Category Archives: Concert

Graham Parker at the Sellersville Theater, 5/12/2017

Last night at the Sellersville Theater in Sellersville, Pa., Graham Parker delivered an exemplary set that featured many of his best songs, including “Stick to Me,” “Heat Treatment,” “Discovering Japan” and “White Honey.” His sardonic sense of humor was on full display, too – his intros were often as funny, if not funnier, than routines delivered by stand-up comedians.

Accompanying him: Brinsley Schwarz – as in the guitarist, not the band. The longtime Parker sideman, who plays in the Rumour, handled electric guitar most of the night, and shined on his one excursion into the spotlight with “You Miss Again,” a song from his 2016 solo album Unexpected. Parker, for his part, played acoustic guitar.

Back to Parker’s intros: One of the funnier bits centered on the Sellersville Theater. He praised it, as it’s a great place with wonderful acoustics, and mentioned that he was impressed with many of the acts they book. “But what’s with all the cover bands?” he gibed. “The Almost Queens?!” (An actual “tribute” band, from what I just discovered.) He added, dry as can be, that he once saw an Oasis cover band and found it more enjoyable than the real thing: the faux Liam and Noel weren’t butting heads.

Ah, the things we rock fans find amusing.

I’d love to share a video of that or any intro, as well as several of the night’s songs, but taking pictures and “any recording of any kind” were strictly prohibited. Even if not, although we had excellent seats, two rather large shadows (i.e., the people in front of me) would have made it nearly impossible – as evidenced by the few pictures I snapped during the show’s last songs.

Anyway, I could and probably should delve deeper into the night’s specific highs – such as “Don’t Let It Break You Down,” when he integrated snippets of other songs, including the Velvet Underground’s “Sweet Jane” and the Beatles’ “Here Comes the Sun,” into it – but, honestly, there’s no point. For me, it was a good/great show. But Diane and our friend Luanne, who are both longer (and much more rabid) fans than I, were absolutely enthralled. They both raved about it – and about meeting Graham afterwards – on the ride home.

I hasten to add, about this last picture: My de-facto casual weekend garb since the 2016 election includes my “Don’t Blame Me, I Voted for Bill & Opus” hoodie that I picked up…last spring, I believe, after seeing an advertisement for it on Facebook. When out and about on chilly days and nights, it and my faux-leather jacket keep me warm – and, too, sends a subtle political message. But I also was not expecting to pose for pictures with Juliana, Courtney and Graham in succession…especially since I’ve only posed with one other artist, Rumer, in all my years of concert-going.

The set:

  1. Watch the Moon Come Down
  2. Between You and Me
  3. Stop Cryin’ About the Rain
  4. Fool’s Gold
  5. Devil’s Sidewalk
  6. Lunatic Fringe
  7. Socks ’n’ Sandals
  8. Disney’s America
  9. You Miss Again (Brinsley Schwarz)
  10. Heat Treatment
  11. Stick to Me
  12. Discovering Japan
  13. Long Emotional Ride
  14. Pub Crawl
  15. The New York Shuffle
  16. White Honey
  17. **You Can’t Be Too Strong
  18. **Don’t Let It Break You Down
  19. **Hold Back the Night

(** = encore)

Courtney Marie Andrews in Philadelphia, 5/9/2017

At the Boot & Saddle in South Philly last night, Courtney Marie Andrews delivered as magical and mesmerizing a set as I’ve witnessed during my 30+ years of concert-going. The 15 songs explored the highways, byways, colors and hues of heartbreak, heartache, life and death, and did so with deftness and charm. What blew me away as much as her lyrics and melodies: the clarity and power of her voice, which soars and swoops through the soul like no other.

In between songs, while tuning her guitar (which was replete with new strings), she shared stories about their inspirations and, too, her life experiences, from writing “Heart and Mind” at a truck stop following the 2016 election to interacting with the colorful characters she met while tending bar for a time. “Honest Life,” she explained, was heard as a gospel song by Jools Holland, who asked to play it with her when she appeared on his Later show in England.

The song, as does the Honest Life album as a whole, echoes the past while remaining rooted in the present; it’s an example of the amalgamation I referenced in my review, merging a myriad of influences into a unique and singular whole. It blows my mind every time I listen to it, in other words, and – live – it did so, again.

Other highlights included her first “funny” song, which was charming and droll. Some of the lyrics, as autographed by Courtney, are to the left.

“Put the Fire Out,” which closed the main portion of the set, was simply amazing:

That was to be the night’s last song, but after cajoles from the crowd she debuted a song she’d yet to perform live – no title was given, but the chorus mentions a “Long, Long Road.” Like the night’s previous 14 songs, one can hear the clarion call of the generations in it, from the tunes mined by A.P. Carter in the Appalachian mountains to the folk-country stylings of First Aid Kit.

Years from now, my hunch is that the 50-or-so folks in attendance will have ballooned to 1000 or more, as that many will lay claim to have been present. It will be the stuff of Philadelphia lore, akin to Joni playing the 2nd Fret coffeehouse on Rittenhouse Square in the late 1960s or Bruce, Jackson and Bonnie playing the Main Point in the early ‘70s. (That may seem hyperbolic, but…it is what it is.)

Here’s the set – with a few caveats. She didn’t mention song titles, so the “funny song” and night’s final song have what I think they may be called in parentheses; I’m likely wrong. I also am not familiar with the moving song she sang for her aunt, who was diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer as she was writing it (she’s since rebounded and the cancer is nearly gone).

  1. Seaside Town
  2. Not the End
  3. Rookie Dreaming
  4. Table for One
  5. Heart and Mind
  6. Woman of Many Colors
  7. How Quickly the Heart Mends
  8. Honest Life
  9. 15 Highway Lines
  10. Irene
  11. Funny Song (“Drunk Needs a Drink”?)
  12. Song for Aunt
  13. Let the Good One Go
  14. Put the Fire Out
  15. New Song (“Long, Long Road”?)

Also: the Dove & the Wolf, who opened, were simply magnificent. We’re looking forward to seeing them again.

Afterwards, Courtney was kind enough to meet with fans and sign autographs, and posed for a picture with me – kinda like beauty and the beast, now that I look at it. (And I was so high from the performance that I forgot to get the Honest Life album, which I bought on vinyl, autographed! Next time, hopefully.)

And, last: Philly fans should note that Courtney will be back in town on November 2nd, when she opens for Hamilton Leithauser at the Union Transfer.

Grrrl Rock: The Juliana Hatfield Three at the Boot & Saddle in Philly, 4/24/2017

The Juliana Hatfield Three delivered a loud, sweaty and raucous show at the Boot & Saddle in South Philly last night. In fact, you could say it was a night of true grrrl rock (it is the Pussycat tour, after all). The 20-song set opened with a ferocious “Got No Idols” from Become What You Are. As evidenced by the video, Todd Phillips was a monster on drums, Dean Fisher equally brutal on bass and Juliana – well, Juliana was Juliana, full of grace, grit and growls on guitar and vocals.

Diane thought she was a bit in her head at the evening’s start, but I thought she was hitting all cylinders from the get-go. The only negative, which was likely due to our location at the foot of the stage: the vocals were muffled.

In all, the set (which, another fan told me, has been changing every night) featured seven numbers from the new LP, which is due out this Friday, and selections from throughout her career, including “My Sister.”

Here’s the set in full:

Got No Idols
Taxicab
You Are the Camera
Push Pin
Vagabond
Short-Fingered Man
Touch You Again
Wonder Why
When You’re a Star
What Do I Care?
My Pet Lion
Going Blonde
Kellyanne
There’s Always Another Girl
Bad Moon Rising
My Sister
Rhinoceros
Nirvana
Choose Drugs
Impossible Song

Afterwards, while packing up her stuff, Juliana was kind enough to pose for pictures with some fans, including me. She thanked me for my support but, really, she had it backwards – her music has supported me through the decades. I’m grateful to have been able to thank her for that in person.

Of the Pussycat album: Although not due out until Friday, our copy (actually, copies – CD, LP and cassette) arrived yesterday afternoon, so we listened to it on the way to the show. At first blush, it’s excellent through and through; I’ll be reviewing it in full this weekend, so be sure to check back. (If you haven’t already, order it from American Laundromat. You won’t regret it. Which I guess is a review and of itself.) Anyway, the new songs were leaner, rougher and blunter in the live setting; and the claws were definitely out on both “Short-Fingered Man” and “Kellyanne.” (The latter made for a perfect thematic fit with Made in China‘s “Going Blonde,” which preceded it in the set.) My favorite track, so far, is “Wonder Why” –

– though “Short-Fingered Man” remains a venomously funny delight. I’d post the clip I recorded, but the sound is even more muffled than on the ones I shared above; and rather to not give it the justice it deserves… here’s Juliana’s video: