Thursday, May 22, 2008

Sam Bush, Lots O' Beatles, Van Halen review (finally)

Should be a great night for Friday Cheers. As of this writing, looks like it will be rain free and in the 60s. A perfect night for enjoying a few adult beverages and watching Sam Bush. Sam plays mandolin but blends the bluegrass mandolin style with rock, reggae and jazz. Its hard to describe, but if you enjoy watching great instrumentalists, you'll enjoy Sam and his band. Here is what they say about Sam on allmusic: "Sam Bush extended the musical capabilities of the mandolin and the fiddle to incorporate a seamless blend of bluegrass, rock, jazz, and reggae. As the founder and leader of the New Grass Revival, Bush pioneered and guided the evolution of modern hill country music. Together with the bluegrass supergroup Strength in Numbers, he pushed the traditions even further. During a five-year stint with the Nash Ramblers, he provided a diverse range of textures for the songs of Emmylou Harris. On his own, Bush has continued to explore an eclectic musical spectrum. " If you dig Leon Russell, Lyle Lovett, David Grisman, Jerry Garcia, Bela Fleck, Bill Monroe, and/or Little Feat, you'll dig Sam. As always, Friday Cheers is free and starts at 6:30 with opener The Whiskey Rebellion.

If you are going to the show, let me know. I should be going with my 3-year old, Zach, and perhaps my wife, Kathy, and the 8-month old, Willie.

At the National on Friday night, you get The Beatles' Abbey Road performed by the Upper East Side Big Band along with openers Bio Ritmo and the Mills Family Band. Here is how the National web site describes it: "Three Richmond bands making their debut at The National! There will be a wide range of music happening that night: A blend of Americana & jazz from the Mills Family Band, old-school salsa with Bio Ritmo that will get dancers moving, and topping it off with the 17-piece Upper East Side Big Band (w/ guest vocalist & pianist Adrian Duke) under the direction of Samson Trinh performing "Abbey Road" by The Beatles (considered their best album) in its entirety!" Show time is at 8 PM and tix are $13.

Check out the Beatles' web site, linked above. I had never been on it and its pretty cool.

Tuesday night, progressive rock band Dream Theater plays at the National. Tickets are $35 and the show starts at 7:00.

Wednesday night at Innsbrook its Beatles tribute band, 1964: The Tribute. According to their web site, Rolling Stone magazine has called them "The best Beatles tribute on Earth." Doors open at 6 PM, tix are $10 in advance, $15 at the gate, and $25 for Gold Circle. Local 60s cover band The English Channel will open. So you can get all Beatles'd out the next couple days.

Because that's about it this week, I finally have a chance to get to my review of the Van Halen in C'ville a few weeks ago.

Here is the set list (courtesy of Van Halen Tour 2007-2008)with my comments:
01. You Really Got Me (from Van Halen, 1978) - This got the show off to a great start with David Lee Roth appearing on the upper part of the stage swinging a giant red flag and rallying the band and the crowd.
02. I'm the One (from Van Halen, 1978)
03. Runnin' With the Devil (from Van Halen, 1978) - The first three songs ran without a stop and you could tell there were no lingering effects from Eddie's illness. He was on fire from the get-go. Unfortunately, DLR slowed things wayyyyy down at this point with a long story that ended with a bad punchline. I thought maybe he was stalling for time because of a technical glitch but that didn't appear to be the case from where I was sitting. They lost some of the momentum from the opening salvo of songs here. Otherwise, DLR was fantastic. His voice sounded great and got better as the night went on. He was never a great singer, technically, but he knows how to use his voice to serve the songs and he never overreached. He uses the mic stand like a drum major uses the baton and never dropped it once. His cornball burlesque comedian schtick was nicely played, always with a nod and a wink and was a welcome change from the horny party boy persona of Sammy Hagar.
During a couple tunes, he stood next to Eddie and led the band into bits of The Who's "Magic Bus" and Robert Johnson's/Cream's "Crossroads". The band was interacting with each other and looked like they were having lots of fun together. It certainly gave one hope that the reunion will continue after the tour and produce some new music and more tours.
04. Romeo Delight (from Women and Children First, 1980)
05. Somebody Get Me a Doctor (from Van Halen II, 1979) - It was approximately this point that Joe and I were asked to sit down by some loser behind us. SIT DOWN!?! Its a freakin' rock n' roll show! Why would you pay $90 to sit on your ass? The show is only two hours long, can't your old bones handle it? I will gladly sit down during a slow song (which VH doesn't have) or between songs. But when a band is rockin', I need to stand up to feel the show. I have to move my legs and hips, play air guitar, clap and shout. If someone wants to sit down, that's fine, but don't ruin my good time. This is a rock n' roll show and full participation is expected. Not only is it good for you, but the energy from the crowd can drive the band to a higher level. And even though we were in the upper level of the arena, that is actually more of a reason to get up and boogie. You don't have that close interaction with the band members on stage so you've got the music. Turn it into a dance party and have a good time. Rather than get into an argument (and I have gotten into arguments with people about this before), Joe was itching to move closer anyway, so we moved to the edge of the balcony on the side (Eddie's side) of the stage. That is where we remained for the rest of the show and we managed to get right in front of a wall for the most part so we wouldn't upset any more losers who could have waited for the DVD to come out so they could sit on their fat ass in the comfort of their own home, stuffing their face with cheese curls and not bothered those of who wanted to ROCK! I waited 25 years to see VH with DLR and I wasn't about to let some lame-ass bring me down.
06. Beautiful Girls (from Van Halen II, 1979)
07. Dance the Night Away (from Van Halen II, 1979)
08. Atomic Punk (from Van Halen, 1978) - These last two songs really showed me that this band was ready to rock. Dance the Night Away was preformed well but its a pop number and the band seemed to walk through it quickly though competently. It was on the deep cut (and one of my favorites), Atomic Punk, that showed that this band was really into the harder rock numbers. I always thought this song was indeed almost punk and the band crackled with energy on this one and the next one.
09. Everybody Wants Some (from Women and Children First, 1980)
10. So This Is Love? (from Fair Warning, 1981)
11. Mean Street (from Fair Warning, 1981)
12. Pretty Woman (from Diver Down, 1982)
13. Drum Solo - went to get a beer during this. I've seen a gazillion drum solos and I was only one section from the beer area, so I figured what the heck. I was able to drink one quickly and make it back to my seat in time for.....
14. Unchained (from Fair Warning, 1981) - One of my favorite VH songs. They didn't quite nail the "One break comin' up...." part, but it still kicked ass. The rhythm changes sometimes got sloppy throughout the night but it didn't bother me. VH always seemed like the world's greatest bar band to me anyway, so a little bit of dancing on the edge of disaster (but never descending)made it more fun. And one of the great things about DLR is he never seems to sweat it, he just rolls on with that giant smile on his face and you roll on with him. Of course, when Eddie nails the guitar parts, which he did consistently, adding little bits around the main riff and being more bluesy than I remember him being, you forget what came before and are completely in the NOW, amazed at what he can do.
15. I'll Wait (from 1984, 1984)
16. And the Cradle Will Rock (from Women and Children First, 1980)
17. Hot for Teacher (from 1984, 1984) - Alex got the drums thundering on this one.
18. Little Dreamer (from Van Halen, 1978)
19. Little Guitars (from Diver Down, 1982) ... not played at JPJ*
20. Jamie's Cryin' (from Van Halen, 1978)
21. Ice Cream Man (from Van Halen, 1978) - DLR had another way too long story before this one but it was so the band could take a break, so it was more excusable. And it was a little funnier than the first story.
22. Panama (from 1984, 1984)
23. Guitar Solo (incl. "Women in Love" intro, "Cathedral", "Eruption") - mind-blowing. I knew we'd really find out it Eddie was OK during the solo and believe me, he was more than OK.
24. Ain't Talkin' 'Bout Love (from Van Halen, 1978)
Encore25. 1984 (from 1984, 1984)
26. Jump (from 1984, 1984) - DLR wore the giant Napoleon hat and brought back the giant red flag to start this off. We got the mirror ball and confetti falling from sky to end it. It was true rock grandiosity, completely over the top and completely fun, just what I wanted from a VH with DLR show. I was not disappointed. This was a great show and I would love to see them again. Hopefully, they can all get along and Eddie can stay healthy and this won't be a one time deal.

Lastly, a cool article in the Richmond Times-Dispatch about a riot at a rock festival they had here in Richmond in 1974. Make sure you check out the short (less than two minutes) slide show for some great pictures of naked hippies, cops beating hippies, hippies burning cars, etc. It looks like it was a fun day. I'm going to give you the link to the story about the story on River City Rapids, because that is where I found it, and you can get to the Richmond Times-Dispatch story from there: I bet Mike L. was there.

Have a great weekend.

Tony Jordan