Peter Gabriel

LIVE: Peter Gabriel @ The Patriot Center - 10/14/12

LIVE: Peter Gabriel @ The Patriot Center - 10/14/12

Peter Gabriel’s seminal album So turned 25 last year, and to celebrate Gabriel put the band that created it back together and headed out on the road for a well deserved victory lap. Much like Gabriel, the album is known as much for the strength of its music as it is for the theatricality of its presentation. The videos for “Sledgehammer” and “Big Time” triggered a shift in what people would do with the medium going forward, and three years after its initial release, the song “In Your Eyes” would be featured in the film Say Anything, forever associating it with teenage love, boom boxes and John Cusack.

Peter Gabriel’s seminal album So turned 25 last year, and to celebrate Gabriel put the band that created it back together and headed out on the road for a well deserved victory lap. Much like Gabriel, the album is known as much for the strength of its music as it is for the theatricality of its presentation. The videos for “Sledgehammer” and “Big Time” triggered a shift in what people would do with the medium going forward, and three years after its initial release, the song “In Your Eyes” would be featured in the film Say Anything, forever associating it with teenage love, boom boxes and John Cusack.

While there was no John Cusack on display Sunday night at the Patriot Center (though he did show up when the tour stopped at the Hollywood Bowl to hand Gabriel, what else, a boom box) there was no shortage of love, be it teenage or otherwise, for the sixty-two year old art rock pioneer and his band mates on the final stop of the So Back To Front Tour. The evening began with Gabriel and bass player Tony Levin performing an as yet untitled/unfinished piece of music with Gabriel explaining that his wife reminded him that he probably should explain what was going on at the risk of simply sounding like an old drunk as he mumbled his way through the blueprint of the nascent song. Stepping out briefly from behind his baby grand, Gabriel then further informed the audience of the structure of the evening - first there would be the appetizer, then the main course, and “if you survive that then you get your dessert” – and then invited the rest of the So band featuring David Rhodes on Guitar and Manu Katché on drums, to the stage to begin the acoustic portion of the evening proper with the song “Come Talk To Me” off of 1992’s Us.


ROCKTOBER 2012: 1986 - Show Me Round Your Fruit Cage

If 1984 and 1985 were the years that the wave of awesome that was the 80’s crested, then 1986 might be mostly remembered as the year the tide of cool began its retreat back into the depths of the murky, musical abyss from whence it came. Mostly.

Oh sure, there were still high points. Some socially important one’s too. The 80’s were a time when segregation was still very much in effect on the radio dial and on MTV, and 1986 in particular was a year in which more artists than ever fought, and won, the battle to bring people together, regardless of their skin color, sex or nationality. The Beastie Boys released their classic debut Licensed To Ill, with its break out mega hit (You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party!), and in doing so were the first hip-hop act in history to reach #1 on the Billboard Charts. Likewise, RUN-D.M.C. didn’t just blur the boundaries between rap and rock when they recorded “Walk This Way” with 70’s stalwarts Aerosmith; they blew those distinctions up and paved the way for an entirely new genre of music. Paul Simon’s Graceland took afro-pop sounds and caressed them into a folky mold, producing not only one of the biggest hits of his career, but arguably one of the most important albums in history. And Janet Jackson’s Control, with its hit’s “Nasty,” “Control” and “What Have You Done For Me Lately” not only established the gloved ones younger sibling as an important artist in her own right, but her domination of the charts sent a shot across the industry’s male dominated bow saying that women were here NOW, and they were likely about to take over.  


ROCKTOBER 2012: 1977 - This is the Day of the Expanding Man

What a year. 1977 saw the first test flight of the Space Shuttle, the incorporation of Apple, and the release of the first personal computer—the Commodore PET. There were events that would affect the life-philosophies of little boys and girls for the foreseeable future—the release of the first Star Wars movie and of the Atari 2600. It saw the death of a King (Elvis) and the birth of a slayer (Sarah Michelle Gellar). It saw the completion of long projects, now no more--the Concorde and the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center (designed to withstand and impact of a Boeing 707—a common commercial plane at the time). Steven Biko died in a South African jail, the first MRI scanner was tested in Brooklyn, and GPS was ushered in by the US government. All of these events had the effect of moving the collective to be better, to be different, to expand.

The effects of 1977 are still expanding popular music. Punk had its start a few years earlier, but the release of the Sex Pistols’ Never Mind the Bollocks. Here’s the Sex Pistols slammed the genre into the ears of complacent mid-1970’s “rock” music listeners with all the subtlety of a steel-toed boot. Rock had arguably lost a lot of the biting edge that had so wonderfully angered adults of the 1950’s. Unfortunately, Punk also meant a loss of virtuosity. The Sex Pistols, the Ramones, the Stranglers, Iggy Pop - all proved that you could make seriously compelling music without having studied at Berkley or Eastman. To this day though, hipsters often consider a band less than authentic if its members can actually play their instruments and exhibit this proficiency either on stage or in recordings. To quote one such lost soul overheard at a show at the 9:30 Club featuring some of the best musicians of this modern day: “they’re just wankin’ off.”


Review: Bon Iver - Bon Iver

Who is Bon Iver?

That's the question that his second, self-titled release seems to be asking. The simple answer is that Bon Iver is Justin Vernon. Vernon is the guy who famously packed up his shattered life in North Carolina, headed back home to a cabin in Wisconsin, and poured all his pain and loneliness into what would become 2008's surprise hit For Emma, Forever Ago. What stood out about that album, besides its stark emotional openness, was Vernon's otherworldly falsetto. It's an affect that on first listen sounds gorgeous and raw, but for this reviewer at least, those charms wore thin pretty quickly. As such, it’s a record that holds my highest respect; it's just not one that is revisited terribly often. So that's one answer to our question.

Another answer is that Bon Iver is not the actual personality of Justin Vernon. Instead it is simply a dumping ground for whatever he seems to be inspired by at the moment...