The Zombies (concert review)

From the desk of The Movie Snob.

The Zombies were a 1960s rock band and part of the so-called British Invasion.  A minor part, to be sure:  they charted only three singles in America, all of which made the Top Ten.  They broke up in late 1967, and their last hit (“Time of the Season”) peaked in 1969.  But like their undead namesakes, the Zombies proved tough to kill.  Keyboardist Rod Argent formed a band called Argent that had a Top Ten hit in 1972 (“Hold Your Head Up”).  Vocalist Colin Blunstone occasionally contributed vocals to The Alan Parsons Project, which was a favorite band of mine back in the day.  And Wikipedia says that various reincarnations of the Zombies have been kicking around for a while.  Now they are kicking off a new American tour, and their first show was two nights ago in Dallas’s historic Majestic Theatre.  They are promoting a new album, but they are also performing their last 1960s album, Odessey and Oracle, in its entirety.  It’s a good album–trippy, tuneful, and said by the cognoscenti to be very influential on other musicians.  Anyhow, the show was good (if a little too loud).  The first half featured several new songs, a cover of Smokey Robinson’s “You’ve Really Got a Hold on Me,” and the Zombies’ other two Top Ten hits, “Tell Her No” and “She’s Not There.”  After a short intermission, they came back and played Odessey and Oracle straight through, ending with “Time of the Season,” and then doing a reprise of “She’s Not There” for the encore.  For a bunch of old British guys in a band that broke up 48 years ago, they played quite well.  Blunstone’s distinctive voice, high and breathy, is pretty much the same as it ever was.  If you like the Zombies, or at least their three hit songs, I encourage you to give a listen to “Old and Wise,” a Blunstone track on the Alan Parsons Project album Eye in the Sky.

Scarface

The Movie Snob catches up on a classic.

Scarface (B+). The Magnolia isn’t the only theater in Dallas that shows classic films; I caught this 1983 release last weekend at the Cinemark 17, and I think it was also playing at the AMC theater in Northpark Mall. Anyway, I thought Scarface was a wild and very entertaining piece of cinema. Al Pacino (The Godfather) stars as Tony Montana, a Cuban no-goodnik who makes his way to America in the Mariel boatlift of 1980. He’s good with a weapon and has bravado to spare, and he eventually finds a place working for a drug kingpin with a luminous young wife (Michelle Pfeiffer, Stardust). But Tony has big dreams, and director Brian De Palma (The Untouchables) lets Pacino run riot playing a character whose ambition really is larger than life. It’s a violent and profane movie, but I was never bored despite the long (170-minute) running time. Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio (The Abyss) co-stars as Tony’s little sister, F. Murray Abraham (Amadeus) has a small part as a drug thug, and Oliver Stone (The Doors), of all people, wrote the screenplay. Roger Ebert included it in his book The Great Movies II. Definitely worth seeing.

John Fogerty (concert review)

A concert review from The Movie Snob.

John Fogerty (Oct. 18, 2013, at Verizon Theatre in Grand Prairie, Texas).  How often do you get to see a rock and roll legend, much less one who performed at Woodstock?  I heard that Fogerty was coming to Dallas only last weekend, and I did not hesitate long before shelling out my $65 for a ticket.  (For a seat with a slightly obstructed view, as it turned out.  But three giant screens over the stage made that a minor annoyance.)  I was only four when Creedence Clearwater Revival broke up, but like every American over a certain age I’m reasonably familiar with CCR’s hits and a few of Fogerty’s solo efforts.  Fogerty, who is 68, put on a good show (with no opening act).  He played quite a few songs I wasn’t familiar with, but even they were reasonably enjoyable.  And he played plenty of songs I did know.  Off the top of my head, he played:

Hey Tonight
Born on the Bayou
Good Golly Miss Molly
Who’ll Stop the Rain
Green River
Lodi
Have You Ever Seen the Rain?
Fortunate Son
Down on the Corner
Looking out My Back Door
Long As I Can See the Light
I Heard It Through the Grapevine
Pretty Woman
Midnight Special
Centerfield
The Old Man Down the Road
Bad Moon Rising
Proud Mary

I don’t remember much about the songs I didn’t recognize, although one called Mystic Highway was pretty nice.  Fogerty played a solid two-hour set, and his voice is still good.  He told a few interesting anecdotes, including a story about CCR’s performance at Woodstock.  CCR got the 9:30pm slot on Saturday night, right after the Grateful Dead, but the lack of organization, technical problems, and, well, the Grateful Dead kept CCR from taking the stage until about 2:30 in the morning, when most attendees were asleep.

The show was much louder than I had hoped it would be, but I went prepared with earplugs.  I noticed the middle-aged fellow in front of me put his fingers in his ears for the first few songs, and then an usher came by with a big cup full of earplugs and gave him a couple.  In sum, it was good show, and I was glad I went.  Go see him if you get the chance — but take some ear protection!

ABBA – The Music (concert review)

From the desk of The Movie Snob

ABBA – The Music. Last night the Borg Queen and I went down to Dallas’s Meyerson Symphony Center and enjoyed a concert by an ABBA tribute band called Waterloo. (You can see their official website at http://www.abbathemusic.com.) We got a little nervous at first — they did the second song and most of the third in Swedish! But then they switched back to good old American for the rest of the concert, so all was well. They had two guest stars in tow — musicians who had actually played with the real ABBA back in the day! They were a saxophonist and a drummer, and they seemed to enjoy sitting in on a few numbers. For the most part the band did sound reasonably like ABBA, and they mimicked some of the band’s costumes and choreography from their old music videos. They did pretty much every song that hit the American charts, with a couple of minor exceptions. Lots of people were standing in the aisles, waving their arms in time with the music. In short, a good time was had by all, even us folks in the nosebleed seats.

Spinal Tap concert review

Review by The Movie Snob

The three stars of This Is Spinal Tap (Christopher Guest, Michael McKean, and Harry Shearer) are touring with a show called “Unwigged and Unplugged,” and I saw their performance in Dallas this evening. I thoroughly enjoyed it. They played for almost two hours, and they covered many of the most memorable songs from Spinal Tap and A Mighty Wind, interspersed with some comedic repartee and some reminiscences about the movies. They even took some questions from the audience. (They were all softball questions from gushing fans, as I recall. If I had gotten the mic and screwed up the courage, I would’ve asked Guest what happened to make his last movie, For Your Consideration, such a misfire.) The guys play and sing well enough for me, and of course the material is hilarious. Of course, the songs from Spinal Tap sounded a lot different in these acoustic renditions, but the crowd still ate up “Stonehenge,” “Give Me Some Money,” “The Majesty of Rock,” “Listen to the Flower People,” “Big Bottoms,” etc. The songs from A Mighty Wind sounded pretty much the same as in the movie, with McKean’s wife Annette O’Toole joining the band for “A Kiss at the End of the Rainbow” and “The Good Book Song.” They did some other songs I’d never heard before, which were all enjoyable enough except for one unfortunately scatological one about Elvis Presley. And they did a very funny, very sped-up version of “Start Me Up” by The Rolling Stones. I give this show an A.

Fleetwood Mac concert review

From the desk of The Movie Snob

Three friends and I saw the Fleetwood Mac show at the American Airlines Center last night. I think we all generally thought it was a good show. Christine McVie is not participating in this tour, but Mick Fleetwood, John McVie, Lindsey Buckingham, and Stevie Nicks all are in. They played a solid set of around 2 hours. Of course they focused on songs that did not originally feature Christine McVie on lead vocals, and they did lots of album tracks from Rumours. Lindsey Buckingham dazzled on the guitar, especially on a version of “Big Love” that he played by himself on acoustic guitar. Stevie Nicks looks like she hasn’t aged a day since the 80s, and she sounds pretty much the same too–maybe her voice is just a touch lower and huskier. Mick Fleetwood looks pretty demented, and I never understood a word he said when he addressed the audience. Somewhat to my surprise, they played only one of Stevie Nicks’s solo songs that I noticed, “Stand Back.” Anyway, the band sounded pretty good, and they did “Tusk,” “Say You Love Me,” “Go Your Own Way,” and most of the hits that Nicks did lead vocals for like “Gypsy” and “Dreams.”

The downsides: The volume was pretty comfortable for maybe the first two-thirds of the show, but then they suddenly seemed to jack it up to a painful level, where it stayed for the rest of the show. A couple of super-extended guitar and drum solos got a little torturous after a while.

And I have to complain about the AAC. We were on the first row of the uppermost balcony, section 321. Who designed these seats? They simply are not large enough to accommodate normal-sized adults. The four of us could not simultaneously sit back in our chairs, or our shoulders would have been totally jammed together. My buddy Mark, who’s over 6 feet tall, must have really been suffering. For $60, I would think we could get full-sized chairs!

But on the whole, it was a worthwhile show. I give it a solid B.

Carrie Underwood (concert review)

Concert review from The Movie Snob

This evening The Borg Queen and I went to see Carrie Underwood in concert at Nokia Theater in Grand Prairie. Safe to say, it was not my idea. But I figured it would be a pleasant enough evening, and I was right about that. Clearly I, a 40-year-old guy, was not the target demographic, a fact Ms. Underwood cheerfully acknowledged during her set. Anyway, an opening act called Little Big Town played for about 45 minutes or so. I was totally unfamiliar with their music, which seemed like pretty ordinary, middle-of-the-road country music to me. They did do a decent cover of “Life in a Northern Town,” the old 80s hit by Dream Academy. Then Carrie eventually made her way onstage and played for 90 minutes or so. I thought she had an engaging personality, great looks, and a decent voice. The only songs of hers that I knew were “Jesus Take the Wheel” and the one about destroying her cheating boyfriend’s car, and she also did covers of Fleetwood Mac’s “Go Your Own Way” and Guns n Roses’ “Paradise City.” I had a good time, and the scads of country music fans there seemed to as well. In fact, I sat next to a woman with three little girls who said this was their second time to see her this year. So there’s a testimonial from a true fan for ya.