Sunday, September 30, 2007

Morrissey at the Santa Barbara Bowl

Santa Barbara is close to Los Angeles but not that close. Some unexpected traffic at the 405 and 101 freeway greatly delayed my arrival into Santa Barbara for Morrissey. The Santa Barbara Bowl is a splendid venue that occasionally hosts some superb concerts. Some of the shows I have caught at the Santa Barbara Bowl include The Smashing Pumpkins, Morrissey in 2002 and The Strokes. The important thing to note about the Santa Barbara Bowl is that they run on time because of a noise ordinance in the city. Morrissey was singing away at 8:00 sharp.

I arrived in time to hear the fleeting notes of "First of The Gang To Die". Only later did I find out that I missed "Stop Me If You Think You've Heard This One Before". Luckily I have a few more Morrissey shows to go and I know the traffic patterns out to the Hollywood Palladium very well. Morrissey sounded as good as ever as he crooned through the yet to be released "That's How People Grow Up". Boz Boorer(Guitars) was playing a red Les Paul Jr. Double cutaway that provided the lush chords on the song.

Besides "Vauxhall & I", one of my favorite releases from Morrissey is "Beethoven Was Deaf" which is an import live recording of his show in Paris from the Your Arsenal tour. I was reminded of this when the band kicked into "Sister, I'm A Poet". The version of the song was different compared to "Beethoven Was Deaf" in that Boz was providing a deep phaser effect as the undercurrent of the song. I felt the trip up to Santa Barbara was already worth it. "Why Don't You Find Out For Yourself?" was next and I have to admit this song is in the top five of ultimate Morrissey songs. It had a slight country vibe to the song and Solomon Walker (Bass) did a splendid job on the upright bass.

Morrissey then proceeded to introduce all the members of the band saving Boz Boorer for the end. The upright bass was put to task as they entered into another track off "Beethoven Was Deaf" entitled "The Loop" which is also the B-Side to "Everyday Is Like Sunday". Morrissey was banging the tambourine on his hip throughout the song and incorporating his patented microphone line whips across the stage. "Stretch Out And Wait" was another surprise as Morrissey emphasized the "No No No children" parts in the songs to the general laughter of the die hard Morrissey fans.

It was soon chat with Morrissey time as he explained how he usually wakes at the crack of noon and handed the microphone to some audience members with one female fan telling him he looked and sounded gorgeous. A new song that I had not heard yet was "I'm Throwing My Arms Around Paris". This song was a mid tempo rocker with Boz playing a fast paced acoustic riff. Boz showed off his skills by performing a clarinet solo in the middle of the song that worked out well. "The Boy With The Thorn In His Side" was warmly received by the crowd and had Boz showing off a sparkling Gretsch White Falcon guitar. "Let Me Kiss You" signaled the loss of Morrissey's first shirt into the crowd.

"Tomorrow" was another pleasant reward. It was performed at the same upbeat tempo as the recorded version and I noticed a capo on the Jessie Tobias's (Guitars) guitar. Morrissey played another new song "One Day Goodbye Will Be Farewell" that had Solomon up at the front of the stage pounding out a nice fuzz bassline with a trumpet line provided by Mikey Farrell (Keyboards). Mikey Farrell moved over to his Moog Voyager to lay down a bubbly keyboard sequence that bled into "I Like You". Mikey also switched to the trombone for a brief spell during "I Just Want To See The Boy Happy".

When Morrissey came back out for the encore, he was wearing the black "Je Suis Morrissey" shirt that only he can pull off. The band closed the evening with a smoking rendition of "Irish Blood, English Heart" that had a few more seconds of delay on the guitars then I previously remembered. If Morrissey plays the same set every night I wouldn't complain because it featured so many of my favorite songs. With 10 nights at the Palladium though, I hope he mixes it up.

Morrissey Setlist for the Santa Barbara Bowl (9/29/07)

"Stop Me If You Think You've Heard This One Before"
"First Of The Gang To Die"
"You Have Killed Me"
"That's How People Grow Up"
"Sister, I'm A Poet"
"Why Don't You Find Out For Yourself?"
"The Loop"
"Stretch Out And Wait"
"I'm Throwing My Arms Around Paris"
"The Boy With The Thorn In His Side"
"Let Me Kiss You"
"One Day Goodbye Will Be Farewell"
"I Like You"
"All You Need is Me"
"Everyday Is Like Sunday"
"I Just Want To See The Boy Happy"
"In The Future When All's Well"
"Dear God, Please Help Me"
"How Soon Is Now?"
"Irish Blood, English Heart"

Ladytron at Hollywood and Highland

Public Transportation officials must have seen a dramatic spike in usage on September 27th as Ladytron was headlining the Public Displays of Affection series at Hollywood and Highland. This event was sponsored by Global Inheritance and required attendees to have a metro ticktet to enter the concert area.

Great Northern

It was a crystal clear evening that served as perfect backdrop to the lush melodies of Great Northern as twilight descended. Great Northern has so many elements going on in their live show that I was impressed to hear a well mixed set by the band given that they were playing outdoors. It was interesting to see the number people shopping in the mall stop dead in their tracks to watch their set. I still highly recommend you purchase their debut cd "Trading Twilight For Daylight" as it will be in my top 10 releases of 2007.


The plaza at Hollywood and Highland was completely stuffed when Ladytron graced the stage. The lights had dimmed in the courtyard area and the red lights behind Ladytron flashed in hypnotic pulses as the opening notes of "High Rise" filled the night air. The crowd was very enthusiastic and dancing along as the security barricade started to buckle. I managed to get a bird eye's shot of Ladytron playing and saw that Reuben Wu (Synths) had a Electro Harmonix Holy Grail Reverb hooked up to his Korg MS2000 along with a Vox Cooltron Bulldog Distortion. Daniel Hunt had a Line 6 Delay pedal and a couple of E-bows in his guitar setup. "True Mathematics" and "Evil" sound even better live when compared to the recorded versions on "Light & Magic" and I like the recorded versions a lot. I didn't think they would play a long set but after tabulating 13 songs, I have to tip my hat to Ladytron for playing a good sized set. As the last keyboard notes of "Destroy Everything You Touch" rang out, I was hoping that they finish the new album soon so I can see them again.

Ladytron Setlist at Hollywood and Highland (9/27/07)
"High Rise"
"True Mathematics"
"Soft Power"
"Cracked LCD"
"International Dateline"
"Fighting In Built Up Areas"
"Last One Standing"
"Destroy Everything You Touch"

Ladytron at 4th & B

If I were to list all the bands that I have seen multiple times this year, Great Northern and Ladytron would be near the top of the list. I saw Ladytron a number of times when they opened for Nine Inch Nails on their Spring U.K. tour of 2007. Great Northern has been touring fervently across the States and played a large number of local shows.

Reuben from Ladytron

Ladytron were in the midst of recording their follow up to "Witching Hour" when they received an offer to open for the Pet Shop Boys at the Hollywood Bowl. Unfortunately, the Pet Shop Boys canceled their appearance at the Hollywoood Bowl leaving Ladytron in the cold. This unfortunate event was a boon to Ladytron fans as they announced a few local shows.

Great Northern

Great Northern were up first and I noticed was Solon Bixler (Guitars/Vocals) had traded in his Fender Telecaster for a sleek Gibson Hollowbody guitar. Since I have seen them many times, I would say the guitar change gave the music an overall warmer tone. It also allowed for Solon to easily incorporate feedback swells into the songs. Rachel Stolte (Keyboards/Vocals) and Solon opened their set with the wistful ballad "Just A Dream". Great Northern played a well received set with selections of their album "Trading Twilight For Daylight". They will be embarking on a tour across the states with Robbers On High Street.


I have seen Ladytron many times this year and I never get tired of seeing their live show. I guess part of the excitement of seeing Ladytron is the multiple keyboards on stage as coupled with the soaring voices of Helen Marnie and Mira Aroyo. Their latest album "Witching Hour" features a healthy dose of keyboards, guitars and skillled songwriting. The last time Ladytron stopped by San Diego they played the Belly Up.

I was surprised again in the equipment department as Helen had traded in her Korg MS2000 for a Roland Juno-G. Reuben Wu (Keyboards) was on the side of the stage controlling his Korg MS2000 along with a Korg MS20. Daniel Hunt (Keyboards/Guitar) was showcasing his Roland affair as he played a Juno and a Roland SH-201.

"Soft Power" sounded excellent with Helen extending out her "Aaah" vocal part of the song. Helen told the crowd they only want you when your seventeen before launching into the number named song. "Sugar" sounded different versus the prior times that I have seen them and I would attribute this to some of the Roland keyboard effects added to the song. "Cracked LCD" also sounded different in a good way with various synth bell pad sounds and the usual complementing sultry vocals of Helen and Mira. The encore for the night was an extended version of "Last One Standing" and a dance inciting version of "Destroy Everything You Touch". Their stunning set reminded me of why I drive down to San Diego to catch shows.

Mezzanine Owls and The Monolators at the Echo

After seeing the Editors on Monday, I felt I needed a rest on Tuesday therefore I passed on seeing the Arctic Monkeys at the Palladium. My plans of much needed rest were promptly squashed when I saw that LA Underground and Rock Insider were celebrating the release of the Monolators new EP "You Look Good On A Train" along the Mezzanine Owls, The Amateurs, and Summer Darling.

Summer Darling

Summer Darling invoked hazy memories of the quieter Pavement songs and the earnestness of Death Cab For Cutie. Ben Heywood (Guitars/Vocals) gently strummed on his Fender Telecaster as Dan Rossiter (Guitars) layed down counter melodies. Heather Heywood (Bass) provided the smooth background vocals while playing her Fender Bass. They are working on a new album to follow up their self released debut "I Know You--I Never Knew You". It was a good way to start the evening.

The Amateurs

The Amateurs have to be sponsored by Fender or will be soon. I was jealous seeing the small treasure chest of Fender guitars which included a Fender Jagstang, Mustang, and Jaguar baritone on stage. They put all these guitars into the mix, as Keith Waggoner (Guitars/Vocals) led the band through some easy on the ears organic music. Shannon De Jong (Violin) added a pleasant color to the band's sonic tapestry with her skillful violin playing. The Amateurs are without a bass player which left Anthony Puglisi (Guitars) to create inventive guitar lines or play bass lines on the Jaguar Baritone. They are currently unsigned but have a self released album entitled "Speak Easy".

Mezzanine Owls

Mezzanine Owls have been a favorite of mine ever since I saw them at Little Radio . I have listened to their album many times, but their live show continues to blossom and their new songs continue to impress me. I still highly recommend you buy their album "Echoes". They played another solid set that garnered a large ovation from the crowd. Jonathan Zeitlin (Guitars/Keyboards) added a few extra bursts of feedback on some of the songs that did not go unnoticed to the attentive ear. They are currently working on an EP to be released early next year. I hope they get it done earlier so I can give my friends some presents for the impending holiday season.

The Monolators

The Monolators didn't fool around as they burst into "Weaker Self" off their newly released EP "You Look Good On The Train". Eli Chartkoff (Vocals/Guitars) had a towering stage presence as he alternated between his Rickenbacker and Fender guitars. "You Look Good On The Train" played liked an ode to The Pixies crossed with some surf guitar work. "Eagle Fighting Zebra" had a tribal drumming vibe provided by Mary Chartkoff and includes a shout out to Mr. T's Bowl. Jax from Rock Insider also managed to jump onstage with the Monolators making good use of her shiny Fender Jazz bass. They have a couple of upcoming shows including an appearance at the Eagle Rock Music Festival with the Pity Party.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Editors at the Wiltern Theatre

The Editors played a short but sweet set at Street Scene in San Diego. I had another concert conflict to contend with as Air was playing the Grove in Anaheim or the Editors were playing the Wiltern. It was a close call but I opted for the Editors because I have been enjoying their latest release "An End Has A Start".
Ra Ra Riot

Ra Ra Riot from Syracuse, NY opened the evening strongly with their blend of Arcade Fire and Broken Social Scene indie anthems with a sprinkle of the Rentals and the silky cello playing reminiscent of Sea Ray . They have soldiered on overcoming the unfortunate passing of their drummer John Pike earlier this year. They have a self titled EP release with 6 songs that I will be investigating.

Biffy Clyro

Biffy Clyro had my attention before they started when I heard the menacing distortion of Simon Neil's (Guitars/Vocals) Fender Stratocaster guitar being soundchecked. I almost dug out my ticket stub to make sure I didn't go to the wrong concert. When Simon appeared on stage, he had a slight resemblance to Charles Manson with his long hair and beard. Biffy Clyro came to crush the audience as they played a heavy set that could easily have them opening for Mastodon or Machine Head. Their latest offering "Puzzle" was produced by GGGarth who is famous for his work with Rage Against The Machine. It would be easy to throw the Nirvana reference point out to my readers but I hear some Jimmy Eat World and Sunny Day Real Estate influences with a dab of Slayer. They will be back opening for the Queens of The Stone Age on their East Coast tour.


After cleaning out the blood in my ears from Biffy Clyro, my hearing was finally returning to equilibrium. My hearing didn't last long as The Editors turned it up to 10 with a scintillating version of "Bones" that showcased Chris Urbanowicz (Guitars) rapid fire tremolo picking on his Rickenbacker guitar. Tom Smith (Vocals/Guitar) was a ball of energy pacing across the stage with various gesticulations when he wasn't playing his black Gibson hollowbody guitar. The crowd cheered loudly when all the band dropped out of "Blood" except Chris weaving an anthemic guitar line. Tom enthusiastically told the crowd they looked lovely as they kept the pace up with a blistering version of "An End Has A Start". The Editors have a sharp live show and I recommend you download their live show from Lollapalooza in 2006 to get an idea of how much bigger their sound is live. I had a direct view to also see Ed Lay (Drums) pound away on his drums and interlock very well with Russell Leetch (Bass) and his Rickenbacker bass. The Editors played a new unreleased track called "Banging Heads" that opened with Tom playing a piano riff that accerlerated quickly with driving drums and Chris's consistent tremolo picking. "All Sparks" was spectacular and is a great riff to play along on guitar. Tom's voice sounded especially sharp during "The Racing Rats" as he easily hit all the notes during song while playing the piano effortlessly. "Munich" was started off with Tom slowly singing the opening line before the band came crashing in to bring the song up to its fast pace tempo. "You Are Fading" featured a mini drum solo from Ed during the breakdown of the song. They closed out the evening with a rousing versions of "Smokers Outside The Hospital Doors" and "Fingers In The Factories". I hope they come back to the States soon.

Editors Setlist at the Wiltern Theatre (9/24/07)
"An End Has A Start"
"The Weight Of The World"
"Escape The Nest"
"Banging Heads"
"All Sparks"
"When Anger Shows"
"The Racing Rats"
"Open Your Arms"
"You Are Fading"
"Smokers Outside The Hospital Doors"
"Fingers In The Factories"

San Diego Street Scene Day 2 (9/23/07)

The Crowd...sort of


The Editors were a bright spot at Street Scene in 2006 and retain that distinction in 2007. I was disappointed that they had a mini twenty five minute slot on the main stage and would have preferred them on a smaller stage but with a longer set time. The other conflict was that The Album Leaf were playing the same time on another stage. Tom Smith (Vocals/Guitar) was full of energy as he emphatically cut into the slicing riff of "Bullets". Chris Urbanowicz (Guitars) was tremelo picking away on his black Rickenbacker guitar laying the down the contrast to the baritone vocals from Tom. Russell Leetch was plowing away on his black Rickenbacker bass keeping all the band members locked in. Tom snuck behind his piano as he tapped out the opening chords to "The Racing Rats". "Munich" was received very well and many of the audience members clapped in time. "Smokers Outside Hospital Doors" is one of favorite songs off their latest release "An End Has A Start" and was perfect as Chris nailed all the tremolo picking parts of the song. The band alternated old song with new song as they exceeded their twenty five minute limit by five minutes by sneaking in "Fingers In The Factories" to close out their set. I was relieved that I had tickets to see them the next night at the Wiltern.

The Editors Setlist for the Coors Amphitheatre at San Diego Street Scene (9/23/07)
"An End Has A Start"
"The Racing Rats"
"Smokers Outside Hospital Doors"
"Fingers In The Factories"

The Album Leaf

After the closing of the Editors set, I ran over to the other stage to see San Diego's The Album Leaf. I have enjoyed The Album Leaf ever since they opened for Sigur Ros many years ago. I even went to Arizona to see Sigur Ros and The Album Leaf for a weekend followed by Sevendust the next night at Nita's Hideaway in 2003. Jimmy Lavalle (Keyboards/Vocals) has an elaborate keyboard setup that involves a Moog Voyager and a vintage Fender Rhodes electric piano with a MicroKorg on top. I missed most of their set but did get to hear "On Your Way" from their album "In A Safe Place". "Wherever I Go"off their latest album "Into The Blue Again" sounded excellent with Drew Andrews (Guitars) weaving hypnotic guitar lines against the backdrop of the violin and keyboards. It reminded me that I need to see them in a small club with the visuals.

Louis XIV

Just a few months ago, I saw Louis XIV at the OC fair opening for She Wants Revenge. The sound was mixed a lot better this time at the Coors Amphitheatre and they played a solid set. They had augmented their line up with a violin player who also played some additional keyboards. Louis XIV just released a new digital EP entitled "The Distances From Everyone To You" which has a cover of Flash Gordon's theme on it. Jason Hill (Vocals/Guitars) seemed excited to play a hometown show and was stomping across the stage. They played an assortment of songs including "There's A Traitor In The Room", "Finding Out True Love Is Blind", "Paper Doll", and "Pledge of Allegiance".

Arctic Monkeys

I was disappointed that Air was slotted against the Arctic Monkeys but opted for the supercharged angular brit pop rock of the Arctic Monkeys. After seeing their set, I remembered how good their show at the Troubadour was. The Arctic Monkeys wasted no time getting the audience moving after playing a new instrumental song by roaring into "This House Is A Circus". I am still amazed how well Alex Turner (Vocals/Guitars) can deliver his rapid fire vocals and pound away on his guitar. Jamie Cook (Guitars) was adding the other knife like guitar stabs with Gibson hollowbody and backing Hiwatt amplifiers. Alex Turner was playing his Fender guitar and had a Bad Cat amplifier. There was a little too much reverb on Alex's voice but the band was really tight and the fans in the pit were bouncing around. The crowd reacted especially strong to the double shot of "Fake Tales Of San Francisco" and "I Bet You Look Good On The Dance Floor". The reverb laden chords of "Do Me A Favour" were even dreamier compared to the recorded version of the song and Matt Helders (Drums) were the driving force behind the song. The Arctic Monkeys played a new song "Nettles" that featured a few tempo changes and a fuzzy lead guitar riff. They closed their set with "If You Were There, Beware" but hinted they would be back in 2008.

Arctic Monkeys Setlist for the Coors Amphitheatre at San Diego Street Scene (9/23/07)
"Wagon On the Way To Stripey Tent"
"This House Is A Circus"
"Still Take You Home"
"Dancing Shoes"
"From Ritz to The Rubble"
"Fake Tales Of San Francisco"
"I Bet You Look Good On The Dance Floor"
"When The Sun Goes Down"
"Do Me A Favour"
"The View From The Afternoon"
"If You Were There, Beware"

The Killers

The Killers are back on tour after taking a mini break from their large arena tour of the States in support of "Sam's Town". They will be releasing a new B-sides album entitled "Sawdust" which features their cover of Joy Division's "Shadowplay" that ruled when I saw them at Staples Center . A gigantic screen was hoisted across the stage that showed a cartoon of Bugs Bunny and Yosemite Sam prior to explosion of confetti and the soaring into "Sam's Town". Brandon Flowers(Vocals/Synths) was all over the stage and on top of his piano at various points of the evening. He has effectively hidden his keyboards with a slew of antlers on his keyboard stand but last time I checked he was still playing his Nord Lead 2 and MicroKorg. They ran through the first three tracks of "Sam's Town" and showed no signs of rust. The opening synth pads of "Bones" rang throughout the amphitheatre and sounded epic. The shrill of the screams from the females in the audience signified that they approved of the selection of "Somebody Told Me" next on the setlist. "Smile Like You Mean It" is one of my favorite tracks from Hot Fuss and I can duplicate the sythn lines on my Korg Legacy collection Polysix strings preset. It was amazing to hear the crowd roar during the synth breakdown of "Jenny Was A Friend Of Mine". Never underestimate the power of synthesizers. The opening swell of the keyboards to "Read My Mind" led to a crowd clap along. Brandon ended "My List" with a little segway into Frankie Valli's "Can't Take My Eyes Off You". The crowd had to participate again for the uplifting closer "All These Things I've Done".

The Killers Setlist for the Coors Amphitheatre at San Diego Street Scene (9/23/07)
"Sam's Town"
"When You Were Young"
"Somebody Told Me"
"Smile Like You Mean It"
"Jenny Was A Friend Of Mine"
"Uncle Jonny"
"This River Is Wild"
"Read My Mind"
"Mr. Brightside"
"My List"
"For Reasons Unknown"
"All These Things I've Done"

San Diego Street Scene 2007 Day 1 (9/22/07)

I was tired from catching 8 different bands in the last 3 days to make it early to the San Diego Street Scene. The more I look at the line up for Street Scene 2006, the more I realize how good it was. The 2006 line up had Tool, The Editors, Mew, Bloc Party, Queens of The Stone Age, Bad Religion, She Wants Revenge, The Subways, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Wolfmother and The Shins.

Van Stone

I pulled up to parking lot and walked in to catch the magnificent Van Stone. Van Stone is a riot. A laugh riot that is. Imagine if a band combined the theatric elements of GWAR and comedic genius of Spinal Tap. That is the essence of Van Stone. With song titles that I dare not type out here, Van Stone summoned every rock cliche from the 1980's and had my friends and I laughing hysterically. One of the guitarists is Travis Draft who was on Buzzkill from MTV back in the day. Van Stone was throwing head bands out into the crowd and even prefaced one of their songs by unfurling a Subway banner stating the song was sposored by Subway. Just when things couldn't get any funnier, Randy Van Stone (Lead Vocals) faked his death on stage as they summoned the "paramedics" to take Randy away on a stretcher. Van Stone play their swan song on Oct 12th at the Roxy. I would probably be there if it wasn't in the midst of my Morrissey marathon.

Rabbit In The Moon

Rabbit In The Moon were the darkhorse and saving grace of Saturday's Street Scene. Based out of Tampa and Los Angeles, Rabbit in The Moon consists of a David Christophere (Keyboards/DJ/Sampler) and Bunny (Vocals/Performance Artist). Bunny first came out in a full suit that was covered in small christmas lights. The music was a hypnotic, pulsating mesh of Breakbeat, House, Techno, and Electronica. It was an excellent auditory/sensory experience that made me think they should have or could open for Daft Punk. Some of the other interesting costume changes included a spacesuit outfit that resembled Buzz Lightyear and a mad scientist outfit. Rabbit In the Moon did a pulsating cover of David Bowie's "Let's Dance" that had the whole tent going nuts. They are playing Las Vegas during the Vegoose night shows but I already have tickets to see the Shins at the Hard Rock Hotel. I hate concert conflicts.


"Muse Saves!" was the text message I got from my friend right before Muse came on. I was feeling a little underwhelmed by the whole Street Scene experience and was relaying that message to my friend which garned the above response. My friend was right as Muse gave another blistering performance albeit shortened compared to Irvine but retaining the energy level. I was fairly far back from the stage but got a full view of the screens and could really take in the light show and watch the LCD screens with all the different imagery. I felt nostalgic when the spaceship from the video game Galaga appeared on the screens along with various robots, spaceships, and aliens. Matt Bellamy (Guitar/Vocals) was tapping on his Korg Kaoss pad again during the solo for "Supermassive Black Hole". I also noticed that Matt had another Kaoss pad on his pedalboard as if the one built into his guitar wasn't enough. There is also a camera on Matt's microphone stand that would broadcast distorted images of Matt when he was singing. The band also broke into a Heavy Metal jam after "New Born". The crowd sang along loudly to "Time Is Running Out". A storm of feedback from Matt's guitar was immediately identified as coming from the Z Vex Fuzz Factory pedal. The night was capped with a sludge metal jam ending to "Stockholm Syndrome" with Matt kicking over his amp head and stood on top of his cab for dense waves of feedback. I can't wait till Vegoose. I will make the prediction now that Tom Morello comes out for a jam with Muse for Vegoose.

Muse Setlist for the Coors Amphitheatre San Diego Street Scene (9/29/07)
"Knights Of Cydonia"
"Map of the Problematique"
"Supermassive Black Hole"
"Butterflies & Hurricanes"
"Feeling Good"
"New Born"
"Time Is Running Out"
"Plug In Baby"
"Take a Bow"
"Stockholm Syndrome"