At around 10:30 Tuesday night, the stage at Union Transfer was hazy with smoke—Corinne Bailey Rae had just completed her set, but the crowd didn’t immediately file out. Instead, they began to chant and cheer for the songstress and her four-person band. And just like that, within minutes, Bailey Rae, in her luxe pink jumpsuit, graciously returned to the stage and gave us a 2006 throwback—“Just Like A Star.”
Jazz legend and, for a time, Philadelphian John Coltrane would have turned 90 on September 23rd. To mark his milestone birthday, the Philadelphia Jazz Project is hosting nine days of totally free events for jazz lovers, history buffs, and those of us who just want to chill in a beer garden while listening to some good music. Temple University Libraries, Ars Nova Workshop, WRTI, PhillyCAM, Jazz Near You and The Free Library are partnering with PJP for the Coltrane at 90 series. Read more »
The Heavy @ TLA | Tuesday, September 6
British rock band The Heavy just kicked off a North American tour in support of their album Hurt and the Merciless with a sold-out show last night in Boston. You’ve heard their song “How You Like Me Now?” in a ton of movies and commercials. And if you want to weigh in, they did request cheesesteak recommendations ahead of their Philly stop.
Beta Hi-Fi Emerging Music Festival @ World Café Live | August 30 to September 1
The three-day Beta Hi-Fi fest is a showcase of up-and-coming musicians, with a local focus and a different lineup each night. On the bill are Layne (singer Layne Putnam and drummer Alex Rosca), Matthew Green, Joseph Alton Miller, Community Center, E. Joseph and the Sparrows, The Real Feel and New Shields.
Cities are cold places densely packed with people who endlessly trade each other. In the city we trade stories, bodies, jobs, identities, seats in restaurants. The stories and feelings are all right there.
Someone’s voice yells in the streets at night, and the night swallows it whole; the volume goes up; you can put an ear to the wall of your apartment or row house and hear your neighbor’s TV and conversations; your open windows play the city’s music of ambulance and police sirens screaming down the street; the cars cursing at each other. Couples, groups of friends walk under or past your windows; anonymous laughter, arguments and come-ons blur together with the breeze.
We summon each other to take us places; one thumb motion swipes right to get a night fix with a stranger; another thumb motion summons a stranger’s car to take us somewhere else. We slide in and out of beautiful and painful experiences and encounters and move onto the next ones with ease. As close as we are, or can be, we still text.
Frank Ocean’s long-anticipated Blond captures a lot of this existential city life — bringing to the forefront of his songs the idea that we’re deep-feeling, unconnected selfish people. Read more »
Twin Peaks @ Union Transfer | Friday, August 26
Chicago’s Twin Peaks are playing a free show at Union Transfer as part of the Brooklyn Brewery Mash, a traveling beer-centric festival visiting Philly this weekend. You’ll be listening to the band – they’re garage rock, with a sound that calls back to the ’60s: Echo and reverb with a touch of R&B influence — while drinking “Brooklyn Brewery’s most sought-after and hard-to-find beers.” Sounds like a pretty decent combo to me. The Philly Mash concert openers are locals TJ Kong and the Atomic Bomb and Palmas. You have to RSVP.
I grew up listening to Barbra Streisand with my parents. I watched her movies and sang her songs, always trying — and failing — to hit the high notes. She was very much a part of my childhood. So when my editor sent out a request for someone to review Saturday night’s concert in Philadelphia, I was all over it. Plus, whereas my editor wound up sitting in a $200 nosebleed seat during her last tour (you can read his review here), I was front and center in the $500 seats.
Here, some observations from the show.
Fortunately, It Was Better Than the New Album
Before I went to the show, I listened to the new album, Encore, the ostensible reason for this tour. I wish I never heard it. Encore is a mess and contains some bizarre duet choices. Alec Baldwin? Really? Streisand doesn’t need gimmicks like Alec Baldwin. She’s a classic all by herself.
The Faithful Fans
Most people I spoke with at the concert were at their first Barbra Streisand concert. It was a special occasion that included hotels and elegant dinners in the city before the show.
Jessica Guglietta, 32, accompanied her 70-year-old mother-in-law Claudia, who had not seen Streisand perform live since 1964, when she saw her on Broadway in Funny Girl. Claudia’s age group was well represented. I overheard someone quip, “We should pass out shots of Geritol.”
Then there were the group of older ladies in boas, men in bright silver jackets, and people who drove from Delaware and Pittsburgh to see her. Then there were the fans — men and women — who would not stop yelling variations on “We love you Barbra!” throughout the concert. One fan insisted that she loved Barbra more than the previous yelling fan. Streisand laughed.
Of Course She Opened With “Memory”
As Streisand walked onstage, wearing a black lace top with long flared sleeves and black bellbottoms, she launched into Memory. “Memories,” she told the capacity crowd. “That is what tonight is all about.” When her voice slipped on a note in the song, she casually pointed it out.
Streisand remarked how great it was go be back in Philly and mentioned her 1966 TV special, which she filmed at the Art Museum.
Streisand also introduced her 98-year-old aunt from Philly, who was seated in the front row.
The Obligatory Donald Trump Moment
Like her past concerts, Streisand discussed her political views, but she somehow managed to wait 30 minutes before getting in her first dig at Donald Trump. She was telling a story about her longtime manager Marty Erlichman, who has represented her since 1961. She noted that it’s very unusual to have the same manager for so long and cracked that Trump has had three managers in just three months.
Streisand said she was “thrilled” to be in the same arena where her friend Hillary Clinton had just accepted the presidential nomination, to which one man in the crowd shouted, “Go Trump!” People turned and stared.
She even ventured into a talk about climate change, showing photographic evidence of global warming, and then launched into “Pure Imagination.” When the song ended, she reminded her audience not to vote for someone who believes that climate change is a hoax.
What’s With the Mindreader?
At one point, Streisand took a break (naturally, she told the crowd that it was so she could take “some bites from a Philly cheesesteak”) and sent out a mindreader — yes a mindreader! — named Lior Suchard to entertain the crowd. It was like 1976 in the Poconos all over again. I’m sure my parents would have loved his shtick — the audience certainly did.
Buy the $500 Seats
If you get a chance to see Streisand on this tour, spend the extra money and get close. Seeing a living legend like her from a seat where you can actually look at her all night instead of some video monitor is worth it. As for me, having finally experienced Streisand in concert, I feel fulfilled. Now if I could just get that Alec Baldwin duet out of my head.
Gov’t Mule @ Great Plaza at Penn’s Landing | Wednesday, August 17
Allman Brothers Band alumni Warren Haynes and Allen Woody formed Gov’t Mule as a side project but the trio, with drummer Matt Abts, quickly became a lot more popular than they were expecting. The lineup now includes Danny Louis and Jorgen Carlsson, taking over on bass for Woody, who died in 2000. They’ve released 15 studio and live albums over the years. Fellow Southern rock band Blackberry Smoke opens.