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 his brilliant ’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!
1. Plastic Heart
5. Pump My Pumps
7. Pass That Head Noize
What do you think of the new songs?
* Photo by Santiago Felipe
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 our Labyrinth Ear songs and videos here and the ’Magnolia‘ mixtape they 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.