We’ve seen John Mayercavorting on both coasts with Katy Perry and lingering in the darkness at 30 Rock in recent months, but we haven’t heard much from his infamous mouth. Over the last two years, Mayer has struggled with a granuloma that stalled his live act completely, forcing him to cancel last year’s SXSW appearance and ultimately scrap his tour. Mayer first experienced trouble in April 2011 and underwent surgery in September before a doctor-recommended “indefinite” hiatus led to the release of Born and Raised with no live support. After several ups and downs he’s been making a slow return to the stage, playing guitar in support of his “bro” Frank Ocean during SNL‘s season premiere in September, as well as hitting November’s Stand Up for Heroes benefit in New York this fall.
2013 appears to be the start of some better news (on the music front at least; we wish you all the best with KP), however, with Mayer making the final push towards being tour-ready once and for all. Yes, we no longer have to survive on guitar faces, gossip columns and his contributions to the accessories department at Bloomie’s: the voice is back! Getting there, at least. Read more…
So the unlikely story that got the internet spinning yesterday, the one about how Paul McCartney as Dave Grohl to jam and inadvertently ended up getting Nirvana back together? It turns out there was some — well, a lot of — truth to it. Last night McCartney was charged with closing out the 12-12-12 Concert for Sandy Relief, a challenging task that meant following up nearly six-hours of performances by everyone from Bruce Springsteen to Kanye West and Billy Joel to the Rolling Stones, and a task that he handily dealt with by calling up his “mates” Grohl, Krist Novoselic and Pat Smear for a “jam.”
Together they played “Cute Me Some Slack,” the new song teased in yesterday’s blodders. There can be no Nirvana without Kurt Cobain, but McVana ground it out their own way. They played a new song called “Cut Me Some Slack,” which was stomping and static with feedback like a Nirvana song wont be, and which got Macca wailing like his blood was running hot: “Mama, watch me run / Mama let me have some fun.”
That was only one of many wonderful moments from last night’s benefit, which . Here are five more you won’t want to miss:
According to the Telegraph, previously announced performers Paul McCartney and Dave Grohl will be joined at tonight’s star-studded 12-12-12 Sandy benefit concert at Madison Square Garden by Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic and touring guitarist Pat Smear. Or in other words, Nirvana are back! But with McCartney taking over for the late Kurt Cobain, and they will probably only play non-Nirvana songs or maybe a new track that they’ve been secretly working on ever since Paul asked his “mate” Dave to “jam.” (Seriously, McCartney insists he didn’t mean to getting Nirvana back together: “I didn’t really know who they were … And somebody whispered to me: ‘That’s Nirvana. You’re Kurt.’ I couldn’t believe it.”)
Which is mostly all to say that we may not get to hear Paul McCartney really loose himself to “Heart Shaped Box,” but whatever they do end up doing will almost certainly be awesome. And with Kanye West, Bruce Springsteen, The Rolling Stones, Bon Jovi, Eddie Vedder and more already on-board and now this, tonight’s show is shaping up to be an impressive one. That’s why we here at @VH1 will be airing it live on VH1 Classic or Palladia, as well as live-streaming the 5-hour long concert at 121212concert.vh1.com.
Jessie Ware isn’t cut from the same cloth as most of today’s powerhouse female singers. Rather than aping the melismatic overtures and excessively dramatic runs made famous by the Mariahs and Christinas of the world (and that, sadly, have become omnipresent in shows like The Voice and The X Factor), Ware fully understands when the time is right to lay back in the pocket, vocally, and when to unleash her seductively strong voice. This ability has earned her many well-deserved comparisons to Sade, and propelled her debut LP, Devotion, to the top of many critics’ Best of 2012 write-ups.
The 28-year-old British soul singer launched a whirlwind, two-stop, cross-country showcase at The Box in New York City last night —she’ll perform in Los Angeles on December 13 before returning to the United States for a proper tour this January— and was the recipient of rapturous applause throughout the course of her 10 song, 50 minute set (including some from You Oughta Know artist Sia, who we spotted sitting in a booth directly adjacent to the stage). Her sound fuses Blue Lines era Massive Attack style atmospherics with sultry R&B grooves which, on wax, serves as the perfect backdrop for those evenings when it’s imperative to chill. Live, however, Ware’s voice reaches dimensions that aren’t entirely present on her album. On “Swan Song,” for instance, her pleas of “Help me to escape” were given entirely new emotional resonance when Ware shifted her pitch in a dramatically different way than she does on the record, specifically as a means of intensifying the feelings coursing through her veins. Read more…
Performing together on 12.12.12 to raise awareness for the victims of Hurricane Sandy, these world-renowned, A-list artists will all help The Robin Hood Foundtation raise funds to rebuild communities and lives of those affected by the disastrous storm. Here at @VH1, we’ll be live-streaming the 5-hour long concert at 121212concert.vh1.com, so bookmark the page and feel free to donate what you can as you catch the historical night right here alongside us. If you can’t find an internet connection, tune-in to VH1 Classic or Palladia to watch the show over good old-fashion television airwaves!
Bananarama are back! After bringing us hit after hit in the 1980s, the group has returned to U.S. soil after 23 long years, and it’s all for a good cause. Singers Sara Dallin and Keren Woodward launched their first American tour since 1989 in support of Hard Rock’s PINKTOBER breast cancer campaign that will fund the work and pay the salaries of three cancer researchers for an entire year. October being breast cancer awareness month, it’s the perfect time to amp up the fight for a cure…with guitar amps. Plus it allows for U.S. fans to see the pair of pop Venuses live and in person for the first time in two decades. Double win!
The 8-city concert series kicked off Tuesday night at Hard Rock’s massive Times Square location, formerly the home of the legendary Paramount Theater. Not a bad place to stage a comeback. Sadly, the reunion did not feature original third member Siobhan Fahey, who left the band in 1989. But Sara and Keren did just fine on their own as they took to the stage with their stellar band and two rubber-limbed backup dancers who bore the brunt of the girls’ musical flirtations.
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.
Whatever you do, don’t call Leah LaBelle an overnight success. While it’s true that she walked into an audition for LA Reid last year and was given a deal with Epic Records on the spot, she’s been putting in work to become an artist for the better part of the last 10 years. A former Berklee College of Music student, LaBelle was a contestant on the third season of American Idol back in 2004, but even with the support of Paula Abdul, wasn’t able to advance past the semifinal round. She kept grinding, though, posting covers of artists like Beyoncé (“Sweet Dreams”) and Frank Ocean (“Thinking About You”) on her MissLabelle1 YouTube Channel, eventually catching the eye of superproducers Pharrell Williams and Jermaine Dupri.
The trio of music industry heavyweights — LA, JD and Pharrell — have been working on material for Leah LaBelle’s debut album (release date still TBD) for close to a year now, and the stunning LaBelle decided to give the new songs a live trial-run during a 6-song showcase in front of 200 or so sweaty onlookers at New York City’s Tribeca Grand Hotel last night. Before she took the stage, each one of these gents took some time to explain what they see in LaBelle, where LA explained that “She has soul. She has real soul, like real, real bonafide singer soul, like you don’t hear. And you especially don’t hear this from girls that are so cute.”
You would expect that kind of praise from a born promoter like LA, but once LaBelle hit the stage, she more than delivered on that promise, both in the voice and looks department. There’s no use tiptoeing around the fact that LaBelle is gorgeous —the moment she hit the stage, we witnessed a hundred or so jaws simultaneously dropping to the floor— but to LA’s point, her vocal chops are legit, and she’s got that charismatic “it” factor as a performer. Truth be told, she kind of reminds us a bit of a female Robin Thicke, in that her sound is perfectly suited for the urban market in a way that feels both wholly authentic and completely organic.
Have you ever discovered a song that you’re certain you’ve never heard before but, at the same, feels like something that you have loved as long as you can remember? 24-year-old British troubadour Michael Kiwanuka‘s debut album, Home Again, is chock full of gems like this, numbers that are best defined by the word “timeless.” His sound lies somewhere between the mellow soulfulness of Bill Withers and the plaintive, slightly melancholic sound of Nick Drake, and he turned up at Manhattan’s Highline Ballroom for a sold-out show last night, just days removed from a successful appearance at Bonnaroo.
As anyone who has ever attended a concert in the Big Apple will attest, New York City audiences can sometimes be rather standoffish and easily distracted, filled with people standing with their arms crossed and “impress me” expressions on their faces. However, from the very moment that the opening chords of “Always Waiting” played through the sound system last night, the Adele-approved Michael Kiwanuka — he opened for her on tour in the U.K. last year — held the audience’s rapt attention. His music never quite veers into a groove that one would describe as uptempo, but don’t misconstrue the lack of a high BPM for something that’s boring. His voice is the kind that envelops you in a warm embrace, and his skilled backing band often extended songs that hover between three and four minutes on wax into six to eight minute epics, replete with jazzy, jammy sonic flourishes. And to that the richness of his lyrical content, a great deal of which involves pleas directed simultaneously towards both himself and a higher power (“Lord, I need loving” on “Tell Me A Tale”, “Oh Lord, I’m getting ready to believe” on “I’m Getting Ready”), and you have yourself all the ingredients for a mesmerizing and memorable evening.
Michael Kiwanuka may indeed be a brand new artist, but if last night’s moving performance was any indication, his career has a strong chance at being as timeless as his sound.
Shortly after Charlene Kaye took the stage as the opening act of StarKid‘s performance at Roseland Ballroom on Sunday evening —the final date of their “Apocalyptour”— she addressed her audience of 3,500. “It’s the end of the world,” she told them. “And you get to experience it with us.” The crowd erupted as Kaye continued playing her 45-minute set, a loud and buoyant assortment of songs that showcased her powerful voice and magnetic stage presence. Apart from a poorly conceived request for her audience to kneel down and jump in unison (an act that seemed to cause more disgruntlement than enjoyment), she held a tight grip on the crowd. Her set ended with “Animal Love I,” an electrifying anthem (and the best song of the entire evening) that seemed fitting for a theater of people who had been told to expect end of the world.
But was it really the apocalypse? As someone who knew almost nothing about StarKid upon entering the venue that evening, I couldn’t be too sure. The thousands of screaming children, parents who weren’t sure how to deal with the noise, and stage filled with good-looking performers in complimentary costumes featuring varying levels of thigh exposure felt like some kind of terrifying trifecta that could only mean certain death.
Fortunately for the crowd (and to a lesser extent, me), the world did not end after Charlene left the stage, and the Apocalyptour continued as the remaining performers of StarKid began their show. The minimal and vaguely Incan set design was, like every other element of the show’s construction, merely a method of threading disconnected StarKid songs together. The show’s framing device featured them as archeologists who encounter an ancient god of “chaos, death and musical theater” hell-bent on destroying the world. To dissuade him, they perform selections from their repertoire, including pieces from A Very Potter Musical, Me and My Dick, and Starship. A set list that moves from songs about penises to ones about Hermione Granger is objectively weird, but the StarKids (all former students of the University of Michigan’s School of Music, Theater & Dance) have an impressive grip on writing and, though lyrically all over the place, that persistent musical theater tone helped tie every dick and Potter song together. Read more…