Saturday, August 21, 2010

Cyndi Lauper with David Rhodes

I had previously seen Cyndi Lauper on The Body Acoustic tour at Sunset Station Amphitheater, September 22, 2006; I knew how talented she was and was greatly looking forward to seeing her again. Since my mom had somehow made it through life without seeing Cyndi Lauper, I decided she should have the chance. To thank me, she reserved a cocktail table and bottle service for us, which was actually the second table from stage left on the floor. I knew this was going to be a night full of girls who wanna have fun!
Tonight opening for Cyndi was David Rhodes, who is known mostly as studio musician, has experience working with many artists (Peter Gabriel, Roy Orbison, Paul McCartney, Robert Plant), over the past 25 years. It was quite clear that he was a very talented songwriter and musician, however the music seemed hollow and it made his performance reflect similarly. I truly felt for the guy when he apologized and said he, "Couldn't afford to have my bass player or drummer with me." I guess that just shows the cut-throat nature of the music industry, even with years of experience and talent, still traveling broke on tour.
I was excited to see a different side of Cyndi, as she is promoting her latest album, Memphis Blues (8 weeks as #1 on the Billboard Blues Chart). Regardless of her song selection, I remember being impressed with how funny, energetic, and beautiful she sounded and appeared on stage. Although the show was off to a late start, we hardly noticed, the bottle and table made the time fly by. Cyndi came out with big curly pink hair, wearing a black lingerie slip, and chatted with the audience a minute before kicking it off with Just Your Fool and Shattered Dreams. She stopped for a moment, and took another minute to "Introduce the band cause they're pretty badass."
Cyndi Lauper was just as bold and beautiful as I remembered her. She didn't need anything fancy to put on a great show; she rocked it all evening, just her and the band against the plain House of Blues backdrop. Cyndi completed an incredible blues set: Early In The Mornin', Romance In The Dark, How Blue Can You Get, Down Don't Bother Me, Down So Low, Crossroads, Rollin' And Tumblin' (Muddy Waters cover), Don't Cry No More and Who Let In The Rain. Even after completing quite a set, Cyndi and her band returned for an extensive encore, including her 80s hits only played more mellow with blues undertones: Change Of Heart, Girls Just Wanna Have Fun, She Bop, Time After Time, Mother Earth, and True Colors.
Although I am sure a few pop fans were heavily disappointed in the mood of Cyndi Lauper's show, I really think she proved herself as a talented blues singer; not an easy accomplishment. I must also take a moment to emphasize the incredible talent of her "badass" band. They were so good, at times I could hear the spirit of Stevie Ray Vaughan in the guitar. I believe in rock and roll, and at it's heart you will find blues. This evening, I think Cyndi proved herself beyond that of a pop star or humanitarian, but that of a true rock-n-roll singer and songwriter.

If you are interested in hearing more about the new Cyndi, she will be on The House of Blues Radio Hour the weekend of September 25th.

Friday, August 20, 2010

The Dan Band

Since the moment I saw The Dan Band perform Total Eclipse of the Heart in the movie Old School, I was a fan. Being raised in Las Vegas, it's only natural that I have acquired a taste for lounge cover music, but The Dan Band puts a comedic spin on everything they touch. The combination of their song selections, regular guy yet rockstar attitudes, and choreography is truly brilliant. I was disappointed I did not see their New Years Eve 2009-10 performance at Dick's Last Resort in the Excalibur, but thanks to Live Nation, I get to see The Dan Band on the Still Hungover Tour.

We walked down the House of Blues stairs just as The Dan Band's opening skit video began playing on the screen. It was a glimpse into the "real" lives of the band members, Dan as a mechanic, John a drug dealing clown, and Gene a red light special freak. Beepers alert, all change and assemble as The Dan Band, quite hilarious, all while done to Missy Elliot's Get Ur Freak On. They all ran out on stage for an energetic opening with ABBA's Fernando. Dan then sat on the edge of the stage in perfect lounge style, engaging the audience, asked a fellow's name and he replied "Fernando." Dan laughed, "Holy shit! We just sang a song for you!"
The Dan Band kept the energy and laughter high throughout their performance. Not only were their jokes, lyrics, suggestive dance moves, and props hysterical, the music and vocals sounded great. Once Dan teased the drummer for a double-bass slip up, commenting, "Did you hears my drummers Red Bull kick in?" The songs they performed ranged from varying genre and gender, but The Dan Band made each one their own, stylized each in a clever way. As Dan would squirm and grind around up front, John and Gene (dressed in identical suits) danced with hula-hoops, socks, streamers, chairs, while singing back-up; it was too perfect!
For an encore, Dan came on stage alone, lit by one spotlight, and sang a sultry 50 Cent's Candy Shop. The audience loved it, cheering loudly for more, Dan mocked us saying, "You can keep clapping. I'm just going offstage, then I'm going to come back on." The screen was lowered, Dan was then joined by John and Gene, they came front stage in front of the screen and performed move for move Beyonce's Single Ladies (with her video playing behind them on screen). It was not only funny but quite impressive. Just when we thought it was over, the curtains opened to three red fabric swings... While each squirmed around in their fabric swing, they closed with Flashdance/Fame, even splashing Dan with buckets of water... so weirdly awesome, it had the audience in stitches, and delivered a full standing ovation.
Their incredible setlist included Nasty (Janet Jackson), Tyrone (Erykah Badu), Shoop/Whatta Man/Never Gonna Get It, Ring My Bell, Lady (Styx), Whenever Wherever/Hips Don't Lie, Genie In A Bottle/No Scrubs/Slave 4 U, Hold On/Luka, Don't Cha/My Humps/Milkshake, and of course Total Eclipse of the Heart. Although there were so many awesomely awkward and weird moments, I really enjoyed the way they performed the female pop song. It was truly a one of a kind show, everyone exited giggling, knowing The Dan Band really rocked our socks.

Not only is The Dan Band a must see, if you have not heard of them, look them up!

You can also check out the interview Las Vegas' 944 magazine got with lead singer Dan Finnerty.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Ghostland Observatory

I had never heard of Ghostland Observatory before seeing them booked at the House of Blues, but the more I did my research, the more intrigued I became. This electro-rock duo has been around since 2005, already with four records under their belts. I knew a couple people that had seen Ghostland Observatory at Vegoose 2007, when I asked their opinions both were at a loss for words, but said it was "interesting to say the least." I replied, "I really hope they make a laser canopy above the floor, because the HoB would be perfect for that."
Ghostland Observatory darkened the house lights to a moderately sized audience, right at 9 o'clock. Fog emerged out over the stage, as three lasers began fanning out from the front of the stage over and above the whole floor. For a few minutes, the lights and buzz of the synthesizer held us all perfectly still, captivated by the beautiful colors and designs that beamed all around.
While we were hypnotized, Aaron (vocals, guitar) and Thomas (drums, synthesizer) came out, brought the beat up, and immediately got the audience dancing. Ghostland Observatory have their own perfect groove, neither fast nor crunchy, it is bass and dance heavy, with funky and disco overtones emphasized mostly by the Aaron's shrill voice. While Aaron would be singing, dancing, shaking, and moving all over the stage, Thomas was wearing a shiny white and blue cape which he would sometimes hide under when getting into heavy synth sessions. From all that I could see, hear, and feel, this duo was meant create music together.
Ghostland Observatory never let up, running from one song into the next for their full two hour set, including an encore. It was a well rounded setlist, including a several new songs: Midnight Voyage, Silver City, Heavy Heart, Vibrate, Move With Your Lover, Codename: Rondo, New Song, Stranger Lover, Piano Man, New Song, Ghetto Magnet, Sad Sad City. (in no particular order) The audience was a united sea of dancing bodies that never stopped, everyone was smiling and clearly having a great experience.
The blend of the bright laser lights, heavy synth beats, keyboard melodies, and Aaron's vocals were so unique and entrancing, many of us left exhausted and speechless. Ghostland Observatory totally blew me away, not only meeting my level of excitement, but also being more than just a show but an experience. It is also nice to take notice of the growing numbers of electro influenced artists emerging into the mainstream. To be amazed by Beats Antique and Ghostland Observatory on back to back nights really says something about Las Vegas' growing dance scene; something I haven't seen in a decade. Ghostland Observatory has got it, they are new and exciting, a must see!