Monday, October 7, 2013

Pet Shop Boys Queen Elizabeth Theatre October 3rd 2013

Two albums in less than a year, a world tour and the “boys” are still going strong. At 8:10 the show opened up with a shear curtain covering the theater stage, you could see Neil and Chris’ outline over flashing graphic images like out a video game with rushing tunnels transporting us to another dimension, all to the the sound of their new album opener and dance club banger “Axis”. The curtain stayed up for a mash up of  "One More Chance” from their first LP with “A Face Like That” from the underrated “Elysium” project, their last for Parlophone records. The projection screen was well done but the crowd was happy when the curtain fell to the sounds of “Let’s Make Lots of Money…” from then on everybody stood up and never sat down.

The Boys have a large repertoire to choose from, this show could have easily been a greatest hits tour, while many hits were played it’s obvious the Boys are doing it for the die hard fans, many cuts from the two new albums were played along with some lesser known hits like “Miracles”, “Rent”, the B-side “I Get Excited”, and their glorious dance version of  Bernstein and Sondheim's “Somewhere”. I have to admit a few of these songs seemed to go over the heads of the audience which to my surprise was a mixed bag of young/old straight and gay. While some might have been lost to the unknown tunes, the incredible laser show kept most of the audience mesmerized, one thing you are never bored at a Pet Shop Boys concert. They had two dancers which were OK but didn’t seem to always dance in unison. Tennant who almost had as many exotic wardrobe changes as Cher (a rubber jacket made out entirely of straws and a metal bulls head hat covering his face) seemed in great form although he sounded a bit hoarse at the beginning of the show, his voice sounded better on the newer tracks as oppose to songs like “West End Girls”. “I Wouldn't Normally Do This Kind of Thing” preceded by the “Rite of Spring” was my favorite highlight but the winner of the night artistically was “Love Etc.” with both Neil and Chris strapped to vertical beds while images of moving bodies where projected below their heads.

Neil who usually seems stiff in concert finally seemed to loosen up at the end with “It’s A Sin”, and then let the audience sing almost the entire version of “Domino Dancing” but he came right back with“ I think you might know this one” before going into the fan favorite cover of “Always on my Mind”, and the encore “Go West”. The show ended with the appropriate “Electric” LP album closer “Vocal” Neil sings: “I like the people, I like the song, this is my kind of music, they play it all night long, I like the singer, he’s lonely and strange, every track has a vocal…”

…how true.

 Setlist 

1.    Axis
2.    One More Chance / A Face Like That
3.    Opportunities (Let's Make Lots of Money)
4.    Memory Of The Future

5.    Fugitive
6.    Integral
7.    I Wouldn't Normally Do This Kind of Thing
8.    Suburbia
9.    I'm Not Scared
10. Fluorescent
11. West End Girls
12. Somewhere
13. Leaving
14. Thursday
15. Love Etc.
16. I Get Excited (You Get Excited Too)
17. Rent
18. Miracles
19. It's a Sin
20. Domino Dancing
21. Always on My Mind

Encore:
22. Go West

23. Vocal

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Pat Benatar Rocks Victoria

She’s been doing it the hard way for almost 35 years and she is still going strong. Pat Benatar now headlining with her “guitarist guru” husband Neil Giraldo is taking concert goers by storm. Neil has been by her side since the beginning; he wrote quite a few of their hits and produced her signature sound. The two are absolutely adorable together. After watching their stage banter and the wonderful “behind the scenes” music segments which is part of the show, it only makes sense that he shares the marquee. Her voice has a bit more rasp to it but is still incredible as ever, she’s like a good wine that just gets better with age, she puts to shame just about any artist from the past 2 decades.

The show called for 7:30 and ten minutes in (which seemed needed to get people to their seats) she hit the stage playing for about an hour and a half. From the first licks of “All Fired Up” the show never stopped rocking. I have to admit I was a bit confused since they advertised the Victoria show as an acoustic one, but for once am I glad that was a false advertisement, acoustic can be cool but Benatar fans like to see her rock. In 1986 at the height of her career, my best bud and I got tickets for her “Seven The Hard Way” tour at the Montreal Forum. That’s why when she said this next song is from “Seven The Hard Way, I reverted to that 19 years old kid seeing Benatar for that first time, as “Sex As A Weapon” started I could not help but mimic the video with my hands in “The Supremes” stopping motion. I wanted to dance but nobody was getting up, Victoria audiences really suck, how can you be that subdued at a Benatar concert? By the time “Hit Me With Your Best Shot” came on a few of us got up and never sat down. My only complaint is that I found the setlist at 13 songs a bit short. Most concerts at this price usually have close to 20 songs. She sang her 4 top ten singles from “We Belong” to Love is a Battlefield but a few other hits like the fabulous “We Live For Love”, Fire and Ice, and “Shadows Of The Night” a favorite, was missing. Promises In The Dark was a definite highlight, I never really loved the song that much till that night. “Hell Is For Children” was poignant and incredible, she mentioned they sing that song at every show and will continue to do so until this horrible crime stops. Some of the deeper cuts like “Everybody Lay Down” was fab, but “So Sincere” and “Let’s Stay Together” could have been replaced with so many better options, anything from Tropico or Seven The Hard Way. What I wouldn’t give to hear “Run Between The Raindrops”. The finale which incorporated Jonny Cash’s “Ring Of Fire” with “Heartbreaker” was genius; maybe she should cover the song on a future album?

1.     All Fired Up
2.     Invincible
3.     So Sincere
4.     Sex As A Weapon
5.     Promises in the Dark
6.     We Belong
7.     Hell Is for Children
8.     You Better Run
9.     Hit Me with Your Best Shot
10.  Love Is a Battlefield
Encore
11.  Everybody Lay Down
12.  Let's Stay Together
13. Heartbreaker / Ring of Fire / Heartbreaker

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Sting Back To Bass Tour Victoria Save On Food Memorial Center

Don’t be late to Sting’s Back To Bass Tour, the show called for 8:00 and at exactly 8:10 without any opening act or build up, he is on stage playing the first bars of “If I Ever Lose My Faith In You”. Not sure if it’s the Save On Food Memorial venue, the incredible band or both but sound and acoustics were the best I’ve ever heard in a long time. “Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic”, sounded better the original recording. I could hear every sound and instrument clearly. His voice hasn’t aged; it was pristine, he held some long notes that only a few Idol divas can do that took me by surprised. He was definitely in top form rocking the stage like it was the 80’s, the band was superb check out the incredible violinist that does a few solos. “Englishman In New York” had an brief instrumental remix break that I just loved. Most songs sounded faithful, but I was a bit disappointed with “Wrapped Around Your Finger”, I’m, not a fan of slowing down songs, it sounded like a drugged down reggae version, however the light show during the song was really cool. “Roxanne” was slightly different but I couldn’t put my finger on what it was, then in the middle of the song it took a strange jazzy turn only to go back into the original by the end, I can’t forget the blinded red light that shined throughout the song. My big complaint always goes to setlist. He did a big cross section of his career but there was too many album tracks that I didn’t find that interesting, I could have done without “I Hung My Head”, “Driven To Tears”, “Next To You”, “Heavy Cloud No Rain”, and “The Hounds Of Winter", from his least successful album Mercury Falling, I know there is a fine line between just doing Greatest Hits and fan favorites but I felt he lost the crowd, are any of these liked that much? Why would he completely ignore his Grammy nominated hit making solo record “The Dream Of The Blue Turtles” he did not play one song from it, Does he hate “If You Love Somebody” that much? “All This Time” is cute but he could have done so many other singles instead. He did 2 encores, “Desert Rose” followed by “King Of Pain” and “Every Breath You Take” was just magical. The show ended with the mellow moment of “Fragile”, just a few minutes shy of 2 hours.

A review by the Times Colonist said he played “Walking On The Moon” but unless I was sleeping I do not remember him playing it.

Setlist:

1. If I Ever Lose My Faith In You

2. Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic

3. Englishman In New York

4. All This Time

5. Demolition Man

6. I Hung My Head

7. Fields Of Gold

8. Driven To Tears

9. Heavy Cloud No Rain

10. Message In A Bottle

11. Shape Of My Heart

12. The Hounds Of Winter

13. Wrapped Around Your Finger

14. De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da

15. Roxanne

1st Encore

16. Desert Rose

17. King Of Pain

19. Every Breath You Take

2nd ENCORE

20. Next To You

21. Fragile