The Civil Wars Town Hall – New York City October 27, 2011
The Civil Wars took to the stage in New York City on October 27, 2011 at the historic Town Hall, and did not disappoint in the least. It was fitting that this band picked such an old music venue on a night which was dark, cold and dreary. Their music is hauntingly beautiful in a charming, old fashioned kind of way.
The Civil Wars is a duo consisting of Joy Williams and John Paul White, who explained that they met in Nashville at a simple songwriting session. They blend their distinct voices to create their own form of Americana/folk/alt-country music. Their live show was very simple as John Paul played an acoustic guitar while Joy mainly sang along with him. She occasionally sat and played the piano, but mainly stood beside her co-part. There were no flashing lights or high production effects. Instead, the duo lets their music do the entertaining – and their fans greatly appreciate that.
I was blown away by how amazing they sounded live and how their voices blend so well together. Their music truly is unlike anything today’s music has to offer. They were fantastic on the dark “Barton Hollow” and the beautiful “20 Years”. John Paul had a plethera of jokes for the crowd between songs and Joy danced on stage in an adorable and playful manner.
What was most impressive was their very unique cover of Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean”, which served as the first song of their encore (a video clip can be seen below). The set flowed perfectly and the duo sounded incredible. They have an extremely simple, yet likeable stage presence. If you have not heard The Civil Wars yet, you are in store for a refreshing musical experience.
1) Tip of My Tongue 2) Forget Me Not 3) From This Valley 4) 20 Years 5) I’ve Got This Friend 6) My Father’s Father 7) Barton Hollow 8) Falling 9) Go 10) I Want You Back 11) Henry 12) To Whom It May Concern 13) Birds of a Feather 14) Disarm (Smashing Pumpkins Cover Song) 15) Poison & Wine Encore 16) Billie Jean (Michael Jackson Cover Song) 17) Dance Me To the End of Love (Leonard Cohen Cover Song)
Dierks Bentley Country & Cold Cans Tour featuring Jerrod Niemann and Eli Young Band Irving Plaza, New York City October 21, 2011
Dierks Bentley brought his Country & Cold Cans Tour to the Big Apple for two nights this October. I was in attendance for the second of the two shows and you could tell he felt right at home. Last year he had a four night residency in NYC, playing a few different venues while promoting his Bluegrass album “Up on the Ridge”. I attended two of those shows as well as two of his shows on the Jagermeister Tour, one of which he brought me and my wife up on stage (see http://www.countrymusicislove.com/2011/03/fan-story-ryan-amy-dierks-bentley.html ) – so I am very familiar with how Dierks operates. Tonight was no different, if anything, he took the decible level up one more notch.
Upon arriving at the Iriving Plaza, located in the heart of Union Square NYC, there was a line wrapped in front of the building and around which went on for another three blocks. It was a quite a site to see so many hyped up country fans dressed in boots, plaid shirts, and trucker hats lined up on the streets of NYC. The first act on the bill was the Eli Young Band. I must admit I did not think I knew many of their songs, but once their set was off and running, I was quite familiar with most of their tunes.
Their lead singer has a great voice and their songs are full of memories from their hometown. Songs such as “When It Rains”, “Only the Love Songs”, and “Crazy Girl” have had a decent rotation on country radio and were very impressive live. The band is not flashy, but not at all dull, not down home country, but not hipster – their look was very similar to their music. I look forward to seeing them again and buying their cd collection as well.
Next up was Jerrod Niemann. I had purchased Judge Jerrod’s cd the day it came out large in part for his remake hit of “Lover, Lover”, but this was the first time I have been able to see him live. And he did not disappoint in the least. He was extremely energetic and dynamic. The crowd really responded and the New York City venue started to transform into a Nashville Honky-Tonk.
Jerrod Niemann has a very strange look. He has long messy hair and wears a very different hat compared to most country singers and he backed by a band mixed with predominately older gentlemen that had people raising their eye-brows. Nonetheless, people must learn to not judge a book by its cover, because the Judge and his Jury (as he referred to them) could rock.
He sang many of his songs off his cd including “What Do You Want”, “One More Drinking Song” and “Lover, Lover” and threw in a blues song by Stevie Ray Vaughn “Pride and Joy” and Garth Brooks’ “Good Ride Cowboy”, which Jerrod actually wrote for him. Jerrod was high energy with a lot of drinking songs and interaction with the crowd. He was at his best when he had just the microphone in his hand and was up in the front of the stage. I look for big things from him in the future and really was impressed by his set.
After a brief intermission, the lights went low and the crowd started to scream. Dierks has created quite a love affair with New York City after his four night stand last year and his double night run this Fall. Of course, the Will Ferrell impersonator was in attendance (if you attended last year’s shows you know what I am talking about) and I saw a lot of familiar faces from the past NYC shows.
Dierks hopped on stage and ripped into a new song called “Country Cold Cans” which is a high energy song with a lot of country references (from pick up trucks to trucker hats). I expect this song will be on his upcoming album which is rumored to have a winter 2012 release.
Irving Plaza was absolutely jammed packed while Dierks was on stage and people were going crazy during his set. Dierks has a patented move where jumps straight up and down on stage and the crowd responded by bouncing up and down with him each and every time he hopped. He brought out his full catalog of hits from “Feel That Fire” to “Every Mile a Memory” to “Sideways” and his energy level was at an all time high.
To my delight, he even sang a few songs off his bluegrass album such as “Up On the Ridge” and “Bottle to the Bottom” and sang a few new songs, entitled “5 1 5 0” and his newest single “Home”. “Home” is a patriotic song, not in the flag waving way, but more of an ode to America and its natural beauty. He was very controlled and passionate during this song and the crowd responded with a slew of “U S A” chants upon its finish.
I have seen a countless number of country music concerts and Dierks is as good of a performer as anyone out there. He has a natural interaction and energy that gives him a fun-loving vibe. His career path is a bit confusing because he has the hits and persona to fill arenas, but yet he seems to stick to the mid-sized ballroom type venues. I would love to see Dierks’ label allow him to embark on an Arena tour, he would have no problem selling well.
Dierks finished off his encore with his two biggest hits to date “Free and Easy” and “What Was I Thinking” and the crowd applauded him for what seemed like ten minutes. Dierks was overwhelmed with the applause and bowed with his band multiple times. The speakers then played “Shipping Up to Boston” by the Dropkick Murphy’s and the entire crowd began to jump straight up and down “Dierks-style” and he, of course, responded as you would expect.
On this night, in New York City, you could tell Dierks felt comfortable as if it was a second Home. I expect him to keep coming back to the Big Apple as he really seems to have a great time on stage during his shows here. Dierks, we await your new cd and cannot wait to have you back in the City that never sleeps.
1) How Can I Be So Thirsty 2) Down In Mexico 3) Baseball Song 4) Good Ride Cowboy 5) What Do You Want 6) Buckin’ Song 7) Pride & Joy 8) Get What You Deserve 9) Everclear 10) Lover, Lover
1) Country Cold Cans 2) Feel That Fire 3) Am I The Only One (with an extra verse) 4) Every Mile a Memory 5) Tried to Stop Your Leaving 6) Sideways 7) 5 1 5 0 8) Tried To Stop Your Leaving 9) How Am I Doing 10) Up On the Ridge 11) Bottle to the Bottom 12) Home 13) Lot of Leaving Left To Do 14) Come a Little CLoser Encore: 15) Wish You Were Here 16) Free and Easy Down the Road I Go 17) What Was I Thinking
FX The League Live Gramercy Theatre New York City October 7, 2011
Anyone who is a fan of the television show “The League” on FX knows what the Shiva Song is. I was able to catch one of the cast’s stand up shows in New York City this past Friday. The show was absolutely hilarious. They each performed together and separately – and we even got to see a video clip of the upcoming season. I was in the second row and was able to tape a video of the them doing “the Shiva”:
The cast members who performed that night included:
1) Nick Kroll – “Ruxin” 2) Stephen Rannazzisi – “Kevin” 3) Paul Scheer – “Andre” 4) Jon Lajoie – “Taco” 5) Kate Aselton – “Jenny” (only came out at the end for the song)
Enrique Iglesias & Pitbull Euphoria Tour Prudential Center, Newark, NJ September 24, 2011
On September 24, 2011, I made my way into Newark New Jersey’s Prudential Center Arena for the Euphoria Tour starring Enrique Iglesias and Pitbull. This pairing was an obvious choice since both artists are internationally known, both from the Miami, Florida area, and have collaborated on multiple songs. Upon walking into the Arena we were told the show would not be starting on time as there were complications with the stage. In fact, the show started approximately two hours late, which was quite annoying. Luckily, the Pru Center has ample lounges serving both food and drink, which helped ease the time.
Up first was an artist named Prince Royce who is a “bachata” musician. His music did not appeal to me whatsoever, but most of the crowd was happy to finally get some entertainment after the long wait. He sang his biggest hits, such as “Stand By Me” and “Corazon Sin Cara” but for the most part, his performance was not memorable. However, once he finished the energy in the Arena hit all time high as we all waited for Pitbull to hit the stage. Pitbull is an artist who combines Hip-Hop with Pop with Latin music. He has really increased his worth in the past few years thanks to his collaborations with Enrique, J-Lo, Neo, Marc Anthony, T-Pain, Akon and Lil Jon, just to name a few.
Pitbull took the stage with all of the swagger and bravado of a hit-making headliner. And on this night, he out-shined his headlining counterpart. He broke into a 19 song set that was fast moving and full of energy. His club anthems had the entire Jersey crowd fist pumping like Pauly D and feeling like they were in Miami instead of the gloomy and cold Newark.
Dressed to the T, as he always is, with a black blazer, black button down, black pants, black shoes, and black sunglasses, he had a very likeable presence about him. At no point was he preachy, dirty, violent, or self centered as many Hip-Hop artists have become. Instead, Pitbull was simply there to help everyone have a good time. And a good time they had – I did not see anyone in the sold out crowd sit down during his thunderous set. Especially during “Hey Baby”, “Shut It Down”, his version of “Suavemente” and “I Know You Want Me”. He even threw in some of his guest spots like the mega-hit “On The Floor” with J-Lo (who was not present).
He ended his impressive set by bringing out Nayer, a Cuban singer and model, to sing “Give Me Everything” (without Neo). The two had the crowd singing along and waving their hands back and forth. The song was arguably the top Pop song of the Summer (2011) and everyone knew it word for word. Pitbull’s set was better than expected and I expect to see him headlining Arenas in no time.
Next up was the international superstar, Enrique Iglesias. My wife and I had seen him at Madison Square Garden just six months before this show and we really enjoyed his set. I was actually quite disappointed in him on this night. I am not sure if it was because of a City time restriction and because of the show starting so late, but he only sang nine songs, and he sang one of his songs twice. This was not the same show I had seen at the Garden just a few months before.
That being said, when he was singing and performing he was quite entertaining. But on this night, he was more interested in talking to the crowd and not singing. He even took a solid fifteen minutes to sit on stage with a male fan from the crowd and drink rum and make jokes. He did something similar in MSG, but it was only a few minutes. This time that portion of the show was way too long and downright annoying.
Enrique did switch songs up between his American hits and Latin songs, as he is known to do. And he concentrated on a lot of material from his newest cd, “Euphoria”. When he was singing, he was energetic and happy. The women in the crowd probably did not care whether he was singning or talking as they seemed to melt and scream at just the site of the man. He really is a pop sensation in every sense of the word.
His stage and performance included a few showers of confetti and lazers that created, at times, an impressive light show. He interacted with a few members of the crowd and even brought a woman fan on stage to sing and hug and kiss her, as he is known to do. It is a bit creepy, but its Enrique, so I guess he gets away with it.
The real highlight of the night was when Pitbull came out to sing their huge hit together, “I Like It”. Standing at the front of the long catwalk, the two artists performed the song to perfection, accented by Pitbull’s patented rapid-fire rapping.
I was a bit disapointed that they did not sing their other collaborative songs (“Come And Go” and “I Like How It Feels”) and do not know why they did not sing them, but at least we got one song that night where they sang together. In my opinion, if I am on a tour with another artist that I have collaborated with on a few songs, I would do all of those songs together. Fans like special guests and songs where multiple artists are on stage together for joint hits.
All in the all, the show left me with mixed feelings. I had a lot of expectation and while Pitbull lived up to the hype, Enrique left a lot to be desired. I would see both artists again: Pitbull because he was fantastic – and Enrique, to see if this night was just a fluke.
Either way, the crowd was very into the show. I even saw a male fan rip off his shirt in pure excitement and enjoyment during “I Like It” and throw it over the railing from the top tier to the floor tier. That is a story one cannot make up.
1) Mr. Worldwide 2) Hey Baby (Drop It To the Floor) 3) Snipet of Party Rock Anthem by LMFAO 4) Miami B*tch 5) Shut It Down 6) Shake Señora 7) Bon Bon 8) Rain over me 9) Manos para Arriba 10) Siavamente 11) Shake 12) Culo 13) I know You Want Me 14) Pause 15) On The Floor 16) DJ Falling In Love 17) Hotel 19) Give Me Everything (with special guest Nayer)
Enrique Iglesias: 1) Loving You Tonight 2) Dirty Dancer 3) No Me Digas Que No 4) Bailamos 5) Lloro Por Ti 6) Cuando Me Enamoro 7) Only Wanna Be With You 8) Hero 9) I Like It (with Pitbull) 10) Loving You Tonight (Dirty Version)
Zac Brown Band with Levi Lowery, Sonia Leigh and Nic Cowan Bowery Ballroom, New York City February 3, 2009
My first ZAC BROWN BAND experience dates back to February 3, 2009 in New York City. My wife and I had just purchased “The Foundation” a few weeks before after hearing “Chicken Fried” on radio and heard that this new band was playing an intimate performance at the Bowery Ballroom in New York. We bought tickets and had NO idea what to expect. While we were really enjoying the cd we bought, we did not know if they would play a long set, be a talented live act, or even sound good live.
We were treated to an acoustic set by Levi Lowery and Sonia Leigh with her band as opening acts, both of who were fantastic. Before they got on stage we had no idea who they were or what they would turn out to today. To this day, we are huge fans of both.
But when Zac, Clay, Coy, Jimmy, John and Chris came on stage that snowy night in NYC, magic happened. My wife and I were absolutely mesmerized by the Band.
They sounded incredible, were talented as can be, and went on to play a three hour show complete with every track from “The Foundation”, as well as covers of other songs and soon to be released classics. I have been to well over 150 concerts and never have I ever been so impressed by a band after seeing them live for the first time.
In fact, if I recall correctly, Zac said to the crowd that it was the first concert that Clay Cook was performing with the Band and was officially set to join them. Moreover, Nic Cowan came out at the end of the set and sang a few songs with the Band.
Of course Zac’s vocals and guitar skills were impressive, but it was Jimmy De Martini’s fiddle skills that blew us away more than anything. Never have I seen a musician play an instrument so skilled and with such smooth passion.
Being in a New York City venue, where Country Music is typically frowned upon, everyone was in firm agreement that the Zac Brown Band was something special. I actually turned to my wife that night and said “in a few years, this will be the biggest act in Country Music”. My words are becoming truth.
Zac actually stayed on the stairwell after the show and we took three pictures with him and spoke about his music.
He said his Mom was in the crowd that night and he was so humbled to have played in New York City with her there.
It was an incredible experience and although we have been to over a dozen ZBB shows since, nothing will ever compare to the first time.