Goodbye Tour Thousand 12

Madonna in Detroit: Three times a Lady (Gaga)

I've gotta admit, seeing Madonna live has been a lifelong dream of mine. So, when I heard she'd be coming back to Detroit last month and, even better, was playing Joe Louis Arena versus the overall downer that is The Palace of Auburn Hills, I knew I had to find a way to get a decent seat. Turns out, my view was perfect, as was Lady Madge.

Hearing the songs of my childhood gave me chills from first notes (particularly "Vogue"), and there was definitely magic in the air of the hometown she seldom performs in these days. The production of the show was spectacular as well and proved that the 50+ legend still has what made her a star. Madonna hinted that other artists (like Lady Gaga) may try to copy her (even integrating a bit of "Born This Way" into her performance of "Express Yourself" implying that one lady's attempt at flattery through imitation is another's idea of plagiarism).

Let's just say I'm still striking a pose over a month later.

All my photos are here, and a couple videos are below. Enjoy!

Madonna Setlist Joe Louis Arena, Detroit, MI, USA 2012, The MDNA Tour

I've got a fever. And the only prescription is more...

... Bieber.

So, anyway, I've been really terrible about updating on my last two concerts. On November 2, I took my dear cousin, Bridget (14) to see Justin Bieber live in Louisville. It was Bridget's first concert ever, and the Biebs did not disapoint. He brought his trademark angel-faced yum to the mass of preteen girls at the KFC Yum Center, inspiring his fans to invent a new decibel level that started even before he took the stage (flying in on massive angel wings, no less) and lasting well into the evening until the show ended at a ripe 9:50 p.m.

Guys, I don't like to make premature assumptions, but I think this kid is going places.

Carly Rae Jepsen was the opening act, and I hope she enjoys everyone who calls her (maybe) during her 14th minute, because I'm not sure we'll remember her much in a couple years.

Check out the rest of my photos here, and a couple videos below.

Kelly Clarkson announces new single, Greatest Hits album!

Exciting news today for Kelly Clarkson fans (and music fans who have yet to be brought over to the not-so-dark side). Kelly has revealed the title of a brand new song, and it's set to debut in mere days. "Catch My Breath" will be the first single on her Greatest Hits - Chapter 1 release, set to hit stores on November 19 (yep, that's right, the solid Stronger era appears to be over).

"Catch My Breath" is co-written by Kelly, Eric Olson, and Jason Halbert, a familiar face to KC's fandom as her long-time musical director, collaborator and friend.

Below is the official press release from Sony Music Entertainment:



(New York, New York) – Global superstar Kelly Clarkson is set to release Greatest Hits – Chapter 1 on November 19th (International release dates may vary).  This greatest hits compilation will feature three new tracks from Clarkson as well as a compilation of some of her greatest hits to date.

Kelly’s new single, “Catch My Breath” is set to impact radio and will be available for sale at all digital providers on October 16th.  “Catch My Breath” is co-written by Clarkson, Jason Halbert and Eric Olson.

Earlier this morning, Kelly posted a note to her fans on her Official Website expressing what this album and new single means to her.  She states, "It's been a decade now since I won American Idol. Sometimes it feels longer because although it has been exciting that was a lot of pressure to have as a 19 year old girl. To own a company, lead an organization as a business woman, and be able to create music I'm proud of has been tough but inspiring for me. To celebrate the strength and longevity that my fans, friends, and family have supported me with I wrote this song "Catch my Breath" with one of my best friends that has seen me through everything. This song represents who I've been, what I've felt, and where I'm headed as not only an artist but as a 30 year old that is now smart enough to know that it's time to stop, catch my breath, and be proud of not only what has been accomplished but of all the people that have helped me become the woman I am today.  The song will be part of my first ever greatest hits coming in November.  Thank you everyone that has been a part of my career and life. Here's to another decade of passion and fun! I hope you like the song…its coming next week!"
Read more here. And get excited, y'all!

Life and Breath and Summer Music

Like my friend Jon McLaughlin says, Summer is over, and I have been remiss in blogging about the last four concerts I saw over those lovely months. Now it's time that I catch up on those shows that took me as near as Detroit and as far as Nashville.

Javier Dunn

In late August, a very special and (for now) once-in-a-lifetime performance took place at the Wynne family home in Taylor, Michigan. Extreme lovers of live music, the Wynnes invited talented singer-songwriter Javier Dunn to perform in their backyard for a crowd of under 50 people. Some of you may know him as Sara Bareilles' touring guitarist and BFF, and he has indeed traveled the world supporting her music. However, this evening was all about Javi, his generosity and his gift. He played a gorgeous setlist of his own work as well as covers (including Robyn's "Call Your Girlfriend") for more than an hour. He also shared that he has recently signed a record deal with Red Parade Music and plans to release new music very soon. He also promised to come back to the Wynne's home next summer for an encore.

Check out all my photos of the evening here, as well as another video below of Javi's new song "79".

Jason Mraz

It's almost that feeling that we've met before: Kelly Clarkson & The Fray in Detroit

Despite a recently sprained foot and hairline fracture, Kelly found her inner Kerri Strug
and bounced around the stage like a champ
Friday night, Kelly Clarkson and The Fray (with special guests, Carolina Liar) brought their co-headlining Stronger/Scars & Stories tour to a rainy, yet very enthusiastic crowd at Clarkston, Michigan's (Detroit area) DTE Energy Music Theatre. Fitting town name for a Kelly Clarkson concert, eh Seacrest? (see: 3:55.)

I know, you're wondering why these two seemingly different artists would choose to tour together this summer, but they actually have more in common than you think. First, both Kelly and The Fray began their professional music careers in 2002 and are therefore celebrating a decade of success. Second, while they've both earned rightful spots in modern music, they got their biggest breaks from TV shows (American Idol and Grey's Anatomy, respectively). Along those same lines, both artists' catalogs have become soundtrack staples over the past 10 years on the big and small screens. The Fray's career is arguably much more modest than Kelly's, but the two have chosen to alternate which artist headlines each particular show. In Detroit, Kelly took the stage first.
Isaac Slade fills in for Jason Aldean on his and Kelly's
country chart topper "Don't You Wanna Stay"

Concert review: Gavin DeGraw & Colbie Caillat - Sylvania, Ohio

Gavin DeGraw and Colbie Caillat brought their co-headlining tour to Centennial Terrace in Sylvania this past Wednesday, each putting on a nearly full set of hits. It was a beautiful, Toledo-area evening with the two artists performing their massive singles, as well as a number of other songs you didn't know you knew.

After a short and engaging set by The Voice season 1 winner, Javier Colon (who sadly has already parted ways with his new record label), Gavin took the stage to showcase his trademark voice, energy and soul. Highlights included his early singles "Follow Through," "Chariot" and "I Don't Wanna Be" as well as a cover of Aloe Blacc's "I Need a Dollar." Even Sweeter were songs from his newest album of the same name, including the title track, "Not Over You," "Radiation," "Candy," "Soldier" and "Run Every Time."

Playing catch up: Aretha Franklin and Fiona Apple in concert (not together, sillies)

I've been slacking lately in the concert review department. Over the past month or so, I've seen Aretha Franklin and Fiona Apple perform live in Detroit. Separately. Or that would be one effed up mashup.

Here's a little bit of info on each show:

Meeting the Queen at the King

Today was a very special day. As you see in the photo above, two co-workers and I met Aretha Franklin in front of a Burger King in Toledo, Ohio (you cannot make this stuff up). While the meeting was mostly random (with the help of my friend, Ashley), it was nonetheless exhilirating. Aretha Franklin is the reason I love music the way I do. She was my first love, and I am forever indebted. Next strawberry smoothie is on me, Ms. Franklin.

Sugarland Puts New Tour in Fans' Hands: Toledo Review

Sugarland kicked off their "In Your Hands" tour this week with a sold out show at Toledo's Huntington Center. The tour is designed to put decisions in fans' hands and to encourage interaction; the first show, as expected, was filled with a lot of energy and fun surprises.

In addition to singing several of their hits, Sugarland took requests from the audience (through their website, Twitter, texts and homemade signs in the crowd) to fill out their setlist. For example, two fans, one of which had waited in line since 2 a.m. that morning to get a front row spot in the "sugarpit," asked the band to play "County Line," and "One Blue Sky," deep cuts from Sugarland's 2006 album, "Enjoy the Ride." Jennifer Nettles, lead singer, had a binder full of lyrics in case of older requests because, as she put it, "we have a lot of songs!"

Say My Name, Say My Name

Kelly Clarkson's career began with the interaction of her fans, who voted her winner of the first season of American Idol. Ten years later, as part of her current Stronger Tour, Kelly has brought to the stage yet another interactive and exciting experience for her fans. Each night, after singing a cover song of her own choice ("Heavy in Your Arms" by Florence & the Machine), she sings a unique "fan fave" selection (requested through tweets with particular hashtags). On the tour so far, she has covered artists such as Coldplay, Etta James, Sara Bareilles, Heart, Pat Benatar, the Rolling Stones, The Beatles, P!nk, Patty Griffin, Brandi Carlile, Radiohead, India.Arie and many more. Before singing the song, she gives a shout out to the fan who requested that night's pick.

In Indio, California Saturday night, Kelly chose a song requested from someone very close to me ... ME! She sang "Secret Garden" by Bruce Springsteen (a song that, admittedly, Kelly has mentioned in the past is a favorite of her own) and gave her very best effort in pronouncing my very Jewish last name.

Check it out below.

Iron Ran: Miranda Lambert performs in Toledo

Just a couple months after Blake Shelton performed to a sold out crowd at Toledo's Huntington Center, his wife, Miranda Lambert, brought her "On Fire Tour" to town to do the same. Giving Toledo a little country ying to go with Blake's country yang, a take-no-shit firecracker with a tender side, Miranda performed all the hits of the past several years that have taken her from a Nashville Star runner-up to one of the biggest female voices of this generation. Sure, she can get her revenge on an abusive man in "Gunpowder and Lead," show her sultry side in "Fine Tune," or fight back tears in "Over You" - but she sure as hell won't spill her drink.

Check out a couple of my videos below and the rest of my photos here.

Kelly Clarkson: 10 Years Strong(er)

Kelly Clarkson brought her Stronger Tour to the general Midwest region last weekend, and I was lucky enough to catch two shows, one in Windsor, Ontario (just across the river from Detroit) and the other in Hammond, Indiana (just across the lake from Chicago). They were the second and third shows I'd seen on the Stronger Tour, respectively, but KC makes every time feel like the first.

Which reminds me - Kelly has toured the U.S. more than ten times over the course of her career, but the Stronger Tour is truly special. Not only is it a celebration of her newest album, Stronger, but (perhaps even moreso) it is a celebration of a ten-year career full of illustrious achievements in a pop world that's seen the comings and goings of dozens of similarly striving female singers in the same period (Jessica and Ashlee Simpson, Stacie Orrico, Ashanti, Christina Milian, Hilary Duff, Nelly Furtado, Leona Lewis, JoJo, Willa Ford, Ciara and more). While Kelly has climbed her share of mountains (and seen oh so many valleys), she's peresevered. She has, conservatively estimated, 15 hit singles that have topped the pop, adult contemporary, dance and country charts. Idol (the House that Kelly Built) may have brought her into public consciousness, but it's Kelly's drive, talent, and outstanding ability to captivate an audience that has kept her afloat in an unbelievably fickle industry.

Which is why, as long as Kelly Clarkson is producing music and going on tour, I will be there.

Check out my photos from the two shows here and here as well as a few videos I shot below.

KC State of Mind: Kelly Clarkson brings "Stronger Tour" to Radio City Music Hall

This past Saturday marked Kelly Clarkson's first ever concert at Radio City Music Hall, and also her first time ever in the building. Playing to a sold out crowd, she was clearly aware of and elated by the gravity of playing such a historic venue.

New York City *always* comes to Kelly concerts with fists held high (in the name of girl power, of course) and voices prepared to sing each heartbreaking and/or soul strengthening lyric. But this night was particularly special. It was only the fifth show of Kelly's "Stronger Tour," but she performed as if she had been perfecting her set for years. In a sense, she has, evident by the ease with which she sings her decade of massive hits, like "Since U Been Gone," "Because of You," "Miss Independent," "Breakaway," "My Life Would Suck Without You," "Never Again," "Hazel Eyes," "Already Gone," and more, each with a refreshed arrangement from previous tours. For example, "Already Gone" begins with a beautiful yet haunting six-part harmony and "Never Again" turns an angry "You Oughtta Know"-esque anthem into a somber piano ballad. 

Blake Shelton kicks off "Well Lit & Amplified Tour" in Toledo

Country superstar and 2011 CMA Male Vocalist of the Year, Blake Shelton, kicked off his Well Lit & Amplified Tour at The Huntington Center in Toledo. I won four last minute tickets from an awesome music blog, JustJared, and the management of opening act, Dia Frampton, who you might remember from Blake's team on NBC's The Voice. The seats - row 13th row immediately next to the extended catwalk - were incredible.

Starting off his 21-song set with his high-energy rendition of "Footloose" (from the 2011 film remake), he spent the evening showcasing the strength of his vocals, his humor, and his loyalty to some high profile friends.

Highlights included a, seemingly, off-the-cuff song about Toledo, which he rhymed with a number of things like "neato," "speedo," and "torpedo."

He also performed duets with opener, Justin Moore, as well as Dia Frampton.

However, the definite peak of the night came from (I swear on her name it was) a surprise appearance by Kelly Clarkson, who joined Blake to sing "Don't You Wanna Stay," the Grammy-nominated duet typically sung by Kelly and Jason Aldean.