+30 seconds to mars cover of bad romance+

•June 16, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Really liking this darker version of Bad Romance.

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+the manic street preachers in hollywood+

•October 3, 2009 • 5 Comments

(This is what I wrote after I returned home from seeing the Manic Street Preachers at the Avalon Theatre in Los Angeles–it is part concert review, part personal journal entry. I’ve also included some videos from the show.)

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Little things change people’s lives

Something I never thought would happen has at last come to pass. I have seen the Manic Street Preachers live.

I nearly cried when I heard they were coming to the United States. It has been over a decade since last they were here, and we American fans have been convinced they were never coming back. And so when I saw the Los Angeles date, I schemed to make my way to the Avalon Theatre in Hollywood by any means possible.

The Manics are utterly my favorite band. More so even than U2, whom I love. Everyone knows how I feel about U2, but the Manics. Ah. They are my passion. A band whose music is so filled with meaning, there is a website devoted to footnoting and explaining their lyrics. A band whose members are talented and wonderful and gentlemanly and rebellious beyond belief. And now I have seen them live, standing in the front row at the rail, no less, in a small venue filled with a few hundred other people who certainly felt the same way I did.

Matt and I woke up early Friday and drove to Los Angeles. We had a room at the Hollywood Celebrity Hotel, which was just lovely. After checking in, we walked down to Hollywood Boulevard. We had so much time to kill before the show, so we stopped at a pizzeria and had something to eat. Then we made our way up Vine, past the Avalon, where a few fans stood outside in line, and past the Capitol Records building. It was still so early so we walked around the block, sat at the bus stop for a while, and then finally put ourselves in line at the Avalon with the others.

We made friends with the two guys behind us–Mike, a charming kid who said he spent an entire Brixton Manics gig crying and rolling around on the stage, and Assan, a Pakistani kid from Santa Barbara. Mostly, we just sat quietly, watching the Hollywood traffic go by. Finally we made it in, and we went straight to the stage on James’s side. Matt and Assan talked back and forth about English Premier League football until the opening band, Nico Vega, came out. We were one row back from the rail at this point. Nico Vega were alright–great singer, great drummer, sadly boring Brian Molko wannabe without the charisma guitar player. They were just okay.

After Nico Vega, one of Mike’s friends, Heather, paid the people in front of us $30 to go get some drinks. She and I stepped up to the rail when they left. Apparently they had only come to see Nico Vega anyway. I was shaking I was so excited. Standing on the rail, only a few feet from James Dean Bradfield’s mike stand. Waiting for the show to start felt like an eternity. I couldn’t believe I was actually going to see the Manics play.

Eventually, after much fog and soundchecking, they did come out. James was dressed in a black work shirt, and Nicky looked like a sea captain, full with the hat and white jacket, and with rhinestones on his face. His hair was stunning (and I totally want to steal his haircut). They opened with Motorcycle Emptiness, and it was wonderful. Here’s the setlist in full, and you can click through all but one song to see a video of it from the show:

Motorcycle Emptiness
No Surface, All Feeling
Your Love Alone Is Not Enough
La Tristesse Durera (Scream to a Sigh)
Jackie Collins Existential Question Time
Let Robeson Sing
Faster
Everything Must Go
This Joke Sport Severed
From Despair to Where
If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next
Small Black Flowers That Grow in the Sky (acoustic)
This Is Yesterday (acoustic)
Send Away the Tigers
You Stole the Sun from My Heart
All or Nothing and Motown Junk
Me and Stephen Hawking
Little Baby Nothing
You Love Us
A Design for Life

Usually when I write these reviews, I go song by song, recounting every funny thing the singer said and how I felt and whatnot. Really, all I can say this time is that I was in such disbelief the entire time. Whenever James would play guitar solos, he stood right in front of Heather and me. Assan took some photos and is planning to send them, including one from A Design for Life, where you can see my hand right in front of James. Mike and Heather both yelled things during the show that got James’s attention. James gave a sideways fist pump to Mike, and when Heather yelled “We Love You!” he made a clicking noise to her and winked. At the end of Motown Junk, which James often improvises, James also yelled out, “We eat rock n roll Froot Loops!” I remember turning around to Matt and going What the hell? and then laughing. It was awesome.


You can hear Heather yelling “We love you” at the beginning of this video. 🙂

James was on fire the whole night. He was jumping around and playing guitar like the god that he is. The band sounded amazing. James’s voice is still one of the best in rock and roll, no question. Some of the highlights for me were Faster, Tolerate, Let Robeson Sing, and the closer, A Design for Life. Some kind soul actually videotaped it. Near the end of the song, James brought his mike stand over to right in front of Heather and me, and he left it there til the end. He was so close that at first I nervously thought he was going to turn the mike around and make us sing the next chorus. He was standing right in front of us as we sang and rocked out (and Mike cried). It was unbelievable. And then, it was over.

A few people near me got copies of the setlists, but I did them all one better. I had seen a guitar pick fall to the floor, and I yelled at the roadie, asking if I could have it. He picked it up and came over close to me. I cupped my hands like I was about to receive manna from heaven, and I made the catch of my life! Haha. Now I have guitar picks from my two favorite Welsh singers and guitar players–Kelly Jones from Stereophonics and James Dean Bradfield. So amazing.

Matt and I got glasses of water, we gave Assan my e-mail, and we headed out into the evening. Some drunk guy had passed out outside the venue, and the LA fire department and an ambulance arrived to get him. We found Heather outside, and she said Nicky and Sean had already gone to the bus, but that James had not come out yet. I got my Sharpie ready and pulled the insert out of my CD copy of Journal for Plague Lovers. She had an LP of the album. We waited, and then Heather said, “Here we go!” We walked over to where James had come out, and he stopped and began to sign autographs. He signed a stack of stuff for some guy, and then he took Heather and Mike’s albums and my CD cover. He signed all three as Heather went on and on about how much she loved him and how he was a god of the guitar, and he just made her so fucking happy. James said, “You sounded quite poetic there until you started using curse words…” Everyone laughed, and I remember saying something like thank you for coming. It’s all I wanted to say, just thank you. Thanks for coming over here for your American fans. We aren’t many, but we do love the band just as much as the Europeans. I snapped a photo of James with my blackberry, and we stood aside as he signed more stuff and took pictures. And then he was gone. I kept looking at my CD with James’s autograph scrawled across the cover.

Matt and I made our way back up Hollywood Boulevard and back to our hotel. It was hilarious to see all the girls in ridiculously high heels, waiting to get into the most exclusive night clubs in the United States. The people watching that night was prime. I don’t think Matt or I could entirely process the fact that we’d just seen the Manics and stood only a few feet from James Dean Bradfield. We sat out on the patio at the hotel, listening to the Hollywood nightlife and drinking copious amounts of Vitamin Water.

Today has been kind of tough. Lots of sleeping, and still trying to process what happened. The music of the Manic Street Preachers means so much to me, and to see them live, especially when I thought it would never happen, has made me feel so indescribable. I’m not sure what will ever compare to that, honestly. I keep looking at the guitar pick, the autographed CD. I keep watching the videos of the show that have made it onto the Internet (and God bless the Internet for that). To relive the show like that… I just feel like Fortune’s pet. I can only say thank you. Thank you to Fortune, and thank you to the Manic Street Preachers. We really do love you.

Here is a video of A Design for Life, the last song the Manics played that night. This is the song where you can see James put his microphone stand right in front of me.

My autographed copy of Journal for Plague Lovers, and the guitar pick.
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+r.i.p.+

•June 27, 2009 • Leave a Comment

A true, joyful celebration of the music that made Michael Jackson the King of Pop. May he rest in peace.

+five favorites and why+

•June 11, 2009 • 1 Comment

Over at the U2 board I frequent, my friend Murali posted a thread asking people to list their top five favorite songs in the world, and why. Here is my response:

It was difficult to choose these based on the song alone and not based on whether the artist is also one of my top five. But these are five songs I don’t want to live without. I’m very much a lyrics person too, so I’ve included some of my favorite lines.

1. “The Atrocities” by Antony and The Johnsons

A heartbreaking song about God weeping over the sins of man. It begins gently with piano, and as the song builds, Antony’s voice grows more powerful and the strings swell. It ends as softly as it began, reminding me of T.S. Eliot’s “This is the way the world ends, not with a bang, but a whimper.” Beautiful music, beautiful lyrics, beautiful Antony.

God visits all lost souls
To survey the damage
And holding his bleeding heart
A tear comes to his eye
He whispers,
“It’s the atrocities of history.”

2. “Polaris” by Jimmy Eat World

This song is emo perfection. The guitars rock, the boys sing beautiful harmonies, and the lyrics paint just enough of a picture that you can remember when this night happened in your own life. The bridge of this song rocks so, so much.

3. “Starlite Diner” by Ryan Adams

There are probably 30 Ryan Adams songs that could make this top five, but this one slays them all, and it kills me every time I hear it. Simple piano and lyrics that tell a story we all know the ending to, because we’ve all been there.

Have you ever slept it off to the bones
Having woken up at night, my love,
And dreamt that you called them all
Every person you could never love

4. “Special Needs” by Placebo

I have a very special place in my heart for songs that are both beautiful and rock the fuck out. And this is one of those songs. And when I didn’t think this song could get any more amazing, I saw Placebo perform it live. I have to stop what I’m doing every time I hear it.

5. “If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next” by Manic Street Preachers

It’s not often bands write songs about the Spanish Civil War, and it’s even rarer when they’re so absolutely gorgeous and affecting. The Manics prove that you don’t have to write love songs to get people’s attention. Maybe it’s the sweeping chorus, maybe it’s the incomparable voice of James Dean Bradfield. I just know I will forever want to hear this song.

Bullets for your brain today
But we’ll forget it all again
Monuments put from pen to paper
Turns me into a gutless wonder

Close calls:
Radiohead – How to Disappear Completely
Idlewild – In Remote Part/Scottish Fiction
U2 – Love Is Blindness
Manic Street Preachers – Judge Yr’self
Deftones – Digital Bath
And about ten Tori Amos songs and covers.

+these are a few of my favorite things+

•March 27, 2009 • 2 Comments

Dear 2009,

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

U2 – No Line on the Horizon
nloth1
Any time U2 releases a new album, it’s a jubilee year for me. This record has a lot of depth to it, and I’m very much looking forward to the tour. “Get on Your Boots” and “Breathe” live are gonna be fantastic.

Manic Street Preachers – Journal for Plague Lovers
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Over at the Manics’ official site, they’ve got a tracklisting up for their newest release, Journal for Plague Lovers, which will feature lyrics left behind by disappeared guitarist and writer, Richey Edwards. Like their opus magnum The Holy Bible, this new album will also feature cover artwork by the incomparable Jenny Saville. Track titles include the intriguing “Jackie Collins Existential Question Time” and “Virginia State Epileptic Colony.” May 19 cannot get here soon enough. (And credit once again to Reubenchives over at lj for the banner used in this post.)

Placebo – Battle for the Sun

Have a listen to the new Placebo single, “Battle for the Sun,” and then head over to their official website to download it and see the tracklisting for the new record. For those counting at home, that makes three for three of my favorite bands releasing albums this year. This one hits stores June 9.

Tori Amos – Abnormally Addicted to Sin
toriabnormal
Four for four? Why not? 17 new tracks from Tori are set to be heard worldwide May 19.

Blue October – Approaching Normal
bluenormal
It’s always good to have a new Blue October album to sink my teeth into. Released this week. Really digging the single “Dirt Room.”

Pet Shop Boys – Yes
psbyes
Also released this past week, it’s another stunner from the Pet Shop Boys. *sigh* I love them. That’s all I need to say, really. Neil Tennant = one of the best voices in all of musicland.

I think it should be clear by now why I’m so damn excited about music this year. Releases by some of my all time favorite artists ever in the history of Earth. Excellent.

That having been said, let’s end this post with the new Pet Shop Boys video for Love, Etc. Neil in bouncing ball form. Genius! Enjoy. 🙂

+tantra+

•March 17, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Double your pleasure with two mixes of Mr Sam’s latest, “Tantra.”

Original Mix

Evol Waves Remix

+walking with a ghost+

•March 11, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Tegan & Sara – Walking with a Ghost