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.

Live Photos: Coheed and Cambria at The Tabernacle May 2 2017

Jenna Hughes was on site at The Tabernacle in Atlanta this past week to capture some of the highlights at the Coheed and Cambria show.

 

Switchfoot & Relient K look for America at The Tabernacle Oct. 30

Switchfoot’s Looking For America Tour rolled through Atlanta October 30, with co-headliner Relient K. Fans of both bands packed the Tabernacle early to get a good spot to enjoy the show featuring the veteran Christian rock bands.

Relient K took the stage amidst a backdrop of a two-story house, a BBQ grill, coolers and a gigantic bison to the tune of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller,” getting the crowd in the Halloween spirit. The band out of Ohio has been together now for an impressive sixteen years, releasing its eighth studio album Air For Free in July. Lead single from the new album, “Bummin’,” started off the night with front man Matt Theissen all smiles as the audience sang the words back to him. Though the band has gone through several line up changes over the years (Theissen and guitarist Matt Hoops are the only remaining original members), Relient K’s sound has remained the same fun, upbeat punk/rock as its always been since the release of 2000’s self-titled album. Old school Relient K got some love early in the set with “Who I Am Hates Who I’ve Been,” but Air For Free dominated with “Runnin’,” the fun sing-along “Mrs. Hippopotamuses’,” and “Mountaintop.” Relient’s set also included a couple of Halloween songs, “Halloween in Owatonna,” and “Halloween Blues,” before ending the night with fan favorites “Be My Escape” and “Sadie Hawkins Dance.”

Switchfoot hit the stage next amid soft blue lights with guitarist/singer Tim Foreman launching into “Holy Water,” the first track on the band’s new album Where The Light Shines Through, before being joined by his brother/lead singer Jon Foreman. Where The Light Shines Through is Switchfoot’s tenth studio album, but the band only continues to get better with time. If there is one word to describe seeing Switchfoot perform, it would be uplifting. Foreman is the type of songwriter that is not afraid to be real and raw in his lyrics and it pays off with the earnest and hopeful message of this new album. That message resonated and was plain to see in the faces of the fans as they sang along with him as “Meant To Live,” the band’s breakthrough single from 2003’s The Beautiful Letdown, filled the speakers. Foreman left the stage (for the first time of many) to sing personally to several lucky fans during the performance, even crowd surfing several times and holding the hands of people in the crowd. Switchfoot is able to connect with fans in a way that is rare, but comforting and encouraging, as if they were old friends and confidants to everyone in the audience. “Stars” took fans back to 2005’s Nothing Is Sound, before new songs “Where The Light Shines Through,” and the gorgeous “I Won’t Let You Go,” kept the set going. The highlight of the night was an intimate, acoustic version of “Hello Hurricane,” during which all the members of the band gathered around a single microphone, encouraging the audience to light up The Tabernacle with their phones and sing along. “If The House Burns Down Tonight,” “The Sound,” and “Where I Belong” ended the set, but the crowd demanded an encore that came almost immediately with “Float,” “Live It Well,” and the band’s most beloved song “Dare You To Move.”

Relient K

Switchfoot

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

Live Review: Exodus and King Diamond at The Tabernacle Nov. 16

Photos by Michael Bradley (full photo gallery at the bottom of the page)

Paranoia was high following the Paris attacks and everyone in line to see Exodus and King Diamond was submitted to a frisk and a metal detector. The line wrapped around the block and inched forward as men and women separated into individual lines and emptied their pockets.

The line looked imposing outside, but once past security, the crowd was more modest inside the Tabernacle. Monday night is not exactly prime time for concert attendance and the audience inside was scattered and patchy. The upper-most tier was closed completely. It was an older crowd, not many kids. But this isn’t Sam Smith or Hozier. These are older bands, bands that only the old heads and rabid metal fans would sacrifice a well-rested Tuesday morning at work to come see. The fans that know a show worth seeing.

Exodus

“Where are the old motherfuckers at?” yelled Exodus’ lead singer, Steve Souza. “The ones that have been with Exodus for 30 fucking years?”

By now the audience had filled in nicely and every long hair and gray beard was pumping their fist and shouting in reply. It’s an odd thing to see one of your favorite bands aging, when you notice the gray hair and paunches emerging. And it’s humbling when you start to realize that these guys are older than you and taking 10-hour bus trips city to city each night and still playing their hearts out while you moan about rolling out of your comfy bed to go to the office.

With 30 plus years of experience, there’s no doubt that the band could be on autopilot and still deliver a good show. But Exodus still attacked the stage like it was trying to incite a riot. Souza is in his 50s and is as charismatic as ever. He owns the stage. Souza was demanding of the fans, singling out anyone that didn’t have his or her hands up. A quick twirl of his fingers during “Body Harvest” and a whirlpool of a circle pit sprang to life. He head banged and played air guitar to his own songs. He still feels it.

Exodus

The acoustics were uncharacteristically muddy for the Tabernacle. The low end came across reedy and the vocals are all but lost in the reverb. It’s unfortunate, but the band was able to power through and keep the energy high. Exodus aimed to please with its set, digging deep with Hammett-era cuts like “Impaler” and closing out with older favorites like “Fabulous Disaster” and “Strike of the Beast” rather than forcing too many newer tracks into the mix.

“East to west, east to west. You know how to do it, Atlanta,” said Souza, calling another mosh into being for the finale. Everyone standing safely along the edges of the pit immediately threw up their phones and pointed them into the eye of the storm. It was an energetic, if short set. Exodus packed it in after just under an hour, but the audience wouldn’t have care if they went on for another hour.

It was time to assemble the King Diamond set. Scaffolding on wheels made to resemble a small-scale foyer of a mansion was uncovered and assembled. The amount of production value squeezed out of the set was impressive. Slotted sleeves were placed over the railings to invoke gothic bannisters; electric candles, Styrofoam ravens and latex gargoyles adorned every corner of the stage. Water bottles were not stowed in the corner by the drum set, instead water was poured into plastic wine glasses and set on a serving tray. It felt like Vincent Price might materialize from the smoke machine induce fog at any minute.

This is billed as the “Abigail” tour, with the eponymous album played lived in its entirety. However, “Abigail” clocks in at a mere 40 minutes, so as not to short change his fans, King Diamond front-loaded his set with about 50 minutes of greatest hits. Opening with “Welcome Home” (complete with grandma in her wheel chair), Diamond hit all of the highlights like “Halloween,” “Eye of the Witch” and even dipped into the Mercyful Fate catalogue.

King Diamond has always been as much theater as concert with his performances and once the “Abigail” portion of the show rolled around, Diamond’s cloaked henchmen rolled out a white child’s coffin from which Diamond produced an evil baby doll he proceeded to stab through the head with a big shiny knife. The band played seamlessly through the album as Diamond and a creepy consort acted out Abigail’s tale of infidelity, spousal abuse, possession, rebirth and infanticide.

Whether it was different sound guy or the sheer power of King Diamond’s falsetto, the headliner didn’t fall prey to the same audio problems the befell Exodus. But the sound issues did little to dampen the evening. Getting to see two metal legends on the same bill is a rare treat and both bands brought their A-game. For all the old school metal fans, this is a must see show.

Photo Gallery: Exodus at The Tabernacle in Atlanta 11/16/15

Disclosure at the Tabernacle in Atlanta on Oct. 5

Review and Photos by Danielle Boise

There is nothing better than walking into a venue filled to the brim, or even just a distant few, to bring appreciate to the craft and seduction of live music. To see fans rejoice and become lost in the sway of music is pure bliss. And there was no place better to be on Monday, October 5 than the Tabernacle in the heart of downtown Atlanta to see Disclosure bring the Tabby to its knees.

Disclosure

Disclosure

A deafening roar of excitement over took the Tabernacle, as fans awaited, in anticipation for the brothers, Guy and Howard Lawrence, who make up the highly addictive Disclosure, to finally take the stage. Guy exclaimed with delight, “You are fucking awesome” to the frenzied crowd, as they rattled the former house of God to its core, while keeping time to the beat to songs like “White Noise,” “F for You,” and “Superego,” along with other tracks off of Disclosure’s latest release, Caracal.

Disclosure

Disclosure

What was so fantastic about Disclosure is they really elevated dance music to a whole new level by bringing electronica, synth beats interlaced with tracked and live vocals, blended perfectly with both percussion and guitar inside their space-aged display. It was utterly transfixing to watch them perform live.

Disclosure

Disclosure

Disclosure’s Set List

“White Noise,” “F for You,” “Superego,” “Jaded,” “Magnets,” “You & Me,” “Echoes,” “Nocturnal,” “Willing & Able,” “Band That,” “When a Fire Starts to Burn,” “Hourglass,” “Holding On,” “Moving Mountains,” “Omen,” “Latch”

Full Photo Gallery of Disclosure

Full Photo Gallery of Claude VonStroke

Billy Idol rocked the Cradle of Love at Tabernacle May 26

Photos by Danielle Boise

Photos from Billy Idol‘s sold out Kings & Queens of the Underground Tour at the Tabernacle in Atlanta on Tuesday, May 26. Idol’s 15 song set included “Postcards from the Past,” “Cradle of Love,” “Can’t Break Me Down,” “Dancing with Myself,” “Flesh for Fantasy,” “Save Me Now,” Ready Steady Go,” “Sweet Sixteen,” “Eyes Without a Face,” “L.A. Woman (The Doors cover),” “Whiskey and Pills,” “Blue Highway,” “Rebel Yell” “White Wedding” and “Mony Mony.”

Full Photo Gallery of Billy Idol