Monthly Archives: September 2012

Dream Theater @ The Maritime Hall, San Francisco CA 05/16/98

My best friend and I traveled 3 hours from the hot, arrid wasteland of Central California (Fresno, Bakersfield area) to San Francisco. We got there hours early, no one was in front of the venue so we walked to a Jack n’ the Box for lunch, dodging transients and mental cases along the way. We came back and found a half dozen or so fans sitting on the front steps of the Maritime Hall. Nice bunch of people to talk to, and they became envious of the fact that my friend and I would travel to the 5/18/98 Los Angeles gig, which is now legendary due to the surprise appearances of Ray Alder of Fates Warning and Bruce Dickinson (yes, THEE Bruce Dickinson) of Iron Maiden.
During the wait Marlene Portnoy hobbled from the back of the venue to the front doors, holding a big baby. She asked us if this was the front. We said ya we think so. She thanked us and started hobbling back to where she came from, grunting and saying to the baby “oh you’re so heavy.” We didn’t harrass her or prod her with fanboy type questions, but it was still cool yet random experience.

So we meet some more interesting people in line, including some attractive asian women, a studious looking middle eastern man in an argyle sweater and his teenage son, a guy that looked like Roger Daltry, a guy that looked like Sebastian Bach, a guy that looked like John Petrucci, and a group of friends (one of which was blind) that kept us cracking up with their smart-ass sense of humor. We go inside and I’m in the 3rd row, John Petrucci’s side, stage right. “Rooster” played over the PA and a giant sing along ensued. The house lights go dark and the ACOS intro plays over the PA.

As the ACOS intro builds to the crescendo, the band quickly walks onstage in time for the crunching main riff and pounding drums. Within seconds I was somehow pushed to the first row. The crowd was ROUGH but energetic, and it was fun as hell. I kid you not, the place went apeshit. No words can describe seeing your favorite band in front of you, only a few yards away, playing the music that you love. I think my mouth dropped open as they ripped into the song, I stopped breathing. To my immediate right was guitarist John Petrucci, I could reach out and touch his pickguard (I did!). Beyond him was Mike Portnoy on drums, grinning and laying down all his parts. I thought to myself “holy shit, these guys are real, they aren’t machines! And they’re even better live!” Then James Labrie walks out, stands a few feet away from me and my eyes literally bug out. I sang along to every word as if by instinct, everyone towards the front waving and reaching for James. There was a crush, and the only way to alleviate it was to hug onto the guys to my left and right, arm in arm, but we didn’t care. Labrie sees me singing along, smiles and grabs my hand…really hard, I think my hand was red afterward. But it was so fucking cool. I could see the studious middle eastern man in the argyle sweater, standing with his arms crossed, big smile on his face and nodding to the band in approval. His son next to him was blissfully headbanging. Everyone was having an incredible time, head banging, fist pumping, or just standing there stunned and grinning ear to ear.

Inside the venue it was hot, humid, and LOUD. My ears rang for the following day and a half. As the show progressed, it became shockingly clear how human these musicians are: Dream Theater has this reputation for being precise and for being ridiculously talented, prodigy level. However on at least 2 or 3 occasions someone missed their cue, or Portnoy tried twirling a drumstick but dropped it, James Labrie amusingly said “Mike Portnoy is trying to stick a drumstick up my ass.” On other occasions I heard Portnoy say “fuck!” in frustration, probably for missing a beat here or there. The last screw up of the night involved James’ vocal effects during the snippet of Learning to Live. He began singing the intro, “there was no time for pain, no energy for anger,” but his vocals sounded nasally and whiny. He stepped away from mic, confused, and said “what the fuck was that???” while a crew member scurries onstage to correct the issue on Labrie’s stage monitor/rack setup. Tonight I realized these guys were indeed pros and truly gifted, but still human, and like true professionals they rolled with the punches and still put on a quality show. This was an unforgettable live experience, and the perfect way to deflower this music lover/musician.

ACOS I
ACOS II
Take the Time
Just Let Me Breath
Burning My Soul
Anna Lee
Speak To Me
Lines in the Sand
Caught In a Web
Peruvian Skies
Lie
Pull Me Under
Trial Of Tears
Metropolis/Learning to Live/ACOS VII

Wow moment of the night: there were several “WOW” moments, however the best one had to do with the two ballads, Anna Lee and Speak To Me. For those two songs a mini drumkit was setup closer to the stage, allowing fans an even closer vantage point to see the drummer extraordinaire. Additionally, during Caught In a Web, Portnoy’s drum solo allowed for some audience participation. Two different audience members, one from stage left, the other from stage right, were brought on stage and given a pair of drums sticks. They pounded along with Portnoy on a 12″ tom and it was beyond cool, watching these fans actually participate in the show.

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A scan of the $18 ticket for this show (that’s right…$18)

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Mana @ Save Mart Center, Fresno CA 09/16/07

I’ve been trying to catch Mana on the last few tours and something always got in the way: School, work, lack of cash, etc. So when I heard they’d be doing a Fresno date I jumped at the chance and ordered tickets right away, Mana is still one of those institutions of Latin rock that shouldn’t be missed, an act to see before you die. So my lady and I show up and I have rather low expectations. I figured the highlight of the night would be the merchandise, drinks, and being accompanied by my lovely, curvaceous woman. I’d read that Mana were playing a lot of slower, low key material and a lot of second tier songs, i.e. the songs you skip over on your Mana CDs. Additionally, the immortal “Oye Mi Amor” was being played sporadically on this tour, so I wasn’t expecting to experience it live. Fast forward 2 hours later….

Oh…EM..Geee. Mana put on one heck of a show and left me stunned. The presentation, performance, visuals, effects, vibe and audience were awesome. The crowd was LOUD, extremely vocal, knew the old stuff and even sang the newest material word for word. I’ve seen Jaguares and La Ley and I have to say that Mana out entertained them all. To top it off, it was Mexican Independence Day, making this night all the more magical. They were energetic, spirited, and played with conviction. You can tell when a band is going through the motions and playing because they’re expected to – like a human jukebox. Not this night. This band was on fire and it didn’t matter that they were playing a secondary market like Fresno. I’d wager that we received just as energetic of a show if not more so than Los Angeles, Sacramento or San Diego. Great experience, had fun and would see them again.

1) Dejame Entrar
2) Oye Mi Amor – Has only been played seldomly this tour!
3) Manda una Señal
4) Labios Compartidos
5) Vivir sin Aire – Reworked version with a new intro
6) Ojala Pudiera Borrarte
7) Donde Jugaran los Ninos – Darker feel, faster tempo, new outro and performed in costume, complete with masks, a dark stage and candles.
8) Cuando Los Angeles Lloran – With extended intro, ala the Unplugged CD. Sergio truly shines on this one. It showcases the right mix of politics, poetry, musicianship and emotion.
9) Tu Me Salvaste – Alex had lead vocal duties on this one. Becoming one of my favorites from the new disc.
10) Drum Solo del “Animal” – Alex impressed me with his showmanship. The rotating kit, cross sticking and “behind my back” sticking were especially cool.
11) Mariposa Traicionera – LOTS of sad drunks during this number. Complete with gritos.
12) Medley acustica: Eres mi Religion /Te Llore un Rio/El Reloj Cucu – A girl was pulled from the audience to join Sergio and Fher for an acoustic serenade. The girl at the El Paso gig was booed because she didn’t know the words to the songs. Haha
13) Corazon Espinado – Never been a fan of this song, but I have a newfound appreciation for it after hearing it live. Sergio even busted out a PRS guitar with a sunburst top, ala Carlos Santana. The signature Santana tone was dead on.
14) El Rey
15) Me Vale – It amazes me how Alex can sing and keep up with the upbeat rhythm.
16) No Ha Parado de Llover – with extended intro and a very cool rain effect. There was actually a curtain of water toward the front of the stage, pouring down a steady rain throughout the duration of the song. Images were projected onto it, serving as a dream like movie screen.
17) En el Muelle de san Blas – The rain screen was used again to augment the song with images of a woman waiting by the wharf. A moving, hair raising end to the main set.
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18) Rayando el Sol – Played with a new intro.
19) Clavado en un Bar

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One of the 2007 tour shirts

Mana @ The Rabobank Arena, Bakersfield CA 09/13/12

I think my brother said it best: Mana is the Mexican Nickelback (he also said Mana fans are probably Oakland Raider fans too lol). You will either laugh and agree, or gasp and feel offended. The women outnumbered the men, and the set was heavy with mid tempo ballads and unremarkable new songs. However the crowd compensated for that and made for a high energy concert. The Rabobank Arena was freakin’ PACKED, which is a great testament to the support that this kind of music receives in the Central Valley. It was a good show, great band with an awesome ability to get the crowd going. But what made me sorely disappointed and critical of the show was the fact that it was practically the same show from 5 years ago! The same songs, practically the same running order, minus some classic songs that were substituted with 5 mediocre new songs. Fans have waited 5 years for Mana’s return, and this is what we got: A boring, flaccid new album and a “by the numbers” tour. I felt no connection, no magic, no hair raising moments. It was just another gig. If you’re a first timer (and have a vagina), then you will definitely love the show. It’s a great night out and the band puts on a quality show with great production. However for other fans looking for variety (and looking for true rock) then you might be disappointed. Don’t get me wrong, I love the group, love most of the music, they’re great musicians and performers, but the show was just meh.

Coolest moments: The coolest moments for me had nothing to do with the music. Fher acknowledged Bako as an agricultural town and fittingly mentioned Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta.

At the end of Alex’s drum solo he turned to the left side of his kit. To the left of his timbales was a lone floor tom. Alex cracked the floor tom open and it was an ice chest designed to look like one of his DW floor toms. He pulled out a Corona and took a big swig. I gotta get me one of those (the drum ice chest I mean).

At the end of Me Vale, a young kid joined the band for the closing jam to the song. I have no idea who he was, crew member or audience member, but he was a baby faced kid, playing a Gibson SG and jammed along like a pro.

For the mini acoustic set, the band walked over to a platform at the opposite end of the arena, giving the rear a front row vantage point for a portion of the show. Some chick from Mexicali was pulled onto the platform where she sat while the group performed Vivir Sin Aire. As soon as the harmonic outro was over, a crew member quickly yanked the girl off the stage. I thought “aw how sad.” Then I laughed

Set
Oye Mi Amor
Dejame Entrar
De Pies a Cabeza (sweet!)
Lluvia Al Corazon
Vuela Libre Paloma
El Verdadero Amor Pedona
Mariposa Traicionera
Sergio’s Guitar Solo and band jam
Manda Una Senal
Latino America
Clavado En Un Bar
Me Vale
Alex’s Drum Solo
B-Stage acoustic set (Te Llore Un Rio/Te Solte La Rienda/Bendita Tu Luz/Eres Mi Religion/Si No Te Hubieras Ido/Vivir Sin Aire)
En El Muelle De San Blas (with a reworked intro)
Rayando El Sol
______________________________
Labios Compartidos
Corazon Espinado

I can’t help but compare what I witnessed at the Caifanes show versus what I saw at the Mana show. For Caifanes I saw couples dance, guys playing air guitar and air drums, jumping, moshing, and grown men brought to tears. Maybe there were more drunks at the Caifanes show? Who knows. But for some reason a deeper chord was struck at that show. It’s not to say that one group is superior to the other. It’s like Coke and Root Beer. Some days I prefer one, other days I prefer the other. Both groups give the audience something savory, passionate, rhythmic, melodic, and poetic. But above all, both groups give the music fan something that is uniquely Mexican, and we don’t have enough of that in the rock world.

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a view from stage right, loge.

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a view from behind Alex’s kit at the Bakersfield gig, from Mana’s official page (no copyright infringement intended)

B-stage for the acoustic numbers

Dream Theater & Crimson ProjeKct @ The Gibson Amphitheater, Universal Studios CA 07/02/12

The usual question I get is “who the heck are Dream Theater?” In short, Dream Theater are Progressive Metal gods and one of the largest cult acts on the planet. Think Metallica meets RUSH. Nowhere near as popular as those acts, but not underground either. The last 3 albums have been Billboard Top 10 releases and they finally earned a Grammy nod. Not too shabby for a bunch of guys that make untrendy, heavy, weird music.

A Dream Theater concert is a strange event. The crowd is a sea of musician geeks, metal-heads and computer/sci-fi nerds, or a combination thereof. ..unless you’re in Japan or South America, where there’s large numbers of female Dream Theater fans for some reason. About the musician geeks: Much of the crowd can be seen air drumming to songs with precision, beat for beat. There’s also a fair share of air guitarists, air bassists and air keyboard players in the crowd, also seen fingering along, having memorized every note of every song…and there’s probably a million notes played at a DT concert. A fan sees this band for the Metal, the Prog, and/or the individual players, each of whom has their own enclave of fans and followers.

What is Prog you might ask? It’s unorthodox music, complicated, and often times difficult to wrap your head around. The songs are long, the solos are numerous, and the talent seems super-human. This is an inspirational group for me, and without them I probably would never have picked up an instrument. It also explains my ongoing loyalty and support to them – twelve or so concerts and counting.

This band is also unique for giving value to the fans. It was common place for the group to perform 3 hour shows, with a policy of rotating song lists. A fan could go see them in LA and hear 16 songs or so, see them the next night in San Diego or Anaheim and hear a completely different set. And the next tour, the band would make a point to play an entirely different set of songs, ensuring even more variety.

What other band does that??? On top of that, the band members are actually accessible and stay connected to their fans, often times interacting on message boards, blogs, live chats and in person. As for the show, it was a great but standard Dream Theater experience. They’ve been doing this a long time and they function like a machine. I’ve also been seeing them live a very long time, since 1998. One of their concerts can make for a rockin’ but tiring experience. Many of the songs are 8-10 minutes in length and this particular show reached a point where the songs began to sound alike. Great show nonetheless, but I’m either getting too old for this or my unfamiliarity with the newer material kept me from fully appreciating it.

As for the venue, The Gibson at Universal Studios is a great 6000 seat indoor amphitheater. Every seat is a great vantage point, it’s comfortable and well maintained. Unfortunately for the band, I’d say 1000 or so seats went unsold. The far left and right wings were curtained off, eliminating clusters of seats at the edges of the venue – never seen this done before, anywhere. Additionally, much of the upper balcony was empty. I attended a 2007 Dream Theater show at the same venue and it appeared to be a sold out show. I’m speculating that the lower attendance was due to a combination of factors: 1-It was a Monday night. 2-Economics. There’s not much room in the budget for entertainment and discretionary income in general. 3-Concert tickets are frickin expensive. And 4-It’s Dream Theater, not Metallica or Rush!

The real highlight of the night was seeing the opener, Crimson ProjeKct. Who the heck is that? We didn’t know till a few hours before show time, thanks to Wikipedia. Crimson ProjeKct is basically King Crimson minus their leader and founder, Robert Fripp, plus a few unknown but ridiculously talented additions to the group. Classic rockers would know King Crimson from the 70s. They’r a pioneering group in the progressive rock genre.

For Crimson ProjeKct, the core players were present: Adrian Belew (noted guitar virtuoso, ex Talking Heads, ex Tom Tom Club), Pat Mostelloto (drum phenom and ex Mr. Mister and XTC drummer), and the great Tony Levin on bass. Tony Levin has played with everyone, including Buddy Rich, John Lennon, Paul Simon, Pink Floyd, Yes, Stevie Nicks and Peter Gabriel. He’s a super star in the bass community. They had 2 drummers, 2 bass players, and 2 guitar players. Sounds weird and cluttered but it worked! We were floored by their musical wizardry. They played King Crimson songs and while I’m not a fan, those quirky but rockin songs came alive on stage. An added surprise was witnessing Danny Carey, the drummer for TOOL, jump on stage and do a drum trio with the other band members. That was uber cool to see. The ProjeKct had a ton of fun on stage, and the Dream Theater audience had a glowing respect for the group and applauded like crazy. Part of the same family.

Dream Theater
1. Bridges in the Sky
2. 6:00
3. The Dark Eternal Night
4. This is the Life
5. The Root of All Evil
6. Lost Not Forgotten
7. A Fortune in Lies
8. Surrounded
9. On the Backs of Angels
10. War Inside My Head
11. The Test that Stumped Them All
12. The Spirit Carries On
13. Breaking All Illusions
14. Metropolis Pt. 1 (The Miracle and the Sleeper)

Crimson ProjeKct
1. B’Boom
2. THRAK
3. Dinosaur
4. Elephant Talk
5. Red
6. Frame by Frame
7. Thela Hun Ginjeet
8. Indiscipline

Highlight: It’s always awesome to see musician superstars like the guys in Dream Theater along with the King Crimson alumni, Tony Levin especially. It was also pure awesomness to see the ProjeKct play the immortal “Red”.

A view from the orchestra section

Kevin Hart @ Rabobank Theater, Bakersfield CA 08/12/12

We had the good fortune of catching Kevin Hart’s “Let Me Explain” tour at Bakersfield’s Rabobank Theater. The openers were very good, three in all, and their material alone will make you laugh hysterically. Kevin came onstage with a production that included pyrotechnics. He mentioned how he had seen Kanye West and Jay-Z perform and they had fire in their show. He said “now that I’ve made it, you will now see moments of pointless fire!” He snapped his fingers and 4 giant flames erupted from the stage. Whenever Kevin was on a roll and got the crowd going, he would yell “I’m slayin ‘em, drop some fire on this b*tch!” and the flames would go up again – pointless but awesome. Hart is a great story teller, great at delivery. His routine included quite a bit of material about his ex-wife and what led to Hart’s divorce. You’ll never hear impressions or sound effects, but his act doesn’t need it. There was a strict no phones/no cameras policy. Some people were escorted out of the theater for this offense. Hart didn’t want anyone taping the show and leaking the material online, as it is all new material. I don’t believe the man ever recycles his material. Plus they were filming segments of each show for an upcoming DVD, pretty cool. You might be interested to know, the Rabobank Theater is one of the few venues where you can specify your row and seat. We got these great aisle seats in the back of the floor section – no one was behind us (save for a few handicap accessible seats) and we were able to make a quick exit. Awesome comedian. In fact I consider Hart to be one of those upper echelon type comedians, so worth the $45 admission, and more.

Morrissey @ The Rabobank Theater, Bakersfield CA 05/12/12

Sigh….what started out as a thunderous show quickly turned into a big “what the heck?” kind of experience. This was our second occasion seeing the British Elvis, The Mozfather, The Pope of Mope, The Miserable One, etc., and although the voice was in fine form, actually it was in superb form…and I’ve probably written it before, but his voice has aged like a fine wine and the man’s still “got it.” He’s lost a lot of weight and looks leaner as well. Anyway, although he sounded great, the song selections left much of the crowd scratching their heads or yawning. The first 6 or so songs lit a fire under the theater crowd. But everything after that, save for a few classics, made for a very confusing concert. Richard Blade, a DJ for satellite radio said it best – why would an artist with a wealth of great material play 10 or so b-sides, covers and obscure songs you’ve probably never heard? Maybe it’s ego. But anyway, great singing, great performance by the band, 3rd row seats, crappy setlist.

We left during what we thought was the last song of the night, The Smith’s Last Night I Dreamt Somebody Loved Me. It’s not my favorite Smiths Song and we were more interested in avoiding the traffic congestion…and Morrissey NEVER plays a second encore. I was dismayed to later hear that the band tore into an even better Smiths song, Still Ill, for the final song of the set. BUT…the group abandoned the stage half way through the song when 5 overzealous security staff pounced on a stage crasher. Morrissey said something like “5 security on one person…too macho, too macho, too macho,” and he stormed off the stage, with guitarist Boz Boorer giving the signal to kill the show. Whoa. It’s Morrissey culture that fans attempt to invade the stage during the encore to embrace and kiss the singer (men too). There’s a famous video filmed in 1995 (Introducing Morrissey) where 2 dozen or so fans successfully crash the stage and hug on the singer during “Speedway.” The phenomenon stuck ever since. Unfortunately, tonight’s rendition of “Speedway” was very anticlimactic. Ordinarily, “Speedway” is a rockin’ showstopper. But much of the power and passion had been sucked away, and this more tamed version is what we heard. The Smiths songs were played faithfully, and I think the live band has greatly improved the arrangements of tracks like “Shoplifters of the World,” “I Know It’s Over” and “Please Let Me Get What I Want.” This show could have been so much more…

You Have Killed Me
Shoplifters Of The World Unite (The Smiths)
You’re The One For Me, Fatty
Alma Matters
How Soon Is Now? (The Smiths)
Ouija Board, Ouija Board
Black Cloud
Everyday Is Like Sunday
To Give (The Reason I Live) (Frankie Valli cover)
Meat Is Murder (The Smiths)
Let Me Kiss You
People Are The Same Everywhere
I Will See You In Far Off Places
I’m Throwing My Arms Around Paris
Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want (The Smiths)
When Last I Spoke To Carol
Scandinavia
I Know It’s Over (The Smiths)
Speedway
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Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me (The Smiths)
Still Ill…sort of (The Smiths)

Odd moment of the show: Well, there were several odd moments. Boz in drag, the setlist, oh…the film! There was a very uncomfortable feeling in the venue when Meat Is Murder was performed. On the projector screen, footage from the film Meet Your Meat was played, showing troubling scenes of animal mutilation in the farming industry. The idea seemed an effective companion to the lyrics of the song, but it was too much. This is an agricultulral area afterall. Morrissey has always been a hero for the misfits, the misunderstood, the losers, and the disabled. THAT I identify with most. Despite the odd set, I’d still like to see him again. There was only one Elvis and one Sinatra. We still have Morrissey and I’ll see him so long as he’s alive.

Cool moments: Matt Walker’s drum kit. His bass drum reso heads were printed with our state flag. Nice tribute 🙂 And just being to see the Man up close was great.

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Photographic proof of Boz in drag. Weird. Check out Matt’s bass drums!

Red Hot Chili Peppers @ The Staples Center, LA CA 08/12/12

Very good show for the most part – I got to attend the second night of a two night stand at the LA Staples Center. The mix and acoustics weren’t too bad. I’m convinced that venue was never meant for live concerts. More often than not, the mix is muddy with too much annoying low end.

My only major qualm about this gig was the teasingly brief length of the show – 90 minutes or so, which is criminal given the Chili Peppers’ extensive back catalogue and rich history. Luckily there is some variety from show to show. Some songs played during night 1 were swapped out during the night 2 performance. While night 1 attendees heard Snow, Around the World, She’s Only 18, Other Side and Higher Ground, night 2 attendees heard Dani California, Wet Sand, Throw Away Your Televison, Me & My Friends, and Sir Psycho Sexy (I too laugh at some of the song titles). As far as glaring omissions go, no songs from the 1980s were performed this night, save for the exception of “Me & My Friends.” While a longer set would have been preferable, I now see why the Chili’s play for limited stage time: They’re constantly moving, running, jumping, dancing, and convulsing onstage. Performing in that band is probably like performing in a sporting event. I can’t imagine how many calories those guys burn on stage, and 3 of 4 band members are in their late 40s. Another writer said they have the stamina of pre-schoolers. Sounds pretty accurate! 18 tracks were performed, peppered with various jams and improv work throughout. Magical moments for me were when the entire arena sang the intro to “Under the Bridge.” An equally special moment was hearing the sentimental “Wet Sand,” it’s one of those touching tracks that’s seldomly played.

The most cathartic moment was just before the group ripped into “Me & My Friends.” Flea dedicated the song to all his loved ones and family members. Flea also dedicated the song to his high school tormentors, saying something like “this is also dedicated to all those mother ****ers that threw sh*t at me and called me a f*g in high school. I now have no enemies in this world!” Hmm I wonder where those people are now?

Each musician in this group contributes something unique to the Red Hot sound. While singer Anthony Kiedis is the “face” and the voice of the band, the biggest entertainer in that group has to be Flea, better known to his immediate family and the IRS as Anthony Balzary. He beat that bass guitar into submission and played it with crazy dexterity, akin to a skilled lead guitar player. It popped, it rumbled, and it oozed infectious grooves (they’re a great band too!). Flea has this ability to create memorable bass “hooks,” memorable parts you can sing to. And while playing, he will two-step, shuffle and bounce around like a tennis ball. For these LA dates Flea sported purple hair in honor of the LA Lakers. A Lakers banner was also draped over Chris Warren’s keyboard rig.

Drummer Chad Smith makes up the other half of the rhythm section. He can easily channel the spirit of Zeppelin’s John Bonham as well as Parliament’s Dennis Chambers. He rocks AND he can get funky. When Smith lays down a groove, I can’t help but get excited. Great example is the intro to “Dani California.” My ears perk up, I get that shiver and an inkling to rotate the hips. “Ethiopia” is another good example of Smith’s magic on the drums. Rather than a 4 beat, the song is actually in 7 (at least I think it’s in 7…). What the heck is that? I realize I’m losing the non-musicians, but it’s so worth mentioning anyway. Smith plays this unassuming drum pattern, but adds a twist by lengthening the measure by a few beats – it gives the rhythm of the song a completely different personality…

it’s funkier, and it challenges or frustrates the listeners (and the dancers) in the process. You normally see 7/4 time signatures (or a 7 beat) in Rush songs, prog rock and jazz fusion stuff. Instead of counting to 4 like a typical rock beat, count to 7…the trick is to treat the word “seven” as one syllable: 1-2-3-4-5-6-sev, 1-2-3-4-5-6-sev, repeat. Sorry for the crappy lesson in time signatures. Anyhow, Smith was on FIRE. Adding some extra color and flavor to the Chili’s sound were sidemen on percussion and keyboards. They helped to flesh out some of the more textured numbers in the set this night. And during the final encore of “Give it Away,” Chili Pepper ex-drummers Cliff Martinez and Jack Irons joined the group and jammed along to the song on their own drum kits. Freakin’ AMAZING.

About Anthony Kiedis, he’s far better performer than a singer. The voice is unique and definitely part of the group’s signature sound, but I think he’s mostly untrained, there were some pitch problems during the first two songs. He can still move like he was in his 20s, and as for the singing, he was spot on during most of the performance. Josh Klinghoffer on guitar filled in well as the replacement for guitar god John Frusciante. Frusciante has long been credited as the melody master for this group, and I along with other fans had doubts about Klinghoffer’s abilities. He played the songs faithfully and had the same energy and fire as the rest of the group, but there was still something missing.

Why do i love this band? Because they’re like a colorful, crazy melting pot of sound, and there’s something uniquely fun and Californian about them. They’ve got the funk, the rock, the classic R&B, the rap, ska, reggae, etc. etc., but most importantly for me, it’s the melancholy and the ache. They may seem like a bunch of shirtless, horny knuckle heads…especially with song titles like “Suck My Kiss,” “She’s Only 18,” and “Sexy Mexican Maid,” BUT…they always manage to produce these poignant little gems that can tug at your heartstrings, material like “Brendan’s Death Song,” “I Could Have Lied,” “Scar Tissue” and of course, “Under the Bridge.” Those songs make me pause and reflect, and then I want to jump on the drums and play along. I’m very grateful I got to see these guys as they tour so infrequently. Just wish they’d play more songs!

Setlist
Monarchy of Roses
Chad’s drum jam/Dani California
Can’t Stop
Scar Tissue
Look Around
Throw Away Your Television
If You Have To Ask
The Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie
Me & My Friends
Wet Sand
Under the Bridge
Suck My Kiss
Californication
By The Way

Encores
The Chad, Mauro & Josh super jam
Sir Psycho Sexy
They’re Red Hot
Ethiopia
Give It Away (with Cliff Martinez & Jack Irons)Image

Caifanes @ The Honda Center, Anaheim CA 06/02/12

Wow…WOW WOW WOW!!! It’s not every day that some of your musical and cultural heroes reconcile and reunite after a 17 year break, and then perform and give you your monies worth and then some. Caifanes are the yin to Mana’s yang. Both groups are arguably Mexico’s most popular and influential rock acts. On one hand Mana is known as the colorful and energetic, mainstream rock group (think The Police). On the other hand, Caifanes are known for producing darker, mystic and more “alternative” sounding music (think The Cure). A Mana concert is a party. A Caifanes concert is a religious experience.

The value given to us was unbelievable. They played for a very generous 2.5 hours – 26 songs, with a lot of gracious and appreciative banter from group leader Saul Hernandez. There were close to 20,000 people at the Honda Center in Anaheim. We were fairly close to the stage, and it was jaw dropping, looking around and seeing all those people captivated, standing and overpowering the singer’s voice, singing along to practically every song. It was like there was electricity in the air, complete with goosebumps and hair raising moments. Some guys head banged. Some played air guitar (drunken air guitar). Women grooved and some couples broke out into sambas. Somehow a mosh pit erupted toward the front of the stage. Where did all those folding chairs go!? Now matter how the crowd expressed itself, everyone was deeply affected in some profound way and showed it. About the vocals, Hernandez’ voice has long been plagued by some kind of vocal cord condition – causing his singing to be raspier, thinner, and very unpredictable, which has become an unfortunate hallmark of his other group, Jaguares. However much of his power and vocal ability has been miraculously restored for these Caifanes concerts. He’s  singing as if his life depends on it. The voice is a signature part of this group. Its sweetly abrasive, other worldly, with power and frailty at the same time.

The performance was very good for the most part. But I’m convinced guitarist Alejandro Marcovich was a little drunk. He would play a beat behind or ahead at times, but most people probably didn’t notice. And as the night wore on, his volume level gradually increased. Sabo Romo barely moved a muscle. He stayed in his little 2×2 box and made playing bass look so easy. Sax/keyboard player Diego Herrera was having a great time, traveling from one end of the stage to the other and did a lot of sax solos, including tasteful ones on Viento and Sombras En Tiempos Perdidos. Alfonso Andre is still a great drummer, and looks like he hasn’t aged a bit. And he plays Yamaha just like me 🙂 The band played everything a fan would want to hear plus a few cult favorites. Absolute favorite moment for me was seeing “Sombras En Tiempos Perdidos” performed. Frickin’ gorgeous. If I had any complains, it would be the absence of songs like “La Vida No Es Eterna” and “Vamos Hacer Un Silencio.”

I got into this group late in the game. I was attending college when I first heard their music around 2000, 5 years after they had broken up. I loved the new wave sound of their early material, the blues and jazz of their later stuff and the darkly poetic lyrics. It was in college where I experienced a cultural awakening and “found my roots.” Isolating yourself in Orange County will do that to you. Discovering this group’s music was part of that cultural awakening.

Setlist

Viento
Para Que No Digas Que No Pienso En Ti
Miedo
Aquí No Es Así
Te Estoy Mirando
Nubes
Miércoles de Ceniza
Cuéntame Tu Vida
Antes De Que Nos Olviden
Ayer Me Dijo Un Ave (electric with Diego and Alfonso on bongos & djembe)
Hasta Morir
Estas Dormida
Avientame
Sombras En Tiempos Perdidos
Perdí Mi Ojo de Venado
El Comunicador
Los Dioses Ocultos
Sera Por Eso
Detrás de Ti
De Noche Todos Los Gatos Son Pardos
Mátenme Porque Me Muero
Nos Vamos Juntos

Encores

La Célula Que Explota
No dejes que
Afuera
La Negra Tomasa

Image

Saul Hernandez and Diego Herrera, Anaheim 06/02/12

A view from the video screen, Anaheim 06/02/12

“All the world’s indeed a stage and we are merely players, performers and portrayers.”

This blog is my little way of documenting the concerts I’ve attended since 1998. I’m always searching the net and printed publications for descriptive, detailed reviews of my favorite artists and their live shows. Or I’m looking for any information on good music acts that I’m somewhat curious about. Unfortunately, most reviews fall short and are either too bland, uninformative or they’re too fan driven. Reviews should spark interest or at least give you enough information so you can decide for yourself if you’d like to pay your hard earned money to see an act. So why not do my own reviews, the way I think they should be written: detailed and constructive, with maybe just a hint of fan-boy hero worship 🙂  At any rate, on this little corner of the web I get to stretch my creative muscles and hopefully I can transport you to that concert, that moment in time.

a view of the crowd before Caifanes took the stage at The Honda Center in Anaheim 06/02/12