

We were now getting towards the end of the the main Quadrophenia set with another tune that gets some good airplay, "Dr. Jimmy."  This also had the advantage of riding the Moon wave from "Bell Boy."  I have to say this was one of the biggest songs Daltrey had issues with all night - I literally thought he might pass out and not make it through the song - he looked in pain trying to keep up and get the vocals out (although it did sound okay).   "The Rock" was next and then the lights all went down and the big hit on the album, "Love Reign O'er Me," started.

This was another one Roger seemed to strain through to the point he took about a 1 second attempt at the final "LOOOVVVVVVVEEEEE" scream at the end and just gave it up - but the audience knew this one and as it closed out "Quadrophenia," they stood and cheered wildly.  Out of the previous 90 minutes (which is exactly how long this portion of the show lasted), it was what they came to see (along with the 40 minutes to follow).

After this many of the stage lights came up and the band FINALLY addressed the audience for about 5 to 10 minutes while introducing the band.

The band would not leave the stage at all, it was now into the "Other Hits" part of the show.

They kept all of the audience on their feet through "Who Are You" but then suprisingly everyone started sitting down again for "Behind Blue Eyes".  Both sounded fine, but that was the problem - I've seen them perform these and most of the remaining songs at every Who show I've ever attended and these did seem to have something missing.   They were good, but not great.

Pinball Wizard was next and to me the best song of this set.

Then it was the one two punch of "Baba O'Riley" into "Won't Get Fooled Again."  Everyone was up for these and they were again good versions and I'm guessing if I didn't have 6 other times seeing them to compare them to I would have liked them much more.  The audience loved screaming "It's only teenage wasteland" in Baba and I didn't hold much hope for Roger to do what I consider the best rock scream in any song ever at the end of "Won't Get Fooled Again",  but while he might have had some issues earlier in the show, he saved up and nailed that scream!

At this point the rest of the band left the stage, and as they've done of late, Roger and Pete end the show with "Tea & Theatre" which I think is a beautiful way to say goodnight.

So overall, I'm always glad to see The Who, but if this turns out to be their last tour, I wish they had not picked "Quadrophenia" and went with a career spanning show instead.  At the same time, I knew what I was buying a ticket for and was glad to buy it (and let me strees - I LOVE the album "Quadrophenia") - I just don't understand why so much of the rest of the audience reaction was so tame when you go in knowing this.  But again, out of the two hours and 10 minutes, about an hour was bonafide hits and that alone could be worth the price of admission.  Perhaps they were thinking, to steal from the Stones who I'll see again in a month, that this could be the last time for The Who.

So it was a show of maybe's for me...maybe if I was young and just discovered the Who and loved Quadrophenia in particular and never saw them before and this was my first show of theirs...maybe, I think probably, I would have loved this show (if I was in a more excited section especially or on the floor especially).  But of the seven times I've now seen The Who - it's the first time I left not loving it and thinking at times the band was going through the motions.

or maybe it was just a bad night.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Austin Delights - The Music and Movies edition

This will be a first in a series of blogs about my Austin trip.

So once Hurricane Sandy passed through the Northeast, we were allowed to return to New York with our all the cool stuff we bought in tow.  Here I'll discuss the various movie and music goodies we found.

The 2012 Austin Record Convention was going on the weekend we were visiting and I've always wanted to go.  We headed over around noon on Saturday and the initial thought upon walking in the door was overwhelming. 

I used to go to record cons all the time, but like many collectible related fields - the internet has killed off many of these shows and in many cases all that survive are some very small local shows and a few really big ones like this. 

I stayed about three hours and scored some cool finds.  Vinyl was definitely the main thrust of the show with I would say 75% of the available goods being vinyl records, maybe 20% CD's and the rest a mix of other related items (a few dealers selling bootleg videos and a small mix here and there of memorabilia.  I was definitely hoping for a few more tables of memorabilia - in particular old music magazines) but this was not the show for that...this is for serious vinyl fiends.

Considering I wasn't looking for any specific vinyl, I did a "quick" (an hour) run through the room to check out the non vinyl goods.  Magazine wise I just scored a couple of mags including this old issue of BAM from May 24, 1985 (with a great cover feature on Lone Justice.  I dig them, but love lead singer Maria McKee's solo stuff much more)

Magazines like this are my fave as they capture the local music scenes and contain tons of great old concert ads.  Check out May 11 on the ad below featuring an at the time little local band called Guns n' Roses playing out well before even their Live Like A Suicide EP was released.  Totally dig this type of music history. (and look.Poison, newly arrived from Pennsylvania played a gig a week later.  This issue features probably the first feature on Brett and the boys as well.)

I rarely buy bootlegs anymore (because you can basically get it all for free online), but did upgrade my copy of the out of print flick "Never Too Young To Die".  My copy was dubbed from a higher generation VHS with annoying French subtitles running across the bottom throughout.  This copy is basically pristine sound and picture so definitely worth the 10 bucks.  What's it about you ask?  Well John Stamos is a college student who has a mysterious James Bond-ish Dad who gets killed.  Luckily the suave Stamos is rooming with a nerdy geek who can MacGuyver up all kinds of cool spy gear.  Stamos goes to find what happens and runs into Evil Gene Simmons of Kiss who when not destroying families is a nightclub drag queen. IS as awesome as you're thinking.  Also picked up a VHS copy of Slumber Party Massacre II for 2 bucks.  Really, how can you pass that up?!

That was basically it for the first run through.  Now there were about 250 tables of over one million records to go through...yikes!

First let me say that while many dealers really sort and label and clearly price their items I was amazed at the amount of dealers who basically just seemed to bring boxes of records (and this applied to many of the CD dealers as well) that were almost completely unsorted.  I guess some people spend all weekend going through every record looking for a hidden gem, but I had no time or patience so I went around and narrowed my search at every dealer table.  First I would drool over their backdrop of super rare expensive Albums and Singles?  You want rare - we got rare.  Beatles butcher covers?  I saw at least a dozen.  Velvet Underground unpeeled first pressings - bountiful...Private Press Psych - just hand over some hundreds and they are yours.  Pantera's first album sealed - a mere $750 and it's yours...quote the dealer as I picked it up to look at the price "It's REALLY hard to find still sealed.").  It was cool to see these albums.  I was hoping to find a bargain vinyl copy of The Replacements "Let It Be", but the one copy I saw was a bit beat up and $95!  It's one of my fave albums (and album covers) but I can get one on ebay for $50 or so whenever I want.

After checking out the rare and expensive, I basically wanted records more for design for my apartment so I then looked for crates marked one of the following: Exotica, Bachelor Pad, Weird, Oddities, etc.  I scored some cool stuff indeed. 

Or at least I think it's cool...judge for yourself:

Tony Mottola joins the Guitar Underground - Love this supercool gatefold cover and will probably give this badboy a listen as well.  Great condition!

Music For Big Dame Hunters - I've always wanted this one with an AWESOME Pin-Up cover feturing Irish McCalla as sexy Sheena.  I've seen this album before for quite a bit of $$$, but this dealer had Just the sleeve for $7.50 which I considered a major score as I just want it as wall art.  It's currently framed and rockin in my living room.

For Men Only - With a classic Jayne Mansfield cover.  Something about this just spoke to me...well two things could I resist

Serenade for Sex Kittens - I kinda dig it, but not as much as the two above, we'll see if this makes it on the the wall 50's sexiness I appear to have going on.

Doug Clark and the Hot Nuts - On Campus.  For 5 bucks I couldn't pass up this album on Gross Records.  For Adults only.  I look forward to giving this a listen - anyone ever heard of them?

The Sinceros - The Sound of Sunbathing.  Some tasty New Wave.

and last but not least The Rudy Ray Moore Christmas Album!  Didn't even know this existed and there's no way I'm passing up Christmas with Dolemite! Gives new meaning to Ho Ho Ho!

So that was my trip to the record con.  Over the course of our stay we hit up a few other record/music stores but we were all so burnt out on flipping through racks that I mainly was just looking for cool stuff that pops out at me.  One such place was Waterloo Records where I got this cool clock.  Been looking for clock for my wall and this one works just fine.

Stopped at Wild About Music on 6th which is all shirts, jewelry, artwork etc related to music.  Some really cool stuff, but hit this joint up close to the last day in town and didn't have alot of money or room left in the suitcase, so I just scored one of their cool bags for 3 bucks.

Austin is really just amazing for the wealth of used record/CD/movie stores.  We hit up Friends of Sound while on South Congress plus there's a chain of stores called Half Price Books Records and Magazines.  We went to one of them and it had the coolest selection of oddball movies in the DVD section for cheap.  If I had time, I would have visited the 2 or 3 other ones in Austin as well, but here's a bit of what I scored there (Actually Scumrock I picked up at Waterloo - they have a great DVD selection as well)

I got a Jess Franco triple shot with the Vampire Lovers set and Virgin Report.  A few B-Movie Collections one of which is called Psychos with four flicks including "The Sadist" starring Arch Hall Jr.  I've always wanted to check out this 1963 cult classic.  I also picked up another movie that I've almost bought a ton of times and will surely make it's way into one of my monthly double feature movie nights - Troma's "Surf Nazis Must Die."  Yep, it's high brow all the way in my DVD collection!

Another cool thing I learned about Austin while on the hunt for other shops with stellar goods is that Austin has some amazing privately owned video rental stores!  We first saw an add for Vulcan Video in the South Congress neighborhood and went in and the shelves were lined with so many amazing flick and I then realized they were rental only!!  Oh man...unreal large cult classic sections, Museum size classic television sections and it just seemed at least half of the stuff was way out of print. 

Right next to the ad for this joint was an ad for a place called I Heart (luv) Video.  The ad said "Buying and Selling" and "100's of videos for sale."  I even pointed out to my sister and her boyfriend that they must have made an error in the only said hundreds of videos, they must mean bad!

We drive over and see this amazing place:
Lolita!  Slackers! Metropolis! Pink Flamingos! Charlie Chaplin!  Oh man that's just one side of the building - this place is gonna be awesome!

We walk around to the front:
Yellow Submarine! Lucha Libre! Eraserhead!  "Rare and Unique Video for the Connoisseur!"

We walk's big, two floors, very cool and...90% rentals!!! ARGH!!! DAMN YOU AUSTIN AND YOUR ALTERNATIVES TO BLOCKBUSTER!!!"  So the "100's of movies for sale" was true...just a couple of hundred (and nothing I wanted) mixed with many thousands I could only rent.

Next time I come to Austin I might hold a Double Feature night in my hotel room!

And we'll stop here...This covers the stores we hit up for movies and music...but to come we have the nightlife, the shops, the food and as they like to proclaim...The Weird

By the way...If you're going to Austin and dug this review...check out my friend Melissa's Blog from her trip there a few years'll surely notice I took some of her advice on some of my stops...I hope my blogs add to your guide:

Friday, January 27, 2012

Concert Review: Manitoba - The Bowery Electric, NYC January 26, 2012

     Handsome Dick Manitoba is back with a great new band made up of old friends and bandmates including Daniel Rey (guitar) and J.P. Patterson (drums) from Manitoba's Wild Kingdom along with Dean Rispler (bass). The band is rounded out by Ross The Boss also from MWK and the Dictators (not to mention Manowar - saw quite a few Manowar fans in attendance and numerous signs of the hammer being thrown in the air throughout the night.)

     This was my first time at The Bowery Electric, a multilevel club/bar a block away from where CBGB once was, which is co-owned by Jesse Malin whose birthday just happened to be this night. It must be nice to be able to throw a party like this to celebrate!

     My buddy and I took the train down from Poughkeepsie and cabbed it to the club getting there about 8:45 or so. We walked in and were directed down the stairs through the velvet curtains into a great tiny space to see a show! There's a small low stage with maybe 20' x 25' feet in front of it, then you can walk up about 5 steps to a long narrow bar space (with an additional small extra bar room with a mini bar at the back.)

     Not many folks there when we arrived - maybe 40 tops, but seeing how small it was we knew this joint was gonna be packed for the second gig ever by Manitoba! Two more friends arrived, we drank, chatted, watched the three openers and at 11:30 on the dot, the lights went down and the theme song from "Chariots of Fire" played as the band came on stage - very epic indeed!

     As expected the place was PACKED.  I saw a sign on the wall saying occupancy was limited to 108, but I think it had to be closer to 200. The show had sold out a few days prior, but I'm sure those in attendance did did not just include all the folks who scored a tic, but also those lucky enough to know someone who could get them on the guestlist.

     The "Chariots" theme ended and the band blasted into "The Party Starts Now!!" by Manitoba's Wild Kingdom. As stated above, this was the band's second show ever (the first being part of the "Light Of Day" Festival about two weeks earlier) but they sounded like they'd been playing together for years...and well, in essence they have been in various combinations.

     "Party..." was followed up by a Dictators triple shot with "The Next Big Thing", "Avenue A" and Baby, Let's Twist". Just about every song in the set with preceeded with an energetic and always humorous tale from HDM. The setlist that followed was:

Haricut and Attitude (Manitoba's Wild Kingdom)
Pussy and Money (The Dictators) - This is absolutely one of my faves and was glad they played it!
Who Will Save Rock n Roll (The Dictators)
Prototype (Manitoba's Wild Kingdom) - This was so friggin rockin! Awesome!
Slow Death - The Flamin' Groovies cover that was done by the Dictators
Faster and Louder (The Dictators)
New York New York (Manitoba's Wild Kingdom)
Stay With Me (The Dictators).

     "Stay With Me" was a great end to the main set which lasted about an hour.  We knew there had to be at least a little more to come when the band left the stage. Amongst cheers they came back about 5 minutes later starting off the encore set with the obvious choice of "Two Tub Man" which included an extended band introduction in the middle.

     "Tub" was followed by a great suprise for the crowd that wasn't even noted on the setlist (I nabbed Dean's setlist after the show as shown below). HDM introduced the club's proprietor and Birthday boy Jesse Malin who joined the band for the last two numbers.

     The first of these was a KILLER version of The Stooges "Loose!" Jesse basically took main vocals on this while HDM rocked out and did some back up. The night was ended with the punk tinged surf rock of another cover the Dictators did - "California Sun" which featured HDM and Jesse trading off verses. Then it was a done and I was off to catch the last train home to Poughkeepsie. Great show and hopefully we'll be seeing Manitoba playing out often.