Tag Archives: Strathmore

Sound as Fury: Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds at Strathmore

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Reviewed for DCist, just like I used to do.

I dug the show, but the really memorable part of the evening was the sad but soul-nourishing conversation I had with the great and good Dave McKenna (who was there in house right Row J next to me, reviewing for the Post, like I also used to do) afterwards. Dave was kind enough to give me a lift home after the show. We talked about how bad things have gotten for anyone trying to earn a living from writing. “Next time we’ll talk boxing,” he promised.

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Who Would You Rather Be? Metric at the Music Center at Strathmore, reviewed.

We bought a smoke machine.

My first DCist post of 2012 is a review of a very fine show by the very fine Canadian stadium-rockers-in-waiting Metric.

When the Star Talks Himself Blue: Ryan Adams at Strathmore, considered

Adams: "I got a plan."

I saw Ryan Adams and the Cardinals open for Oasis (!) in 2008 (!!!) but I only caught part of their set from across a basketball arena and anyway it was not an especially memorable experience. But I quite enjoyed the talky, sloppy Adams solo show — and opener Jason Isbell — that I review in today’s Washington Post. Continue reading

Like Louis Armstrong Said, All Music Is Folk Music

Gillian Welch posted her Strathmore setlist on her Twitter feed this morning.

Ain’t never heard a horse sing no song.

I reviewed Gillian Welch and David Rawlings‘s concert at the Music Hall at Strathmore last night for the Washington Post. It was great. It was better than that. There wasn’t a bum note all night. Continue reading

Christopher “Chris” Klimek on Kristoffer Kristian “Kris” Kristofferson

Photo: Marina Chavez

So Saturday, me and my pal @HeatherMG went to see the guy who wrote “Me and Bobby McGee.” This short review is kinda buried in today’s Paper of Record, and split over two pages web-wise, so I’m posting it here to make things easier. For all of us.

Kris Kristofferson is no hurry, but he doesn’t like to waste time. At the Music Center at Strathmore last night, he marched onstage in his customary black-shirt-black-jeans-black-boots regalia at exactly the announced go-time of 8 p.m., launching with little fanfare into a generous 30-song solo acoustic revue of his bone-deep body of work. A hardy 74, the Rhodes Scholar and former Army helicopter pilot moved lightly from one coiled, economical story-song to the next, punctuating each tune with an abrupt “Thank you!” or better still, “True story!” rather than allow the last note to hang in the air — as they can, within the Music Center’s sound-abetting walls. His tectonic growl would be frightening if it didn’t let it break so freely into laughter, or if you couldn’t see that beatific smile. Continue reading

The Late Greats: Wilco at Strathmore

Sorry I’ve let things slide around here for the past couple of weeks, everybody. But What ho!, new writing at last: I reviewed what turned out to be an epic Wilco concert — three hours, 37 songs, last Red Line train home – for the Washington Post. The blog version features a setlist and copious photos by the great Kyle Gustafson, while the paper-paper version has only one.

I thought I’d have more to say about the show, which included a lot of excellent, seldom-performed songs I never thought I’d hear, like “Some Day Some Morning Sometime” from Mermaid Avenue Vol. II , for instance, but for once I managed to stick to my allotted space. Amy Argetsinger gave me a little shout in her Reliable Source item about White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel being at the show, which is why the Daily Swarm linked to the review. I haven’t loved Wilco’s most recent pair of records as much the ones they released between 1996 and 2004, but I’ve seen them play a bunch of times in the last 10 years, and I don’t think they’ve ever been a better live band than they are now.

Here’s Valerie’s fine DCist review breaking down the value-for-money equation, with some great photos by Jeff Martin.

On an unrelated note, I wrote about Bruce Norris’s superb new play Clybourne Park at Woolly Mammoth for the City Paper last week, but the Best of DC special issue didn’t contain an arts section, so the piece didn’t come out until today. Apologies, Woolly Mammoths.

Newman, Keeping Things Randy at the Strathmore

That crusty old wiseguy Randy Newman has been a Grammy/Oscar/Emmy-endorsed constant long enough to see himself parodied by people (Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane, for example) whose satirical gifts are a shadow of his own. But anybody who thinks of Newman mainly as the guileless voice that soundtracked a thousand (okay, five) Pixar cartoons isn’t wrong, necessarily – because as his jaw-dropping concert at Strathmore demonstrated on Wednesday night, Newman’s irony-free love songs (assaying every kind of love) can be at least as lacerating as the acerbic screeds (“Short People,” the kill-‘em-all ditty “Political Science”) that tagged him in the early 1970s as a divisive genius (or “genius”). A guy emotionally observant enough to write “I Miss You” – a half-dozen other examples from the more than 30 songs Newman performed would work equally well – has to keep his blade out most of the time to stay alive.

Newman’s generous, funny spoken introductions to tunes from every era of his four-decade career were a sign that despite discreetly battling a cold, the maestro, alone at the piano, felt free to be himself, which is to say all of his selves: The court jester, the avuncular voice of comfort, the heartbreak victim who knows he had it coming. They’re all present and in fine form on his new Harps and Angels album, which he folded into his two hour-plus sets almost in its entirety without making a big deal about it. (We’re looking at you, Jackson Browne. And so is Randy, but more on that in a minute.) “Korean Parents,” proposing a novel solution for adolescent slackerdom, came first among the new stuff, while “Feels Like Home” would fit well enough into one of those cuddly Pixar films that you’d never guess Newman wrote it for a version of Faust.

One advantage of having as pulpy a voice and as resigned a sensibility as Newman does is aging doesn’t hurt you. Which is how a 64-year-old can pull a tune like “I’m Dead but I Don’t Know It,” fretting over rock stars’ increasing (increasingly ill-advised) longevity, and throw in a shot at Sir Paul McCartney for good measure. He wrote that one when he was “only” in his mid-50s; more recently, in the song “Piece of the Pie,” he’s taken to picking on poor old Jackson Browne for – well, it isn’t quite clear. But it sure is funny.

Among tough competition, “I’m Dead” was show’s single most uproarious performance, and thank God for it, because otherwise Newman’s tales of collapsed hearts and rotting empires – sung soulfully even as the President was on TV warning of the economic End Times — would have been too damn much to take.

Newman has never exempted himself from his withering jeremiads; he’s sold songs to commercials just like John Mellencamp, who gets called out in “A Piece of the Pie,” too. He’s repeatedly bitten the hand that feeds him and usually been rewarded with more chow.

A shorter version of this review appears in today’s Paper of Record.