Archive | December, 2012

Katie’s Top 5 Concerts of 2012

23 Dec

By Katie Botelho

1. Roger Water’s The Wall @ Fenway Park in Boston, MA

I didn’t know what to expect with this show. I had heard so much about it so I knew it was going to be amazing. I just didn’t know how amazing it would be until I was actually there at Fenway Park, watching the wall being built. It wasn’t only a concert, but it was a big production that never left you bored. It also helped that it was legendary music played by brilliant musicians. The weather was perfect, the music was touching and the visuals were great to watch. Definitely one to never forget.

2. Linkin Park w/ Incubus @ Comcast Center in Mansfield, MA

This show was great. It was a spur of the moment type thing and even though our tickets were lawn seats it was still an amazing time. The music was so clear compared to other shows I’ve seen, I felt like I was listening to a CD rather than watching it live. I instantly caught myself liking the songs I’ve never heard before (which is rare, usually it takes me a few times of hearing to get into new music). The only downfall of this show was paying about $20 (exaggeration) on chicken fingers and fries at the venue.

3. Blue Man Group @ Hanover Theatre in Worcester, MA

I’ve seen Blue Man Group before but it’s always different each time you go. It’s something different and you get a little bit of everything. Music, comedy, dancing, you name it! It’s always a good time (as long as you don’t get picked from the audience).

4. Rush @ TD Garden in Boston, MA

This was a good show, I just wish they had played more songs I was familiar with. But they ended up playing “Tom Sawyer” and that’s all that mattered! We definitely got our moneys worth with this show because it was about three hours long! I believe I was deaf by the end of the night but it’s all good!

5. Iron Maiden w/ Alice Cooper @ ComcastCenter in Mansfield, MA

I was excited to go to this show but disappointed when Iron Maiden came on and we could barely hear him singing, just the music. I enjoyed watching Alice Cooper more, the music was clearer and the effects on stage were just awesome. Even though the concert itself was just ok, it was still a good experience to have.

 Please note that the shows booked through JKB Booking are not included on this list to keep everything objective.

Jay’s Top 5 Concerts of 2012

22 Dec

By Jay Kenney

1. Roger Waters The Wall @ Fenway Park in Boston, MA

This was my second time seeing Roger Water’s “The Wall” live and it was once again a visual and sonic masterpiece. What set this apart from his three night stint at TD Garden in 2010 was the atmosphere at Fenway Park. The historic ballpark was the perfect location to stage the massive “Wall” production and the weather was perfect. It was an experience I’ll never forget.

2. Primus 3D @ Veterans Memorial Auditorium in Providence, RI

Primus have been touring steadily the past three years and this was my fourth time seeing them in as many. While the show at the Orpheum Theatre in Boston the night before (which I also attended) was great, I thought the sound mix could have been better particularly with Claypool’s vocals. However, that was corrected at this show and this was nothing short of brilliant. The set list was great (with the band playing an almost completely different one than the night before), the music was tight and the visuals were mind bending. If you’ve never seen this band live, check them out. They’re a blast!

3. Rush @ TD Garden in Boston, MA

When Rush tours, they always make my top five list. The question is where will they appear on it. On their “Time Machine” tour of 2010, they topped my concert list because the set contained all of their classic songs, including the classic “Moving Pictures” album in its entirety,” with a few new ones in the mix. This time the first half included a lot of rarely played 80s material, while the second half was primarily made up of songs from their stellar new album “Clockwork Angels.” Although they ignored some of their staples like “Limelight” and “Freewill,” the show still rocked from start to finish.

4. Boston @ MGM Grand at Foxwoods in Ledyard, CT

While some would argue that this version of the band is not really Boston since Brad Delp’s passing in 2007, this concert was still enjoyable from start to finish. For the 105 minute set, the band played all the hits and some overlooked tracks from the underrated “Walk On” album that allowed founding member Tom Scholz to showcase his wizardry on the guitar and organ. Most impressive was the front-of-house sound that was simply crystalline, making it the best sounding concert I attended this year.

5. (tie) Dream Theater with The Crimson ProjeKCt @ Bank of America Pavilion in Boston, MA

Another band that always makes my top five list is Dream Theater. While this was my second time seeing the “A Dramatic Turn of Events” tour, the addition of The Crimson ProjeKCt really made this show special. Seeing the Adrian Belew Power Trio combined with The Stick Men all on stage at once playing King Crimson classics was simply amazing. Dream Theater followed with another incredible performance which is why I see them every time they tour the area.

5. (tie) Aimee Mann @ Berklee Performance Arts Center in Boston, MA

This was very hard to exclude from my top five list so I’m including it as a tie with Dream Theater. This was my first time seeing Aimee Mann in concert and she didn’t disappoint. Her new album “Charmer” is the best of her solo career and I was grateful that she played several tracks off that album. Her stories in between songs were humorous and she exemplifies cool. Overall, it was a great show and fun night out!

Please note that the shows booked through JKB Booking are not included on this list to keep everything objective.

Top 20 albums of 2012

21 Dec

#1 Testament – Dark Roots of Earth (Nuclear Blast)

When their last studio album (The Formation of Damnation) came out, I didn’t think the band could release anything finer. Well, they topped themselves once again, creating a metal masterpiece that sounds fresh and modern thanks to its outstanding production. This is classic Testament all the way!!!

#2 Rush – Clockwork Angels (Roadrunner)

Rush has been my favorite band since middle school and they never disappoint. However, this album is their best since Counterparts. It opened at #2 on the Billboard charts and their tour in support of it has been a complete success. For a band that’s been around for 38 years, they show no signs of slowing down!

#3 Asia – XXX (Frontiers)

The band’s third studio album since reuniting in 2006 is their best album since their debut. Every song is incredibly catchy, with the band sounding energetic and fresh. This is a must have for any Asia fan!

#4 Black Country Communion – Afterglow (J&R Records)

This was the first album I heard by this band and was completely blown away. Every track is outstanding with a sound reminiscent of the great rock albums of the 70s. Kudos to Glenn Hughes, Joe Bonamassa, Derek Sherinian, and Jason Bonham for creating this gem!!!

#5 Aimee Mann – Charmer (SuperEgo)

Lyrically and musically this is Mann’s best solo outing of her career, with all of the songs having a 70s and 80s pop vibe. To put it simply, she hit it out of the ballpark with this one.

#6 3 Inches of Blood – Long Live Heavy Metal (Century Media)

With soaring vocals, blistering guitars and a vintage heavy metal sound, this album definitely lives up to its name. It’s also the best record of this band’s career!

#7 Three Days Grace – Transit of Venus (RCA)

Three Days Grace’s “Transit of Venus.” The Canadian rock band’s sound has evolved over the years and has culminated with this release. For those who were disappointed by their last release, you shouldn’t be with this one.

#8 Accept – Stalingrad(Nuclear Blast)

This album harnesses everything that fans have grown to love about Accept: thunderous riffs, blinding guitar leads, aggressive vocals and infectious metal songs. This band is keeping heavy metal music alive in 2012!

#9 Steve Harris – British Lion (UMe)

The Iron Maiden bassist’s first solo album is a complete departure from Maiden and most critics have trashed it. But, that’s only because they were expecting it to sound like Maiden. A few production issues aside, this is a solid rock album with catchy tunes that pays homage to bands such as UFO, Thin Lizzy and even Sweet.

#10 OSI – Make Fire Thunder (Metal Blade)

The band’s fourth studio album features Kevin Moore (ex-Dream Theater), Jim Matheos (Fates Warning) and Gavin Harrison (Porcupine Tree). The album is focused and the musicianship is stellar. With this release, OSI continue to be one of the most innovative groups in the progressive metal scene.

#11 Flyleaf – New Horizons (A&M)

The final album with vocalist Lacey Sturm is different from their last two studio albums but it still has their signature sound. The songs are more melodic yet the band still displays passion, energy and raw emotion. Overall, it’s an impressive swan song for Lacey who will be sorely missed as the band carries on with a new singer.

#12 The Flower Kings – Banks of Eden (Inside Out)

Returning after a five year hiatus, The Flower Kings have recharged their creative juices with another epic release that contains enough dreamy, melodic and psychedelic elements to please their loyal fan base and more.

#13 Soundgarden – King Animal (Universal Republic)

The band’s first studio album in 16 years is remarkably solid, picking up right where they left off with Down On The Upside. The classic elements are all there musically and lyrically with a few new twists thrown in.

#14 Threshold – March of Progress (Nuclear Blast)

With great melody and elements of Yes and Asia throughout, this Threshold release is a completely solid album from start to finish.

#15 UFO – Seven Deadly (Steamhammer U.S.)

The veteran British hard rock band continue to sound fresh while never straying from their signature sound. With several tracks standing up among the best the band has recorded, UFO is still flying high!

#16 Van Halen – A Different Kind of Truth (Interscope)

While it’s disappointing that Michael Anthony is still not in the band, it’s great that Dave and Eddie are collaborating again. This may not be their best work but it exceeded any expectations we had.

#17 Ian Anderson – Thick As A Brick 2 (Capitol)

Anderson’s solo albums are generally hit or miss but this sequel to one of Tull’s landmark albums is actually pretty good. Sure, there is no Martin Barre so it’s not Jethro Tull, but this is still a worthy follow up to the original that was released 40 year ago.

#18 Neil Young & Crazy Horse – Psychedelic Pill (Reprise)

It’s always special when Young collaborates with Crazy Horse and this double album proudly stands among their best. If you like great guitar solos and jams, this is the album for you!

#19 Geoff Tate – Kings & Thieves (Inside Out)

The former Queensryche vocalist promised a more rock orientated album than his first solo outing and he delivered the goods. While we much rather see him fronting Queensryche, this is an improvement over their last studio album Dedicated to Chaos.

#20 Lionel Richie – Tuskegee (Mercury Nashville)

This had disaster written all over it but the finished product actually works, making his classic pop hits sound fresh! It’s also one of the biggest selling albums of 2012!

Former LIVE vocalist Ed Kowalczyk stills tempts fans with music

16 Dec
Photo - Ed Kowalczyk

Ed Kowalczyk

By JESSICA A. BOTELHO

Ed Kowalczyk, former lead singer and songwriting force behind the multi-platinum, rock band LIVE, has a new EP out called, “The Garden,” which features five new songs and five remixes, including a cover of the classic John Lennon song “Mind Games.” While the EP was digitally released last month, he plans to put out a full-length album in early 2013.

He’s been playing new songs on his “I Alone Acoustic Tour,” at intimate venues across the country, with a special performance at the Narrows Center for the Arts in Fall River on Saturday, March 2.

“I’m having the time of my life doing this,” said Kowalczyk. “My lyrics are very personal and people have such a personal connection to it that when the music gets stripped down and the environment gets really intimate, it enables an experience that you can’t duplicate in a bigger room. The main thing to expect is a personal and direct connect with my craft and my lyrics.”

But make no mistake about it: Kowalczyk said he still loves doing full-band shows. The acoustic gigs have helped him write a new chapter in his music career.

“I’ve fallen in love with it,” he said. “It’s not an acoustic show where all the hard songs are prettied up. It stays really intense. When you do a great version of a song, it’s almost that much more gratifying because you’ve done it without the normal tools and you feel that much more accomplished. I’m really having a fun time doing it.”

Kowalczyk also had a great time writing and recording the EP, laying down tracks in early spring. He said it’s much more produced than his albums of the past, and credits producer Jamie Candiloro, who has worked with artists such as R.E.M., for helping him arrange music to lyrics he previously wrote.

“He’s not only an amazing producer and engineer, but also a really, really great musician,” Kowalczyk said. “He’s one of those guys that can bang on a trash can and make it sound amazing. He’s incredible on drums, keyboards, [and] guitars. I play guitar and keys, as well, so we basically hunkered down like two mad scientists with these songs I had written.”

Two of Kowalczyk’s friends, both guitarists, also performed on the EP. Candiloro played all drum parts.

“It was a team effort, but the captain of the ship was Jamie and his vision,” he said. “It’s a product of Jamie’s genius for being able to arrange the music around the vocals. He’s just an amazing talent.”

As he has stated in other interviews, Kowalczyk said the process for this album was different from the one he used on his first solo album, “Alive”, and from any of his albums with LIVE. While his method was similar to methods of the past, as he typically crafts most music with an acoustic guitar, the difference was, again, in the production approach.

“Lyrically, melodically, and what you end up getting emotionally, in terms of the dynamic, is very much like what I’ve always done. I think it’s more developed and more of a sophisticated approach in terms of production.”

Kowalczyk’s fans have had a positive reaction to the EP, and have embraced it wholeheartedly. On social media sites, some have called it his best work.

“I love them,” he said of his fans. “One thing that has been good about social media is that interaction with them. Being able to have music available for them immediately is really exciting and part of why I did the EP. I didn’t want them to have to wait until I finished a whole album. I’ve had some of the best concert experiences of my life in the last year doing acoustic tours and reconnecting with them, not only with old material, but with the new stuff.”

The compliments he’s received, he said, have been “unbelievable.”

“A girl the other day said that all the other music she buys is just marking time between my releases,” said Kowalczyk. “I didn’t even know what to say to that. It really does feel great.”

A common thread to his lyrics will always be a personal touch. He said he’s always taken a “heart on sleeve” approach.

“This record is no different,” Kowalczyk said. “They’re intimate songs about transformation, moving onto the deeper dimensions of my soul. They’re personal, but they are also universal, and that’s what’s really exciting about putting this out. People from all over the world react to it as if we’ve known each other our entire lives, and that’s always to me a sign that you are on the right track.”

He’s also on the right track in life, as he knows how to balance being a musician with fatherhood. The oldest is 10, the middle child is 8, and the youngest is 18-months, and they love that their daddy plays music. The eldest two have seen him perform at shows.

“I live on the east coast now, so I’m hoping they can come to a bunch more,” he said. “They are super supportive. They are really engaged, and love music of all kinds. They are music fanatics. I don’t know where they get that,” he joked.

Tickets to his show at the Narrows can be purchased online at www.narrowscenter.org or by calling the box office at 508-324-1926. For those wanting to purchase tickets in person, box office hours are Wednesday through Saturday, 12 noon to 5 p.m.

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