Roger Waters successfully returns with The Wall

Photographer Will Lester’s colorful photos can be found here:
Roger Waters: The Wall Live
Where: Staples Center, 1111 S. Figueroa St, Los Angeles
When: 8 p.m. Sunday Dec.5
Cost: $250, $125, $75 and $55
Information: www.ticketmaster.com, 800-745-3000 or 866-448-7849
Roger Waters, a bassist, lyricist and founding member of Pink Floyd, will perform “The Wall” in its entirety live on Sunday.
“The Wall” is a Pink Floyd double album released in November 1979 that has sold more than 23 million albums. The album was also turned into a film called “Pink Floyd The Wall.”
Waters performed the album Monday night at the Staples Center in front of thousands of screaming fans. 
His Monday set featured an incredible mix of colorful visuals and an approximately 30 foot high wall that went at least 150 feet all the way across the arena floor.
During the song “Comfortably Numb,” guitarist Dave Kilminster played on top of the cardboard brick wall while during the song “Vera” the videos on the wall were shown of soldiers returning home from war and children meeting their fathers.
The last time Waters performed the album in its entirety in Los Angeles was in February 1980 with Pink Floyd. 
After the Los Angeles date, Waters’ tour will come back to Southern California on Dec. 13 and Dec. 14 at the Honda Center in Anaheim.
–photographer Will Lester contributed to this report

The Psychedelic Furs, X and The Romantics review

The San Manuel Indian Bingo and Casino featured The Psychedelic Furs, X and The Romantics Thursday night. 

The concert, advertised with a 7:30 p.m. start time, went on at 8 p.m. and the concert wrapped up around 11:30 p.m. 
The Romantics went on first and the band sounded great but lead singer Wally Palmar’s voice is a little raspy after all of his years of touring. Nonetheless, the fans didn’t seem to mind and he still plays a great harmonica so the close to an hour set went well. “What I Like About You” closed the set, which easily got the loudest reaction from the San Manuel audience.
X played just 45 minutes but really got the crowd out of their seat. Unlike The Romantics, I had to stand to see the band perform. They went fast and furious through songs like “Nausea,” “Johny Hit and Run Paulene” and “Breathless” among many others. The only negative was singer Exene Cervenka and bassist/singer John Doe had their microphones turned down a little too much so the music was overpowering their vocals but like The Romantics performance no one seemed to mind.

Headliner The Psychedelic Furs performed for about an hour and 15 minutes. They went through songs like “Love My Way,” “Heaven,” “Sister Europe”  and much more to numerous applause and dancing in the aisles. Saxophonist Mars Williams and lead singer Richard Butler stood out with their charisma and performance skills. 

Williams moved all over the stage performing on nearly every song while Butler would spin, lean on the microphone and also walk both sides of the stage trying to get the audience involved. 

Butler ended the night with a simple “thank you” to the cheers of the audience. 

X to mark Devo’s spot tonight at San Manuel

Legendary 1980s Los Angeles punk band X will fill in for Devo and perform tonight with The Psychedelic Furs and The Romantics at the San Manuel Indian Bingo and Casino.

“Bob (Mothersbaugh, guitarist) from Devo dropped a glass of orange juice,” said X vocalist/bassist John Doe. “He went to grab it and cut his hand very badly. If you drop a glass of OJ and you’re a musician, just let it go.”
The group will perform material from their first four records for about an hour, Doe said.
“We jump around from record to record,” he said.
Tickets are $39 and $25. The Romantics are known for their 1979 hit “That’s What I Like About You” while The Psychedelic Furs are known for the1980s hit “Love My Way.” 
The casino is at 777 San Manuel Blvd. Information: www.ticketmaster.com 

John goes through his hits

“No one’s ever written a song about me,” John said during the concert. “This is such a heartfelt song. And … it’s ‘The Hands of Angels.’”

The slow, piano ballad featured Russell alone on the keys with the help of the band’s four talented women vocalists. They almost overshadowed Russell because they seemed to come in clearer and louder.

John then came back out and pointed to the audience and walked to Russell and gave him a hug.
Russell then walked off stage with a cane and John started 1970′s “Burn Down the Mission.”

Then he peformed clear audience favorites “Levon” and “Tiny Dancer” with a noticeably loud audience singalong for each.

The 1971 “Levon” and 1972 “Tiny Dancer” each featured great instrumental backing from John’s band (featuring long-time members Nigel Olsson and who got a loud ovation) and stronger vocals, probably because he wasn’t yelling them like “I’m Still Standing.”

Next came the well received 1970′s “Ballad of a Well Known Gun” and a slightly sped up “I Guess That’s Why They Call It The Blues” from 1983.

Both featured splashy lighting displays on the LCD screen and plenty of deserved spotlight on individual band members. 

“Take Me to the Pilot” from 1970 was next and John began with a great showcase of his piano skills with a spotlight before these incredible flashing white and red lights took over and stopped when he started singing his famous lyrics which include “Take me to the pilot for control/take me to the pilot of your soul.” He also would stand up and move his arms to the beat while pointing to the audience which got them more involved.

John then went into 1984′s “Sad Songs” which featured a slightly more uptempo and loose piano than the single which gave the song a more joyous feel than the more somber original.

The audience really got into his rocking uptempo 1974 hit “B**** is Back” while swirls of red and yellow lighting surrounded the stage. John got off the piano chair and took a well deserved bow afterward before walking off stage.

When he came back from the side of the stage, he shook hands with the crowd in the front row and signed numerous autographs to loud cheers.

“Thank you for all of your love,” John said. “It’s amazing how much I love to play for you guys as I get older … You give so much back. Thank you very much.”

John then went into the familar opening lines of 1970′s “Your Song” with a single spotlight before the stage lights went back to normal and his band back joined in.

He ended with “thank you Ontario” and then bowed before the audience.

More with Elton and Leon at the Ontario arena

“No one’s ever written a song about me,” John said during the concert. “This is such a heartfelt song. And … it’s ‘The Hands of Angels.’”

The slow, piano ballad featured Russell alone on the keys with the help of the band’s four talented women vocalists. They almost overshadowed Russell because they seemed to come in clearer and louder.

John then came back out and pointed to the audience and walked to Russell and gave him a hug.
Russell then walked off stage with a cane and John started 1970′s “Burn Down the Mission.”

 

Elton John and Leon Russell performing ‘The Union’ together

“My mentor, this album is one of the best albums I’ve ever done,” John said before starting off “If it Wasn’t for Bad” with Russell from their album “The Union,” which hit No. 3 on the Billboard charts.

While John is on the left side of the stage playing piano, Russell is on the right side with equal spotlight on both. The song is mid-tempo but plays to the strengths of both with their vocals and tight piano playing.

“Hey Ahab” and its catchy bluesy rhythm was next. Then came the slower tempoed “Gone to Shiloh,” which John called “beautiful” with its Bernie Taupin lyrics. Russell kicked off the song and John blended right in on the dramatic sounding instrumental.

“We been touring,” John said before the next number from “The Union.” “This song is a concert kind of song. A tribute to the late Jimmy Rodgers and it’s called ‘Jimmy Rodgers Dream.’ 

Unfortunately, the guitar and keyboard from the song mixed with the piano doesn’t blend in well live (at least from up in the press box) but the audience clearly enjoyed the song. Perhaps the acoustics don’t carry well this high.

“There’s No Tomorrow” is another dramatic slow song, this time with a nice build up, and wailing guitar. The audience applause is noticeable quieter than for John but this is a new album.

“Monkey Suit” was a welcome up-tempo change from the duo with different lighting combinations matching the speedy drum tempo of th song. 

The duo also performed “The Best Part of the Day,” “A Dream Come True,” “When Love is Dying,” Hearts Have Turned to Stone” and “Never Too Old.”

Rocket Man and more

Elton John has went from the slower “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” to the slightly more uptempo “Rocket Man” and the audience at the arena is singing along.

John’s voice sounds a little off but it might be because the backup vocalist is joining in and/or the microphone at his piano sounds a bit off. Nonetheless, his piano playing is great and his band’s sound is great.

There’s some retro 1970′s images coming out of the LCD backdrop (obviously because “Rocket Man is from 1972) and there are two large screens, which I forgot to mention, on both sides of the stage to clearly see John and his band.

John ended with an echo style chorus of “Rocket Man” that had a great feel to it and the audience screamed in approval before he went into a piano instrumental that I wish was used more in modern music today. He really dragged out the song, which went on for at least 10 minutes.

Afterward, John walked to the side of the stage like he was going to leave but came back to perform the 1974 hit “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me.” The drums on the song are crisp, as are the keyboards and John is smiling as the audience loudly cheers.

When he ended, the entire audience appeared to clap their hands and yell in approval.

Next was the familar piano riff of 1973′s “Benny and the Jets.” It’s a little hard to hear John’s voice clearly on the song over the piano and guitar but the audience clearly doesn’t mind. He’s a great performer who gets the audience excited from his precise piano skills mixed with an energetic body language.

The chorus of his 1983 hit “I’m Still Standing” showed the age in his vocals (he can’t quite hit the high notes of the song anymore) but the thunderous uptempo piano and guitar instrumental seems to overshadow it.

Elton John is now on stage

Elton John walked out to lots of cheers from the almost sold out (I spotted a couple of seats in the top row) Citizens Business Bank Arena.

Then he started clapping his hands and the audience followed along.

His first song is “Saturday Night” with its memorable chorus and catchy rhythm and his voice sounds good. Unlike Russell, there is no muffled sound.

Fans in the front row are standing and clapping along to his piano playing and the guitarist. In the backdrop is a large LCD screen with multiple colors.

When he finished, he stood up from his piano and bowed to a large applause.

His next song is “Philadelphia Freedom,” his No. 1 hit from 1975. People in the front row again are singing along and clapping while the LCD screen is showing swirls of red, white and blue.

“Good evening Ontario. We’re very happy to be here. And I’m in a partying mood.”

He then asked the crowd to sing along to his 1973 No. 1 hit “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” and they followed his lead.

The lighting has changed to soft hues of blue, purple and a darker vibe to match the slower song, an interesting choice for a partying mood.

Leon Russell starts off Elton John concert

Before Leon Russell performed, Elton John walked on stage and warmly introduced him to the audience.

“Four years ago, I toured America with my idol,” John said. “It was one of the greatest experiences to be on the same bill as him. Here we are 40 years later and we’re doing it again.”

Then John talked about his album with Russell was No. 3 on the Billboard charts and “we’re so happy.”

Next, Russell went into “Tightrope” to a cheering audience. The sound, at least from the press box at the top of the area, was a little muffled but as his set went on the sound improved. Russell also performed “Prince of Peace/Out in the Woods” “A Song For You” and “Roll in my Weet Baby’s Arms” among other songs to lots of applause.

When Russell finished, he simply walked off the stage. John is next.