Tag Archives: Concert

Garland Jeffreys at the World Cafe Live Upstairs, 6/8/2017

Another night, another great show. Since March, when we saw the Staves, Diane and I have witnessed a string of magical concerts by favorites old and new. Some nights we’ve been the oldest folks in the room; others we’ve mingled with our middle-aged peers; and, at least once, I looked around and realized we were likely the youngest in attendance.

This night, Thursday June 8th, found us sitting with fellow travelers/longtime fans of Garland Jeffreys at the World Cafe Live Upstairs in West Philly; aka, a middle-aged crowd or, more to the point, our peers. It’s the smaller of the venue’s two rooms, and intimate as intimate gets. This was our view of the stage:

That’s the DuPont Brothers, a Vermont-based duo, who opened. Their songs and harmonies conjure the likes of Jackson Browne and CSN, among others; I look forward to exploring their music in the weeks and months ahead, and hope to see them again.

Then, it was time for the headliner: Garland took to the stage to the propulsive beat of “Coney Island Winter,” one of many highlights from his 2011 album The King of In Between

It was the perfect start to a rockin’ hour-and-change set that mixed latter-day songs, including a wealth of tracks from his sterling 14 Steps to Harlem album, with such past classics as “Ghost Writer,” “35 Millimeter Dreams,” “96 Tears” and “R.O.C.K.”

Somewhere in there, I found myself drifting back to a show in New York in maybe 2002 or ‘03 at the Village Underground, Joe’s Pub or…? Whenever, wherever, Diane and I had made the long trek up the railways to see the Brooklyn-born bard on his home turf, and – as has been the case with each of the dozen times (give or take) we’ve seen him since – he more than exceeded expectations. That night, he rocked the packed house and then, afterwards, greeted fans and friends alike.

Understand that, at that point, he and Diane had bonded through an in-depth interview she’d done with him for the original Old Grey Cat website (which, now that I’ve located it, I plan to resurrect here in the near-future). So when he saw Diane, as one might expect, he hugged her.

He also – totally unexpected – hugged me.

Now, I can count on one hand the number of men I’ve hugged. I’m of my father’s stock, in that regard; a handshake more than suffices. (I hasten to add, it’s a gender-equal disposition – other than my wife, mother and one or two others, a hug and/or kiss from a woman seems a tad touchy-feely to me. Juliana could well have written “Got No Idols” about me, in other words.)

Anyway, now 73, Garland’s still going strong, still writing songs that resonate with the soul – such as “Time and Again,” which he didn’t sing this night (but should have – even without his daughter’s beautiful voice, it would be powerful), or the title song to 14 Steps, which he linked with “Harlem Bound” from his 1973 solo debut.

And this night, as with that long-ago night, he hung out post-show to meet and greet his fans and friends. For my part, I attempted to circumvent the expected hug by asking for a photo instead – the first time for that.

It kinda-sorta worked.

 

Lulu at the Sellersville Theater, 5/31/2017

This night, a middle-aged and older crowd found itself returned to the halcyon days of yore, when they tore up the dance floor with the Frug, Freddie and Watusi, due to a wondrous spell cast upon them by the musical shaman on stage, the one and only Lulu.

Her cover of the Isley Brothers’ “Shout,” of course, was her first (U.K.) hit, peaking at No. 7 in 1964 – when she was 15 years of age. Her innate talent and effervescent personality quickly led to a co-hosting gig on Gadzooks! It’s the In-Crowd, a teen-themed TV music show, and thus was born a U.K.-centric career. She hosted a succession of variety shows and one-off specials, and scored a succession of hits, including Top 10 songs in five decades.

Fifty+ years on, her voice sounds remarkably the same as it did on that long-ago single. In fact, at her best then and now – such as with “Oh Me, Oh My (I’m a Fool for You Baby)” – she blends equal measures of R&B, soul and pop into a delectable dish –

That Jim Doris-penned song was one she brought with her on her sojourn to the Muscle Shoals Sound Studio in 1969 to record her New Routes album, a flawed masterpiece. (It and the following year’s Melody Fair, along with various singles and outtakes, are available on the more-than-worthwhile Atco Sessions: 1969-72 collection.) It was one of few songs that did better in the U.S., where it reached No. 22, than in the U.K. – and would be her last single to chart here until 1981, when she reached No. 18 with one of the night’s other highlights, “I Could Never Miss You (More Than I Do).” Here’s the original version:

Anyway, that’s a lot of backstory to lead into this: Now 68, Lulu is undertaking what she should have done way back in 1967 – her first headlining tour of America. I pinpoint 1967 because, of course, that’s when the title tune to the iconic film To Sir With Love topped the Billboard charts for five weeks (on its way to being the No. 1 single for the year).

During the show, she mentioned how the record company actually relegated the song to the b-side of the Neil Diamond-penned “The Boat That I Row”; if not for American deejays, who back then held much sway over what made air, flipping the 45, the song never would have become iconic. Imagine that!

Other highlights included her tribute to David Bowie with “The Man Who Sold the World,” which she released as a single (produced by Bowie and Mick Ronson) in 1974; and her recollection of being in the studio with (ex-husband) Maurice Gibb and the Bee Gees when they wrote and recorded several classic songs. Fast forward to 6:33 of this fan’s highlight-like reel of the show for part of that:

Obviously, everyone in attendance expected to be entertained – it’s why we bought tickets to the show, after all. It was to be a fun night out. But the common refrain I heard from those around us while we left the theater and made our way to the parking lot was that “she was even better than I hoped.” Or, as Diane told a friend on the phone moments ago, “She was incredible. Unbelievable.” I’d second that.

  1. Shout
  2. The Boat That I Row
  3. The Man Who Sold the World
  4. Poison Kiss
  5. I Don’t Wanna Fight
  6. Run to Me
  7. To Love Somebody
  8. I’ve Gotta Get a Message to You
  9. Unchain My Heart
  10. Wait for Me
  11. The Man With the Golden Gun
  12. I Could Never Miss You
  13. Oh Me Oh My (I’m a Fool for You Baby)
  14. Rock Steady
  15. Hound Dog
  16. To Sir With Love
  17. I Can’t Turn You Loose

 

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)