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Posts Tagged ‘Dark Side of the Moon’

(Above: Gil Scott-Heron performs “We Almost Lost Detroit” in concert. His June 20 performance at Blues Alley in Washington, D.C., earns an honorable mention as one of the top shows of the year.)

By Joel Francis
The Daily Record

Jonsi, April 22, Liberty Hall

Sigur Ros concerts have a sustained emotional intensity matched only by Radiohead’s events. On his own, Sigur Ros frontman Jonsi ratcheted the passion even higher. The 80-minute set focused only on Jonsi’s solo release “Go” and a few outtakes. Although the material was original, the textures, delivery and emotions echoed Jonsi’s other band, including a climax that was one of the most sustained and forceful moments in which I’ve ever had the joy of being included. Read more.

Emmylou Harris, July 18, Stiefel Theater, Salina, Kan.

Four days after delivering a short set in the blistering heat to the Lilith Fair crowd at Sandstone Amphitheater, Emmylou Harris took her Red Hot Band to tiny Salina, Kan. For two hours she gave an intimate set in a theater slightly smaller and slightly newer than Kansas City’s Folly Theater. The set reprised many of the songs performed at Lilith – including a beautiful a capella rendition of “Calling My Children Home” and Harris’ hymn “The Pearl” – a lovely tribute to her departed friend Anna McGarrigle, and other gems spanning her entire career. Harris’ enchanting voice captivates in any setting. Removed from the heat and placed in a charming surrounding it shined even brighter. Read a review of Lilith Fair here.

Pearl Jam, May 3, Sprint Center

Nearly all of the 28 songs Pearl Jam performed during its sold-out, two-and-a-half hour concert were sing-alongs. Kansas City fans has waited eight years since the band’s last stop to join in with their heroes, and the crowd let the band know it. Near the end, Eddie Vedder introduced Kansas City Royals legend Willie Wilson by wearing a No. 6 Royals jersey. Vedder later invited onstage wounded Iraqi war vet Tomas Young, who appeared in the documentary “Body of War.” With Young in a wheelchair to his left, Vedder performed “No More,” the song the pair wrote together. During the encore, a member of the gold-medal winning U.S. Olympic bobsledding team, joined the band on bass for “Yellow Ledbetter.” As the song ended it felt like the evening was winding down, but guitarist Mike McCready refused to quit, spraying a spastic version of Jimi Hendrix’ arrangement of “The Star Spangled Banner.”

Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, Sept. 21, Midland Theater

An ice storm and obscurity kept many fans away from Sharon Jones’ previous show in the area, a January gig at the Granada three years ago. With those obstacles removed, a crowded Midland Theater audience witnessed a soul revue straight out of the early ‘60s. With a band rooted in the Stax sound and a performance indebted to James Brown and Tina Turner, the diminutive Jones never let up. Jones only stopped dancing to chastise over-eager fans who kept climbing onto her stage. The tight, eight-piece horn section provided motivation enough for everyone else to keep moving.

Flaming Lips, Jan. 1, Cox Area, Oklahoma City

The year was less than an hour old when the Flaming Lips provided one of its top moments. After performing their standard 90-minute set, complete with lasers, confetti and sing-along versions of “Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots” and “She Don’t Use Jelly.” Then more balloons and confetti ushered in the new year. The Lips celebrated by bringing opening act Star Death and White Dwarfs onstage for a joint performance of Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon” in its entirety. Read more.

Izmore/Diverse – Like Water for Chocolate Tribute, March 19, Czar Bar

Combining hip hop and jazz became something of a cliché in the 1990s. The results typically only hinted at the union’s potential, and didn’t satisfy fans of either genre. Ten years after Common released his landmark album “Like Water For Chocolate,” a hip hop album that paid tribute to jazz, Afro-beat and gospel with the help of Roy Hargrove, Femi Kuti, Cee-Lo Green, J Dilla and others, some of Kansas City’s finest artists decided to celebrate the anniversary. MC Les Izmore delivered Common’s rhymes while the jazz quartet Diverse provided innovative and imaginative new backdrops. The result was both jazz and hip hop at their finest, with neither form compromising to the other. Read a feature on the event here.

David Gray, March 17, Uptown Theater

After releasing several solid albums in obscurity in the 1990s, David Gray finally broke into the mainstream at the turn of the century. As his tours grew bigger and catalog became richer, a Kansas City date remained elusive. On St. Patrick’s Day, Gray finally satisfied a ravenous capacity crowd with a two-hour set sprinkled with the songs that made him a household name. Songs like “Babylon” and “World To Me” are written well enough to make the show memorable, but the passion and energy Gray and his band invested in the night made this an amazing night for even this casual fan. A strong opening set from Phosphorescent made the evening even better. Read more.

Black Keys, June 4, Crossroads

The Akron, Ohio, garage blues duo opened Crossroads’ summer season with a sold-out night that focused on their latest effort, the spectacular “Brothers.” Drummer Patrick Carney and guitarist Dan Auerbach were augmented with a bass player and keyboardist on several numbers, but their trademark sound remained unaltered. Read more.

Public Image Ltd., April 26, Midland Theater

On paper, fans had a right to be cynical about this tour. After embarrassing himself with a handful of half-assed Sex Pistols reunions, Johnny Rotten recruited two new musicians to reconstitute his Public Image Ltd. project. Although Rotten was PiL’s only consistent member, and his current X-piece band had never played together before, they managed to flawlessly replicate the band’s finest moments. The Midland was embarrassingly empty – the balcony was closed, and the floor was less than half full – but Rotten played like it was the final night of the tour in front of a festival crowd. Read more.

Allen Toussaint, Jan. 8, Folly Theater

Seventy-two-year-old New Orleans pianist Allen Toussaint has been writing, producing and performing hit singles for more than 50 years. His songs include “Working In A Coal Mine,” “Mother In Law,” “A Certain Girl” and “Get Out Of My Life Woman.” Toussaint performed all of these numbers and more in what was remarkably his first concert in Kansas City. His own remarkable catalog aside, the evening’s high point was an amazing solo version of Paul Simon’s “American Tune.” Read more.

Keep reading:

Top 10 Concerts of 2009

Top 10 concerts of 2008

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(Above: “Us and Them,” one of the few unaltered numbers from the Flaming Lips performance of Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon” in the early hours of 2010.)

By Joel Francis
The Daily Record

OKLAHOMA CITY – The average Flaming Lips concert already feels like the greatest party on earth. Spending New Year’s Eve with the band in their hometown felt like living inside a kaleidoscope.

For nearly three hours, the Lips said goodbye to 2009 and hello to 2010 with a 90-minute main set and a rare performance of Pink Floyd’s classic album “Dark Side of the Moon.” For that feat, the band had assistance from Stardeath and White Dwarfs, the opening act, fronted by lead Lip Wayne Coyne’s nephew, Dennis Coyne.

The Lips/Stardeath version of “Dark Side” is less an homage than a deconstruction. If Floyd’s vision was a Cecil B. DeMille epic of careful, layered arrangements, then the Lips’ plays like one of Steven Soderbergh’s handi-cam experimental films, loving thrown together on a low budget, more intent on capturing the spirit than articulating the original performance.

“Breathe” was stripped of its shimmering guitars and lush harmonies and given the same blocky textures and blunt rhythms and bass lines that fuel much of the Lips’ new album, “Embryonic.” Similarly, “On the Run” was no longer a pattern of tape loops and manipulations, but fuzzed-out orgy of noise.

“Dark Side”’s most well-known number was also the least recognizable. The minimalist take of “Money” reduced the song to its signature bass line, with electronically manipulated vocals.

There were several nods to Pink Floyd in the Lips’ original material. “Vein of Stars” foreshadowed the straightforward reading of “Us and Them,” right down to the piano part and laser effects. “Pompeii am Götterdämmerung” sounded like something the Syd Barrett era of the Floyd would have pounded out in the late-‘60s London underground.

The spirit of Floyd was also evident in the material from “Embryonic.” Its songs are a little more abstract and less focused than anything the band has delivered in more than a decade. Although it was a bit jarring to shift from the ultra-catchy fan-favorites to the new material, it was nice to hear the band spazz out.

With its perpetual thump of bass and guitar, “Sea of Leaves” felt like being run over by an 18-wheeler. Wayne Coyne delivered the last half of “Silver Trembling Hands” from the shoulders of a person in a gorilla suit, a bizarre vision for a bizarre song.

The poppier moments of the first set drew the biggest response. The crowd threw a lot of force into “The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song” and the air was charged when the house lights came up and everyone joined in on the chorus (“with all your power”). The slower arrangement of “Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots (Part 0ne)” felt like a giant campfire. “She Don’t Use Jelly” was a reliable feel-good moment.

Although the arena was two-thirds full and loaded with energetic fans, the band seemed to have trouble filling the void. It was unusual and unexpected, because I’ve twice seen them rock a vast field at the Wakarusa Music Festival. Maybe it was the abundance of slower, spacier songs and unfamiliar new material, but the Cox Arena – which resembles a slightly larger, late-‘60s edition of Kansas City’s Municipal Auditorium – felt spacious.

Whatever the reason, it wasn’t for lack of trying. Most bands tarp off the unseated sections behind the stage. The Lips filled them with balloons. As fans filed in, hundreds of the brightly colored latex orbs waited to be bumped, thrown and ultimately popped when the appointed moment arrived.

As the Lips floated into a poignant, sing-along reading of “Do You Realize??,” the balloons slowly started cascading from the balcony to the floor. When the song ended, it was nearly midnight and the house lights came up. As the crowd counted down, the band vamped and balloons filled the coliseum, obscuring the stage. Somewhere in the melee a wedding proposal was accepted.

While the music blared and balloons bounced, the stage crew had the thankless job of clearing debris from the stage for the second act. A flurry of confetti fell again over the crowd as one of the stage hands used a leaf blower to clear the area.

Despite the crew’s efforts it was a tedious 40 minutes of sound checking and testing before the Floyd set took flight. Once-giddy fans now laid or sat down in the back of the floor and yawns abounded. When the heartbeat that signaled the start of “Breathe” finally started, the crowd responded with a cheer of both anticipation and appreciation.

Material aside, the second set was markedly different from the first. After the powerful downbeat and swirling intro to opening number “Race for the Stars” the arena was awash in balloons, confetti and streamers. As the audience danced, Coyne grabbed a fistful of streamer and started twirling around like a cross between a color guard and Roger Daltrey.

But that was hours ago. The joviality and props disappeared when the band ventured into the “Dark Side.” In their place was a hovel of nearly a dozen musicians, surrounded by fog, hunched over their instruments. Although Coyne still danced, striking a cymbal with his maraca in the center of the stage, it was obvious this was Serious Music.

Coyne may have been the ringmaster, but “Dark Side” was clearly guitarist/keyboard player Steven Drozd’s show. He served as conductor, signaling the changes and conducting the performers. During “Great Gig in the Sky,” he sang the wordless melody into a megaphone, creating the musical equivalent of an epileptic seizure.

Nepotism aside, Stardeath were a great enlistment for the feat. The majority of the songs in their 45-minute opening set had a druggy, progressive bent straight out of the early ‘70s. The band showed their hand early by opening with a cover of Black Sabbath’s “Sweet Leaf.” Uncle Wayne showed his approval rocking out from the wings of the stage.

Stardeath’s centerpiece was “The Birth,” a side-long proggy throwback complete with Theremin solo and lengthy bass/drums breakdown. The set ended with an imaginative cover of Madonna’s “Borderline.”

As the final pulse of “Eclipse” beat out, a last blast of confetti showered the crowd. The New Year was only 90 minutes old, but had already logged its first great rock moment.

Set List:
Race for the Prize, Silver Trembling Hands, The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song, Vein of Stars, In The Morning of the Magicians, Convinced of the Hex, Evil, See the Leaves, Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, Pompeii, The W.A.N.D., She Don’t Use Jelly, Do You Realize?? New Year’s countdown and intermission. Dark Side of the Moon (with Stardeath and White Dwarfs): Speak To Me, Breathe, On the Run, Time, The Great Gig in the Sky, Money, Us and Them, Any Colour You Like, Brain Damage, Eclipse.

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