Monday, July 10, 2017

Pink Martini with The Colorado Symphony and Rufus Wainwright at Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Morrison, CO on 07/06/17

Pink Martini with The Colorado Symphony
There was a joyful atmosphere at Red Rocks Amphitheatre on Thursday night. The mature crowd was in a carefree mood. The security guards were pleased to be working at a tranquil event (the opposite of the electric dance music from the previous night). Assistant conductor Christopher Dragon grinned as he led the Colorado Symphony through a spirited night of music spanning across the globe.

Rufus Wainwright and his tiger pants
A bearded Rufus Wainwright wearing a western shirt, pants covered with tiger images, and sandals opened with Oh What A World. The biographical song states, "Why am I always on a plane or a fast train/Oh what a world my parents gave me/Always .... traveling." Wainwright is the son of folk music legends Loudon Wainwright III and Kate MaGarrigle. He has been a traveling musician since the age of 13. The symphony's string section backed his lofty cabaret voice perfectly during Vibrate (a song about a relationship through cellphone calls). In contrast, Wainwright covered The Beatles' Across the Universe and Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah.  When lighting flashed, Wainwright smiled and informed the audience, "It was Leonard."

Thomas Lauderdale and China Forbes
Pink Martini's Bandleader/pianist Thomas Lauderdale met lead vocalist China Forbes while attending Harvard. They bonded over Puccini and Verdi (also socializing and not studying). A few years after graduating, they formed Pink Martini in Lauderdale's hometown of Portland, Oregon. The first song they wrote Je ne vex pas travailler (Sympathique) made them a sensation in France and they have been touring the world ever since. Pink Martini describes them selves as The United Nations house band of 1962 meets Lawrence Welk on acid. The music of the evening covered several different languages (thankfully English was one of them).

China Forbes and Conductor Christopher
Dragon of the Colorado Symphony
China Forbes, the self proclaimed Diva Next Door, requested all the Turks in the audience join her on stage while she sang the Turkish Akim Bahardi from their new album Je Dis Oui. Featured singer Timothy Nishimoto shared a story about his Japanese uncle limited English language skills as the introduction to Zundoko Bushi (Nishimoto inserts the phrase "Big One" as a tribute to his uncle during the song). The Armenian love song Ov Sirun Sirun was performed as a duet between Timothy Nishimoto and English horn player Kyle Mustain.  Pink Martini performed the Spanish Yo Te Quiero Siempre, German Ich Dich Liebe, French Joli Garcon, and Croatian U Plavu Zoru. Turning the music back to the English language, Forbes dedicated Song of the Moon to the love of her life whom she meet on the dating app Bumble (an endorsement for online dating).  Fan favorite Eugene got the audience on their feet to the tale of China Forbes drunken encounter with a young man at a party.

Pink Martini - all photos taken by the Rock and Roll Princess
Rufus Wainwright came back to recreate the famous Judy Garland and Barbara Streisand duet Get Happy /Happy Days Are Here Again (Wainwright was Judy and Forbes was Babs). The night ended with their signature song Brasil complete with shakers, horn solos, and a whistle.  "Then tomorrow was another day/The morning found us miles away/With still a million things to say."

See you at the next show.  I'll be the one in the tiger pants singing in Croatian.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Denver Broncos Block Party featuring Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness and Edison at Sports Authority Field Mile High on 7/2/17

Bronco Block Party at the South Lawn at
Sports Authority Field at Mile High
It's not everyday that you enter a concert and get high-fived by Miles the Denver Broncos Mascot. This was the first Denver Broncos Block Party (the next one will be in September). The crowd was made up of a mixture of Denver Broncos fans thrilled to get a chance to gaze upon all three Denver Bronco Lombardi Trophies and Andrew McMahon fans thrilled to get a chance to gaze upon the man himself.

Andrew McManhon started playing piano by ear at the age of nine. His band Something Corporate were signed to a recording contract two years after McMahon graduated from high school.  He later fronted Jack's Mannequin a more mainstream piano rock band until 2014. Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness is his latest musical venture that has produced two albums and one major hit.

Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness
Smoke started billowing out from the stage signaling the start of the show. Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness got the crowd dancing right away by playing Fire Escape (about being up till dawn) from their latest album Zombies on Broadway. McMahon told the crowd, "If you have something to do tomorrow, cancel it." This was his introduction to Dead Man's Dollar about a musician's sacrifice to earn a living making music.

After playing a large portion of new material, McMahon played songs from his Jack's Mannequin period.  Dark Blue, a song about isolation, had the crowd singing-a-long passionately and loudly to every lyric. Swim, a ballad written about his fight against leukemia, gave McMahon an opportunity to promote his charity Dear Jack Foundation that raises money for cancer research.

Andrew McMahon and a patriotic pool toy
A rainbow parachute (like children use in gym class) was given to the audience to wave along to the disco inspired Synesthesia.  McMahon pleaded for politics not to divide us, but have music unite us (it might be a good idea to send rainbow parachutes to Washington). Fulfilling his patriotic duty, McMahon crowd surfed on an inflatable eagle asking the crowd not to let him fall on someone (safety first). Cecilia and the Satellite, his biggest hit, closed the show to the crowd once again singing-a-long.  The eagle pool toy sadly did not make another appearance during the encore.

Denver's own Edison got the Denver Bronco Block Party started. Singer Sarah Slaton, wearing her signature back fedora, led the band through a set of indie-folk rock melodies about traveling, astrological signs, and raging. The band recently moved out of their apartments and put everything in storage to hit the road in their van named Van Morrison dragged by their trailer named Trailer Swift (awe ... road humor). They shared their love for traveling while performing Open Road that has lately received radio airplay. The Denver Bronco Block Party was silenced during Slaton's battle cry during Civil War, "My head/My Heart/Are raging a civil war." It sounds like she might need an inflatable pool toy to cheer her up.

See you at the next show.  I'll be the one riding an eagle floatation device high-fiving a mascot.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Corey Feldman with La Rissa Vienna and the Strange, and The Jacob Cade Project at the Buffalo Rose in Golden, CO on 6/23/17.

Corey Feldman and the Angels
I went to Corey Feldman and the Angels with low expectations. I assumed his band would play their instruments as seriously as the models in a Robert Palmer video. I thought Feldman would do his Michael Jackson imitation for a hand full of curious onlookers and it would be over in minutes.

I was wrong.  Feldman entertained a near sold out audience for over two hours. He had more costume changes than a Cher concert, more show business stories than a vaudevillian comedian, and a set list that took the audience through his lengthy career.

Corey Feldman and the Angels
After a propaganda video listing his multiple movies, television appearances, and musical albums, the scantly clad Angels appeared on stage complete with illuminated wings and halos. Corey Feldman followed wearing a Michael Jackson like black leather ensemble (except he wore both gloves). After playing a few songs from his new album Angelic 2 the Core, it was apparent that this was going to be a real show.

Throughout his career Feldman contributed music to the soundtracks to many of his movies. Playing the songs from these films provided a way to take the audience through his career (the video clips helped as well).  He also covered Beatles, Michael Jackson (one of his closest friends according to Feldman), and Little Richard songs.

Angel Margo
To prove his band (the Angels) really did play their own instruments, Feldman spotlighted them throughout the night.  His wife and keyboardist Angel Courtney Anne sang Cyndi Lauper's The Goonies 'R' Good Enough from the 1985 movie Goonies (Feldman portrayed Clark 'Mouth' Devereaux in the film).  Angel Margo played the violin to an original composition.  Twenty-one-year-old Angel Jimena Fosado impressed me the most. She played a mash up of The White StripesMetallica, and Nirvana guitar hooks.

Corey Feldman reappeared in a hooded outfit playing the drums while smoking a vape cigarette. The Angeles sang Stand by Me with clips from the 1986 Rob Reiner movie with the same name playing in the background (Feldman played Teddy Duchamp in the film).

The night ended with Corey Feldman on a hover board singing Go For It.  It was symbolic of his show. Sounds ridiculous, but it turned out to be surprisingly entertaining.

The Jacob Cade Project
The three-piece band The Jacob Cade Project played before the Angels landed on stage.  Jacob Cade is a singer guitar player from Parker, Colorado that just graduated from high school.  He has been playing the guitar since he was four-years-old.  He woke the crowd up with his fast paced song Green Light Go. Next was a rapid fire set of Jimi Hendrix, Aerosmith, Led Zeppelin, and Joe Walsh covers.  Base player Jim Cade looked old enough to be Jacob's Dad ... because he is his Dad.  Jacob Cade slowed things down by playing an original song about a recent brake up.  But what really wowed the crowd was his guitar playing.  When he would play a difficult lick, Jacob would stick his tongue out and smile. He took advantage of the large crowd at the end of the night by encouraging everyone to text a number for free music.

Opening act La Rissa Vienna and the Strange played their spooky rock to the diverse Corey Feldman audience. Lead singer LaRissa Vienna sang songs written to inspire the underdogs and the outcasts while doing her Tae Bo moves she learned from her mother's Billy Blanks videos.  Bass player Aaron Mendoza and guitar player Nick Workman worked heavy metal touches into the music.  At the same time, violin player Vanity Welch (wearing a Goonies t-shirt) added to the depth of the songs with her classically trained playing.

See you at the next show.  I'll be the one riding the hover board in the Goonies t-shirt.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Shooter Jennings & Waymore's Outlaws with Radio Birds and Casey James Prestwood and the Burning Angeles in Denver, CO at the Summit Music Hall on 6/21/17

Shoot Jennings with Waymore's Outlaws
Waylon Jennings passed away more than fifteen-years ago, but the country outlaw's music lives on through his son, his backing band, and in the hearts of fans like the guy with the Waylon tattoo in front of the stage.

Waylon Jennings band named Waymore's Outlaws have been performing Waylon Jennings songs for several years. Singer Tommy Townsend took the legendary band through classics such as Luckenback TX (Back to the Basics of Love), Good Time Woman (complete with a Willie Nelson impression), and Theme Song from the Dukes of Hazard (Good Ol'Boys).  A few minutes later, they all appeared together with the headliner.

Blonde Woman of Intoxication
Shooter Jennings grew up on his father's tour bus. He started playing music from the age of five. Shooter turned down the chance to front the rock super group Velvet Revolver to pursue country. He has produced music with everyone from Marilyn Manson to Billy Ray Cyrus.

Right when Shooter joined the Waymore's Outlaws onstage, an enthusiastic fan (really drunk girl) pushed through the crowd to be front and center. She displayed her embarrassing dancing skills and obnoxious heavy metal hand gestures with everyone around her.  She repeatedly yelled, "Shooter what are your drinkin'?" Shooter Jennings finally had to mumble Jack and Coke between songs to shut her up. Another over zealous fan in the front row showed off his Waylon insignia tattoo to impress the blonde woman of intoxication. After she informed the branded man about her husband at the bar, the annoying outlaw country lover disappeared to the relief of everyone around her (except for the broken hearted guy next to the stage).

Shooter Jennings
Wearing a tattered MC5 shirt and sunglasses, Shooter Jennings played a hit filled crowd-pleasing set. Highlights were 4th of July, Living in Minor Key, and Nashville from Afar. Shooter dedicated a song to his decreased best friend and music manager Colonel Jon Hensley. Hensley was responsible for many musical careers.  He nudged Shooter towards his country roots and (my Lord and Savor) Jack White to produce rockabilly queen Wanda Jackson's latest album. The tribute song was a Danny O'Keefe cover of Good Time Charlie's Got the Blues. The melancholy lyrics state, "Your're not a kid at thirty-three/Ya play around, ya lose your wife/Ya play too long, you lose your life/I got my pills to ease the pain/Can't find a thing to ease the rain."  Tommy Townsend took over the vocals to end the show with the fitting Same Old Outlaw.

Radio Birds
Looking like they just stepped out of a tour bus from the 1970's, Radio Birds made their Denver debut that night.  The Atlanta, Georgia band described their sound as plain old rock and roll with a hairy touch. They claim the "hairy" as being a little dirty, but I think it's because of every member has a beard.  Gravely voiced lead singer Justin Keller charmed the audience with songs about southern life.  The bass player, a hippie version of Ed Sheeran, had his eyes closed to find the groove of every song. The barefoot drummer sang along to every song despite the fact he wasn't singing into a microphone.  Radio Bird ended with Long Way Down a song about being on the road.  "It's a long way down that cold dark valley/I'm tiered of living through other people's dreams/I'll make my way as soon as I see the signs that the road is coming ... so long." 

Casey James Prestwood and the Burning Angeles
The evening of music started with Casey James Prestwood and the Burning Angeles.  Wearing a rhinestone tailored original Manual Cuevas (a famous Western wear suit designer), Prestwood looked and sounded like he was singing in a Honkey Tonk in the 1940's. The old school country band played songs about waking up at 3:00 AM t, positive aspects about incarceration, and being the king of all losers. It makes sense their new album is entitled Born Too Late.

See you at the next show.  I'll be the one in the rhinestone suit asking that obnoxious woman to sit down.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Pretty Boy Floyd, One Track Mind, Da Screech, and Self Service at Herman's Hideaway in Denver, CO on 6/2/17

Pretty Boy Floyd
Rolling Stone Magazine just claimed Poison is the last hair metal band standing. It appears their writers forgot about Pretty Boy Floyd.  They have been performing high-energy metal glam shows since 1987. For the last few years, Wolfpack Productions has brought the Sunset Strip Rockers to Colorado. Changing from their usual Buffalo Rose appearances, Herman's Hideaway hosted the glam band on Friday. Back when I was the young guy at the show, I saw Big Head Todd and the Monsters, Bob Schneider, and The Beat Farmers at the Denver venue. Now it's considered to be in the middle of the Green Mile (named after all the recreational marijuana dispensaries in the area).  The announcer promoted a near by pot shop during the band introductions by stating, "You can get a free joint with purchase." It is the Mile High City after all.

Self Service
Local band Self Service (I don't think their name is about pumping gas) played first. Singer Steve Capstick led the band through Motorhead covers and original songs. There was a lot of crowd interaction that felt like a comedy show with a punk attitude.  Capstick introduced a song about rebelling against his kids sagging jeans by pulling up their pants.  Drummer Tristan Maher used a golf bag to store his drums equipment in at the end of their set. Where else would a comedy punk band drummer store his drum stands?

Da Screech
The three-piece modern rock heavy metal band Da Screech (named after a Jamaican rum popular in Newfoundland) was next. United States Air Force veteran Leon Lighting took the stage looking like the Webster Dictionary definition of a rock singer. He had long hair, tight jeans, and Conan the Barbarian muscles. He blended his vocals nicely with metal blues guitarist Jeremy Bryan.  Holding the whole operation together was Kev The Mac Attack on drums. The highlight of their set was their song Loaded 45 with killer bass fills by Lighting and impressive guitar playing by Bryan.

One Track Mind
Before the glam metal started, One Track Mind took the stage.  I know they were serious about their rock because that's when the fog machine started. Lead singer Chad Martin looked like a younger version of Ron Perlman from the Sons of Anarchy television show. He had the muscles, sleeveless spiked jean jacket, and F*CK belt buckle. Martin's intimidating presence had the women swaying back and forth during his ballads and brought fists up in the air during his Rock God wailing. Their song Going for a Ride raised the temperature up so much it forced Martin to take off his shirt.  This revealed his tattooed upper torso and his pieced nipples (a little something for the ladies).

Steve Summers
The main attraction Pretty Boy Floyd started with the title track off their 1989 debut album Leather Boyz with Electric Toyz. Wearing a black bandana and cowboy hat combo lead singer Steve Summers fired up the crowd immediately.  He encouraged everyone to sing along (especially the young lady with electric blue hair in front of the stage).  Next the band powered through Motley Crue's Toast of the Town. The infectious chorus had the audience chanting, "Hey Hey Hey." About the forth song into the set, the drums started to tumble down onto the front of the stage. It became clear that this was not part of the show. Drummer Ben Graves was having a seizure. A fire truck and ambulance arrived.  Graves was taken to a nearby hospital.  He was released from the ICU four days later.

See you at the next show.  I'll be the one sending positive thoughts to Ben Graves for a speedy recovery.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Elephant Revival, The Oh Hellos, and Mandolin Orange at Red Rocks in Morrison, CO on 5/21/17

Elephant Revival
Elephant Revival didn't put on your typical concert. The five member transcendental folk band from Nederland, Colorado pulled out all the stops for their Red Rocks Amphitheatre show. A Senator spoke, a drum circle chanted, an orchestra played, aerialists flew, and an intricate light show illuminated.

Before the music started, Senator Michael Bennet addressed the crowd complimenting Elephant Revival's environmental activism. One of their projects was their participation in Colorado Public Lands Day on May 12th.  The band worked with Wildlands Restoration Volunteers at the Eldorado Canyon State Park. Elephant Revival rewarded fans/volunteers with an intimate acoustic show. I had the privilege to take part of that event.

Bonnie Paine
The Red Rocks appearance began with an Indian drum circle complete with dancers in traditional dress (yes feathers were worn). It set the mood for the evening that was not only influenced by multiple genres of music (Celtic, bluegrass, and alternative rock), but by nature.

The band took the stage while rain poured down on the audience. Singer Bonnie Paine was dressed like a Greek Goddess in a white flowing dress. It was her birthday the day before and the crowd shouted out birthday wishes throughout the evening. The roadies dressed in matching suits and hats handed Paine a saw. She played it while singing the haunting Close As Can Be.

Strings and horns joined the band forming the Mayflower Orchestra. They accompanied the band for a large portion of the night making the sound dynamic and powerful. An amazing light show wowed the crowd during their version of Pink Floyd's Have a Cigar.

Aerialists - All Photos by the Rock and Roll Princess
Towards the end of the night a troupe of aerialists were hoisted above the stage.  They performed a Cirque du Soleil like air ballet. Bonnie Paine described their movements like butterflies creating storms.

After all the flowing dresses and floating women, vocalist Daniel Rodriguez sang the fitting Grace of a Woman. The show ended with Rodriguez leading the crowd in a howl-a-long to Sing to the Moon. "Go and sing to the mountain/Go and sing to the moon" (the crowd howls here) "Go and sing to just about everything/Cause everything is you."

The Oh Hellos
The Oh Hellos were second on the bill. I was expecting a mellow brother and sister folk duo.  But a large energetic band with two drummers appeared shattering my preconceived notions.  The high-energy fueled set was slowed down by technical problems.  But lead singer Tyler Heath made it humorous by asking the crowd if anybody had a tiny screwdriver to fix his guitar.  His sister Maggie Heath's beautiful voice blended with his effortlessly for their hit Hello My Old Heart. Regan Smith channeled his inner Pete Townshend while he smashed his banjo at the end of the performance.

Orange Mandolin
Starting the night of music was Mandolin Orange. There was a mandolin, but it wasn't orange.  Despite the false advertising, the North Carolina duo won over the crowd with their self described lyrical country grassy folk music. Their song Wildfire was a powerful Civil War themed song that addressed how hate never fades away. Andrew Marlin introduced Heart of Gold as a love song performed sadly because they like juxtaposition. Emily Frantz thanked the strong winds for making her hair look good (who needs a wind machine when you have the actual wind).  Marlin thanked the sun for being the world's biggest spotlight. There are definite advantages of being the opening act.

See you at the next show.  I'll be the one leading the howl-a-long.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

John Paul White and Covenhoven at the Bluebird in Denver, CO on 05-10-17

John Paul White
John Paul White announced to the crowd, "I didn't come here to cheer you up." Referring to his melancholy songs such as I'll Get Even, Hope I Die, and Hate the Way You Love Me. They are somber, but with pleasing melodies and haunting images. I first saw John Paul White back in 2012 as one half of the duo The Civil Wars. A very pregnant Joy Williams was dancing around the stage while singing incredible harmonies with White. Now without Joy (see what I did there), John Paul White is back as a solo artist after an extensive time away from the spotlight.

Making up for a cancelled show in January due to a freak snowstorm in the Pacific Northwest, John Paul White mostly played material from his solo album 2016's Beulah (biblical word meaning a place of peace and isolation from strife). He explained to the crowd he was perfectly happy not making music and being with his family. But songs started to pour out of him demanding to be heard.

John Paul White
All Photos by the Rock and Roll Princess
The performance started with John Paul White walking on stage when the crowd's cheering suddenly stopped. Before singing a note, White said, "it got creepy for a second." His a cappella version of I Remember You (the 1941 Johnny Mercer classic not the 1989 Skid Row power ballad) set the mood for the night of beautifully dark music. Next he picked up an acoustic guitar for Black Leaf where his signature finger picking reminded everyone of The Civil Wars distinct sound. Most of the members of the Florence, Alabama band Belle Adair acted as John Paul White's backing band for the rest of the night. They added ambient dreamy southern depth while White poured his soul out through his heavyhearted voice.

John Paul White
A few songs not on the current album were performed. Simple Song about the death of his grandfather from his grandmother's viewpoint declaring, "Done my mourn' in your arms/I ain't gonna lose sleep when your safe from harm." Remember White warned the crowd he wasn't there to cheer them up. He sang a few songs from his first solo album 1998's The Long Goodbye that was not released until recently due to brutal record industry politics. This Life had the audience in tears with the lyrics, "'Cause this life is all that I've got/All that I am, all that I'm not/And it's worth all I go through/'Cause this life came with you."  He closed the show with The Electric Light Orchestra's Can't Get It Out of My Head.  Singing, "Now my whole world is gone for dead/'Cause I can't get it out of my head."  Reminding us John Paul White isn't here to cheer you up, but his music might just fill your heart.

The Denver band Covenhoven was the opener. I dined with them before the show. Okay. I sat near them while they ate pizza at the Denver Biscuit CompanyJoel Van Horne plays music under the moniker Covenhoven named after a cabin his grandfather built in Wyoming. It's symbolically similar to White's Beulah album title. The symphonic folk music was aided by four enthusiastic musicians especially the bass player with his intense facial expressions. There were a number of Bear Creek High School students in attendance screaming their love for Van Horne. It had something to due with their recent school river trip with him. It was fitting because the majority of the songs themes seem to be rooted in nature.  

See you at the next show. I'll be the one that can cheer you up. I know lots of jokes.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Take Note Colorado at 1st Bank Center, Broomfield, CO on 5/4/17

Almost every notable Colorado musician you could think of joined Governor Hickenlooper for a benefit concert on Star Wars Day (May the 4th be with you). The goal of the charity is to give any child from kindergarten to 12th grade access to a musical instrument and knowledge how to play it.

Crested Butte's own Bill Nershi from The String Cheese Incident with his wife Jillian Nershi started the evening of Colorado music. His SCI song Colorado Bluebird Sky was about living ... wait for it... mile high.  They introduced Tracksuit Wedding fronted by Libby Anschutz a co-founder of the Take Note Colorado charity. Her father, Phil Anschutz, is Colorado's best-known entrepreneur (the A in AEG).  Sadly, no tracksuits were worn or weddings were performed, but their mixture of funk and blues fired up the crowd.  

KBCO's own Bret Saunder's came out in a Chewbacca Mask (remember it's Star Wars Day) to introduce Columbine High School's own Todd Park Mohr from Big Head Todd and the Monsters. In the early 90's, I followed his band around so often they started to recognize me in the audience. Luckily no restraining orders were filed. He was joined by Jeremy Lawton BHTM's keyboardist and slide guitarist. They played blues versions of Rolling and Tumbling (one of the first blues song's ever recorded), Woody Guthrie's This Land is Your land (their version is actually not cheesy), and a new BHTM song New Word Arisin' that matched the other material perfectly.

Isacc Slade
Next Boulder's own Isaac Slade, the front man of The Fray, took the stage. Governor Hickenlooper convinced Slade to co-chair the Take Note charity one drunken night (that's how it was described by Slade). He performed The Fray's first hit Over My Head (Cable Car) on the piano. Next was How to Save a Life. The song was fitting because it was inspired by his time working at a camp for troubled teens. Next was his version of Kanye West's Heartless illuminated by the audience's cell phones. Boulder's Fairview High School Choir backed him at end of his set. And that was just the warm up. 

The Fray - Photo by the Rock and Roll Princess
Colorado Springs own OneRepublic took the stage to Loves Runs Out. They really put on a show with their full band and stunning lighting display. Lead singer Ryan Tedder jumped off a multi color light piano and took the band through a hit filled set including Stop and Stare, Secrets, and No Apologies (their biggest hit). Tedder introduced the song by joking, "if you don't know this next song, welcome back from North Korea." During Counting Stars, Tedder ran through the audience with the help of three big bodyguards. The audience went crazy and someone threw him their popcorn (not their underwear, it was a family event after all). OneRepublic ended with I Lived with the lyrics, "Hope when the crowd screams out/It's screaming your name/Hope if everybody runs/You choose to stay." 

Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats
Denver's Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats closed the show with their soul inspired powerhouse sound. Rateliff not only sang with incredible power, he danced throughout the night channeling James Brown. He dedicated a duck walk to the late Father of Rock and Roll Chuck Berry to the jubilated crowd.  His horn section transformed his solo song Boil and Fight into a Night Sweats standard. The horn section put down their brass and played shakers for the song .... wait for it .... Shake. Two high school horn players joined The Night Sweats for a couple of songs making their rock and roll dreams come true. The band ended with S.O.B. encouraging the crowd to sing-a-long. The drunken crowd was doing choreographed dance moves to the chorus of My Heart was breaking/Hands were shaking/Bugs crawling all over me.

See you at the next show. I'll be the one bragging about my tambourine solo featured in my junior high school band concert. 

If you would like to support the worthy cause, please follow the directions below:

Sunday, April 23, 2017

of Montreal and Christina Schneider's Jepto Solutions at The Bluebird Theater on April 20, 2017 in Denver, CO

of Montreal's Kevin Barnes
Barely making it across the busy street of Colfax, a drag queen stumbles towards the Bluebird Theater in high heels. She joins a line of girls in shorts and rainbow colors leggings smoking cigarettes. I stood next to them waiting for the doors to open overhearing their theory of the social benefits of smoking. Through the nicotine haze, I recognized other of Montreal fans that I see every time the psychedelic show comes to the Mile High City.  In front of the line, a girl in a micro silver skirt that was so enamored with the band's last performance she flew to of Montreal's hometown of Athens, Georgia for their Halloween show.  A video game clerk brought his elderly parents to the show for their third time. The three friends that always dress in theme for every show (once in kimonos, next in drag, and this time in matching 420 inspired tie-dye). You might think the crowd sounds more interesting than the performance. But the music starts, and you attention goes right to the leader of the freak show Kevin Barnes.

of Montreal - All Photos by the Rock and Roll Princess
Entering the stage in a blonde wig and red crop-top skirt ensemble, Kevin Barnes sang the verse, "Am I on the verge of a really big breakthrough or just another meltdown?" from the song Gratuitous Abysses from last year's album release Innocence Reaches Long time keyboardist Jojo Gladwell dressed in a Togo and guitarist Bennett Lewis in western wear held the music together as chaos ruled in front of the stage.  The back screen elevated the performance by displaying psychedelic images through the set. But that's not where the visual stimulation stopped. Masked characters made appearances throughout the show.

Falling in Love Again (Can't Help It)
Transforming into a long flowing white gown with moving images eliminating him, Barnes did his version of Marlene Dietrich's Falling in Love Again (Can't Help It). Two masked females frolicked around him with flowing ribbons making the 1930's song strangely erotic. Opening act Christina Schneider was identified as one of the dancers with a hole in her sock. I guess the high concept art show didn't have much of a budget for stockings.

of Montreal with masked theatrics
During Let's Relate a masked dominatrix came out with a whip. Kevin Barnes and her "related" in the middle of the keyboard solo knocking out some of the instruments.  During the song ID Engager, a wrestler wearing an American Flag and another wrestler draped in the Russian Flag started to flight. But another masked wrestler in a rainbow flag brought them together to kiss. Maybe Kevin Barnes can assist in our strained foreign affairs with similar results.  

of Montreal
Bassem Sabry, named after the deceased Egyptian Revolution journalist, was the most powerful song of the night. Backed by images of this year's Women's March, Barnes sang, "People disappear on the wrong side of this revolution/When they'll return, all their childhood memories are dead."  Since the lyrics are sung with such a happy melody, it became extremely haunting.  At the end of the chorus, Kevin Barnes declared, "Every leader is a cellophane punk/If you hear me say yeah!" Of course, the crowd repeated "Yeah" again and again with delight. Not really sure if the deep lyrics reached the crowd celebrating 420 from the guy in a dress.  But it was a powerful moment.

Christina Schneider's Jepto Solutions

Opening band Christina Schneider's Jepto Solutions can be described as beat poetry over deconstructed guitar chords backed by an improvisational guitarist and drummer. Christian Schneider appeared drained with dark circles underneath her eyes looking like a grown up hippie version of Wednesday Adams.  The cause could be related to bassist Zach Phillips leaving the band one day before their Denver debut leaving the band without a key element to their sound.

I look forward to a reunion with the spontaneous traveling girl, the video game clerk with his parents, and the matching costume wearing trio the next time of Montreal comes to town with their psychedelic performance art theatrics.

See you at the next show.  I'll be the one wondering what a cellophane punk is.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Regina Spektor at the Fillmore Auditorium, Denver, Colorado on 3/29/17

Regina Spektor
Waiting to go into the venue on Wednesday night, fans of Regina Spektor surrounded me.  I mean FANS. The young man behind me flew in from Kansas City just for the show. The teenage girls ahead of me in dresses and quirky shoes (just like Spektor wears) were reciting her lyrics like Shakespeare. When I entered the Fillmore Auditorium, a shiny black Steinway & Sons grand piano stood center stage. The sold out crowd started to chant her name. There was no opener. Just her.

Regina Spektor began studying classical piano when she was six. At the age of nine, her education was interrupted briefly while she migrated with her family to the United States from the former Soviet Union. Spektor later added her beautiful voice and original lyrics to her classical piano playing.  She has been a unique presence in popular music for over a decade.
Regina Spektor - All photos by the
Rock and Roll Princess

Dressed in a simple black dress and bright orange and red shoes, Regina Spektor took the stage with an infectious smile.  She sat down at the grand piano to perform a remarkable evening of music. It was like being at a giant piano recital with a loud adoring audience. Her angelic voice and outstanding piano playing came together to form a brilliant sound.

Her lyrics were sometimes philosophical. For example, Older And Taller state, "Enjoy your youth/Sounds like a threat." At times, the verses were about mythological places.  Case in point, Grand Hotel describes, "Somewhere below the grand hotel/There is a tunnel that leads straight to hell/But no one comes up for the souls anymore/They come for some comfort and for the dance floor." Other songs detail her personal life. For instance, Fidelity describes, "I hear in my mind/All of these voices/I hear in my mind/All of this music/And it breaks my heart."

Regina Spektor and Yoed Nir
Regina Spektor's backing band added more dynamics to the sound. Yoed Nir, an Israeli born cellist who has played on over 500 albums, was a perfect match to Spektor's classical piano playing. Brad Whitely on the keyboard allowed her to occasionally leave the 88 keys and dance while rapping to her song Small Bill$.  Mathias Kunzil played the drums reminding the audience it was a rock concert after all.

Regina Spektor demonstrating free speech
Regina Spektor got political and discussed her opinion about the new presidential administration. An audience member later complained on Twitter about her "ranting politics" making him and his fiancĂ© leave the show early.  Spektor replied, "You sound like a lovely person. If your fiancĂ© is half as lovely as you = perfect match.  PS This refugee believes in free speech & love too." Spektor used her impassioned dialogue as an introduction to the song, Ballad of a Politician. Surprisingly the song was written in 2012.

The majority of the set list was from her newest album Remember Us to Life inspired partially by the birth of her son. Surprisingly a large portion of the audience knew all the words. At one point, Spektor caught the audience singing and broke into laughter making her restart a verse. The sound of jail bars slamming shut queued the start of the theme song You've Got Time from Netflix's Orange is the New Black (Yes. I know you have heard that song while bing watching that women prison series). Regina Spektor apologized for having her back to the audience for the majority of the show.  She pointed to the piano and explained, "But I have this thing."

Right before Spektor Curtsied
Near the end of the night Regina Spektor played the closing track from Remember Us to Life appropriately titled The Visit singing, "I'm so glad that you stop in/And I had some things to say/But now they've been forgotten/They'll get said a different way." She closed with audience favorite's FidelityHotel Song and Samson from her 2006 break-though album Begin to Hope.

Before Spektor walked off the stage, she curtsied to the audience like she probably did during her numerous years of piano recitals.

See you at the next show.  I'll be the one in the bright orange and red quirky shoes.