The Decemberists' summer concert tour, "A Short Fazed Hovel," is an anagram of their newest release The Hazards of Love - something you might expect from a quirky band out of Portland, Ore.
What wasn't expected, however, was the booming rock sound coming out of the LP after such folk revival-inspired songs on Castaways and Cutouts.
The ambitious tour hit big metropolitan venues such as Radio City Music Hall in New York City on June 10, and cult classic festivals like South by Southwest in Austin, Texas and Bonnaroo in Manchester, Tenn. later in the month.
The show started with the band performing Hazards of Love in its entirety with visual effects and powerhouse vocalists Becky Stark and Shara Worden portraying various characters from the disc.
Ornate in its theory and even more so in its practice, Hazards of Love needed a team of people backstage during the performance at Radio City to assist with quick tune-ups and instrument changes. After the rock-opera, The Decemberists played favorites from previous records, while the audience responded to frontman Colin Meloy's entreaties to participate by harmonizing different sections of the hall to "Billy Liar."
Meloy also covered Fleetwood Mac and R.E.M. with a guest appearance by R.E.M. guitarist Peter Buck.
English pop rock duo The Ting Tings played this summer's All Points West Festival at Liberty State Park in New Jersey - an odd choice among the mostly indie bands.
Originally an indie band itself, The Ting Tings hit it off in the states this summer with their pop hits "Shut Up and Let Me Go" and, of course, "That's Not My Name." Though a great iPod band, The Ting Tings were unimpressive live.
With only one album under their belts, We Started Nothing, listening to The Ting Tings live closely resembled listening to the CD with crappy speakers. Lead singer Katie White gave an energetic show, dancing all over the stage, but it interfered with her vocals and she seemed breathless at points. To put it bluntly, her voice just isn't that great live.
They were definitely fun to watch, but after listening for an hour all anyone really wanted to hear was "That's Not My Name," which was of course the last song. The band has solid potential, and maybe after they release a few more albums their concerts will be more fulfilling, but it's definitely not worth going out of your way to see them live yet.
This past July, former Beatle Paul McCartney played in the first series of concerts ever held at Citi Field in Queens, N.Y.
After an enjoyable opening set from Irish pop-rockers The Script, McCartney burst on stage playing "Drive My Car," followed by the Wings classic, "Jet." The 30-plus-song setlist included a very wide and pleasing variety of songs from McCartney's solo career and Wings, in addition to the obvious Beatles material.
Highlights included "Only Mama Knows" from 2007's Memory Almost Full, and "Mrs. Vanderbilt" and "Let Me Roll It," both from 1973's Band On The Run.
Also of note were the two songs dedicated to the deceased Beatles: George Harrison and John Lennon. "Here Today," a song from 1982's Tug Of War, written after Lennon's assassination, was played in his memory.
McCartney also played a wonderful version of "Something" - one of Harrison's signature Beatles songs - on ukulele. He noted that Frank Sinatra once referred to it as his favorite "Lennon-McCartney" song.
The show closed with about 12 enthusiastically played Beatles songs, including a seven-song double encore. Any one of these songs could have easily ended the show, but fittingly, the closing song was "The End."
All in all, the show was everything that was to be expected and more; an incredibly charged and well-played performance from one of the greatest musicians ever.