Archive for the ‘Setlist’ Tag
Seeing an artist you like once is pretty impressive. Seeing them three times in a year is something special.
Amy Macdonald is an underrated singer in this country. Mention her name in Switzerland and there’s a frenzy – she plays huge outdoor festivals and accompanies symphony orchestras in Germany. So why is it that she can’t fill an average sized theatre in Manchester?
Her avoidance of the media probably is key to this. As she opened her eighteen strong set with An Ordinary Life she makes it clear that she never wanted fame. “I don’t care about the camera; I don’t care about the lights”. Her voice is quick to fill the room, its strength capable of holding any note.
Poison Prince was next in the firing line. Similar subjects are approached once again; with this Pete Doherty inspired number featuring some enthusiastic tambourine playing from a new addition to the band: Owen.
First album favourites LA and Youth of Today are normally greeted with tame, appreciative crowds yet tonight one drunken heckler decided to offer a passionate interpretation of the latter. He stood up from the seated audience and enthused “We are the youth of today” with his shirt half open and beer in hand. It’s not a scene that’s often associated with the Scottish songwriter’s fan base but he was clearly enjoying it nonetheless.
Love Love and Mr Rock and Roll got the entirety of the crowd on their feet before Amy introduced a song that she admitted she’d shied away from of late. Before the opening chords of Footballers Wife, Amy made it clear that she was not oblivious to the irony but was a bit fed up of being asked the same questions about the topic. She stated that she is not a WAG as she buys her own clothes and owns her own house and when you consider the football team her fiancé plays for you can truly establish the fact that Amy is anything but a WAG.
An onslaught of songs from A Curious Thing followed. All were performed to Amy’s usual high standards with anecdotal stories being told between them in typical Amy fashion. She spoke of performing This Pretty Face on Switzerland’s most popular TV show which just so happened to be a ‘Next Top Model’ style contest hence the permanent smile fixed on her face during the performance. Similarly she entertained the crowd with the story of her mother’s suggestions for an album title – apparently “2010” was her mum’s favourite which Amy dismissed calling it unoriginal only for Prince to later release an album of the same name.
Reverting back to her first album’s hits, Amy finished the first part of her set with Run and This Is the Life before disappearing from the stage. The crowd clapped her back on for her encore in which she pulled out her cover of Born To Run as a solo performance before her band joined her for What Happiness Means To Me. Being the keen fan that I am, I was surprised when Amy left the stage to applause without finishing with Lets Start a Band. It was clear that I wasn’t alone in thinking this so we cheered once more and before we knew it the band had returned once more to finish the set in the way that leaves audiences still wanting more.
Whilst I wasn’t sold on the two encores (surely making one three song encore would have been just as adequate?) I still find it hard to fault Amy as a live performer. Her voice was as strong as ever and with her longest tour ahead of her (tonight was the first night of the Love Love Tour) I expect that it will maintain its strength.
So whilst she may not have crafted herself into the most mainstream artist, she will always have an audience who are eager to listen to what she has to offer. And maybe one day Britain will appreciate her in the same way that our continental cousins do.
An Ordinary Life
Youth Of Today
Mr Rock n Roll
This Pretty Face
Don’t Tell Me That It’s Over
Give It All Up
Next Big Thing
This is the Life
Born to Run
What Happiness Means to Me
Lets Start a Band
The ‘Love Love’ Tour
O2 Manchester Apollo
First things first, I had been very excited about this gig for some time and as such, I could have a slightly biased view of it. But all you really need to know is that both artists were amazing. If you still need to know more then here are some more words to describe it…
With both Nozuka and Radin having toured with Missy Higgins before, my excitement for the concert was already heightened. Throw in the fact that I’ve previously seen Radin live at the Hard Rock Café and knew of his incredible musical talents and you get a picture of the energy that was buzzing through me before I even left my flat.
Nozuka took to the stage for his half an hour set opening with Carried Away. His vocals were much stronger than is evident on his album and I was immediately impressed. As he continued with a mix of songs from Holly and You I Wind Land Sea I couldn’t help but find myself entranced by him. Whilst his conversation with the crowd wasn’t a patch on what Radin was about to offer, his songs were performed so well that what was said between them didn’t matter.
Be Back Soon, Golden Train and Mr Therapy Man all had the Nozuka fans in the audience singing along whilst the tracks from his newer release seemed to be slower burners. Unbroken Man brought the tempo down in the same way that his final song, Heartless, did. All in all it was a very impressive eight song set from the young Canadian.
Be Back Soon
Mr Therapy Man
From the moment he casually strolled onto the stage, to the moment he departed through the crowd, Joshua Radin had the audience in the palm of his hand. If there’s anything that this guy doesn’t know about how to woo a crowd then it’s not worth knowing. Marriage proposals were aplenty from the females, with one ambitious guy offering his own scream of “Marry me Joshua” only for a polite refusal from the man with the guitar.
Why haven’t I mentioned his music yet? I hear you ask, or think rhetorically as the case may be. Well it’s quite simply because Radin is the epitome of an artist who (wait for it…) has a lot more than the music to offer. He crafts a relationship with the audience, be that with his questions as to the name of that guy who does a Sunday morning show on Radio 2 (“I think he’s a Sir or something, I should know his name”) or through his endless ramblings about Australia after he thought he’d heard someone say they were from there.
Vocally his talents were obvious to all – he even walked away from his microphone at the end of No Envy, No Fear, filling the room with his unadulterated voice. Each song tells its own story but Radin was always on hand to offer more insight into his mindset at the time of writing. Many of the night’s highlights were songs from his forthcoming album, The Rock and the Tide, with the title track being about the first time he had a crush. He admits that his previous two albums were written about break ups so it was different for him to venture into new territories with this third offering.
A new sound has come about with the latest songs to. Radin put aside his acoustic guitar in favour of an electric for several tracks including a personal favourite of mine, The Ones with The Light, which had the crowd parted in two to sing (or scream as it turned out) a different line in the chorus.
After telling the crowd about how people often go on dates to his concerts, Radin joked about couples arguing and finding new partners in the room, before clarifying that the song he was about to play, Today, was not about polygamy.
After a bout of rock numbers from his third album he returned to the fan favourite with his biggest UK hit I’d Rather Be With You getting the most enthusiastic reception from the crowd before his whisper rock style kept us enthralled in Winter.
As we cheered for an encore, the sound of acoustic guitars could be heard behind us so we raced to the back of the room to find Radin and his two guitarists had made their way to the middle of the venue and performed one last track for us all in his typical unplugged fashion.
Overall, I am still struggling to sum up the evening in comprehendible sentences. Radin is a sublime performer and I cannot recommend him highly enough.
No Envy, No Fear
Everything’ll Be Alright
Think I’ll Go Inside
The Rock and The Tide
Brand New Day
One of Those Days
The Ones with The Light
We Are Only Getting Better
Here We Go
Nowhere To Go
You Got What I Need
I’d Rather Be With You
I didn’t catch the name of the encore
Joshua Radin and Justin Nozuka
Manchester Academy 1
Having previously been amazed by John Mayer live two years ago, I was expecting a lot from him once more. Back then, I saw him twice in twenty four hours and was so shattered that I walked out of Hard Rock Calling three songs into Eric Clapton’s set. I have memories of being very excited for weeks before the show, so I was a little anxious when these feelings didn’t resurface prior to the latest saga in my John Mayer adventures at Wembley Arena.
As I entered this vast warehouse-like building, I could hear how Ellie Goulding had already started her set. Due to lengthy tube journeys and a McDonalds stop, we couldn’t quite make it there fast enough to see everything. But from what we did see, I was surprisingly impressed. Under The Sheets was accompanied by some drumming on Goulding’s part. Now, I know that I’ve never been a Goulding fanatic, but I wasn’t aware of her drumming abilities. She stood proudly on the huge stage dancing to her heart’s content and manically drumming along to the beat. Whilst I know I missed a few songs, she’d saved her biggest hit for last and so I got to see Starry Eyed in all it’s glory. I know many people dismiss Goulding’s musical ability but what I saw was a genuinely talented girl who was very deserving of the awards she won at the beginning of the year.
It was when the male figure, dressed casually in a white shirt and khaki green combats, took to the stage that the excitement I’d been lacking suddenly all came back to me. The opening chords to Why Georgia took me straight back to my first Mayer concert at Brixton Academy and his guitar playing blew me away once more. A lengthy guitar intro to his cover of Crossroads followed where the crowd were in awe.
It was after one of my favourites from Battle Studies, Heartbreak Warfare, that he really demonstrated his musical ability with Vultures. Notoriously a long track when played live, he wowed the crowd by playing guitar with a drumstick before beat boxing in the middle of the song.
Following the heartfelt Perfectly Lonely that we first got to see him talk properly, revealing that personality that the media love to report on. Did he talk racist slander? No. Was he a sexist pig? No. Did he try and hit on a crowd member? Well, yes he did. But once he discovered she was eighteen he thought better of it and simply silenced the arena so that this heartbroken girl could sing-along with him. Having somehow gotten across to him that she’d been dumped, he cheekily added a “Fuck him” to the chorus of Edge of Desire, creating laughter amongst the audience.
To introduce his next song, he linked from this discussion by saying “On day you’ll grow up to be an Assassin”. I’ll admit that it’s not one of my favourites from Battle Studies, but any song that he plays on stage has me from the first strike of the guitar. Talent oozes from him and continued to throughout In Your Atmosphere/Something’s Missing.
Talking about the venue, Mayer stated how it’s one of those arenas that people in the US have heard of, comparing it to their far bigger Madison Square Gardens. He said that Wembley isn’t just a building; it’s a concept and an idea too. Whilst I’m not really sure the “it’s an idea” thing made sense, the sentiment was definitely there and it was clear he was delighted to be playing here for his international audience.
A highlight of the evening would be when he brought Your Body Is A Wonderland out of retirement. Apparently he scarcely plays it live nowadays because of the media’s interest in its subject matter. But, as he said, it’s OK reading the slander about him on the internet when he’s sat in his big house that the song bought him. A song about his love of the female form, it was written pre-Jessica Simpson, pre-Jennifer Anniston and long before his famed Playboy interview. You can tell that it’s not his favourite song to play for fear of the media’s repercussions, but, equally, I think he was a very different person when he wrote it. His song writing is always full of emotion that I still believe is genuine. Maybe I’m a fool for believing this, but I think there’s a private side to Mayer that he only lets the public see through his lyrics. Then again, he continued with Who Says which had the audience singing ‘Who says I can’t get stoned?” reverting back to the edgy persona who the media love to hate.
Despite the large capacity of the venue, Mayer attempted to create a more personal atmosphere by taking note of any posters and flags in the audience and commenting on them. Correctly identifying the Brazilians and the Saudi Arabians, he stumbled with the Mexican flag, suggesting it might be the Italian flag before being corrected by his fans. He apologised, “lo siento”, and broke into an impressive performance of Bigger Than My Body.
Mayer appeared to be close to his band, introducing them all personally but paying particular attention to his British guitarist Robbie McIntosh who was given the opportunity to speak to the crowd. Given the opportunity to speak to around ten thousand people, he decided this was the perfect time to tell a ‘Knock Knock’ joke, opting for the well-known ‘Big Issue’ punch line. Unfunny it may have been, but the crowd warmed to his British charm and clapped nonetheless.
Three of my favourite songs followed; Slow Dancing In A Burning Room, Waiting On The World To Change and Half Of My Heart (without Taylor Swift!) all had me completely stunned by his abilities in both performing and crafting a song. As he finished the latter, he managed to merge it into Journey’s Don’t Stop Believin’. Known for it’s recent revival on Glee, Mayer made the song his own and left the stage to clapping, cheers and a standing ovation from the arena. Whoever had the idea to sing the notes that Mayer had gotten us to chant during Don’t Stop Believin’ must be feeling pretty proud, as we all joined in and continued to repeat them until Mayer and his band returned to the stage. Mayer was visibly impressed and joined in with us before playing No Such Thing.
A song from near the beginning of his career, it couldn’t have been a more perfectly fitting song for me. I’d missed my leavers meal at school for this concert. My final day of Sixth Form had ended with me waving goodbye to all my friends as they left on coaches to an evening of entertainment. I’d had to miss out on all of this for the concert and so when Mayer sang the opening line “Welcome to the real world she said to me, condescendingly” it rang very close to home. Singing about wanting to go back to high school and tell everyone that the ‘real world’ is non-existent was fitting for the day itself and I was delighted for it to have been included in the setlist.
What did he choose for the final song of the night? A very, very long rendition of Gravity. A stunning song, he took it to another level with his guitar solo at the end. Playing with the guitar laid flat on the ground, Mayer proved himself to be this incredible musician who the press tend to forget about. Behind the tabloids, he is just another musician. A talented man who makes a few mistakes and gets ripped for them by the world’s media. For me though, John Mayer will always be the outstanding singer, songwriter and guitarist who, after an impressive two hour set, still left me wanting more.
John Mayer at Wembley Arena
May 27th 2010