February 10, 2016

Concert Stories #32 Mandy Moore with Ben Lee

Mandy Moore 

Opener: Ben Lee

Pabst Theater

September 30, 2007

Age 24

In 2007 Mandy Moore released the album Wild Hope, which was a departure from her past pop days.  I was a fan of her both musically and in acting beforehand, I mean A Walk to Remember and the song "Only Hope" from it? So good!  Wild Hope was a much more subdued album than in the past and Moore co-wrote every song in it.  My favorite song was by far "Gardenia", it really showed off her vocals and vulnerability in the music.  

When she came to Milwaukee to promote the album I was excited to see her with my friend Shannon.  The show was general admission and we got there early enough to score some pretty descent seats, although I remember the venue was not being extremely full.  Moore came out and sounded great live, she took her time with the songs and I felt really connected well with the audience.  Of course she also had to throw in a goodie from the past...."Candy", which was still fun to see live.

Opening for her that night was Ben Lee. I had heard of him before, but not any of his music.  He was surprisingly very up beat, even jumping into the crowd and running up the aisles to sing with the audience.  He sang a song called "What Would Jay-Z Do?", which was super catchy but I thought it was clearly a joke.  It was not though!  Sure enough that song was on his Ripe album.  Which I know because Lee was good enough that I went home and bought the album.

Here are some photos and video of that night:

The classic "Candy"

Ben Lee

very fuzzy sorry!

And here's when Lee started to jump out into the crowd

February 03, 2016

Concert Stories #31: Keith Urban

Keith Urban 

Love, Pain, + The Whole Crazy Tour

BMO Harris Bradley Center

July 26, 2007

Age 24

Keith Urban gave by far the best concert that I have ever been to, and I think that's saying a lot with how many I have seen!  Let me also back-up and explain that at the time, I knew two songs of his "I Told You So" and "Stupid Boy" off of his Love, Pain & The Whole Crazy Thing album.  I was given the tickets to the show as a gift and even though I only knew those two songs, still the best concert ever.  

Why I loved this concert so much was that to start, the stage setup and the graphics that were used were my favorite ever.  The stage was seriously simple, a clean rectangle with his band on it and behind the stage was the projection screen that was the same size. I can be a person who needs balance, so while yes this is an incredibly small detail, it pleased my mind that the stage and screen were the same size.  I can not really explain the graphics, they were not anything ground breaking and were not played with every song, but they made perfect sense when used.  I am not a musician, but if I ever for some reason went on tour, I would want to know who was in charge of lighting and graphics for this tour because it was spot on!

Then of course there is the performance of Keith Urban.  His voice was amazing live and sounded exactly like his album, not an easy feat for many artists sadly, and he played with such joy.  I can only imagine what some performers go through in their personal lives and how hard it most be to go on stage and smile, even when they are not happy.  Sometimes it's not obvious to the crowd and other times it is painfully obvious, or I have seen performers and could tell they could not care at all about the audience, just running through the motions.  Keith Urban was none of that.  He was, to this day, the happiest performer I have seen on stage and he seemed genuinely gratefully to be doing what he does.  It simply radiated out of him.  Urban also was engaged with the crowd.  The stage had a long walkway out into the middle of the crowd and he utilized that so well.  I also discovered that I liked many more of his songs and ended up getting his older albums after that show.  

Now that I write this out it does seem a bit odd to me how much I love this concert and it is because of the visuals: great stage, amazing lighting, and seeing someone happy.  The music was great as well, but this was a great example of how having a great attitude can spread to others.

And as I finish I now will stop complaining to my co-worker about my other co-worker chewing so darn loudly, I am probably spreading my "annoyed" mood today and that's not a good thing.  Lessons learned every day!

January 27, 2016

Concert Stories #30: Bon Jovi

Bon Jovi (2nd time)

Lost Highway Tour

Marcus Amphitheater

July 5, 2007

Age 24

My love of Bon Jovi continued in 2007 when I saw the band for the second time.  They were on their Lost Highway Tour promoting their new album of the same name and performing at the Marcus Amphitheater during Summerfest.  Now after the fiasco of seeing them the first time, when they did not play a specific song my sister loved and she swore to never see them again, I believe I went with my friend Shannon and possibly our other friend Jodie.  Sometimes I can have so much fun enjoying the music that I forget who I went to concerts with (which is not something I am proud of).  Anyways, Shannon and Jodie are Bon Jovi fans like myself so we are just going to say they were with me that night!

Bon Jovi played for over two hours that night, and while they did play some songs off of Lost Highway, it was a very heavy "hits" setlist, which of course is not a bad thing at all!  My favorite of the night was "Wanted Dead or Alive" and can I just side note that man I miss Richie Sambora and Jon Bon Jovi together.  I will forever hold out for a reunion of those two!  

Back to the concert though.  Bon Jovi always throws in some cover songs during the set.  That night they did a classic, one of the best songs ever in my opinion - "Hallelujah" by the great Leonard Cohen, such a beautiful song.  Bon Jovi then went in the total opposite direction and closed the night out with "Twist and Shout". As corny as that song may sound, it fits the band and they get every fan in the crowd throwing their hands up and dancing.

Below are some pretty horrific pictures of that night.  Keep in mind that I was way up in the bleachers and zooming as much as possible, plus its 2007.

And yes, there are multiple more Bon Jovi concerts to come!

January 20, 2016

Concert Stories #29: Christina Aguilera with Pussycat Dolls and Danity Kane

Christina Aguilera (2nd time)

Openers: Pussycat Dolls and Danity Kane

Back to Basics Tour

BMO Harris Bradley Center

April 20, 2007

Age 24

This is where it all started.

Up to this point I have written 28 concert stories, which were all concerts I went to without really observing what was going around me too much.  If you have read them you still know that I noticed things from the crowd of course, but after seeing Christina Aguilera for the second time in 2007 I really started to tell more proper "concert stories".

Let's start though from the top.  The openers that night were the Pussycat Dolls and Danity Kane.  Danity Kane, the Pufff Daddy/P.Diddy (I have no idea what he goes by now) made band opened first.  One of their more well known songs is "Show Stopper".  I'll admit it, I watched their reality show and owned their album!  Up next was the Pussycat Dolls and I am a fan of theirs (and still to this day).  They gave a great show full of so much energy and dancing.  Nicole Scherzinger is such an amazing singer, but I also really love Melody Thornton.  I wish she would have gotten more lines in their songs as she can belt just as well.  My favorite song of theirs is probably "I Hate This Part", that song still makes my music rotation pretty frequently.

Up next was the woman of the hour, Christina Aguilera.  She was on tour in support of her album Back to Basics, which is probably my favorite album of hers.  It has a real retro vibe to it.  On it is my favorite song of hers "The Right Man".  I love that song!  Well this night she gave a great performance, however, their was one performer that out did her and is where my love of concert stories comes from.

That man, was sitting across the aisle from me.  Let me back up and say that I went to this concert with my friend Shannon and we were sitting up high in the rafters of the Bradley Center.  We were in row Q, which is not the last row, but the arena did not sell out, so they dropped a curtain behind our rows going around the arena, so we were essentially almost the last row (there was one more behind us if my memory serves correct and I have no idea why you need to know this, but it is a detail I remember every time I think of this concert).  I had not noticed the man during Danity Kane or the Pussycat Dolls, but as soon as Christina came out, I happened to notice him. He was on the aisle to my left and I had to look that way to see the stage.  The man did full choreography for almost every song, including making up moves for the songs that didn't have established moves already.  Now normally this distraction would be annoying, but the man was so flawless in his moves I loved every second of it.  I probably spent over 50% of the show watching him over Christina.  I was dancing as well, but my moronic "I can't dance" dance.  This guy blew everyone away.  

I'm not sure what it was about this man that made me so happy.  Maybe it's seeing someone love music as much as me and he wasn't afraid to show it?  Maybe because he was such a great entertainer himself?  I don't know, but after this show and going forward, I tended to find myself looking more into the crowd at concerts, hoping to find someone as happy as me when the music starts.  

I never knew who that man was or what happened to him. I really hope life turned out well for him.  He brought this stranger, and my friend, such happiness that night.  We still talk about him to this day and how amazing he was.

Here's to all the strangers out there who are not afraid to shine!

January 13, 2016

Concert Stories #28: Howie Day

Howie Day
Summerfest – Harley Davidson Roadhouse
July 3, 2005
Age 22

Howie Day, remember him?  His big hit was "Collide" in 2004.  Day came to the Harley Davidson Roadhouse for Summerfest in 2005.  Three of my friends were really into him and while I only knew "Collide", I decided to tag along.  We got to Summerfest a little late in the day so we were pretty far back from the stage in a section where there were picnic tables to watch.  The problem with free stages at Summerfest is that the stages have bleachers in front of them and everyone (myself included) stands up on them to watch.  We were so far back (picnic tables are behind all the bleachers) we did as most classy people did at Summerfest, we stood up on top of the picnic tables! Because everyone was standing on the bleachers and tables, this accomplished nothing, but we did have a ton of fun dancing on top of the table all night long!  It was also terrifying hoping it would not break either.  Of all my years going to Summerfest, I have never seen a table break, but knowing my luck it will happen with me on it!  Let's just say my table dancing days are over, at least in the public eye that is...

January 06, 2016

Concert Stories #27: Wynonna Judd

Wynonna Judd

Scenes From A Lifetime

The Milwaukee Theater

October 16, 2004

Age 21

My mom, although not a country fan, is a fan of Wynonna Judd.  I think even more specifically, she was a fan of "No One Else On Earth", a great song that I am a fan of as well.  When Wynonna came to town in 2004 my mom decided she wanted to see her and brought me along with.  

This was my first time seeing a concert at the Milwaukee Theater.  The theater is a lovely place, but there's something about it that seems more suitable to plays and presentations rather than concerts.  It may be that I am more used to our other local theaters, the Riverside and Pabst, which seem more conducive to music, but the Milwaukee Theater is a bit to "open" in it's spacing for my musical watching taste.

Wynonna, however, was still great.  The tour included songs from both her individual career and her time in The Judds, with her mother.  She sounded exactly how she does on record, which is not always the case for so many singers.  The show was a little more slower and low-key than the shows I had been going to, but was appropriate for the material.  Of course "No One Else On Earth" was our favorite song of the night.  Wynonna also talked a lot to the audience, explaining meanings behind songs, way more than in a typical concert.  It was great to hear the meaning behind some of the songs.  Overall she was a great performer and the following year she released a live recording of this tour on CD from her stop in Nashville.

P.S. I also totally love her red hair!