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|Written by Mike Cullen|
|Wednesday, 01 June 2011 00:00|
Awolnation -- Megalithic Symphony
I want to like this album. A colleague had me listen to Awolnation's 2010 Back From Earth EP, and I liked what I heard. There were times when it sounded like Aaron Bruno (Under the Influence of Giants), was mimicking some early Nine Inch Nails. Not aggressive, but that underlining tone of angry and resentment that made Trent Reznor incredibly influential in the early part of his career. Then I saw the video for "Sail," and was a bit perplexed. Aaron Bruno is a blond pretty-boy. Hardly the grizzled hard rocker that I envisioned, but I'velearned not to necessarily judge a musician by their hair colour.
Megalithic Symphony is a disappointing album. Instead of sounding like the new Nine Inch Nails, Awolnation sounds like a little boy who's acting out because he's been disciplined by his parents. It's overly indulgent, and for an album that should have had bite, it barely had a bark. "Sail," "People," and maybe "Burn It Down" are arguably the only decent albums on this track, and the rest of the album sounds like a high-school term project in music. I'm not usually the type to write an all-out negative review, but honestly, Megalithic Symphony was an important lesson that expectations don't always meet reality; buy "Sail" as a song, but skip everything else.
Beyonce -- "Run the World (Girls)"
There's no denying
that Beyonce has become a rather dominant figure in the music scene. She's now about to release her fourth album, she's had sold o
ut tours, Grammy Awards, and yet despite the mainstream success and the critical accolades, she seems to still be focused on her craft. No two albums sound the same, and she is not afraid to develop new sounds for herself. With "Run the World (Girls)," she continues this trend, but she may also be dating herself at the same time.
Produced by DJ Switch (MIA, Santigold), "Run the World" sounds like an MIA or Santigold song, and that's not necessarily a good thing. Their sounds are definitely a little left of mainstream, and breaking out of her comfort zone is good for Beyonce, but she now runs the risk of being compared to two acts that are still largely in a niche market and known for their unusual sounds. The casual fan isn't going to pick up on the similarities, but people with a keen ear will, and the comparisons will be made. That said, Beyonce does make this track her own, and while it may not be the most cutting-edge track, even by her standards, it does serve its purpose: to further develop Beyonce as a musical artist, and to cement the idea that her dominance and reign are not based on repetition, but on constant evolution.
Setlist: "Blood on Blood," "We Weren't Born to Follow," "You Give Love a Bad Name," "Born to Be My Baby, Lost Highway," "Whole Lot of Leavin'," "It's My Life," "Runaway," "We Got it Goin' On," "Bad Medicine/Pretty Woman," "Lay Your Hands on Me," "(You Want to) Make a Memory," "What Do You Got," "I'll Be There For You," "Who Says You Can't Go Home," "I'll Sleep When I'm Dead," "Work For the Workin' Man," "Have a Nice Day," "Keep the Faith"; Encore: "When We Were Beautiful," "Wanted Dead or Alive," "Livin' on a Prayer."
If this had been my first Bon Jovi concert experience, I think I would have been greatly disappointed. Thankfully, I've seen them once before, during 2007's Lost Highway Tour, so I know what the band is capable of. This time, without Richie Sambora, who is unfortunately back in rehab, the show was largely left to Jon to carry off. Don't get me wrong, Jon Bon Jovi had no problem keeping some 17,000 fans enthralled and rocking that night, but with the absence of Sambora, one really gets a sense of the magic that occurs between them. It would be like seeing the Rolling Stones without Keith Richards strapped to his guitar (that metaphor was intentional); the performance is there, it's good, but it just lacks that little bit of something that makes it that much more special.
That said, the show was just over two hours, and, for a greatest hits tour, was pretty representative of the Bon Jovi back catalogue. We got the usual suspects with "You Give Love a Bad Name," "It's My Life," and "Livin' On a Prayer," along with new favourite like "Lost Highway." Overall it was an enjoyable show, and the band really gave it their all even with a key member of the band missing, but next time I'm only going if the full magic is going to be there.
Kylie Minogue -- Aphrodite Live
Setlist: "Aphrodite," "The One," "Wow," "Illusion," "I Believe in You," "Cupid Boy," "Spinning Around," "Get Outta My Way," "What Do I Have to Do," "Everything is Beautiful," "Slow," "Confide in Me," "Can't Get You Out of My Head," "In My Arms," "Looking For An Angel," "There Must Be An Angel (Eurythmics Cover)," "Love at First Sight/Can't Beat The Feeling," "If You Don't Love Me," "Better the Devil You Know," "Your Disco Needs You" (fan request), "Better Than Today," "Put Your Hands Up"; Encore: "On a Night Like This," "All the Lovers."
If you had said five or six years ago that I would have the opportunity to see one of my favourite artists perform live four times in less than three years, I would have laughed in your face, saying that I would be lucky enough to see them just once. Sometimes, just sometimes, you get an even better hand dealt to you. Fourth time seeing Kylie Minogue, third major tour, and she just keeps getting better and better.
In support of her latest album, Aphrodite, Minogue has taken her live performance all over Europe, Japan, North America and by the time this article sees print, she will more than likely be in the midst of the Australian leg of the tour. For a woman with a 20-plus year career in pop music, longevity is not just something to celebrate, but celebrate loudly. The Aphrodite Live show was just over two hours long, and it was a near non-stop dancefest. Culling the best tracks from the album with many old favourites, Minogue cavorted with dancers, sang with gusto, and otherwise put on a performance that rivals peers half her age. The Montreal crowd was especially appreciative during "Get Outta My Way" and "Put Your Hands Up (If You Feel Love)," and there were moments when Kylie wore an expression of surprise: some 15,000 fans knowing the lyrics to every song. Her fans on this side of the Atlantic may be small in number, but we are a fiercely loyal and appreciative fanbase.
While this is her biggest and quite possibly best stage show to date, it wasn't the best experience for me. That experience will always be Toronto, in 2009, with a third-row centre seat on the floor. Regardless of the comparison, Kylie Minogue has proven to me, and many others, time and time again, that she is a force in the pop world to be taken seriously.