Tag Archives: U2

Peter Gabriel: Songs To Listen To In An Empty Room

Peter Gabriel

Peter Gabriel, the former lead singer of Genesis, is putting out a new album. It happens to be his first in seven years. It also happens to be contain covers (or “song-swaps”) of some of the most varied big-name artists. Here’s the full track list:

01 “Heroes” (David Bowie)
02 “The Boy in the Bubble” (Paul Simon)
03 “Mirrorball” (Elbow)
04 “Flume” (Bon Iver)
05 “Listening Wind” (Talking Heads)
06 “The Power of the Heart” (Lou Reed)
07 “My Body Is a Cage” (Arcade Fire)
08 “The Book of Love” (The Magnetic Fields)
09 “I Think It’s Going to Rain Today” (Randy Newman)
10 “Après moi” (Regina Spektor)
11 “Philadelphia” (Neil Young)
12 “Street Spirit (Fade Out)” (Radiohead)

Most of those names are familiar, I’m sure, but some may not be. Elbow is a British band – heavily influenced by U2 – that sounds like  a stripped down Coldplay. The Magnetic Fields come out of Boston. As a point of reference, both bands have been about for 20 years.

Album Art for Scratch My Back

Starting his musical career as a drummer, Peter Gabriel was drawn into music by its craftwork. In an interview on his website, Gabriel says that he’s alway had interest in doing “the dreaded covers album”.  But he wasn’t about to go about it in any old fashion. He reflects, “I thought, ‘If I’m going to do that, I’m going to do something different with it.”

Gabriel wanted to create self-imposed rules to rein in the creative process, stating that “giving an artist total freedom is castrating them”. At first he toyed with the idea of using homemade instruments, but finally decided that a strict no guitar, no drums policy would be the way that Scratch My Back would go.

John Metcalfe

And in the absence of guitar and drums, Peter Gabriel has turned to New Zealand composer John Metcalfe, who has written string arrangements for The Cranberries and The Pretenders. But the compositions on this record have strayed far from the beaten pop path into the realm of minimalist and classical music. Gabriel himself says that Metcalfe had Steve Reich and Arvo Part in mind when composing the music.

This has led to the creation of songs that deserve to be listened to with your full attention. These songs create in my mind a white, unadorned and simple room where the empty space is filled in by the beautiful textures of Metcalfe’s compositions.

But enough talking, take a listen and decide for yourself. First up, “Heroes”, originally by David Bowie.

A fantastic string section adds a dramatic edge to the song, especially in the context of Gabriel’s recent contribution of the track in an effort to support Haiti.

His cover of the Bon Iver song, “Flume”, starts with somber piano and then slowly brings out french horns and coronets to back the haunting lyrics, “Sky is womb and she’s the moon”. Take a listen, and if you like it, you can download the song here.

But the pinnacle of the album, or at least the songs I’ve heard so far, is his cover of The Arcade Fire’s “My Body is a Cage” – an incredibly original and dynamic song to begin with.  The song explodes two and a half minutes in, and is the only song on the album to feature a full chorus.

By contrast, his cover of Radiohead’s “Street Spirit” is surprisingly disappointing. Barely choking out the words, or just grumbling at times, it’s simply not pleasurable to listen to.

But in the end, Peter Gabriel really has accomplished a great deal with this album. In his own words, “working with the negative” of the songs allowed him to set his album on a different plane than where the “positives” lie.

To see some footage from the recording, check out  this interview. And get all the info about the upcoming album on his website www.petergabriel.com.

~Josh

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PEAK KEYWORD: GABRIEL

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Concert Watch October 2009

Mr. Bob Weir

Mr. Bob Weir

Ok, I’ll grant you that there are a rip-roaring ten days left in the month of October… BUT that is not an excuse for you not to go out a catch some great live performances in New York’s backyard.

For instance,  Bob Weir and RatDog will be finishing up their five show set at the Beacon Theatre. They’ve performing apart from the Grateful Dead for coming on fifteen years now and they’re still going strong. They’re playing this Thursday, Friday, and Saturday all tickets just under 40 bucks. There’s no better place to hear live Dead tunes.

And Van is coming through town! Van Morrison will be playing at Madison Square Garden on the 26th. Just this year he released his fifth live album, Astral Weeks Live at the Hollywood Bowl, which was recorded during two concerts out at the Hollywood Bowl in L.A. The concerts took place forty years after the release of the original album, and this live edition was claimed to be one of the top 5 most anticipated pop events of 2009.

Van Morrison

Van Morrison

But there’s something else that everyone is talking about. Something so jam-packed with big names that, in fact, they’re buttressing the venue for the bringing down of the house that’s sure to come. We’re talking about the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame celebrating its 25th anniversary. The performers include, in no particular order (this might be a good time to sit down):

U2, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, Simon and Garfunkel, Metallica, Paul Simon, Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Friends and Eric Clapton.

And if that’s not enough, they’re not all coming together for one measly concert, but two nights of Rock ‘n’ Roll legendry. Catch Simon and Garfunkel, Steview Wonder, Crosby, Stills and Nash, and the Boss on October 29th, and then come back from U2, Aretha, Clapton, and Metallica on the 30th. The Hall of Fame is touting it to be a “once in a lifetime” experience, and I have no doubt that it is going to live up to it’s name.

The BossStevie WonderSimon and Garfunkelhero_csnU2Eric Clapton

But let’s not let the big names outshine some smaller, less known, but equally talented individuals. For instance, Mike Doughty will be coming through New York. As you may know, Doughty performed last year at The Peak’s 5th birthday party and is a great friend of the station. He’ll be at Le Poisson Rouge in the city on the 31st. And last but not least, let us not forget Tegan and Sara, the artsy identical twin sister duo from Alberta, Canada. They’re playing a sold out show at Town Hall, which should be featuring some tracks from their new album, Sainthood, which wasn’t due to come out until the 27th. Fortunately, due to the magic of the internet it was leaked out ten days early.

So you see? A lot can happen in ten days. Especially in New York’s backyard. So get out there!

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PEAK KEYWORD: RED ZONE

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“More People at Giants Stadium for U2 Than Even the Pope”

U2 sold-out all 80,000 seats in Giants Stadium  

U2 sold-out all 84,400 seats in Giants Stadium both nights.

…Says the New York Times. Our favorite weird-sunglasses wearer has done it again – playing an awesome, packed show last weekend in New York’s backyard for our listening pleasure. It was so packed, in fact, that travelers on New Jersey transit experienced heavy delays on either end of the show. One irate fan spent 5 hours getting there and another three getting home (albeit from Babylon, NY).

Playing on Bruce Springsteen’s 60th birthday, U2 appealed to fans with a cover of “She’s the One”.

Both U2 and Muse, who opened up the show, are coming off of new albums – Muse just released their symphonic-rock “Resistance” on September 9th, and U2 had released “No Line on the Horizon” earlier this year.

But album promotion is hardly the reason for these tours. In Rolling Stone Bono says “we’re having [laughs] more fun than anyone should be allowed.” Which seems to apply to the audience as well. Chris Hermann was at the show with Rob Arrow and had the following to say:

I thought the show was terrific on Thursday Night.  Muse was a little loud but held their own and warmed up the place. The drummer rocked.

I’ve seen every U2 tour since “Unforgettable Fire.”  They somehow manage to raise the bar each time out – and that’s saying something.  For as imposing as the set was, they still managed to be intimate in a record crowd of 84,400 and change.    From the “Space Oddity” open, the show rocked.  Adam Clayton is my hero!  Steady, brilliant – the thing would fall apart without him.  The core of it – Adam, Larry and Mr. The Edge are nothing short of grand masters.  Bono sounded maybe a little thin but cast his enigmatic shadow long all night.  I loved the set list – especially “The Unforgettable Fire,” “Until The End Of The World” and the acoustic and spellbinding “Stay (Faraway So Close)”.  The big moments – “Elevation,” “Sunday Bloody Sunday,” “Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” etc. all lifted Giants stadium off its old foundation and I drove back across the GW towards Connecticut afterwards with that stupid grin I always get after a U2 show. Nice.”

And he’s got reason for that grin – Chris got to hang out with Bono. I don’t know how he could pry his eyes off the man for this photo

Chris with Bono

Chris with Bono

You can almost touch him

Jonathan meets U2

And there’s more! Jonathan Langsam went to the show courtesy of the peak, and had a great time in the red zone right around the stage. Just goes to show that there are always great reasons to listen to some World Class Rock. Here’s a snapshot of Jonathan’s night ->

U2 finished the show on the 24th with “Moments of Surrender” which is the third cut off of “No Line”. It was a tender moment – especially those who were worried about transit on the way home. Just another reason we love New Jersey.

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Concert Watch September 2009

Okay, to kick things off here at the Blog – we’ve got a whole slew of great concerts in New York’s Backyard this month.

The Black Crowes in 2009

The Black Crowes in 2009

Tonight The Black Crowes are playing a full park at Summerstage with Levon Helm. We’re sending some lucky listeners out to see the show and we hope they enjoy it! You may have heard that Levon has been easing up on his voice lately. At Gathering of the Vibes in Bridgeport, CT in July he was completely forbidden from singing by his doctor. But apparently he will grace the crowd at Central Park with a few songs this evening. And speaking of voices, David Holt, one of the listeners who will be at the show, told us that Westchester Medical Center is going to be featuring his voice in an upcoming spot for the air. If you miss the show tonight, don’t worry. The Crowes will be playing again tomorrow night at the Capitol One Bank Theatre in Westbury.

We also have some listeners going to see the Killers play this evening at the PNC Bank Arts Center in New Jersey. They just came off of a great show last night at the Nikon Theatre at Jones Beach and are sure to wow the crowd again tonight.

YPB t-shirt designed by Elvis Perkins
YBP t-shirt designed by
Elvis Perkins

Also tonight, one of my favorite artists, Elvis Perkins, will be playing with Ra Ra Riot at The Housing Works Bookstore in New York City. Ra Ra Riot, as you know, played the first night of All Points West, smack dab between The Fleet Foxes and The National. In any case, the tickets are $15 but I highly suggest you check it out because all proceeds are going to support the Yellow Bird Project (YBP), and their release of the Indie Rock Coloring Book. If you haven’t heard of YBP, they “harness [bands’] magical indie powers to help out those in need” by letting bands have a hand at designing t-shirts which they sell on their website. Check them out!

Red Molly, a hidden gem at The Pleasantville Music Festival, will be playing on September 7th at another festival, the American Roots Outdoor Festival in Piermont, NY. They’re an acoustic folk trio featuring three women, and they’ve got a great sense of humor and a very acute sensibility to their music.

And the Kings of Leon are coming to town! Catch them first at the IZOD center on September 12th, and then at Nassau Colisseum on September 14th. You’ve heard “Use Somebody” and “Sex On Fire” recently on The Peak, but if you take a trip back a few albums you’ll find the hilariously dirty “Soft” on Aha Shake Heartbreak. And if you’re thinking about going, don’t forget to brush up on “Molly’s Chambers,” their first single off of their very first studio album Youth and Young Manhood.

Mike Gordon

Mike Gordon

And there’s plenty more: Mike Gordon of PHISH will be performing on Tuesday the 8th at the Music Hall of Williamsburg. Mike will be sure to play some cuts off of his latest 2008 record The Green Sparrow, as well as some other great hits.

For all Beatles fans out there the Fab Faux will be headlining a show at the Beacon Theatre on September 12th. Hailed by Rolling Stone as “cerebral,” and appearing on David Letterman at the beginning of the year, the Fab Faux are a great way to re-hear the music of the Beatles.

And it continues! The Decemberists will be playing two shows: one on the 19th at the Fillmore New York at Irving Plaza with a special set chosen by lottery, and the other on the 22nd at the Wellmont Theatre in New Jersey. Snow Patrol will be working their way through their U.S. tour (with a minor detour to Canada) by playing two shows at the Beacon Theatre on the 22nd and 23rd.

Pheonix

Pheonix

Also, be sure not to miss the fantastic French newcomers Pheonix at Rumsey Playfield on the 25th, as well Mat Kearney also coming to Irving Plaza on the 29th. (Note: Mat  Kearney is not to be confused with Pat Carney, the drummer for the Black Keys who recently formed his own solo project, Drummer, in which he plays bass. Talk about confusing.)

Loudon and Lucy
Loudon and Lucy

And that’s not even the half of it! Get the full concert listing on the Peak’s website. For example, Rodrigo y Gabriela, the Latin influenced guitar duo are coming to town, as well as Loudon Wainwright III, who will be playing a show the HighLine ballroom on the 15th with son and daughter Rufus and Martha Wainwright. And if that wasn’t already enough of a family affair, The Roches will be playing with them. The Roches are formed by Loudon’s third child, Lucy, plus his wife Suzzy, and sisters-in-law Terre and Maggie. If you’re confused at this point, don’t worry, I am too. I promise I will draw a family tree and post it ASAP.

U2

U2

And how could this concert watch be complete without mention of U2 playing at Giants Stadium? The shows will be on the 24th and 25th. To make their apprearances even sweeter, The Peak will be sending some listeners to the shows. Stop by the Listener Advisory Board from September 8th through the 18th to sign up.

All of this and more to come throughout September. Again, check out our full concert listing on the Peak’s website by clicking here.

And if you’re not concert-going enjoy the last weeks of summer, which I guess means more rain.

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