Views on pop culture through my eyes

Posts tagged ‘concert’

Lady Antebellum: Brightens Up the Bowl

Lady Antebellum in Concert
Saturday, June 3, 2017
Hollywood Bowl

Special guests: Brett Young, Kelsea Ballerini

“You Look Good” World Tour

Merchandise purchased: T-shirt

Songs performed: Downtown , Our Kind of Love, This City, Dancin’ Away with my Heart, Heart Break, Compass, We Owned the Night, American Honey, I Run to You, Good Time to Be Alive, Thy Will, Hello World,You’re Still the One, Just a Kiss, You Look Good, Lookin’ for a Good Time, Something Like That,Crazy in Love,Love Don’t Live Here, Bartender, Need You Now, Allman Bros. cover songIMG_1239

Comments: Grammy-winning country trio Lady Antebellum brought their trademark sound to the Hollywood Bowl last weekend. The “You Look Good” World Tour is in support of their new album “Heart Break” that is due to be released on June 9. The group is composed of Hillary Scott (lead vocals), Charles Kelley (lead vocals) and Dave Haywood (backing vocals, guitar, piano, mandolin). The group was formed back in 2006 in Nashville.

In 2016, the group took on various solo projects including Charles’ solo album “The Driver” and Hillary’s solo album (with the Scott Family) “Love Remains.” The new album is the group’s first since 2014’s “747.”

I have been a big fan of this group since the beginning. I saw them back in 2009 as an opening act for Keith Urban. They were a last-minute replacement for Sugarland, who had to cancel due to illness. I was happy with the change.

After the 2 opening acts, popular dance songs from Bruno Mars, Michael Jackson, Salt N Pepa and Justin Timberlake among others were played. People were shown on the big screens dancing in the audience. It all served as a warm-up to the headliners. In their Hollywood Bowl debut, the group delivered and then some. You got the big hits and album tracks, plus a few surprises too.

The show started with “Downtown” from their “Golden” album. For this tour, the band has added a horn section including a trumpet and a trombone. The horn players were the first band members seen and heard before the group made their entrance at the back of the stage in separate lighted rectangular boxes.

The stage set-up had a large video screen and panels of lights that moved around during the show. They have definitely upped their production values for this tour, which includes stops in Europe and South Africa too. The band utilized the ring around the front seats several times in the night. Charles also made his way out into the audience too for one number. (No where close to me, oh well!)

The 2 trademarks of the group were on full display: the harmonies/vocals plus their hit-making songwriting. This group has 2 excellent vocalists in Hillary and Charles. What is interesting is how often they are flirting with each other in song, and they are both married to other people.

The group did a little unplugged segment in the middle of the show including one of the songs from Hillary’s faith-based solo album, a track called “Thy Will.” No songs from Charles’ album. They also sang Shania Twain’s “You’re Still the One” during the unplugged segment.

For “You Look Good,” they brought out a full horn section to back them up. Is it country? Not sure, it is a very funky horn-filled number. So there were trumpets, trombones, sax, tuba, French horn and more. The show was a good mix of songs from their six studio albums. They are in the enviable position of having too many good songs to fit in one show. I would have liked to have heard more from the “747” album, but that was featured on the last tour.

There were some inspired cover songs during the last few numbers: “Something Like That” had Charles and Brett Young singing on a song originally performed by Tim McGraw. Then for “Crazy in Love,” you had Kelsea Ballerini and Hillary singing on the Beyoncé classic. It was one of the highlights of the night and there were many that night.

Southern California native Brett Young opened the show. He was wearing a gold Laker’s jersey that showed off his tanned and tattooed arms. The crowd responded well to his short set which included the current #1 country song “In Case You Didn’t Know.” For me, he is another good-looking, but forgettable, country boy in a crowded market.

The second opening act was Kelsea Ballerini. She has broken through in the last year or so on the strength of her debut album “The First Time.” She was also nominated for the Best New Artist Grammy in 2017. She is filling the role of the country-pop female that was left by Taylor Swift. She debuted some new songs from her 2nd album that she is currently working on. She has a nice voice and a good personality. I can see her going further.

Thanks to Hillary, Charles and Dave for a great evening of music and artistry. I look forward to many more years of Lady Antebellum. I waited 8 years to see them in concert — and it was definitely worth the wait.

KiltManinSoCal is a Los Angeles-based writer and designer. Be sure to check out the latest T-Shirts for sale here, including Marriage Equality and Real Men Wear Kilts lines. They make great gifts for friends, family and loved ones.

 

 

Sixties Icons Still Relevant

Peter Yarrow and Noel Paul Stookey in Concert
Friday, February 17, 2017
Fred Kavli Theatre — Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza

Songs performed: Blowing in the Wind, Puff the Magic Dragon, Where Have All the Flowers Gone, Leavin’ on a Jet Plane, Don’t Laugh at Me, Impeachable, If I Had a Hammer, This Land is Your Land, Goodnight Irene (and more)

peterandpaul-websiteComments: Two-thirds of the legendary folk-rock trio Peter, Paul and Mary (Peter Yarrow and Noel Paul Stookey) performed for a near capacity crowd in Thousand Oaks. Mary Travers was the third member and she died in 2009. The group came out of the New York folk rock scene of the 1960s. They went on to have major chart hits, and sell out concert tours for years to come.

Growing up I heard a lot of PPM’s music. My Mom was a huge fan of theirs. She used to play their music on albums, cassettes and then CDs. Plus she would sing and play the songs on guitar also. So when I saw that the two remaining members of the group where going on tour, I knew I had to be there to honor my mother’s memory (My Mom died on October 25, 2016).

The show was just the 2 guys and their guitars. Plus they added some tambourine to some songs also. They sang songs from their long career: Puff the Magic Dragon, Leavin’ on a Jet Plane, Where Have All the Flowers Gone, If I Had a Hammer, Blowin’ in the Wind and This Land is Your Land. It was a group sing-along for the big hits. As those were songs that everyone there seemed to know and love.

I love the fact that the group is still socially conscious. After all, this is the group that was at the March on Washington in 1963 w/ Martin Luther King. They protested the Vietnam War and for immigrant rights. They sang a song called “Don’t’ Laugh at Me” which Peter Yarrow has successfully placed in 20,000 schools. It is a song about tolerance, acceptance, and an end to bullying in schools. It includes references to different races, religions, disabilities and LGBT people too.

The two guys (Peter and Noel) each took turns performing solo material in the 2nd half of the concert. Noel (aka Paul) sang a song slamming President Trump called “Impeachable” to the tune of Nat King Cole’s ‘Unforgettable.” It went over very well with the crowd. Peter also sang against the current administration in his solo segment. His crusade was against what he sees as a bully in chief.

Noel’s voice is holding up better than Peter’s voice. But I appreciate the passion that they put into their performance. They had some witty repartee between them as they have had over the years during their concerts. I saw them as a trio a number of times with my parents. I did get teary eyed a few times during the night. But I was happy that I could be there and to share it with my husband. I know my Mom was there in spirit.

Thanks to Peter and Paul for sharing their artistry and their message of social justice with the crowd. I loved the fact that when we were leaving the parking garage a group of young people (in their 20’s) got out of their car and were dancing to “If I Had a Hammer.” It gives me hope about the future.

KiltManinSoCal is a Los Angeles-based writer and designer. Be sure to check out the latest T-Shirts for sale here, including Marriage Equality and Real Men Wear Kilts lines. They make great gifts for friends, family and loved ones.

 

Keith Urban: Rockin the Country

Keith Urban in Concert
Thursday, October 20, 2016
Staples Center

Ripcord Tour 2016

Special guests: Maren Morris and Brett Eldredge

Songs performed: Gone Tomorrow (Here Today), Long Hot Summer, Break on Me, Where the Blacktop Ends, Making Memories of Us, Gimme Shelter, Somewhere in My Car, Blue Ain’t Your Color, Gettin’ in the Way, You Gonna Fly, Days Go By, We Were Us (with Maren Morris), Cop Car, Sun Don’t Let Me Down (With Nile Rodgers), The Fighter, You Look Good in My Shirt, Somebody Like You (with Brett Eldredge), John Cougar, John Deere, John 3:16 (Jack & Diane, No Woman, No Cry), Wasted Time, But for the Grace of God, Stupid Boy, Raise ‘Em Up

keith-urban-ripcord-2016-tour-dates-tickets-infoComments: Keith Urban brought his Ripcord World Tour to the Staples Center in Los Angeles. The tour is named after his 9th studio album of the same name. He performed 7 songs from that album, plus a lot of his hits from throughout his career.

What’s cool about Keith is what a showman he is. He’s got the rock star good looks and tattoos. He is an excellent guitar player and banjo player too.

The stage had large video screens on the back of the stage. Plus there was a small stage on the other side of the arena that they used for a few numbers also.

He pulled one girl from the audience to duet with him. She had a sign that read “I need to sing with you to pass my final.” Keith asked her what song she wanted to sing and she said the Rolling Stone’s song “Gimme Shelter” (which Keith recorded with Alicia Keys). She was really going for it, even though her voice was just OK.

Both opening acts showed up in the show too. Maren Morris dueted with him on “We Were Us”; and Brett Eldredge came out with Keith on the small stage and sang “Somebody Like You.” Keith and his band actually made their way across the floor to the small stage, shaking hands and hi-fives when they could.

Keith’s music has gotten much more pop leaning in recent years. Not that there is anything wrong with that, cause that’s what’s popular on country radio. One of the highlights of the night was the encore, when Keith came out and did 2 songs with just him and his guitar: But for the Grace of God and Stupid Boy. He should do a whole concert unplugged!

The first opening act of the evening was Maren Morris. She broke through big time this year with her hit “My Church.” She definitely has a good voice. But she hasn’t developed her stage presence yet. I am sure she will develop it with more touring.

The second opening act was Brett Eldredge. I was impressed with him. He is touring behind his 2nd album “Illinois”. The crowd seemed to dig him as much as I do. This is probably the last time he’s an opener. He’s got a nice voice and a bunch of catchy songs — so don’t be surprised to be hearing more from him.

Thanks to Keith and his band for a great evening.

KiltManinSoCal is a Los Angeles-based writer and designer. Be sure to check out the latest T-Shirts for sale here, including Marriage Equality and Real Men Wear Kilts lines. They make great gifts for friends, family and loved ones.

The Triumphant Return of Gwen Stefani

Gwen Stefani in Concert
Saturday, October 15, 2016
The Forum

This is What the Truth Feels Like Tour 2016

Special guest: Eve

Songs performed: Red Flag, Wind It Up, Baby Don’t Lie, Obsessed, Where Would I Be?, Cool, Make Me Like You, Underneath It All, Misery, Luxurious, Harajuku Girls, Let Me Blow Ya Mind, Rich Girl, Hella Good, What You Waiting For?, Rare, Go Ahead and Break My Heart, It’s My Life, Asking 4 It, Don’t Speak, Naughty, Used to Love You, Hollaback Girl, Truth, Just a Girl, The Sweet Escape

rs_600x600-160418075720-600-gwen-stefani-this-is-what-the-truth-feels-like-tour-41816Comments: Gwen Stefani made a triumphant return to the music scene with her latest album and tour — This is What the Truth Feels Like. She is celebrating her 30th year in music this year. She came out of Orange Country in the late 1980’s with the band No Doubt. With their mix of rock, reggae, ska and punk, they were a breath of fresh air on the music scene. Years of touring and recording have earned them a dedicated following.

Gwen released her first solo album in 2004 — “Love. Angel. Music. Baby.” It was followed by “The Sweet Escape” in 2006. So it has been a long 10 years since her last solo album. There was one No Doubt album in between there, but it failed to set the world on fire. Gwen’s marriage to Gavin Rossdale fell apart. And she started a romance with her fellow coach Blake Shelton from “The Voice.”

Both the dissolution of her marriage and her new romance feature prominently on the new album. And it is one of the year’s best if you ask me. The album features the hits “Used to Love You” and “Make Me Like You.”

Gwen put on a high-energy, non-stop party of a concert that featured hits from No Doubt and her 3 solo albums. She had a big production with backup dancers and costume changes. I especially loved the punk-rock inspired tartan ensemble she wore at the start of the show.

She thanked the fans several times during the night for getting her through the rough times in her life. She looked and sounded fantastic. And yes, Blake Shelton did show up for his lady to sign their duet “Go Ahead and Break My Heart.”

All night I kept asking myself, why haven’t I seen her before? She puts on a fantastic show. I would definitely see her again. One of the highlights for me was when she sang “Hella Good.” The whole venue was jumping literally! It was awesome to see.

And it was cool that she brought out Eve for the 2 songs: “Let Me Blow Your Mind” and “Rich Girl.”

Eve was the opening act. I was not familiar with her songs at all other than the Gwen duet. I am more familiar with her acting from the “Barbershop” movies. She had a few backup dancers, a DJ and a drummer. Lots of songs with attitude, you can tell she probably inspired Nicki Minaj.

Thanks to Gwen and her band for a awesome show! I loved it.

KiltManinSoCal is a Los Angeles-based writer and designer. Be sure to check out the latest T-Shirts for sale here, including Marriage Equality and Real Men Wear Kilts lines. They make great gifts for friends, family and loved ones.

Dixie Chicks: We Missed Them

Dixie Chicks in Concert
Monday, October 10, 2016
Hollywood Bowl

Special guest: Elle King

MMXVI Tour

Songs performed: The Long Way, Lubbock or Leave It, Truth #2, Easy Silence, Some Days You Gotta Dance, Long Time Gone, Video Games, Top of the World, Goodbye Earl, Travelin’ Soldier,
Don’t Let Me Die in Florida, Daddy Lessons, White Trash Wedding, Bluegrass Instrumental, Ready to Run, Mississippi Landslide, Cowboy Take Me Away, Wide Open Spaces, Sin Wagon, Not Ready to Make Nice, Better Way

DixieChicks_1200L

Dixie Chicks

Comments: They’re back! And I couldn’t be happier that they are. The Dixie Chicks made a triumphant return to the concert stage this year. The show, the final stop on the MMXVI world tour, marked the first time at the Bowl for the ladies. It was also their first tour in 10 years. A lot has changed since then!

The trio composed of Natalie Maines (vocals, guitar), Emily Robison (banjo, vocals) and Marti Maguire (fiddle, vocals) first burst onto the national scene in 1997. They went on to have 4 successful albums, sold out concert tours and win 13 Grammy Awards. Things changed in 2003 after Natalie Maines criticized then President George W. Bush. They experienced quite a backlash from the country community. And they found themselves on the defensive.

They laid low pretty much for the last 10 years: family time, solo projects. But there was always a hope they would get back together. So it was definitely good to have them back.

The ladies have transcended their bluegrass beginnings. They have tackled country, rock, folk, and alternative sounds on their records. They are a breath of fresh air in the era of bro-country. And it is easy to see their influence in singers like Carrie Underwood and Miranda Lambert.

The show was a celebration of sisterhood and songs. The ladies had a fun camaraderie like they were real sisters (in fact Marti and Emily are). And I was happy to see that time and distance have not slowed down their liberal values. They had advertisements for — Planned Parenthood, Human Rights Campaign and for a charity helping wrongly convicted felons — playing before the show. They also took a few pot shots at Donald Trump too.

The Chicks performed songs from their 4 studio albums, as well as covers of Lana Del Rey and Beyoncé. Plus, they sang 2 new songs too, so hopefully there is a new album in the works. It was cool that they poked fun at the Presidential Election during “Ready to Run” — with funny images of all the candidates on both sides. I also enjoyed the unplugged segment in the middle of the set as well as the bluegrass instrumental. One of the highlights of the night was their cover of Beyoncé’s “Daddy Lessons.” Natalie commented that “Lemonade” was their favorite album to listen to on their tour. I was happy to see them (Beyoncé and the Dixie Chicks) perform it together on the CMA Awards.

Elle King opened the show for them. She has a nice bluesy voice and had a few good songs in her set including “Ex’s and Oh’s.” She also came out to sing “Landslide” with the Chicks. I did not appreciate that she forgot the words!

Thanks to Natalie, Marti and Emily for a fantastic evening! I really enjoyed myself. Don’t stay away so long!

KiltManinSoCal is a Los Angeles-based writer and designer. Be sure to check out the latest T-Shirts for sale here, including Marriage Equality and Real Men Wear Kilts lines. They make great gifts for friends, family and loved ones.

Hall and Oates: Soulful Pop

Daryl Hall and John Oates in Concert
Tuesday, September 20, 2016
Hollywood Bowl

Special guests: Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue; Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings

Songs performed: Maneater, Out of Touch, Did It in a Minute, Say It Isn’t So, You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling, Las Vegas Turnaround, She’s Gone, Sara Smile; Do What You Want, Be What You Are; I Can’t Go for That (No Can Do), You Make My Dreams, Private Eyes, Didn’t I (Blow Your Mind This Time)

hall-and-oates-2016-tour-sharon-jones-trombone-shorty-600x476Comments: Daryl Hall and John Oates recently headlined the Hollywood Bowl for an evening of rock, pop and soul. They came out of Philadelphia in the 1970’s, and dominated the airwaves and the pop charts in the 1980’s. It was great to see them getting so much love from the audience on this tour.

First up for the night was Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue. Trombone Shorty (aka Troy Andrews) is the leader of this group. The group was an interesting fusion of jazz, funk, rock and soul. In addition to playing trombone, Troy also sang too. He had an incredibly long trombone solo — with his cheeks going in and out while he was playing. Some numbers were purely instrumental; while others contained vocals too. The band members are all good musicians.

Next up was Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings. We had see Sharon before at the Bowl as part of Ricky Minor’s “Global Soul” concert a few years ago. This was the first time seeing her with her band. Sharon is a force to be reckoned with. She is currently battling cancer, but she came out and gave her all to the performance. Their style is very retro R&B/funk. She covered a song by Gladys Knight that I was not familiar with.

I was impressed with both opening acts, but liked the music more of Trombone Shorty. His sound was more contemporary, whereas Sharon’s music was retro all the way. I would have been fine with only 1 opening act honestly.

During the breaks between acts, videos from both Daryl Hall and John Oates solo work played on the video screens. There was a commercial for Oates’ biography coming next year; as well as clips from “Live from Daryl’s House” his web series of him performing with different stars (Aloe Blacc and Jason Mraz along with others).

Finally Daryl Hall and John Oates came on. They will never live down being “Hall & Oates.” And why should they? They can still headline a huge concert tour, and they are more than 4 decades into their careers. Both are close to 70 (68 and 69). There is no new album to promote, their latest being a live album — “Live in Dublin.”

First song of the night was “Maneater” their #1 smash from 1982. They covered a lot of the essentials songs of their career during their set. From early soul classics like “She’s Gone” and “Sara Smile” to their pop-rock 80’s hits like “I Can’t Go for That” and “Say It Isn’t So.” They also included some more obscure songs too like “Las Vegas Turnaround” and “Do What You Want, Be What You Are.” The biggest surprise of the night was “Did It in a Minute.” I don’t think they have performed that one since the 80’s.

So with 2 opening acts, the headliner only got to perform for 1 hour and 15 minutes. I enjoyed the show, and was singing and dancing along to their set. Their music was definitely part of my youth. I did miss hearing “Kiss on my List” and “Rich Girl.” I heard John Oates on the Billboard magazine podcast a few weeks back, and he mentioned about them doing a tour with all obscure songs and non-hits. I would definitely be interested in a show like that. They were one of the most consistent acts in the 80’s and their albums were much more than just their singles.

They chose to end the night with the Delfonics’ 1969 classic “Didn’t I (Blow Your Mind This Time).” I was familiar with the New Kids on the Block version of the song from the 80’s. Sharon Jones and another signer were brought on to fill out the sound. They wanted to pay tribute to one of the songs that inspired them.

Thanks to Daryl, John and their band for another great performance in a long career.

KiltManinSoCal is a Los Angeles-based writer and designer. Be sure to check out the latest T-Shirts for sale here, including Marriage Equality and Real Men Wear Kilts lines. They make great gifts for friends, family and loved ones.

Smooth Summer Jazz: George Benson

Smooth Summer Jazz
Sunday, August 28, 2016
Hollywood Bowl

Starring: George Benson, Average White Band, To Grover with Love featuring Jason Miles, Jeff Lorber Fusion

Songs performed: Just the Two of Us (To Grover with Love); Cut the Cake, Pick Up the Pieces (Average White Band); Give Me the Night, The Ghetto, Lady Love Me, Nothing’s Gonna Change My Love for You, This Masquerade, Turn Your Love Around, On Broadway (George Benson)

georgebenson-950Comments: Hollywood Bowl presented their annual Smooth Summer Jazz event this past August. We have gone to see this night of music before starring headliners: Dave Koz as well as Men of Soul (Jeffrey Osborne, Peabo Bryson, and Freddie Jackson). The night is usually comprised of 4 acts over the course of 4-4.5 hours. It is always a nice event to share with our friends.

First up for the night was Jeff Lorber Fusion — a jazz group led by keyboardist and producer, Jeff Lorber. Their music was nice, if forgettable, smooth jazz.

Next up was To Grover with Love. This group was lead by Jason Miles, and is named after the legendary artist Grover Washington Jr. who died in 1999. They performed some instrumentals, and then brought out Maya Azucena to sing for a few numbers. She definitely brightened the night. She was a strong vocalist, and even sang the Bill Withers part on “Just the Two of Us.”

The stage rotated once more and the next act was… George Benson? Huh? I thought he was the headliner? Anyways, I last saw George in 2008 at the same venue. His set list hadn’t changed much since I last saw him. The exception being — “The Ghetto” — a song from Donny Hathaway that Benson had recorded before. He is a consummate performer and definitely had the crowd singing and dancing along to his hits. I think his voice was not as strong as when I saw him before, but he still sounded good. He is also an excellent guitar player and showed that off to good effect. His female backup singer also did a very good job backing him up.

The final act of the night turned out to be Average White Band. This band from Scotland had a few hits in the late 70’s and early 80’s. Their sound is very horn-heavy soul funk. Their best known songs to me were “Pick Up the Pieces” and “Cut the Cake.” But the crowd seemed to know their other songs too, and were singing along to them. The lead singer was good, but lacked the star power of George Benson.

Overall, I had a great time hearing some good music with a bunch of our friends. Thanks to all involved for a fun evening.

KiltManinSoCal is a Los Angeles-based writer and designer. Be sure to check out the latest T-Shirts for sale here, including Marriage Equality and Real Men Wear Kilts lines. They make great gifts for friends, family and loved ones.

Diana Ross: Still Supreme

Diana Ross in Concert
Saturday, July 16, 2016
Hollywood Bowl

Special guest: Naturally 7

In the Name of Love Tour

Songs performed: Summer Breeze, While My Guitar Gently Sleeps, Fix You (Naturally 7); I’m Coming Out, More Today Than Yesterday, My World Is Empty Without You, Baby Love, Stop! In the Name of Love, You Can’t Hurry Love, Touch Me in the Morning, Love Child, The Boss, Upside Down, Love Hangover/Take Me Higher/Ease on Down the Road, Don’t Explain, Good Morning Heartache, Why Do Fools Fall in Love, Theme from Mahogany (Do You Know Where You’re Going To), Ain’t No Mountain High Enough, I Will Survive, Reach Out and Touch (Somebody’s Hand), I Will Survive (Reprise)mr0zbp-b781149345z.120130804141403000gh81f8bkb.1

Comments: Diana Ross returned to the Hollywood Bowl for 2 triumphant shows this past weekend. In a show that celebrated her entire career from the Supremes to the movies to her solo anthems, Diana wowed the crowd with enough energy and star power for someone half her age. And she is 72! I was amazed by her.

Naturally 7, a 7-member a capella group, opened the show for her. They performed Seals and Croft’s 1972 hit “Summer Breeze” as well as covers of songs by Michael Jackson, George Harrison, Coldplay and more.

Tracee Ellis Ross, Diana’s daughter who stars on “Black-ish”, introduced her before the curtain parted. She said she was the 2nd child of Diana’s 5 children. She was thrilled and honored to be introducing her mother.

The opening song for Diana was “I’m Coming Out.” And Diana made a dramatic entrance from the back of the Bowl on an elevated swing that had her flying in above her band. She was dressed in a sparkling red dress with accompanying wrap.

This was the latest stop on Diana’s “In the Name of Love” tour, which she has been on intermittently for the past 3 years. It was nice to see her with a full production. She had a full band with backup singers. And we got the requisite glamorous costume changes throughout the evening too. She definitely knows what the fans want to see.

Diana performed a bunch of her Supremes hits, in full versions this time, unlike other times where she did them in medleys. So we got the big hits like “Stop! In the Name of Love” and “Love Child” but did not get “You Keep Me Hanging On” or “Reflections.” The group had an amazing 33 Top Forty singles in their career, with 23 making the Top Ten.

What was cool was how well known so many of her songs are. The crowd was on their feet singing and dancing along all evening. When she performed “Upside Down” she had her son, Evan, join her on stage as well as his dancer buddy who had danced with Diana before. Usher was also in attendance and he danced and sang a little during that segment too. The crowd was going crazy. Usher bowed down to Diana — deserving of a Diva like she is.

Her voice may not be as strong as it was when I saw her in the 80’s and 90’s, but she still sounded good.

The 2 biggest surprises of the night for me were “Ease on Down the Road” and “I Will Survive.” Sure, she was in the movie “The Wiz” with Michael Jackson, but he was the one that sang that song, not her, in the movie. She recorded “I Will Survive” in 1995, and it is definitely a song that everyone knows and loves.

This concert served as a reminder of the superstar that she is. Thanks to Diana and her band for a fantastic evening.

KiltManinSoCal is a Los Angeles-based writer and designer. Be sure to check out the latest T-Shirts for sale here, including Marriage Equality and Real Men Wear Speedos lines. They make great gifts for friends, family and loved ones.

Soulful Sounds of En Vogue/Boyz II Men

Boyz II Men/En Vogue in Concert
Friday, July 8, 2016
Greek Theatre

Special guest: H-Town

Songs performed: Knockin’ Da Boots (H-Town); My Lovin’ (You’re Never Gonna Get It), Whatta Man, Giving Him Something He Can Feel, Deju Vu, Don’t Let Go (Love), Medley: Ain’t No Mountain High Enough, Got to be Real, Bad Girls, Best of My Love, I Heard It Through the Grapevine, Respect, Lady Marmalade, Tell Me Something Good, Proud Mary, Free Your Mind, Hold On (En Vogue); Motownphilly, On Bended Knee, Water Runs Dry, Uhh Ahh, Four Seasons of Loneliness; Medley: Thinking Out Loud, Let’s Get It On, Smells Like Teen Spirit; I’ll Make Love to You, A Song for Mama, End of the Road, Motownphilly (Reprise) (Boyz II Men)

1459193391-Boyz-II-Men-En-Vogue-ticketsComments: Two R&B/pop vocal groups from the 1990’s are co-headlining a summer tour this year: Boyz II Men and En Vogue. Both started with 4 singers each, and now have 3 singers each. Their heydays may be behind them, but both acts showed that they have the hits and the vocals to still put on a great show.

The opening act was H-Town named after the city they were from: Houston, TX. They had a few minor hits on the R&B charts back in the 90’s, including a #1 song called “Knockin’ Da Boots.” One of the founding members died back in 2003, so the other 2 members have carried on without him. Their music was all pretty much bump and grind R&B. They even spilled water on their torsos and crotches, like it should be sexy or something. But it came off as more pathetic. At least they threw some teddy bears into the crowd and handed out some roses too. Their act pretty much sucked. And Shazam has a good voice too — too bad it’s on this material.

Next up was En Vogue, the all-female vocal trio. The group features founding members Terry Ellis and Cindy Herron-Braggs plus Rhona Bennett. Surprisingly the group never had a #1 single on the pop chart. But they had a couple of big #2 songs, and they started and ended their set with them. I was a big fan of this group back in the day. I got to see the original 4 on their “Funky Divas” tour, and then saw them as a trio as part of the Colors of Christmas concert.

The ladies are all in their 40’s and 50’s now, but they all looked good and sounded good. Wearing all black dresses, they sang their way through their hits, plus sang their new song “Déjà Vu” which they described as breezy R&B. They also did a big diva medley of the women/songs that inspired them: everyone from Diana Ross and the Supremes to Donna Summer to the Emotions and Tina Turner. I would have loved for them to sing more of the album cuts from their albums — but that didn’t happen. But the crowd was on their feet for most of their set — singing and dancing along.

Up next were Boyz II Men hailing from Philadelphia, PA. The group features founding members Wanya Morris, Nathan Morris and Shawn Stockman. The crowd was definitely excited to see them and I was glad to see them received so well. The 25 years they have been together have done them well. They are consummate showmen. They were dressed all in white, and still had the harmonies and vocals that made them famous.

They started and ended the show with their breakthrough hit “Motownphilly.” From there it was one big hit after the other — “End of the Road,” “Water Runs Dry,” I’ll Make Love to You” and more. Plus they had a covers section of their set also, but it seemed much more loose than the En Vogue one. They covered everyone from Ed Sheeran to Marvin Gaye to Nirvana. Nathan played guitar, while Shawn played bass during this segment.

Wanya was a contestant on “Dancing with the Stars” this past year where he reached the Top 4. He relayed how much has changed in 25 years — you can gain a few pounds and lose your hair. Shawn said he loved the fact that he could sleep in his own bed that night, since he calls Los Angeles home.

The difference I see between the 2 headliners is that Boyz II Men never really went away, whereas with En Vogue there have been stops and starts with fighting over the name, breaks for family time, and years of not recording or touring. En Vogue has 5 albums to Boyz II Men’s 11. The Boyz didn’t sing any new songs in their set, unlike En Vogue who sang 1.

I was disappointed that they didn’t do any songs together. “One Sweet Day” would have been the perfect vehicle for them both — with En Vogue taking on the Mariah Carey vocals.

Overall, I had a great time. It was good to see real singers who didn’t need any special effects (other than fantastic vocals) to win over the audience. Thanks to everyone for a great evening out.

KiltManinSoCal is a Los Angeles-based writer and designer. Be sure to check out the latest T-Shirts for sale here, including Marriage Equality and Real Men Wear Speedos lines. They make great gifts for friends, family and loved ones.

 

 

 

Chicago: Still Rockin’

Chicago in Concert
Sunday, July 3, 2016
Hollywood Bowl

July 4th Fireworks Spectacular
With the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra
Thomas Wilkins, Conductor

Special guest: U.S. Air Force Band of the Golden West

Songs performed: Introduction, Questions 67 & 68, Ballet for a Girl in Buchannon, Make Me Smile, So Much to Say So Much to Give, Anxiety’s Moment, West Virginia Fantasies, Colour My World, To Be Free, Call on Me, Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?, Hard Habit to Break, You’re the Inspiration, Beginnings, Just You n’ Me, Hard to Say I’m Sorry/ Get Away, Saturday in the Park, Feeling Stronger Every Day, 25 or 6 to 4

chicago-950Comments: Chicago, the rock and roll band with horns, played to 3 sold-out shows for the July 4th weekend at the world famous Hollywood Bowl. They were backed by the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra under the conduction of Thomas Wilkins.

Chicago is coming off a great year for them. They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame earlier this year, along with a performance at the Grammy Awards.

This was the 6th time that I had seen the band live, the last time being 2007. And their last album was in 2014.

So what kind of show do you get from a legacy group like Chicago? You get great musicians and singers giving it their all, and having a good time up on stage.

The evening started with the Orchestra running through some patriotic standards, along with special guest the U.S. Air Force Band of the Golden West. They did the traditional salute to the different branches of the military, in which audience members who served are encouraged to stand up.

After a short break, Chicago came on with the Orchestra. They ran through some early album cuts that spotlighted what fantastic musicians they are. Then the hits started coming.

So you got “Colour My World,” “Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?, “Hard to Say I’m Sorry,” You’re the Inspiration,” “Hard Habit to Break” and of course “Saturday in the Park.” Robert Lamm has turned into the star of the group from my perspective. I was disappointed that Jason Scheff is not touring with them this time around. His vocals were covered by Jeff Coffey who did a respectable job.

After “Feeling Stronger Every Day,” the band exited the stage for the Orchestra to play more patriotic music as the fireworks were launched. They bought out the conductor for the military band who was very dramatic with his conducting style and plus he took a moment to salute during the performance too.

Chicago came back for the encore of “25 or 6 to 4.” This band still impresses me after all this time. They have been smart about bringing in some younger members to help them fill out their sound. And unlike Heart, another legacy act I saw last year at the Bowl, they are not known for indulgent cover songs. They stick to their impressive song catalog, and there is a lot to choose from. I am sure I will be seeing them again in the future.

Thanks to the band for another fun show at one of my favorite venues. Long live Chicago!

KiltManinSoCal is a Los Angeles-based writer and designer. Be sure to check out the latest T-Shirts for sale here, including Marriage Equality and Real Men Wear Speedos lines. They make great gifts for friends, family and loved ones.

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