marquee, music, Dire Straits, Wiltern, Wiltern Theater, Dire Straits Legacy, Wilshire Blvd, Western Ave, concert,

Dire Straits Legacy at the Wiltern

marquee, music, Dire Straits, Wiltern, Wiltern Theater, Dire Straits Legacy, Wilshire Blvd, Western Ave, concert,

On a pleasant Southern California Tuesday afternoon I was on the bus going home after physical therapy when I checked my emails and saw I had one from the Wiltern Theater. Seems they remembered I saw a Mark Knopfler concert there and figured I might like to see Dire Straits Legacy the following night, a band made up mostly of guys from the original group but with a different lead, as Mark was into his solo career and didn’t want to do the old stuff anymore. The real surprise was they were offering me a free ticket, which as I found out from talking after the show was not unusual. More on that later, though.
Of course I had nothing else to do on a Wednesday night—who does, right? Shut up—and the Wiltern is the easiest theater to get to, being across the street from a subway stop, so why not?
And indeed the next night, after the customary stop for a bean and cheese burrito at Juanita’s, followed by Miss Kitty’s soft serve, I made my way into the theater, early as always. I was surprised to find they sold Powerade at the venue, though not shocked that it was five bucks for a tiny bottle. Remembering what had happened with the exploding Sprite bottle at the Lindsey Stirling show, I took it with only a small grumble at the ridiculous price.
A bigger grumble came from my seat, which was a high chair, the kind you get in the bar section of a restaurant, that makes you feel like a little kid. Hoping my back wouldn’t hurt after, or during, I swallowed it up by remembering I got in here free.
Okay, time to take in the stage. On the left side I saw two keyboard stations, one behind the other on a platform, then what looked to be a holding pen for brass, mostly saxes. The drums of course were middle back, and there was a percussion setup on the right side of the rear. The middle and right front had guitar stands. The only thing that really stood out was the chimes in the percussion kit, with congas in the center. And it didn’t look like there was a screen at the rear, so there wouldn’t be any videos to distract me.
Rather than 8PM, the flickering of lights didn’t happen till about 8:20. But finally it was music time.

1. Private Investigations
Can’t believe it took me so long to suss out which song this was, as it’s one of my faves. On the other hand, I’m not sure how faithful that intro was to the original. Anyhoo, one of the finest examples of music noir, played flawlessly.
2. Walk of Life
Boy, that’s a loud mix, and this is the song to show it. You may not recognize the name, but I’m sure you’ve heard this, as it’s one of the most upbeat songs ever. Recently heard it on a commercial for some pill. Not one of my faves, but no surprise to hear it here.
3. Set Me Up?
Not sure I got the title right, but it doesn’t matter because this one wasn’t familiar at all. (Research shows a song called Setting Me Up from the first album, but if you came to read this you probably already know that.)
4. Down to the Waterline
At least I know this one, even if it’s not one of my faves. This shows perfectly that, like Rush, Dire Straits songs were meant to be played live more than as a studio offering.
5. Tunnel of Love
In five songs, the guy taking Mark’s place has made guitar changes between each one.
This is one of my faves, but the intro was weird—before the waltz started—and the outro was lacking. Hyped myself up too much waiting for the piano roll. . . but with all that, still amazing to hear it live. Back in college I took a screenwriting class, and one assignment was to make a music video script, and this is the song I chose. I still have all the visuals in my head, and they played like a movie as I watched the guys on stage. . .
6. Romeo + Juliet
As always, I’m proud of myself for nailing the two finger snaps. The soprano sax outro was new. This was one of the few oldies Mark played at his concert, but that was so long ago—even if it was in the same venue—I can’t remember enough to compare. Let’s just say it’s as heartbreaking as always.
7. Sultans of Swing
The original, the one that put Dire Straits on the map. This front guy is trying very hard to be Mark, but he just wasn’t there on this one. But what he lacks in guitar chops—he’s still excellent, but can’t touch the master—he makes up in stage presence, as Mark isn’t the most demonstrative on stage. All to say that this was pretty enjoyable to watch and hear, especially the soft piano outro into the full blast finish.
8. Your Favorite Trick
Knew it as soon as the sax came out, but the conga intro fooled me. As soulful as Dire Straits ever got, and one of their most underrated songs. I even used the line about the garbage trucks in a short story years ago.
9. Jesus Trick?
The guys are apparently debuting their own song. Ideal time for a restroom break.
10. Another original
Back for this, but all I can think of is how these chairs are killing, not my back, but my knees.
11. The Bug
It still amuses me that people think this song has always been country. Nope, I enjoy saying, it’s a Dire Straits original. Not one I listen to, though. (Guess that makes me the windshield. . . never mind.)
12. On Every Street
This is the heaviest slow song ever. Like the previous, it’s from the one album Dire Straits made after their massive Brothers in Arms, which couldn’t help but be a letdown both commercially and musically, but I suppose this is one of the best cuts from it. In this particular iteration there was an awesome soprano sax outro, the entire band going faster and faster until there was nowhere left to go and mercifully ended.
13. Telegraph Road
Always wanted to hear all fourteen minutes of this live, and it did not disappoint. If I had to name one highlight, this is it.
14. Brothers in Arms
Name that tune in one note. I love this song, and it’s a natural closer, though the frontman didn’t come close to matching the soul in Mark’s voice. The brass guy was impressive, playing four instruments: alto sax, tenor sax, soprano sax, and flute.

Encores
15. Money for Nothing
They leave for a while, then come back acting like our cheers had convinced them. As always I’m amused by people in the crowd who leave at this point, not knowing better. As far as this iconic song goes, no one attempted to be Sting, but then the famous hook is enough.
16. Owner of a Lonely Heart
The bass player, who’s apparently famous, wrote this song that did sound somewhat familiar. He’s singing it, starting by saying they were courting disaster by doing this live. And of course they screw up right away. I found it amusing to see a drumstick used on a tambourine.
17. So Far Away
A thoroughly underrated song, glad they played it, though I would have thought such a slow piece would go in the middle.
18. Portobello Belle
They couldn’t leave without paying tribute to that Irish lass with the poisonous name. Of all the songs I sung along to, I sung this one the loudest.

Yes, eighteen songs—four of them as encore—in two and a half hours, no intermission. Once it was well and truly done I fullbacked my way through the exiting crowd—I was one of the youngest, though that’s not saying much—got out on the street, crossed it, took the photo you see above, and dropped into the subway. While waiting for it to take off I spoke to an older couple and found out they’d also received free tickets. Huh.
So yeah, that was fun. I know I didn’t convey how much enjoyment I had, but I’d definitely do it again. . .

;o)

Lindsey Stirling Evanescence Concert, part 1

As I’m on the bus heading for downtown Los Angeles, I realize how different I feel this time as opposed to my first Lindsey Stirling concert, when I was basically a nervous wreck knowing I was going to meet her, even though I’d only known about her for approximately six months. Now, a full two years after that, my fifth time seeing her live, and having spoken to her in a more casual setting a few months ago, I figured things would be far different. . . or at least I hoped. I wasn’t sure at all.
First stop: Juanita’s of Olvera Street for a giant bean and cheese burrito, fueling up for a long day and night. Also, I knew I wouldn’t get hungry till late, and I was right; I didn’t eat again till I got home at two in the morning. . . and that was cereal. The owner’s son is a Lindsey fan, but he wasn’t there, so I couldn’t boast about my second row seats (not that I would have). From there it was a quick stop at Kitty’s for the usual post-burrito vanilla soft serve before heading back to Union Station and the subway ride to East Hollywood.
Second stop: Vermont/Sunset, waiting for the DASH observatory bus to take me to the venue, along with a bunch of people who worked there at the Greek Theater, tonight’s venue. Amazing they had to be there a good five hours before the show! Other people were going to that beautiful lump of white up on the horizon. . .


Thanks to concise instructions in the email, I knew exactly where to go for the VIP Meet ‘n’ Greet tent. Had to take a photo, because the background of brown hills and shady trees made the setting look like anything but Los Angeles.

After a wait, then a security search, we were allowed into the tent, where people lined up for free food and drink—which was mostly bags of popcorn and lemonade, so typical Lindsey—and getting their faces painted. (I saw a video where the Evanescence Meet ‘n’ Greet featured champagne, so I definitely made the right choice, despite not getting to meet Jen the guitarist.) Having been through such events before, I grabbed a seat at a table near the stage first, which might have been the best move I made all day. Besides, I’d just eaten a giant bean and cheese burrito, so it’s not like I was hungry. On the other hand, free popcorn. . .
At a couple of tables there were giant versions of Connect 4 and Jenga, which nobody was playing, probably a good thing, as I dropped a circle in the Connect 4 later and it was LOUD! Instead there was really small talk as we waited to get in line to get our photos take with the diva of the hour. When that finally occurred, we were herded back outside for a small security speech: no lifting, no heavy squeezing, don’t even take your cell phones out. That was disappointing, as I’d wanted to do a Dancing With the Stars pose with her, but couldn’t show the photo to her. It probably wouldn’t have mattered, though, as there was no cell service in this canyon of Griffith Park! WHAT?
I jumped out of line to say Hi to Kit and show him some photos I’d taken of him at his show a few months before—more on that later. Also there was Andy, who’s the lighting guy on tour. Managed to talk to him about some lighting stuff I’d seen at a few Rush concerts, which was fun for a while until I could see he was getting bored. Yeah, I frequently overstay my welcome, but then we guys don’t understand hints, right, ladies?
So remember how at the start I said this time was going to be different? It wasn’t. I don’t remember what I said to Lindsey; I don’t even remember if there was a hug. If they hadn’t sent me a link to the photo I probably would have forgotten that happened too. It was different in that it was much shorter, as in hello photo next. Part of it was due to her having signed the posters beforehand, but there was no time for conversation here, which would have been a bummer had I been able to remember what I’d hypothetically said.


Like my shirt?
Then it was back into the tent for a wheel of fortune-type game and a two-song concert; I can’t even remember which order they took place in. A couple of people won selfies, but mostly it was ask Lindsey questions. Since I was seated so close to the stage I tried to get a photo of Lindsey, but I’m a professional photographer, not a cellphone one. Oddly enough, I got a decent shot of Kit, whom at this pace I’ll be shooting a lot more times than Lindsey. (See previous blog of Moonlit Kit concert photos.)

Lindsey, Kit, and Andy the Lighting Guy on cajon played “Something Wild” and the mashup of “Roundtable Rival/Don’t Let This Feeling Fade.” I very much want a full instrumental version of the latter song, which I am simply putting here on the one in a billion chance Lindsey reads this.

Once that was done and Lindsey paid off the selfies, the party broke up and we were invited to stick around or go into the venue. I did a little of both, talking to a few people, especially the guy I was supposed to go to the Holocaust museum with last week, but who was so late I had to leave for another appointment. He had a huge brag book of his photos, and luckily he grew a bigger audience, allowing me to slip away.
In the tent were some posters from Lindsey’s past shows, including an image I love: Steve-o carrying her around on his shoulder during Master of Tides. Since he’s playing a pirate here, and she’s on his shoulder. . . doesn’t that make her the parrot?

After a while I got bored and went into the venue, where I would be bored even more, but that’s for next time. . .

;o)

Concert Photography: Drew Steen Moonlit Kit

Goodness, two months have flown by since that infamous Cinco de Mayo concert at Molly Malone’s. Here’s the first batch of shots from the dark loud place.
(Disclaimer: due to my elbow injury, I wasn’t supposed to be shooting. I used an elbow brace, but it made my hand more shaky, so. . . you won’t get to see the ones that didn’t make it.)

;o)

Lindsey Stirling LIVE!

Wow.
No way to put into words how amazing and majestic the Lindsey Stirling concert was, even a week later. Magical might touch on it just for starters, and I’m not referring to her being sawed in half and suddenly appearing in an empty box, though she did that too.
So, we’ll see if my vaunted memory is up to the task of going song by song. . . probably not, considering the Meet and Greet is all a giant blur. And with the events of that week, it was a most welcome escape from reality, even for only a few hours.
And if you wonder why there’s no photos or videos here, you can pick any of these three reasons (though you should probably lean toward the last): A. I simply wanted to enjoy every moment. B. My phone’s camera is crappy. C. We were told before the show started, to the point of signing a release form—and it was pretty obvious during—that the concert was being filmed for DVD release.

Meet and Greet
Due to my back going out that morning, as it usually does once or twice a year—I really shoulda stayed in bed, but couldn’t miss this—I sat down at one of the few tables while everyone else lined up, so I would be last, which was fine with me. Kit didn’t look tired as he took the book I’d brought to be autographed as well as my cane, and thankfully Lindsey still looked fresh as an electric daisy violin as she asked me my name and gave me an unsolicited hug; the only reason I know this is because Other Lindsey took a photo of it, I swear I don’t remember. I asked if we could get into a tango pose, but never got to do it fully—check photo header of this blog—before she signed the book and a poster. She asked me if I was a dancer, no doubt due to the tango pose, which was really the last thing I wanted to talk to her about. Frankly, the whole thing seems like a blur now; I’m surprised I remember that much.

Soundcheck: Mirror Haus
After a lot of questions answered yet leaving many not—due to time constraints—this song is played in a Spaghetti western version, as she calls it, the main difference being Kit playing an acoustic guitar rather than keys.

Opening Act: The Federal Empire
Two guitars and a keyboard make up this band. These guys are much better live than when I checked out their music on the internet. Just sayin’.

1 The Phoenix
I was already spoilered to the big reveal, so I don’t mind telling you I knew that wasn’t Lindsey playing at the beginning of the song, at the top of the six-foot-tall center-stage pedestal that looks freakin’ dangerous. Instead she would come out of the back of the auditorium; the only question was on which side would she mount the stage. . . and even that wasn’t as much of a mystery, since I’d seen a roadie place some portable steps pretty much in front of me. So yes, I was looking around waiting to see her pop by while everyone else’s eyes were fastened on the stage. Saw some security people first, and then the spotlight hit her, maybe twenty feet away from me; not all the close considering she’d given me a hug a couple of hours earlier, but much cooler as this time she was playing the violin. A little later she actually apologized to the women she’d scared while coming toward the stage.
Once on stage all the dancers joined her with violins in front of the bottom screens, creating silhouettes as if to continue disguising which one was the star, but since she’s always in the middle it wasn’t that hard to figure out. But the most fun was watching Drew crashing the cymbals like they’d vastly insulted him, as well as her enjoyment of pizzicato. . .

2 Electric Daisy Violin
One of the few of my old faves that she did, though this one’s all about the music; she uses the same choreography she did in the music video, which is pretty rudimentary. I just love how joyful this song is, and her beatific smile playing it.

3 Prism
With the release of the music video for this song, cleverly named “The Violindseys,” just a week or so before, there were no surprises in the choreography, and in fact the video ran behind them as they danced/played; it even started with her booty shake. And this is when I first noticed Savannah was my fave dancer, as I ended up watching her as much as Lindsey. Somehow the music seemed to flow more smoothly than the studio version, and even though I liked this one before, it feels even catchier now.

4 Shatter Me
The first costume change—or maybe she just threw the pink tutu on over the shorts and suspenders ensemble—leads into Lindsey singing for only the second time, doing a soft harmonizing version of the chorus before it breaks into its usual hard rockness. The 3-D gearworks on the screens. . . obviously they fit the song, but felt they went on too long. The landscapes didn’t help either; it wasn’t till the globe shattered that it really worked. Really nothing here that makes it better than the previous version.

5 Lost Girls
Though it’s billed as a sequel to “Shatter Me,” what happens to the ballerina after she escapes the snow globe, it doesn’t really come through here. Instead we get one of the dancers—Malece, in this case—being bullied by the others as she tries to join their choreo. There’s a lot of floating lights as the innovative front screen is used for the first time. If I’m remembering correctly, a dark figure—played by Ashley—gives her super dance powers or something, and then she’s accepted. . . but then I really wasn’t there for the story, so whatever. As with everything, it’s really the music that matters.

6 Elements
Lindsey has a lot of fun in this one, with giant bubbles coming down on the front screen; she either jumps into them or kicks them out of existence. Lots of interpretive dance to fire and rain. I’ve only seen this on video before, but it looks like it’s the same as before.

Interlude Video: Everything Goes Wrong
In the great tradition of her “Diva” and “Wet” videos, here’s another brief comedy where Erich the stage manager lets her know that among other mishaps, Luna peed in the shoes she’s presently wearing. When Kit drops pickle juice on her tutu it’s the last straw, and even when she thinks she has everything back in control she has to steal a little girl’s tiny violin in order to make it to the next song.

7 Tiny Violin Medley
“Gimme an A,” she asks Kit, who dutifully plays it on his toy piano as they sit cross-legged at the front of the stage. It takes a while for the tiny violin we saw in the video to be tuned to the point where she can play the first song she’d ever learned, the same song everyone learns no matter the instrument; even I’ve played it on the harp at a festival. Kit joins her on “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” while Drew does the Rock Out finger gesture. From there they go into a medley of vaguely familiar songs that are either from video games or movies, all done for the cute, and it works.

8 Something Wild
Like the first few times I heard “Shatter Me” without the lyrics, this takes a bit of getting used to without Andrew McMahon telling you to follow your heart. It’s also different with Kit playing acoustic guitar rather than keys, making it sound completely folksy. By now I’m thoroughly used to Drew’s cajon, though. Lindsey actually does more dancing here than on the video.

9 Gavi’s Song
After a touching ramble for those who don’t know about Gavi, she launches into a lovely rendition of this amazing dirge. The abstract visuals help a little, but it’s the music that matters here. #WeAreGavi

10 Those Days
The second part of the Gavi tribute features clips of them together, and completely overwhelm this simple but catchy tune. All good, though. My fave piece is included, where Gavi holds out the side of his hand and Lindsey uses a finger to bow across it, a violinist’s version of a fist bump that leaves her laughing. Another highlight comes from a documentary where she’s overwhelmed by the pressure and Gavi comforts her. Then the dancers join her in flowing white dresses in a more classical dance than the modern versions done so far. These two pieces were so lovely, a welcome break from the big show.

11 Crystallize
Like “Tom Sawyer” at a Rush concert, Lindsey always plays her breakthrough hit, with the ice castle on the screens. Can’t say for sure if it’s the same choreography, but likely. Sadly she didn’t do her signature limbo-winning backbend, where her ponytail touches the floor; maybe it’s gotten old for her.

12 Hold My Heart
For most of the audience I would bet this was the highlight, regardless of what their favorite song is. It starts with the dancers, in beautiful costumes, putting on a small vaudeville/Keystone cops skit while Lindsey does a costume change. Never figured out which song that was playing on the old-timey piano, but after having some fun with magic wands—Malece goes crazy and then gets the only non-floating stick—they go into the audience for a can-can, bringing up a guy to dance with them. When he sits down Addie offers him flowers, which she of course pulls away at the last moment. After doing that twice, she’s the one who’s surprised when on the third try it’s Savannah who steals the fake bouquet and runs back on stage. This is the most playful they get, so I enjoyed the hell out of it.
Okay, by now Lindsey’s ready in her circus ringmaster outfit, though the tails are much longer than her shorts. . . probably for a reason, as we’ll find out soon. While we’re gawking at the surprise appearance of ZZ Ward to sing the song live, Lindsey and her dancers are preparing for the first trick, which has the petite and bendy violinist being cut in half. Good thing they matched shoes, because it was really convincing, at least to someone who doesn’t know how the trick is done. Even better, a few minutes later, rather than disappearing, Lindsey appears in a previously empty-except-for-violin box, which is a tougher trick to do; she makes it look easy, and the music never falters.

The Luna Show
Luna Latte sits and stays like a champ, but truly shines when she walks and spins. According to Lindsey, the best she’s done all tour; she’s having a proud momma moment. Extra bacon for the puppy on me!
(Okay, if you’ve read this far and don’t know Luna is Lindsey’s dog. . .)

13 The Arena
My favorite song from the new album is next, with full-blown Teddy Roosevelt quote to kick things off. The front screen is again employed, with a lot of images formed from what looks like sand, as Lindsey plays on the pedestal; I don’t know if that’s a callback to the video or if she knows arena is Spanish for sand. At one point she kicks out and the sand-man giving her lip dissolves. Large words appear, much like in Transcendence in a previous concert. It closes with the final, most important part of the quote, and Lindsey runs off for another costume change as Kit plays us out on a soft almost-romantic keyboard version of the theme.

14 Mirage
Lindsey appears on the pedestal in semi-sari, joined by the dancers wearing more Arabian Nights garb for definitely Indian-inspired dancing. Mandala-themed images play on the screens; even without the music, there’s no doubt what inspired this song. A contraption known as an invisible chair is now on the pedestal to make Lindsey look like she’s floating; the falling skirt hides it well. The dancers bring out giant red feathers to envelop the star at the end.

15 Stars Align
After a short “You guys have been amazing!” she runs to the top of the pedestal with the customary starry scenes behind her as she plays her usual closer, not forgetting the Britney Spears-like dancing interludes. Malece does her weird flips that always look like she got it wrong and fell on her ass, followed by the fun footwork that makes this song so good despite how silly the music video was.

Encore: Roundtable Rival/Don’t Let This Feeling Fade medley
Some people still don’t know you don’t leave the concert after the “last” song. When the lights come back up Kit is making an electric guitar scream before starting the familiar riff, quickly joined by Lindsey to jam on the pedestal for a few seconds, leading into what has to be her most recognizable song. A leap from four stairs up signals the start of the Wild West danceoff, with scenes from Westerns playing behind them.
As the music turns to the next piece—I hate that song—the dancers go behind quickly brought-out screens to take off their western duds, leaving them clad in neon sports bras. Lindsey’s clothes also show off plenty of neon as the dreaded rap goes over and over. It gets a little surreal as the dancers do some tap steps around Lindsey’s playing, until she comes down to join them with one more snippet of the Roundtable Rival chorus.

The feeling might not fade, but the music does. After dancer intros the entire crew comes out to bow, including a Drew split and a crewmember backflip. Drew tosses a drumstick to Kit so they can each throw one into the audience, and we’re done. . .
From what I’d seen online, I’d been afraid the visuals would be too much, the music too loud, the lights too bright; too impersonal. That we wouldn’t get the same girl-next-door best-friend Lindsey that we all know and love. Thankfully it wasn’t like that at all, once again proving that a live show is way better than a video.
Doesn’t mean I’m not going to buy the DVD when it comes out. . .
;o)

Latest Coffee Gallery photos

From last Wednesday. Bunch of new people, only a few I’d seen before. As in the past, Julia Marshall’s “Sublime” was the best song of the night.

Danny Barnes

Danny Barnes

Pat Bryant

Pat Bryant

Donna

Donna

Paul Rasmusson's brother

Paul Rasmusson’s brother

Paul Rasmusson

Paul Rasmusson

Paul Rasmusson's bass player

Paul Rasmusson’s bass player

Bill Cagle

Bill Cagle

Samantha Elin

Samantha Elin

Julia Marshall

Julia Marshall

Rob Lovejoy

Rob Lovejoy

Kati Caliber

Kati Caliber

Melissa Thatcher

Melissa Thatcher

Margot Lane

Margot Lane

Avi Kay

Avi Kay

Kathy Sanders

Kathy Sanders

Marina

Marina

Paul McCarty

Paul McCarty

Main Main Jimi Yamagishi

Main Main Jimi Yamagishi

 

‘o)

It’s a RUSH Soundtrack Day

Luckily there’s so many Rush songs I like that I can go a long time without repeating, but right now there’s four that I’m listening to as I finally relax a little.
Since I already posted “The Garden” earlier this year, here’s “Bravado,” “Halo Effect,” and “The Pass.”

;o)