Mott The Hoople ’74 is, well, the three living members of the Hoople circa 1974—frontman Ian Hunter, guitarist Ariel Bender and keyboardist Morgan Fisher—joined by a handful of other musicians. The band just toured the U.S. for the first time in 45 years (on the previous jaunt, Queen was the opener, making its stateside debut). Since Mott The Hoople has been a MAGNET fave since you your dad was still in short pants, this tour was a big deal for us. These photos are from the Keswick Theatre in Glenside, Pa., by Chris Sikich. BTW, fellow longtime MAGNET faves the Dream Syndicate opened the show.
Catch the Hoople on tour in the U.K. starting tonight at the Academy in Manchester.
Our friend Roob (you’d know him if you saw him) says RFA is “one of the best live bands on the planet” (and he goes to more shows than anyone you know). Of the Philly outfit’s self-titled debut from last year, he says it’s “literally one of the best things I’ve ever heard” (it was number one on his list of the 100 best records of 2018, and album track “Suzie Lee” was his top song of the year). While we don’t feel quite as strongly as Roob about RFA, we do think that if you haven’t checked them out yet, you are really missing out. They are Roob tested and MAGNET approved. RFA recently played a hometown show at Underground Arts, and MAGNET photographer Chris Sikich was there seeking—and finding—simple pleasures.
To call Muse’s 24-song set at Madison Square Garden a rock show would be selling it way short. Regardless what you think of the trio’s ever-changing recorded output, live these Brits deliver an experience that will leave even non-believers completely mesmerized. Mixing the sci-fi themes and ’80s pop-culture leanings of latest LP Simulation Theory, Muse also incorporated dancers, lasers, neon lights, illuminated sunglasses, huge video screens and some sort of massive monster than rose from the stage during the encore (when photographers weren’t allowed to officially shoot the performance). MAGNET’s lensman Wes Orshoski was there to take it all in—because he doesn’t fear the dark side as you do.
Grateful Dead bassist Phil Lesh celebrated his 79th birthday (dude looks good for his age) with a three-night stand at the Capitol Theatre in Port Chester, N.Y. He was backed by his “Friends”: keyboardist Benmont Tench (Tom Petty), guitarists Jackie Greene (Black Crowes) and Grahame Lesh (Phil’s son) and drummer John Molo (Bruce Hornsby). For the first night, jazz-rock guitar god John Scofield joined in the fun. MAGNET photographer Wes Orshoski was there with scarlet begonias in his hair.
Billy Idol and righthand guitar man Steve Stevens reunited for the “Turned On, Tuned In And Unplugged Tour.” Playing two nights at The Town Hall in NYC, the acoustic duo delivered the hits (“Dancing With Myself,” “White Wedding,” “Rebel Yell”) as well as some interesting covers (songs by the Kinks, Eddie Cochran, Johnny Kidd & The Pirates). MAGNET photographer Wes Orshoski was there and reports that it was hot in the city that night.
Of all the music I reconsidered in my old Philadelphia City Paper column, nothing brought more me joy than pushing past my childhood cynicism to fully appreciate Lionel Richie through an adult’s ears. Finally seeing him At the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City took that joy to another level.
I wasn’t at all surprised by his phenomenal showmanship and his tight band, but I was still moved more than I thought possible, both in heart (especially by the front-row proposal during “Endless Love”) and in booty (by “Brick House”—the very next song).
Richie promised all the hits, and indeed I sang along with almost word of the lyrics. His effortless piano playing on “Easy” was the perfect way to start the show, and an extended “Running With The Night” was an early favorite, but it only got better from there: “You Are The Sun,” “Dancing On The Ceiling” (with an interpolation of Van Halen’s “Jump”), “Three Times A Lady,” “Lady (You Bring Me Up),” “Hello,” “Say You, Say Me,” “We Are The World” and “All Night Long.”
In his preface to “We Are The World,” Richie paid tribute to all his peers who have passed away. It’s a fraught time to say nice things about Michael Jackson without acknowledging the monstrous parts of his private life, but that’s what Richie did, and I don’t fault him for that. I can’t extricate all my positive memories of Michael Jackson, and I’m not going to try. All I can do is accept that I’ll probably always struggle with the conflicting impulses to judge, reckon with and empathize with the complexity of his humanity—and everyone else’s, and my own. Maybe Richie didn’t plan for that moment in the show to be so heady, but he made it possible all the same.
Observing how he’d watch the crowd reaction and see someone cry hysterically during his happiest song and someone else laugh hysterically during his saddest song, he pointed out that we’re all filtering what we hear through our own memories. And experiencing them together.
Mary Gauthier hasn’t played Philly in years, but it’s always worth it to seek her out wherever she is: Wilmington, Nashville, and, on this night, Washington, D.C.
Joined by opener Jaimee Harris, Gauthier started with “I Drink”—an apt song for two performers who’ve been candid about their hard-won sobriety to play at a winery.
The heart of the show was a selection of songs from Rifles & Rosary Beads, one of my top albums of 2018, and Gauthier vividly brought to life the stories of her collaborators—veterans and their wives—on “Soldiering On,” “The War After The War” and “Bullet Holes In The Sky,” among others.
Later in the set, “Mercy Now” bore the weight necessary to carry the emotions of a D.C. crowd holding its breath for the full Mueller report to come out, and if a sing-along of “This Land Is Your Land” didn’t quite pop the tension, well, nothing really could have.
One bit of good news: In expressing her gratitude to City Winery, Gauthier mentioned that the in-the-works Philly location will finally bring her back to MAGNET’s hometown.
Lucy Dacus, who made MAGNET’s 2016 album of the year, recently wrapped up a North American tour supporting last year’s Historian (which we deemed Essential New Music and named the 25th best LP of 2018). So yeah, you could probably call us fans. When Dacus hit Philly with Mal Blum and Fenne Lily opening, MAGNET photographer Chris Sikich was there to capture all the action and adventure. If you missed her this time around, fear not: She’ll be back next month, starting May 4 at the Visulite Theatre in Charlotte, N.C.
That headline is correct: MAGNET did get to go to the 2019 Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame induction. And our Wes Orshoski did shoot these images for us. But he didn’t have the right credentials to take photos of the actual show. So he was relegated to watch the Cure from backstage, on a screen like the rest of us MAGNETeers who have been binging on Robert Smith and Co. recently. (Though he did get to see as much of absentee inductee Thom Yorke as the folks in the good seats, which is to say not at all.) But Wes had a fun night, and though he was totally bummed he didn’t actually see the Cure play live, he’s not complaining. Boys don’t cry after all.
MAGNET hometown hero Timothy Showalter (a.k.a. Strand Of Oaks) did what any self-respecting music nerd does on album-release Fridays. He headed down to his local record store; only instead of buying the latest vinyl offerings, he played a 30-minute set celebrating his new album, Eraserland (Dead Oceans). While this appearance at Philly’s Repo Records was Showalter by his lonesome, his latest LP features Jason Isbell and every member of My Morning Jacket not named Jim James. Strand Of Oaks heads out for a month-long North American tour starting April 10 at the FM Kirby Center in Wilkes-Barre, Pa. Don’t miss out on the Greatest Show(alter) On Earth.