I was 5-years-old when The Wall came out in 1979. Of course, I was far too young to grasp any of the deeply adult themes of loneliness, alienation and distrust of institutional power that dominate Pink Floyd‘s masterwork, but that didn’t stop my fellow first graders and I from chanting “We don’t need no education!” and “Hey, teacher, leave us kids alone!” while we walked to elementary school in the mornings. Some musical statements are just universal in that regard, I suppose. Yet, for whatever reason, I was never much of a Floyd fan growing up. Sure, I was familiar with a great deal of their catalog —if you grew up in the 70s or 80s had access to a car and FM radio, how could you not be?— but for whatever reason, my musical attention during my formative years was drawn primarily towards hip-hop and more accessible, distinctly American classic rock staples (Bruce Springsteen, Bob Seger, Eddie Money).
I bring up this confession (of sorts) because I went into Saturday night’s Roger Waters presents The Wall: Live concert at Yankee Stadium without a deep level of knowledge about either the album or the production. I purchased The Wall on iTunes just last week, and only had time to give it one end-to-end listen (which just so happened to be my first time doing so) before hopping on the 4 Train from my home in Brooklyn and making the trek up to 161st Street in the heart of the Bronx. Aside from cursory glances at a few reviews of recent dates on the stadium leg of this particular tour, I went into the evening with an open mind, fully prepared to be blown away. Well, suffice to say, that mission was accomplished. Quite literally, in fact.
Is all well in the state of electronic dance music? In the past year, the electronic dance music — or EDM for short, and for those in the know — has burst through the seams of the genre festivals and rave basements that used to house it, and into the mainstream. The Swedish House Mafia is just one group that rode the scene to success, selling out Madison Square Garden last year with virtually no traditional “big media” support before announcing just recently that their current tour would be their last. The trio thanked their fans in a note posted to their website, and signed off by saying, “We came, we raved, we loved.” Their last few shows should be a victory lap, a celebration of how far they have come from their early days of dj-ing in pizza shop. What, then, went wrong this weekend at their show in Dublin?
According to reports, nine people were injured during the group’s headlining set at Phoenix Park in Dublin on Saturday night. A 23-year-old man has since been charged in connection with multiple stabbings — at least one victim was left if critical condition — and another young man died of a drug overdose. Many more concert goers were arrested for assault, drugs and public order offenses. Some of the violence was caught on video. And as for the group themselves, they responded to the melee on Facebook, writing that they were unaware of what was going on until after the fact, and promising to “deal with it in the best way we can.” Read more…
After an already action-packed weekend of Superlounge performances, empowerment panels, and headline-grabbing mainstage sets, Essence Music Festival came to a close last night in New Orleans. Like many other festivals, Essence is notorious for headlining sets extending late into the early morning of the next day, but when the artists performing are esteemed members of music’s nobility, you stay put!
Kirk Franklin kicked off the festival’s third and final night, handing the mic off to VH1 star Fantasia before soulful crooner Anthony Hamilton and his phenomenal back-up vocalists transformed the Mercedes Benz Superdome into a refreshing gospel experience. The big-ticket performers – Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin and Queen of Funk Chaka Khan – would soon follow.
As the first woman inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame, Aretha Franklin has free reign to pretty much do whatever she wants on stage, and did just that. She’d open her mouth, and magic would pour out; graciously bestowing gifts like “(Your Love has Lifted me) Higher and Higher,” “Natural Woman,” “Think,” and “Something He Can Feel,” the 18-time Grammy winner who sang at President Obama’s inauguration was met with a respectful, hyper-attentive audience that contrasted the normal bustling-in-and-out-of-their-seats EMF crowd. Despite the fact that she would at times meander into telling stories and jokes, appropriating an audience-member’s fedora, complaining about the venue’s sound, and acknowledging friends of hers that were in the crowd by asking them to stand, Franklin’s lengthy 90-minute set was any music fan’s dream even that late in the evening.
While Franklin changed her wardrobe from an orange gown to a green and gold frock mid-performance, a presentation was held in her honor, giving Queen of Soul a key to the city of New Orleans by its mayor Mitch Landrieu, a state award by Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne, and the Essence Power Award from Essence Communications President, Michelle Ebanks. Representing “entertainment, empowerment and elegance,” Franklin was clearly the ideal choice for this year’s awards, and once the Queen of Soul returned to the EMF stage, she performed crowd favorite “Chain of Fools,” sang from what she called “the book of Simon and Garfunkel,” performing a cover of “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” and even found time to pay tribute to the late and legendary Whitney Houston. “She was beautiful, she was warm, she was real,” recounted Franklin of her beloved “Christian sister” as she took to the piano to execute a rendition of Houston’s heart-wrenching “I Will Always Love You.”
Inclement weather wasn’t enough to stop the show for London’s three day Barclaycard Wireless Festival of live music from the hottest acts out today. Fans’ enthusiasm didn’t seem to wean either with the bad weather as they reveled in sets from Rihanna, Jessie J, Rita Ora, Drake, Deadmau5, Afrojack, The Roots, Labrinth and more. Deadmau5, Drake and Rihanna were the three headliners on Friday, Saturday and Sunday respectively. Despite both Drake and Rihanna’s personal matters in the states–the former being involved in a NYC nightclub brawl with Chris Brown and the latter grieving her deceased grandmother–they gave the people of London a mega show like the superstars they are. Read more…
In a season busied with festivals, iHeartRadio has proven itself in just two years to be a formidable force when it comes to bringing in the big acts. The Clear Channel festival debuted last year with a lineup chocked full of marquee names like Jay-Z, Carrie Underwood, Lady Gaga, and Nicki Minaj. And by the looks of the lineup released this morning, this year’s show will be as big a blowout as the last.
The ladies of Destiny’s Child have come a long way from the infectious “Bills, Bills, Bills” girl anthem of 1999. As one of the biggest girl groups of the 90s, we’ve long yearned for a DC reunion tour. That wish may not come true just yet, but we may be one step closer if Matthew Knowles has anything to do with it. Father of Beyonce and Solange, and powerhouse behind the success of DC and Beyonce, Matthew Knowles told HuffingtonPost unreleased music from DC will be released in November. “We still have our joint venture with Sony and in November we’re putting out two Destiny’s Child catalog records with new material,” said Knowles. The albums will include old material along with unreleased material, according to Knowles. Read more…
He has a big ego. Such a huge ego. And we kind of love it. At Atlantic City’s Revel Hotel and Casino this weekend, Kanye West performed his first solo show since Coachella in 2011. During his set he told the crowd, “I make perfect music.” At least he followed it up by recognizing he’s a flawed human being. Performing for two nights, both sold-out (he talks like this ’cause he can back it up!), West performed “Way Too Cold,” “Mercy” with no guest appearances, “Runaway” joined by Pusha T, “New God Flow,” “All of the Lights,” and “In The Air” cover by Phil Collins. Yes, you heard that right. Yeezy showed off his novice vocal skills. Read more…
Word has it that American Idol is looking to recast the judges panel with one of their greatest successes past: Adam Lambert! According to an E! News report, Fox network executives are courting the season eight contestant with hopes that he will fill the not likely to return Jennifer Lopez‘s seat. From the sounds of it, the talent seeking show is looking to reboot for its 12th season, and bringing back a glittery old flame like Lambert to judge should help to do just that. As an alum — and a particularly successful one at that — he is well situated to guide and inspire contestants. And he’s already proven a hit amongst Idol watchers, so he could be just the hit of change the show needs ahead of its teenage years.
For the fifth time in as many years, Mary J. Blige graced the Essence Music Festival stage last night in New Orleans. Galvanizing her legion of ravenous fans during a set that followed main-stage performances from Tank, Mary Mary, Ledisi and comedian Kevin Hart, even the ushers were two-stepping unapologetically; in between performing a number of hits that spanned her entire twenty-year career, Blige also made time to unleash covers of Chaka Khan’s “Ain’t Nobody” and Charlie Wilson’s “Outstanding” for the Mercedes Benz Superdome crowd.
When the beat dropped for songs like “Real Love,” “Family Affair,” “Just Fine,” and “Not Gon’ Cry,” audience members took to their feet and assisted the sequin-clad star with lyrics and adlibs alike, creating an energetic exchange with their heroine that was, on more than one occasion, acknowledged by a grateful, “so pleased” Mary J. Blige. Read more…
Each year in early July, the city of New Orleans welcomes fans of R and B, soul, and gospel music to flood its streets and enjoy three days of empowerment panels and concerts at Essence Music Festival. Listeners of all ages can take to the Mercedes Benz Superdome and find something they like, be it budding stars like yesterday’s blues-infused Gary Clark Jr. performing at one of the festival’s Superlounges, 70s and 80s family-trio The Pointer Sisters kicking off the main stage headliners, or Trey Songz, a radio-friendly artist who makes young girls and their mothers scream uncontrollably as he slowly disrobes on stage with each passing song in his set.
After The Pointer Sisters, last night’s main stage headliners shifted to Keyshia Cole and Trey, the former of which was likely booked to help promote her new BET reality show and upcoming album since she’s been on hiatus from making music while starting her family with husband, NBA player Daniel Gibson. Woman To Woman, Cole’s fifth studio record, is expected to be released in the Fall. Trey too has an upcoming album to promote; also his fifth LP, the August 21st release is aptly titled Chapter V. The highlight of the evening, however, was a set from neo-soul crooner D’Angelo.