Archive for the ‘MUSIC/CONCERT REVIEWS’ Category

TO ENLARGE PHOTO GALLERY IMAGES, CLICK ON THE IMAGE AND THEN CLICK THE NEXT ARROW FOR EACH SUBSEQUENT IMAGE. Center held a crowd of approximately 9,600 on Thursday night. Maroon 5 was the headliner with well-known opener, OneRepublic, and Australian-born singer and former surfer, Ry Cumming.

My first thought was why is OneRepublic still an opening band? They’ve been around since 2007 with huge hits such as “Apologize” and “Stop and Stare” off their debut album Dreaming Out Loud and “All the Right Moves” off their 2009 sophomore release, Waking Up.  I saw them open for Rob Thomas in the past, and now they are opening for Maroon 5. Don’t get me wrong. Those are great musicians to open for, but it’s clear from 1R’s huge hits, song-writing skills and live performances, that it is time to go it alone. Or, at least not as a supporting act.

Nevertheless, it is clear when OneRepublic hits the stage that, in their minds, they ARE the headliner. Lead singer, Ryan Tedder (who is also known for writing and producing Top 40 hits for several artists including Kelly Clarkson, Beyonce and Leona Lewis) has loads of energy. Sporting his typical vest and hat, one almost wonders if he may have ADHD (or perhaps too much caffeine in his system) as he runs and jumps around the stage like a mad man.

OneRepublic has something different to offer beyond your traditional pop/rock that primarily features guitar, drums, keyboards and melodies. They have all that and then some. In almost every OneRepublic song, you will hear a violin and/or cello. They even bring these instruments live on tour along with xylophone and tambourine. Similar to Maroon 5, OneRepublic offers a mix of pop/rock, dance/techno and R&B which makes for very diverse albums and concerts.

The band played their aforementioned hits from both albums as well as additional songs off their sophomore effort such as “Secrets”, “Everybody Loves Me”, “Good Life”, “Waking Up” and “Marching On.” Fan favorites were their hit radio singles, but also their cover of Ben E. King’s “Stand by Me” and Justin Timberlake’s “Sexy Back.”  But, as entertaining as OneRepublic’s set was, it was Maroon 5 that got the crowd on their feet.

When Maroon 5 opened with their new single, “Misery”, off their third album Hands All Over, it was clear who the audience was really there for.  It is amazing how much their fan base has expanded since they opened for John Mayer and Counting Crows in previous years.

Maroon 5 engaged the crowd with some audience participation and lighting complete with a disco ball. All M5 was missing were some pyrotechnics. Lead singer and heart-throb, Adam Levine (now covered in arm tattoos), marketed the audience by discussing how much better the Rangers are than the Yankees.  He made it clear that he was from LA, not NYC, and he is on the side of the Dallasites. As always, Levine’s voice, musical style and gyrations were reminiscent of the late Michael Jackson.

The band played tunes off their first album, Songs About Jane (2002), including their hits “Harder to Breathe”, “She Will Be Loved”, “This Love” as well as some others.  They performed songs off their second album, It Won’t Be Soon Before Long (2007), such as “If I Never See Your Face Again”, “Makes Me Wonder”, “Wake up Call” and “Won’t Go Home without You.” I enjoyed taking a stroll down memory lane by hearing them sing songs from their first two albums, but with this being a tour supporting their new album released last month, Hands All Over, it seems time would’ve been better spent cutting a few old songs as well as the Alicia Keys cover, “If I Aint Got You”. Although, I did enjoy their brief cover of Tina Turner’s “What’s Love Got to Do with it.” But, with the band playing fewer than a handful of new songs, it made one feel as if they were just getting a repeat of the previous tour with an added bonus of the improvement in stage presence.

Putting this aside and with all things considered, Maroon 5 and OneRepublic make a good touring pair and complement each other quite well.



Paramore Concert Review

Posted: September 12, 2010 in MUSIC/CONCERT REVIEWS


by Sarah St. John

Friday night, the sold-out Verizon Theatre in Grand Prairie was packed with mostly teens and early 20-somethings.  The 2010 Honda Civic Tour featuring Kadawatha, New Found Glory, Tegan & Sara and the headliner, Paramore, may be one of the biggest tours of the summer.

While concert goers were mostly young people wearing  punk/emo clothing and sporting funky hair styles, the crowd was diverse ethnically and otherwise.  Even the openers were diverse.  While high-pitched Swedish band, Kadawatha, had a short set, it was filled with amazing guitar riffs, piano, techno beats and intoxicating harmonies.  American punk band, New Found Glory, was big back in the day (as in 10 years ago). Unfortunately, the audience was too young to know who they were, but they rocked it anyway.  Canadian identical twin sisters, Tegan & Sara, seemed to have the biggest fan base of any of the openers, primarily women.  They had a long set for an opener, and their harmonies and techno/piano-driven 80’s style music was refreshing.

After three hours of opening bands, the crowd’s anticipation (including former American idol contestant and Rockwall native, Jason Castro, who was spotted in the pit) for Tennessee band, Paramore (Hayley Williams, Josh Farro, Zac Farro, Jeremy Davis and Taylor York), was mounting.  While the stage was being set, Paramore would appear on the screen, and the audience would scream and cheer.  The black curtain dropped, and strings of light bulbs swayed back and forth as Paramore opened with “Ignorance” and had the crowd on their feet the entire 90 minute set.

Lead singer, Hayley Williams (also known for her vocal appearance in B.o.B’s “Airplanes”) was sporting her dyed-red hair as that is clearly her trademark at this point in her musical career.  She is a fireball and full of head-banging energy.  But what really stands out about Hayley is her sincere and genuine appreciation for their fans.  Several times throughout the evening, she continued to thank their fans for their continued support through the years.  At one point in the show, a Waco-based Christian band tossed Hayley Williams their demo CD, and Hayley announced their name to the 6,000+ crowd asking them to check the band out.  What musician does that?  Most bands wouldn’t even accept the demo let alone give the band a shout out.  That’s Hayley for you.  I can only imagine the excitement and appreciation that band must’ve felt.  I checked them out myself, and they are pretty good.

Paramore played all their hit songs including “That’s What You Get”, “Decode”, “For a Pessimist, I’m Pretty Optimistic” and “Crushcrushcrush.”  They closed the night with their new single, “The Only Exception” set to fireworks and a crowd full of lighters and cell phones swaying.  But, the crowd wanted (Para)more, and they hit the stage again with a two-song encore of “Brick by Boring Brick” and “Misery Business” as cannons blasted out confetti.

With six years as a band;  several hit songs;  the song (“Decode”) featured in one of the biggest film franchises (“Twilight”) in recent years;  three albums under their belt: “All We Know is Falling” (2005), “RIOT!” (2007) and “Brand New Eyes” (2009);  and high-energy, good clean punk-rock shows, Paramore won’t be going anywhere anytime soon.  We want more of Paramore.



by Sarah St. John

After nearly a decade hiatus, Creed is back, and they have come “Full Circle” as their newest album title suggests, coming back to their harder rock roots reminiscent of their 1997 debut release “My Own Prison” rather than their mellower follow up records: 1999’s “Human Clay” and 2001’s “Weathered.”

Creed headlined for a packed, but not quite sold-out, show on Friday night at Center.  Even after all these years, Creed still garners attention from its dedicated fans,  but is it because their fans still adore them or because, as was in my case, it is hard to pass up such cheap tickets to a band you once loved and wanted a stroll down memory lane with? Tickets were $20 or $10 hence the double entendre of their “20-10 Tour.”

Openers included Theft and Skillet. Theft had a surprisingly short set, but that makes sense given the band only has a three-song EP currently available.  Their performance might have been more enjoyable if Center had a better sound system, and one could actually understand the band’s lyrics. Also, their stage performance was lacking in entertainment and creativity. But, they are a new band, probably with a low budget, so we’ll let that slide. However, I have to admit that the second opener, Skillet, put on a show so entertaining that Creed had a lot to live up to in order to top it. I have seen Skillet in concert before, but they have most definitely kicked it up a few notches since then. They have added a violinist and cellist to their live performance versus using a laptop or synthesizer to make the sounds come alive as in the past. Besides the fact that they have a chick drummer such as myself, the band is stunning live: flashing LED lights and a stage that rises and lowers are just the beginning.  All in all, Skillet gave everyone a run for their money and was arguably the highlight of the night, but only by a smidgen.

Creed caught the audience’s attention from the moment they hit the stage. They opened with heart-thumping, foot-stomping and chair-banging “Bullets” set to pyrotechnics. Very quickly into their set, they played the title track to their debut album, “My Own Prison” which got the audience pumped, as if they weren’t already. Throughout the evening, Creed enchanted the audience by getting the crowd to mimic the band by putting their index finger in the air during “One” and waving their lighters (or cell phone for the non-smokers) during fan-favorite “With Arms Wide Open.” Creed closed the night with a two-song encore including “One Last Breath” and their most colossal hit of all time, “Higher.”

Lead singer, Scott Stapp, hasn’t changed much in the past few years, other than sporting a shorter haircut.  S.S. (as one audience member shouted out during the concert) is still his energetic-fist-pumping-throwing-his-head-back-and-spreading-his-arms-out self.

But, what stood out the most wasn’t so much the songs Creed sang or how much they were able to engage the crowd. Heck, it wasn’t even the flashy LED lights, video screens and pyrotechnics. It was their message. As most Creed fans know, the band believes in God and isn’t afraid to express it through their music or their words. There were several occasions where this was apparent, but one that stands out is when Scott Stapp explained that they were offered a lot of money to have their hit-song “Higher” be the theme song in Miller High Life commercials, but they turned it down because they didn’t want to degrade a song that is about Heaven. Also worth noting is the band’s recognition to our servicemen and women as they dedicated “My Sacrifice” to all the military heroes fighting for our country and our freedom.

The band played a mix of songs from all four albums, but fans were more enthralled with the older songs than the newer ones which makes one question the success and likeability of the new album. After all, last year’s “Full Circle” has not even hit the half million mark on copies sold to date.

Clearly, Creed’s fan base has dwindled from their late 90’s mega-fame, but that is to be expected after such a long sabbatical. One thing is clear: the fans that Creed has still managed to captivate after all these years are in it for the long haul.