Friday, October 12, 2007

Melissa Etheridge - The Awakening

In the liner notes to her new album The Awakening Melissa Etheridge asks listeners to set aside an hour and play the CD straight through. This is sound advice. More than her previous albums the songs on this one flow together cohesively. She herself has called it a concept record.

The subject matter is her life viewed through the prism of recovering from Cancer.

While that might sound a bit maudlin the music is anything but. It swings and it rocks, most often simmering just below a rolling boil.

If you’re already a fan this is a fine addition to the Etheridge catalog. If you’re new to her music “The Awakening” does a good job touching the various styles of music she has played over the years. Bluesy guitar, gritty vocals and heartfelt lyrics all delivered passionately are on display.

Most importantly for an artist such as Melissa Etheridge many of the new songs seem well suited for her live show. And that’s perfectly appropriate as she’s a live performer before anything else.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Van Halen

Is it possible to live up to 21+ years of Anticipation? That’s how long I waited to see Van Halen. Truth is after the 1996 “reunion” fiasco I’d all but given up the ghost.

Last week I traveled to Philadelphia to see Van Halen, Finally.

I didn’t spend too much time dwelling on it the last 2 months since I’d acquired tickets lest it get even more built up in my head.

At 8:27 PM they hit the stage and when I say hit it I mean that. They landed with a ferocious roar that did not let up for 2 hours and 10 minutes.

Beg, borrow, lie, steal, cheat, do whatever you have to do, but see this band. I have bootlegs documenting Van Halen from 1976 (before they had a record deal) to 1984 when they last toured. And I am here to tell you I absolutely guarantee this band NEVER sounded better.

I had my reservations about Michael Anthony not being involved as his vocals were important to the VH sound. No disrespect to Michael Anthony but this is the last time I need to mention his name. The kid, the little Van Halen Wolfie, handled both bass duties AND vocals admirably. It was his 3rd nite in front of 20,000 people and he might have been a touch nervous but not so much that it impacted his performance. He was GREAT. A Van Halen he is in more than name now.

Eddie was well Eddie.He displayed why his name HAS to be mentioned when the conversation turns to the greatest guitarists ever. I’m not here to tell you he’s number one, but maybe he is. I AM here to tell you that NO ONE is better. Equal? Maybe I don’t know. Better? Nope, sorry.

Alex played his ass off and even had a pretty cool drum solo. He has his own sound and his chops were all on display.

Dave, Dave, Dave. Is he the greatest front man in rock history? Again, he HAS to be in the conversation. No two ways about it. His voice sounded fantastic, then again I’ve seen the man live well over a dozen times and his voice always sounds good.

And together? Not only did Van Halen prove that they could stop on a dime, I’m fairly certain they could pick it up too.

Or as my buddy Jon who went with me put it in regards to their sound, “They were tighter than a Ducks Asshole.”

I have no idea how this infamously volatile band is getting along, but they sure looked like they were having fun. There were clearly vested in what they were doing and seemingly having a ball doing it. If they weren’t, well then the Oscar goes to them for a primo performance.

The set list? to die for. The crowd was going bonkers and they would barely stop to accept applause before hitting you right between the eyes with another classic song.

My only gripe about the show? It ended. For over 2 hours I was in a rock and roll nirvana that only a handful of acts can deliver me to.

If you ever liked this band or of you just want to see a band at the top of their form, do what you have to, See Van Halen