By Faith Richardson
The night was young as two of my friends and I arrived in Chicago, IL for a night with Sam Smith. We approached the United Center and witnessed the towering screens that advertised, “THE THRILL OF IT ALL NORTH AMERICAN TOUR.” We saw many LGBT+ people draped in pride flags, holding the hands of their partners. This was expected as Smith himself identifies as genderqueer. Once inside, the feeling of excitement grew inside of me as I prepared myself to see one of my favorite music artists.
The show began as opener Beth Ditto fired up the crowd for what would become a night to remember. Less than an hour after her set began, Sam Smith rose from under the stage, singing his song “Burning.” He wasted no time in firing up the crowd as he performed two of his most popular songs, “I’m Not the Only One” and “Lay Me Down” . It became joyfully evident just how well known they are due to the volume of the crowd, who sang along to every word.
Thirty minutes into the concert, Smith played one of my favorite songs ever, “Nirvana,” and I’m not ashamed to admit that I cried. The power behind his voice and the emotion from the audience combined to create something quite overwhelming and unforgettable. The stage also added to the effect as the background would move and change color frequently.
The night was approaching its end when Sam played “HIM,” which has been referred to as a “gay anthem.” The song is about the artist speaking to God, telling him about his homosexuality and how it is not a choice. This was obviously a fan favorite as the vibes in the building only got stronger. Many fans in the crowd held up their pride flags as they sang along, belting every word, as if it was written just for them. Finally, as the song ended, a rainbow was projected onto the back wall, thus creating an exuberant reaction from the audience.
The show wrapped up with two of Smith’s most popular songs, “Stay With Me,” and “Pray.” It is safe to say that there were no dry eyes in the audience as we all said goodbye to the artist while singing some of the most iconic songs of this generation. After many outfit changes, Sam Smith finally went backstage, leaving us all with “Post Concert Depression.”
Sam Smith’s United Center performance was by far the best concert that I have ever attended. I hope Smith returns to Chicago sooner than later.
by Lisa Schreiner
Labor Day weekend on Long Island is generally reserved for end-of-summer Hamptons parties and last-minute trips out to the twin forks before the pumpkin patches and apple-picking fields set up. This year, however, some opted to ditch the east end for a slightly less refined and — in this editor’s opinion — a more appropriate send off to summer. Shinedown and Godsmack played the Nikon at Jones Beach Theater on September 2nd, 2018, giving Long Islanders the best of both worlds: taking in that famous Long Island salty, summer air while experiencing a solid, good ol’ fashioned rock ‘n roll show. Nothing pairs quite as well as an outdoor beach venue and good, live music.
Shinedown kicked it off with the heavily-rotated “Sound of Madness” that sent the crowd into a frenzy. Pyros and laser lights illuminated the hazy night sky, while singer Brent Smith’s powerhouse vocals completed a perfect rock marriage with the band (Zach Myers – lead guitar/backing vocals, Eric Bass – bass/backing vocals and Barry Kerch – drums) that was nothing less than stellar. Shinedown has been around for a number of years; however, the Jacksonville, FL-based band became more prevalent on the rock scene after their powerful acoustic cover of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Simple Man” hit the airwaves. There aren’t many times where vocals in a cover song either match or surpass the original singer’s; Smith is one of the exceptions (no disrespect to the late, great Ronnie Van Zant, but he would likely agree). Of course, the popular rendition was performed — prompting a resounding crowd sing-a-long — along with “Second Chance”, “Get Up” and closing out with “Devil.” Shinedown had first opened for the Godsmack and Rob Zombie tour in 2006 and it’s a pleasure to see such a solid hard rock band gain the momentum and appreciation they have over the years. Rock ‘n roll has become somewhat of a nostalgic genre, with reunion tours more prevalent than ever. Shinedown is a band that can bring rock out of it’s rut.
Twenty years after their self-titled debut album was released, Godsmack shows that they have no plans to slow down. Opening with “When Legends Rise,” off of their latest album of the same name, the Boston band had the crowd on their feet immediately. Although pyros were present here and there throughout the show, it appears that Godsmack has toned down the “rock show” aspect in favor of letting the music be the star. Frontman Sully Erna and drummer Shannon Larkin performed their now setlist-staple drum duel, which had been first seen in their touring DVD Changes. While the duel has somewhat changed with covering different artists that have been influential to the band (they now perform interludes of Beastie Boys, Metallica and Queen, in place of Aerosmith, Ozzy Osbourne and AC/DC), the choreographed battle remains the highlight of the show.
During the performance of their first single “Whatever”, Sully decided it would be a good idea to rile up the New York crowd by praising the New England Patriots and shunning the New York Giants. As expected, a wave of booing rolled through the amphitheater, and some seemingly very angry New Yorkers displayed their disdain towards the singer. In the end, however, the crowd’s anger resulted in exactly what Erna wanted: a loud back-and-forth sing-a-long. Shinedown’s Zach Myers joined Godsmack on stage for a cover of AC/DC’s “Highway to Hell” before the band closed with their iconic “I Stand Alone”.
Throughout the past twenty years, Godsmack has remained virtually unchanged, and that’s not a bad thing. While some bands will change their style to appease newer generations and trends, Godsmack has always stayed true to their hard rock persona.
Attention Attention Intro
Sound of Madness
Diamond Eyes (Boom-Lay Boom-Lay Boom)
Cut the Cord
I’ll Follow You
State of My Head
Simple Man (Lynyrd Skynyrd cover)
When Legends Rise
Cryin’ Like a Bitch
Say My Name
Batalla de los tambores (drum duel)
Highway to Hell (AC/DC cover with Zach Myers)
I Stand Alone
by Larry Kaiser
On Sunday, September 2nd, Pearl Jam began the last of their “Away” shows with the first of two shows at Boston’s Fenway Park. With the Boston Red Sox sitting atop baseball with the best record, it is fitting that arguably America’s greatest band play Fenway this year.
Pearl Jam’s Home and Away show tour is a brief four-city, seven-show trek with previous stops at home, in Seattle, as well as Missoula, Montana and Chicago’s Wrigley Field. With the Fenway shows being the only east coast shows, fans come from far and wide to see the band.
For the days leading up to the show, communication from Fenway Park indicated that the band was going to hit the stage at 6:30 PM due to Fenway’s strict 10:30 PM curfew. As most fans know, the band would not start at that time and security was informing the fans that the show would start at 7:30 PM. As the band hit the stage at 7:56 PM, the 30,000+ crowd was growing impatient. Once the show started though, the Pearl Jam faithful were singing along word for word and clearly having a blast.
For a band that has been making music for almost 30 years, their fan base has aged with them. When you’re waiting in line for merchandise or to get into the venue, you meet all sorts of people who share stories and become friends. The most typical question usually is, “How many shows have you seen?” For this contributor, the answer is 34, and I love those conversations. What is great to see is how many people are now bringing their kids to shows. Sharing it with them, the music that means so much to them. There was even a couple who had an infant with them, who was wearing large headphones. The child was smiling, but probably had no clue what was going on and more than likely won’t remember his first Pearl Jam show.
The band opened with ‘Sometimes,’ the opening track from the 1996 album No Code. This was a fitting opening song as this album just recently celebrated its 22nd anniversary. The 18-song opening set featured many crowd favorites such as Release, Low Light, Given to Fly, Evolution, Lukin, and more. Fans were treated to the rarity, Army Reserve, off the 2006 self-titled album, Pearl Jam., which fans refer to as the “Avocado album.” Before playing the song, lead singer Eddie Vedder paid respect to recently deceased US Senator, John McCain. Eddie spoke fondly of the band’s respect for those that have or are serving while calling McCain a true American hero.
The first set also featured an English lesson of sorts for fans as Vedder talked about the word “fuck” and proceeded to go through a conjugation tree as he explained a conversation with his daughter. An entertaining lesson for those in attendance. The lesson concluded with Eddie suggesting the crowd uses “Fuck” as a verb and to say “Fuck You” when they vote in November. Vedder then dedicated ‘Given to Fly’ to an old friend named Dick from Boston who has worked many shows as security and was recovering from a health issue. The opening set ended with a raucous version the Ten cut Porch, which has been a staple as the first set closer this tour.
The second set began as most do for Pearl Jam – with Eddie Vedder alone on stage to start a run on slower songs. Vedder discusses how Red Sox owner John Henry’s favorite band was Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers and that Petty played Fenway back in 2014. Eddie mentions how the guitar he is about to play has only left his house two times and was a gift from Tom Petty. Petty had told him that there were a few songs left in it and Eddie agreed. Eddie asked the crowd to help him connect with Tom and then started into Petty’s ‘I Won’t Back Down.’
The first encore featured a song to which Eddie referred to as a request for something romantic. He referred to a sign in the front row that said ‘The last time we saw you, we got pregnant, and we want to get pregnant again!’ The band then played a moving version ‘Just Breathe.’ Also played in the first encore is the fan favorite, but not often played Vitalogy track, ‘Tremor Christ.’ Eddie mentioned that if they screw it up, it’s his fault since they rarely play the song. The encore finished with a great run of songs featuring ‘Taillights Fade’ by the legendary Boston band, Buffalo Tom. Guitarist Bill Janovitz joined the band on stage as the night’s only guest appearance to play one of Eddie’s favorite songs. The band closed the encore with ‘Blood.’ Amazingly, Pearl Jam is probably one of the few bands that can weave George Clinton’s ‘Atomic Dog’ into one of their songs and get the reaction they did from the crowd.
With curfew approaching, the band was quickly back on stage for another encore starting with the super rarity ‘Out of Mind,’ which had only been played three times before. Vedder stated that he didn’t have lyrics when they wrote it originally and that he was going to make it up along the way tonight. The band closed the show with ‘Alive,’ from Ten, and Neil Young’s ‘Rockin’ In The Free World,’ a song that Pearl Jam has made into their own that took them past the curfew by a few minutes.
Because of the late start and the curfew, the band was forced to scratch four additional songs from their set. As the crowd dispersed to the streets around Fenway, there were mixed reviews of the show. While almost everyone enjoyed the show and the set list, others were complaining about how late the band came out and that they ‘only’ played 30 songs. At just a little over 2 hours and 30 minutes, this was the shortest concert during this run of U.S. dates. But with 30 songs played, the crowd got their money’s worth.
The band has one more show at Fenway on Tuesday, September 4th, and then presumably heading into the studio to put the finishing touches on their next album.
Sunday’s Full Set List
03. Low Light
04. Elderly Woman Behind the Counter In A Small Town
05. Why Go
07. Mind Your Manners
09. Given To Fly
10. Army Reserve
11. Even Flow
12. Amongst The Waves
13. Daughter / WMA / It’s OK
14. Got Some
15. Do The Evolution
16. I Am A Patriot
Encore Break 1
19. I Won’t Back Down
20. Just Breathe
21. Present Tense
23. State Of Love And Trust
24. Tremor Christ
- Taillights Fade-(Buffalo Tom) with Bill Janovitz
- Blood / atomic dog
- Out Of My Mind
30. Rockin’ In The Free World