Live Review: Sting and Shaggy

Sting and Shaggy at the Tabernacle, AtlantaTwo music legends — British rocker Sting and reggae superstar Shaggy — teamed up in 2018 for a new album, followed by a tour, which made its stop in Atlanta Monday night, September 17 at The Tabernacle. While very different performers, they aren’t so stylistically separate as you might at first think. The Police, the band that brought Sting to global prominence in the early 80s, had strong reggae leanings. Partnering with Shaggy at this point in his career brings him back to his reggae roots.

The 44/876 album was released on April 20 (very appropriately 420, being a Reggae album). The title represents a bridging of two different cultures — “44” being the international dialing code for the United Kingdom and “876” being the area code for Jamaica. That spirit of unity was evident throughout the evening on Monday, with the two artists sharing the spotlight and adding their distinctive flair to each other’s songs in the two-hour (almost to the minute) set. 

Sting and Shaggy at the Tabernacle, Atlanta

Setting the tone for the rest of the show was the surprisingly bouncy opener, Sting’s “Englishman in New York,” with Shaggy taking a verse to sing about being a “Jamaican in New York.” From there the small but incredibly tight band launched into the first two tracks from 44/876, the excellent title track and the breezy “Morning is Coming”.

Sting was most definitely the dominant presence, with almost half the setlist pulled from his massive back catalog of both solo and Police singles, plus him singing lead and playing bass on all the songs from 44/876. One of the most rewarding things about this tour is seeing a Sting that, away from his normal role as solo artist, was looser, much more casual, joking around with Shaggy and just being “one of the blokes” for a change. But while Sting was rooted mostly to one spot by microphone and pedals, Shaggy was free to prowl the stage, trading vocal licks with Sting, interacting with the musicians, hyping up the crowd, and thrusting his pelvis with every “boom boom boom.” And while he may not have Sting and Shaggy at the Tabernacle, Atlantathe extensive resume of hits that Sting has, his career was still well represented with songs that the audience knew and sang along to. 

Some of the show’s best moments came when songs from different sources were unexpectedly paired up or combined. Shaggy’s “Oh Carolina” segued effortlessly into Sting’s “We’ll Be Together”, while Sting’s “Love is the Seventh Wave” dovetailed seamlessly into “To Love and Be Loved” from 44/876. The show’s finale was a crowd-pleasing mashup of Police classic “Roxanne” with Shaggy’s 1995 smash, “Boombastic”. The show was very low on theatrics, relying solely on great music being played by a great band. The centerpiece of the show, however,  was the song “Crooked Tree” from 44/876, a dialogue between judge and convict. On stage, a uniformed policeman sequestered Sting, had him don the black and white striped garb of a prisoner, while Shaggy took the stage in judge’s robe, white wig and gavel. It was a playful moment for an otherwise somber song. 

Along the way, the group featured seven of the songs from the new album, all of which translated easily to a live setting with great energy and infectious hooks, and even if some audience members hadn’t picked up the album yet, the songs are so easily accessible (as my buddy Josh says, “they’re catchy as hell”) that no one would have felt left behind by them. And even then, it would only be a song or two before another well-known tune came along, like “If You Love Somebody Set Them Free”, “Angel”, “Everything Little Thing She Does is Magic”, “Strength of a Woman”, “Message in a Bottle”, “So Lonely” or “Hey Sexy Lady.” The pair paid homage to their reggae roots by name-Sting and Shaggy at the Tabernacle, Atlantachecking Bob Marley in the song “44/876” and by performing that most anthemic of reggae tunes, “Get Up, Stand Up”.

Special recognition must be given to the band behind the two front men. A combination of members from both artists’ touring bands — ‪Dominic Miller (guitar), ‪Josh Freese‬‬‬ (drums) and Rufus Miller (guitar) from Sting’s band, and Melissa Musique (backing vocals), Gene Noble (backing vocals) and Kevon Webster (keyboards) from Shaggy’s entourage. Melissa and Gene were both lead singer material and put on a show all their own with their dancing, and both were given moments in the spotlight at the foot of the stage for solo bits. As a drummer myself, I particularly enjoyed watching Freese’s expert playing, a technically proficient drummer with a subtle and very musical touch. He took the opportunity to let loose in the post-chorus transitions in The Police’s “Walking on the Moon.” In addition to being superb players, the two guitarists playfully interacted with the audience and the other band members. Only keyboardist Webster really didn’t have much of a featured presence in the show, getting overshadowed a bit by the more flamboyant performers.

After two hours of hit after hit, the evening wrapped up with two encore sets. The first featured Sting’s “Desert Rose”, Shaggy’s “It Wasn’t Me”, and the Police’s “Every Breath You Take.” The band took the stage one last time for a very quiet close to an otherwise rambunctious evening with a cover of Harry Belafonte’s “A Jamaican Farewell” and Sting’s “Fragile.” 

If you’ve not checked out 44/876, give it a listen on iTunes or Spotify, or pick up the CD. It’s a fabulous album of great grooves, positive messages, and contagious energy. And if you get the chance to see this show on another stop on the tour, go. You owe it to yourself. It’ll be one of the most fun nights you will have had in a long time.

Get more info and tour dates hereAnd check out 44/876 on Amazon.

Dropkick Murphys’ 20th Anniversary Tour Rocks Atlanta

Review and Photos by Danielle Boise

It had been since 2008 since the Los Angeles-based punkobilly meet psychobilly, rock trio, Tiger Army performed at the Tabernacle, and they did not disappoint as they opened for the Dropkick Murphys’ 20th Anniversary Tour at the Tabby on Saturday, March 5 in the heart of downtown Atlanta. With a high energy set, that included “Rumble” and “FTW,”  along with debut a new song, called “Prisoner of the Night,” off their soon-to-be released spring album. Tiger Army got the crowd primed for Dropkick Murphys, and did a hell of a job doing that.

Tiger Army

Tiger Army

“The boys are back and they are looking for trouble.” For 20 years, Dropkick Murphys has been providing fans with a a ruckus, patriotic-infused, good-old fashion Irish kick-ass time. Full of fast and furried songs spent with throttled meaning, along with supporting a variety of community based causes. The Boston pride runs deep and proud throughout Dropkick Murphys as they brought their own style of rock to the Tabernacle for a sold out show that rivaled any other that I’ve seen there. Seriously, you can’t go wrong with a DKM show.

Dropkick Murphys 20th Anniversary Tour

Dropkick Murphys 20th Anniversary Tour

With a 26-song set list, the Dropkick Murphys did not disappoint, as they kicked into gear with the rock portion of the night with “Johnny, I Hardly Knew Ya” followed by “Out of Our Heads,” “Walk Away,” “Famous for Nothing,” “Sunshine Highway” and a delicious  Clash cover of “Career Opportunities.” DKM performed the beautifully haunting “Rose Tattoo,” a new song off their latest release, Singed and Sealed in Blood, followed by “The Auld Triangle,” “Heroes From Our Past,” “Caps and Bottles,” The Press cover of “21 Guitar Salute,” a Rodgers & Hammerstein cover of “You’ll Never Walk Alone” followed by “Flannigans Ball” and “The Ghosts of Rock & Roll” before entering their acoustic portion of the night, with songs like, “Barroom Hero,” “The Gang’s All Here,” “Sandlot,” “The State of Massachusetts,” “The Gauntlet” and ended with “I’m Shipping Up to Boston.” For the encore Dropkick Murphys came back out onto stage “Worker’s Song” and then brought the throttle of fans onto the stage for the final songs, “Kiss Me, I’m Shittfaced,” “Skinhead on the MBTA,” and ended on a high note with “Having a Party.

Dropkick Murphys 20th Anniversary Tour

Dropkick Murphys 20th Anniversary Tour

What I have to say I love the most about Dropkick Murphys is not only their dedication to their music and their fans, but they bleed red, white and blue to the core; very patriotic and gives back to the community through Children’s Charities and honors returning vets and other military organizations, feeling regardless of what side of the line you fall on that these men and women deserve the respect and honor that should be granted to them.

Dropkick Murphys 20th Anniversary Tour

Dropkick Murphys 20th Anniversary Tour

Honorable, humble and full of hell – that’s the Dropkick Murphys through-and-through, and worth the ticket price everytime. They continue their US tour through March 20, ending at Brighton Music Hall in Massachusetts before heading to Europe this summer.

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Full Photo Gallery of Dropkick Murphys

Full Photo Gallery of Tiger Army

Sleater-Kinney Plays to Sold Out Show at the Tabernacle

Review by Mary Lynn Ritch, Photos by Danielle Boise

 

Sleater-Kinney

Sleater-Kinney

When a band has been around for decades, there is always concern that new and live material will be dated and disappointing.  That has not been the case for the indie-punk three piece Sleater-Kinney who for the first time in 10 years, embarked on a tour promoting their new album No Cities to Love, and made a stop in Atlanta at the Tabernacle April 21.

 

THEESatisfaction

THEESatisfaction

After Seattle-based openers THEESatisfaction ended their set, the crowd piled in making it hard to believe the show sold out minutes before the band hit the stage.  With a quick introduction, they got down to business opening their 23 song set with “Price Tag.”

 

Sleater-Kinney

Sleater-Kinney

Sleater-Kinney sounded extremely tight and well put together for coming out of hiatus after such a long break.  Carrie Brownstein’s often fuzzy and beastly guitar work along with her solid vocals accompanied Corin Tucker’s roars fit quite nicely. While Janet Weiss one of the best living drummers around really stood out throughout the night but especially during live renditions of “A New Wave” and “The Fox” as well as playing harmonica for “Modern Girl.”

 

Sleater-Kinney

Sleater-Kinney

A highlight of the show (in addition to listening to many of their old hits) was watching Brownstein climb on Weiss’s drum kit, look out into the audience and strum her guitar to a roaring and excited applause.

 

Sleater-Kinney

Sleater-Kinney

Sleater-Kinney’s entire discography definitely always translated as visceral, emotional and raw through headphones and speakers—those feelings are only amplified live. While the band continues to experience the success of their 2015 tour and album release – fans remain hopeful that their favorite indie-punk rockers will continue with this creative streak and last for the long haul.  This is all due to the fact that sold out shows like this one really renewed their faith in the band although it probably never left in the first place.

 

Sleater-Kinney

Sleater-Kinney

 

Sleater-Kinney Tour Dates

THU, Apr 23 Marathon Music Works @ Nashville (w/THEESatisfaction)

FRI, Apr 24 Pageant @ St Louis (w/THEESatisfaction)

SAT, Apr 25 Blue Note @ Columbia, MO (w/THEESatisfaction)

SUN, Apr 26 Uptown Theater (MO) @ Kansas City, MO (w/THEESatisfaction)

TUE, Apr 28 Sunshine Theater @ Albuquerque (w/THEESatisfaction)

WED, Apr 29 Marquee (Tempe) @ Tempe (w/THEESatisfaction)

THU, Apr 30 Hollywood Palladium @ Los Angeles

 

Full Photo Gallery of Sleater-Kinney

Full Photo Gallery of THEESatisfaction

 

Guster brought ‘Evermotion’ Tour on Feb. 13 to Atlanta

The Bostonian alt-rock band, Guster made a stop at The Tabernacle in Atlanta as part of their Evermotion tour, which kicked off Jan. 17 and runs through May 2.  Kishi Bashi was in support Friday, Feb. 13 at the Tabby to warm up the just shy of a full house crowd. Kishi Bashi started the night off by performing songs off his 151a album, including one of my personal favorites, “Atticus, in the Desert.”

“We are going to sing both old songs and new songs alike tonight.” Ryan Miller

Fun is the only thing that comes to mind when I think of Guster, as they present themselves in a very laid back, relaxed manner, but illuminate sheer glee on stage as they sang new songs off their seventh studio album, Evermotion, along with old fan favorites. Guster’s 24 song set included: “Long Night,” “Careful,” “The Captain,” “Ramona,” “Doin’ It By Myself,” “Barrel of a Gun,” “Lazy Love,” “Come Downstairs and Say Hello,” “Do You Love Me,” “Kid Dreams,” “Satellite,” “Simple Machine,” “Never Coming Down,” “Bad Bad World,” “Demons,” “Center of Attention,” “One Man Wrecking Machine,” “Endlessly,” “Amsterdam,” and “This Could All Be Yours.” The encore included: “X Ray Eyes,” “Gangway,” “What You Call Love,” and ended with “Happier.”

Evermotion North American Tour

Mar 29 Vancouver, BC Venue w/ Kishi Bashi (solo)
Mar 30 Seattle, WA Neptune Theatre INFO
Mar 31 Portland, OR Crystal Ballroom
Apr 1 San Francisco, CA The Fillmore ***SOLD OUT***
Apr 2 Los Angeles, CA The Wiltern
Apr 8 Madison, WI Orpheum Theater w/ Kishi Bashi (solo)
Apr 9 Minneapolis, MN State Theatre w/ Kishi Bashi (solo)
Apr 10 Chicago, IL Riviera Theatre w/ Kishi Bashi (solo)
Apr 11 Detroit, MI St. Andrews Hall w/ Kishi Bashi (solo)
Apr 14 Cleveland, OH House of Blues w/ Kishi Bashi (solo)
Apr 15 Cincinnati, OH Bogart’s w/ Kishi Bashi (solo)
Apr 16 Columbus, OH Newport Music Hall w/ Kishi Bashi (solo)
Apr 17 Pittsburgh, PA Stage AE w/ Kishi Bashi (solo)
Apr 18 Rochester, NY Water Street Music Hall w/ Kishi Bashi (solo)
Apr 20 Charlotte, NC The Fillmore w/ Kishi Bashi (solo)
Apr 22 Raleigh, NC Lincoln Theatre w/ Kishi Bashi (solo)
Apr 23 Charlottesville, VA Jefferson Theatre w/ Kishi Bashi (solo)
Apr 24 Philadelphia, PA **SOLD OUT** Theatre of Living Arts w/ Kishi Bashi (solo)
Apr 25 Philadelphia, PA Union Transfer w/ Kishi Bashi (solo)
Apr 30 Burlington, VT Higher Ground w/ Kishi Bashi (solo)
May 2 Portland, ME State Theater w/ Kishi Bashi (solo)
Jun 12 Manchester, TN Bonnaroo Music Festival

 

Full Photo Gallery of Kishi Bashi

 

Full Photo Gallery of Guster