Music Park: Prince + 3rdeyegirl @ Warner Theatre — 6/14/15

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Prince jams at the Warner Theatre on June 14. (Photo by Karrah Kobus / NPG Records)

Hey, we all agree: Prince is awesome. He’s funky, and he rocks the house in live performance. And he did as much in two sold-out shows at the Warner Theatre on Sunday as part of his series in the Hit & Run tour.

And so, yes, we’re going to talk a little about Prince. But Prince wants us to talk a bit about his backing band, 3rdeyegirl. So let’s talk about them first.

I actually first attended the Rally 4 Peace at the Royal Farms Arena in Baltimore on Sunday, May 10, and then I caught the late 11pm show at Warner Theatre this past Sunday, June 14.

In both performances, 3rdeyegirl were really quite great. They add fire to the overall show, and they hold down specific numbers on their own. Guitarist Donna Grantis often takes the front of the stage, literally leaping into action as she thunders away on her guitar. She did as much for the opening number Sunday night — “Plectrumelectrum,” the title track from their 2014 debut album with Prince. “Plectrumelectrum” is an instrumental track that gives the audience a chance to see 3rdeyegirl in action as the band gets warmed up. Donna is always in the minute, and her axe is really sharp.

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Don’t Miss: Hot Chip @ Echostage, 6/5/15

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London quintet Hot Chip (Photo by Steve Gullick)

Last month, nu disco juggernauts Hot Chip released their sixth studio album, Why Make Sense?

After five good albums (several of which are outstanding), you might ask, “Where can Hot Chip go from here?” And Hot Chip apparently asked themselves that same question in the making of this album.

Part of the process of finding an answer for the band was to write and record “Huarache Lights,” a musical statement on what the band brings to the table. It’s a classic single for Hot Chip, pairing vocalist Alexis Taylor’s unique voice with pulsating rhythms and thematically addressing people and technology — but most importantly, doing so while being funky.

Watch the video for “Huarache Lights”:

In May, Hot Chip launched a world tour in support of the new album, and they bring the show to Echostage in DC this Friday, June 5.

I’ve been fortunate enough to catch Hot Chip several times in the past, and their live show is itself a regular dance party. They have a sound, and surely an accompanying light show, capable of filling the large space of Echostage quite well.

And I daresay that the sound and vision of the live performance tells the other half of the story when asking where do Hot Chip go from here? So it’s well worth your time to get out there, check them out and dance your heart out.

Watch a full Hot Chip set from the 2014 Pitchfork Music Festival in Paris:

Sudanese-American Ahmed Gallab brings his soul quartet Sinkane along to open for Hot Chip. Tickets are available online or at the box office at the 9:30 Club.

Hot Chip
w/ Sinkane
Echostage
Friday, June 5
Doors @7pm
$45
All ages

Music Park: Daryl Hall & John Oates @ Warner Theatre — 4/29/15

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Daryl Hall and John Oates during a show in Austin in February 2014.

Because their kiss is on your list, Daryl Hall and John Oates sold out the Warner Theatre again Wednesday night!

The talented gentlemen from Philadelphia brought along a six-man band to play 14 time-honored tunes from their catalog, including “Kiss on My List,” from 1980’s Voices. By the time they hit that number in their second encore, much of the audience in the orchestra had spilled into the aisles and lined up around the stage to dance the rest of the night away. It’s become expected that people will simply dance, regardless of where they are seated, at a Hall & Oates concert, and the folks at the Warner were pretty cool about letting the audience do its own thing.

Hall & Oates did their own thing as well, crooning through a well-received collection of ‘70s and ‘80s songs that everyone in the house loved. When I say they played these songs, I should instead say they emoted them! They jammed the night away. So when you hear they played 14 songs, they made a very respectable 90 minute set out of those 14 songs.

I was excited right away as Hall & Oates and their band walked to the opening notes of “Maneater,” the classic from 1982’s H20. They followed that up with a personal favorite song of mine, “Out of Touch” from my favorite album by the duo — 1984’s Big Bam Boom. Their blue eyed-soul was awash in the rising tide of new wave by 1984, and the blending of styles brought out some remarkably catchy creativity to my welcoming ears.

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Music Park: Spandau Ballet @ 9:30 Club — 4/28/15

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Tony Hadley sings in New York City on May 2, 2015.

Wow, Spandau!

Golden-voiced Tony Hadley jumped to the stage of the 9:30 Club Tuesday night and nailed the lyrics of more than two dozen amazing songs by his band Spandau Ballet into the collective consciousness of everyone within earshot.

In the process, Tony and his bandmates *almost* had more fun than the audience at the very so nearly sold-out show. And they most certainly made certain that after a decades-long absence from the United States that they would not be forgotten here generally or in DC specifically any time soon.

Buoyed by the confidence of a band in the thick of strong friendships and camaraderie and confident in a catalog of songs unmatched in their strength and appeal, Spandau Ballet stormed the 9:30 Club with soulful new wave tunes that left men and women aged 20 to 50 screaming for more.

Spandau Ballet weren’t just good — they were superb.

Tony hit the right note immediately with new song “Soul Boy,” also the title track of a new documentary Soul Boys of the Western World, about the band, premiering tonight, April 29, at the IFC Center in Manhattan with the band’s participation. During the song, the audience gets its first taste of the indefatigable Steve Norman on saxophone.

Steve is everywhere — almost always with his trademark sax in one hand — appearing on bongos in one song, slinging a guitar in another and trading his sax for an oboe in a big finale. The man is a one-man band, and perhaps the strongest player in Spandau Ballet if not the entire history of rock and roll. (If that sounds like glib hyperbole, I dare you to watch him in action and then challenge me on that statement.)

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Don’t Miss: Hall & Oates @ Warner Theatre, 4/29/15

Visiting Artist: John Oates
John Oates visits the Berklee College of Music on April 14, 2015.

Daryl Hall and John Oates, the dynamic duo who kept breaking records since their first album in 1972, return to DC to perform at the Warner Theatre on Wednesday, April 29.

I last caught Hall and Oates, as they are colloquially known, at the Warner on Oct. 2, 2013, in a damn fine show. The gents and their band raised blue-eyed soul to a whole new level that night, as they ran through about 14 songs in their catalog with a heavy focus on their material from the 1970s.

In that show about a year and a half ago, Hall and Oates performed “She’s Gone” from platinum album “Abandoned Luncheonette” with so much power and passion that it literally brought the entire audience to its feet. The entire house literally responded with a standing ovation to the ever-popular and equally passionate “Sara Smile.”

The duo made me happy as well when they hit some of their tunes from the 80s, including “Private Eyes” and “I Can’t Go for That (No Can Do).” Their six-man band rose to the occasion, particularly sax player Charles DeChant, who has been performing with the guys for many years (and who proves to be a draw himself).

Dig Charles DeChant’s sax solo in the video for “Maneater” below:

Tickets are available online and at the box office. Based on my last time seeing Hall and Oates, you absolutely shouldn’t miss this show. Soul and reggae singer Mutlu, who hails from Philadelphia like our heroes, opens the show.

Daryl Hall and John Oates
w/ Mutlu
Warner Theatre
Wednesday, April 29, 2015
Doors @7pm
$73-148
All ages

Don’t Miss: Spandau Ballet @ 9:30 Club, 4/28/15

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Spandau Ballet (Photo by Scarlet Page)

They are the most significant band never to perform in Washington, DC.

But against the odds, they are about to rectify that situation in what could be the concert of the year. I say against the odds because the five members of Spandau Ballet notoriously split after a falling out with band leader Gary Kemp for decades, last touring North America in 1983.

Last year, the reunited Spandau Ballet hit their first shows on the U.S. west coast after their hiatus, and this month, they are returning to tour the east coast. The tour includes a stop at the 9:30 Club on Tuesday, April 28, and in a video message from London on March 27, lead singer Tony Hadley made it clear, saying on the 9:30 Facebook page: “It’s the first time we’ve ever played in Washington!”

But the most significant band never to perform in DC? Really, Mickey?

Well, yes, I think so. Spandau Ballet came together in 1978 during a tumultuous time in London as the poster band for the New Romantic movement, a group of club savants who valued sexy sophistication and optimism as an antidote to the grit and pessimism of some of the punk bands at the time. The cultural movement and resulting music genre had its roots in the glam rock of David Bowie and Roxy Music, and its flagship bands came to embrace smart suits and synthesizers.

Spandau Ballet started out as the house band for Ground Zero of this movement, The Blitz Club, run by Steve Strange. They quickly got to work on powerful dance albums, the first two of which were produced by Richard James Burgess, who is now a DC-area resident who has taught at the Annapolis Music School and The Omega Studios’ School of Applied Recording Arts and Sciences in addition to serving as director of marketing at Smithsonian Folkways, the nonprofit record label of the Smithsonian Institution.

Of course, Spandau Ballet are most famous in the United States for their third album, True, which produced two U.S. top 40 hits in 1983—“True” (#4) and “Gold” (#27). Here are Spandau Ballet performing “True” on Jimmy Kimmel Live in November 2014:

After years apart, the band reunited in 2009, and I flew to Glasgow to see them at S.E.C.C. on Oct. 27, 2009. They were in fine form and high spirits, and they easily lived up to the hype generated by the legacy of their original six studio albums and resulting cultural dominance. Spandau Ballet are every bit as worth seeing in concert as their friendly rivals Duran Duran, with whom they share the ideals and banner of the New Romantics.

Spandau Ballet’s current world tour is inspired in part by a documentary covering their career and reunion, Soul Boys of the Western World. As the title of this post says, don’t miss this show! (An opening act has yet to be confirmed, but with any luck, we may get DJ Rusty Egan, the world-famous Blitz DJ and drummer for the band Visage, who has been supporting them in Europe recently.)

Spandau Ballet
9:30 Club
Tuesday, April 28
Doors @7pm
$45 (VIP packages, $95/$200)
All ages