The 12 best concerts in Denver this week: March 3 to March 7
Editor's note: Hall & Oates are now going as Daryl Hall & John Oates, because apparently that's the way you add gravitas to a catalogue that will turn your pants pastel and put shoulder pads in whatever shirt you're wearing if you listen long enough. Here's the thing: They needn't bother -- the songs still sound great. There are a few other good ones in town this week, including jazz guitar titan and fellow big hair enthusiast Pat Metheny. And something else...what is it? Something about a twerk? I'm sure you'll figure it out. The rest of our picks follow.
Despite the fact that he once recorded Aleister Crowley-influenced songs with prog master Robert Fripp -- seriously, we can't make stuff like that up -- Daryl Hall has never been given the credit he deserves. Of course, you can't blame the public for its perception of Hall and his sidekick, John Oates; as Hall & Oates, the twosome once epitomized slick, plastic-coated pop. But their '80s hits like "Maneater" and "Private Eyes" have a soulfulness and sophistication that drew from their stint as '70s R&B balladeers -- and taken as a whole, their catalogue is an impressive one, full of risky moves and inveterate trendsetting. And just to show how universal their appeal remains, Hall and Oates worked on a collaboration with funky neo-wavers Chromeo. It's a bit of a step down from Crowley and Fripp, but it just goes to show that Hall (and his group's smooth hooks) can hang with just about anybody.
When Richard Reinhardt auditioned to become a member of the Ramones in 1983, few knew what an asset he would be to the legendary punk outfit. Not only could Richie Ramone play the hell out of the drums, he could also sing and write songs. With Richie aboard, The Ramones produced three of their best albums: Too Tough to Die, Halfway to Sanity and Animal Boy. A dispute over merchandise revenue led to Richie walking away in 1987, but he had left his mark on a quintessential American rock band. His songs, such as "Somebody Put Something in My Drink" have been covered by several punk and metal bands.
In richly intimate songs, David Wilcox creates audio tapestries that blend intricate arrangements and warmly appealing tunes with the musician's ongoing personal growth. Whether recording in a log cabin -- as he did for the 1997 release Turning Point -- or experimenting with unconventional guitar techniques, the introspective Wilcox has produced quality tracks filled with poetic purity. He credits his singular style -- folk standards woven with scraps of jazz and pop, rootsy arrangements often flecked with remnants of his brief classical training -- to the rustic influences of Joni Mitchell and James Taylor, but it's his own intense lyrical clarity that makes both his studio and his stage performances unforgettable.
Gardens & Villa formed in 2008 and released its self-titled debut three years later. The Santa Barbara-based group crafted an expansively melodic sound that was also atmospherically thick and affecting. The act's upbeat, neon-hued, synth-focused pop songs recall an English new-wave project from the first half of the '80s with elements of R&B and soul. Live, the band proved to be powerful in a way that was unexpected from its recordings. In February 2014, the outfit released Dunes; the new material emphasizes the moodier aspects and downtempo aesthetic of the outfit's songwriting. If Heaven 17 had emerged in the 2000s with a minimalist streak, it might have sounded like Gardens & Villa.
At times, it's hard to tell where Miley Cyrus' public persona ends and where the real human being begins, but the singer takes some significant steps away from her cutesy Disney Channel image on her latest album, Bangerz. New strains of hip-hop are woven within anthemic pop structures, and guest appearances by Nelly, Ludacris and Big Sean, along with production by Pharrell Williams and will.i.am, increase her overall credibility. As with so many pop stars, most of her songs were factory-assembled and co-written by a horde of the usual suspects, but Cyrus' personality nonetheless shines through on relatively personal and vulnerable ballads such as "Wrecking Ball." Despite the tempest in a teapot she stirred with her infamous plushie-twerking collisions at last year's MTV Video Music Awards, Cyrus is relatively down-to-earth, coming off as the only celebrity with an ounce of sincerity and genuine warmth at Ryan Seacrest's recent New Year's Eve horror show in Times Square.
Regularly acknowledged as Player of the Year in such esoteric publications as Guitar Player, Adrian Legg has issued a catalog of instrumental albums that are the envy of every guy who's ever taken the plunge, walked into that pawnshop and laid his money down for some beat-up old Gibson. Legg is so accomplished, he can have fun with his music while maintaining the standards of a true virtuoso.
Children of Bodom formed in 1993 in the Finnish town of Espoo. Lead guitarist and singer Alexi Laiho and drummer Jaska Raatikainen formed the band around the age of fourteen under the name Inearthed. By the time the outfit released its debut album, 1997's Something Wild, the band had filled out its line-up a bit and changed its name to Children of Bodom, a reference to the infamous 1960 murders of children in the Lake Bodom area near where the band grew up. Though sometimes referred to as black metal, the music of Children of Bodom bears closer sonic kinship with the melodic death metal that had come out of Gothenburg, Sweden, in the handful of years before Bodom got together.
Since releasing the last Pat Metheny Group album, 2005's The Way Up, guitarist Pat Metheny has been quite busy exploring quite a few different paths, including his Orchestrion Project, two albums with pianist Brad Mehldau, a solo disc, a trio record, an album of John Zorn's Masada material, 2012's Unity Band, and his latest album with the Pat Metheny Unity Group. While that album, Kin (←→), has elements of previous PMG albums, the disc also shows the guitarist pushing in new directions.
Mandolinist David Grisman has spent more than three decades playing what he calls "dawg" music, which is essentially a mix swing, bluegrass, Latin, jazz and gypsy. While the line-up of his band has changed over the years, Grisman's always had a knack for recruiting skilled players, such as Tony Rice and Mark O'Connor, both of whom went on to lead their own bands, and guitarist Frank Vignola, the latest addition to the group, who honed his chops listening to Django Reinhardt and Joe Pass. For tonight's performance at the Boulder Theater, Grisman is with his Folk Jazz Trio, which features his son Samson Grisman on bass and guitarist Jim Hurst.
Electric Six formed in Detroit in 1996. Not content to strictly follow any particular style of rock, the band has forged its own strange and surprisingly original path. Its greatest commercial and popular success came in 2003 with its debut, Fire, which contained the hit single "Gay Bar." Rather than milk the success of that album, however, Electric Six has continued to evolve into different directions with each of its nine successive releases, including 2013's Mustang.
While Reverend Peyton is a big dude with a booming voice, his band really isn't that big in numbers. There's the Rev himself, who plays a mean slide on his resonator guitar; his wife, Washboard Breezy, who scrapes the hell out of a washboard; and Ben Bussell chugging away on a stripped-down drum kit. You get these three together, though, and they make some big damn music. Reverend Peyton's Big Damn Band rips through backwoods Mississippi Delta blues with the fervor and the fury of the Ramones, getting crowds stomping and hollering all over the world.
Someone should really make a movie about the saga of the Wailers. Founded by reggae legends Bob Marley, Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer in 1963, the seminal reggae band and its various members have influenced every style of reggae imaginable, from roots and rocksteady to dancehall and ska. It has also survived some epic personnel losses: Marley died of cancer in 1981, Tosh was murdered during a home invasion in 1987, drummer Carlton Barrett was shot to death the same year, and vocalist Junior Braithwaite was murdered in 1999. These days, the spirit of the Wailers is kept alive by bassist Aston "Family Man" Barrett (brother of the late Carlton), who played with the Marley-era Wailers and is also a former member of Lee "Scratch" Perry's band, the Upsetters. Although Marley, Tosh and many of Barrett's former bandmates may be gone, you can still hear the iconic bass lines of songs like "Get Up, Stand Up" and "No Woman No Cry"
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