On Thursday night, I excitedly headed down to the Bowery Ballroom to finally see Jessie Ware live. If you’ve been keeping up with Hard Candy over the years, you’ll have seen us sing her praises on many occasions. The debut album ‘Devotion’ is a work of art, and still receives weekly plays many months after it’s release, so as you can imagine I was eager to see her perform.
When she arrived on stage shortly after 10 pm, the crowd went absolutely insane, to the point where she was visibly moved by the loving reception. It was the kind of welcome you would expect for an artist who has been beloved for many years, but Jessie had only released her first EP, the fantastic ‘If You’re Never Gone Move‘ stateside a few days prior to the show. “Wow, tonight’s gonna be a lot of fun,” she remarked before launching into a phenomenal rendition of ‘Devotion’ backed by her three-piece band.
Last night, we headed down to catch Dan Black’s performance at the Absolut Encore Series at Le Baron. After the success of his latest album UN he went off to the studio to record the follow-up, and last night we got our first taste of what he has been buried away working on.
We arrived at the intimate venue shortly after 8.30 pm and before long people were tightly packed in around the stage waiting for his return. Shortly after 9.30 pm, Dan emerged through the smoke with a wonky bow-tie on his pocket and his trademark face paint on. He had brought along two friends for the occasion – a monkey mask wearing guitar player and a bunny rabbit mask wearing drummer.
We were treated to a set that consisted of four new tracks ‘Plastic Heart,’ ‘Blow,’ ‘Wild,’ and ‘Hearts’ and plenty of old favorites from UN. Even though this was the first time most of us were hearing the new material it was well received and he quickly had the crowd singing along. I loved all the new songs and based on what I heard, I think if you liked UN the new stuff should be right up your street.
If you’ve ever seen Dan live you’ll know that he has a great energy on stage and puts everything into his performance, and last night he was clearly pleased to be back in front of an audience performing once again. He is also quite frankly hilarious, at one point during the evening, after working up quite a thirst leaping around the stage, he asked a girl in the audience for her drink, joking that he didn’t want her to buy him one he just wanted a sip of hers (she did later though and handed it to him mid song!)
Another particularly funny moment was when after a couple of songs, someone thought it would be wise to start shouting requests at him, and much to his amusement someone bellowed “Into The Groove” from the balcony, to which he replied that they should take it easy things were just getting started! It goes without saying I would have enjoyed that immensely, but hisbrilliant ‘Pass That Head Noize’ which samples Missy Elliot‘s ‘Pass That Dutch’ was the closest thing to a cover during the evening.
It was fantastic evening and we look forward to catching a longer set in the not to distant future. The album is set for release in January 2013, and will feature some special collaborations which will soon be revealed!
A few weeks back I had the pleasure of seeing Labyrinth Ear play a fabulous gig just a few blocks away from my apartment at Cameo Gallery in Brooklyn. It was their last appearance in a string of successful shows marking their North American debut at the CMJ festival here in NYC.
We were treated to a wonderful set made up of songs from the Oak and Apparitions EPs including my favorites ‘Humble My Bones‘ and ‘Amethyst Days’, which you can watch below. We’ve had our eyes on these two for quite some time and after falling in love with their unique brand of moody electro pop, it was fabulous to watch them deliver live and see that they are already gaining a following… people in the venue were going as far as to excitedly shout requests at them!
After the show I got the chance to chat with Tom and Emily for a few minutes, where they told me that Emily had unfortunately got sick the first day of CMJ, I would never have guessed because she sounded amazing. I’m happy to report they are just as lovely in person as they are via email!
You should look out for their first full length album which is set for release in 2013, and if you aren’t already familiar with them get up to speed by checking out all ourLabyrinth Ear songs and videos here and the ‘Magnolia‘ mixtapethey completed for us back in 2011.
Madonna returned home to NYC this week and performed two shows at MSG. The first night was fabulous, but the second night was even more incredible. After having been upgraded (thank you Guy Oseary and team) we were positioned next to the stage and the VIP area and told we would be taken into the pit after a few songs. We excitedly danced our asses off and watched as Madonna’s team circled the area including Steven Klein and Guy Oseary (who I finally had the pleasure of meeting) then the show started and craziness ensued!
During ‘Hung Up’ we were quickly given our pit bracelets and I rushed in to join other friends in the third row dead center. The pit was filled with longtime friends scattered all around the triangle which thoroughly added to my enjoyment of the night. Madonna gave another excellent speech after ‘Open Your Heart’, and when she mentioned a surprise I assumed ‘Holiday’ then she went on to add “that I haven’t done before” and everyone went even crazier. It soon became clear this was a totally remixed song and until she started with ‘Give It To Me’ no-one knew what on earth was coming next! Imagine our surprise when PSY popped up and ‘Gangnam Style’ started! It was such an incredible moment and hilarious watching her killing the moves. She also went on to sing a bit of ‘Music’ with his which was also excellent.
It’s so incredible that this late in the game, she is still mixing it up adding new stuff to her setlist and performing it as flawlessly as the stuff she’s been doing for months on the road. I couldn’t be happier with this tour and the generosity of Madonna and her team in letting her biggest fans into the golden triangle is greatly appreciated!
Last week, it was the CMJ festival here in NYC, thousands of bands descended on the city to do showcases in various intimate venues in Brooklyn and Manhattan. I always intend to write things up as I go along, but that never happens! So here is the first of four parts covering the various artists I saw during the week.
On Tuesday, my partner in crime Jay of Nu Wave Pony and I headed to the ‘All Things Gold’ Neon Gold party at Santos Party House to get things started off. Shortly after 7.30 we caught the NYC debut of U.K. electro pop artist Queen of Hearts. She started things off with a bang with ‘Freestyle’, and we were also treated to ‘Perfect Mistake’, ‘Neon’ and her new single ‘Warrior.’ She had played her first U.S. show in D.C a few nights before, but this was her biggest U.S. show to date and many people were likely to be unfamiliar with her, but that didn’t stop her from quickly getting the crowd moving along to her undeniably catchy brand of electro pop.
In between sets,Viceroy dropped some killers tunes and kept us entertained even though just as I was getting into a song he would often be cut off by a noisy soundcheck! Luckily it wasn’t my only opportunity to see him play during the week, more on that later. We ended up sticking around for Robert DeLong and the start of Ghost Beach, then my friends left to catch Natalia Kills at Industry and I dashed over to Webster Hall to catch Teen Daze.
After an awkward few moments in The Studio, I realized I was in the wrong place and this was certainly not the type of music I had signed up for, so I swiftly headed upstairs to the Marlin Room, where Teen Daze was already in full swing. While much of his music is laid back and melodic, I found in a live setting he really amped up the energy and had the crowd dancing along enthusiastically. He was clearly having the time of his life manipulating the buttons and really feeling the music. Check out a short clip of his set below.
Last Thursday, I headed down to Santos Party House to catch Ellie Goulding where she celebrated the release of her flawless new album “Halcyon” which was released just two days prior to the gig. I’ve been playing the album constantly and it was amazing to see it brought to life in the flesh.
Shortly after 8.45 pm, she arrived on stage to the deafening screams of the crowd and launched into a passionate performance of “Don’t Say A Word” and then came my personal favorite “My Blood”, which she told us is also her favorite from the new album. More new stuff followed and it quickly became clear that the newness of the album didn’t matter one bit, people had clearly got it in advance and were enthusiastically signing along to every song, causing her to remark how cool it was to perform in such an intimate venue (Santos only holds about 600) and see people singing the words to her new stuff.
The last time I saw Ellie love was back in 2010 while relatively few people knew about her here in the US. I remember her remarking at the time how she wasn’t quite sure how everyone knew about her while thanking us for coming to the show. All that’s changed now with the well deserved success of “Lights” and the devoted following she’s since amassed. Refreshingly, she’s still the same sweet girl who chats to the audience in breaks, cracks jokes, and genuinely seems delighted that she gets to perform in NYC, but watching her perform I detected a touch more confidence that surely comes with gaining success in the U.S.
During the dance numbers she confidently writhed around the stage causing guys to scream “Ellie you’re hot!” and whipping the crowd into a frenzy. The acoustic numbers were met with just as much enthusiasm and seeing how comfortably she moves between the genres really reminded me what a talent she is.
I’ll have a review of “Halcyon” to share with you shortly, in the meantime enjoy some video from Santos!
Last night, I excitedly headed down to Webster Hall to catch the first of Marina and the Diamonds‘ two sold out NYC shows which will close out her successful Lonely Hearts Tour. I last saw her perform back on The Family Jewels Tour back in 2010, and since then much has happened in the world of Marina. She has released the extraordinarily brilliant Electra Heart album, played lots of headliner gigs and supported acts as huge as Coldplay, all the while securing a growing fanbase of Diamonds!
Earlier this week we had the pleasure of interviewing Marina and chatting to her about her favorite artists, so when much to my delight I heard songs including Madonna’s Hollywood and Garbage‘s Stupid Girlas I waited in the photo pit for her to take the stage, I knew she’d had a hand in the marvelous selections. Shortly after nine she appeared on stage to the opening notes of Homewrecker and the screams of the eclectic crowd gathered below (teenage girls dressed in Electra Heart garb, screaming gays, and rather randomly a bunch of older gentlemen who appeared to be alone) covered in a wedding veil and with a white fur draped around her shoulders, which instantly reminded me of Madonna on The Virgin Tour – never a bad thing!
She then tore through Oh No! and Mowgli’s Road, two of my favorites from The Family Jewels, passionately singing andbounding around the stage electrifying the crowd. One guy behind me screamed “Oh wow, she is serving right now!” and as I snapped away trying to resist the urge to dance and focus on shooting, I thought to myself “I couldn’t agree more.” She slowed things down for Lies, which she revealed to us in our interview is the most personal on the album, showcasing her operatic voice and delivering a pitch perfect rendition that stopped me in my tracks – the power and emotion in her voice was just incredible.
“Are you ready for the first costume change of the evening?” she asked jokingly as she removed a sheer pink dressing gown from the assorted rack of props assembled at the back of the stage and slipped it on over her outfit. Then came The State Of Dreaming and a show stopping performance of Power & Control, my favorite from Electra Heart. During Bubblegum Bitch as I watched her don her ‘Miss Selfish Beach’ sash and switch between ‘Miss Sugar Pink’ and ‘the bitch’ personas reflecting the song’s punchy lyrics, it struck me that in concert she really puts everything into embodying each character she has established for Electra Heart.
One particularly cute moment was when Marina’s toy dog Marilyn found herself in the spotlight as she was introduced to the crowd before Primadonna. Marina clearly has a brilliant sense of humor as she told the crowd she found Marilyn smoking a crack pipe in a back alley, asked her to be in the Primadonna video, and now she was living it up in the spotlight after a stint in the Betty Ford clinic!
When not twirling happily around the stage Marina also made sure to demonstrate her instrumental talent during the evening, first taking to the keyboard for a sparkling rendition of Obsessions and later Teen Idle which served as one of the encore tracks. The concert was a perfect mix of ballads and dance tracks from Marina’s two albums and the audience was treated to all the sides of her that make her one of the most talented pop stars to emerge in recent years. If there is any justice in the world, this will be the album with which she breaks America.
I Am Not A Robot
The State of Dreaming
Power & Control
Fear and Loathing
How To Be A Heartbreaker
We’d like to welcome Andrew Tess to the Hard Candy family!
On Sunday night, at precisely 8 P.M., Irving Plaza’s doors opened for Lana Del Rey‘s final New York City show, or what should be described as a microcosm of a “Promo Tour.” Exactly two hours and two minutes later, at 10:02 P.M., Lana made a nonchalant entrance onto her flower / palm tree / bush decorated stage. As she walked onto the stage, the hounds of screaming fans seemed to shock Lana, herself. She giggled (in her calculated ditzy Nancy Sinatra-meets-Tinkerbelle persona) her persona’s nerves and her fans’ cries off and began to slowly sing a downplayed acoustic rendition of Blue Jeans. Forty-five minutes later, and ten songs later, Lana finished a Hip-Hop treated rendition of National Anthem, lingered along the cusp, or the threshold, between the stage and the audience to kiss a few lucky audience members and, suddenly, abruptly left the stage.
As it began to dawn on me that Lana wasn’t coming back for an encore, I, like many of her other fans, wondered: Where is Diet Mountain Dew, or Off To The Races, or Radio or This Is What Makes Us Girls?!? These were the songs I wanted. These were the songs we wanted – yet it was almost like they did not exist in Del Rey’s eyes. Heck, Diet Mountain Dew name drops New York City in the chorus! We wanted to hear that! Instead, Lana sang us three bonus tracks: Body Electric, Lolita and Without You. She was gone too soon.
Despite this minor – or major, depending on how you look at it – setback, the show was really awesome. The lighting and sound were wonderful. The purple lighting against Lana’s lovely white mini dress, Amy Winehouse beehive-inspired hairdo and eccentric sexy-weird looks helped create the perfect live ambiance.
My favorite performances were Born To Die, Summertime Sadness and National Anthem. These were the songs that I felt the connection between the artist and the audience most certainly. During these short moments, we really connected to Lana and to each other. As Lana teased us with her bubbly stage persona, audience members managed to make the singer’s character out of character. She would laugh at our jokes and posed for individual fan photos. It was quite interesting, to say the least.
Lana left us wanting more. She didn’t sing every song off her standard album. But, I wonder, was this decision just as manufactured as Lana’s stage persona, flaws and flaunts? If so, would I pay to see Lana again? Hm- “You’re no good for me, but baby I want you. I want you.”
I’m always thrilled to have an opportunity to see Gossip live, but their latest album A Joyful Noise has been an obsession of mine for the past few months, so I was more stoked than usual to see them play at Terminal 5 on Tuesday evening.
When you go to a Gossip show you not only get to experience their intense live performance but also Beth’s wit. I swear if she wasn’t a musician she would have been a comedian, we were barely a few songs in and she was cracking jokes about Jesus’ sexuality! She had on rather tight sequined strapless dress and after nearly every number she had to go and get Nathan to pull it up for her, she playfully chatted with audience about the hilariousness of this while sharing backstage stories about everything from fat jokes to squeaky shoes.
It may have just been my position but the sound was a bit questionable, and vocally I’m pretty sure the last time I saw them live she sounded better, or perhaps my ears have just become accustomed to the polished finesse of the latest album. Still, you don’t go to a Gossip show to stand there and split hairs about the sound man not doing his job well, it’s all about the energy the band radiate and that didn’t dip for a moment.
There was mix of new material from A Joyful Noise, 2009’s phenomenal Music For Men, and classics like Your Mangled Heart, Listen Up, and Standing In The Way Of Control which once again served as the encore. One of the best moments of the evening came right near the end when Beth started talking about the loss of Whitney Houston and then proceeded to launch into an acapella version of The Greatest Love Of All and was quickly joined by the rest of us in the crowd.
Bowery Presents streamed the gig live on their YouTube page so we’ve got the added bonus of HD quality footage of some of the tracks for you to feast your eyes on. If you get the opportunity to see them play live grab it with both hands, you’ll not be disappointed!
On Wednesday night I attended UK Factor alumni Cher Lloyd‘s NYC showcase at Canal Room. I had watched her on the X Factor and not really followed her since, so I was surprised to see that she is apparently already making waves in America. A massive amount of teen girls crowded around the stage while myself, Muumuse, Jon Ali and the rest of the industry folk lingered further back from the stage sipping on cocktails.
Shortly before 8, much to my delight L.A. Reid appeared on stage to introduce her. I had absolutely no expectations of the show but I was impressed by her voice and stage presence. I was only familiar with the U.S. debut single the super pop I Want You Back, so was excited that she chose to do a cover Robyn‘s Dancing On My Own and Usher‘s OMG. It was a fun night and I think she has the potential to be a success over here.
After the show I was excited to grab a picture with L.A Reid and since the cocktails went down rather well, rather than just thinking in my head “Wow, this man is a legend” I told him “You’re a legend”, I wasn’t a very cool customer, but it was a deserving tribute since he signed and was an integral part of the careers of many of my first music loves like TLC and Mariah Carey.