Sunday, April 23, 2017

New Order: Effortless Grandeur Live

New Order played a sold-out show at the Greek Theatre in Berkeley to an enthusiastic crowd on April 21st.

Tonight they’re a five piece, sans erstwhile bassist Peter Hook. Yet while the line-up has changed the music is still magical - they sound if anything even better without their ace of bass.

Last year’s Music Complete re-embraced their love of electronica and such is their love for that record they open the evening with a song from it. As the new New Order, Bernard Sumner, Stephen Morris, Gillian Gilbert, Tom Chapman and Phil Cunningham open with “Singularity” there are familiar elements at play, the aesthetic remains a fusion of cinematic electronica with a world weary vocal, but the new songs are brilliant additions to their cannon.

“Plastic”, played to a film backdrop that’s pure Kraftwerk circa Autobahn in its graphics, could have been on either of their two finest records, Low Life or Technique.

As their rhythm envelops the theater, the playing of their human drum machine Morris - shaped by Joy Division producer Martin Hannett’s insistence that the band record endless takes in the studio - is wondrous. And to the left is the central cog that is Gillian Gilbert. If Morris is their virtuoso player then she’s the conductor, unshowy in her stage art but coaxing all sorts of wonderful sounds from her keyboard. Sumner is quite the frontman too.

As wonderful as the new songs are, the classics set the crowd alight. “Your Silent Face” from Power, Corruption and Lies with its ebbing intro before those elegiac strings enter the arrangement is delightful electronica.

“Bizarre Love Triangle” shows their ability to make an incredibly layered and complicated arrangement sound simple.
Then, it's “True Faith” that gets the entire theater on their feet, inspiring giddy, uncontrolled dancing and abandon. Next was “Blue Monday” and whilst they must have played it a thousand times it still sounds remarkably fresh. Then following, “Temptation” feels like a masterclass in pop music.

The encore flows into "Decades" and then the classic “Love Will Tear Us Apart”, poignant images of Ian Curtis and the words “Forever Joy Division” are projected onto the backdrop, but such is the fury of Morris’s drumming and the energy of the other players this isn’t a sentimental re-tread, they sound reborn.

The line-up may have changed, but the effortless grandeur of New Order’s music hasn’t. Tonight they did something tremendous, they gave us a beautiful reminder why music is the greatest art form.

Love Vigilantes
Your Silent Face
Tutti Frutti
Bizarre Love Triangle
Waiting for the Sirens' Call
The Perfect Kiss
True Faith
Blue Monday

Decades (Here Are The Young Men)
Love Will Tear Us Apart

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Morrissey: Involved in New Smiths 45 on Warner

"The Boy With The Thorn In His Side" (Demo Mix) / "Rubber Ring" (Early Drone Studios Version) - The Smiths, 7" vinyl is out via Rhino for Record Store Day 2017.

Warner UK released a previously unissued version of The Boy With The Thorn In His Side as a physical 45 in Europe.
The sleeve design, is by "Esteban" or Morrissey, with layout by Darren Evans at Warner UK.
The B-side is a previously unissued version of Rubber Ring.

Friday, April 14, 2017

New Order’s Gillian Gilbert: Refreshed After 10-year Hiatus

By Tom Lanham

New Order keyboardist Gillian Gilbert quietly took a long break from the group in 2001, choosing family over fame, taking care of her young daughter while her drummer husband Stephen Morris continued touring with the band. “Don’t get me wrong, I was dying to say a few things,” says Gilbert, happily returning after a mysterious hiatus for New Order’s 2015 album “Music Complete” and its current tour, which comes to Berkeley on Friday.

At first, she was stunned by how quickly she was replaced by Phil Cunningham, and she admits that it was a turbulent 10 years, including a 2007 bout with breast cancer.
But now she’s happy to report that her 17-year-old daughter Grace, who suffered from a rare spinal condition, and her sister, Matilda, 21, are fine; both are pursuing careers in music.
“I thought I’d done a good job of steering them away, but no,” she says, sighing. “And since I’ve gone back to New Order, they’ve got an even keener interest, and they’re very resentful that they don’t get to go on tour with us.”
During the break, she was a stay-at-home mom: “It sounds really boring, but I also got into cooking and cleaning the house a lot. And I got really into dogs — dog agility and obedience training with my Yorkshire terrier.”

Gilbert — who joined former Joy Division members Morris, bassist Peter Hook and guitarist-vocalist Bernard Sumner in New Order in 1980, after Joy Division frontman Ian Curtis hung himself — also stayed busy with occasional keyboard projects, including working with her old friends The Charlatans.
Her velvet-textured synthesizers were what helped transform New Order from dark to light, especially on the band’s second album, 1983’s bubbly “Power, Corruption & Lies.”
“I don’t think the guys would like to think of it as a feminine touch, but I think I added something. And when I left, I think you definitely missed that,” she says.

“Music Complete” represents Gilbert at her best. Opening with the panoramic “Restless,” it segues into “Power”-era techno-funk on “Tutti Frutti” (with Elly Jackson); sinister undulations on “Stray Dog” (with Iggy Pop); and classic anthems, such as “Superheated” (with Brandon Flowers).
“It’s all a bit mad again, but I’m glad I had that time off,” she says. “I got my head together, and I’m really enjoying it this time.”

Friday, April 7, 2017

Blondie: Releasing New Album & Tour

Blondie masterminds Debbie Harry and Chris Stein are releasing their first new album in three years.
As Stein put it, “The last two records before this were a little more electronic and computer-based, but this one is more organic and very much band-based, a little more old-school.”

Blondie announced their eleventh studio album, Pollinator, and based on how first single “Fun” sounds, it’s going to be very, very old-school. In fact, this sucker sounds like it could have easily popped up on 1978’s Plastic Letters or Parallel Lines. It’s a vintage blend of disco, new wave, and modern pop, no doubt elevated by TV on the Radio’s Dave Sitek who came in with the assist.

Among the album’s other guest contributors: Blood Orange’s Dev Hynes wrote “Long Time”, Sia penned “Best Day Ever”, which features guitar work by The Strokes’ Nick Valensi, Charli XCX helped out on “Gravity”, and Johnny Marr offered up “My Monster”. Elsewhere, Joan Jett sings on “Doom Or Destiny”, Bob’s Burgers comedian John Roberts helps out on “Love Level”, The Gregory Brothers appear on “When I Gave Up On You”, and the one and only Laurie Anderson pops up on a secret track also written by Charli XCX titled “Tonight”.

Produced by Grammy Award-winning producer John Congleton, who aimed to bring the outfit back to their glory days.

This summer, Blondie and Garbage are teaming up for a co-headlining tour. Dubbed the Rage and Rapture Tour, it will see the two iconic rock acts trek across North America from early July through mid-August.
John Doe & Exene Cervenka and Deap Vally will serve as openers.

The joint outing comes in support of Blondie’s upcoming, star-studded album, Pollinator, and Garbage’s 2016 record, Strange Little Birds.

Blondie and Garbage 2017 Tour Dates
07/05 – Saratoga at The Mountain Winery
07/07 – Santa Barbara Bowl

Bryan Ferry: Returning to North America in 2017

Bryan Ferry will be returning to North America in 2017!

Performing a varied set list including highlights from Roxy Music, hits from his solo back catalogue as well as fresh new music from his critically-acclaimed album ‘Avonmore’, these new dates come on the back of his 2016 tours which received rave reviews.

Chicago Tribune, “As always, Bryan Ferry was impeccable.”

Bryan plays the Mountain Winery, Saratoga on August 21.

The Specials: North American Spring Tour 2017

English ska legends The Specials will soon make their way across the Atlantic for a North American spring tour. Set to commence in early June, the jaunt will see the UK outfit play to crowds in such cities as Toronto, Brooklyn, Portland, Los Angeles, and Baltimore.

The tour will feature a new iteration of The Specials, following the deaths of both drummer John Bradbury and trombonist Rico Rodriguez in 2015. The updated lineup includes original members in Terry Hall, Horace Panter, and Lynval Golding, rounded out by Ocean Colour Scene’s Steve Craddock on guitar and Gary Powell of The Libertines on drums.
(Original keyboardist Jerry Dammers currently missing in action...)

If the group’s upcoming dates are anything like its impressive appearance at Riot Fest Chicago last September, fans old and new should be in for a treat.

The Specials 2017 Tour Dates:
06/16 – San Diego, CA @ House of Blues
06/17 – Saratoga, CA @ Mountain Winery
06/18 – Los Angeles, CA @ Hollywood Bowl