July 07, 2007
Critiquing Live Earth (as shown on Bravo TV) (and MSN)
For a lot more criticism, and not of the musical kind, see Les Jones' new project, Rock Stars against Live Earth.
So far, on Bravo's coverage, I've seen Jack Johnson, Wolfmother, Crowded House, and Linkin Park.
I've liked them all, except Linkin Park. They just don't do it for me. Maybe the singer's in-ear monitors aren't working right, but he's very flat.
Neil Finn played a gorgeous Gold Top Les Paul, and made those mini-humbuckers sing a little bit in his solos. Full disclosure: the very first band I was in, as a college freshman, learned "Don't Dream It's Over" as one of our first covers.
Wolfmother got cheated. The broadcast only aired one song, "Woman," and though it was a good performance, I wanted more. Those guys put on a great rock 'n' roll show (as I witnessed firsthand at Bonnaroo).
The two "hosts" that yammer in between acts are quite annoying. Shut up, you two, and play some music.
Ed Begley's hawking his eco-wares. Even if you don't share his views or take them to the same extent, you have to admit that he's no phony (or else he's very good). Mock Madonna and other stars who "care," but Ed's cool.
Don't know this Rihanna person, but initial sounds indicate that it's an okay time to take the dog out or something. There are a lot of people on stage, but I think most of the music you hear is pre-recorded and/or triggered samples.
The boy is fascinated (as am I) with all the different percussion instruments employed by SOS Allstars. I especially like the giant taiko drum, along with the temple bells. Genesis is on now, playing "Turn It On Again" (I thought we were supposed to switch it off?) a bit lower-pitched than the original (like the Police are doing on some songs — I guess twenty-plus years will do that for ya, even if you're Sting or Phil Collins).
Trey, who's 2, on seeing the 12 Girls Band playing in Shanghai: "Huh?" My thoughts exactly. East meets West, I guess. Maybe they should stay apart.
More Rihanna. Potty break. Something about her, um, berella. Whatever that is.
Dude's sitting there with his MacBook. I hope he's reading my blog.
Cool. Cold, actually. From Antarctica, Nunatak is made up of scientists. For a bunch of geeks, they rock pretty well. I mean, just saying. You're at the bottom of the world, in Winter, even, and you make do with the instruments (violin, saxophone) that you've got. That's a pretty red Epiphone (I think). These folks are nothing if not brave. I've heard a lot worse. No word on how many fingers were lost to frostbite.
Sarah Brightman wows the Chinese audience with what seems to me to be a rather medium-intensity performance. A decade out of school will make one forget the name of one of the world's most popular arias. Then again, opera has never been my forte.
Shakira is on now. Her mix of Latin/world music and straight-up pop, with a little urban flavor mixed in, is somewhat interesting, but not something I'll go out and buy. She seems to enjoy presenting her visual presence (read: shaking her stuff). Decent congero. That sparkly pink guitar prop is a bit much.
Snow Patrol: I've heard this song, but have never known who did it. Dang moody bands all sound alike. Their performance was solid, however.
I need to do some work around the house. Enjoy the Black-Eyed Peas, if you can.
Duran Duran are indeed past their prime. Their anemic performance is only partially saved by John's bass. They started to bring it a little bit at the end there.
Blue Man Group, sans Tobias Fünke? Sad. I'm sure he was in the wings, painted up and ready.
Genesis on again with "Land of Confusion." Chester Thompson sure gives his kit a workout. His ride cymbal sounds as clear as a crystal goblet.
The Peppers are on. No socks. This is one of the best performances of the day so far. The whole family's ears perked up.
Can't do Garth Brooks. Back in a while.
Ah, more Red Hot Chili Peppers. I know they're not their old crazy selves, but I'm glad they survived all that and are still around, because, even though I am tempted to think I'm just old by saying this, they still rock.
Not keen on Keane? I'm not sure I am either. Even though Coldplay is watered-down Radiohead and thus fit for grocery store aisles, I rather enjoy their sound; but Keane is like poor man's Coldplay, and that's just not enough.
Snoop Dogg in Hamburg got cheated even more than Wolfmother. Just as I was getting into it, his portion stopped.
Sad but true: I used to like Metallica. I thought Ride the Lightning and Master of Puppets were great records, and even liked most of …And Justice for All. Then they took away my Napster. Now they want you to know about global warming. That doesn't exactly jive with "Kill 'em All," does it?
Now the US (NY-Giants Stadium) show is on. Kenna is out of control. (Somebody had to say that.) Not bad for an opener. His band seems tight, and his sort of eclectic sound is intriguing enough.
Reruns of Rihanna? I want my money back. Speaking of which, I want it back from Bill Gates, or whoever heads Microsoft now. Because of MSN, I can't view the actual live coverage in its optimal form, because I don't use Internet Explorer. So I decided to go with the Bravo (which is NBC (GE)) coverage, and it hasn't been my favorite.
KT Tunstall: what can I say? Not much, apparently. I was trying out the Quicktime version online, and heard her say something like "so unplug your phone chargers, and eat more...soil, or something." Brilliant advice, there. That, and inciting the crowd to "do the wave," cause me not to be that much of a fan. What's with the backup singers with the matching haircuts? Is this Robert Palmer revisited? Guitar envy time: dude's Firebird. But I'm not with the "found objects percussion" pretentiousness. Lose the trash can lid.
I had never heard of Taking Back Sunday before today. I just read their Wikipedia entry, and it appears that practically the whole band is different people than when the group started. Maybe the original guys sounded better than this. They may have taken back Sunday, but they need to go ahead and leave me my Saturday, thank you.
Oh, and look what I was missing. The boy wanted to watch a movie, so we turned off the tv coverage. I tuned into the UK and am now listening to the Beastie Boys with my headphones. It was the last song. Drat.
Back to New York, for Keith Urban and Alicia Keys. So confusing: the London feed had them, but I switched over for better sound, and it's a different song by Keith, with no Alicia. This isn't working out so well all of a sudden.
An obviously South American band is on the DC stage. I've loved the mystical sounds of the pan pipes and those itty bitty guitars (with, like, 18 strings on them) since childhood.
Around the world some more: Abingdon Boys School is a seemingly Queensr˙che-influenced rock band from Japan. They are technically proficient. Not bad at all, in fact! Can get a little too pop, but generally rock with a youthful fierceness.
A Chinese singer doing bossa nova: now that's a more comfortable East meets West than was experienced earlier today.
Nope, don't like AFI. Sorry. "Love Like Winter" is okay, but I can do without these guys for the most part. In fairness, they are now covering David Bowie. That's almost never bad.
I fought the Foo, and the Foo won. Dave Grohl invites the London audience to sing "there goes my hero" for Al Gore. Hee. They're sounding good. I
Hey, where's Spinal Tap? The Germany feed has them, but being played over the system there. They're supposed to be in London, right? Just checked Left of the Dial, and it seems that they were on while I was wasting time with KT Tunstall. Bum-MER.
Madonna has children on stage with her. Is that allowed? Didn't know she played guitar. I do like this song, "Ray of Light." Someone tuning a violin made it into the audio feed. Now she's doing what she does best: cavorting with gay male dancers. This is a big production.
John Mayer, meanwhile, is playing some blistering Stratocaster on the US side of the pond.
Back to Bravo, which is just now showing Mayer. Not every one of his songs is as good as the ones I spoke of earlier.
Second time I've heard Marvin Gaye covered today, this time by Alicia Keys, whose band sounds really good. She's awesome, in fact.
Dave Matthews Band just got started, and Dave broke a string. He made a funny gesture while he was guitarless, playing his own air guitar. It's all fixed now. People with techs and roadies have it made. (And is that trumpet player also a bodyguard?)
Checking in on the live feed, it's Kanye West. He has an interesting ensemble, including harp. The string players have painted faces.
Kelly Clarkson's being broadcast on the Bravo. I've never really listened to her. I need a break, so I guess Kelly and Kanye will have to catch me another time.
Ditto Bon Jovi. A walk around the block with the whole family (including dog, but not cat) was nice, but the mosquitoes were not.
NASA expert Jim Hanson (with grandchildren) says that coal-fired power plants that do not capture their CO2 output are the single greatest danger in terms of climate change. Now, the Smashing Pumpkins.
Billy Corgan, I should say. I know he wouldn't sound the same without his cohorts, but it has always been obvious that he sits in the driver's seat.
Just saw a clip of Nunatak on regular NBC.
Roger Waters is singing "Money." Very good. Oops, though, missed a change there, Roger. And see, it takes two guitarists to equal one David Gilmour. Hah.
Beastie Boys on NBC. Hurry.
My evening has entered into a pure frenetic state, as I try to keep track of two video streams and two TV channels and, let's not forget, two humans with whom I share a home life. I think I'm going back to just Bravo, but I keep trying to find a replay of Spinal Tap.
"Another Brick in the Wall (Part II)" — more kids on stage. And, goodness knows, a giant flying pig. I can't believe some other guy is playing David's solos like that. They're well done, I will say that; but if I were Gilmour, I'd be sitting there saying "man, play your own licks." Can't the Floyd just get back together?
Wearing down, I am. I don't know how much more of this I can do. It sure has been fun, for the most part.
The Police sound pretty much the same as they did at Bonnaroo, so far, but Sting seems more into this show. Andy Summers still looks apathetic, for the most part. Maybe it's just me. He did just look up and smile. (I can't talk. When I play, I stare at my guitar neck, the floor, or the back wall the whole time.) "Can't Stand Losing You" went straight into "Regatta de Blanc," with Sting encouraging a sing-along. Then back into "Can't," with a sloppy sort of ending.
John Mayer's playing "Message" with them. Huh. Harmonizing, sort of. Stewart Copeland accents like no one else. Now Kanye West is rhyming over the changes. "SOS." I get it.
Al Gore coming on now to say goodnight. Sting introduced him as, among other things, "a bass guitarist."
I guess that's it. Let's do this again sometime.
Now where my Tap?