In Concert

There is nothing better than seeing a concert driven with high energy. The audience waits with excitement for the concert to start. The introduction takes place and the band walks out onto the stage. The first notes on the electric guitar come through the monitors while everyone cheers and shouts the name of the man leading the show. A power chord drives the adrenaline up and is followed by fast paced minor riffs. Martin Barre has come to entertain you and the entire performance will be nothing less than spectacular. He’s is just amazing!

Martin had gone his own way in 2011 after Jethro Tull finally dissolved. Several years of performing within one of the toughest groups to ever exist had come to an end and left this six string master without a band. Mr. Barre had decided to start a new group. His current concert experience is fresh with a straight up rock and blues feel. The band is made up of some really great players that are having a good time playing some incredibly intricate music. The overall skill level is just off the charts!

Blues, rock, folk, and much more are the genres that make them up, but they don’t fit into any one category. This group is a four piece that is ready to blow anyone away who comes to see them. It’s a show that is a must see it to believe it. Do you like rock, blues, soulful guitars, and a super band? The Martin Barre Band is the band to see.  

George Lindsay is filling the role of drums and percussion with style that can mimic men who have been in Tull. His skill with sticks and mallets grace his kit with every beat. The foot work on the double bass pedals sounds like machine guns rapidly firing. This young man is big in every way. The percussive sound is huge and fills up any room he is playing in, but he is not lacking in the height category either. Standing six foot eight in height, he is quite an intimidating guy and appears taller than he admits. Don’t let his size spook you because he is a gentle giant and an awesome drummer. After a show, a concert attendee yelled up to him on stage, “George!” to get his attention. He responded back quickly, “That’s Big George!” Then he smiles.

It’s always great when a singer can belt out a song and push it over the top to excellence. Taking the role of singer can be difficult, but Dan Crisp has done an outstanding job. He is not attempting to fill the shoes of a one legged flute player, but rather he stands solidly on the ground as his own man. He has a voice that is very pleasant to listen to. Dan also plays guitar leads and solos that are quite difficult to undertake, but he does songs justice in everything he plays. He has a mad scientist, comical way about him as he moves around on stage. Mr. Crisp has been with this band for quite a while and with a little luck, he doesn’t leave anytime soon.

Providing the bottom end for the band is an extremely talented musician, Alan Thomson. His playing style is filled with dynamics as no notes better be played that don’t belong. It’s not possible for Martin to have picked up a better all around musician for bass. Alan sings backup and also plays slide guitar on the song “Bad Man.” His expertise shines with every swell during his mournful lead. Alan is so into the music that he appears as if he is not having a good time at all. “I may look like I’m not having a good time on the outside, but on the inside, I’m having the time of my life.” This low end master is fantastic to see live and a true gentleman to his fans. All bass players who have played with Martin in the previous years have been incredible and Alan Thomson is no exception. He can’t be compared to anyone else.

Martin Barre is just an amazing guitar player and he won’t let you forget it during any song that he performs live these days. He has taken Jethro Tull songs, ripped them apart, and put together arrangements that just impress the ears. Smiling from ear to ear, this man appears to be enjoying himself. He is actually quite funny too as he converses with the fans between songs. He talks about being a “bad guitar player” and hanging out with the Queen. You don’t have to be a fan of his previous band to enjoy his new show.

Some Jethro Tull fans seem to be divided into two separate camps, but still with respect for each other. Some are diehard Ian Anderson followers and others have preferred to watch the new and improved Martin Barre. Both are performing great shows solo, but most would just like to see them together again. Dave Pincus who has seen Jethro Tull over 150 times said, “Martin’s new band has a freshness and energy level that makes the show two hours of awesome entertainment.”

Martin being the band leader he has formed this concoction of musicians and blended these guys into awesomeness. The crisp sound of the guitars, the bass tone, and an excellent mix on drums helps capture their stage sound for the audience. The man behind the mixing board helps out a bit as well.  

New Day Yesterday, Teacher, and Fat Man are usual Jethro Tull songs that you will hear at a Martin show. In addition, other songs like Crossroads by Robert Johnson will feature Martin on mandolin and for a while it becomes a heavy metal mandolin. The arrangement is nothing like the Cream version at all. Having the mandolin lead the song was a good choice as it gave the song a sharpness that it never had before.

In late August, Martin kicks off his Fall US tour in Iowa. He will be touring the Midwest and upper East coast. He has over 30 shows scheduled and is already posting new shows for 2017! There seems to be no stopping this man. Complete show listing can be seen atwww.martinbarre.com

Martin Barre has come to entertain you and it will be nothing less than spectacular. The towns and cities wait with excitement for Martin Barre to come to the stage. Seeing him and his band is something that will make you happy and feel at home. The show is mostly musical, but he does make you feel like you’re the only person sitting in the audience. It’s just amazing!

 

Published in In Concert

I had no idea what to expect Sunday night when I went to Soldier Field to see Guns N’ Roses. I really didn’t. I knew what I had hoped to see in what is now the highest grossing tour in 2016 but was still a bit skeptical seeing as the band has been on the outs for such a long time. Reviews of the band’s “Not In This Lifetime” reunion tour have been mixed, some claiming that Slash had been carrying the show, implying the other band members were merely present as symbols of yesteryear so that as much of an original lineup could be put together as possible to warrant such a major occasion that could fill stadiums. That’s not what I saw – not even close. Yes, Slash was amazing in himself, but I saw a band that collectively charged the stage and played with an enormous amount of continuity, energy, confidence and precision. I saw a band where EACH member contributed as much as the next in what turned out to be a very special event – the event one can only hope for when throwing around the words “Guns N’ Roses reunion”. 

Having seen the band four times between the Appetite for Destruction and the Use Your Illusion releases, it is apparent that Guns N’ Roses now has access to a much larger and complex stage show where pyrotechnics and jumbo screens assist in presenting the band’s vision like never before. But of course you can’t have a successful reunion run without the music. There’s no denying the band has the catalog of material to please their hungry fan base, but let’s be honest – it’s been a long time since the band has played together and we now live in a world where comeback tours often recycle band members and thrust them on stage whether they can still perform or not. Guns N’ Roses is not one of these bands. While Slash wailed away on his Les Paul, effortlessly ripping through riffs and solos, bassist Duff McKagan also showed he was still in peak form even laying out impressive lead vocals on Iggy Pop’s “Raw Power”, a song the band covered on The Spaghetti Incident. McKagan patrolled the large stage area bleeding the Guns N’ Roses arrogance we have come to know, projecting the epitome of rock n’ roll attitude.

To me, I had little doubt that the instrumentation would be there, I was most curious if Axl Rose would still be able to gel with the others (and them with him) and, frankly, if his voice would hold up. Within minutes of the show, any doubts I may have had completely vanished. Axl was nailing it – and then some. With an incredible energy level that had him running all over the stage and grinding out his famous rock moves, Axl’s vocals were spot on and possibly even more powerful than ever before. His stage presence was dominant. He controlled the crowd. Who knows what goes on behind the scenes but all signs pointed to the three original members expressing great enjoyment as they played with each other – and this while playing at an optimum level. 

The still youthful band, both musically and physically fit, was rounded out with Richard Fortus, who has been playing guitar for Guns N’ Roses since 2001 and was a presence in his own right, drummer Frank Ferrer (since 2006) who gives Matt Sorum a run for his money, longtime keyboardist Dizzy Reed and newbie Melissa Reese who manned a second keyboard.

Like a locomotive, the band’s sound was delivered with force from the get go when they opened with “It’s So Easy”. In a set that lasted somewhere in the neighborhood of two hours and forty-five minutes, Guns N’ Roses tackled a plethora of favorites including “Mr. Brownstone”, “Welcome to the Jungle”, “Civil War”, “Sweet Child O’ Mine”, “Coma”, “Estranged”, “Live and Let Die” and “Rocket Queen”. The band also played a handful of material from their critically acclaimed 2008 release Chinese Democracy, going into the title track along with “This I Love” and “Better”. 

In what could only be interpreted as a tribute to Prince, the entire stage filled with billows of purple smoke just after an inspiring performance of “November Rain”. Duff also sported the symbol of Prince on his bass. Nice touch, fellas.  

Theirs was a set that never let up. After one gratifying selection after another the band finished up with “Nightrain” before returning for an encore with “Don’t Cry”, The Who’s “The Seeker” and a ramped up “Paradise City”. 

Guns N’ Roses “Not In This Lifetime” tour certainly lives up to the hopes of their many fans. It’s what fans knew the band could still be. Musically, the tour is fulfilling and visually, it is stimulating. It is the complete package. No shortcuts or cutting corners here. What fans get is an exciting, full blown Guns N’ Roses experience. I’m just glad Chicago made the band’s shortlist or tour stops. Great music, stage show and musicianship aside, not to worry, the band still carries a healthy “Fuck You” brashness after all these years – an important ingredient in G N’ R’s recipe for success.           

Alice in Chains provided strong support for Guns N’ Roses for their Chicago stops and is highly deserving of their own rave review. Though Soldier Field may be the last stop for Alice in Chains as opening support, Guns N’ Roses will continue to take heavy-hitting acts along with them on the road with Lenny Kravitz, The Cult and Wolfmother scheduled on later dates. 

So what’s next after a successful reunion tour? That’s what everyone seems to be asking while hoping the answer is simply to make a new album and tour the shit out of it. Guns N’ Roses is back.    

 

  

 

Published in In Concert

Granted, fans of the Evil Dead films starring our favorite B-list star, Bruce Campbell, will certainly enjoy this stage version more than most, having already consumed a taste for the unconventional humor that made the trilogy such a big cult following success.  Still, though maybe not for everyone, Evil Dead the Musical, is a raucous night of deadpan deliveries, inappropriate slapstick, splattering bodily fluids, sexual innuendos, campy stereotypes and jokes so bad you can help but laugh. All the elements of a winning production.

When over-the-top S-Mart store manager Ash takes to the woods to stay in an unoccupied cabin with a couple friends and his annoying sister, we get an immediate sense that this story will not end well. As, expected, all hell breaks loose once the foursome realize spirits of the dead inhabit the cabin and surrounding woods – and they’re not happy. Ash stumbles upon The Book of the Dead, or Necronomicon, and frantically searches its flesh made pages for some answers. One hilariously spirit enters after another to claim their lives and Ash has no choice but to resort to superhero mode in order to prevent a full on bloody massacre. If you are familiar with the Evil Dead film franchise, there is no more need for story description. If you are not, the plot is pretty simple – defeat evil or die.

evil-dead-tour-2014-0310-jpg-20140924Though some moments are overly laden with campiness to the point of plain silliness, the brunt of the show’s humor is right on. Many of the props, including a three foot high bridge that seems to be the only way in and out of the woods, are very comical in their own right. Each character contributes their share of funny moments and then some, especially Creg Sclavi who is exceptional as “Scott”. David Sajewich takes on the tough assignment of “Ash”, but takes the role and runs with it to the point one forgets to keep comparing him to Bruce Campbell.

The show is filled with corny songs like “Look Who’s Evil Now” as one character becomes possessed after another but really hits its stride with its cheesy special effects and one-liners. From graphic limb dismemberment to the splattering blood that makes its way across the theatre’s first few rows (yes, the “splatter zone”), there is more than enough in this show to entertain and deliver one hell of a funny adventure.

Evil Dead the Musical is playing at the Chicago Playhouse through just October 12th, so be sure to fit this one in on your calendar. For tickets and/or more info visit www. http://broadwayinchicago.com/ or www. http://www.evildeadthemusical.com/.              

Published in Theatre Reviews

 

 

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