Archive for the ‘Review’ Category

The Independent, San Francisco, CA

I didn’t even know they were still around let alone playing shows and I couldn’t believe when I saw them on the Independent’s list of upcoming shows. I’d never had the chance to see them so I snapped up a ticket as soon as they went on sale which was lucky because they sold out quite quickly as this was one of only two shows in the US.

Television at the SF Independent

Television at the SF Independent. Click for more photos.

For the most part, it’s the original band with the only change being Jimmy Rip now playing guitar. Tom Verlaine’s voice has held up well though he’s lost some of his distinctive nasally tone.

The highlight for me, by far, was a scorching jam in 1880. Jimmy Rip started out with a beautifully textured solo. When Verlaine turned his guitar backed up Rip began to weave the melody in and out of Tom’s rhythm lines which morphed into a breakdown with them the passing the “lead” back-and-forth.  I’d love to hear that again but I didn’t see anyone taping and no bootlegs have surfaced yet.

There are some videos of the show on YouTube.

Set list:
1880 or So
Little Johnny Jewel
Prove It
Torn Curtain
Guiding Light
Marquee Moon

No idea because I left ‘cuz I had an early morning meeting.

Tom Verlaine – vocals, guitar
Fred Smith – bass
Billy Ficca – drums
Jimmy Rip – guitar

Opening act:
Dennis Driscoll

The Moody Blues
Masonic Auditorium, San Francisco, CA

I hadn’t planned to go as I’ve never been much of a progrock fan, and the Moody Blues are no exception, but I’ve always found their music intriguing. A couple days before the show I received an email from Goldstar with an offer for a cheap, last minute ticket so I picked one up.

The Moody Blues at the Masonic Auditorium

The Moody Blues at the Masonic Auditorium. Click for more photos.

My seat was near the front of the balcony but way around stage right. I had nice views of the band but the sound is awful at Masonic Auditorium unless you are FOB. Nonetheless, I had a good time, picked up a signed poster, and snapped a couple pictures. All-in-all, a good night.

Brian Wilson and Jeff Beck
Paramount Theatre, Oakland, CA

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I saw this show listed as it seems a rather incongruous pairing. It was surprisingly good especially for the few songs where the bands played together.

Brian Wilson and Jeff Beck at the Oakland Paramount Theatre

Brian Wilson and Jeff Beck at the Oakland Paramount Theatre. Click for more photos.

Brian Wilson went first and I had low expectations because the last couple times I saw him he was downright awful. He was much better this time but it was still sad. His voice still has recognizable hints at his former Beach Boys’ sound; he showed glimmers of engagement at the keyboard but he often sat near catatonic for long sections. He had a huge band with him eleven other musicians including Al Jardine and David Marks. Blondie Chaplin even came out for a couple of songs including “Sail On, Sailor”. The size of the band was key as they easily covered for any of Brian Wilson’s shortcomings and let the audience focus on the mastery of the song-writing.

All-in-all, I got the feeling that he was simply sitting in at a Beach Boys tribute set.

Between sets there was a huge audience transition as a lot of people left.

Jeff Beck was perfect counterpoint. OMG he and his band were fabulous. Outside of the Yardbirds and his early work with Rod Stewart, I don’t know him at all. I expected a rock/blues band it was much more on the fusion side of the house. What surprised me most was that it was a true ensemble with him only stepping out in front and playing the guitar god role a few times.

He played for about 45 minutes or so then brought Brian Wilson and some of his band back and they performed a few songs off of Smile. After that, Jeff Beck played a few more songs on his own and closed his set with “Day in the Life” which was the highlight of the show for me.


They brought both bands together for the encores. Hearing Jeff Beck playing slide during “Surfin’ USA” was a treat.

Set List:

Brian Wilson

Their Hearts Were Full of Spring
California Girls
Do It Again
Don’t Worry Baby
Little Bird
Old Man River ->
Sail On, Sailor
Wild Honey
Heroes and Villains
Pet Sounds
God Only Knows
Sloop John B
Wouldn’t It Be Nice
I Get Around
Good Vibrations
Fun, Fun, Fun

Jeff Beck

[Several that I don’t know including]

Little Wing
Over the Rainbow
Our Prayer *
Child Is Father of the Man *
Surf’s Up *
Rollin’ and Tumbin’
Day in the Life

Barbara Ann *
Surfin’ U.S.A. *
Danny Boy *

* w/ Brian Wilson et al

Brian Wilson – Vocals, keyboards
Al Jardine – Vocals, guitar
David Marks – Vocals, guitar
Blondie Chaplin – Vocals, guitar
And too many more to remember

Jeff Beck – Guitar
Lizzie Ball – Violin
Rhonda Smith – Bass
Jonathan Joseph – Drums
Nicholas Meier – Guitar

Black Sabbath
Shoreline Amphitheatre, Mountain View, CA

I had been looking forward to this show for a long time and it was better than I expected. Everyone sounded really good and Ozzy looked much, much better than last time I saw him. My biggest complaint was there wasn’t anything interesting in the show. If you are the type of person that wants a show to sound *exactly* like the album you’ve listened to hundreds of times, this was the show for you!

Black Sabbath at Shoreline Amphitheatre

The show started off promising. Ozzy’s voice was strong on War Pigs and Into the Void even had a little bit of a jam while Tony and Geezer played off of each other’s riffs. For me, this was the highlight of the show. I swear Snowblind was identical the album version and they might as well have been lip syncing except for Ozzy’s constant repetition “show me your fucking hands” between every verse. The new material was engaging and they seemed to really enjoy playing it.

The drum solo was excruciating.

Set List:
War Pigs
Into the Void
Under the Sun ->
Every Day Comes and Goes
Age of reason
Black Sabbath
Behind the Wall of Sleep  ->
Bassically ->
End of the Beginning
Fairies Wear Boots
Rat Salad >
Iron Man
God is Dead
Dirty Women
Children of the Grave
E: Paranoid

Ozzy Osbourne – Vocals (and playing the role of Ozzy)
Tony Iommi – Guitar
Geezer Butler – Bass
Tommy Clufetos – Drums

Slim’s, San Francisco, CA

I first heard of, and saw, Reignwolf, AKA Jordon Cook, when I stumbled across his set at Hardly Strictly Bluegrass last year. The act blew me away and I was excited to see him listed at Slim’s. Reignwolf definitely falls on the hardly side of HSB as they sound like a mix of the White Stripes and Led Zeppelin. After his set at Slim’s the other night, I now know how he was selected for the HSB line-up. When they asked if he played bluegrass he said, “Sure, I play mandolin” and simply neglected to mention that by “playing” he meant “use it as a slide.”

Reignwolf at Slim’s. Click for more photos.

For the first couple of songs, he was just him. But “just him” is a bit of an understatement as he sings, plays guitar and a kick-drum all at the same time. He was then joined but another guitar player who played the bass part and a drummer. Throughout the set he switched between guitar, mando, and bass. The set itself was surprisingly short only about 50 minutes including a two song encore. For a $15 show with two acts, I guess it’s not that bad.

The opening act, Black Cobra Vipers, didn’t leave much of an impression on me. I do remember them starting to tell a story, pausing while looking a bit confused and then adding, “it’s pauses like this that make a 45 minute set.”

Set list:

No idea but it rocked.

Jello Biafra and the Guantanamo School of Medicine
Great American Music Hall, San Francisco, CA

I arrived just as the second opening act, Victim’s Family took the stage. I had heard of them before but never seen them so I was curious. They are a fairly jazzy trio, well, jazzy for a hardcore band. Their sound was very well mixed and you could clearly hear each player and the vocals.  Enjoyable.

Jello Biafra and the Guantanamo School of Medicine at the Great American Music Hall

Jello Biafra at the Great American Music Hall. Click for more photos.

Jello came out around 10:30 and the hall was barely 1/3, if that. They even had tables for the dinner seating setup on the sides. When is the last time you saw a punk show with people sitting down eating dinner? For comparison, the (faux) Dead Kennedys nearly filled the Regency Ballroom, which is four times bigger, back in October (my write up here). Granted, that was a Friday night and Jello played a Monday but still.

Most of the material was from his latest GSM album which has a swirling/psychedelic punk sound similar to the DKs rather than the dark, metalesque material he did with the Melvins. Like the Victim’s Family set, they did great job of mixing the sound. Oddly California Uber Alles still featured Schwarzenegger as the protagonist rather than reverting back to once again Gov. Jerry Brown. This was the first time I’d seen Nazi Punk F— Off return to his set list probably since the DKs days.

Set list:
The Brown Lipstick Parade
John Dillinger
New Feudalism
Road Rage
Panic Land
Barackstar O’Bummer
California Uber Alles
Werewolves of Wallstreet
Nazi Punks Fuck Off
Hollywood Goof Disease
White People and the Damage Done
Chemical Warfare
Pets Eat Their Master

Dot Com Monte Carlo

Jello Biafra – Vocals (and commentary)
Ralph Spight – Guitar
Kimo Ball – Guitar
Andrew Weiss  – Bass
Billy Gould – Drums

Opening Bands:
Harold Ray Live in Concert
Victim’s Family

Warfield Theatre, San Francisco, CA

First off, I come clean: I’ve never been a huge Yes fan. Because I’d never seen them before I decided to take the opportunity when I heard they were scheduled to play The Warfield. I got online right at 10:00 when tickets went on sale and picked up a seat in the front row.

Yes at Warfield Theatre. Click for more photos.

I’ve always associated Yes as a keyboard-dominated band but after seeing them I realized they are much more guitar heavy than I realized. OTOH, I was sitting directly in front of Steve Howe’s mic stand and that may have influenced my perception.

The show consistent of them performing The Yes Album, Close To The Edge, and Going For The One. I’ve always thought “come listen to us play a classic album straight through” was a gimmick and tend to skip those shows. In this case, while I’m familiar with their music I’ve never listened to a Yes album end-to-end so I enjoyed the experience.

The show started off a bit ragged as they had sound problems both in the monitor mix and in the hall for the first few songs. Everything finally came together for a very extended version of “Starship Trooper” which was one of the highlights of the show for me. Throughout their performance of the first album and especially on “I’ve All Good People” Steve Howe kept playing little Chuck Berryeque riffs as fill. I’d never noticed it in their studio work but that may not mean much given my opening sentence.

Close to the Edge was a bit too far on the prog rock side for me. It struck me as an acquired taste that becomes enjoyable once you become familiar with the music. I enjoyed the “I Get Up, I Get Down” portion and “You and I” both other than that, I was looking forward to the set break.

After the set break the came back for Going for the One which I found much more accessible. The band also seem to be having the most fun of the night. At point Steve Howe steel guitar was rolling a good foot or two from side-to-side as he bouncing around so much while playing it.

Set I:
The Yes Album
Close To The Edge

Set II:
Going For The One


Chris Squire – Bass
Steve Howe – Guitar
Alan White – Drums
Geoff Downes – keyboards
Jon Davison – Vocals