Month: February 2011

Paying Respects to President Clinton – Review of George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic at House of Blues Boston

George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic
House of Blues Boston, Kenmore Square, 02/18/11

This was a pilgrimage of sorts. P-Funk may never truly die, but the founding members will – and George Clinton’s time to move on is hopefully far, far away – but his days as a troubadour most certainly are waning down. Just last year guitarist Garry “Diaper Man” Shider passed on, and I just don’t see George doing this much longer. This all said, I’m sure this same sentiment was written over a decade ago, so what do I know. Maybe George was there standing right next to Robert Johnson at that crossroad near Dockery Plantation as the clock struck midnight all those years ago, and made a deal of his own.

P-Funk Alien. (Photo - D. Hixon)

P-Funk Alien. (Photo – D. Hixon)

What I do know is that his visible role in these shows is drastically cut back, so much so that you can’t even tell who or where he is on stage until it’s explicitly pointed out. Parliament Funkadelic’s in good hands though, but there’s definitely been a changing of the guard. While Clinton’s still the figurehead, democracy rules from within the group, and songs played were much more diverse then I imagined. There were R&B ballads, Funk classics, Rap, and blazing guitar solos spread throughout the night, each met with an amiable reception from the masses, as upwards of 30 members of P-Funk assaulted the stage. The crowd was an equal mix of old and young, black and white, hip and square, stoned and strait. Good people through and true.

Strength in numbers. P-Funk @ House of Blues Boston. (Photo - D. Hixon)

Strength in numbers. P-Funk @ House of Blues Boston. (Photo – D. Hixon)

I liken this incarnation of P-Funk to kind of what the Harlem Globetrotters have become. They’re more entertainers than artists, and they’re there to make you happy, not to make a statement. Parliment has interchangeable parts that will give them the longevity and name recognition any good brand would want, and P-Funk most certainly will roll on when George is past. It’s become a traveling circus that has an old-time vaudeville quality, and all members bring a hefty amount of talent to the table, and the paying patrons seem to leave with a satisfied palette. P-Funk isn’t dead yet, and from the looks of it last Friday night, it never will be.

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Biffy Visits Cambridge – Review of Biffy Clyro at TT the Bears

Biffy Clyro
TT the Bears, Central Square, 02/13/11

My knowledge of Biffy Clyro was scarce prior to seeing them at TT the Bears, but my friend Kevin was good enough to get me into the show. He discovered Biffy at the T in the Park festival in Kinross, Scotland. He was there traveling by himself due to a “bet gone crazy” with some Scots whom he met while playing video games online. Most likely they were shooting each other with virtual bullets. Anyways, there he was, in the middle of a European field, alone except for the beer in his hand, and surrounded…by the Scottish. His bet, however random it may have been, ended up being very well played – for as he stood knee deep in the mud, wearing a proud new pair of black rubber wellies, he had a smile on his face created by the band playing on stage. This, is how Kevin was introduced to Biffy Clyro, and thus was my Genesis story for their origins to him – told as we stood outside on Brookline Street, waiting to get into the show.

Biffy Clyro. TT the Bears. Cambridge USA. (Photo - D. Hixon)

Biffy Clyro. TT the Bears. Cambridge USA. (Photo – D. Hixon)

The night seemed filled with fun, and as I walked in I was flanked by a NASA employee & two Brazilians. Upon getting inside I tipped the bartender early and often, and once settled in, I locked into my surroundings and developed a smile of my own. I hadn’t been to TT’s for an embarrassingly long time – and while certain nooks of the oddly shaped bar seemed off to me, it really was all the same. The recognition felt like seeing a friend from a wistful past suddenly stroll into view. After getting over the shock of seeing each other’s swollen faces and fat bellies, you recognize that the friend you knew is still there.

Anyways, TTs felt like it always had for me, and it was a re-assuring feeling – for it reaffirmed that Boston still breathes due in part to the scene going on here over in Cambridge. The show itself was a good time, well -aside from the NYC inspired Emo-Core opening act. Biffy Clyro on the other hand, obviously has a loyal following, and it’s admirable to see how they’re bravely tackling America for the very first time. Venue’s such as TT’s must be much smaller than Biffy Clyro is used to, but they didn’t show any arrogance of this on Sunday – and the crowd reacted to their persistent fervor on stage.

While their music may not be my every day choice, I have to admit, their live show was fun as hell, and if they don’t “make it” here in the States (whatever that means in this post-Arcade Fire Grammy World) – it won’t be due to fault of their own. For when seeing a band, no matter the day of the week, effort is all you can ask. And for this rock ‘n’ roll vagabond, I sincerely wish the boys from Biffy well, they obviously have both the effort and respect.

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California Comes to Boston – Review of Best Coast / Wavves at Paradise Rock Club

Best Coast / Wavves
Paradise Rock Club, Comm. Ave. Boston, 02/04/11

The Brave citizens of Boston have been held captive for what’s going on three months now. Old Man Winter has us firmly encircled in his grasp. People trudge through the icy grey prison our city has become with downtrodden eyes, and faces full of defeat. Something happened this past Friday though, and those lucky enough to be at the Paradise Rock Club were showered with something orange, bright, and vaguely familiar. Having just scurried through the rat maze of the city streets – where the snow banks are higher than Chevy’s, and ice is at every turn – we were made to remember what it felt like to have the warmth of sunshine touch your face.

Wavves Stealing the Show. (Photo - D. Hixon)

Wavves Stealing the Show. (Photo – D. Hixon)

Wavves were the opening act for this duel billing, and from my vantage point, they were the ones who stole the show, and should have been closing the night instead of Best Coast. They played fast. They played loud (and I mean like, really loud). And went after each song with an abandon. Their apex for me was when they played “I’m So Bored” – which seemed to get the most reaction from the crowd. I was lucky enough to watch most of the show from the sound board (Thank you Kielty), and they just put on a real good earnest show.

Bethany Cosentino of Best Coast. (Photo - D. Hixon)

Bethany Cosentino of Best Coast. (Photo – D. Hixon)

Next up were Best Coast, who play some of the nicest California Pop I’ve heard in quite awhile. Bethany Cosentino’s voice has a sweet grabbing quality – and she makes for the perfect front women. Their songs had a beautiful bounce to them, but again, my only complaint was that they seemed a little too soft when placed in immediate contrast to the brash and heavy stoner flailings of Wavves. Their near perfect love song, “Our Deal”, completely stole the show for them, swaying the crowd like a hammock with her lullaby melody, and looking back on the show, it really was her singing that made you forget about the foot long icicles and dump trucks full of snow just a few feet outside the Paradise doors. When the lights went up,  we left in line, the heat rising from our heads and faces flush – with the fresh glow of a California tan.

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The Song Doesn’t Remain the Same – Review of Robert Plant and the Band of Joy at House of Blues Boston

Robert Plant and the Band of Joy
House of Blues, Kenmore Square, 01/25/11

Robert Plant and the Band of Joy at the House of Blues Boston. (Photo - D.Hixon)

Robert Plant and the Band of Joy on stage at the House of Blues Boston. (Photo – D.Hixon)

I was fortunate to receive a late invitation to see Robert Plant and the Band of Joy at the House of Blues a week ago today. The decision to go was easy, when presented with the opportunity to see Rock Royalty, you oblige your suitor. Before the show I sat meditatively in my apartment, the lights dimmed just so, and listened too loudly to the glory years ofZeppelin gone past – the Makers Mark burned down my throat, and the music lifted through ears, as I listened to the Gods clamor. On the subway from Central to Kenmore Square I acknowledged that this pre-show activity was an errant move, for I’d built-up the anticipation to an unattainable level, and as the night progressed, this hypothesis was proven correct.

Divinity. (Photo - D. Hixon)

Divinity. (Photo – D. Hixon)

I met my cohorts for the evening at the Foundation Room in the House of Blues – which is an exclusive VIP lounge where you either need to be somebody or be on a list to get in. I was on a list. Once past the doorman you ascend up the stairs and are presented with a world that reeks of privilege, opulence, and an honest touch of mystery. The oriental rug covered walls help dampen the conversations, keeping them corner private amongst the patrons. While chandeliers adorning the ceiling shed just enough light to see the others who’ve been allowed through the swanky gate of blues. I have a feeling this is what a lot of Los Angeles nightlife is like, and when here, it’s not unusual to run into a variety of celebrity. These were the wolves I was running with this night, and with strange golden and stone Hindu Goddesses flanked against the walls, it seemed like the ideal setting to get lubricated in before seeing Robert Plant perform.

I’ve been in the Foundation Room numerous times before, but this was certainly the most fitting marriage between scene and Main Act I’ve yet witnessed. This wasn’t, however – my first time seeing a member of Zeppelin here – it was only a little over a year ago that I was belly up at the bar with a Red Bull & Vodka, sandwiched between David Grohl and John Paul Jones, Nirvana and Zepplin, Rock Star and Rock God, as they came through town as Them Crooked Vultures. That was an all-time great night, so this Tuesday had a lot to live up to already.

Band of Joy. House of Blues, Boston. (Photo - D. Hixon)

Band of Joy. House of Blues, Boston. (Photo – D. Hixon)

We made it out to the floor just as Band of Joy’s set began and from the get go the crowd was hypnotized with every move the panther-like Plant made, dressed like a stage hand all in black. Each screech, wail, and hymn released from his (still) golden pipes reached the congregation with a religious fervor that elicited numerous yelps back in appreciation. Praise Plant. Plant Saves. Myself, gracefully at the age of 31, felt like one of the younger people in attendance, and you could tell there was a large number of people who haven’t attended a concert in awhile, and were there stretching for reach their youth, even if for only for a few hours.

The Band of Joy songs were applauded with appreciation from the crowd, but it really wasn’t until the Led Zeppelin covers were broken out that the true applause began. As soon as the first few chords of “Tangerine” were played it was like I was in the middle of a high-five convention, and to be honest, I was an active contributor to that sect. The Zeppelin songs played sounded good enough for sure, and Plant at age 62 still most certainly has “it” (along with his hair) – but the songs were honestly missing a lot of the balls you’d hope for when hearing a Zeppelin song – I mean you don’t want those gems broken down, you want them turned up – and loud. This is one trick John Paul Jones didn’t pull when here with Them Crooked Vultures – because honestly, they could stand on their own, where Band of Joy can’t. Aside from their rendition of “Satan Your Kingdom Must Come Down” – everything just sounded like Clear Channel filler to me.

What hearing the Zepplin covers (for that’s what they were) did though, is place a deep yearn for a true Led Zeppelin reunion. Watching Plant you could see he’s still one of the best lead Rock vocalist ever, while John Paul Jones is tearing up the bass with Them Crooked Vultures, and Jimmy Page still has God status, which was reaffirmed after a recent viewing of “It Might Get Loud”. Throw someone like Grohl in on the the drums – play 15 shows in the US, 10 in the UK,  and I’d literally pay up to $400 a ticket, because they’re still ALL masters of their craft, and are ALL walking legends. It wouldn’t be sad, washed up, or forced at all – maybe there’d be less groupies, drugs, and sharks – but the music would still be there. Most likely I didpurposely sabotage my ability to appreciate Band of Joy by listening to Zeppelin before the show. But that was for a purpose, because I do know Father time stops for no one…..rock royalty especially, and if those three deity’s could put their egos aside for three months at the most, they’d make a lot of people on planet Earth happy.

Sure, I can now tell people I saw Robert Plant play – but fuck that, I want to say I saw Led Zeppelin play, anything else – is just a cover band.

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