Tag Archives: Town Hall
Mike Scott formed the Waterboys in early ’80s London. The Celtic rockers’ eponymous debut LP arrived in 1983. And from then on, the band’s lineup consisted of the singer-songwriter and a rotating group of talented musicians (primarily from the UK). And while Scott records music solo and as the Waterboys, he says there’s “no difference between Mike Scott and the Waterboys. They both mean the same thing. They mean myself and whoever are my current traveling musical companions.” To that end, Scott’s been a joined onstage by more than 50 member of the Waterboys. The band has 10 studio albums, and the most recent—out elsewhere in 2011 but not here until 3/26—An Appointment with Mr. Yeats, just might be the most ambitious. Scott had long been interested in W. B. Yeats, so he set music to the famed poet’s work. And if that initially seems strange to you, it didn’t to Scott. Instead, he thought the poems were “a great unused set of fucking rock and roll lyrics.” There are 14 songs on the album, but the Waterboys (above, doing “Everybody Takes a Tumble”) initially began with 20, playing them for audiences before heading to the studio. In labeling one of those shows “epic,” The Guardian says, “Scott’s confidence in these songs is not misplaced.” Which is precisely why he and the Waterboys will perform An Appointment with Mr. Yeats in its American premiere next Wednesday at Town Hall.
Yo La Tengo – Town Hall – February 16, 2013
There’s something wonderfully peculiar about a Yo La Tengo concert split between two sets, one quieter and one louder. Taking the stage in front of cartoonish cutouts of three trees and before a sold-out audience, they kicked off their softer set with an acoustic version of “Ohm,” the first single off the recently released Fade. The song was played so softly that the audience’s excited “Oh, shit, they’re finally onstage and playing this song” applause came to a uniform halt when everyone realized “Oh, shit, I can’t hear this amazing song through our applause because they’re playing it so quietly.”
As soft as it was, Ira Kaplan, Georgia Hubley and James McNew’s voices blended together so well that it was nearly impossible to tell them apart. Kaplan’s singing on the acoustic rendition of “The Point of It” had dynamics turned upside down, singing so softly at times that it was barely there at all, as if to showcase the intensity of the expression through its own fragility. If the first half of the show demanded everyone listen closely, the second half was the payoff. Yo La Tengo brought out on an array of electric guitars, switching back and forth between new songs off Fade and older favorites. This old-song-new-song juxtaposition made it clear that the material off this latest album has already begun to sound as classic as old YLT favorites like “Tom Courtenay” and “Deeper Into Movies.”
The second set reached its pinnacle with a much louder version of “Ohm.” Hearing the song twice in such different variations made it seem the theme song of the night. Despite Kaplan wailing away on his guitar, at times looking like he was trying to strangle the instrument to death, the feedback screams that came out of it never felt abrasive. It was like all that noise needed to be there, a deliberately dissonant reaction to the song’s irresistible melody that felt missing when it was played the first time around. There may be no better band at forcing the harsh rock noise against timelessly gorgeous pop melodies. They’re usually blended together so well by the band that it takes splitting these two worlds to make them noticeable at all. —Dan Rickershauser
Like many before her, Sharon Van Etten came to New York City from New Jersey in order to make music. And despite her East Coast upbringing, Van Etten sings of Middle American—universal, even—themes, but she does so in her uniquely powerful voice. The talented singer-songwriter has put out three folkie albums, including this year’s acclaimed Tramp, which Rolling Stone says “plays like a female version of Beck’s Sea Change.” The album was a bit of an all-star affair, with appearances by the National’s Aaron and Bryce Dessner, Wye Oak’s Jenn Wasner and a host of others. And when Van Etten (above, doing “Give Out” for Minnesota Public Radio) plays Town Hall tomorrow night, she’ll be joined by Aaron Dessner and Wasner, plus Thurston Moore, John Moloney, the Antlers’ Peter Silberman and Megafaun’s Brad Cook.
Tags: Aaron Dessner, Beck, Brad Cook, Bryce Dessner, Jenn Wasner, John Moloney, Megafaun, Peter Silberman, Preview, Sea Change, Sharon Van Etten, the Antlers, the National, Thurston Moore, Town Hall, Tramp, Video, Wye Oak
Posted in House List, Preview, Video No Comments »
Nick Lowe & His Band – Town Hall – April 25, 2012
Nick Lowe strode across stage. At 63, he looks different than his younger self: thick-frame glasses and sculpted white hair give him an older, cartoonish appearance in comparison to his long-hair, bug-eyed days of the ’70s and ’80s. He is an acoustic-guitar man now with a classic sunburst model slung over his shoulder from beginning to end. And last night at Town Hall, it began with “Stoplight Roses,” a song from the new record, The Old Magic, that Lowe is keen to promote. “Quality entertainment is what we’re here to bring,” said Lowe. His pitch included mentioning being “on the radio and indeed the television” and optimistically stating, “record sales are up” since the start of the tour. It is delivered with a wink and a nod—the way Lowe usually tosses off subtle humor and pastiche candor.
But, aside from his joking, Lowe looked particularly pleased and suited for the Town Hall stage. He was quick to note the iconic significance of the venue and, with an acknowledging sweep of his hand, often took in the rows and tiers of audience members. It was a seasoned showman move of which he has many: big smiles, waves and witty banter. He was attentive to the crowd the way a talented dinner-party host makes everyone feel welcome. And mixing in “Cruel to Be Kind” and “(What’s So Funny ’Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding” with new songs, he managed expectations, giving fans what they wanted as well as what they might like. For Lowe, it’s been a long musical journey, but there are no signs of stopping. As long as stages will have him, he aims to perform. —Jared Levy
Colin Hay was born in Scotland in 1953, and if he’d lived the rest of his life there, you might not have ever heard his music. But he moved to Australia with his family when he was 14 and met Ron Strykert 11 years later. The two began playing acoustic music together before forming Men at Work in 1979. And with the release of Business as Usual, which spawned the smash hits “Who Can It Be Now” and “Down Under,” the group became international superstars. However, like so many bands before them, it wasn’t meant to last. Hay was undeterred after Men at Work broke up and he’s steadily worked ever since. His 11th studio album, Gathering Mercury, came out last year, and Colin Hay (above, performing “Overkill” for Park City Television) plays Town Hall on Friday.
Nick Lowe has been making music for more than 45 years. The English singer-songwriter plays guitar, bass, piano and harmonica, but is perhaps best known as a producer—he worked on Elvis Costello’s first five albums—and as songwriter, cranking out hits for other people, like “(What’s So Funny ’Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding” and “Cruel to Be Kind.” But despite the long career and deep catalog, Lowe, above, playing “(What’s So Funny ’Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding” on Jimmy Kimmel Live!, has remained relevant by pumping out new music, including last year’s The Old Magic. And now you can see Nick Lowe & His Band tomorrow night at Town Hall.
Back in mid-’90s Portland, Ore., pianist Tom Lauderdale was working in politics. Many before him had become disillusioned with this field, but what bothered him most was perhaps a bit different. You see, he found the music at political fund-raisers to be lacking. So he put together what he called a “little orchestra,” 13 members strong including him, called Pink Martini. Immediately, Lauderdale knew who should become the group’s voice, China Forbes, whom he had met while at Harvard. The two began writing songs, and their first tune became the title of Pink Martini’s debut album, Sympathique, which came out in 1997. The group’s music has a wide variety of influences and their songs are in multiple languages, which gives them a worldwide following. But you don’t have to go too far to follow them this week because Pink Martini (above, doing “Hey Eugene” on Late Show with David Letterman) plays Town Hall tonight and tomorrow. And while Forbes recovers from throat surgery, Pink Martini’s lyrics will be voiced by the talented Storm Large.
Jeff Mangum – Town Hall – October 29, 2011
Jeff Mangum’s story is familiar: A talented young artist creates a masterpiece only to shun the public and seek seclusion. In Mangum’s case, the great work is In the Aeroplane over the Sea and the exile, recently broken, lasted roughly a decade. Like in the case of authors J.D. Salinger and Harper Lee, his fame grew with his continued absence—a compelling narrative. Mangum, however, chose to return, and his sold-out show at Town Hall on Saturday night proved that his fans have never left.
Mangum, dressed in a denim shirt, tan pants and a newsboy cap, began his performance promptly at 9 p.m. His setup, positioned in the middle of the stage, consisted of a chair flanked by four acoustic guitars, each serving a specific tonal purpose dictated by the given song. A particularly twangy guitar was used for the sing-alongs “Holland 1945” and “Two-Headed Boy.” But, the most moving moments came when Mangum used a rich-sounding chocolate brown guitar, which created warm instrumentation as a counterpoint to his sharp vocals.
For it is Mangum’s voice—inflected, emotive and mysterious—that makes his music so compelling. And when he chanted such lyrics, as “I love you, Jesus Christ” from “The King of Carrot Flowers,” the audience could not help but answer the call. Everyone loves a comeback story. —Jared Levy
The deck was stacked against her. The Best New Artist Grammy had never before been awarded to a jazz artist. Plus Bieber Fever was in full effect, and it wasn’t just Justin Bieber—all of the other nominees, Drake, Florence and the Machine and Mumford & Sons, were inarguably more famous than she. But nevertheless, 26-year-old Portland, Ore., native Esperanza Spalding strode up to the podium to collect her award. By that point, she’d already been playing music for more than 20 years. Spurred on by seeing Yo-Yo Ma play the cello on Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood when she was just four, the precocious Spalding took up the violin when she was five. Not content with one instrument, she next conquered the oboe and clarinet before discovering the bass in high school. And if all of that weren’t enough, the talented performer began writing lyrics and she could sing in English, Portuguese and Spanish. After spending time at Berklee College of Music, Spalding began touring in support of other musicians. And then upon graduation, she started teaching at the famed music school and recording her own albums. The third, Chamber Music Society, caught people’s attention, eventually netting her that surprise Grammy. Check out Esperanza Spalding, above, performing Stevie Wonder’s “Overjoyed” and then go see her play live at Town Hall on Saturday.