10 shows you should have seen in 2010

The 2010 musical year in review was a rich one. It seemed to witness a huge leap for the indie music world, with more and more bands getting their sound out there via the Internet. No more fishing for big record label contracts. The 21st century technology has been kind to up-and-coming bands. Following are ten shows that you should have seen with a snippit from each review. Most of these acts are not considered radio staples, but probably should be. Go to the links for each concert to read my full review (shows are listed chronologically).

SPOON at the Tabernacle in Atlanta, 3/20/10 – “While Spoon has had their ups and downs, it seems as if they’re in for a future of ‘ups.’ On this night, Spoon was the tightest four-piece on the planet. Even with two encores, the band left fans wanting more.” http://http://www.examiner.com/music-in-atlanta/spoon-rock-the-tabernacle

THE RUBY SUNS at the Drunken Unicorn in Atlanta, 3/22/10 – “Touring in support of their third studio album, Fight Softly (Sub Pop), the Ruby Suns spun some foot-tapping songs combining indie rock with world beats. At times, all three members were banging on drums. But usually, the tunes were made up of two synths and a drummer. With danceable beats and McPhun’s smooth voice, it frequently seemed as if all these people were enjoying an 80s new wave performance…in Hawaii.” http://http://www.examiner.com/music-in-atlanta/ruby-suns-bring-the-tropics-to-atlanta

WILCO at the Fox Theatre in Atlanta, 3/26/10 – “As the evening progressed, the fans remained standing. The lush padding of the Fabulous Fox Theatre’s comfy seats was never utilized. The crowd stood the entire show (even much of the balcony). Tweedy recognized this and was impressed.” http://http://www.examiner.com/music-in-atlanta/wilco-the-experience

VAMPIRE WEEKEND at the Tabernacle in Atlanta, 4/8/10 – “The band opened the show with the heavily-Paul Simon-influenced ‘White Sky’ from Contra. Next up was the ultra-manic ‘Holiday.’ The crowd, already whipped into a seemingly uncontrollable frenzy, would not stop moving and jumping and singing until show’s end.” http://http://www.examiner.com/music-in-atlanta/vampire-weekend-live-atlanta

ARCADE FIRE at Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre in Alpharetta, 8/11/10 – “Audience participation was mind-blowing and that only made for a better show. Win Butler and company have made a fantastic new record, and fortunately for us, know how to play it live. The show ended with Arcade Fire’s signature song from their first album. ‘Wake Up’ is one of those anthems that is instantly hummable and never forgettable. What a way to end the night.” http://http://www.examiner.com/music-in-atlanta/arcade-fire-and-spoon-burn-up-alpharetta

ORYX + CRAKE at the EARL in Atlanta, 8/28/10 – “If you’ve heard the CD by now (and you should have heard it by now), you’ll know that these are nine of the most talented musicians around. And live versions of the nine songs performed came out a bit edgier than those recorded. It was clear that the members of Oryx + Crake were pumped. Audience fervor is the only thing that overshadowed the band members’ enthusiam. It was a full house of an appreciative and supportive crowd.” http://http://www.examiner.com/music-in-atlanta/oryx-crake-have-arrived

CROWDED HOUSE at the House of Blues in Chicago, 9/5/10 – “The second song was ‘Mean To Me,’ from their 1986 debut album. This rocked even harder, with Finn’s voice as perfect – if not better – than it ever was. And he is one of the most underrated and superbly skilled guitar players out there. Of course, his songwriting is the only thing that surpasses his voice and guitar work. He is frequently compared to Lennon and McCartney for a very good reason.” http://http://www.examiner.com/music-in-atlanta/genius-of-crowded-house-proven-yet-again

JAMES at the Variety Playhouse in Atlanta, 9/22/10 – “During ‘Say Something,’ Booth traversed his way through the audience, shaking hands and walking down a row of seats across the armrests. At song’s end, he was quite a distance from the stage, yelling to bandmates, ‘What’s the next song? What’s the next song!’ Then, the opening chords of ‘Laid’ began to a roaring crowd. He hastily made his way back to the stage and brought the house down with this excellent song.” http://http://www.examiner.com/music-in-atlanta/james-return-to-atlanta-and-feel-the-love

PAVEMENT at the Tabernacle in Atlanta, 9/26/10 – “While Pavement never had a #1 hit, ‘Cut Your Hair’ and ‘Gold Soundz’ may have been close, as far as fans are concerned. Malkmus comes across reminiscent of a Stop Making Sense era David Byrne, with his quirky mannerisms and jumpy moves. He does, however, put everything he’s got into his performance.” http://http://www.examiner.com/music-in-atlanta/pavement-burn-through-atlanta-on-reunion-tour

LCD SOUNDSYSTEM at the Tabernacle in Atlanta, 10/4/10 – “One more decibal plus one more jumping fan would have seen the crowd plummet to the basement. Murphy, with all his youthful exuberance (he’s a very young 40) and high octane energy, was exhausted at song’s end, doubling over with hands on knees and huffing like a chain smoker. The fans felt the same way. And the show was off to a smashing start.” http://http://www.examiner.com/music-in-atlanta/lcd-soundsystem-show-everyone-else-how-a-live-show-is-done

The new year of 2011 has some big shoes to fill. Better get started.

James return to Atlanta and feel the love

Live Review: James at the Variety Playhouse in Atlanta, 9/22/10

For a band to remain relevant is a challenge these days. For the seven piece Manchester band James, this seems to be a walk in the park. Granted, they have some of the most dedicated fans in music. After back-to-back brilliant albums Seven (1992) and Laid (1993), most music afficianados may have reported the band as gone and forgotten. Not so. James continued releasing good stuff.

Most of James’ success can be attributed to lead singer and mercurial mover Tim Booth. That voice is a wonder and has lost nothing in the band’s nearly 30-year career. It’s a lithesome and beautiful instrument that is instantly recognizable. And to see him move/dance/shake takes every song a notch higher. It’s Michael Stipe squared, with flailing arms and such, putting Elvis Presley’s hips and James Brown’s legs to shame.

The night began on a mellow note with “Dust Motes” off the new release The Day Before The Morning After. Several cuts off the new one were played, all with a decent response from the fans. The new songs blend seemlessly with the back catalog of songs. Throughout the evening, Booth thanked fans and showed genuine appreciation. He mentioned that it had been quite a while since his last visit (14 years) and was visited onstage by R.E.M.’s Michael Stipe and Peter Buck. While in town, “Michael and I went shopping for women’s dresses” (see the cover of Laid for reference).

One of the clear highlights was the spectacular “Out To Get You,” with Booth singing, “Insecure, what you gonna do / Feel so small they could step on you / Called you up, answering machine / When the human touch / Is what I need, what I need, what I need, what I need, what I need.” This, like most songs on this night, had plenty of audience accompaniment.

During “Say Something,” Booth traversed his way through the audience, shaking hands and walking down a row of seats across the armrests. At song’s end, he was quite a distance from the stage, yelling to bandmates, “What’s the next song? What’s the next song!” Then, the opening chords of “Laid” began to a roaring crowd. He hastily made his way back to the stage and brought the house down with this excellent song. For the choir parts on “Sometimes,” the audience were again part of the song. “Sometimes when I look into your eyes I can see your soul” was repeated over and over by the crowd, while Booth stood motionless just taking it all in. He then joined in on the singing for a beautiful finale.

After announcing that “Getting Away With It” was the band’s theme song then performing that song, they left the stage and returned once again for a resounding “Sit Down.” During this song, several young women crawled on stage and sat down behind Booth. It was a great evening for James fans who heard a nice mix of old and new. More than likely, this talented group of musicians won’t wait another 14 years to return.

The Tom Waits- and Jeff Buckley-inspired Ed Harcourt warmed the crowd up nicely.

Set List:

Dust Motes
Dream Thrum
Tell Her I Said So
It’s Hot
Born Of Frustration
Ring The Bells
Lookaway
She’s A Star
I Wanna Go Home
Out To Get You
Five-O
Stutter
Come Home
Say Something
Laid
Sound

Encore:
Bubbles
Sometimes
Getting Away With It

2nd Encore:
Sit Down