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And then there were three: (l-r) Genesis’ Mike Rutherford, Phil Collins, and Tony Banks.

PHOTO: Joe Putrock

No Misunderstanding

 

By Shawn Stone

Genesis

Times Union Center, Sept. 12

With no new album to pimp, it was an open question why Genesis undertook this tour. God knows they—Phil Collins, Mike Rutherford and Tony Banks—don’t need the money. After the concert, it was obvious why they’re on the road again: They love their own music and enjoy performing it. A lot.

As most everybody knows, there’s prog Genesis—that’s progressive rock to you youngsters—and there’s pop Genesis. Both were represented, but prog Genesis clearly won, in terms of both playing time and quality.

Seeing that I was there to prog out, I was not disappointed, from the show-opening songs from Duke to the majestic “Los Endos.” In between, there was the delicate “Ripples,” which the band were performing for the first time in concert, and a nifty medley of “The Cinema Show,” “Duke’s Travels” and “Afterglow.” From the pop Genesis side of the ledger, I even enjoyed “Tonight, Tonight” and “Throwing It All Away.” (It’s long past time to forget those beer commercials.)

The songs should have been helped more by the state-of-the-art digital light setup, but they weren’t. No matter.

A few numbers really tore the place down. “In the Cage,” a relic of the Peter Gabriel days, was scientifically proven in the early 1980s (by my friends and I, if you must know) to be the greatest song in the history of marijuana to get stoned to. No herbs were needed to enjoy this intense performance of an insanely hypnotic song. “Firth of Fifth” gave guitarist Daryl Stuermer a chance to grab the spotlight, and he did, with the most riveting solo of the evening. And “I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe)” was highlight of the night, the band stretching to far beyond normal length as if they didn’t want it to end, either.

It is a mystery why they played no songs from the nifty Abacab—their transition album from prog to hard rock/pop—and a ton of stuff from the subsequent Genesis, which is actually pretty terrible. “Home By the Sea” and ”Second Home By the Sea” were a total bore, and “Mama” is as mindlessly strange as ever. I noticed something that hadn’t occurred to me before, though: One of the things that make later songs like “Mama” and “I Can’t Dance” so eminently resistible is the almost complete absence of drums. Banks making riki-tiki rhythm sounds with his magic synthesizers just doesn’t cut it. (Especially with two fantastic drummers on stage, Collins and Chester Thompson.)

The only thing that saved the first song of the encore, “I Can’t Dance,” was the goofy dance. Watching Rutherford try to stay in step with Collins and Stuermer was, as they say on the commercials, priceless. The last song needed no stage tricks. “Carpet Crawlers” (from The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway) is one of the most beautiful pieces of music I’ve ever heard, and the band had a lovely time playing it.

Prog rules forever, grizzled old English dudes.

Smart Rock

Misery Signals

Valentines, Sept. 12

Like chum being thrown to starving sharks, what Misery Signals gave the gathered metalcore masses on Wednesday night at Valentine’s were things few bands of that genre can: originality, emotion, confidence and creativity.

Although a relatively new band in the metalcore scene—their emotionally devastating Of Malice and the Magnum Heart, their first full-length effort, was released in June 2004—the members of Misery Signals have a longer musical history, as the band were formed from the ashes of 7 Angels 7 Plagues, a pioneering metalcore outfit formed in 1999.

By the time the band started to set up their gear, the upstairs room of Valentine’s was packed to the hilt with overheated teens, told that if they were to go outside for a breath of fresh air there would be no reentry. Misery Signals had the unenviable task of taking the stage at the end of a progression of bands who, in a lot of ways, had very little to do with them.

The older folk in the room must have felt a twinge of excitement when, while setting up their equipment, the boys in Misery Signals toyed with riffs from Radiohead and Acid Bath. The younger kids, probably there for the more emo-friendly opening acts, may not have noticed. So Misery Signals played on, appearing a bit disappointed that the crowd had already spent itself on the five openers, all of which sounded like recycled bits of Misery Signals’ trash—especially Emmure, who, surprisingly, romped the crowd into ecstatic fits.

And yet even a disheartened Misery Signals came with enough power and chaos to confuse all the air-guitar and air-drum virtuosos in the room. Songs like “Stinging Rain” slithered and stung like hardcore snakes, bass lines wrapped around spinning riffs and cacophonous drums, with singer Karl Schubach delivering the heartfelt screaming poison. “Face Yourself” hit hard, like that scene in UHF when Stanley Spadowski tells an unsuspecting tyke, “You get to drink from the fire-hose!”

And as tough as it all might sound, Misery Signals’ last track of the night, “Five Years,” proved that the band’s most precious asset is their ability to lasso beautiful moments into their otherwise crushing songs. As the last moments of that song built into pulsating currents, with Schubach screaming, “I swear I heard you say love is forever,” and the double rhythm guitars broke for one to trumpet a triumphant love/death-march solo theme, I recalled those Radiohead riffs they toyed with before their set and wondered, “How hard would it be for these guys to write a metal version of The Bends? Then I caught myself, laughed and realized that in metalcore these days, I should be happy Misery Signals wrote one song that can choke me up. A whole album? That would be pushing it.

—David King

License to sing: Mandy Moore at the Egg.

PHOTO: Joe Putrock

Remake/Remodel

Mandy Moore, Rachael Yamagata

The Egg, Sept. 18

Mandy Moore really wants to be accepted as a singer. Despite carving out a successful career in movies (I’m telling you, rent American Dreamz), Moore has gone out of her way to restart a music career that began when she was 15 years old with a million-selling debut album. Said career foundered a couple of years ago after she released Coverage, a pretty good album of, er, covers.

It’s not that Moore isn’t a good singer—she is. It’s just that it if you’ve had success as a teenage pop tart, it’s hard to get anyone to see you as anything else.

Moore brought her five-piece band to the Egg Tuesday night, and the tentative nature of this first “real” tour in support of her new album, Wild Hope, showed—at first. Moore seemed tense: She didn’t say anything to the audience until a few songs in; she didn’t much stray from the mic, either. But as she got into it, singing songs almost exclusively from her new disc, she began to really enjoy herself and the audience.

The new songs, all of which she cowrote with the likes of Lori McKenna and Chantal Kreviazuk, are pop-rock with a distinctively ’70s vibe; they’re all a little laid-back and just a little bit country. The best are “Extraordinary,” with its irresistible hook; the plaintive “Can’t You Just Adore Her”; and the title track, “Wild Hope.” The last has been drastically rearranged from the album version, and it’s much more dramatic and engaging.

She also did two songs from the covers album, Cat Stevens’ “Moonshadow” and Joni Mitchell’s “Help Me.” Both killed.

The Hart Theater wasn’t exactly packed, but Moore shouldn’t worry about it. After all, she’s only 23.

Woodstock born-and-raised Rachael Yamagata performed a long set under the influence of cold medicine. Maybe it was the good system drugs or the laid-back mood of the night, but Yamagata was one chatty Cathy in between songs. It was no problem, however, because, one, she was hilarious, and, two, her performances were strong.

Yamagata seemed to wander on stage—the audience seemed to confuse her with a roadie as she pondered the mass of wires on the floor—but she quickly earned everyone’s attention. Her songs are, as she warned the crowd, “dark,” but their drama was earned with a combination of musical flair and telling emotional detail. No wonder Moore cowrote a song with her (and had Yamagata sing “all over” her album).

Chris Stills opened the show with a few tuneful ditties. He’s a good guitar player, if an uncertain singer—muscular works better than sensitive for him, even if muscular suggests his well-known old man Stephen. His songs were good, except for the one about California: Stills may have told the audience that he preferred California to France (where he grew up), but this ode didn’t convince.

—Shawn Stone


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