Tegan & Sara, October 22, 2016, The Pageant, Saint Louis, MO

If you can believe this, Saturday was my first time seeing Tegan and Sara. I always had conflicts with schedule when they have come to town. FINALLY, it happened.  

The crowd was elated even before they stepped foot on stage.  The house lights went dark then purple lights began blinking to the beat it felt like to a seriously high energy version of “I’m So Excited” performed originally by The Pointer Sisters. When the song ended, the twins from Canada stepped on stage!  Cue the crowd!  They were seriously loud and I loved that!  

Before I go forward, I must say that I was surprised in a good way when I saw who was in their band. The one and only Eva Gardner. One of the baddest asses of women who play. Also in the band were  Brendan Buckley (drums/percussion) and Gabriel McNair (keys/backing vocals). All of their resumes are impressive. They fit perfectly with Tegan and Sara. 

The opening number was “Back in Your Head” much to the crowd’s delight!  Their sound was perfection. Yes, I admit I love their music, but sometimes the live show doesn’t always add up. No worries about that here. Their stage (floor) reminded me of something straight out of Saturday Night Fever (you know I’m old with that reference).  From the beginning, they played to the crowd and you could tell how sincere it was. 

The duo played a great combination of new and old music.  (See my older review on their newest album Love You To Death.)  Some of my personal favorites were “Walking With a Ghost”, “Drove Me Wild”, “Faint of Heart”, “Nineteen”, “Hang on to the Night”, “Boyfriend”, and “Stop Desire”.  But who am I kidding, all were great. Two beautiful acoustic versions of songs were performed:  “The Con” and “Call It Off”. 

To see the full setlist, please go to this link:  

http://www.setlist.fm/setlist/tegan-and-sara/2016/the-pageant-st-louis-mo-3fab9bf.html

As expected, the girls were extremely funny when talking to the crowd. It was not some rehearsed thing they say at every show. They had been to Saint Louis’ well know City Museum earlier in the day and those stories were hilarious. At a moment in the show, Sara discussed the balcony dwellers. Quote of the night came from Sara while discussing the balcony, “You want to talk about my cats? No, we’re talking about the complexities of those who sit in the balcony.”  (It is at this point that I must admit I was a balcony dweller.  I like to have a seat when I’m reviewing to take a few notes on occasion. That is my story and I’m sticking to it!)

Needless to say, I highly recommend you attend a show on this tour. I’ve included the link below in order for you to see if there is a show near you or maybe a road trip!  See tour schedule below:

Shows

I know you usually expect good pictures from me. I didn’t have a camera pass and here are a few from the iPhone. Better than nothing, right? Nothing like balcony pictures either. (LOL)


Lastly, the show was phenomenal as I have said, but it’s also good to see artists who actually stand for something. Tegan and Sara talked from the heart about the U.S. Election and it’s importance.  To me, that’s what makes them even greater!

Grab your tickets and catch a show!  You will not regret it!

Were you at the show?  Leave your comments! Love reading them! – TF

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Jackson Browne and James Taylor Concert, June 30, 2016, Wrigley Field

While it pains my soul as a die hard Cardinals fan to say this, I don’t like the team within its confines, but I do love Wrigley Field. On June 30, 2016, I found myself present at this old ballpark that I do love due its longevity and history, but I wasn’t there for a baseball game. This night, I was there for a concert of epic proportion. The weather was absolutely perfect this evening even though a few clouds rolled through that looked dangerous. With a light wind coming off Lake Michigan and stars that were clear up above, it was the perfect setting with a mixed crown of young and old alike.

James Taylor headlined the show which called for a big name opener. That was none other than Jackson Browne. While I have seen Taylor several times, I have always missed Browne’s shows when he has passed through town. When I heard about this show, I vowed not to miss it, so it was up to Chicago we went and attended with friends. Browne walked out casually and the place went bonkers.

Browne opened the show with “Rock Me on the Water,” and it sounded simply beautiful. His voice sounded like it did when he started in the business with the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band in 1966 and when he first went solo in 1971. His voice echoed throughout Wrigleyville. Midway through the set, he played “Somebody’s Baby” and it definitely pleased the crowd, especially the women. To the delight of all in attendance, Taylor came out on stage and helped Browne close his set. They sang “Take It Easy” (which Browne and the late Glenn Frey wrote together) and “For a Rocker.” Browne’s set was exactly one hour long, but definitely left you wanting more! He appeared gracious and humbled by the reception he received. He talked about his love of Taylor’s music and how he was ecstatic to be playing for him. I was thrilled I finally made it to a Jackson Browne show, and I will definitely see him the next time he comes through St. Louis!

It took the crew exactly 30 minutes to set the stage for Taylor. I should mention that the city of Chicago has a curfew with concerts at Wrigley now due to the fact a certain Pearl Jam front man refused to stop playing after the band’s show was delayed by rain. From what I have heard, it went until about 1:00 a.m. You give the crowd what they came for and paid for if you ask me.

Taylor came on exactly at 8:30 p.m. Much like Browne, he strolled to the stage, grabbed a stool, and opened the show with the mellow number “Something in the Way She Moves.” Taylor wore his trademark hat and tipped it often to the crowd. He was also very thankful to the crowd and you could tell he was excited to be there. Taylor’s voice was also flawless and as the sun went down, you could not help but take in the nice evening. I caught myself just shutting my eyes and listening to Taylor’s silky, smooth voice.

Taylor paid homage to the rooftop bleachers around Wrigley as well as the highest seats in the stadium by playing “Up On the Roof,” a song written for him by his friend, Carole King. He played another King song back to back with “You’ve Got a Friend.” Taylor played one of my all-time favorite songs during a two-song set about his home state, North Carolina. “Copperline” was the first song (and said favorite) followed by “Carolina in My Mind.” Between songs, Taylor would introduce a member or two at a time in his band. His band was like a who’s who of his or her particular talent. While I cannot mention them all, due to the number in the band, I will mention a couple of noteworthy performers. Lou Marini was on horns. Does his name sound familiar? If you are around my age and loved the Blues Brother, he is that Lou in the Blues Brother’s band as well as the original Saturday Night Live band. Andrea Zonn was on the fiddle along with providing background vocals. She is an artist in her own right and recently put out her own album. All the band members were incredible, really!

Taylor performed many of his biggest hits such as “Fire and Rain,” “Shower the People,” and “Your Smiling Face.” Taylor had me choked up a bit when he sang “Sweet Baby James.” On a personal note, I sang this song a lot to my niece and nephew when they were babies (they are 13 and 6 now). It definitely had me in a great memory mode. A song that surprised many people was a cover of “Knock on Wood.” He had a lot of fun with that number, as did the band.

I did not mention that when Browne’s set was over, I found myself a little sad due to the fact he did not play my very favorite song. The next thing you know, at the end of show, Browne walks on stage and they did another song together, “Doctor My Eyes.” At the end of the song, you could tell Taylor was not ready to leave the stage, and he was frantically talking to the band members including Browne. He then looked to a Wrigley employee at the side of the stage who was on camera for all to see and he asked if they could do one more song. His request was granted, and they all performed the last song of the evening, “You Can Close Your Eyes.” The crowd gave what was many standing ovations and the whole gang on stage bowed together in thanks.

To see what songs were played at the show, you can view Jackson Browne’s set list and James Taylor’s set list. This was a once in a lifetime concert because the two are not touring together this year as Browne joined him specifically for this show at Wrigley Field. You can catch the duo this summer at Fenway Park on Aug. 3, 2016. Again, Browne is a special guest for the ballpark show only. However, this show is sold out and you may have to pay a pretty penny going the alternate route for tickets. I think it would be worth it. Both artists are on tour this summer, so I invite you to look at Jackson Browne’s tour dates and James Taylor’s tour dates. I was thrilled to be a part of the crowd for this show! If you were there, let me hear your thoughts in the comments section. | Tracy Fort

Check out Tracy on her internationally acclaimed radio program, The Tracy Fort Show, online at www.blogtalkradio.com/thetracyfortshow or via internet radio apps. In addition to live streams, you can listen to podcasts of previous shows. Follow The Tracy Fort Show on Twitter at @TracyFortShow.

Jane Lynch, Sheldon Concert Hall, St. Louis, June 14, 2016

Jane Lynch visited St. Louis just two days after the tragic events in Orlando. I went with my wife and was determined not to let fear stand in my way. It was an event attended by a large presence within the LGBTQ community; there was a real sense of comradery among the crowd.

While the crowd was somber in the beginning, when the opening band walked out, we knew it was going to be a great evening. The Todd Guerrero Quintet was magical in arranging all the music for the show. They played some songs, and then were joined on stage by a charming Tim Davis (known mainly for his work on Glee as music arranger, vocalist, etc.). He delivered a few songs with a silky smooth voice that took you back to the days of Sinatra.

Lynch entered the hall with a standing ovation before she even began her portion of the show. If you are not aware of who she is, you must have been hiding under a rock. Best known as Sue Sylvester on the television show Glee, she is a comic, movie star, television star, Broadway star, game show host—and, oh, star of her own cabaret show currently on tour. Along with Davis, Kate Flannery was a presence in this event. You may know her from The Office as the hard-living Meredith. The three, along with the jazz quintet, were a true cabaret lover’s dream come true.

Lynch and gang did numbers from Irving Berlin all the way to Christopher Guest, with the proverbial little bit of everything in between. And, yes, I said Christopher Guest. Some of you may know that Lynch has been in two of Guest’s movies, A Mighty Wind and Best in Show. I was thrilled when I heard she was doing a number by him and was thrilled to learn it was a song from A Mighty Wind. “Blood on the Coal” was a big hit with the crowd, especially for the Guest fans.

Another fun song was when the trio performed “Anaconda” by Nicki Minaj. To say the least, they nailed this song, even when set to jazz. You can just imagine the choreography that went along with the song. And then, when I thought it couldn’t be any better, there was another Guest song from A Mighty Wind, this time “Skeletons of Quinto.”

While those were some of my favorites of the evening, many other great numbers were performed, such as a beautiful medley of songs from West Side Story; “Mr. Monotony (a Irving Berlin number); and “Go Ask Alice” from The Brady Brunch Live (Lynch and Flannery worked on this project together in the 1990s). Another crowd favorite was a medley of songs that, as Lynch said, “made you cry as a child.” That last medley—songs picked by each member of the band and trio that made them cry—was extremely humorous.

The show was genuinely funny, and you could tell everyone involved in the show had a great time together. While Lynch was extremely entertaining, Flannery really livened things up. She reminded me so much of her character on The Office by the jokes and hijinks she pulled on stage. | Tracy Fort

Check out Tracy on her internationally acclaimed radio program, The Tracy Fort Show, online at www.blogtalkradio.com/thetracyfortshow or via internet radio apps. In addition to live streams, you can listen to podcasts

Sarah Silverman/Lizz Winstead, The Pageant, June 6, 2016

When I heard the news that Sarah Silverman was actually coming to St. Louis, I knew right away I needed tickets: the sooner, the better. I received a pre-sale option and was online immediately. You see, I have had a platonic affair going on with Silverman for as long as I can possibly remember. From her stand-up to her television show, I am a huge fan. Her recent work in Masters of Sex and the 2015 movie I Smile Back have brought out a side of Silverman that I absolutely appreciate, seeing her in such different roles.

I had not paid attention if there was even an opening act. They are usually announced at the last minute anyway, but apparently this opener had been on the books without me knowing. As I sat waiting for Silverman to take the stage, I learned that the one and only Lizz Winstead would be opening! Lizz freaking Winstead, the co-creator of The Daily Show, for starters. Winstead is also an outspoken feminist, especially when it comes to a woman’s right to choose; I applaud her for taking such a stand.

While she did not talk as much about women’s rights as I anticipated, she brought her humor to the stage, delivering a powerhouse performance discussing politics, religion, and family. Some of her humor apparently upset one audience member, as she discussed how Trump would build a uterine wall, keeping those who have had an abortion out of the country. She made the audience squirm a great deal, but for me, I thought it was perfectL Winstead was on fire! She even got a Todd Akin “legitimate rape” jab in there, to the delight of some. Others did not care for it, but—they knew they were coming to see Silverman and Winstead. My questions would be, “What type of comedy were you anticipating?” or, better yet, “Do you have a clue about Silverman or Winstead’s comedy?”

What can you say about Silverman, and where do I start? I fell in love with her comedy many years ago. We first learned of Silverman when she was on Saturday Night Live from 1993 to 1994 (also as a writer). The big event that got me fully hooked was her special 2005, Sarah Silverman: Jesus Is Magic. She also had the Sarah Silverman Program from 2007 to 2010, and has won two Prime Time Emmys. Recently, Silverman was nominated for an Oscar in I Smile Back, and gained critical acclaim with her role onMasters of Sex.

Finally, the time arrived for the headliner to take the stage—to thunderous applause. In true Silverman fashion, she opened with a couple of Jewish jokes that, once again, made the crowd nervous. Silverman discussed her upbringing in the Judaism faith, sharing stories left and right. She killed it, and that nervous “should I laugh or not?” feeling left the room. If you have ever watched one of her comedy specials, you know she is not afraid to touch on any issue. There is nothing off limits to her, which I totally appreciate: It’s honest, raw comedy at its best.

Silverman delivered a tale of laser hair removal and a hilarious story about lunch with Kanye West. As the night ended, the subject matter came back to religion. She asked a question regarding religion—specifically, Christianity—in a manner only she can, asking individuals to step forward if they disagree. One man did and immediately I began to feel sorry for him—yet he kind of asked for it, trying to go up against Silverman. Silverman shredded this guy, as did the majority of audience members with their collective sighs and even boos, as this guy was extremely preachy. I am not sure why he even came to the show; he obviously had not seen Silverman: Jesus Is Magic.

You can catch Silverman on the big screen, as she currently stars in Popstar: Never Stop, Never Stopping.She’s also slated for the 2017 film Battle of the Sexes. If you get the chance to see her live, you must do it! I love seeing that her career has hit such a high point, and I think she will continue to climb. | Tracy Fort

Silverman is currently on tour; you can catch updates to her schedule by following her on Facebook or Twitter.

Check out Tracy on her internationally acclaimed radio program, The Tracy Fort Show, online at www.blogtalkradio.com/thetracyfortshow or via internet radio apps. In addition to live streams, you can listen to podcasts of previous shows. Follow The Tracy Fort Show on Twitter at @TracyFortShow.

Aimee Mann Concert, The Sheldon, May 6, 2016

Seeing an Aimee Mann concert is, simply put, spectacular. With no opening act, the artist casually walked onto the stage to thunderous applause, wearing that Aimee Mann smile. Her band included a bassist and a piano/keyboard player, and the crowd varied across demographics. She opened the show with “Goodbye Caroline,” followed by “The Moth,” “You Could Make a Killing,” and “Labrador.”

If you do not follow her, you may not know about her cunning sense of humor that definitely comes out during her live shows. (Search “Aimee Mann Portlandia” on YouTube; trust me on this one.) Many tend to put her in the “sad music” category, but she also has this quick, dry wit. Mann is not one to talk a lot about her songs, but she told a story regarding how another musician she knew that would introduce a song by saying, for example, “This is a song about sour grapes. It’s called ‘Sour Grapes.’” This caused a pretty big chuckle throughout the crowd. Without missing a beat, she said, “This is a song about someone needing saving. It’s called ‘Save Me,’” creating even more laughter.

I have to admit that “Save Me” is one of my favorite songs by her, and one that got me listening to her music a long time ago. After “Save Me,” she sang the following four songs: “Slip and Roll,” “Going Through the Motions,” “Dear John,” and “Little Bombs.” Upon completion of this run of songs, she began to speak about and play songs from an album that she “really does not have a clue when it will be released.” There is that humor again, which she delivers like a veteran comic. She played the two new songs called “Stuck in the Past” and “Good for Me.”

While discussing the album, Mann drew upon her sense of humor in noting how depressing her music can be. She explained how a told her she should call the album what it really reflects; thus, the album’s name will apparently be Mental Illness. This drew a huge roar from the crowd, with many clapping in support of the title.” (Side note: This will be her first solo album since Charmer was released in 2012, although she did an album with fellow musician Ted Leo in 2014, a collaboration they call “The Both.” Mann and Leo have collaborated for several years now, and make a great team. I was fortunate enough to catch Mann the last time she was in St. Louis in 2012, and Leo opened the show.)

Next, she played “Fourth of July,” and then took requests from the audience. The loudest audience member asked for “Amateur,” about which Mann expressed doubt at being able to remember the song. A few chords in and this was clear, as she made up incredibly funny lyrics. She played “I’ve Had It” instead, a song off of her first solo album. After that she delivered “Red Vines” which you could tell was an audience favorite. Mann reported that “Red Vines” would be the last song before we cheer like mad, then they pretend an encore was not already in the works: once again, her sarcastic, dry humor at work.

She and her band came back out to the audience still on their feet, something that seemed truly to take her by surprise. The encore gave us to special songs that happen to be two of my favorites. First, she sang “Wise Up” which won critical acclaim as a part of the Magnolia soundtrack. (An interesting fact about “Wise Up” is that the song was originally intended for the Jerry Maguire soundtrack. Cameron Crowe ended up cutting the song from the movie, but after hearing the demo again, told Mann that he could not believe he cut it, and then added it back in. Talk about a great two-for-one deal!) She ended the encore by playing “One” (also from Magnolia), the song I would have chosen had I called out when she was asking for requests. Just when we thought the show was over, Mann and her band returned. She stated they “remembered a song,” and they launched into “Deathly.”

Aimee Mann continues to get better with every passing year. She has the musical chops to carry off one hell of a concert, but she can also entertain a crowd with little effort. She captivates everyone in attendance—and as long as she performs live, you can count on me being in attendance. | Tracy Fort

Check out Tracy on her internationally acclaimed radio program, The Tracy Fort Show, online at www.blogtalkradio.com/thetracyfortshow or via internet radio apps. In addition to live streams, you can listen to podcasts of previous shows. Follow The Tracy Fort Show on Twitter at @TracyFortShow.