PJ Harvey: Central Park SummerStage 19 July 2017

by Carene Lydia Lopez on July 21, 2017

When Venetia said she had an extra ticket for PJ Harvey at Central Park SummerStage, I immediately said yes. I’m embarrassed to say that I was thinking of another singer but realized my mistake and thought that this was someone I’d heard of and read about for some time and it was hole in my rock and roll knowledge so I should go see her. Then I thought she was another person but when she was on stage I realized I was wrong there too. I don’t why I’ve mixed her up with other female singers but there you go.

I didn’t see any SummerStage shows last year and haven’t seen any this year. Even though it was a paid event I didn’t feel badly. I felt I owed SummerStage for all the wonderful free shows they’ve given me.

I got on line a half-hour before the doors were set to open but the line started moving after five minutes. I was texting with Venetia. Her plan was to be near the stage. Her husband was in the crowd with another friend. I found a seat at the top of the bleachers opposite the entrance. While there I saw Mrs. Devereaux with a friend at the bleachers to my right. We waved and texted. Then suddenly violaleeblue and her husband were in front of me, which I wasn’t expecting. violaleeblue chose to sit with me while her husband took a spot near the stage. It was an eclectic crowd and there were a lot of hardcore fans.

At one point a fight broke out in the back. We could see a security person trying to diffuse the situation before other security personnel showed up. The guy sitting on the other side of me had exchanged a few words and he was saying that you wouldn’t expect to see a fight break out at a PJ Harvey show because it was an older crowd. That’s when violaleeblue and the guy realized they knew each other. I wonder if I had walked through the crowd how many other people I would have recognized.

I heard crickets over the sound system and a lot of the crowd stirred and many stood up. It looked the show was about to begin. The band entered like a marching band – banging drums and playing woodwinds.

I realized early on that I didn’t recognize any of the songs – not even the hits. That was okay since it was enjoyable plus I liked seeing the fans having so much fun. Unfortunately, it was an extremely hot and humid evening. I welcomed the slight breeze that came every time I applauded.

Harvey played sax (along with two other saxophonists in the band) and there were several times when I could hear some No Wave. I don’t know if Harvey considers that an influence but she’d fit right in with late 1970s era James Chance.

The Anacostia Union Temple Baptist Church Choir joined the band for a couple songs at the end. Her encore was an interesting version of Dylan’s “Highway 61 Revisted.”

For some reason, seeing the name Polly Jean is more familiar to me than PJ. The only time she really spoke to the crowd was to introduce the band members, but I didn’t get their names and can’t find them, which is a shame since they were good. In addition to the two saxes there were two drummers, a percussionist, guitarist/keyboardist, another guitarist, and a bassist.

Brooklyn Vegan has the set list and videos.

PJ Harvey Summerstage-20170719-05471

PJ Harvey Summerstage-20170719-05475

{ Comments on this entry are closed }

John Mellencamp: Forest Hills Stadium 11 July 2017

by Carene Lydia Lopez on July 19, 2017

Years ago, when there used to be late-concert shows on Friday and Saturday nights, I loved to watch Little Johnny Cougar. I’d fallen in love with Pat Benetar’s “I Need a Lover” and then fell even more in love with the original version that I heard on the local AOR FM station. He’d run across the stage and jump onto the shoulders of one his bandmates and I would squeal. He was a great showman and songwriter and fun to watch and listen to. So, earlier this year, when tickets went on sale for John Mellencamp’s show at Forest Hills Stadium, I was there. So was rtb and Mrs. Devereaux, who shares a home state with Mellencamp. Our seats were in a section near the stage but up in the nosebleeds. Sometime after the ticket purchase I wrote a letter to AXS complaining about the situation at Music Hall of Williamsburg. I don’t know if this was their apology because they never mentioned why but I got an email telling me that I was getting an upgrade. We were given tickets one section below the original, a few rows up, and close to the stage. Excellent seats.

John Mellenchamp Forest Hills Stadium-20170711-05431

The weather was iffy and I wore my rain poncho while walking to the bus stop. During the walk the skies opened up. By the time the bus arrived, the sun was shining, and the rain had stopped. It didn’t rain the rest of the evening. When the usher showed me to my seat, I tipped her and, from what I could see, only one other person tipped the usher. I guess that’s not done anymore when someone takes the time to wipe off the seat for you (remember those old guys at the baseball stadiums?). And, did I mention that Forest Hills Stadium is within walking distance of my house? I wish I wanted to see more shows there because I love being so close to home.

We were told via email that the show would begin at 6:20. At 6:30pm, Carlene Carter was on stage. She contributed to Mellencamp’s latest album Sad Clowns & Hillbillies and played a song from that album. Her first song wouldn’t sound out of place on a Rockpile album (after all she is the ex-Mrs. Nick Lowe). So there are several influences going on that meld from one into the other. Her grandmother Maybelle Carter, her mother June Carter, stepfather Johnny Cash, and those musicians who were influenced by her family and took rockabilly and created pub rock.

Carter mentioned that she was married three times before she was 23 years old because her mother told her no sex unless she was married. She finally figured out her mistake and her fourth marriage has been a happy one. There was a song about being a Carter and another for her stepfather. Lily & Madeleine (from Indiana) joined her for several songs, adding beautiful harmonies. They also appear on the new album. But it was mostly Carter on acoustic guitar or piano. I’d only heard one or two songs of hers through the years and was delighted to hear her material.

Carlene Carter Lily_Madeline  Forest Hills Stadium-20170711-05434

Carlene Carter Lily_Madeline  Forest Hills Stadium-20170711-05435

Carlene Carter Forest Hills Stadium-20170711-05437

Next up was Emmylou Harris and the Red Dirt Boys – Bryan Owings (drums), Chris Donohue (electric bass and electric upright bass), Will Kimbrough (electric and acoustic guitar), and Phil Madeira (accordion/keys). Emmylou played acoustic guitar and, as usual, sang beautifully. Carter and Lily & Madeleine joined her for one song (“Even Cowgirls Get the Blues”). We heard familiar covers like “Pancho & Lefty” and “Abraham, Martin, and John,” which I knew was coming as soon as I heard Emmylou’s introduction and I was happy to hear her version. There was also an a cappella song where most of the band gathered around one mic with only the bass playing.

Emmylou Harris Forest Hills Stadium-20170711-05439

Emmylou Harris Forest Hills Stadium-20170711-05440

Emmylou Harris Forest Hills Stadium-20170711-05442

Emmylou Harris Forest Hills Stadium-20170711-05444

Emmylou Harris Forest Hills Stadium-20170711-05446

Mellencamp’s band came out first – all dressed in black suits except for the female fiddle player in a long black dress – and playing the blues. One of the first things I noticed was that there were a lot of amps on stage. Mellencamp came out to huge applause. He didn’t make us wait long for one of the hits – “Small Town” was the fourth song. Even though I grew up in NYC, I identify with and love heartland rock. Growing up in a neighborhood in NYC is just like growing up in a small town – at least it was when I was growing up.

The band (per Wikipedia) is Mike Wanchic (guitars and back-up vocals); Andy York (guitars and back-up vocals); Miriam Sturm (violin); Dane Clark (drums and back-up vocals); John Gunnell (electric and upright bass); and Troye Kinnett (keys, accordion, and back-up vocals). I read one review that claimed it was Madiera on keys and accordion.

They covered Robert Johnson (“Stones in My Passway”) as a 4-piece blues band. There were other hits like “Rain on the Scarecrow,” “Crumblin’ Down,” “Authority Song,” “Pink Houses,” and ended with “Cherry Bomb.” So we didn’t get to hear “Hurt So Good.” “Jack and Diane” was done as a solo acoustic with the audience singing along loudly. Unfortunately, we messed up the second verse by going straight to the chorus, so Mellencamp had to stop and correct us.

Emmylou and Carlene joined him for “My Soul’s Got Wings” but I was really blown away by Carlene’s vocals on “Grandview” and “Pink Houses” where she showed a bluesy quality missing from her opening set. I thought that “Easy Target” sounded like it could be a Tom Waits song and when Mellencamp mentioned BLM, I silently cheered. There was an overture before “Rain on the Scarecrow” and during it there was a piece of “I Need a Lover” and I screamed out loud but they never played that song. It was a real longshot anyway. Lily & Madeleine contributed backing vocals for most of the set.

Before the encore the band didn’t leave the stage. The stage went dark and then lit up again. Forest Hills Stadium has a hard cut-off, so there was no time for a long break for applause. Before “Cherry Bomb,” Mellencamp said that when you’re still talking about old times you’re bringing them into the present, so you’re really talking about the present.

Mellencamp has the same dance moves as the ones I saw so many years ago on TV. The old times are the present.

Complete set list is here.

John Mellenchamp Forest Hills Stadium-20170711-05447

John Mellencamp  Forest Hills Stadium-20170711-05450

John Mellencamp  Forest Hills Stadium-20170711-05454

John Mellencamp  Forest Hills Stadium-20170711-05457

{ Comments on this entry are closed }

The Great Comet: Imperial Theatre 6 July 2017

July 18, 2017

rtb found out that one of our favorite performers, Ingrid Michaelson, would be joining the cast of Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812 for a limited run. violaleeblue, rtb, and I bought tickets. Truthfully, during the Tony Awards, the show I was most impressed by and the one I wanted to see was […]

Read the full article →

Caramoor American Roots Music Festival: Katonah, NY 24 June 2017

June 28, 2017

Once again, I’ve allowed myself to fall behind in my concert-going reporting. I’ve got June to catch up on, then earlier this year, and then there’s last summer. But I’m going to report on the last festival and then go back to the rest of this month. Peter had asked me what I wanted to […]

Read the full article →

Lucero (Clutch/The Sword): Capitol Theatre 17 May 2017

May 19, 2017

My second night with my boys. As far the music went, it was basically the same as Monday night. I was sitting in the balcony, so felt a little removed from the action. The Capitol Theatre is an historic rock venue and really just an historic venue. It’s a beautiful old theater. Just five minutes […]

Read the full article →

Lucero (Clutch/The Sword): Brooklyn Steel 15 May 2017

May 16, 2017

My boys! My boys are back in town. And they were playing at a new venue. Not just a new venue to me but a new venue for NYC. Brooklyn Steel is part of the Bowery Presents group. And just like most of the other clubs in that group, they spent their money on the […]

Read the full article →

John Hammond: City Vineyard 31 January 2017

May 15, 2017

My last January concert took place at a new (to me) venue. City Vineyard is at Pier 26 in Riverside Park. As usual, I walked in the wrong direction when getting off the train (going deeper into Chinatown) before realizing my mistake and finally going in the correct direction towards the Hudson River instead of […]

Read the full article →

Rhett Miller: Bell House 29 January 2017

May 15, 2017

I was early to Gowanus so, on my way to The Bell House, I stopped off at the Four & Twenty Blackbirds to finally try their pie. I only killed twenty minutes and their crust is not as good as mine. As I got nearer to the club I was thinking about what I would […]

Read the full article →

Shawn Colvin/Richard Thompson: City Winery 25 January 2017

May 15, 2017

Mrs. Devereaux is a huge Thompson fan (both Richard and Teddy) and I’m also a fan of both and have a crush on Shawn Colvin, so this was a good concert for both of us. Plus, it was at City Winery, one of the best places for live music in NYC. Mrs. Devereaux and I […]

Read the full article →

Son Volt: Rough Trade 8 April 2017

May 14, 2017

Back to catching up with concerts from earlier this year. It’s always puzzled me as to why I don’t like Wilco, even after seeing them live a couple of times. On paper, they should be the perfect group for me. And there’s Uncle Tupelo – I never saw them live and I’ve never wanted to […]

Read the full article →