Review: An Evening With Jason Mraz and His Guitar

A few years back I have discovered one of the greatest musical gifts I have ever received, because most of the artists I hold dear are the ones I discovered through an extensive period of trials and errors, and I must admit that Jason Mraz is one of them. I remember an internet cafe in my hometown, circa 2005, browsing Yahoo Music (remember that?) and stumbling upon Mraz’s Wordplay. I was so amazed by his flow, his witty lyrics and genuine feel good vibe, I became an instant fan.

After a few years, I moved to Bucharest and I had so many lows, with only his guitar and lyrics, as well as some Angels and Airwaves and Snow Patrol and Marilyn Manson to keep me warm.


Last night I had one of the best nights of my life, no doubt about it. Jason Mraz finally graced us with his presence, an event titled „An evening with Jason Mraz and his guitar”, and (I might add) his keyboard and harmonica. Two beautiful hours of love, music and incredibile words, this is the only way I can describe Mraz’s live presence.

Jason Mraz’s good natured spirit transcends the language barrier, his voice carried us last night to the moon and back, it gave us dreams and reasons to live, it gave us love and sadness and grief and hope, and I will forever be greatful for this opportunity to see one of my favorite artists bear his soul in front of me.

Just a small snippet (from a different concert, I can’t be bothered to record live acts and miss the good stuff):

I was happy hearing Plane and A Beautiful Mess and Butterfly and Please (Don’t Tell Her) and Mr. Curiosity and Tonight not Again, and many more! I’m sorry he missed Wordplay and Geek in the Pink, but I’ll take what I can get:

And through timeless words in priceless pictures
We’ll fly like birds not of this earth
And tides they turn and hearts disfigure
But that’s no concern when we’re wounded together
And we tore our dresses and stained our shirts
But it’s nice today, oh the wait was so worth it

PS: I will not post a setlist for this concert, just because for this kind of event Jason Mraz does not follow a pre-established list of songs. He just goes where the vibe takes him. And also because this is more heartfelt than anything I saw in a long, long, looooong time…

Review: IAMX – Metanoia Tour 2016

Last time I saw IAMX live, I was complaining about the static audience, but nothing had prepared me for March 14th. Nothing!

IAMX has released two more albums since our last encounter, one of which is practically amazing, and the other one is Metanoia. I thought about reviewing it a few times, but somehow it felt redundant for me to do it.

iamxMetanoia is a weird, weird album. It is said to be rooted deep into Chris’ depression, and it certainly sounds like it. However, early fans will love it, because it sounds so much like The Alternative and Kiss + Swallow, without the lyrical depth that made me scream „Chris, you decadent god!„. Newer fans might be a little confused, though… Metanoia is so rough, so blunt, painful at times and confusing. The album is missing the poetry that makes Chris what he is.

This is the first time I had to wait (not counting the pouring rain at the Killers & White Lies concert) so much to see one of my favorite bands. IAMX got a little lost on the Transylvanian roads, but the wait was totally worth it. Even though the band started playing 3 hours after the intended timeline.

As usual, Chris was so visual. The background played on loop disturbing images of love and loss, of hate and despair, of desert, naked bodies and broken hopes. How else would you know you’re at an IAMX concert?!

He started violently with I Come With Knives, one of the best songs he ever wrote. His keyboard players were demanding all of the attention, yet his voice managed to rule us all.

I never really liked The Alternative – not the song, and not the album, but this time it felt different. This time, Chris had a beautiful crowd all to himself, all of whom paid to see and hear him, and all of us were his devoted fans. In this light, the song made so much sense than it did a few years ago.

Happiness was the first song off Metanoia, and one of the few I really like. Depressing, raw and broken, Chris sang of despair and what more could I ask for? I was truly happy then.

No Maker Made Me is my personal anthem off Metanoia. I truly love the song, the message, the sound of it. I like its bluntness and the raw feeling I get when I listen to it, especially the screaming part of „you fucking sinner”…

In the Tear Garden we meet again. A song with so much meaning, so special and sad, it could only be followed by OCDEM.

Oh Cruel Darkness Embrace Me feels very ambivalent to me now. I sorta have a love-hate relationship with it, though the song is great. Sometimes it feels like irony, sometimes it plays out like demand-able hope. Who says it’s not the both of them?

Last time when I saw IAMX, Spit It Out ended the concert. It’s still my favorite song, my sad song, my beautiful song, and I really thought that’s the best I can get out of it. Yet, somehow, Chris outdone himself. Spit It Out grew up and this metamorphosis was incredible on so many levels. The song sounded like Chris was covering an oldie, so different, so mellow, still angst-y and depressing. I wish I could listen to this version and dissect it all day long, because it’s so different, yet so familiar.

Nightlife is one of Chris’s most used songs in movies and TV shows. You can hear it in How To Get Away With Murder (I think), in vampire movies and so on. This track reminds me of 90s ravers, even though I was never part of that scene. It has urgency, it’s raw, it’s primal and wild, and one of the best songs written by Chris. Even though it’s not universal, I really appreciated the inclusion on this set-list.

The holy trio of Metanoia was up next. Insomnia, North Star and Aphrodisiac followed up what was, I think, one of the best concerts I’ve been to. Insomnia is so demanding, so lost, but there comes North Star, determined and mature. Only Aphrodisiac can be played next, because it’s the only song suited for this color scheme. All three songs have different shades of grey, but Aphrodisiac is so evil, plotting weird stuff under tones of make up and promoting promiscuity in a way that allows you to go through the gates of heaven.

And because Chris is the master of emotional roller-coasting (is that even a word?!), he ends this with the amazing Your Joy Is My Low. This is one of the first songs I listened from IAMX, so I hold it dear and close. Keyboards all over the place, jerky rhythm, a bassline to die for and the amazing poetry that made me fell in love. With such lyrics, who can judge me?

You shift the play, push the curve to sit between your thighs
It’s a sign, it’s time to exercise the lines
You want the double cut through to wet, invade and slide
You slide and I’m awake and I’m the slave tonight

You lie, you lie to spare my life
You needed it, he tasted you inside out

Say it, your joy, your joy is my low
So you want yourself to stop
Say it, your joy, your joy is my low
And when you crack the whip, I crawl again

How can you remain complete after hearing this live? After witnessing Chris’s debauchery with such unaffectedness that makes me run after his bus tour and beg him to take me with them?

Of course, this could only be followed by Kiss + Swallow. Electronica through the roof! The bass rules this piece, and the way Chris says „zero” is so sinful and lovely…

It’s only natural I should admit by now the fact that listening to I Am Terrified live scared me. Not because of the lyrics, but because of the mismatch. It felt weird to hear it after the Kraftwerk-like gem that is Kiss + Swallow, however it wasn’t that bad. Just awkward. And sad. Terribly sad.

If the first encore came with Kiss + Swallow, the second one saw me amazed by the fact that Bring Me Back a Dog is still a thing. It’s one of my favorite songs, and this time Chris had a whole army spitting these beautiful lyrics back at him with voracity and passion. It was amazing!

The night ended with Mercy, one of the songs I avoid at all costs. Well, I avoid it after the first 60-70 seconds. It’s beautifully written, of course, and the vocals are perfect for it. But the chorus makes my heart ache, I almost feel like crying, so I try to keep myself sane by avoiding it.

I thought that this concert will bring me nothing new. Boy, was I wrong! Last time, I complained that Chris needed a better audience, but this time everyone present was there to support and love him. We were all one soul, mixed together with agony, anticipation, love, distrust, disappointment, hope and Chris. I’m so glad I was there, this was the concert I’ve been waiting for two years now.

Pic. The whole setlist here.

Review: 2CELLOS – On The Road

2cellosA long, long time ago, I was a Gleek, and this is how I stumbled upon 2CELLOS. At that particular moment I thought “man, these guys are awesome” and me, being the lifelong fan of everything about that bass (no treble!), was instantly hooked. This happened somewhere in January 2012, when Glee had that Michael Jackson special episode, and until now I almost gave up hope of seeing them soon.

Except only the fate had something else in stores for me, and that something else was a 2CELLOS concert in December 2014, after almost 3 years of constant listening and 2 albums released under the moniker.

Last night’s concert was rushed, and intense, young, and free, and old at the same time. Everything was filled with soul, and peace, and sadness, and completeness, and my heart was once again filled with music. And since I love music, beyond words and definitions and concepts, I’ll let the beautiful duo speak for itself.

As usual, Luka and Stjepan started with Benedictus. Maybe for some of you this might seem like an odd choice, but this song does the greatest thing ever: it builds up on emotion and raw cello, chasing away introspection while inviting curiosity in. This song will forever be one of my favorites.

I was never a big U2 fan, nor was I a Sting fan, but the covers for Where the Streets Have No Name and Shape of My Heart, respectively, are so hauntingly beautiful on their own, they deserve to be at least mentioned. Where the Streets Have No Name brings on an intense peace, while Shape of My Heart seems even darker and sadder than I used to know.

The Resistance is a great song on its own, but given the cello combination, it receives a little more depth and introspection and power, all the while keeping the same alert rhythm that Muse introduced us to.

I must admit I am not one of the biggest fan of The Magnetic Fields (I only started listening to them a few years ago), but The Book of Love has been long covered by other artists and it’s a well known piece. However, these boys manage to shape it into beautiful poetry, savage and free, and it’s such a pity that we missed this… And it’s such a pity we got to listen to Viva la Vida instead, which is a great song on its own, but I prefer The Book of Love better. Also, Californication was heard, but I was never a fan of this particular piece, and it fell kinda short next to the other songs.

Another U2 cover, this time With or Without You, the one that always screams “WE WERE ON A BREAK”, the one that always spells true love and the most beautiful U2 song I have ever heard.

The Michael Jackson duo – Human Nature & Smooth Criminal raised us all from our seats, and thank god for Welcome to the Jungle, Thunderstruck, Voodoo People, Smells Like Teen Spirit, You Shook Me All Night Long, Highway to Hell and (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction kept us all standing, dancing and clapping, because these guys know what they’re supposed to do, and they do it so god damn well.

For the encore, Luka and Stjepan got back on stage to unleash the monsters within us, with Back in Black (well, who’s a little AC/DC fan, huh?!) and finish with Fields of Gold, one of the best songs Sting has ever created.

A few comments on the side: I wish I’d see them recreating some Marilyn Manson (circa Mr. Tom Skold) or some good old fashioned KMFDM. Peter Gabriel, at the end of the concert, especially Don’t Give Up? Not bad at all. Somebody yelled several times Mombasa, but no one cared. Stjepan is the joker of them two, but Luka is the hard working guy I always imagined he was.

My final conclusion? Money well spent. But I still feel that something’s amiss – this year I haven’t seen yet the concert to end all concerts, except for Mr. Peter Gabriel. He’s always amazing.


Review: Peter Gabriel – Back to Front

Peter Gabriel is one of the greatest things that ever happened to music and me, so it was only natural for me to attend the greatest sermon that ever graced my eyes. Yes, I tend to use hyperbole when talking about gods, so please bear with me.

The Back to Front concert hosted on the 8th of May of this sweet year (joking, this year has been everything but sweet to me) was met with great expectations by me, and I am happy to say that these expectations were surpassed by Mr. Peter Gabriel.

I tend to Google the plot synopsis before I watch movies and TV shows, but I never look for set lists online, because I want my live experience to be virgin and genuine. So, except for one video of In Your Eyes, I didn’t know what to expect from Back to Front.

Mr. Peter Gabriel is very punctual, fortunately, and I did know that, but I didn’t expect to see him at 8:00 on the stage, announcing the beautiful Jennie Abrahamson & Linnea Olsson, who served as his backing vocals too.

I was glad to see that this great artist I have loved since I was little was still full of energy, with his raspy voice somewhat changed – it has a deeper, more serious tone, but it’s still sweet and full of hope. Whenever I listen to him I managed to drift away and dream of home, and dream of dreams, all the while I’m dancing and floating in space.

I tried several times to tell you about this experience, but I never had the full dictionary available. I am so sorry for being so poor with regards of words, and I am sorry I lack the imagination to tell you about one of the most awesome experiences I had when it comes to live music.

I remember the crowd, that special crowd you see only when live „old music” is playing. The crowd that suffered the limitations of the old regime, the crowd that found liberation in music, the crowd that still has values and still dreams while having its eyes open.

I remember not fitting in that crowd, because I am too young to fit in there, but not fitting in the Tiesto crowd either, because that doesn’t make me feel safe or warm, but I also remember Mr. Peter Gabriel making me feel at home with his music, so I guess there’s no greater achievement for an artist.

I remember feeling quite unsure of how to dance and act during O But, but I remember feeling full of home while listening to Come Talk To Me. Shock The Monkey was great, of course, and innovator, but then Family Snapshot followed, and I was left WTF?!

Digging In The Dirt was there to remind us of Perter Gabriel’s eclectic taste in music, as were Secret World, and The Family And The Fishing Net. No Self Control was awesome, musically and visually, and with Solsbury Hill the Master touched old fans and new ones alike. This part of the concert ended with Why Don’t You Show Yourself?, a song that’s part of the soundtrack for a movie that’s a part of a trilogy about drugs, prostitution (I think) and religion. The song has a message, but I think its concept was lost somewhere on the way, because the public was very bored during the performance.

The peak of the concert was, of course, the reiteration of So, the 1986 album. Red Rain started this session with red visuals, and everyone singed along with Peter Gabriel. Sledgehammer followed up and everyone was already high on music, but when Don’t Give Up started it was clear that this is the best version of the song. I am sorry, Miss Bush, but Linnea Olsson beat you at your own game. That Voice Again and Mercy Street slowed down the people, but thank god for Big Time, whose only purpose was to renew everything in anything. This song is truly so much larger than life, even after all this time. We Do What We’re Told (Milgram’s 37) is so underrated, and I really don’t understand why, and so is This Is The Picture (Excellent Birds). These two should’ve been taught in music classes, because stylistically they are so out of this world, I can’t even begin to…

The concert should have ended with In Your Eyes. Where else can I see 40+ year old guys singing songs that belong on teen flick soundtrack? But no, the next two songs pushed the public away, at least here in Romania. The Tower That Ate People and Biko ended in a distant note what should have been left at awesome.

The whole concert was a great experience, and I must admit that the crowd was even more engaged in the show than I expected. Even though some of the songs were a little bit too artsy fartsy for their own good, Peter Gabriel pulls that off, so kudos for him. I’d love to see him again!

Breaking News: Peter Gabriel in Romania!

I was planning on reviewing the latest Miley Cyrus album (yeah, I know, right?!), but before that I wanted to show you the album signed by The 1975 (you know them, old obsession of mine).

But my day was turned upside down (well, not quite) by the unexpected news that… Drum roll, please!

Peter Gabriel is coming to Romania!

Well, take a look at that. Let that sink in for a second or two…

And let me tell you what that means to me.

This means that my childhood is so-so near and that music that I hold dear to my heart is even nearer. I was a weird kid, as you already know by now, and I remember two videos with incredible precision.

One of them is SledgehammerAnd the other one is Steam.

And of course there are other sounds that mean the world to me, but Peter Gabriel was there with me when I grew up and I definitely want to see the guy live as soon as I can.

Soon being on 8th May, 2014. When certain things are to be celebrated. 🙂

Review: Depeche Mode – Delta Machine Tour 2013

enjoy the silence

This concert should’ve been called Dave Gahan, the stripper Elvis and his pelvis. This was my first impression of the show. The second one – this concert was a little bit lighter in energy than the one in 2006.

FOX opened the show, with an hour-long of weird music. The lead singer tried to be everything from Debbie Harry to Lady Gaga, with little success. Her voice was good enough for a rock band, but not this mashup of things.

After FOX finished doing their thing (whatever that was), there was a little break before Depeche Mode entered the stage.

On time, as always (to prove that they’re pros), Depeche Mode engaged in full-blown awesomeness with Welcome To My World.

Dave Gahan manages to do what he knows best: he makes the audience his bitch. His energy fills up the stadium and more and his voice moves the great mass of people like a wave, a single organism.

With a balanced setlist, Depeche Mode brings out the best in Delta Machine, while not forgetting old favorites. Black Celebration and Precious, Barrel of a Gun and Soothe My Soul, Enjoy the Silence and Heaven, everything blends in perfectly, alternating Dave’s voice and hips with Martin’s sensibility.

A few observations:

What’s with the shambala bracelets lately? Even Martin wore one, and I must say I dislike them even more now. They are feminine on men and not feminine enough on women.

Dave owns the crowd through Black Celebration. For a slow track, everyone seemed so full of energy, it was amazing. Especially considering the fact that they didn’t sing that one live since 2001.

Dave also makes the perfect ballerina on Policy of Truth, one of my favorite songs. He’s a god, just like Elvis was, making the people go wild, men and women alike.

The visuals for The Child Inside made Martin look like Nightcrawler. And I’m not saying that’s a bad thing!

The biggest disappointment (for me) was A Pain That I’m Used To. Back in 2006, they started the show with this one and it totally took me by surprise. It also blew me a away. Being my favorite Depeche Mode song (then, as is now), I had high expectations. In 2006, they were met. In 2013, not so much. They chose to do a remix of the song (‘Jacques Lu Cont’s Remix version), a slower version of it. I’m not big with the remixes and all and this one ruined a perfectly good song. Where is my sex song, I ask you? Well, I don’t know, I didn’t got my sex song last night.

The classics Enjoy the Silence and Personal Jesus rocked the joint. There’s nothing I can say of these two, except they’re perfect. Enjoy the Silence is their signature song, after all, and you recognize it the second it starts. Personal Jesus is also one of my favorites, being covered by Marilyn Manson (one of the few covers I really-really like), so to me there was no surprise seeing the people moving and singing as one person with Dave.

For the encore, Martin came back with Home, which I declared „my new favorite song”. He transports you to his world when he sings and even though, at times, I find him a better singer than Dave, I like him in small portions. Strong essences are kept in small bottles or, in his case, emotions and thoughts are better shown rarely, for you to appreciate and understand them. I especially enjoyed the recognition the public had shown Martin, applauding his genius and his soul bared in front of us. He deserved it, that and much more.

Just Can’t Get Enough took us back to the 80s. And oh, man, we loved the 80s! Everyone was dancing, everyone was happy and free.

I remember thinking that, for the visuals on I Feel You, they took Ciara and made her dance. The figure behind Dave was funky and raw, and Dave was raw too.

I really loved the visuals. Anton Corbijn did a really good job with those, as usual.

Two hours of my life filled with music and energy. Two hourse when you can chose to listen to the lyrics or you can chose to dance like Dave. Two perfect little hours. And I am speachless again when it comes to Depeche Mode.


Personal pic, Enjoy the Silence pictured, credit GM.

Everlast @ Key Club Hollywood 2011

Pot sa-l leg pe Everlast de mai multe momente din viata mea. Are vocea aia grava care calmeaza si versurile care ma fac sa visez cu ochii deschisi.
Povestile lui sunt simple, dar cu greutate, reale si intalnibile (is that even a word?) oriunde.

In 2004, fix dupa ce-am dat bacul, inca mai aveam vechii prieteni de la Scout, din liceu si de la internet cafe-uri. Imi amintesc de vara aceea ca de ultima vara a copilariei, si piesa asta mereu imi va rasuna in urechi in zilele molcome de vara moldoveneasca. Atunci am crescut cu totii si ne-am ratacit in lumea larga, fara sa mai stim unii de altii, uneori, fara sa ne mai pese. Eram deja oameni mari.

In 2006, cand am avut primul calculator, am ratacit prin hardurile din Regie, cautand ceva, pentru ca hardul meu era destul de gol la acel moment. (Era chiar hardul pe care mi-l cumparase tata cand ne-am vazut dupa ce m-am mutat in Bucuresti…) In aglomeratia de pe hub-ul RegieLive am gasit un album de-al lui Everlast. L-am avut pe mp3 player, apoi pe telefoanele mai destepte de dupa. Stiu ca eram usor deprimata, I don’t need no music expert to tell me that.

In 2011, cand inca mai lucram la un site care promova concerte, am aflat ca Everlast va veni, alaturi de La Coka Nostra, in Romania. Am devenit instant fan, chiar daca nu stiam mare lucru despre ei. Am recuperat si am ascultat to ce-am putut. Sunau bine, totul era perfect, era Everlast. Care n-a mai venit, si eu nu m-am mai dus la concert.

Nu stiu cum as putea descrie motivele pentru care-mi place muzica asta trista si sappy si usor girlie (la versuri, cel putin). Nu vreau sa le descriu. Vreau sa ascult concertul asta alaturi de oricine vrea sa-i dea play, pentru ca there is no art like music. Enjoy.

Sursa poza.