Wetton - Downes - Icon 3

It’s great to see John Wetton and Geoffrey Downes continue their partnership outside their work from Asia. Asia has been touring steadily for the last couple years but Wetton and Downes still managed to find time to write, perform and record as “Wetton/Downes”. With the recently released third album titled, Icon 3 , I’d have to say that it is their strongest effort yet. I’m not sure if it had anything to do with Wetton’s health problems back in 2007 but the project seems to have a purpose and drive that wasn’t really present on their lackluster debut album back in 2004. With nicely developed melodies and instrumental arrangements, Icon 3 is chock full of big choruses the writing duo has been known for since their first big hit with Asia’s Heat of the Moment back in 1982. Highlights on the album include the tracks - “Destiny”, “Raven”, “Anna’s Kiss”, and “Never Thought I’d See You Again”.

Unfortunately, there are some clunkers on the album most likely due to their tight recording schedule. The song “Sex, Power and Money” just doesn’t go anywhere. Other songs like “Don’t Go Out Tonight” and “Peace in Our Time” feel incomplete with interesting verses that lead into weakly constructed choruses. I don’t know about you but the line “don’t go out tonight, stay at home and watch some TV..” sounds kinda lame to me. I’m pretty sure if they had more time to work on some of these songs in between their Asia commitments, the album would have been a whole lot stronger.

No Doubt - Gwen Stefani - 2009 Tour - Paramore

Gwen Stefani doesn’t really need No Doubt. Over the last few years, she proved this ten times over with two smash solo albums and two highly successful tours. Most likely the group needs her. Her long time bandmates - Tom Dumont, Adrian Young and Tony Kanal haven’t been doing a whole lot (relatively speaking) during Stefani’s absence. So when No Doubt announced a summer tour last month, it seemed pretty clear it was to get some cash flow going for those three bandmates. Stefani certainly doesn’t need to go back to the group and some may even say it’s a bad career move. But obviously she cares for her former bandmates and is more than willing to help them in their time of financial need. Yes, I know they’ve stated that they need this tour to get their creative juices flowing for an upcoming studio album but ask any musician and they’ll tell you flat out that the wear and tear of being on the road isn’t all the conducive to writing new music.

Genesis Live Madison Square Garden Boot Sept 30

I recently came across an old boot of Genesis performing live at Madison Square Garden during their 1986 Invisible Touch Tour. Listening to the recording takes me back to senior year in high school when I saw them in early 1987 at the Dean E. Smith Center in Chapel Hill. It was one of the first “big arena” -type shows that I had been to at the time and so I was really taken aback with the what I saw that night. It was a fabulous show and this boot of the New York City show is a nice representation of that particular tour. The recording seems to be taken from a cassette of the soundboard. At various instances there are some “wow and flutter” effects which indicates stretching of the audio tape due to use. But even with the sonic imperfections, it’s still a fantastic document of the full show. The NYC gig was fairly early in the tour so “Follow You Follow Me” was still on the setlist and “In the Cage” was played toward the end of the show which they changed once they got into larger stadiums in 1987.

I had to laugh a bit when I heard those old Simmons drum sounds during “Home By the Sea”. Those Simmons drum kits definitely sound *dated* now and I can’t believe they actually played with those old trigger pads on stage. Those Simmons pads were like hard plastic so they were pretty brutal on the hands and arms when played for long periods of time. That’s the mid-80′s for ya. And if you’ve seen the Genesis 1987 Wembley video footage of them, you get the additional chuckle of seeing Mike Rutherford and Daryl Steurmer in “Miami Vice” garb. heh.

Keith Emerson and Greg Lake to tour in April

Keith Emerson and Greg Lake recently announced tour dates for the month of April. The announcement of a tour is a bit of a surprise since I thought Emerson had experienced some issues with his hands last year which led him to cancel a set of “Keith Emerson Band” dates. Well, I guess this is a sign that he’s well enough to perform live again.

I’d be interested to see how this goes. According to the press release, the format is pretty much the two rock icons on stage re-interpreting their classic tunes in an “unplugged” setting. I’m a bit bummed that they’re not coming to my town but if any of you catch the show, feel free to post your thoughts right here on this page.

The 2009 Grammy Awards - meh.

Well, it was MUSIC’s “biggest night of the year” last night. And as usual, after all the hype, the Grammy Awards was pretty much a snooze-fest. I was looking forward to all the live performances scheduled during the live telecast but none ended up being “breakouts” or “water-cooler” worthy. here’s a breakdown of all the performances from last night -

performances that registered a pulse -

Jennifer Hudson - love her voice. a touching performance.

Kate Beckinsale - yes, I know she didn’t sing. But seeing Kate introduce Paul McCartney was a highlight of the evening. she’s absolutely gorgeous!

Sugarland and Adele - since so many of the performances during the evening sucked, Adele and Sugarland’s “OK” performances stood out even more.

performances that were just “meh” -

Justin Timberlake, Al Green, Boyz II Men and Keith Urban - another needless collaboration. Although Keith had a nice tasty guitar solo moment.

Coldplay with Jay-Z - meh. double meh.

Kid Rock - the man can’t sing. he’s got a good stage presence but that’s about it.

Taylor Swift with Miley Cyrus - I would have liked the performance better if Miley wasn’t there. blech.

Estelle and Kanye - eh.

Kenny Chesney - zzzzzzzzz.

M.I.A. and the Rap Pack- M.I.A. still looks cool preggers but all that rapping was just pointless.

Paul McCartney and Dave Grohl - after seeing Kate Beckinsale on screen, anything afterwards is a big letdown. and Sir Paul singing an old beatles tune on the grammies is just pointless. why bother?

Radiohead - why did they have Coldplay’s wife introduce Radiohead? it just didn’t feel quite right.

T.I. and Justin Timberlake - Justin sort of ruined it for me.

The Four Tops tribute - it was OK. felt like a time-waster. Levi Stubbs will be missed!

Lil Wayne - not impressed.

DOA performances -

U2 - Bono and company opened the night’s broadcast with a brand new song. and the song landed with a resounding thud!

Carrie Underwood - I like Carrie Underwood a lot. She has definitely matured as an onstage performer but that song (and that dress) didn’t go over well at all. bad choice on her part. the audience was nice enough to award her a “golf-clap”.

the Jonas Brothers with Stevie Wonder - why torture a living legend like this??? what a shame! God, those boys can’t sing worth a lick.

Katy Perry - boy, what a mess. Katy looked embarrassed to be there on stage singing her signature tune. and obviously she CAN’T dance. awful, awful. I like her and all but she sure does suck live.

Neil Diamond - gaw, that was painful to watch. Sweet Caroline?? can you be any cheesier than that? and that transition to “those who passed on this past year” montage was a bit awkward, esp. right after old man Diamond.

Zooey Deschanel - Just had to mention that Zooey has bad taste in dresses. made herself look as bad as Katy Perry!

Robert Plant and Alison Krauss - I desperately wanted them to impress. But they tanked. ouch. and Robert’s acceptance speech just made things worse!

Stevie Wonder show closer - I couldn’t take anymore and turned it off midway through his song. sorry Stevie.

oh and did anyone else experience bad sound during the telecast - something associated with the limiter/compressor perhaps? weird. it definitely got on my nerves. definitely a “no-no” during a musical telecast. oh well. oh, and the best quote of the evening was from Chris Martin (Coldplay) while accepting the best Rock album award - “we’re not the heaviest of rock bands… we’re a limestone sort of rock.” heh.