Concert reviews (Summer 2010)
B.B. King at the Hollywood Bowl
Reviewed by Julian Marenco, 16, The School of Arts and Enterprise (Pomona)
I saw the show of a lifetime when I saw the legendary bluesman B.B. King at the Hollywood Bowl this past Wednesday. King has been my idol since I first heard his music five years ago while listening to a CD at Amoeba Music. I enjoy listening to the blues because I can relate to the lyrics about heartbreak and love. This concert was no different. I was stuck in my seat from start to finish, enjoying every second of the show. I don’t think I would have left the Bowl after the show if the ushers hadn’t escorted me to the exit.
King’s set began with the stage lights flickering wildly as the band began playing, each note being cheered on by the jubilant crowd waiting for the King of the Blues to take the stage. The bandleader made the crowd dance until B.B. decided to join his peers onstage. An entourage of four people walked him to the center of the stage where a chair, an amp, and Lucille (his guitar) awaited him. The crowd gave him a standing ovation with the first note he struck. I cried because of how powerful his music was and I noticed that I wasn’t the only one. The couple next to me was tearing up as well.
The concert was a mixture of storytelling and performance. Every story spoke of the life of an artist who has faced challenges over the years such as aging, like when he performed “See That My Grave Is Kept Clean.” He also sang about his many travels as a blues artist with the song, “Blues Man.”
During his 90- minute set, the cheers swelled so much that it was difficult to hear the band. I couldn’t believe that an 84-year-old could still play music with the same passion as a young man. His rendition of Big Bill Broonzy’s “Key to the Highway” was beautiful. I closed my eyes during the song so I could listen to the guitar.
In a world full of amateurs and wannabe’s, 40-plus years of being a bluesman sure puts King in the position of a wise teacher. Each note that rang out from his beloved Lucille showed his prowess as the King of Blues. Each guitar lick was struck with such ferocity, people in the crowd would cheer, “You go B.B., make Lucille cry!”
On his last song, “The Thrill is Gone,” B.B. was joined on vocals by most of the crowd, ending the show on a high note. As B.B. announced it was the end of the show at 10:30 p.m., sighs came from the audience. He laughed and said, “’till next time everyone.”
The nights only downside was I missed Buddy Guy‘s opening performance because of the terrible traffic and the Bowl’s horrible parking. I had been excited to hear his music because of its unique Chicago-style blues but was still happy about the show.
As B.B. walked his way towards the exit, the bandleader continued to direct the remaining musicians. When King got near the exit he tilted his hat, nodded his head toward the crowd and went on his way. It was a humbling moment. A man who has spent his entire life performing for fans waiting to be amazed by his guitar, ended the show by a simple, courteous bow. The Thrill will never be gone for B.B. King, for his fans, and for me. This was the best concert I have ever been to.
La Roux at the El Rey
Reviewed by Christian Santiago, 16, University HS
La Roux is most known for their first hit single “Bulletproof” but I am a fan of all their songs because their music is catchy, electric and fun. I saw them at the El Rey Theatre last October but it wasn’t a full set and lead singer Elly Jackson’s voice wasn’t all that great because she was sick. I was looking forward seeing them play at Club Nokia on Thursday night because it is a bigger venue. It was a great show, but Jackson wasn’t at her best vocally. I still had fun but it was disappointing that she was sick again.
They started with a powerful song, “Tigerlily.” I was screaming at the top of my lungs when she appeared with a long, furry sleeveless robe, which made her look like a queen. I felt privileged to be in the front row. But as she was singing her voice sounded forced. After that song she announced that she was a sick and apologized.
The best song of the night was “Armour Love” because I felt an emotional connection when she sang “You pull on your Armour and put up defences.” To me the song is about keeping your feelings to yourself. It seemed really raw and honest when she sang that song.
The final song of the night, an extended version of “Bulletproof,” was exciting and colorful. The opening beats were extended to 50 seconds and the crowd was hyped up. Then all of the sudden Jackson came out from backstage, and as she started singing everyone including me was singing along. It sounded way better live than the recorded version because it felt like she meant what she was singing. To me she is telling us she won’t get pushed around and to be true to yourself.
There was a much bigger crowd compared to her performance at the El Rey since Club Nokia holds more than 2,300 people and the El Rey holds about 900. It was more exciting because the bigger crowd gave it more energy.
They didn’t play “Cover My Eyes” and “Reflections are Protections,” which are two of my favorite songs from the self-titled album, but managed to sneak in a cover of The Rolling Stones’ “Under My Thumb.” I liked the way they interpreted the song because they fused their electronic style with an original rock song.
It was a bittersweet concert. I wish Jackson sang better because that would have made the concert a lot better, but all in all it was a good show.