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  • My 2009 in Live Shows (a bit premature, so subject to updates)

    Nov 3 2009, 1:48

    The Musical Box -- Pabst Theater, Milwaukee, WI (17 January)

    Not a "concert" necessarily so much as a "historical reenactment," seeing TMB perform is always interesting. Having developed over 15+ years a worldwide reputation as *the* premier Genesis tribute band, they had just recently made the questionable switch from doing Peter Gabriel-era songs (Foxtrot, Lamb, and Selling England tours) to doing early Phil Collins-era material (in this case, the Trick of the Tail tour, which still encompassed a lot of earlier songs). The person that the band had hired to play the "Collins" role had not worked out, and so Denis Gagne, who had spent years playing "Gabriel" to near-perfection, was forced to step up to the plate. All things considered, the band did a great job (the drunk being thrown out during "Entangled" was a surreal highlight of the Milwaukee live experience if mildly unrelated), and I expect their rendition of the Trick tour will only continue to improve over time, though it is doubtful it can ever match their eerily spot-on Gabriel-era performances.

    Fleetwood Mac -- TD Banknorth Garden, Boston, MA (11 March)

    This concert was what one would probably expect seeing the post-Peter Green Fleetwood Mac in action. No major surprises (and an unfortunate lack of Christine McVie), but outstanding performances from the remaining members of the band, particularly the legendary duo of Stevie Nicks and Lindsay Buckingham. Some of their solo work also was performed during the show, as well as a gorgeous "Landslide," which I was very happy to hear. Great show, even if we were a bit bummed to have learned that we missed Daryl Hall and John Oates in Boston that same night.

    The Brew -- Unity Centre for the Performing Arts, Unity, ME (27 March)

    This was my first time seeing The Brew, who are an excellent, if somewhat unknown, quartet from Amesbury, Massachusetts, whose biggest claim to fame is probably opening for Bruce Hornsby on tour. I didn't know any of their songs at the time, but I was very much impressed by their musicianship and energy.

    moe. with the Nate Wilson Group -- House of Blues, Boston, MA (3 April)

    The NY-based jam band moe. had been on my list of bands to see for years, so when I finally got the opportunity to see them I was very glad to go. They put on an excellent show, though it had a bit more recent material than my tastes would have liked, whereas, much like fellow jam legends Phish, I prefer their older material to their more recent output. An energetic "Down Boy" from fairly recent album The Conch made me reconsider their newer songs somewhat, however. Openers Nate Wilson Group, an offshoot of Assembly of Dust, were very good as well, though I was completely unfamiliar with their work.

    Ben Folds -- Collins Center for the Arts, Orono, ME (28 April)

    Ben Folds is one of those artists that I admittedly probably would never have gone out of my way to see (that song "Brick" from his band Ben Folds Five was played ad nauseum during my high school years), but both the price and location were right, and his performance definitely made me a fan. My friend and I got upgraded from our original seats due to obstructed view and so we ended up third row center, which was outstanding. Folds played an eclectic and interesting set with some songs that I knew, some I didn't, and perhaps a bit too much gratuitous swearing (maybe crossing the chasm between pure personality and intentional shock value), but I was quite impressed with both his skill and his ability to entertain a crowd. I'm glad I put aside my skepticism and went to see him live.

    Daryl Stuermer and Martin Levac -- Summerfest, Milwaukee, WI (27 June)

    One of Milwaukee's actual best (forget what it says on that 30-rack of distilled urine you saw at that party the other night), Daryl Stuermer has worked with such luminaries as Jean-Luc Ponty and prog/pop giants Genesis, the latter as their touring guitarist since Steve Hackett's departure in the late 1970s. Everyone loves a hometown show, of course, and plenty of people turned out for Stuermer's annual Summerfest performance on the Lake Michigan waterfront. After a short set of tracks from various solo albums of his, as well as an excellent instrumental version of the 1986 Genesis track "Land of Confusion," we were treated to an outstanding array of Genesis covers featuring Montreal native Martin Levac, formerly of a variety of Genesis/Collins tributes including the aforementioned TMB. Not only is Levac a fantastic drummer, but he sounds and looks far more like the iconic conception of Phil Collins than perhaps Mr. Collins himself does today, so this was an awesome performance to witness. The two of them are currently involved, along with Stuermer's band, in the "Genesis Rewired" project (not to be confused with Nick d'Virgilio's excellent "Rewiring Genesis" tribute to The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway , both of which I would encourage fans of the music of Genesis to check out.

    Assembly of Dust -- Port City Music Hall, Portland, ME (25 September)

    After a pretty impressive set of bluegrass tunes from the String Cheese/Leftover Salmon-offshoot Emmitt Nershi Band, AOD took the stage to a packed house and played an excellent set (which occasionally included performances involving Emmitt Nershi members). At the end of the show, lead singer Reid Genauer returned to play some pretty intense solo acoustic music, which only ended when the venue turned the lights up as it was well part curfew by that time. Only having one of AOD's CDs, I wasn't exceptionally familiar with the songs that were performed, but I thought they were excellent and I'd likely see them again if given the chance. Port City is kind of a cool venue, a fair amount of space and a decent selection of beverages at fairly reasonable prices, which is always a plus.

    The Brew -- Unity Centre for the Performing Arts, Unity, ME (30 October)

    My second Brew show, and the first of their two-night Halloween run in Unity, the latter night of which I unfortunately had to miss due to work. Being a lot more familiar with their music by this time, I was a lot more into the show...arrived during soundcheck and heard great covers of Bonnie Tyler's "Total Eclipse of the Heart" (which was performed during night #2), and Styx's "Mr. Roboto," which was performed during the first set later that night. Many excellent tracks were played, including ten-minute-ish versions of "Black Train" and "Eyes of the Giant," plus a couple more covers including a awesome encore consisting of the classic Boston song "Foreplay/Longtime." It was a shame that I had to miss night #2, but The Brew were spot-on again and I have no doubt that a third show is in the future for me.

    That's it for now...but I have Phish scheduled for the end of November...and we'll see if anything else materializes!