Tag Archives: Michael Jackson

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The Underrated Ours Play The Bowery Ballroom Tonight

December 6th, 2013

Nearly 20 years ago New Jersey native Jimmy Gnecco formed the alternative-rock group Ours. Since then he’s remained the lone constant, performing and recording with a rotating lineup of musicians. The band’s debut, produced by Steve Lillywhite, Distorted Lullabies, came out in 2001, earning comparisons to Jeff Buckley, and a follow-up, Precious, arrived 18 months later. Then Ours (above, performing “Been Down”) spent several years recording with Rick Rubin for what would be released in 2008 as Mercy (Dancing for the Death of an Imaginary Enemy. But Gnecco and Co. returned earlier this year with their fourth LP, the Michael Jackson– and Motown-influenced Ballet the Boxer 1 (stream it below). Catch the final stop on their current tour, along with the Ludlow Thieves and Madame Mayhem, tonight at The Bowery Ballroom.

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Laura Mvula Sells Out Music Hall of Williamsburg

September 5th, 2013

Laura Mvula – Music Hall of Williamsburg – September 4, 2013


Neo-soul songstress Laura Mvula has quietly made a name for herself across the pond, but she’s recently found admirers Stateside, including NPR’s Stephen Thompson. He wrote, “The U.K. singer’s sonic ambition is boundless: Her intricately layered songs straddle genres, locations and eras in ways that sound entirely original.” If you’re a fan of Jill Scott, Lauryn Hill or Erykah Badu, Mvula should have already filed into your Spotify queue. Her classical training allows her to mold every inflection into a timeless voice that seems to effortlessly narrate romantic epics. She’s the like the James Earl Jones of song telling.

With an introduction of “Like the Morning Dew,” Mvula descended upon the Music Hall of Williamsburg stage last night dressed in a long hooded army green anorak. Armed with a trio of strings, drummer and a harpist, the Brit’s choral-like arrangements filled the cozy venue. She admitted the last time she was there was to see Michael Kiwanuka. Not bad company to keep with their similar soulful repertoire. Mvula kicked off her white heels, performing “Is There Anybody Out There” barefoot before smoothly making the transition into Bob Marley’s “One Love,” with the crowd immediately joining in on the chorus.

Oddly, her delivery of “Sing to the Moon” reminded me of an unrelated artist, Lana Del Rey. Mvula proceeded to perform “Diamonds” and “Father, Father” solo to a completely enamored audience. It was so quiet that only the rustling of the air conditioner could be heard before, picking up the tempo and mood, Mvula got the crowd clapping along to the upbeat “Green Garden.” As though the end were flipped to the beginning of the set, the crescendo-heavy opening of “Make Me Lovely” was worthy of a Bond-film title sequence. Unprepared for an encore, Mvula and her brother, James Douglas, on cello delighted fans with a cover of Michael Jackson’s “Human Nature.” While singing “Reaching out/ To touch a stranger,” she received a bouquet of flowers from a fan front and center. It’s safe to say they won’t be her last floral brava. —Sharlene Chiu

 

 

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Garbage Play The Wellmont Theatre Tomorrow Night

March 19th, 2013

Butch Vig became a producing superstar when Nirvana’s second album, Nevermind, knocked Michael Jackson from the top of the charts and went on to capture the zeitgeist of the early ’90s. But he wasn’t just interested producing music. Vig (drums) also wanted to play it. And to that end, he teamed up with fellow producers and multi-instrumentalists Duke Erikson (bass) and Steve Marker (guitar) to form Garbage, even before they added Scottish singer Shirley Manson to the mix. The band entered the mainstream with the 1995 release of a self-titled album, with hits like “Stupid Girl” and “Only Happy When It Rains.” The quartet steadily released more music (another three LPs) and toured through 2005, and then following an 18-month hiatus, returned to play a benefit show in early 2007. But it took another three years or so for Garbage (above, playing “Stupid Girl” for KROQ FM) to return to the studio to work on Not Your Kind of People (stream it below), which finally came out last May. The band is now out on the road, and you can see them play The Wellmont Theatre tomorrow night.

(Friday’s show at Terminal5 is sold out.)

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Imaginative Pop with a Disco Swagger Tonight at Music Hall

March 4th, 2013

Influenced by the likes of David Bowie, Michael Jackson and the Flaming Lips, London quintet Citizens! make the kind of shimmery, catchy music that calls to mind Hot Chip and Franz Ferdinand. So it should come as no surprise that Franz frontman Alex Kapranos, who’d heard some of the band’s demos, produced their debut album, last year’s Here We Are (stream it below). “There are only three or four bands a decade that really matter. Citizens! sound like one of them to me,” says Kapranos of singer Tom Burke, keyboardist Lawrence Diamond, drummer Michael Evans, bassist Martyn Richmond and guitarist Tom Rhoades. “They do something you haven’t heard before, yet you feel they’ve always been in your life.” Experience just what he’s talking about tonight at Music Hall of Williamsburg when Citzens! (above, performing “True Romance” for Converse) come to Brooklyn as part of their North American tour.

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Robert Randolph Feels the Love

November 21st, 2012

Robert Randoph & the Family Band – Brooklyn Bowl – November 20, 2012


You’d be hard pressed to find a more likeable act than Robert Randolph & the Family Band. It’s not just the fact that a large chunk of the group comes from the same family as the supremely talented pedal-steel guitarist—it’s that Randolph’s music is just so damn eclectic. In the artist notes on his Web site, Randolph called his latest record, We Walk This Road, “…a celebration of African-American music over the past 100 years….” In truth, it showcases his signature fusion of gospel, soul, funk and blues. But it’s clear that there’s a hefty helping of sonic diversity in the mix. Last night at Brooklyn Bowl, along with covers of songs by preeminent black artists like Bill Withers (“Use Me”) and Michael Jackson (“Don’t Stop ’Til You Get Enough”), the group jammed on selections from legendary white rockers like Bob Dylan (“Maggie’s Farm”) and Led Zeppelin (“Whole Lotta Love”).

To hammer in the point further, the band invited Marc Roberge, from frat-boy favorite O.A.R., to pop onstage for a few songs. It’s this ability to integrate a variety of musical influences that underscores Randolph’s likeability. The second—and equally important— piece of the puzzle is Randolph’s unbelievably energetic show. He slowly hooked in the crowd with his virtuosity, beginning the night teasing his signature licks by playing them in short bursts and then finishing up the set with prolonged, heavily climactic solos. “Can I get a witness!” he screamed to the delighted audience after one particularly uplifting jam.

As it turns out, Randolph had no trouble doing that at all. Halfway through the set, one incredibly bold woman climbed onstage to display her dancing ability. (Quick note: She didn’t come anywhere close to vocalist Lenesha Randolph’s kinetic prowess.) And in a matter of seconds, 12 or so women were strutting their stuff in front of hundreds of delighted fans. After the song ended and people returned to the status quo, two of the interlopers planted big, grateful kisses on Randolph’s cheek. It was a fitting symbol of the crowd’s collective love for the band. —Alex Kapelman

(Robert Randolph & the Family Band play Brooklyn Bowl tonight, Friday and Saturday.)