Tuesday, June 25, 2013

And this is what I found...

... at The Beat's closing-down sale. Four Marillion vinyls! "Real to Real" (recorded in Montreal, Canada, at at Leicester's DeMontfort Hall! My hometown Leicester!), "No-One Can" picture disc, "Kayleigh" 12-inch single, and "The Thieving Magpie" promotion double-album.

Oldies but goodies...

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Cody Simpson, Ryan Beatty and Before You Exit: Paradise Tour visits the Sacramento Community Theater, June 21st

I didn't quite know what to expect. Cody Simpson, "Paradise" tour; Aussie-surfer-dude-teen-hearthrob? Boy band music? Not my usual listening, not my usual show, not the sort of music I usually cover... but I waa intrigued. And  there I was. And you know what? Huge fun!!!! I really did enjoy the evening... and the audience? Wow. I think they'll remember it the rest of their lives.

Cody Simpson and band

All of the acts: under twenty years of age. All of the audience: same, apart from a few parents scattered through the theater. Really nice venue for the show--last time I'd been there, it was to see a symphony orchestra playing Zappa. Seriously. Good acoustics, good seating, great view from every seat, and nice people on staff. And the show started on time and finished at an hour that didn't have us all turning into pumpkins. Brilliant!

Before You Exit

From the moment the ear-splitting girly-squeals started (first act, Before You Exit, playing their first song) right through to the leaving the theatre through masses of young women and their parental chaperones crowded at the escape-route-back-exit of Sacramento's Community Theater waiting for another glimpse, another moment with their heroes, I thoroughly enjoyed myself. And so did, absolutely, the audience, who knew all the songs and were all very-much in love.

These are young stars in-the-making. And while Cody Simpson is all of sixteen years old, he has fans who have been following him for three years and more... almost a veteran but with a full long life ahead. Cody's act mixes high-engergy dances with slower, gentle acoustics, and it's a well-balanced act. It's all music and live; good backing band, not tape loops. Prior to his arrival on stage, the audience is given a countdown-by-video; sneak peeks of backstage, "15 minutes to go!!!", a video of Alli Simpson's song "Why I'm Single" (which sounded much better than the version that's on YouTube)... ("Five minutes to go!!!")... until the countdown ended, Cody appeared in a cloud of smoke at the top of the stairs... and his show began.

Part way through the show, Cody serenades a girl brought onstage from the audience. I think she said her name was Hannah (please contact me if you have her correct name). Very, very cute. And how the audience all wanted to be the chosen one!!! ("I love you Cody!", someone was shouting, "I love you!)

Cody Simpson and Hannah

I wonder... what exactly is it that makes one young singer such a teenage hero? Is it the self-launched career and the young start, is it the songs, Cody's voice, is it good management and marketing, is it Cody's surfer's physique or is it just that certain je-ne-sais-quoi that has all these beautiful young ladies reaching to touch his hand? Whatever... Cody has a lot of fans, millions of Twitter followers all begging him to follow-them-back, and no doubt at all, a big-selling album about to be released ("Surfers Paradise", release date in the USA July 16th.

(You don't clap at one of these shows, no matter how much you are enjoying it. You scream. Remember the Beatles, Michael Jackson? Same idea. I found that hard to get my brain around... wanted to show appreciation, but screaming at my age doesn't seem quite... right. So I clapped, and felt out-of-place. Oh well.)

Ryan Beatty, Sacramento, 21 June 2013

I really did enjoy the show. (Though I did have to ask myself which is safer for photographers: the pit at a Deftones gig, with heavy-guy fans throwing themselves over the barrier, on the edges of the mosh pit at Dillinger Escape Plan when Greg jumps into the crowd... or in the middle of the VIP area full of squealing happy girls at a Cody Simpson show. All different, but none without risk to person and equipment!)

NOTE: several of the final dates of Cody Simpson's Paradise tour have just been cancelled: he'll be joining Justin Beiber for his tour. Tickets are being refunded for the cancelled shows--and I bet his fans will be clamouring to see the Beiber/Simpson gigs.

More photos can be found on Flickr but please read about copyright before you cut-and-paste any Alison Toon/Toon's Tunes photos you find on this website or on Flickr or elsewhere... If you want to share, use the "share" buttons instead. Then we are all happy!

More photos from the concert, click on these links to go to the photo galleries: Cody Simpson, Ryan Beatty, and Before You Exit.

Cody Simpson, Sacramento

Cody Simpson, performing at Sacramento's Community Theatre tonight. More photos and a review tomorrow... I know there are a lot of young ladies still awake tonight after the show, so this one is for you.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

The Beat, Sacramento record store, is closing down. Sigh.

Just saw the news that The Beat is closing, at least in it's physical, walk-in-off-the-street form. Makes me sad. They always have a wonderful selection of vinyls...

31 years in mid-town Sacramento. So many people here grew up with The Beat as a part of their music education.


Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Street Urchinz, "Dissolve"

Sacramento's own Street Urchinz are on tour... and their album is on sale now! You can find it on Amazon and Itunes too.

Find the tour dates on the Street Urchinz Facebook page. And go have some fun!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Hugh Laurie and the Copper Bottom Band, London's Hammersmith Apollo

On Friday evening, Hugh Laurie and the Copper Bottom Band put on a show at the Hammersmith Apollo--and as I was in the area, at Localization World, I couldn't resist going. The only ticket still available earlier in the week was standing-room-only, right at the back (and right at the top) of the beautiful venue. (There's space for one row of people to stand behind the final row of seating).

The Hammersmith Apollo used to be a cinema: a beautiful Art Deco building created at a time when the aim was to give all theatre-goers a wonderful visual and acoustic experience. The seats are heavily raked, with full view of the stage and/or screen, and the sound is clear. It doesn't need to be so loud that your ears bleed.  The walls and ceiling are still graced by the motifs of a byegone age. And when you enter the theatre, your first stop is in the lounge-style bar area, not directly into the theatre. (Though I did wish that the people were made to go to their seats before the first act began, as it was rather spoiled by latecomers who made everyone stand up while they noisily sought their seats.)

Those of you (probably in the USA) who only know Hugh Laurie from his nasty-ingenious Dr Greg House, may be a little surprised to see a Hugh Laurie music review. Those of us who grew up, (and older), in the company of Hugh's comic genius (Fry and Laurie, Black Adder, Jeeves and Wooster...) are not surprised at all. And if you cast your mind back to several House episodes, you'll see Laurie sitting at a piano, pulling out some nice jazz. And yes, that was really him.

Hugh Laurie has teamed up with a group of excellent musicians, who call themselves the Copper Bottom Band. I particularly enjoyed Elizabeth Lea's rambunctious trombone playing, Vincent Henry's reeds, and Sister Jean McClain's singing was amazing. The music was real standing-on-the-corner-where-blues-meets-gospel, noodling with trad jazz on the way to New Orleans, and just having a huge amount of fun. Hugh danced, sang, played piano and guitar. "This is a very old song," he said, several times. They were old songs. They were good, old songs. The sort that still make you laugh and cry--and the sort that bring out the best in their performers.

Part way through the show, Hugh introduced a "very special guest": Chris Barber.

I've seen a couple of other reviews of this show, one of which says that Hugh is basically using his fame as an actor to ham up as a musician. How wrong can anyone be... if you've seen his acting, heard his performances, then you know that these "old songs" and this music are an integral part of Mr. Laurie's person, just as much as his ability to act, and his ability to make us laugh. And by bringing these songs, and this band, to an audience who yes, may not have gone to see the show if it were not for "House", then he is doing a beautiful thing for musical history; he is sharing the music that he loves, with people who might otherwise never had heard it. And if Friday's show was an indicator, this new audience really, really enjoys it. I certainly did!

It was a totally delightful evening. Thank you, Hugh Laurie!

(If you want more background on Hugh Laurie's musical journey, see this documentary: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ExMDdc8bwrA)

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Zucchero, performing at the Summum, Grenoble: review

It's very unusual to find yourself in the same town, same country, same day, on the other side of the world, as the day that one of your favourite all-time musicians, who doesn't live in that town or country either, just happens to be in the same town, same country, and performing in a venue literally yards away from where you're working that week. Serendipity.

It's also very unusual to see three drummers, three percussionists, three dancing singing ladies, three brass players, a pianist/keyboard player, three or more guitarists, bass player, an amazing vocalist, a giant car,  beautiful stage lighting, several skulls on sticks, racks of guitars, and an illuminated alligator... and for it all to work together. Perfectly.

(Marillion Weekend apart), Zucchero's show at Grenoble's Summum on Thursday evening was the best show I have seen so far in 2013.

Huge set, long and varied music, excellent musicians, and, of course, Zucchero's voice. Think Joe Cocker with the power of an Italian opera singer, and the backing and support of a rock band made up of the best musicians around, and you get the idea.

The setlist included songs from the Cuban-influenced "La Sesion Cubana" album and from past recordings, many of which Zucchero recorded both in Italian, and in English. If you have never heard Zucchero, a good introduction is "Zucchero and Co", which showcases the recordings with many world-renowned musicians.

This show also showed how good music transcends languages. Zucchero was talking Italian, and most of the songs were sung in Italian. The audience, for the most part, was French. And again, (Marillion weekend apart), it was the happiest, most international and most into-the-music audience I've seen yet in 2013. Happy singing dancing waving laughing people; all ages, men and women, all ages. We had fun. (When Zucchero started to sing, "I Lay Down", I admit I was looking all over the stage for John Lee Hooker's ghost, because I could definitely hear him singing; he was present in the duet, but recorded. Zucchero explained that prior to the song, but I don't understand much Italian!)

Yesterday, driving up the M1 in England towards the Midlands, jumping from radio station to radio station trying to find something worth listening to, I had to ask: why do people listen to bands with no vocal strength, no presence? (And that's nothing new... I was asking the same thing when I was a teenager.)  I'll take Zucchero and Marillion's H any day...

(Now there's an idea. How about a Zucchero-H duet? Now wouldn't that be something...)

Zucchero is on tour for a while yet: see if you can catch one of the shows. I promise, you'll not be disappointed.

More photos here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/alisontoon/sets/72157633977271856/

Hi-res editorial photos:  http://alisontoon.com

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Zucchero, in Grenoble

GRENOBLE, FRANCE, 6 JUNE 2013: Zuccherto, performing at the Summum, Grenoble, France on 6th June 2013

Wonderful concert. Truly, truly worth seeing. Love his voice. Loved the show. Will be dancing in my dreams...

More tomorrow, I already tuned into a pumpkin... but if you have a chance, catch a show on Zucchero's tour. See his website for details: http://www.zucchero.it/eng/