Janelle Monáe Montreal concert review (June 27, 2012)

Part film, part theatre, part art, part dance. Oh, and there was plenty of music as well!

The show started with visuals that were projected to the screen behind the stage, much of it looking like old film style openings from the 70s era (one song later on had footage from an old Muhammad Ali fight!).

The show has begun!

The show continued with with the master of ceremony getting everyone amped up. Once the band (ArchOrchestra), made their way to the stage, three performers in cloaks, with their back to the crowd appeared (Janelle being the one in the middle). All this while “Suite II Overture” was playing. From one right to the next, they went into “Dance or Die”, and continued with “Faster” and “Locked Inside” without breaks.

For 60 minutes, she and her band played for what felt like 30, it was that good! And by no means were any songs cut short, the endings were much longer, masterfully done, to allow extra stage antics, and dancing from Janelle too (or an additional intro, as was the case for “Cold War,” building the excitement)! For instance, at one point, the two who were beside Janelle at the start, were on-stage, with plague doctor masks, wandering about, until Janelle ‘shot’ them down. Included with all her amazing dancing was the moonwalk on a couple of occasions!

During “Mushrooms & Roses,” she painted a picture, while singing! At the end of the show a lucky fan celebrating her birthday (with ID to prove the fact) was given the painting! And of course got to be on stage with her to receive it!

Covers during the show included Charlie Chaplin’s “Smile,” Prince’s “Take Me With U,” and Jackson 5’s “I Want You Back.” Also in the set, she included two new songs, “Electric Lady”, and a jazz piece she wrote (she was indeed performing as part of the Jazz Festival!), “Dorothy Dandridge Eyes.”

“Come Alive (The War of Roses)” ended the two song, 25 minute encore, with a very elaborately drawn out version which had Janelle getting the audience involved. Also having all the band members playing dead, and the bass player kept playing, as with the drummer, who cannot as easily play dead and drum!

Her band/orchestra I might add was a full one! String section had cello, viola, and violin. There was a second percussionist, mostly on bongos, and other small percussion. Two backup singers, guitarist and bassist of course, and keyboard player with 5 different keyboards, and perhaps a sequencer or something (I could not tell from my angle).

Being front centre, three people in was something, I am not one to dance, but she had me and all around me getting our groove on!

After the encore was over, myself and probably everyone was hoping for a second encore (needed to hear “Many Moons” live!), however Janelle, et. al. returned to the stage for a few words, and the mic was passed for every band member introduced themselves. For her final nod to the crowd, the guys had people put their hands up, and Janelle stepped carefully onto the crowd holding her up, and thanked everyone.

And from my vantage point (a few feet away!), I might add, Ms. Monae looked very beautiful, in every way!


Songs of summer 2012?

Quite the impromptu post!

I do not believe I have truly had a proper song that I associated with summer since the awesome “Intergalactic” by the Beastie Boys. The same may be true for this summer, time will tell (Winter songs for my readers south of the equator!)! However here are some candidates:

My nomination is Chiddy Bang’s “Mind Your Manners.” I have been listening to it since probably late last year at some point when it was first released, but only recently was it released as an official single from their debut album Manners, with a proper music video (they had an unoffical one prior). Plus I Tweeted about it!

The author of a blog post likened this as their summer 2012 song, even if he/she would be sick of it come September:

A Colbert Report bit today joked the Supreme Court voted in favour 5-4 that this is the song of the summer. I have not really listened to it, save for snippets of it heard all over the place:

Feel free to comment, or tweet me if there are any glaring omissions, and perhaps I will update this post!

The genius of Elvis Costello (and the Beastie Boys)

My friend Clint (read a guest post of his, The ‘Socalled’ Movie movie review (of course, after this blog post!), while you are at it, note his good writing skills, unlike someone else…!) recently suggested Elvis Costello’s second album, This Year’s Model. I have been listening to it a good several times since. He initially told me about the track “Lipstick Vogue,” as the drumming is very fast, and precise at that! Now I quite enjoy the entire album, definitely up there as one of the best albums of all time, and Elvis was only 23 when it was released!

In the course of reading about the album online, I saw how he was invited to play Saturday Night Live to fill in for the Sex Pistols (apparently a work permit issue) at the last minute. He was scheduled to play “Less Than Zero” from his first album, My Aim is True. Lorne Michaels did not want Elvis Costello and the Attractions to play their newer song “Radio Radio” due to the lyrical content (from the info on linked Vimeo page). Wikipedia says Columbia Records wanted Elvis to play an already established song, being “Less Than Zero” (keep reading to know why Elvis Costello did not want to play it).

About “Radio Radio” From Wikipedia:

The song is a protest song concerning the commercialization of radio broadcasts and the power wielded by the recording studios and radio companies who decided what songs were heard over the airwaves, especially the more politically explicit side of punk rock.

So, cut to their performance. Elvis and the Attractions played a few bars of “Less Than Zero,” before Elvis abruptly stopped the performance, saying, “Stop! Stop!,” then said to the audience, “I’m sorry, ladies and gentlemen, there’s no reason to do this song here.”” Elvis writes in the liner notes from the 2002 Rhino edition with a bonus disc, “I honestly believed that the words of “Less Than Zero” would be utterly obscure to American viewers.” “Less Than Zero” being about British fascist politician Oswald Mosley.

Later in the same liner notes he writes:

I believed that we were just acting in the spirit of the third word of the show’s title, but it was quickly apparent that the producer did not agree. He stood behind the camera making obscene and threatening gestures in my direction.

And continues: “When the number was over, we were chased out of the building and told that we would “never work on American television again.” Indeed, we did not make another U.S. television appearance until 1980.” He was then not allowed again on the show till 1989.

Of course he was back again for the show’s 25th anniversary to re-create the moment, but with the Beastie Boys as his backing band!

The Beastie Boys, introduced by Will Ferrell and Ana Gasteyer’s characters the soft-spoken music school teachers, then started playing “Sabotage” until interrupted by Elvis in the similar manner he interrupted his own song “Less Than Zero,” to go into “Radio Radio” once again, all those years later! Pay attention to see Ad-Rock put down his guitar and rush over to play keys for “Radio Radio!”

Unfortunately the clip with Elvis Costello and the Beastie Boys clip cuts off just before the end, but nowadays it is hard to see SNL clips online, especially music guests, so better than nothing certainly applies!


Vimeo video was deleted (which is too bad, it had some useful information), so here it is on Lockerz.com (link added December 3, 2012)

Alternate link for Elvis Costello and the Beastie Boys on SNL, that does not cut off (link added December 3, 2012)

Music on television this week!

Monday June 18

Sister duo The Pierces will be on The Late Show with David Letterman, perhaps promoting their latest single from last year’s album, You & I.

Glen Hansard will be on the Not Conan show (old man Leno), and Tavis Smiley for that matter!

Fiona Apple will be promoting her new album, The Idler Wheel Is Wiser than the Driver of the Screw and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More than Ropes Will Ever Do, on Conan’s old show (David Letterman’s old show too!), Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.

Tuesday June 19

Some acts I do not know, but will plus anyway: Walk the Moon on The Late Show with David Letterman, Grouplove on old man Leno, and Waka Flocka Flame on Kimmel (not live). Snoop Dogg will be on with Craig Ferguson. Seal will be on the Ellen show, a repeat from January!

Wednesday June 20

Goodie Mob will be on old man Leno, a repeat from June 12. Kylie Minogue will be on Chelsea Lately, but I believe just chatting. As will Ice-T on Live with Kelly. Shinedown will be on Conan.

Thursday June 21

Metric will be promoting their new album, Synthetica, on The Late Show with David Letterman. The Avett Brothers will be on the Colbert Report. I do not know them, but Stephen Colbert always makes for good interviews!

For Canadians, and those who get the CBC, Sarah McLachlan will be on George Stroumboulopoulos Tonight. Josh Groban will be the guest co-host on Live with Kelly.

And local songstress Fanny Bloom will be on the French Pénélope McQuade show.

Friday June 22

Gossip will be on Letterman. Everclear on old man Leno. fun. on Jimmy Fallon. And although not a musical guest, Stephen Colbert will be on Live with Kelly.

Michael Bublé and Frank Sinatra Jr. will both be on George Stroumboulopoulos Tonight.

Saturday June 23

Lyle Lovett and Bob Schneider will be on the Austin City Limits repeat, while The Beach Boys will be on Front Row Center (another PBS music program).

The Shins will be the musical guest on the Saturday Night Live repeat with Jonah Hill hosting.

FREE Montreal concerts!

Last year I meant to highlight more free shows, but, more than likely laziness got the best of me, so I will get something done now!

The Fringe Festival is once again underway for 2012, and with all the theatre shows comes some free music in Fringe Park, what is actually called Parc des Ameriques. (Speaking of the Fringe Festival, Go see my friend Clint’s production, Adopolis: or Socrates, Party Animal with 6 shows, starting this Saturday night!)

Kristen Bussandri

Tomorrow, Saturday, at 8 PM, Kristen Bussandri gets things going. She is a Toronto born, and now Montreal based country/folk/bluegrass singer, whose tunes are quite laid back and mellow. Check out her debut EP, Diamonds to Dust over at her Bandcamp page. She will also be performing next Wednesday, the 20th at Terrace Ste-Ambroise, an early show, from 5-7 PM, which is nice, right next to the Lachine Canal (their beer is good, but unfortunately as it is an exterior terrace (most are!), beer is sold in plastic glasses, which I dislike, and I am not sure if they recycle them, hopefully. She will also headline a show at La Sala Rossa July 16. And rumour has it she will be working on a star-studded debut album this Fall!

Carolyn Mark

The Montreal Folk Fest on the Canal (Montreal Festival Folk sur le Canal in French, hey I could use the search engine hits!) is underway, Peter Yarrow of Peter Paul and Mary fame played earlier tonight, but Saturday and Sunday are the big days. Numerous acts are playing, including Bent by Elephants, Plants and Animals, and Les Soeurs Boulay (who just played the Francofolies!). Also playing is Joey Wright and Carolyn Mark. I am not sure who Joey Wright is, but Carolyn Mark is a great alt-country singer-songwriter who has been at it for over 10 years now! Before she embarked on her solo career she played with Neko Case as The Corn Sisters! So if you like Neko Case, which you should, Carolyn Mark is definitely worth checking out!

The Folk Fest is free, but VIP tickets can be purchased. Here is the complete schedule. Unfortunately their website could use some work (hint hint), so to check out artists (sounds, etc), you will just have to Google.

Speaking of mellow folk/country, Sarah Jane Scouten plays Fringe Park next Thursday at 6 PM. She opened for The Jimmyriggers a few months back (a show I previewed!), and was quite good! Listen to her at her Soundcloud page.

Next Saturday and Sunday, Fringe Pop takes over Fringe Park, with Elgin Skye and Caroline Keating playing, among others! View their complete listings.

View the complete listings of Fringe Park.

Also, the Jazz Fest (Montreal International (yup, international!) Jazz Festival) begins soon, June 27 to July 7. Officially it starts June 28, but Janelle Monáe (and a couple of others play the 27th), so they needed a reason to jack up the ticket prices, although they would probably have been pricey anyway, as she is a hot ticket. Rufus Wainwright is the big opening show (June 28), and Chromeo the big closing show (July 7). The free show I most anticipate is Canadian hip hop icon Maestro Fresh Wes July 6, that will be sweet, and no doubt, my backbone will slide! Although a paid show, I cannot wait for Nellie McKay July 2. I only discovered her soon after her last and only Montreal show in 2004, in short she rules, and Nellie if you are reading this, do contact me so I can propose!

And be sure to bookmark my just updated Montreal Concert Listings page, which features all sorts of local shows, and shows of interest to me!

Music video picks

I try not to let too much time elapse between blog posts (subscribe to the RSS feed to stay up to date!), but I have not been doing a very good job this year. With that in mind, I thought I’d fill the void till my next full post with a post of a few of my music video picks. Although I try to be informative, and add some links in too!

I do not do posts like this often, in fact very rarely, if at all, since I started doing a music video every day on Twitter (the aptly titled Music Video of the Day or #MVOD!). Regardless, I do watch a few music videos now and then, of music that interests me, so here is a few I have watched recently.

Ren Harvieu – Open Up Your Arms:

Only just discovered her, and have only heard/seen this video. Kind of soulful pop. Not bad! This is from her debut album. She is English. From Broughton in Greater Manchester. And another talent discovered via the web!

Selah Sue – This World:

Now, moving not too far geographically, to Belgium. This is from her self-titled debut album from last year. However she did release a couple of EPs, one in 2008, and then in 2010. She has songwriting credits on all songs on her debut album save for one, and a few just by her. As Wikipedia says she turned down a record deal as she wanted to sing her own songs. Her debut was released on the independent record label Just Because. “This World” is a pretty cool mélange of genres!

Ida Maria – Quite Nice People:

Very nice mellow tune from Ida Maria, who I quite like! Ida is Norwegian, and this is from her second album, Katla. And she will be the topic of a blog post in the not too distant future!

Cherri Bomb – Let It Go:

And now for something that rocks! This is from their very recently released (May 15) debut, This is the End of Control. I hope to check out the album soon, and I will write-up a review once I have given it a few good listens. The Allmusic review says how they are a “straight-ahead rock band with talent, a rarity in the 2010s no matter how old or what sex the people in the band are.” And speaking of sex, they are not using it to sell records, aside from the fact they are probably good looking, but no excess cleavage, and the like.

You may have noticed all my picks are female artists, well, yes, I am a sucker for the ladies. Go check out a blog I follow, Ladyindie.com for more great female indie artists! And follow the blog on the Twitter!

Continue reading “Music video picks”