Tag Archives: Simon & Garfunkel

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Bear’s Den Leave Them Wanting More at The Bowery Ballroom

February 2nd, 2017

Bear’s Den – The Bowery Ballroom – February 1, 2017

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The British folk rock band Bear’s Den wrap gorgeous compositions with a searing banjo ribbon. It’s not a surprise that they supported fellow countrymen Mumford & Sons, as both share similar musical sensibilities. They’re also no strangers to road-tripping across America, having jumped in a Volkswagen Campervan to tour with Ben Howard, Nathaniel Rateliff and the Staves in 2014. In support of their sophomore release, Red Earth & Pouring Rain, the lads played to a sold-out Bowery Ballroom on a crisp Wednesday night. The balcony was overflowing with spectators, as folks could barely get on the floor. Although the evening featured songs from the recent release, special attention was paid to the faithful when the rarely sung and mostly back-cataloged “Sophie” was played acoustically as the audience came to a hauling silence.

Band leader Andrew Davie admitted it was likely their “second-oldest song,” and fans, new and old, were grateful. They erupted for “When You Break,” a favorite from Bear’s Den debut, Islands. A pause in the set carved time for guitarist Christof to make his traditional bottle-flip attempt. The suspense was thick as the water bottle flew in the air, and Davie bear-hugged his bandmate upon success before wailing the sea shanty “Auld Wives.” Christof strapped on the banjo for another favorite, “Above the Clouds of Pompeii,” as clapping hands and stomping feet revved up the band before they exited the stage.

There was little doubt they would not return for an encore, and they did with horn accompaniment for “Napoleon.” Davie, bassist Kevin Jones and Christof made their way into the crowd with only instruments on an acoustic rendition of “Gabriel.” Back onstage, Davie explained that throughout their tour they have been playing covers that were of local artists or about the city they were in. Simon & Garfunkel’s “The Only Living Boy in New York” checked off both those requirements. The evening wrapped up with the anthemic “Agape,” which was a fitting soundtrack to lead folks into the night and onto a new day. —Sharlene Chiu

 

 

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Passenger Previews New Material with Intimate Performance at Roulette

August 5th, 2016

Passenger – Roulette – August 4, 2016

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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

(Passenger plays the Beacon Theatre on 3/11.)

 

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Matt Nathanson Takes Rough Trade NYC for a Spin

October 7th, 2015

Matt Nathanson – Rough Trade NYC – October 6, 2015

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Music can encapsulate moments in time, and Matt Nathanson reminds me of my early adult life in San Francisco. I first discovered him more than a decade ago opening for Jewel during a holiday radio gig and started following him as he played local coffee shops to headlining various venues around town. What struck me most about his performances was his witty repartee with audience members and his ability to woo a room with his charms. That charm has landed him on bills alongside Kelly Clarkson, Train and Michael Franti. Furthermore, his folk pop has seeped into several television shows, from NCIS to The Vampire Diaries, not to mention his cover of James’ “Laid” for the American Wedding soundtrack. Nathanson released his ninth studio album, Show Me Your Fangs, last week and graced his local fans with a sold-out appearance at Rough Trade NYC last night.

In an acoustic affair, the affable singer and his sidekick guitarist Aaron Tap took the stage alongside a large wheel bearing a slew of song titles from the Nathanson catalog. Drawing me in quickly with nostalgia, the first song, “Kinks Shirt,” referenced a gal strolling in the City by the Bay. The evening was a good blend of new material and oldies from way, way back in the day. In fact, one of the oldest tracks, “New Coats and New Hats,” was a result of the first spin of the wheel. An unforgiving dealer of songs and a contentious item throughout the evening, the wheel only seemed to incite more requests. Compromises were made, like when the pointer stopped at “Modern Love” although one peg over would have suggested “Bent.” Nathanson found a happy medium playing both and threw in a little interlude into Counting Crows’ “Anna Begins” for the latter. A fan suggested a mashup of all his songs, but the singer-songwriter quickly demonstrated why it would be a bad idea, ad-libbing themes from sadness to not letting go, boarding school and years of therapy.

Although the audience wasn’t especially cognizant, Nathanson delivered a fitting cover of Simon & Garfunkel’s “The Only Living Boy in New York.” Continuing with the wheel madness, a fan hopped onstage to spin and pose à la Vanna White when it landed on another from the archives, “Amazing Again,” which had Nathanson reaching for his 12-string. He couldn’t help but rig the wheel to hit on “Answering Machine,” a much-requested song on the inception of a circular component of the tour. Nearing an almost-two-hour set, the remainder of the evening featured newer tracks, including “Giants,” “Washington State Fight Song” and the growing fan favorite “Bill Murray.” The man of the hour was deeply touched that his fans would yell and scream so passionately for his catalog. Unable to play everyone’s desired tunes, he was apologetic but certainly didn’t leave anyone unhappy. —Sharlene Chiu

 

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Bad Books Play Their Biggest Show to Date

July 15th, 2013

Bad Books – Webster Hall – July 12, 2013


As individuals and as a band, the members of Bad Books are no strangers to New York City. Singer Kevin Devine is from here, and he and the rest of his bandmates (also known as Manchester Orchestra) have played in just about every room this city has to offer. But Friday night at Webster Hall was the biggest local show Bad Books, formed in 2010, have played so far. Their shows are always loose and fun, and the often-silly relationship between cofrontmen Devine and Andy Hull was obvious as they busted out a Simon & Garfunkel–like version of the theme song to The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.

The rest of the set had that same sort of loose and carefree vibe, and the band clicked so well that they’re nothing but a total joy to watch perform. And now with two albums, Bad Books have found a way to mix a variety of kinds of songs, from steamy, seething rock, like “Please Move,” to quieter hold-your-breath tunes, like “Ambivalent Peaks.”

But it would be remiss not to mention that the opener, the Front Bottoms, whipped the sold-out crowd into a frenzy. Hailing from New Jersey, this former duo turned full band has been gaining an almost unstoppable momentum—not to mention a rapidly growing fan base. In what was also one of their biggest shows, the Front Bottoms made sure to get their time’s worth, going onstage early to bust out a wild set full of their signature sound while their fans put on a dizzying crowd-surfing display. It might seem difficult to find a unique band these days, but you need look no further than these guys. Their graduation into one of the bigger rooms in the city couldn’t have gone better. —Sean O’Kane

Photos courtesy of Sean O’Kane | seanokanephoto.com

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A Wild Night of Music at Mercury Lounge

July 3rd, 2013

Noah and the Megafauna/Jenny O. – Mercury Lounge – July 2, 2013


What do you call the Tuesday night of a three-day workweek? Regardless, it can throw the week off-kilter a bit, which is fine, because the music onstage last night at Mercury Lounge was also slightly off-kilter, in a very good way. Noah and the Megafauna headlined the early show, bringing to mind some sort of biblical flooding and pairs of animals crammed onto a boat. Well, there was plenty of cramming going on, with 10 musicians onstage, including a pair of guitars, a violin and a three-person reed section. The musical mix was about as motley as the ark must have been, a salad of gypsy jazz, Dixieland and baroque pop, surprisingly swinging and lots of fun. Definitely not the kind of sound the Merc is accustomed to, but maybe that was the point. Probably those left off the ark would’ve enjoyed it best. This was a set of songs for sinners, like “Moan All Night” with a dark, Arabian energy featuring solos from pretty much everyone. In between songs, the eponymous Noah sipped beer with one hand and did shots with the other, running the band like a mishmash jam session at a house party in ’30s Paris. After one slowed-down song in the middle of the show, things picked up with a series of exotic grooves, the band clicking on “On and On” amongst others.

The late-show headliner, Jenny O., is from Los Angeles by way of the “tri-state area,” which I believe is a euphemism for Long Island. Her music was a mélange of influences and styles, evoking Fleetwood Mac, Edie Brickell and Creedence Clearwater Revival throughout the set. She opened with “Learned My Lessons,” featuring a Simon & Garfunkel–feelin’ groovy vibe and followed it up with the dreamy, twangy title track off her wonderful new album, Automechanic. Jenny O. had a two-shots-and-two-tokes kind of giddiness going on, teetering a bit at the start, whether part of her thing or not. The band, dubbed the High Society, kept that precipice-dangling energy and focused it admirably. I was absolutely flummoxed when she announced a few songs later that this was actually her first time playing with them—and that they had only met a few hours earlier.

As the set unfolded, mostly with material off the new album, Jenny O. sharpened considerably, switching to electric guitar for some added ferocity. After a couple of solo acoustic numbers, including a cover of the Whigs’ “Rock and Roll Forever,” the show really got moving. “Come Get Me” was high-energy fun with a rocking guitar solo, and “Lazy Jane” was a highlight, the band tight as a veteran touring act and Jenny O. sounding like a slow-burning Stevie Nicks. The singer-songwriter’s voice was like a chameleon, her banter flavored with a mix of Southern, Los Angeles and New York accents, and her singing almost beautiful but absolutely enchanting. When the band exhausted all their prepared material, she returned for a solo encore, fulfilling the request for “Won’t Let You Leave” with her strongest vocal performance of the night and adding an unwound cover
of Paul Simon’s “Peace Like a River,” perfectly capping off this rare Thednesday night. —A. Stein

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Christopher Owens Lets His Music Talk for Him

January 23rd, 2013

Christopher Owens – The Bowery Ballroom – January 22, 2013


Maybe you’ve heard the fable of one Christopher Owens. Reared in the Children of God cult and later “rescued” by Texan oil tycoon Stanley Marsh III, Owens now resides in San Francisco, where he formed the recently disbanded Girls. As if his fortunes weren’t promising enough, he was announced as the face of the Yves Saint Laurent spring/summer campaign. And although he’s concluded his work with Girls, Owens’ solo album, Lysandre, remains confessional, telling the story of a French woman he fell in love with while on tour with his former band.

Playing his latest album completely in order last night, Owens shuffled onto the stage at The Bowery Ballroom with a band of seven. Parking himself in a seat, he wore a suit and tie for the occasion. As those in attendance held their breath for Owens’ first words, his simple “hey” would set the tone for the night. There was little chitchat, and in its place were the repetitive chords of “Lysandre’s Theme.” Bouncing from reflective narrative with “A Broken Heart” to upbeat “Here We Go Again,” Owens let his songs do the talking. He earnestly sang, “What if everybody just thinks I’m a phony/What if nobody ever gets it/Well, some people never get anything/And I shouldn’t care what people think” on “Love Is in the Ear of the Listener.” In response, onlookers offered shouts of encouragement. Singing pensively about the dissolution of his French romance on “Everywhere You Knew,” a lone lighter was raised in the crowd.

For the encore, Owens and Co. returned for a set of covers starting with the first song he ever learned to play, Cat Stevens’ “Wild World,” followed by Donovan’s “Lalena.” With the freezing temperatures, Simon & Garfunkel’s lyrics “Where the New York City winters aren’t bleeding me” from “The Boxer” were quite appropriate. Topping it off, Owens resurrected the Everly Brothers’ “Let It Be Me” and Bob Dylan’s “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right.” Flowers were passed to the front row and Owens pulled out his iPod to record the audience’s applause. This was a memorable evening for him as well as those who braved the arctic chill to hear him. —Sharlene Chiu

 

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