Don’t Miss: Earth Wind & Fire + CHIC ft. Nile Rodgers @ Verizon Center, 8/9/17

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Earth Wind & Fire dance at MGM National Harbor on Feb. 18, 2017. (Photo by Mickey McCarter)

If you ever have heard Philip Bailey sing, you know what an amazing voice the gent has. But I would say you really have to see him live to get the full effect of how he turns on a dime to raise a falsetto and drop it into a baritone, such as when he sings “Betcha by Golly, Wow,” made famous by Philadelphia soul group The Stylistics. Thankfully, you have an opportunity to do just that as Philip’s powerhouse disco and funk group Earth, Wind & Fire are here in DC Wednesday, Aug. 9, for a show at Verizon Center.

And even better, they are teaming up with their contemporary Nile Rodgers, who is bringing the CHIC collective along with him.

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Don’t Miss: Depeche Mode @ Verizon Center, 9/7/17

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Depeche Mode (Photo by Anton Corbijn)

Depeche Mode have launched the Global Spirit Tour in support of their new album, Spirit, published March 17 via Columbia Records. The iconic band are touring Europe currently, with their next stop in Athens, Greece, on May 17, and they are due to arrive in North America in Salt Lake City, Utah, on August 23.

Depeche Mode will hit DC for a show at Verizon Center on Thursday, Sept. 7, and some tickets are still available. If that weren’t exciting enough, they are bringing along psych rock quartet Warpaint to open.

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Don’t Miss: Daryl Hall & John Oates and Tears for Fears @ Verizon Center, 6/26/17

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Daryl Hall and John Oates (Photo by Mick Rock)

Daryl Hall and John Oates broke through in the early ’70s with undeniably catchy songs of blue-eyed soul, and went on to create 18 studio albums, selling more than 40 million records. Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith formed Tears for Fears in the early ’80s, creating alternative synthpop, which also produced #1 hits (they had two while Hall and Oates had six, if we are keeping count).

The Americans and the Englishmen were both very popular in the mid-1980s, as their songs climbed the charts and their videos were in heavy rotation on MTV. Now, the two bands are touring together, and they perform at the Verizon Center in DC on Monday, June 26.

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Music Park: Parklife DC Top 10 Concerts of 2016 by Mickey

CHVRCHES 008 Lauren Mayberry of Chvrches sings at Echostage on Oct. 17, 2016. (Photo by Mickey McCarter)

I’ll confess that I’m a man whose taste in music is readily apparent. If you have new wave tunes to play, particularly from 1976-86, I’m going to show up and listen to them. That said, a number of incredible legacy new wave bands happened to travel through the DC metro area over the past year, and I took the opportunity to review them for our humble blog.

That said, a number of younger bands definitely broke through and seized my attention, most notably Canada’s Operators, who were the most exciting new band I’ve seen in some time. As with Operators, many of the best performances I witnessed in 2016 came from bands whose leaders are among the Masters of Synthpop, and so I have dedicated a postscript of really great synthpop shows that may have “missed” the top 10 but otherwise deserve a lot of applause.

Check out my top 10 list of concerts I saw for Parklife DC. (Click on the concert slugline to revisit the full review.)

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Music Park: Duran Duran and Nile Rodgers @ Verizon Center — 4/8/16

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John Taylor signs my copy of his autobiography during a soiree at Il Gattopardo in New York City on Nov. 4, 2013. (Photo by Eddie Malluk)

Observers of Duran Duran, as well as the band itself, have often cited its primary inspirations as English glam band Roxy Music and New York disco funksters Chic. Listening to the sounds of boyhood friends Nick Rhodes and John Taylor, you can even discern how the primal elements of the two bands fused into the new wave gem of a band they started in 1978: Nick, stylish to synthy; John, fun to funky.

As John noted in his 2012 autobiography, In the Pleasure Groove: Love, Death, and Duran Duran, his prized possession is the bass left to him by the late Chic bassist Bernard Edwards, who helped him form Power Station while on a break from Duran Duran circa 1985. It is of course then absolutely meta that Nile Rodgers, the artistic mastermind behind Chic, opened for the band on its latest tour, The Paper Gods Tour, undertaken in celebration of the 14th album by the UK trendsetters.

Nile, for his part, knows what makes Duran Duran tick, and he mixed “The Reflex,” which became Duran Duran’s first #1 hit in the United States. And of course, Nile took to the stage with Duran Duran for several songs Friday night in a big, bright show at the Verizon Center to play two incredible songs he produced for the band — “Notorious” from the 1986 album of the same name and “Pressure Off” from last year’s Paper Gods (but sadly not “The Reflex,” despite an intense audience rally from the very full house on behalf of the ever-popular song).

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Don’t Miss: Duran Duran @ Verizon Center, 4/8/16

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Roger Taylor, John Taylor, Simon LeBon, and Nick Rhodes (Photo by Stephanie Pistel)

On Nov. 4, 2013, I traveled to New York City to meet and mingle with Duran Duran at an exclusive party, where I was able to chat with my long-time musical heroes prior to a screening at the Museum of Modern Art of their concert film, Duran Duran Unstaged, directed by David Lynch.

After the film, my perpetual concert date and best friend Yasmin and I were able to spend some more time at a question and answer panel with the four main members of the band — vocalist Simon LeBon, synthmaster Nick Rhodes, bassist John Taylor, and drummer Roger Taylor. It wasn’t the only time Yasmin and I engaged the band, but it was perhaps the most memorable.

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Music Park: Madonna @ Verizon Center — 9/12/15

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Madonna’s Rebel Heart Tour

“The problem with being married is that when you’re married — your husband think you only belong to him!” Madonna exclaimed from the stage at Verizon Center Saturday night. “But I belong to all of you. I’m married to all of you!”

The rapturous applause following Madonna’s proclamations made the not-quite-sold-out show at Verizon Center sound larger than life. Madonna certainly had the crowd eating out of her hand as she delivered a show that was part Cirque du Soleil-style spectacle and part acoustic concert.

Moving from staged set to stage set, Madonna traveled through four different configurations for her concert, kicking off with a string of songs drawn heavily from her latest album, Rebel Heart, which she is touring worldwide through March 2016. DC was her second stop after launching the tour last week in Toronto, Canada.

The show began with a bang to the heavily choreographed Iconic, which introduced a scene where backup dancers masqueraded as a sort of Egyptian-styled religious cult with video that made effective use of guest spoken-word contributor Mike Tyson. This quasi-religious theme would run through a number of songs and fuel a kinetic display that included acrobatics and dancing nuns on stripper poles (as Madonna herself put it, nothing too “provocative,” eh?)

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Don’t Miss: Madonna @ Verizon Center, 9/12/15

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Madonna, still the woman of dreams (Photo by Mert Alas & Marcus Piggott)

In the fall of 1983, I bought my very first cassette tape — Madonna’s self-titled debut album.

I had seen the once and future Material Girl on television, most remarkably while listening to her perfect garage disco videos on Night Flight, which then aired on USA Network.

While this may signify that I’m a man of a certain age, Madonna has remained interesting and relevant even as she celebrated her 57th birthday last month. Her latest album, Rebel Heart, manages to capture all of the things that we know and love about Madonna as signified with the new hits “Living for Love” and “Ghosttown” while also catching some modern dance zeitgeist in collaborations with Diplo on house pastiche of “Bitch I’m Madonna” or with Avicii on the reggae vibes of “Devil Pray.”

All the same, it’s a solid album that has begat another incredible tour, and that tour stops at the Verizon Center in DC tomorrow, Saturday, Sept. 12. And although this show is tomorrow, it’s not too late to go! Tickets are still available.

Watch Madonna deliver an intimate performance of “Ghosttown” on “Le Grand Journal” on CANAL+ on March 3, 2015:

When Madonna last visited DC three years ago (also at the Verizon Center), I then wrote for the blog We Love DC: “She went through at least four different acts over two hours, which comes to an end with a totally giddy and exuberant celebration of all of the reasons the dance floor has loved her for so long.”

She tirelessly performed a career-spanning set, occasionally addressing the audience directly during moments of downtime and forging connections with her magnetic personality.

In addition to songs from the new album, setlist reports reveal Madonna has been performing an acoustic version of “True Blue” along with other significant songs from previous albums, including “Vogue,” “Like a Virgin,” “Who’s That Girl” and “Music.”

There are still good seats available in prime 100-section seats without paying resale prices. Don’t miss out!

Madonna
Verizon Center
Saturday, Sept. 12
Doors @7pm
$43-$358
All ages

Music Park: Metric @ Verizon Center — 7/6/15


Emily Haines and Jimmy Shaw perform “The Shade” acoustically for the Verge Music Lab at the Music Mansion: SiriusXM Canada on June 2, 2015.

Drummer Joules Scott-Key pounded out those familiar opening notes and vocalist Emily Haines bounded onto stage to open the set with “Stadium Love.”

And so Metric kicked off their performance at the Verizon Center Monday night, opening for Imagine Dragons in that band’s Smoke + Mirrors Tour, devoting a third of their set to their popular fourth album Fantasies.

After “Stadium Love” was appropriately performed for the enthusiastic stadium attendees, Metric introduced new track “Too Bad, So Sad,” a kinetic lament of being stuck in a bad place belied by its cheering chorus. It rings a bit of a traditional Metric song blended with Blur’s “Song 2.”

“Too Bad, So Sad” was the first of three new songs from the forthcoming album Pagans in Vegas, scheduled for release Sept. 18. Those new songs were undoubtedly the highlight of the show for longtime admirers of the Canadian quartet.

The biggest number for Metric in the concert was “Cascades,” which the Toronto new wavers have described as the heart of the upcoming album. “Cascades” is a wholly electronic affair with synths coating Emily’s sweet but sassy vocals to powerful effect — and it’s so deliriously good that it was an instant new favorite for me and also for the thousands gathered early to see them Monday.

The song, about “cascading waves of emotion,” is a welcome tidal wave that involves Emily, guitarist Jimmy Shaw and bassist Joshua Winstead trading off on three synthesizers. There are guitar and bass parts as well, and when Emily isn’t behind her synthesizer, she’s at the front of the stage in a purple cape billowing above a wind machine.

The arrangement, although simple, is extraordinarily memorable.

Give “Cascades” a listen on Soundcloud:

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