concert review

Imogen Heap @ The Mountain Winery, Saratoga

The last time we saw Imogen Heap perform was at the Warfield. She was ill during that show, battling a cold. But the effects of the cold didn't hamper her performance. She sounded great that evening. During this Friday's concert at the Mountain Winery, Imogen didn't need to battle being ill, but rather she fought the cold windy night. She was able to deliver another solid performance.

We haven't been to a concert at the Mountain Winery since the remodel. Prior to the remodel, we saw two concerts and a attended a wedding there. It's a great venue with beatuiful views. The drive up can be harrowing for some, as the roads and can get narrow and windy. The remodel helps to define the concert area, which if I recall, was previously one-level plus a bleacher or two. Now the venue has tiered seating which provides a great view of the stage from almost any seat. Parking is the standard steep price of $20.

We caught the last few songs by one of the opening acts, Geese. Interesting act, but not our cup of tea. They would later support Imogen during her performance.

Imogen came out swinging this tube-like object for the song "The Walk".

The setlist included (not in order):

  • The Walk
  • First Train Home
  • Little Bird
  • A-HA!
  • Breathe In
  • Earth
  • Bad Body Double
  • Speeding Cars
  • Let Go
  • Goodnight and Go
  • Hide and Seek

Imogen did something interesting with one of her songs, Earth. She has a contest in which the winner would come on stage to perform the song with her. The winner for Saratoga is shown below in this YouTube clip:

Paolo Nutini at the Fox Theater in Oakland

This past weekend, we attended our first concert at the Fox Theater in Oakland. The theater opened earlier this year. It’s located down the street from The Paramount, a theater we have been to often. There is no dedicated parking for the theater, but there are several parking lots listed on their website. We easily parked in a lot just down the street.

We passed by The Den at the Fox, a lounge connected to the theater. They offer drinks and some food, but we didn’t have time to look into there. When we entered the theater, an usher promptly greeted us. Our tickets were for loge seating. But the usher told us we could also access the standing general admissions area on the floor. If we had a Visa Signature card, we could be seated in the limited seating area on the first floor. We opted to take our seats in the lodge. The loge seating is interesting. The seats are grouped in pairs, with ample space between the next coupled seats. We were in the first row of the loge, our view partial blocked by the railing, but still a decent view of the performers. The layout of the Fox is very similar to the Warfield in San Francisco, but the Fox is quite larger.

We were seated during the middle of the opening act, Anya Marina. She was roaring through her set, rocking with her electric guitar. She was very crowd friendly, talking and interacting often with the crowd between songs. At one point she asked if the crowd was an “all ages” crowd, because she wanted to explain the origin of a song she wrote. The true meaning of the song could only be described with profanity, which she chose not to utter. Later in her performance, she noticed a Brazilian flag in the standing audience. She asked the pair of Brazillan girls who were holding the flag if it’s true they like anal sex - meaning if Brazillan girls do. (I guess she never got the answer to the “all ages” question.) One of the most interesting songs she did was a cover of T.I.’s “You Can Have Whatever You Like”.

Paolo Nutuni came out next. His set was a good mixture of songs from his first album, These Streets, and his latest album, Sunny Side Up. We were very familiar with songs from These Streets, and were happy to hear them live. We haven’t listened to his latest album, so they rang as new to our ears and were more difficult to get into. But Paolo performs with such enthusiasm and passion. It would be difficult not to enjoy his performance.

The big letdown at the Fox was the sound. I don’t have golden ears, and rarely notice bad sound at a concert, but from where we were sitting the vocals sounded muddled for both performers. At times it was difficult to make out any lyrics at all, let alone the blend of instruments. I’m not sure if the sound sitting the center loge or on the floor would be better. I’ll need to go to another concert to find that out.

Overall it was a good first time experience at the Fox. It looks as if there are several performances coming up that we’d be interested in attending.

Morcheeba @ The Fillmore 4.11.2008

I'm a bit late with my review of the Morcheeba concert Farrah and I went to last week.  The taxman could not wait, taking up all my spare time until today.

I knew of Morcheeba, owning a couple of albums, but to be honest I hadn't really been into them.  I prefer Massive Attack's music. Morcheeba has always taken a backseat on my playlists.  They are touring to support their latest album, Dive Deep.  I downloaded the album via Amazon and enjoyed it's laid back groove.  It's no Big Calm, but it's worth a spin.  So when I heard they were touring, I asked Farrah if she wanted to go.  We haven't been to a concert for awhile so why not?

It was difficult to get into the opening act, who's name escapes me now.  It just wasn't my cup of tea. It probably didn't help that we were a bit tired and they sang in Spanish(?).  About a half hour after the end of their set, Morcheeba took the stage.

Morcheeba @ Fillmore

[Photo by Julien Genestoux]

I wasn't sure what to expect.  All I knew was that they've had revolving lead singers since Skye Edwards was asked to leave.  The lead singer that night was Manda from Nemesea, who flew in from France.  Cool, huh?

Manda sang the new songs and the hits.  Songs I remember from that night, that I enjoyed Part of the Process, The Sea, Over and Over, Tigger Hippie, Rome Wasn't Built In a Day, and the new single Enjoy the Ride.  I clearly enjoyed a lot of songs for not being a big Morcheeba fan.  This just goes to show you how good the performance was.

Friday night concerts are difficult at times.  You come home from work, you really want to enjoy the weekend starting that night, but an hour drive up to the City, plus waiting time for the band you want to hear, well, it's just plain tough on the body.  I chalk it up to not being as young as I used to be. But I must say, Morcheeba lived up to what I thought the concert would be.  They put on a very solid performace at the always enjoyable Fillmore in San Francisco.

Tori Amos - The Paramount Theater in Oakland, CA

This review is about a week late, but it has taken me a bit of time to digest the Tori Amos concert Farrah and I saw last Friday. Tori is touring in support of her latest album, American Doll Posse. I wasn't a huge fan of the new album, but after watching Tori's performance, it makes me want to play the album everyday. I guess that's what good concerts do to you.

The Venue

I like going to The Paramount Theater in Oakland. The theater looks great and the sound has always been well produce in the handful of shows I've been to there. Parking is very convenient, located directly across the street. The staff is nice and helpful, showing each attendee to their seat.

The Performance

Tori Amos photo by ericskiff on Flickr
Photo by ericskiff as posted on Flickr.

In Tori's latest album, she sings her songs through various personas. I believe she performed first as Santa, then for the second half as Tori. Yes, I guess Tori is one of Tori's personas. Her set list included:

  • Body and Soul
  • She's Your Cocaine
  • Hoochie Woman
  • Secret Spell
  • You Can Bring Your Dog
  • Raspberry Swirl
  • Big Wheel
  • Crucify
  • Sugar
  • Cornflake Girl
  • Bells For Her
  • Caught a Lite Sneeze
  • Winter
  • Cooling
  • Virginia
  • Hotel
  • Code Red
  • Precious Things
  • Bouncing Off Clouds
  • Hey Jupiter

We enjoyed the concert overall. I especially enjoyed Caught a Lite Sneeze, even though I saw her perform this song before. I believe Farrah enjoyed her new song, Bouncing Off Clouds

When we entered The Paramount there were several signs noting that the show was being taped. Farrah and I have only been to one previous show that was being filmed, Jack Johnson at the Greek Theater. [sample video] The Greak Theater is a big venue, so filming wasn't obtrusive. Unfortunately, where we sat in The Paramount a boom crossed our viewing path often. This made parts of the performace frustrating to watch, breaking up the rhythm of the show for us.

End Result

Overall it was a good performance. I think it was the first time I've seen Tori do costume changes. This added a different element to the performace.

Set list information obtain from [here] and [here].

Big Fish in a Small Pond - Summer Concerts

This is going to be a long post. Forgive me, I've been a bit behind on posting this and decided to just lump these all together.

Is a bigger venue better when it comes to a concert? I prefer the small places around here, like the Warfield or the Filmore.

This summer we have managed to see four big concerts: John Mayer, Diana Krall, The Police and The Smashing Pumpkins. Two played in arena settings and the other two in smaller clubs.

Guess which performances I enjoyed the most?

The Smashing Pumpkins @ The Filmore 07.16.2007

BossaNova and I caught the second Smashing Pumpkins shows at the Filmore. He was kind enough to get tickets when Farrah and I were in England. Actually, BossaNova is responsible for my best concert experience: The Smashing Pumpkins at The Warfield in support of the Siamese Dream album. BossaNova sums up the concert experience very well on his blog entry.

Here is the set list from that night courtesy of

Main Set :

  • The Leaving Lament
  • Mama
  • Promise Me
  • With Every Light
  • Blue Skies Bring Tears
  • Tonight Tonight
  • Tarantula
  • Cherub Rock
  • Shame
  • The Aeroplane Flies High
  • Hummer
  • Bullet with Butterfly Wings
  • United States
  • To Sheila
  • Death from Above
  • Thirty-Three
  • Rocket
  • Translucent
  • Starla
  • Doomsday Clock
  • 7 Shades of Black
  • Today

Encore 1 :

  • That's the Way (My Love Is)
  • Heavy Metal Machine

Encore 2 :

  • Zero
  • Gossamer

The Smashing Pumpkins came on a little after 10 pm, a last start for what I heard was a 3 hour gig! We only lasted through the main set which took us to about 12:15 am.

As BossaNova pointed out the show started slow. But when they started kicking into Tonight Tonight the show turned into something more. It was great to see Billy and Jimmy in action again. The new group seems to click especially when Billy went on his little time of reflection rants - which he did twice during the show.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

The Police @ The Oakland Coliseum 06.13.2007

I have seen Sting perform several times, but I never saw The Police perform - until now. Seats opened up one week before the show and Farrah and I were lucky to score some last minute tickets. The seats were fine - behind home plate slightly right of the stage.

In such a huge setting it is difficult to feel any energy from almost any band, and The Police were no exception. After the initial excitement of the opening songs, the show went into a slight lull, then rebounded back again to finish strong. Sting, Andy, and Stewart seemed to be clicking on mostly all cylinders, enjoying themselves and each others company on stage.

Here is the set list courtesy of The Police Tour 2007 blog

  • Message in a Bottle
  • Synchronicity II
  • Don'tt Stand So Close to Me
  • Voices in My Head / When the World Is Running Down
  • Spirits in the Material World
  • Driven to Tears
  • Walking on the Moon
  • Truth Hits Everybody
  • Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic
  • Wrapped Around Your Finger
  • The Bed's Too Big Without You
  • De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da
  • Invisible Sun
  • Walking in Your Footsteps
  • Can't Stand Losing You
  • Roxanne
  • King of Pain
  • So Lonely


  • Every Breath You Take

Second Encore:

  • Next to You

I'm happy I had the opportunity to see The Police, albeit almost 20 years after their prime.

Rating: ** (out of 5)

Diana Krall @ Yoshi's

I believe the first and last time we saw Diana Krall perform was in the outdoor Mountain Winery venue. She put on a great show under the night sky. So when I saw she was playing at a smaller venue, at Yoshi's in Oakland, I had to buy tickets.

She had not performed in a while since having her kids. The tickets were for her last set at Yoshi's. An excellent review of the night's events can be found here.

What I enjoy most about a Diana Krall show is that she knows how to interact with an audience. She is constantly aware of what is going on, especially in a small place like Yoshi's. She can be humorous, both while talking to the crowd and while performing. During "a talk with the crowd" people started shouting out song requests - one of which was Somewhere Over the Rainbow (Farrah and my song. No, I didn't shout this out.) She quickly responded, "I don't have the range for that song." Then during her solo in the following song she proceeded to play a few measures of, you guessed it, Somewhere Over the Rainbow.

Diana Krall at Yoshi's. What more can you ask.

Rating: **** (out of 5)

John Mayer @ The HP Pavilion 06.05.2007

I have never seen John Mayer perform live. I have often heard he puts on a good show, but I wasn't trying to set my expectations too high. I've seen a few shows at the HP Pavilion. Most have my experiences have been fair at best. The two U2 shows I recall seeing there were great experiences because of the seat location that offered both a great view and great sound. For John Mayer we were seated in section 128, which is on the right side of the stage, and good seats. Though the seats were not bad, they don't allow you to have the best audio experience.

We arrived at the Pavilion as Ben Folds was performing the opening set. His band's performance was erratically energetic, trying to keep the crowd interested. He tried to unsuccessfully to interact with the crowd through some stories and small talk. This seemed successful on a small level. He did score points with some songs, a cover of a Dr. Dre song and a cover of The Postal Service's Such Great Heights. Overall, an uneven performance for me.

After a half hour wait, John Mayer and his band hit the stage. The crowd rose to their feet as the band took the stage.

His set list, according to his web site, was:

  • Belief
  • No Such Thing
  • Good Love is On the Way
  • Gravity
  • Bigger Than My Body
  • Dreaming With A Broken Heart
  • Vultures
  • I Don't Need No Doctor
  • Wheel
  • Why Georgia
  • Waiting on the World to Change

-- encore --

  • Slow Dancing (acoustic)
  • 83 (acoustic)
  • Who Did You Think I Was (acoustic)
  • I'm Gonna Find Another You

John brought energy to the stage which encouraged the crowd to its feet, especially through his more familiar songs. But the energy was difficult to sustain throughout the show. He knew most people wanted to hear the hits and tried his best to please the crowd. At times he appeared to be goofing around with his band mates, then he would turn around to play a deep-from-the-soul guitar solo.

From the his between songs small talk he seemed to want to vent, often referring to dreams, anger and heartache. It seems he still might be recovering from his break-up with Jessica Simpson - Eck, did I just write her name on my blog? - and was channeling that energy into his performance.

Though he provided a good effort, the performance felt as if something was missing. I think the HP Pavilion is too big of a place for John Mayer (most of the 200 section was empty) - at least for now. An indoor place like the Warfield or even the outdoor Shoreline Amphitheater might be better suited for his talents.

Rating: ** (out of five)

Regina Spektor - The Warfield

Photo Title: reginaaa3 which was originally uploaded by beisenhood

You are my sweetest downfall
I loved you first, I loved you first
Beneath the stars came fallin' on our heads
But they're just old light, they're just old light
Your hair was long when we first met

The Warfield is always a nice place to see a show, and seeing Regina Spektor there was a treat. The diminutive Russian born redhead with a powerful voice started off with a capella number. (Sorry, I'm not too familiar with her song titles). I cribbed a list of her song set from here:

  • Fidelity
  • Better
  • On the Radio
  • Field Below
  • Apres Moi
  • Hotel Song
  • That Time
  • Summer in the City
  • Uh-merica
  • Music Box
  • Baby Jesus
  • Poor Little Rich Boy
  • The Flowers
  • Human of the Year
  • Us
  • Bobbin' for Apples
  • Prisoners
  • Ghost of Corporate Future
  • Real Love (John Lennon)

She was without a band, mostly performing on her piano. She did use a guitar for a couple of songs. On "Poor Little Rich Boy" she played the piano with her left hand while beating a drumstick on a wooden chair placed next to her, and stomping her left foot for emphasis, through the song. I wish I could remember which song that was.

She does have some quirky, funny lyrics (see lyrics for Baby Jesus). Couple this along with her powerful voice, and sometimes unusual phrasing, it makes for a wonderful experience. You can sometimes tell she is not fully comfortable with a crowd, but she does warm up as the show continues. She was comfortable enough to say the Warfield is in a "sketchy part of town". (Really? I guess she didn't travel to other parts of the City.)

Try to see Regina Spektor in a small venue if you can.

Imogen Heap @ The Warfield

farrah and I went to see Imogen Heap at the Warfield this past Sunday, December 3rd.  We hadn't been to a concert in quite sometime.  I think the last concert we saw was Esthero at the Filmore back in July.

We got a late start to the Warfield, not really having a desire to see the only listed opening act who, Kid Beyond.  I had never heard of him, but then again I have never heard of some of the opening acts I had seen at the Warfield before.  I never heard of Cheryl Crow when she opened for Crowded House.  I never heard of Jewel when she opened for Liz Phair.  And I never heard of Tricky when he opened for PJ Harvey.  I'm not saying Kid Beyond is in the same league as these opening acts, but he was very entertaining.

We caught the tail end of Levi Weaver's performance.  He had the crowd going on and made me interested in hearing how his studio work would be.

Kid Beyond in Toronto

Imogen Heap came briefly on stage to introduce Kid Beyond.  The dude beat boxes and so much more.  He did a little Nine Inch Nails, some Portishead, and some of his own stuff.  You can catch some clips, such as this, on YouTube.  All the performers used a machine that Imogen Heap called a parrot.  I'm not sure if that is the correct reference, but basically the performer records a vocal or sound that they layer upon until they have the affect they are trying to achieve. Anyway, it was a very good performance.

Imogen then came out twenty minutes later. She started by walking through the general admission crowd on the floor.  farrah and I were located in very good seats, first row lodge, so we could see her milling about there in the dark, singing the vocals to her first song.  I had never seen Imogen Heap perform, or never seen a video by her, so I was quite surprised to by her stage presence and performance.

She put on a strong performance considering she had a nasty cold she caught from Levi Weaver.  From her stage look and keyboard talent, all I could think of was that she may be the lost love child of Cyndi Lauper and Thomas Dolby. You can see photos of her on Flickr here.  I didn't realize she is the girl in the red coat you see on Flickr's home page from time to time.

She danced around stage with reckless abandon and played her keyboards and other instruments with (mostly) perfect precision. Her parrot failed her on one of her songs, but her cold never slowed her down.  She talks and responds to the crowd in her cute voice.  Very cool interaction.

Hopefully she'll come around again in a couple of years after working on her next album.

Jack Johnson @ The Greek Theater - UC Berkeley

Concert date: 08.20.2005

Matt CostaAnimal Liberation OrchestraGirl I Wanna Lay You Down

  • F-Stop Blues

  • Inaudible Melodies

  • Fluke

  • Sitting, Waiting, Wishing / Just What I Needed (The Cars)

  • Gone

Sitting, Waiting and WishingJeremyDaughterReleaseMoney Mark


Esthero @ The Filmore

Thursday was one of the times I was glad I checked my spam email.  I get the weekly email from [Ticketmaster] about concerts.  I guess I missed the one earlier about [Esthero] coming to town, and only found out on Thursday when she was playing on Friday?!?!?

I called Farrah to quickly confirm we had nothing plan, and was able to purchase some general admission tickets online.  Finally, we get to see Esthero after missing her so many years ago.

Esthero @ Chop Suey (Seattle), 07/02/05

Esthero in Seattle.  Photos taken by [OptimusCrimeDeux]

Esthero came out full of energy.  Her vocals were strong, her manner confident,  and her energy contagious.  She was chatty with the crowd, taking requests for a song here and there.  She was wearing a black strapless number that posed problems for her during the show (having to continually pull it up to hide the goods), but otherwise danced around like there was no tomorrow.  A great show.

Her set was a little under 90 minutes.  Some of the songs she sang (in no particular order) were:

  • Wikked Lil' Grrrls
  • Breath from Another (just an a cappella tease)
  • OG Bitch
  • Superheroes (a cappella - by request)
  • Gone
  • My Torture


  • Joey
  • Wish You Away
  • We Are in Need of a Musical Revolution

dido was rocking

farrah, madelyn and i went to see dido at the berkeley community theater. it's been about four years since the last time farrah and i saw her perform at the warfield (see the [concerts] page which is still under construction) dido was really trying to throw a different groove to her songs then what is on her albums. she put faster beats to some songs, danced a lot and gave the crowd energy to dance with her. she also talked to the crowd alot, explaining the inspiration for some songs and interacting with the crowds' hooting and hollering.

we had very good seats in row a, which amounts to about the fifth row. but i need to ask: when did it become ok to bum-rush the stage in a sit down show? there were people standing in the isle way right beside me. didn't they pay for a seat as well albeit farther back? that was the only annoying part of the concert.

tori @ sjcpa

the weekend, or more exactly my weekend, was good and bad. saw tori amos with farrah, lotte, and yen (and her tiger pants) on saturday. tori was good as usual. i liked a version of vincent (a don mclean song). sunday brought about a lazy day and trying to complete my taxes.

but on sunday my truck was hit again by road debris. my truck must be a debris magnet, as one of my friends said. it happened on 101 while driving to san jose. it hit in the exact opposite spot of the last accident. luckily no one was hurt and the damage was limited to the hood and not the grill.

Here is the set list from the tori amos concert, as reported on the

Saturday, April 12, 2003 - Setlist

Wampum Prayer
a sorta fairytale
Strange Little Girl
Bells for Her
Cornflake Girl
Liquid Diamonds
Take To the Sky

(band leaves)

(band returns)
Mrs. Jesus
Another Girl?s Paradise
Professional Widow
Happy Phantom
I Can?t See New York

(1st encore)
Taxi Ride

(2nd encore)
In the Springtime of his Voodoo
Amber Waves