Umphrey’s McGee—Brendan Bayliss (guitar and vocals), Joel Cummins (keys and vocals), Ryan Stasik (bass), Andy Farag (percussion), Jake Cinninger (guitar and vocals) and Kris Myers (drums and vocals)—the progressive-rock group that began at the University of Notre Dame, is part jam (their live shows feature extended exploratory improvisation) and part ham (their first studio release was called Greatest Hits, Vol. III). The band allowed taping of their shows from the very beginning, and as those shows were traded across the country, Umphrey’s (above, covering “Comfortably Numb”) earned a following in places the band hadn’t even played yet. They’ve been a national touring band ever since. Their 11th studio long-player, It’s Not Us (stream it below), which celebrates the band’s 20th anniversary, dropped last Friday. According to Glide Magazine, “It’s a tightly constructed, densely layered album with a dark tone that is occasionally split by beams of light and another unique addition to the Umphrey’s McGee studio canon.” And per Live for Live Music, “The result is one of their best records yet; certainly one of their most ambitious.” Touring behind the new music, Umphrey’s McGee are back in New York City this week for three nights at the Beacon Theatre, on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
Tag Archives: Beacon Theatre
Gillian Welch – Beacon Theatre – August 2, 2017
Recently NPR released an article on the Top 150 Albums Made by Women spanning all genres of music from folk, soul, rock, pop and more. Gillian Welch at No. 39 was a particular gem sandwiched between the Staples Singers and Odetta. Welch’s rise came after a resurgence of country-blues thanks to the film O Brother, Where Art Thou? and has stood the test of time with her continuous touring. It’s been more than five years since the release of The Harrow and the Harvest, and that milestone perpetuated the singer to tour in support of a special vinyl release. Welch and longtime musical partner David Rawlings rolled into the ornate Beacon Theatre Wednesday evening to regale fans by playing the album in full.
Literally going from the opening track, “Scarlet Town,” to the fittingly conclusive “The Way the Whole Thing Ends,” the pair apologized for the many minor-key songs, but no one in the audience seemed to mind in the least. The singer charmed with her footwork on “Six White Horses,” as her two-step served as percussion for the rollicking number. A short intermission followed the conclusion of the album’s completion, and the duo returned to serenade the room with more woeful ditties, including “Wayside/Back in Time” and the ultimate crowd-pleaser, “Revelator.” Welch’s magic is truly in her partnership with Rawlings, whose mastery of the guitar perfectly phrases her heartbreaking lyrics. The guitarist took center stage to debut a new track from his upcoming release, Poor David’s Almanack, which the two will be touring behind next.
Many of their recordings have been touched by greats like Johnny Cash, who inspired “Dry Town,” and Doc Watson, whom the songstress addressed before performing the traditional “Make Me a Pallet on the Floor” during the encore. Welch saved the best for last with the aching “Orphan Girl,” and Rawlings’s fluttering guitar showcased on “Look at Miss Ohio.” The pair dug deep into their musical roots for the hymnal “I’ll Fly Away” by Albert E. Brumley, which evoked handclaps all the way up to the balcony. To wrap the evening with a proper farewell, the two covered the famed June Carter Cash and Johnny Cash hit “Jackson.” From one timeless country union to another, Welch and Rawlings continue their more-than-two-decade partnership with no end in sight. —Sharlene Chiu
Tags: Albert E. Brumley, Beacon Theatre, David Rawlings, Doc Watson, Gillian Welch, Johnny Cash, June Carter Cash, Live Music, Music, New York City, O Brother Where Art Thou?, Odetta, Poor David’s Almanack, Review, Sharlene Chiu, Staples Singers, The Harrow and the Harvest
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Individually, former Late Show with David Letterman bassist Will Lee (vocals, bass and keys), Conan house-band leader and guitarist Jimmy Vivino (vocals, guitar and keys), in-demand Rich Pagano (vocals and drums), accomplished songwriter Frank Agnello (vocals and guitars) and multi-instrumentalist Jack Petruzzelli (vocals, keys and guitars) are each known as incredibly hard-working and fantastically talented musicians. And together, they combine to join forces as the Fab Faux, which Rolling Stone’s David Fricke calls “the greatest Beatles cover band—without the wigs.” Of course, the Fab Faux (above, performing “Tomorrow Never Knows”) are much more than a cover band. No, they don’t look like the Beatles, but thanks to their love of the Fab Four and their attention to every little detail, they sound remarkably like them. See them perform a never-before-seen tribute of The Beatles’ Second Album and Yesterday and Today on Saturday night at the Capitol Theatre. (The Fab Faux will return to play the Westbury Theater on 6/10 and then the Beacon Theatre on 11/4.)
Tags: Beacon Theatre, Capitol Theatre, Fab Faux, Frank Agnello, Jack Petruzzelli, Jimmy Vivino, Live Music, Music, New York City, Preview, Rich Pagano, The Beatles’ Second Album, Video, Will Lee, Yesterday and Today
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Wilco – Beacon Theatre – March 22, 2017
There is plenty of debate these days about what makes America great, but for some things there is no argument, no matter what you believe. There is greatness in American monuments and symbols—Mount Rushmore, the Statue of Liberty and, of course, rock and roll. Over the past couple of decades, few bands have been able to claim the mantle of the “great American rock band” quite like Wilco have. Last night at the Beacon Theatre, Jeff Tweedy and Co., closing out the last of four sold-out shows, proved that they certainly belong on the Mount Rushmore of present-day American rock bands.
Trees painted on either side and rolling hills behind, the stage evoked a rustic setting, a bucolic countryside scene, even though the band and audience were smack dab on Broadway in one of the busiest cities in the world. Wilco’s sound captured this all-American city mouse/country mouse vibe from the start, alt-country meets explosive rock and roll. Early on, Tweedy’s voice was front and center, the crowd hanging on each syllable, while he sang material from the band’s newest, Schmilco, like “Normal American Kids,” while guitarist Nels Cline danced Garcia-esque licks into the packed venue. A few songs in, however, the band picked up steam, drummer Glenn Kotche and bassist John Stirratt chugging alongside Cline and Tweedy’s guitars, a pair of tractor trailers plowing down the open road of the U.S. Interstate on rockers like “Side with Seeds” and “At Least That’s What You Said.”
A Wilco show is as reliable as another American landmark, Old Faithful. You know the eruption is coming, but that doesn’t it make it any less impressive when it arrives, like clockwork. Wednesday night, as is often the case, the pressure-relief came during “Impossible Germany,” Cline gushing geothermal guitar licks, while the audience looked on in awe. Still, perhaps the set’s all-encompassing highlight may have been “Via Chicago,” Wilco channeling the great American poet, Whitman, very large and containing multitudes, overlapping Tweedy’s own soft-sung poetry with a barbaric yawp of guitars and drums. Before the set ended, they made sure to serve up their version of the all-American diet of meat and potatoes in the form of crowd favorites “Heavy Metal Drummer” and “I’m the Man Who Loves You.” The 30-plus-minute double encore was an almost let’s-play-two run-through of the band’s history, songs old and new, including, naturally, “Red-Eyed and Blue.” Preceding the end of the set, Tweedy, who was relatively quiet with the banter all night, said, “We’ve got no time for fucking pessimism.” And it doesn’t get much more American than that. —A. Stein | @Neddyo
Tags: Aaron Stein, Beacon Theatre, Ernie Banks, Glenn Kotche, Jeff Tweedy, Jerry Garcia, John Stirratt, Live Music, Mikael Jorgensen, Music, Nels Cline, New York City, Pat Sansone, Review, Schmilco, Walt Whitman, Wilco
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Multi-instrumentalist and singer-songwriter Ingrid Michaelson grew up in Staten Island as part of an artistic family. She began studying music while very young and went on to do theater, sing in an a cappella group and perform with an improv-comedy troupe during college, all of which propelled her forward into the music world, which at first consisted of busking on subway platforms. But since then, she’s been a mainstay on the radio and the road thanks to a prolific discography filled with witty lyrics and piano-fueled songwriting. Michaelson (above, performing “Hell No” on The Late Late Show with James Corden) put out her seventh studio long-player, It Doesn’t Have to Make Sense (stream it below), a few months ago. The album finds her “delving into a set of sonically robust, emotionally transfiguring anthems recorded in the wake of her mother’s death and the breakup of her marriage,” according to AllMusic. “Michaelson celebrates the ups and downs of life with a combination of poignancy, remembrance and empowerment.” As good as the LP is, Michaelson is most known for live performances, and she returns home with her Hell No Tour for a pair of shows at the Beacon Theatre this week, on Wednesday (which is already sold out) and again on Thursday night. NYC’s AJR open both shows.
Jenny Lewis – Capitol Theatre – September 14, 2016
More than a decade ago in San Francisco, I patiently perched in a stairwell awaiting the live debut of Ms. Jenny Lewis’s initial solo effort, Rabbit Fur Coat. Sure I grew up watching Troop Beverly Hills, but what fascinated me was how she seamlessly dipped in and out of formidable bands like Rilo Kiley, Bright Eyes and the Postal Service. Lewis always has been a thoughtful songwriter and it especially showed in her time with Rilo Kiley, however this next step pushed the singer into a career all her own. She and her backup singers, the Watson Twins, were late due to traffic but well worth the wait as they glided down the aisle holding candles to approach the stage—it was an unforgettable show in an intimate 250-seat venue. When word got out that the trio would take out the record for a 10th-anniversary spin, I had to be there. Previously selling out two Beacon Theatre shows last winter, Lewis returned with the twins to play Capitol Theatre last night.
The trio, donning the dresses from the album cover, entered stage right singing in harmony to open with “Run Devil Run,” candles in their hands just as they had years prior. The room was flooded with nostalgia as they played Rabbit Fur Coat in its entirety with a full band. Gems included lap-steel accompaniment on “Happy” and Lewis returning post-wardrobe change to croon the title track in a black embroidered jumpsuit complete with fringe. Although missing the backing vocals of M. Ward and Ben Gibbard, “Handle with Care” fleshed out the classic cover with additional guitar. The petite singer added a heavy dose of electric organ on “Born Secular” to fill the room, but it was her soaring vocals that sent chills to fans’ hearts.
After a brief intermission, Lewis emerged to play largely from her latest album, The Voyager. A gentleman politely asked if it was OK to stand for “Just One of the Guys” and was soon joined by another man. The catalog was broken by a cover of the Shirelles’ “I Met Him on a Sunday,” performed a cappella by the trio. But the real treat was a deep dive into the Rilo Kiley days for the soul-infused “I Never,” which Lewis dedicated to the Cap’s most frequent artist, Phil Lesh. The oldie was paired amongst her most recent work with New York City band NAF (Nice as Fuck), on “Door.” Dueling guitar solos concluded the evening on the crowd pleasing “She’s Not Me,” and there was no doubt that 10 years later, the storied album holds up. —Sharlene Chiu
Tags: Beacon Theatre, Ben Gibbard, Bright Eyes, Capitol Theatre, Jenny Lewis, Live Music, M. Ward, Music, Nice as Fuck, Phil Lesh, Rabbit Fur Coat, Review, Rilo Kiley, Sharlene Chiu, Shirelles, the Postal Service, The Voyager, Troop Beverly Hills, Watson Twins
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Passenger – Roulette – August 4, 2016
Hailing from the Blighty seaside town of Brighton, Mike Rosenberg was born to be a singer-songwriter. Not finishing school, he spent a few years busking in England and Australia. And although his band broke up seven years ago, he continues to perform under the name Passenger. Vividly heartbreaking lyrics anchored his breakout song, “Let Her Go,” catapulting him into worldwide fame in 2012. For his upcoming fall release, Young as the Morning Old as the Sea, the Brit traveled to New Zealand to record in Neil Finn’s studio. Rosenberg was inspired by the vast landscape—and Iceland—which inspired tales of relationships and passing time. To preview his latest material, Rosenberg chose to play select intimate venues ahead of the release, and on Thursday evening at Roulette in Brooklyn, the storyteller graced a sold-out crowd. He mentioned that when his career began, he wanted to play a big venue, but now it was a treat to play a smaller one and that it was refreshing to return to a setting where people weren’t just there to hear that one hit.
Fans were feverish from the moment Rosenberg stepped onstage, opening with two from his forthcoming album, “The Long Road” and the title track. The latter elicited cheers for the ad-libbed lyric “I wanna feel a New York winter.” Throughout the performance, the audience was rapt in awe with just the creaking of the floorboards and an occasional cough competing with Rosenberg’s lilting voice. A ringing cell phone was quickly chided, and folks outside the hall echoing into the venue were greeted with a rousing “SHUT UP!” The former busker thankfully declared, “You’ve got my back.” Indeed they did. Infusing another New York City reference, he told the story of his struggle to quit smoking and encountering a man with lung cancer, which inspired “Riding to New York.”
Halfway into the set, participation was brimming as people joined in to sing “I Hate,” which delighted Rosenberg. Sadly, not everyone recognized his sly interlude of the Game of Thrones theme before he barreled into the breakout single, “Let Her Go.” To woo the singer back for an encore, fans erupted with the chorus from “Scare Away the Dark.” He did return to treat his most loyal followers with a cover of Simon & Garfunkel’s “The Boxer” and fan favorite “Holes.” Needless to say, when Passenger returns in the spring to play the Beacon Theatre, a good number of last night’s audience members will be in attendance. —Sharlene Chiu
Tags: Beacon Theatre, Brooklyn, Game of Thrones, Live Music, Mike Rosenberg, Music, Neil Finn, New York City, Passenger, Review, Roulette, Roundhead Studios, Sharlene Chiu, Simon & Garfunkel, Young as the Morning Old as the Sea
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Jason Isbell (alongside Shovels & Rope) hits the Upper West Side twice this week to play the Beacon Theatre on Thursday and Friday. Both shows sold out (very) quickly, but The House List is giving away two tickets to see the very recent Grammy winner on Friday night. Don’t have tickets but want to go? Try to Grow a Pair. It’s easy. Just fill out the form below, making sure to include your full name, e-mail address, which show you’re trying to win tickets to (Jason Isbell, 2/26) and a brief message explaining your favorite song on his fifth stellar solo release, Something More Than Free. Eddie Bruiser, who loves the entire album, will notify the winner by Friday. Good luck.
Tags: Beacon Theatre, Contest, Eddie Bruiser, Free Tickets, Grow a Pair, Jason Isbell, Shovels & Rope, Something More Than Free
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Jenny Lewis – Beacon Theatre – February 4, 2016
Track-by-track celebrations of iconic albums have a way of turning into respectful museum visits: look, nod, appreciate the graceful aging, shrug. So perhaps the most remarkable thing about Jenny Lewis’s salute to Rabbit Fur Coat at the Beacon Theatre last night is how immediate, how engrossing and how alive and un-nostalgic it felt. The exceptionally charming Lewis was already indie-rock royalty by the time she joined hands with the Watson Twins and M. Ward for Rabbit, but to hear the reunited ensemble—Lewis and the Watsons, with Ward ducking in and out to color and shade certain songs—tackled its 12 selections a decade later suggested even greater layers of depth to a collection of music that was already cavernous.
Rabbit Fur Coat is an album you take your time with, and it’s interesting to note how many critics back in 2006 were respectfully pleased but not gushing in their initial praise. The LP has soul, country and antsy indie-rock shades. It has lovely bluegrass-style harmonies. It sounds pastoral, almost twee, but you listen through that initial reaction and you hear the humor, the melancholy and the haunted aspects. Flow-wise, the show was the same as it’s been all tour: performing Rabbit Fur Coat start to finish, followed by an intermission and then a second set drawing on other Lewis albums, Rilo Kiley material and a stray cover or two. Dressing up the Beacon Theatre beyond its usual majestic charms seems like gilding the lily, but not in this case: warm purples, vibrant, sparkly outfits, rainbow-colored and wave-textured this and that.
From the start, the mood was spiritual. Lewis and the twins walked to the stage, singing “Run Devil Run,” using the Beacon’s natural acoustics, and then proceeded to balance the sometimes-overlapping tones of the church and the barroom, whether in Ward providing spindly guitar on “Happy” (and the audience joining a sing-along during its reprise eight songs later), or the spooked waltz of the title track played with the barest accompaniment, or the country-gallop-’60s-girl-group-psychedelic-folk mélange of “You Are What You Love,” or the now-famous cover of the Traveling Wilburys’ “Handle with Care” that infused more Laurel Canyon soul into the original while keeping its edges rightfully burnt. As ever, Lewis sang lines like “Are we killing time?/ Are we killing each other?” like they couldn’t come from anyone else: sad, philosophical, determined, faintly wry, probably all of those things. The standouts among Lewis and team’s superb second frame included “I Never,” a beloved Rilo Kiley number, and “Red Bull and Hennessy,” a newer tune that’s been rightfully compared to Fleetwood Mac. By the end, it was a choose-your-own-highlight” kind of night—the best kind, with much to consider.
—Chad Berndtson | @cberndtson
Photos courtesy of Jeremy Ross | jeremypross.com
Tags: Beacon Theatre, Bo Koster, Carl Broemel, Jeremy Ross, Jim James, Live Music, Music, My Morning Jacket, Patrick Hallahan, Photos, The Waterfall, Tom Blankenship
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Sturgill Simpson – Beacon Theatre – September 19, 2015
In this era of social media, it seems like every day is some weird, made-up holiday. Over the weekend, I think we “celebrated” National Cheeseburger Day and Talk Like a Pirate Day. After taking in Sturgill Simpson’s rollicking set at the Beacon Theatre, I believe everyone was ready to declare Saturday Cosmic Country Day, with Simpson the patron saint. Having just recently won Artist of the Year and Song of the Year at the Americana Awards, Simpson was more than ready to make the leap to the Broadway stage as the lights went down and a kind-of-spacey ambient music filled the room, the band silhouetted against the red curtain and the crowd rearing to go. As the curtain went up, the music took shape into “Some Days,” everyone in the audience hopped to their feet and a marathon evening of outlaw country revival was underway.
During the first couple of songs it wasn’t hard to make the connection to those Beacon Theatre stalwarts, the Allman Brothers Band, with Simpson’s crack band stretching the bounds of their intergalactic country with sharp rock and roll climbs, guitarist Laur Joamets delighting with his skillful and passionate playing. “Life of Sin” played the piano and organ off each other as Simpson howled, “Sex is cheap and talk is overrated,” as the crowd hollered and danced along. After the barn-blazer opening, the band cooled down and let Simpson and his sweet glazed-donut voice take over. On songs like “Water in a Well,” he simply filled the room with his vocals, perhaps a sly wink when singing, “Someday if I’m on a big stage.” During these quieter moments, the audience soaked it up in silence.
The set bounced around between the rowdy and the soulful, with the highlights in those spaces in between where the perfect balance of Simpson’s singing and the band’s playing scratched every itch. Emotional passages from Simpson made way for longer jam-outs for the band, Joamets adding that cosmic twang and awe-inspiring licks as the band played along. It’s no surprise that the biggest cheers of the night came when the whole band was introduced. At several points, the set seemed to be drawing to a close, like after a milking-it, soulful organ-fueled cover of “You Don’t Miss Your Water,” made famous by Otis Redding, or the tripped-out, crowd-pleasing “Turtles All the Way Down” or the late-set section of covers of old-school country from Lefty Frizzell and Terry Allen. But each time, Simpson and Co. threw another shovel of coal on the fire and kept on chugging. Finally, after almost two hours, they finished with “Listening to the Rain,” the band dropping into their rock-out cover of T. Rex’s “The Motivator,” a bit of Americana garage rock just in case the audience hadn’t gotten the memo yet about what holiday it was.
—A. Stein | @Neddyo
Tags: Aaron Stein, Allman Brothers Band, Beacon Theatre, Laur Joamets, Lefty Frizzell, Live Music, Music, Otis Redding, Review, Sturgill Simpson, T. Rex, Terry Allen
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