A great month of nostalgia!
Boyz II Men - January 24th - Terry Fator Theatre (Inside The Mirage Hotel) - Las Vegas, NV
This is a group I've always liked, but may have taken for granted as we tend to do when a band's songs are a constant presence on the radio.
I don't know if I've ever had the opportunity to see Boyz II Men live because I've never really sought it out like I do the other groups that are in my constant orbit.
It just seemed like something I'd get around to eventually and never prioritized. That might have actually paid dividends as the group I saw in Vegas on this night, felt like it could be the best chapter of the group's live career to date. With all due respect to former member ??? (the group performs as a trio with a stellar live backing band, the maturity, humor & class was presented in tandem with the entire organization still performing at the top of their game, that felt like it could have only happened this way, now.
My urgency began in earnest of simply wanting to have fun in Vegas on my only night off while in town working. I was scanning what the town had to offer that I would be interested in and when I saw Boyz II Men, I knew I had found my Friday night. What I didn't know or anticipate beyond a good time is that it would be so memorable. I get to the theatre inside The Mirage and that one of the first revelations. Usually for me, once your inside a Vegas casino they all look the same but the Mirage had a totally different vibe happening that was very enjoyable immediately.
Next my seat was one of the best in the house at second row center.
Juliana Hatfield - January 21st - Granada Theater - Dallas, TX
Returning to Dallas after a 15+ year hiatus, I was just so happy to Juliana Hatfield alive & kicking in any capacity. Hard to overstate how at one time she was literally the CENTER of my early 20's way back in 1995-96. Though she's been away geographically for all that time, she's still remained as amazingly prolific as ever. Since her last Dallas show in 2004 supporting that year's limp In Exile Deo, she has released no less than 7 solo records, 3 covers albums, 2 just last year, reunited the Juliana Hatfield Three for a record + 3 more albums with three more bands: Some Girls, Minor Alps & The I Don't Care's and released her memoir When I Grow Up. Whew!
That's alot of stuff to catch up on as I've done my best to keep up with her & her amazing output through the years. I really enjoyed 2005's Made In China LP & the covers records are alot of fun but I must admit I haven't connected with anything as much as her commercial breakthrough 1996's Only Everything. That album is forever etched in my DNA and that's why I will always make an effort to hear anything new she has.
While she's the consumate musician, same can't really be said about her as a performer & all these years later it still seems her social awkwardness hasn't really improved. I'm no Doctor & while I knew nothing about Mental Illness in 1996 the person in front of me in 2020 clearly has a medical condition. I always thought she was just really shy.
That didn't stop her from again writing all these wonderful albums & still able to show off flashes of brilliance.
The show itself was also a bit odd & oddly paced. First of all it was a Monday night & the Granada seemed cavernous as the 50 or so in attendance were spread out and you could hear everyone's conversation as if we were all sitting on the same couch. Hatfield is the opposite of bombastic so sometime it was painfully quiet. And then her latest covers records are polar opposites of dedicating entire albums to the Police & Olivia Newton-John & alternating those songs live might sound neat on paper but it was kinda surreal live and somewhat to the show's detriment.
Everybody Loves Me but You
Everything's for Sale
Hole in My Life (The Police cover)
Bottles and Flowers
De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da (The Police cover)
If Only We Were Dogs
When You're a Star
Hungry for You (The Police cover)
A Little More Love (Olivia Newton‐John cover)
Can't Stand Losing You (The Police cover)
Physical (Olivia Newton‐John cover)
When You’re A Star
Everything Is Forgiven
A Dame With a Rod
Stryper - February 16th - The Rock Box - San Antonio, TX
So technically this was only my second Stryper show and certainly the first of just them. I caught a unenviable set at Rocklahoma about 10 years ago of them having to follow the circus that was Jackyl that year (which I recently found out was lead jackass Jessie James Dupree basically publicly throwing a tantrum that they were not going on last, hear more about it straight from Michael Sweet on our TrickyKid Radio Podcast here).
I was in the SA to film Sweet for our King's X project and their amazing organization invited us to their show the night before. Admittedly I've not heard alot of Stryper in my life but have seemed to always be aware of them, even from their very beginning. I remember my sister (who's always had an interest in Christianity) seeing them in Little Rock as far back as 1985. Then in 7th grade while I was getting into Metal there were a couple of born-again guys in my school eager to turn me on to them. We moved to Texas in 1987, first friend I make? attempt to turn me into a Stryper convert. Now while none were quite successful in doing so, I can't remember a band in my lifetime with this kind of fan dedication. While they may not be plating arenas in most places any longer, I bore witness to a still very strong fan base selling out this 500+ venue on a Sunday night (weren't they all supposed to be in Church?) I kid, I kid.
While I was again largely unfamiliar with most of, if not all the material the show was quite enjoyable & these guys are still playing at their peak.
Calling on You
More Than a Man
In God We Trust
Always There for You
All for One
Soldiers Under Command
To Hell With the Devil