HOWARD JONES THE CANYON CLUB June 13, 2012

I thought Howard Jones was kind of lame when I was a kid, but because there were only 10 videos in rotation on MTV at a time, I got to know his songs very well.   When I got a little older, I realized his music was really cool and I’ve been a fan of his for years now.  I bought his greatest hits CD when I was going through a New Wave phase almost 20 years ago and that’s really all I know of him.    Some of his lyrics are pretty brilliant and most of his music that I am familiar with is really good.  It’s funny how stuff that was once perceived as “lame” or “embarrassing” can become something you really like (Duran Duran is another good example of this for me). 

I heard Howard was kind of boring in concert from a reliable source who saw his recent show at Club Nokia, but that still didn’t keep me from getting a ticket to see him at the Canyon- for better or worse, I was very willing to take the chance.     Hours prior to show time, there was some talk abut him missing his plane flight to the show and that it may not happen.    I later heard that everything worked out and he made it to the venue.   I planned on getting there around 9 to watch the show, where it was announced he was playing his first two albums in their entirety.  

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I arrived a little before 9 to a packed crowd, and, apparently, he had already played around 9 songs- mostly off of his Dream Into Action album.   Oh well.    I had no idea what songs he was playing when I got there.  A quick Google search with a few key words I picked out from the second song I heard told me it was “Hunger for the Flesh”.    I scrolled through the set list from a previous show and only recognized the song “Look Mama” from the songs he had probably already played, so I wasn’t too bummed about my tardiness.    Then, almost consecutively, he played most of the songs I wanted to hear.    He even threw in a popular song that wasn’t normally a part of his set list- Everlasting Love.   His vocals didn’t sound good at all on that.   I was starting to think the show was a bad call, but then, things only got better from there.    It was very hot in the venue and a few songs in, I was already feeling a little fatigued, so it was actually a welcomed relief when he announced an intermission shortly after my arrival- it sure beat a “thank you very much- good night”, which I feared might happen.   I went onto the patio and took in some night air and geared up for the second half of his show.   

He took the stage again about a half an hour later and played most, if not all, his Human’s Lib album.   I liked a lot of the songs I wasn’t familiar with and there was a lot of neat electronic music magic going on.    At one point, there was the use of these large percussion sticks that seemed somehow to be MIDI-triggered as they were banged against the stage.  That was a real trip.  Some of the keyboard parts reminded me of the music in the Revenge of the Nerds movie.  There’s nothing quite like an 80s robotic digital synth sound.  There were also a few songs I didn’t know the name of that I was familiar with, so that was a bonus.

His band is a 3-piece with electronic drummer Jonathan Atkinson and Robbie Bronnimann on keyboards/ sequencing/ sampling and all that good stuff.   It looks like they’re mostly  playing with toys, but they threw down some seriously cool digital music.

The large crowd here was pretty annoying.   There were tons of drunk people babbling endlessly and I saw some of the worst displays of dancing ever.   Also, when the crowd tried to harmonize with the singing parts, it sounded like shit.   There’s nothing like seeing a a crowd of mostly intoxicated white people really let loose that couldn’t hardly sing or dance on their best day, let alone in their inebriated state.  No one is to blame???  I’m not sure about that.

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The high point of the second part of the show was when he played “What Is Love?” with some pretty insane-sounding keyboard parts- it almost sounded like dub-step to me.  Quirky keyboard sounds are cool.     For the encore, he came back out, slapped on a key-tar and played “New Song”.   That was a great way to end the show.    I may have been late to the show, but I still caught around 15 songs, which was plenty for me, so Friday the 13th turned out pretty OK. 

If this is representative of the older, uncool crowd that I am almost old enough to be a part of, I’d much prefer going back to being the “older guy” at younger shows like death metal concerts and the such.   At least the music is so loud you couldn’t possibly hear people talking over the tunes and trying to hold a friggin’ conversation during the best part of the show.  

 

There was a massive amount of stuff for sale at the merch table:

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Semi-accurate set-list:
Set 1:
Automaton
Why Look for the Key
Is There a Difference?
Assault and Battery
Look Mama
Elegy
Specialty
Dream Into Action (I showed up around the end of this song)
Hunger for the Flesh
No One Is to Blame  
Everlasting Love
Life in One Day
Like to Get to Know You Well
Things Can Only Get Better
Set 2:
Conditioning
Pearl in the Shell
Natural
Hunt the Self
Don’t Always Look at the Rain
Equality
Hide and Seek
Human’s Lib
What Is Love?
Encore: New Song

 

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MY FAVORITE LIVE MUSICIANS OF 2012 CONCERTS (SO FAR… MID-JULY)

Guitar- Top 20
John Petrucci
Tommy Emmanuel
Tony MacAlpine
Allan Holdsworth
Jamie Kime
Satchel/ Russ Parrish
Benjamin Woods
Luis Villegas
Doug Aldrich
Phil X
ERic Sardinas
Vivian Campbell
Paco de Lucia
Steve Morse
Vernon Reid
Brad Gillis
Joel Hoekstra
Dan Sistos
Joe Satriani
Marc Bonilla
Rafael Moreira
FAVORITES THIS YEAR- John Petrucci, Tommy Emmanuel and Phil X

Drums- Top 25
Mike Mangini
Mike Portnoy
Aaron Spears
Dennis Chambers
Brooks Wackerman
Terry Bozzio
Joe Travers
Carmine Appice
Gregg Bissonette
Vinny Appice
Virgil Donati
Matt Sorum
Glen Sobel
Simon Wright
Brian Tichy
Al Velasquez, Jr.
Danny Carey
Thomas Lang
Mike Hansen
Mike Vanderhule
Chris Frazier
Tobias Ralph
Pat Mastelotto
Ricky Lawson
Luis Conte
FAVORITES THIS YEAR- Mike Mangini, Glen Sobel, Joe Travers, Matt Sorum and Dennis Chambers
 
Bass- Top 15

Robert Trujillo
Armand Sabal-Lecco
Billy sheehan
Jimmy Johnson
Scott Thunes
Dave LaRue
Lee Rocker
Jack Bruce
Rudy Sarzo
Levell Price
Michael Devin
Julie Slick
Tony Levin
Reggie McBride
Francois-Olivier Doyon
FAVORITES THIS YEAR- Dave LaRue and Armand Sabal-Lecco

Vocals- Top 20
Jeff Scott Soto
Michael Sweet
Keith St John
Sebastian Bach
Ben Thomas
Michael Starr/ Ralph Saenz
Donald Fagen
Michael McDonald
Dave Meniketti
Pat DiNizio
Jack Blades
Kelly Keaggy
Jon Anderson
Geoff Tate
Tortelvis
Marc Martel
Jennifer Espinoza
Yvan Pedneault
Geroge Thorogood
Jon Anderson
FAVORITES THIS YEAR- Michael Sweet and Jeff Scott Soto

Keyboards- Top 10
Derek Sherinian
Jordan Rudess
John Medeski
Eric Levy
Schiela Gonzalez
Donald Fagen
Michael McDonald
Brandon Ethridge
Ed Roth
Greg Manning
FAVORITES THIS YEAR-Derek Sherinian and Jordan Rudess

SOME COOL “HEAVY METAL” MOMENTS FROM 2012 so far…

Metalachi doing some metal mariachi at Universal CityWalk/ outside Universal Studios.  The world’s FIRST and ONLY mariachi heavy metal band!   Among other great metal classics, fans from all over the world were treated to excellent covers of Slayer and Motorhead:

Another awesome showing was the incredible guitar skill of Phil X.  Talk about rocking the six string- check out the middle of the vid for some very funny and insane shredding!

 

Matt Sorum and Steel Panther doing an interesting version of “I Don’t Know”

Death to all but metal:

Christian Metal:

Newly ousted Queensryche singer telling an interesting story between songs:

 

After Def Leppard played an afternoon show,

These guys partied at Saddle Ranch- it was pretty funny:

The week before, Vivian Campbell played some Dio with Steel Panther:

Here’s Flametal/ Heavy Mellow doing a flamenco version of Rainbow In The Dark- incredible guitar skills!

 

Some Classical Metal Shredding:

Nightwish with some quasi-symphonic metal:

Rudy Sarzo with a good impersonation of Ozzy:

METALACHI CityWalk Universal City 5 Towers July 8, 2012

METALACHI CityWalk 5 Towers Universal City July 8, 2012

I really love mariachi music.

I used to go see an incredible mariachi band play before my ex-wife’s boxing matches in South El Monte.

There’s something about the instruments that gets me every time.  I have a deep appreciation for the violin and trumpet.

I also love heavy metal (most of it, anyway- some is incredibly embarrassing and some of it rocks).  Once I heard that a band combined the two, I was already sold.  And it turns out they’re really good at it, too.  This concert far exceeded my expectations with their great song selections and impressive musicianship.

Having seen Flametal/ Heavy Mellow (an incredible flamenco group that plays metal songs) a few times this year, it was only fitting that I go and enjoy Metalachi- “The World’s First and ONLY Heavy Metal mariachi band”.   I’m really digging these bands that combine different styles of music.   It’s always nice to hear a new take on good songs that have stood the test of time.

This was also the first real opportunity I’ve had to check out the amazing new outdoor stage area at Citywalk called 5 Towers, so this made for a perfect afternoon.   5 Towers is a fairly new state-of-the-art outdoor concert experience and this concert was part of its Music Spotlight Series.  The screen and the lights are beyond awesome.     I could go on for a while about how neat it is, but I’ll just recommend going there and checking it out instead. 

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Metalachi did two shows at CityWalk. I actually got there early enough to hear the sound check. They sounded great.  They came out and played at 7PM for almost an hour. They took a small break and then rocked for another hour. It was nice being able to see them in the daytime and then again at night. This is definitely the best time of year for outdoor shows.

 

 

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What an impressive set list it what over the course of the two sets.

They played mariachi metal versions of Motorhead, Black Sabbath, Ozzy, Alice Cooper, Alice In Chains, Faith No More, Whitesnake and Europe- every song was great and most of the people in the sizeable crowd were really into it.

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The highlights were when they played a Slayer song (I just found it too funny they were playing that on a Sunday at CityWalk) and two impressive medleys from Metallica and Led Zeppelin.
 

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METALACHI CityWalk Universal City July 8, 2012

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METALACHI CityWalk Universal City July 8, 2012

JON ANDERSON THE CANYON CLUB July 7, 2012

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JON ANDERSON THE CANYON CLUB July 7, 2012

I’ve always been a fan of Yes. I’ve seen them numerous times through the years with various line-ups. The last time I saw them was with Asia and featured the new vocalist, Benoit David. He sounded good, but he obviously wasn’t Jon Anderson.   Jon was unceremoniously booted from Yes a few years ago due to medical problems.  Jon is on his solo tour and seeing him at an intimate local venue was too good to pass up!    

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Jon mostly plays along with guitar during the set, but he also played piano, ukulele and sitar.    His distinctive voice still sounds incredible.   He easily sounded good enough to still be in Yes, but apparently he doesn’t feel the need to tour as extensively as the schedule the band still maintains (probably among other reasons as well).   It was nice seeing him in a relaxed atmosphere telling really cool, candid stories between songs.   At 67 years old, he definitely still has it.

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Jon had some really great stories- one about a young singer form the band The Undertakers with named Robert Plant and another story about playing at a gig with  a young, unknown Joe Cocker.  Needless to say, he’s been around forever.    He also discussed obtaining his US citizenship a while back and played “America by Paul Simon:

I believe this was the last date of his US tour and it was a great way to spend a Saturday evening.   Thumbs up to Jon for all the songs, stories and good music!!

While not completely accurate (and until published/ updated), here’s a pretty good representation of the set list (give or take a few songs with the set time limit imposed by the venue):

Yours Is No Disgrace
Sweet Dreams
America
Time and a Word
One Love
Under Heaven’s Door
Flight of the Moorglade
I’ll Find My Way Home
Open [excerpt]
Starship Trooper
Give Love Each Day
Unbroken Spirit
Owner of a Lonely Heart
Set Sail/ Close to the Edge/Heart of the Sunrise Marry Me Again (Played on Piano)
The Light of Love (Song Played on Ukulele)
And You and I
Tony and Me
To the Runner
Long Distance Runaround
Turn of the Century
Your Move/Give Peace a Chance
I’ve Seen All Good People
Roundabout

Encore:
Wondrous Stories
State of Independence 
Soon

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These people below must have forgotten where they were, since they were more interested in having a full-blown loud conversation during the show than they were in enjoying the music.  They ruined around half the concert for everyone sitting around them.   I took their picture over my shoulder (the flash may have caught their attention) and finally told them they were talking over the music.  They toned it down, but never stopped yapping.   So much for seeing “all good people” at this show.    Inconsiderate concertgoers are never cool.  Why attend a concert if you’re just going to drink and babble?  

JON ANDERSON THE CANYON CLUB July 7, 2012

The opener was Teresa Russell.  She’s been very popular in the area for quite some time and I have seen her play on several occasions over the years.  Like every other time I’ve seen her play, she really rocked tonight.  I was kicking myself for showing up a few minutes late and missing part of her set.  She was doing a really cool song on my way in that sounded fantastic.   If I could only have had her rewind it and start over.      She’s a remarkable talent on both the guitar and vocals and, overall, is a very underrated musician. 

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JON ANDERSON THE CANYON CLUB July 7, 2012

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