Wednesday, 26 February 2020

On Stage: Mikal Cronin @ Bitterzoet

It only makes sense that rocker Ty Segall chooses to have musicians like Mikal Cronin in his band. The versatile multi instrumentalist has many talents and makes great music as a solo artist as well. He recently released his fourth solo album Seeker and is now touring in support of it.

Mikal Cronin at Bitterzoet Amsterdam, February 21 2020

Shannon Lay is tonight’s support act who I recently saw play with Cronin in Ty Segall’s band and earlier with punk rockers FEELS. Solo she’s taking it a lot more slow, with quiet ballads. She has a lovely voice and together with a clear fingerpicking guitar sound the room goes quiet. Something that will change when Mikal Cronin takes the stage.

Cronin's new songs are nicely varying and some of them have a wonderful Tom Petty feel. I love this sound and on stage Cronin adds some lively energy. He may not be the greatest singer, but he makes up for that with great guitar skills and song writing. Different from his work with Segall, Cronin’s songs are lighter and have more of a pop feel. This is what makes his music so attractive.

Most of the songs are quite compact and together with the rhythm section, the only other two members, go through them very smoothly. These two add a lot of groove to the fuzzy rock music that make them perfect to rock out to. The crowd is a bit hesitant tonight though and doesn't exactly go wild. To be fair there isn't a lot of time to get warmed up though since after just over half an hour the three leave the stage and return very quickly for one more song. With hardly forty-five minutes of stage time, the set is really short, but totally worth it nevertheless.

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Tuesday, 18 February 2020

On Stage: Brothers Of A Feather @ THT

The American rock band The Black Crowes always knew turbulent times. It went through numerous line-up changes and had several break ups. The core of the band are the Robinson brothers, whose relationship is not easy. Whenever the two don't get along, the band goes through a rough period. In 2015 the group disbanded due to an argument between the brothers. Last year the duo suddenly announced their reconciliation and a 2020 The Black Crowes tour with a whole new backing band to celebrate the 30th anniversary of their successful debut album Shake Your Moneymaker. Now the two brothers are sharing the stage for an acoustic tour as "Brothers of a Feather".

Brothers Of A Feather at Paradiso Noord Tolhuistuin Amsterdam, February 15 2020

Singer Chris Robinson states that not many people expected the brothers to appear on stage together so soon. Indeed I wasn't expecting it either, especially a show with just the two of them. I'm happy though to see the brothers are getting along again and are playing together, since they make great music and are always getting the best out of each other. Chris is the outgoing front man and singer, chatting to the crowd, while Rich is the more quiet one.

You can tell they have been making music together all of their lives and complete each other. Rich's groovy rhythm guitar is the base for every song and he sometimes adds harmonies to Chris' vocals. The two cut through The Black Crowes' catalogue with lovely versions of big hits like 'Jealous Again', 'Twice As Hard' and 'Remedy'. Also some deeper cuts like 'Nonfiction' and 'Good Friday' are on the setlist. Every song sounds amazing like this, stripped down to their bare core. Chris' powerful voice sounds wonderful with only a single acoustic guitar backing him.

Unfortunately there is quite a lot of chatting going on and Chris asks everyone to shut up. It's very sad that one of the musicians on stage has to ask people to be quiet. Fortunately it does have effect and the chatting dies out. Towards the end the back to back tracks 'Soul Singing' and 'She Talks To Angels' are absolutely gorgeous. The duo returns for an encore playing the only song that is not a The Black Crowes song, Ry Cooder's 'Boomer Song'. This was an incredible night, with the two brothers truly having fun at playing together again. I'm looking forward to this fall a lot when The Black Crowes return to Amsterdam.

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01. Jealous Again
02. Twice as Hard
03. Wiser Time
04. Thorn in My Pride
05. Good Friday
06. Cursed Diamond
07. Hotel Illness
08. Whoa Mule
09. Nonfiction
10. Soul Singing
11. She Talks to Angels
12. Remedy
13. Boomer's Story (Ry Cooder cover)

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Friday, 14 February 2020

On Stage: Ryley Walker @ THT

No too long ago Ryley Walker visited Amsterdam with his band to promote his latest record Deafman Glance. Not long after that he posted on social media he wasn't doing so well and needed professional help. He went away for a while but fortunately was able to overcome his demons and is now doing an acoustic tour all by himself.

Ryley Walker at Paradiso Tolhuistuin Amsterdam, February 12 2020

The musician certainly looks in better shape tonight than the last time. He has lost weight and seems to be in a much better place. He is cheerful on stage, chatting with the crowd, smiling and laughing a lot. Walker is a great entertainer and has no trouble pleasing the crowd tonight. In between songs he has short funny anecdotes and is cracking lots of jokes. It results in a relaxed atmosphere where Walker is the radiant centre piece.

He is an amazing song writer that is able to compose gorgeous tracks both musically and lyrically. In this acoustic setting this is even more clear and his music is perfect for it. Many songs have lovely guitar intros, intermezzos and solos where Walker is showing his impressive guitar skills. I love the way he builds up his songs around breezy finger picking parts, giving his music a light touch. With his pleasant voice tracks like 'Pimrose Green' and 'The Roundabout' wrap themselves around you. It truly is music to lose yourself and wallow in.

There are also a couple of covers tonight, John Martyn's 'Over The Hill' and Tim Hardin's 'If I Were A Carpenter'. You can leave it to Walker to do them truly justice and make them fit into his own catalogue perfectly. He is a gifted musician and I love his music. It's good to see he's doing well and hopefully he will be back soon to treat us to his lovely songs and maybe some new music too.

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Tuesday, 11 February 2020

On Stage: Supergrass @ Paradiso

When Blur and Oasis were fighting for Britpop domination halfway the nineties, there was a whole bunch of bands trying to ride the waves they were making. One of the most fun bands to come from that were Supergrass who made uplifting songs with a lot of refreshing energy. It was a real shame they called it a day ten years ago. Fortunately they have reunited again and are playing my hometown a visit.

Supergrass at Paradiso Amsterdam, February 8 2020

According to the band they will not be making new music but will only play live for a while. I'm not sure this means they are doing it for money or for reliving their glory years. I don't really care since I finally get to see this band play, that I never got to see before (at least not that I can recall). Most of the nights the band is kicking off with 'In It For The Money', showing plenty tongue in cheek. However drummer Danny Goffey is ill (maybe partied too hard on his birthday the day before?), so they cut their set a bit shorter, by only one song though.

The band is taking their time to warm up and build up their set. The first couple of songs are a bit hesitant and the crowd also has to warm up. 'Moving' however breaks the ice and the crowd and the band really connect for the first time. After that it only gets better and the quartet bring the nineties back to life with their amazing songs.

Since this group has plenty of catchy well written songs, full of hooks, wonderful melodies and rocking choruses. Even a song like 'Late In The Day' that is halfway the set, which starts like a ballad, will eventually turn into a swinging pop song. The crowd is now totally into it and the best is yet to come. The band saved their biggest hits 'til the end and 'Grace', 'Alright', 'Pumping On Your Stereo', 'Sun Hits The Sky' and 'Lenny' follow back to back leading into a delightful climax until the band leaves the stage.

They return for two more songs and close the night with a rough version of 'Strange Ones' that tells the story of tonight. The story of a band that knows how to write a great song and makes it sound even better live on stage. So maybe they won't write any more of these songs, but hopefully they will keep playing the ones from their current catalogue for a while.

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01. I’d Like to Know
02. Diamond Hoo Ha Man
03. Mary
04. Moving
05. Time
06. Sitting Up Straight
07. Mansize Rooster
08. St. Petersburg
09. Late in the Day
10. Richard III
11. Going Out
12. Low C
13. Lose It
14. She's So Loose
15. Grace
16. Alright
17. Pumping on Your Stereo
18. Sun Hits the Sky
19. Lenny
20. Caught by the Fuzz
21. Strange Ones

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