Roisin Murphy People! Live!

The fan girl in me was psyched! A long time fan of Moloko, I missed the opportunity to see Roisin Murphy live 8 years ago. So here we were, almost a decade later, and the talented singer herself was touring again! I made sure not to miss this show and, as expected from the experienced musician, Roisin Murphy did not disappoint!

For Blurt Magazine:

Touring in support of her 2016 album, Take Her up To Monto, UK songstress Roisin Murphy has come and gone, and it was like a living reverie. Her exceptional musical career began in 1993 with Moloko, a captivating band that merged dance, electronica, and jazz to create several catchy, acclaimed releases before disbanding in 2003. In addition to their well-crafted music, lead singer Roisin Murphy’s artsy, quirky, strange, and infectious stage presence, combined with her powerful yet simultaneously genteel vocals, did not go unnoticed. Murphy has since brought her unique style to her solo efforts and, like her fashion sense, has morphed each release into a different sonic landscape, continually forging a unique sound all her own.

murphy-cd

Murphy’s first album, 2005’s Ruby Blue, was carefully constructed by layering a cacophony of sounds to create an organic, jazz-inspired dance album, whereas her 2007 sophomore release, Overpowered, took on a pop-dance trajectory, dripping in electronica and bursting in great songs. It laid out a welcoming mat in preparation for her subsequent strong albums. Then she didn’t release an LP for eight years. Murphy worked on projects with others and released a few singles before suddenly returning in 2015 with Hairless Toys, which was quickly followed by this year’s Take Her up To Monto. In true Murphy custom, these releases were nothing like her earlier albums. Minimal, delicate, yet still fun and polished, Murphy has unveiled her ability to be transformative.

And so it was on the touring for Monto: the rare occurrence of Murphy in North America. On her first solo tour in Canada, the Toronto audience loved every moment; the delighted fans sang nearly every song, and they appeared to be enthralled, utterly delighted in Murphy’s presence.

For the two hour show at the Phoenix, Murphy included fan favorites from her Moloko days in between material from her more recent releases. The band opened with the first track on the latest album: “Mastermind” is a great opener, as the lilting keys gave way to Murphy’s off-kilter vocals that transitioned between speaking and singing. Yet just when you thought the evening would be highlighting her new songs, the band leapt into the upbeat Moloko single “Forever More” and fans cheered and sang along. Murphy was a treat for the eyes as well as our ears as she changed headdresses, masks, costumes, and accessories throughout the evening. Another treat for fans was the presence of Eddie Stevens, the keyboardist, producer, and composer who has collaborated with Murphy since the Moloko days. It is his tradition to grace the stage shoeless, and he danced in bare feet as he effortlessly controlled multiple devices.

Murphy herself danced, stomped and sashayed about the stage in between singing to the audience and the occasional fondling of her bandmates (everyone laughed at her antics). Making sure she interacted with her fans, Murphy often approached the edge of the stage and reached out to shake hands; one lucky gentleman who stood near center stage was the frequent receiver of her attention as she would lay on the speakers, stretch her arm, and hold his hand while she sang. A photographer’s dream, Murphy’s artful display clearly dazzled the fans. At one point she wore a beautiful, large, white gown and accessorized it with a miner’s helmet that had a flashing strobe light. She switched between multiple head pieces: from a mask with two faces to one with a Pinocchio nose to a crimped, black ball reminiscent to a ‘60s sci-fi helmet to a piece with flowing, red streamers and a red/white bobble at the top of her head. After close inspection you could see it was actually a sideways Ronald McDonald head.

And during these many visual phases, she and the band played on, effortlessly. A quintessential Murphy song to perform, “Sing it Back,” was performed before the encores, reworked but still as catchy as the original studio version, and as Murphy sang the words “sing it back to me,” the concert hall erupted into the next line and commenced an organic call-and-answer moment.

Though her mic this evening could’ve been better—when she chatted with the audience between songs, she could not be heard too clearly—the crowd did not seem to care. Fans knew all of the songs old and new, with perhaps the exception of closer “Pure Pleasure Seeker” from Moloko’s 2000 album, although select fans were clearly familiar with this high octane track.

Now that the two hours of singing and dancing was officially over, the audience cheered and applauded loudly while Murphy again made her way to the front of the stage. This time she walked the entire edge to shake hands one last time, and as she climbed over a speaker to reach the fans at the far right corner, people rushed forward enthusiastically. Murphy took her time, and strongly held as many hands as she could before leaving the stage for the final time. What a strong grip.

Setlist:
Mastermind
Forever More
Dirty Monkey
Dear Miami
Tight Sweater
In sintesi
Tatty Narja
Gone Fishing
Evil Eyes
House of Glass
Ten Miles High
Overpowered
Exploitation
Sing It Back

Encore:
Exile
Pure Pleasure Seeker

 

THIS IS PIL!

Read live review for Blurt below!

John Lydon, aka Johnny Rotten of Sex Pistols (of course!) and band mates reunited to create a new Public Image Ltd. release, This Is PIL! It was 20 year silence from PIL and the record was excellent, so fans eagerly filled Toronto’s Opera House and as hoped Johnny and the talented musicians that comprise PIL, (Lu Edmonds, Bruce Smith and new recruit Scott Firth), made the venue ROAR! Read the review for more details!

For those who know their punk rock history, Public Image Ltd. need no introduction. Formed in ’78, disbanded in ’92 and regrouped in 2009, 2012 marked the release of PIL’s first album in 20 years. The ever formidable lead singer John Lydon (aka Johnny Rotten of Sex Pistols fame), guitarist/instrumentalist Lu Edmonds (The Damned, The Clash), drummer Bruce Smith and new recruit bassist Scott Firth are on tour promoting their latest effort – appropriately titled after such a long absence – This Is PIL. Perhaps fans of the “old” PIL might’ve walked away from Toronto’s Opera House disappointed that the band did not play more of the classic hits (“Public Image” didn’t make the cut); nevertheless, the talented and seasoned musicians made the House rumble.

All images © all rights reserved.

The band took to the stage and leapt into ‘80s single, “This Is Not A Love Song,” new track “Deeper Water” and the 10 minute classic, “Albatross.” Older tracks were revamped to fit the new outfit and though such songs sounded slightly different from their original recordings, PIL made each number heavier and punchier. With just three instruments and a computer for the more electronic sounds, PIL created quite a bit of noise.

Edmonds proved amazing to watch as he effortlessly created an array of sounds from his tweaked collection of stringed instruments: guitar, saz and cumbus. Smith pummeled his drums while Firth created the heavy, bass laden riffs that drown PIL’s music. Lydon growled, shouted and bellowed the lyrics in a signature style all his own, and the most avid fans sang along. As the vocalist’s delivery is surely demanding on his throat, his cure was: drink water, gargle Hennessy and spit the remnants in a bucket.

When done with the first few tracks Lydon finally addressed the audience which led to shouts of song titles. “What is this,” Lydon asked us, “are we a fucking wedding band, taking requests?” (The shouting turned to applause and laughter as Lydon chatted on about the band’s relationship with the audience – it is indeed like a marriage was the conclusion.) PIL’s sound is trance inducing; with tracks often in the 6-8 minute mark, most fans stood in place and rocked their body or bopped their head to the repetitive beats. Lydon wanted more.

“What’s that other big city in Canada,” he began, “Montreal? They were louder than you!” He facetiously smiled as the audience booed loudly, but of course this wouldn’t stop Johnny Rotten. “They booed louder than you” he
continued. The concert hall drowned in boos and laughter, “Parlez vous Francais,” he asked in his laden Brit accent. “We don’t believe in French,” a girl returned which made Lydon laugh. “Come now,” he finally retorted, “we’re all one.” Though the concert hall might have been a bit more mellow than anticipated, the majority of audience enjoyed the high octane show.

For the politicized “Religion,” Lydon introduced us to Jesus, Edmonds approached the front of the stage for his guitar solo, and Satan, Firth plucked away on his electric, stand-up bass.  Lydon thanked the crowd then paid homage to the rest of PIL and his right hand man John Stevens, who stood on the stage for the performance’s entirety before disappearing with the band backstage.

Their absence was not a long one and PIL returned to close the night with the loudest number yet, “Open Up.” A song Lydon recorded with electronic/dance artist Leftfield, PIL reworked it into a heavy, bass laden performance that literally circulated air from the speakers with each thump into the stacks. At the end Lydon advanced to the edge of the stage, made sure to walk its length, and bowed to the audience. Nearly 2.5 hours later Public Image Ltd. were done.

Setlist:
This Is Not a Love Song
Deeper Water
Albatross
One Drop
Flowers of Romance
Disappointed
Warrior
U.S.L.S. 1
Reggie Song
Death Disco
Bags / Chant
Religion

Encore:
Out of The Woods
Rise
Open Up

Garbage is BACK!!

Flying high on their new album, the alt-rock mainstays wowed the sold-out Phoenix Concert Theater on May 28.

After seven years of silence Garbage reemerged with news of their fifth album release Not Your Kind of People. An entirely too long of a wait for the talented group to reconnect, the band unsurprisingly greeted a highly enthusiastic audience of deprived, avid fans in the sold out Phoenix Concert Theater.

With the band on tour to promote their latest release it was questionable how many classic “Garbage hits” would have made it to the list. In fact the band gave fans just what they wanted, a smorgasbord of songs from their first four releases and they wasted no time in commencing the loud, rocking roar of the first track from their debut album, “Supervixen.” With their live setup slightly different, the quartet that is Garbage – Shirley Manson, Butch Vig, Duke Erikson, Steve Marker – added Eric Avery (formerly of Jane’s Addiction) on bass with Duke and Steve on dueling guitars and of course Butch on the explosive drums.

From the moment Garbage graced the stage to the last note everyone in Phoenix roared with excitement, loudly sang along with Shirley and danced to the music. The charismatic singer often smiled at the audience, and mentioned at one instance, “Toronto, you’re crazy!” Of course this made everyone cheer even louder. Shirley will always be an enigmatic presence on the stage, at times shy and humbled, other moments larger than life and alluring; she is always thrilling. She spoke to the audience, picked a few delighted fans from the crowd and asked their name and where they were from, at one point Shirley introduced her bandmates to the room – as if they needed an introduction. After properly presenting all of the gents Duke approached Shirley’s microphone, “…and Shirley Manson everyone,” he added which made her laugh and hang her head graciously as the audience clapped and cheered.

Shirley prowled in a circle on the stage as the heavy bass beat of “#1 Crush” played on, moved ferociously about and she pointed her mic towards the audience for them to sing along with her on “Cherry Lips” – which provoked a spontaneous call-and-answer during the catchy chorus. Yet, before singing “Lips,” which she shared was for all of the freaks and geeks in the room, she asked the rest of the band, “what weird things did you do in high school?” “Marching band,” Steve shouted which garnered laughter and applause. Shirley walked back to Butch hidden behind his kit, “I smoked a lot of pot,” he joked, the crowd cheered even louder.

The show was going great for the seasoned musicians. When the familiar chords to “I Think I’m Paranoid” filled the air Shirley began tapping her foot to the beat, suddenly all went silent. The monitors went out. Shirley apologized, “this is very unprofessional,” she giggled but quickly recovered with, “if we can’t be professional, we’ll be messy.” She joked about having shots while they waited; rather quickly her wish was granted as every member of the band was handed her favorite Scottish whiskey (Highland Park). Shirley raised her cup to the audience, bid her cheers, and Garbage was ready to take us away again.

When the band returned for their encore Shirley beamed a big smile, mouthed the word “Wow” and took out her earplug to hear the roar of the club. Definitely humbled by the very warm reception, Garbage performed three more songs before ending their nearly 2 hour performance. To close the night Shirley thanked the Toronto crowd once again, Duke raised his cup to the audience and drank his share of the whiskey, Butch, Steve and Eric approached the edge of the stage, and waved their goodbyes. The Toronto audience loved every moment of the show and several “I love you’s” were shouted to the band. With music that withstands the test of time, may Garbage never take such a long hiatus ever again.

Setlist:
Supervixen
Temptation Waits
Shut Your Mouth
Queer
Metal Heart
Stupid Girl
Why Do You Love Me
Control
#1 Crush
Cherry Lips
Blood For Poppies
Special
Milk
Man On A Wire
I Think I’m Paranoid
Bad Boyfriend
Only Happy When It Rains
Push It

Encore:
Automatic Systematic Habit
The World Is Not Enough
Vow

Miike Snow Live

Read Live Review @ Blurt!

*in my best Oprah impersonation*

Miike Snow LIIIIIVVVE!

In a short period of time the eclectic dance trio’s notoriety is skyrocketing! And deservedly so, their self titled debut is an amazingly orchestrated album BUT since their 2009 release, perhaps the guys felt the need to change up the song’s live performances. So, to treat their audiences to something new they remixed nearly each song…this change was not wholly welcomed on my part but they still put on a great, energetic live performance.

Yet, from the photographer’s perspective it was not the best environment…fog machines…very few lights…and did I mention the smoke? But when I did get a usable shot every once and a while they came out kinda cool thanks to the fog and few lights! Enjoy the images, all were taken on Pentax K7.

OK GO & Earl Greyhound Live

Read Live Review @ Blurt!

I have loved Brooklyn’s Earl Greyhound for some time but never had the luxury of seeing them live. So Toronto was the closest they were coming to me and I was going to be there no matter what. Then later I learned they were opening for OK GO…sometimes the gods DO love me. Enjoy the pics below, it was really fun to shoot OK GO and the pounds of confetti they unleashed in the air. And of course, Earl Greyhound burned the place DOWN with the loud, old school, RAWK!

All B&W shots were taken on film, 100 ISO if I remember correctly; 50mm prime with the Olympus OM-2n…
The color images were taken with a digi…

Editors Live!

Read Live Review @ Blurt!

I. Love. The. Editors.

That is all, enjoy the pictures!

Ok, want more? When the UK group returned with their third album, I was hesitant of their new sound (more synths and dance beats). Well, my doubts were quelled as In This Light and On This Evening is a great album. Still brooding and dark with great melodies, the music gets you dancing. And the Editors live is an experience you should…experience. They are always great in concert…I had the luxury of seeing them once before so I knew I had to see the quartet again.

Opening for them was NYs Antlers, there are a few pics of them as well!

All shots were taken on B&W film, 100 ISO amazingly; 50mm prime with the Olympus OM-2n…