Category Archives: Concert Reviews

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah / Living Room Show, Phoenix, AZ / March 2, 2015

When you are invited into somebody’s living room to watch one of your favorite artists perform an intimate show in front of about 35 people, it almost feels wrong to publicly talk about it.

It’s almost like you don’t want to break the intimate trust between the audience and artist in such a close setting.

But when the performer is as good as Alec Ounsworth of Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, you gotta tell everybody.

For the second year in a row, Ounsworth paid a visit to a host family in north Phoenix to play a 75-minute show that spanned the band’s four-album career.  Ounsworth took questions from the audience, played requests — and even Tom Petty’s “Yer So Bad” — and generally pleased the group of lucky fans who scored a ticket.

Highlights included acoustic versions of “Is It Love” and “Satan Says Dance,” the later of which was a request. Ounsworth says he doesn’t play “Satan” too much acoustically but he pulled it off spectacularly.

Ounsworth injected his normal friendly humor during the show. He talked about driving through a snowstorm on the way to Phoenix that almost forced trouble with his Prius. He says New Orleans is a tough place to play a concert, and revealed he has been listening to a lot of The Smiths’ Meat is Murder (see Top Albums of 1985) while driving through America to the next living room.

Photos or videos were not allowed during the show, and I didn’t want to risk it. So it will forever be left in my head.

Hopefully, Alec will be back again next winter for another show. I’d pay 20 bucks every year to sit in a living room and listen to him play.

But how about it be my living room next year!

Here is a clip of CYHSY from 2006 on David Letterman.

Is This Love?

Foxygen / Crescent Ballroom / Sept. 24, 2014

by Jason Stone

Sam France is a rock singer, but he also could be a boxer.

When you see all the battle scars on him from his antics on the stage, it’s hard to tell he’s not getting thrown around in the ring every night.

Instead as lead singer of Foxygen, a two-piece band out of California, France throws himself all over the stage — and off of it — for complete entertaining effect.

Let’s get one thing straight: Foxygen’s stage show and charisma on stage is better than their actual music. This show at the Crescent Ballroom was probably one of top ten shows I have seen — ever! And that’s with them playing mostly an album (… And Star Power) that wouldn’t have even cracked my top 20 albums just of last year alone.

(The album before, however, We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace and Love, is a classic.)

IMG_3163France is worth the price of admission alone. He wore a brace on his wrist (no doubt from some stage injury in the past) and had been only a year removed from breaking his leg diving off a stage during a show in Minneapolis. At one point two-thirds of the way through the show at the Crescent, France hurled himself off the stage. That’s all and good except nobody in the crowd caught him and he fell right to the floor made up of sticky dry beer.

After about 15 seconds of not moving, you didn’t know whether to help him out, nudge him politely with your foot or check his pulse. Of course it was part of his whole act. Let’s face it: Most of it is pretty contrived, but entertaining nonetheless.  France begins the show in a woman’s pant suit (a Hillary Clinton fan perhaps?) and makeup. But it isn’t long before the coat is tossed so France can show off all his stage battle scars all over his arms the chest, torso and back.


It does make you appreciate a performer who will give his all to only a few hundred people who didn’t pay too much to see the band in the first place. They finally made their first U.S. late night TV appearance on David Letterman last month, but it’s too early to say if they’ll break nationally and have staying power.

If France’s stage antics are any indication, it may not last long. And that’s a shame because anybody who isn’t catching them now may be missing out forever.

concert review

Retro Futura Tour with Tom Bailey, Howard Jones, Midge Ure, China Crisis, Katrina Leskanich / Marquee Theatre, Tempe, AZ / Sept. 3, 2014

by Jason Stone

The ’80s are roaring back! At least for one night at the Marquee Theatre.
The “Retro Futura Tour” — featuring Tom Bailey of the Thompson Twins, Howard Jones, Midge Ure, China Crisis and Katrina from, oddly enough, Katrina and the Waves — made a swing through Arizona.
It reminded fans that not all music from the Eighties was bad.

Tom BaileyIMG_1427

The frontman of the Thompson Twins didn’t disappoint, playing most of the band’s hits, and updating them a little bit with today’s technology and electronic music trends. He seems to still love what he’s doing.
We Are Detective/In the Name of Love/Lies/Sister of Mercy/You Take Me Up/If You Were Here/Love on Your Side/Doctor! Doctor!/ENCORE: King for a Day/Hold Me Now

Howard JonesIMG_1417

I’ve seen Howard Jones many times throughout the years, and he still remains one of my favorites live. Despite playing a majority of music pre-programmed, he is still showing a close connection to fans with his constant stage movement, using a wireless headset. So glad he is still at it with high energy.
The Human Touch/Like to Get to Know  You Well/Everlasting Love/No One is to Blame/The Prisoner/What Is Love?/Things Can Only Get Better/New Song

Midge Ure

The former Ultravox frontman played probably his five most essential songs. And, no, none of them were “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” (He co-wrote that you know.)
Hymn/Fade to Grey/Vienna/If I Was/Dancing with Tears in My Eyes

China Crisis

Believe it or not, I had never head of these guys until prepping for the show the week before. Now, I can’t believe I never heard of them. After a week of listening to a lot of their best stuff it feels like I’ve known it for years.
Arizona Sky/African and White/Black Man Ray/Wishful Thinking/King in a Catholic Style

Yep, Miss “Walking on Sunshine” herself opened the bill with a six-song set of her infectious pop-punk stylings. Actually not as bad as you’d think, and I hate to admit I still kind of like “Walking on Sunshine” despite hearing it one-million times too many over the last 30 years.
Rock n Roll Girl/Red Wine and Wisky/Going Down to Liverpool/Every Step/Do You Want Crying/Walking on Sunshine