Posts Tagged ‘Arch Enemy’

Oh, right, show reviews

Friday, January 29th, 2010

I’ve seen about a billion and one concerts since I last posted those show reviews of Caspian, Jucifer and Salome, or so it seems. I won’t recap them all but here are some highlights.

Last night I saw the Tiptons Sax Quartet and Drums at An Die Musik. I have been starving for more experimental jazz in the DC area for the last couple of years. Things are really picking up these days (many thanks to Ed Ricart and others who are putting on awesome shows at Bossa here in DC), but this was the first jazz show I’ve been to in a long time. I think Nordic Jazz Fest last summer was the last jazz I saw. This show was a great way to ease back in - super accessible, fun and eclectic stuff. I remember seeing Rova Saxophone Quartet at Twins Jazz a couple years ago, and pretty much everything about that show went straight over my head. This was totally different: the Tiptons played nothing without a solid, head-nodding beat, and their compositions were chock-full of gorgeous melodies and stunning solos. I found Jessica Lurie in particular really impressive, and it was a treat to finally get to see Amy Denio after hearing her on so many random records (my favorite perhaps being the Cuneiform obscurity The Danubians).

Before this were a couple of female-fronted Euro-metal shows: Epica and Arch Enemy. As readers of this blog know, I am a sucker for Epica. That said, I’m less than enthused by their new album. Couldn’t tell you why just yet, but it seems to be even more bombastic than previous efforts without as much heaviness or even as much of a melodic sense. Le sigh. The band’s performance at Jaxx in Virginia was the first show of their U.S. tour, and the kinks were definitely there. Energy wasn’t all that great and guest keyboardist Oliver Palotai (also of Kamelot, and vocalist Simone Simons’ boyfriend) doesn’t quite have his parts down yet. Still, there were plenty of enjoyable moments and it was nice to see Simons fronting the band again - the last time they played the States, she was ill and a replacement singer was with them.

I’ve never been a huge Arch Enemy fan, although as far as melodeath goes they’re pretty good. Like the Epica show, the show I saw was the first night of this tour. There were fewer kinks, but again the band didn’t seem to be at their peak in terms of enthusiasm. I can’t really judge this one though as I left early and am not all that familiar with a lot of the band’s material anyway.

Otherwise, there were three shows I photographed for the Washington Post, the best of which was one I never would have gone to otherwise: a bluegrass pairing of Carolina Chocolate Drops and Red Molly. The former is a trio playing traditional black string music, and they were amazing, tons of energy, tremendous chops and all kinds of catchy melodies. The latter are also a string trio, playing a mix of standards and originals, and I found their songs beautiful across the board. I picked up one of the records and it absolutely didn’t do the show justice.

The other two were Pree, a DC-area indie-rock band who are drawing comparisons to Joanna Newsom, Neutral Milk Hotel and the like; I liked them pretty well, enough to investigate further; and Otis Taylor, famed blues guitarist, whose set was way too disjointed for my taste. There were a few times his band broke out into some amazing jams, but otherwise I’d have to say it was kind of a dull night.

So that’s what I’ve been up to so far in January… I was hoping to go see Tim Berne and a new band that he’s in, Four Limones, but the show got cancelled last minute. Major bummer. Next up is Those Darlins on Sunday… not a show I’d imagine many readers of my blog would be particularly interested in.

Bar Kokhba Sextet kicks ass

Sunday, August 21st, 2005

It’s a bit too early to tell, but I think the new Bar Kokhba Sextet release on Tzadik’s 50th Birthday Celebration series might just edge Electric Masada’s entry in that series (Volume 4) as my favorite. That’s saying a lot, since the latter was one of my favorite albums from a very, very strong year of music in 2004. But the Bar Kokhba title — in addition to being an amazingly great deal, with three CDs covering three full live sets for under $23 — has all the fire and energy of the Electric Masada, with a wider range of moods and a looser feel. I’ll probably be writing a proper review of it eventually, but for now it’s settling in as another favorite drawing from the Masada songbook. I’m going through a bit of Masada overload, what with the recently-released Sanhedrin and all that, but this 3CD set is just killer.

And, for your entertainment, here’s an incomprehensible but still funny review from an amazon.com user (because really, what’s more entertaining than an idiotic review?):

what`s the problem with john zorn? first of all: he never have sex with his instrument. he dont live at all. so he can play it all. but he plays his demoniac paranoid alto saxphone psico concept. o.k. but…we are not all a jewish audience. so? you only have to buy this record or box sert or whatever but its enoguth for your big loft apartment in NYC. o.k.?
we are all ill inners childs but this guy is too much.

Another new one I got recently is Arch Enemy’s latest, Doomsday Machine, which leans a bit too straightforwardly power-metal for my tastes but is still pretty good. I mention it because there’s also a really funny review on amazon.com of this one, from a reader who was apparently expecting the band’s deceptively angelic-looking lead singer, Angela Gossow, to sound like the chick from Evanescence. I would have paid money to see his face when Gossow’s straight-up death-metal roars hit his ears for the first time.