Sunday, May 17, 2015

Rush at the Austin360 Amphitheater

This is the seventh or eigth time that I've seen Rush, since 1981 or so. I describe myself as a fan, but not as rabid or fanatical, as their core demographic. In fact, I've really taken to seeing every other tour, and unlike my friends, I would not travel to go see them, or go to multiple shows on a tour.

So, this tour is being billed a R40, for their 40th anniversary. Actually, they have been around for longer, 2014 was the 40th anniversary of Neil Peart's joinging the band. in 1974.


In typical fashion, they started the show with a video montage including an animated section, depicting the band through its various eras, hair and fashion styles. The whole accompanied by the Rush music of that time period.


The show kicked off shortly after 8PM, and consisted of 2 sets and an encore, wrapping up around 11:30. The setlist consisted of selection of music covering their entire career. (Of course, I didn't even bother to note the songs because I knew someone else would capture the set list.



So the question now, is this their Swan Song? The band can still play, but Geddy is no longer able to hit the high notes like he once did. To be honest, I'm wondering whether he is doing damage to vocal chords now, because he clearly struggles.

Still it was an excellent night under the stars, watching a good show. In general, I'd say the venue (which holds about 14K) is average, particularly because of the parking situation. The pitch of the seating is far from ideal, because it is extremely difficult to see, if anyone is standing in the next 4 rows in front of you. For Rush in particular, this is bad, because there are always a bunch of the Neil Peart wannabes, who stand during the entire show playing air-drums.

Lastly, since it was already warm and a bit humid, I'm starting to wonder whether it will be more unbearable in July when I return there to see Steely Dan and Elvis Costello. Truth be told, I would have preferred to have seen this show at the Erwin Center.

Friday, May 01, 2015

Beards n' Beck at the Cedar Park Center

Jeff Beck

So I'm never one to pass up a Jeff Beck show, one of my favorite guitarists. This show was a double dinger, and also allowed me to catch ZZ Top for the first time.

For 2015, Jeff is touring with some new and some familiar face. His band included the following personnel:

  • Jimmy Hall - vocals
  • Rhonda Smith - on bass, and backing vocals.
  • Jonathan Joseph - drums
  • Nicolas Meier - guitar

I had seen Rhonda with Jeff before in Houston. She was awesome. The surprise of the night was the singer, Jimmy Hall. He totally blew us away. Jeff rarely plays with singers, but when he uses one, they are always exceptional.

This part of the show went by way too quickly. The setlist included a mix of old and new stuff.

ZZ Top

It was good to see ZZ Top for the first time. I'll say that their show was exactly what I expected. I'm not a huge fan, but I did enjoy their set.

As with the first half of the evening, it was easy to find their setlist on-line.


The highlight of the night came when Jeff joined ZZ on stage for the encore. This was memorable, and very fun to watch, to boot.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Requiem for a friend

I decided to wait a while before writing this post. Since October of 2000, I have had two companion cats, Pumpkin (an Orange Tabby) and Sacagewea (a Calico). They were farm cats; sisters from the same litter. I got them from a friend, right after they had been weaned.


This post is for Saca, a very beautiful and sweet animal. She was very empathetic, and seemed very attuned to me. The last 5 years of her life were challenging from a health perspective, including two bouts of Lipidosis.


When she recovered the second time in the Spring of 2014, I thought she might manage to survive to a ripe old age. Unfortunately, this was overly optimistic. Just before the Holiday season, she lost a significant amount of weight, and began to show signs of Kidney failure. She passed away on February 19, 2015.


I miss her greatly, and I think that one of my friends put it best,
Cats have a way of sneaking into your heart, curling up there and napping.

Cats 2001

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Phil Alvin and the Blasters at the Continental Club

About a week ago, I was recently having a conversation with a friend about Rockabilly music. I happened to have mentioned the Alvin Brothers, and the Blasters.

Then in a moment of serendipity, I was listening to KUTX as I was driving home from work Thursday evening, they played the Blasters, and mentioned that they were doing 2 straight nights at the Continental Club. Since it had at least 15 years since I had last seen either of the Alvin brothers, I decided to catch the Friday show.

Although Dave and Phil are touring together this year, only Phil plays with the current incarnation of the Blasters. Phil fronts a five piece band consisting of on guitar and vocals, accompanied by a lead guitar, bass, piano, and drums.

I arrived at approximately 11PM, and caught a bit of the opening act. The Blasters started promptly at Midnight, and delivered a solid 90 minute set of Rockabilly goodness to a very appreciative crowd.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Living Colour at the Belmont

After watching my Orioles lose the second game of the ALCS, I was more than ready to head downtown for some music. Surprisingly, Living Colour was playing the Belmont, rather than Emos. This was the first time I had ever seen an act of this size, at this venue. I was also surprised at the fact, that this show was scheduled during the second ACL Festival weekend.

Temple Underground

This time around, the opening act was local Austin band, Temple Underground, led by local drummer Brannen Temple. I have seen Brannen perform a number of times, and he is a formidable talent. This band plays a unique style of rock/funk/jazz fusion similar in feel to Living Colour.

They played for about 45 minutes, and I was impressed with the level of musicianship. My only complaint was that the vocalist's singing hard to discern in the mix. Of course, this may have been compounded by the fact that my friends and I, were watching from the balcony, upstairs, as you can tell from the photos below.

Living Colour

Eventually, Living Colour took the stage. They clocked in at about 2 hours, with the following setlist.

As always, they delivered the goods, and played a good mix of old and new material. The latter coming from a new album, which they are about to release.

For the encore, Cult of Personality, the energetic Corey Glover grabbed the wireless Mic, and travelled through the crowd, eventually working his up the steps right next to where we were standing.

After the show, I was impressed, because once again, the band was graciously available for the meet and greet. I was able to one again talk with Vernon a few minutes, about our one degree of separation through Arthur Rhames, John Esposito, and Jeff Siegel.

All in all, it was a great night of music, on a cool autumn night in Austin. What could be any better?

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Tears for Fears at the Austin Music Hall

So, tonight I completed a study in contrasts. Four days after traveling to Philadelphia to see the King of Prog Rock, I'm now on the other end of the spectrum watching Tears for Fears.

The show started right at 8PM, and consisted of 1 set and an encore clocking in at approximately 2 hours. Of course, the Austin Music Hall was populated by a large amount of 40 somethings.

Curt and Roland played a wide selection of songs, including their big hits, as you can see from the setlist. I was presently surprised to discover that both of them still had their voices, and could still hit the notes.

I have a feeling that the band will remember this show for a long time for several reasons:

  • Although there were cell phones, the audience was very attentive, and about 95% of the audience was singing along with the band, particularly during Mad World, Everybody Wans to the World, and Head Over Heels. You could tell that this invigorated the band, and they responded accordingly.
  • This was the first show that I had been to in Austin in a long time, that had that vibe that I remember from 20 years ago. It was good to see it again; it was what always made Austin a special Music town.

It was a great night of music. Despite seeing my favorite band twice last week, I still had a fantasatic time. One that successfully allowed me travel backwards in time about 30 years, if only for one night.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

King Crimson at the Kimmel Center

So my original plan was to just see this one show, since it was on a weekend. Like the 2008 tour, I chose to fly in during the evening of the day before, since thunderstorms are common this time of year. In hindsight, this ended up being a good choice.

Of course, I was able to meet with some of my fellow campers before the show, and we went to dinner.

The venue itself was very impressive, with outstanding acoustics, and excellent sight lines, as you'll see in the pictures below.

Humorously, the merch table was run the same person who has done the merch for Porcupine Tree and Steven Wilson. Looking back at the history, I found my post from 2007. People were audibly complaining about the length of the line for the merch, saying it was the longest they had ever seen at a show.

Chuckling to myself, I was happy I loaded up on merch during the dress rehearsal show at the Egg, when the crowd was small. I guess some things don't change. ;)

The show itself consisted on a single set with an encore. As before the setlist had been already posted when I checked back at my hotel.

So, now that the tour is underway, I'll talk briefly about the music. As you know, the players are arranged in an unorthodox fashion, with the 3 drummers in the frontline, and the Sax, Bass/Stick and 2 Guitarists in the back.

The songs were selected mainly from the early albums, before the Adrian Belew/Discipline era. In particular:

  • In the Court of the Crimson King (21st Century Schizoid Man)
  • In the Wake of Poseidon (Pictures of a City)
  • Islands (Sailor's Tale, and the Letters)
  • Larks' Tongues in Aspic (LTIA pt1 and pt2, and Talking Drum)
  • Red (Red, One More Red Nightmare, and Starless)

The only new vocal songs were 2 selections from the Scarcity of Miracles, and instrumentals from Thrak, the Power to Believe, and the ConstruKction of Light.

Other than that, the two shows differed in this way:

  1. The ConstruKction of Light Part 1 was played during the rehearsal show, but not last night.
  2. The show last night featured Vroom and Coda Marine 475.

This show will be a treat for any KC fan, and for me the highlights were hearing LTIA part 1, One More Red Nightmare, and Starless. All classics in my mind, and songs I had thought I would never get to hear played live.

Here's hoping for a second leg of the tour in the near future, although there is something in my gut telling me that this may be Robert Fripp's Swan Song.

As Before

Tony Levin's road diary contains some excellent shots, at the following link.