Diana Krall: The Pines, 8/8/2023

Northampton, MA

My wife is a huge Diana Krall fan. She has over a dozen albums, mostly ones I bought for her. She’s one of my wife’s “K girls,” along with Alison Krauss.

The first time I saw her perform was as the opening act for Tony Bennett on September 5, 1998. She sang, then he sang, and then they performed together. It was a great show.

My wife saw her at the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall. The only show I could find in that time frame was April 28, 2000, which my wife doubts because she was a poor graduate student.

Regardless. I got in my Diana Krall News feed on February 7 that she would be touring 19  shows between July 2 and August 12. On August 8, she’d be at The Pines Theater in Look Park near Northampton, MA.  I bought two tickets on Valentine’s Day in Section 2, Row B, Seats 201 and 202.

The day of the show it looked nice initially. By noon, I got caught in a downpour while going to the Albany Public Library. We left for Massachusetts, where we’d hit dry spots followed by deluges. But the forecast was that it’d stop raining by 6 pm.

This was good because The Pines is an outdoor venue, something I didn’t realize when I bought the tickets but learned subsequently. You know how some people say the weather forecasters are “never” right? This prediction was dead on.

The sky cleared as we parked – $15 for this “special event.” Staff people were drying the seats with towels. This was a great location. I took this with my phone from my seat before they told us we couldn’t.

The show

The show was scheduled to start at 7 pm, but it was about 7:15 when Diana Krall, the drummer, bass player., and guitarist, hit the stage.

The band was excellent, but the piano player was not. She’d sing a little, playing some perfunctory chords, and let them solo. You know a show is unbalanced when two drum solos are in the first half hour.

At some point, she clicked for a time. Her playing and singing of Joni Mitchell and Leonard Cohen’s songs was solid.  Then, after an hour, the show was over?

They did return for a half-hour encore. She played better. She was clearly touched when someone called out Tony Bennett’s name. But she couldn’t remember the words to the standards she’d sung for years.

At this site, I found this comment about the show we attended:

“I can’t express how excited I was to see her. She came out on stage late. She was either high, drunk, or on heavy meds. She could barely formulate a sentence. She stumbled a few times, trying to remember where she was. She would play and sing a little, then kept introducing the band members and letting them play solo. For the first 20min of the show, it seemed like her bassist was trying to keep her focused. At one point, she started jamming out, and I saw the bassist reach for his strings a few times to try to figure out what song she was playing. I’m going to keep listening to her old stuff. So very disappointed…”

The upside

Joshua wasn’t wrong. But someone could have an off night. What was more problematic was that I could find several reviews like this over the past couple of years, with one- or two-star (out of five) ratings. They ask: is she bored? Sick? On meds? The shows often started late, and the band did much of the heavy lifting.

My wife was more generous. Because of our proximity, she thought we were conversing in her living room. I suppose that’s true. I was looking for more, but it was still a nice date night at a lovely venue in the woods.

Cheap Trick, February 7, 2020 ALB

Rick Nielsen, Robin Zander, Tom Petersson, Daxx Nielsen

Cheap TrickI won a pair of tickets to see Cheap Trick at the Palace Theatre in Albany on Friday, February 7. But I wasn’t sure I’d actually go. It wasn’t something my wife wanted to do. I would have given both tickets away, but my offer got no response on Facebook.

It was a strange week. Tuesday, I felt unwell and blew off Bible study, but went to a meeting. Wednesday, I was better, but still woozy. Thursday, the daughter woke up about 4 a.m. with stomach pain, and I tended to her, skipping choir.

By Thursday night, she felt much better. But the school has a policy that you can’t go in if you’ve, er regurgitated in the last 24 hours. She had the last bout, of several, at noon Thursday.

Friday, I fed her and helped her with her homework. She went to school the last period, at 2 pm, to take a unit test. She was even well enough to take a youth trip to Vermont. The question was the weather. They were originally going to leave at 5 but it ended up she was the first to arrive at the departure point at 6.

At 6:15, it’s too late for my church’s First Friday event. And one of the performing groups couldn’t make it. On the other hand, there’s a 7:18 bus (#138) a block from my house that could get me to the Palace by 7:45. I have dinner with my wife. She wants to watch recorded figure skating on TV that evening.

Should I Stay Or Should I Go

I hadn’t left the house in two days, except to shovel the walk and take out the garbage. It appears that I needed to see Cheap Trick. Thank you, CDTA. The seats at the Palace weren’t too bad, one for me and one for my coat. They are off to the left, but only about a third of the way back.

The house was about 2/3 full when the opening act, a Chicago-area band called Rookie played. The three-guitar/bass/keyboard/drum group played eight or nine songs. They were quite good, though the lead singer/guitarist who sang the majority of the songs was clearly the best vocalist. He did the finest harmonies when the drummer sang as well.

The setup between acts talks about 20 minutes, an the theater really starts filling out, with a couple now to my right. Cheap Trick takes the stage. Immediately, the folks nearest the stage stand, which has the obvious cascading effect.

They perform ​Just Got Back, Hello There, Way of the World, Come On Come On, Lookout and Elo Kiddies before I decide, “That’s enough!” I sit. And so do random other folks. And I can see lead singer Robin Zander in his white outfit between the heads as he sings Magical Mystery Tour, In Crowd, and Speak Now.

Three original plus a scion

Occasionally, I’d see guitarist Rick Nielsen wandering across stage. I only brief caught bassist Tom Petersson, and Daxx Nielsen (son of Rick), who replaced drummer Bun E. Carlos about a half decade ago. Ballad of TV Violence, Ain’t That a Shame, and Waitin’ for the Man. There was lots of swaying through The Flame.

Then they end with two of the songs I, and everyone wanted, I Want You to Want Me and Dream Police. I don’t know what time it was, so I headed for the exits. But I discovered it was only 10:15, so I watched the encore, California Man and Surrender, from the back. The latter featured two of the members of Rookie. The member at their promo table says Cheap Trick has done that the last three shows.

I walk across the street to the bus stop. About five minutes later, the obviously happy crowd came out. The #12 bus arrived at 10:35, and I was home by 11. I was happy, not just with the concert but with the spontaneous evening. A good night.

Janet Jackson @ SPAC – July 26, 2018

Toward the end of the night, Janet Jackson showed photos of her father Joe Jackson, who passed away just last month.

Janet JacksonThe Saratoga Performing Arts Center or SPAC, just 35 miles north of Albany, is a venue where I’ve seen dozens of concerts. But none recently until I saw Janet Jackson last month with my friend Mary from church.

Janet is the youngest of the musical Jackson clan who I used to watch as Penny during the latter days of of the TV show Good Times. The Times Union reviewer is correct, that she “is one of the most important and successful artists ever.”

I’ll admit that I was much more familiar with the early work of Janet Jackson, the Control (1986) and especially the Rhythm Nation 1814 (1989) albums. Fortunately, she performed generous chunks from each.

It was clear that she wanted to both address the State of the World, the title of the opening video as well as the name of the tour, and to have her fans have a dance party. At 52, she has a LOT of energy, as did her eight dancers, along with a four-piece band and a DJ.

The Troy Record reviewer noted: “Toward the end of the night Jackson showed photos of her father Joe Jackson, who passed away just last month, during her 1997 hit Together Again. Michael Jackson, Janet’s brother, also showed up on the stage’s big screen during Scream, a song they released together in 1995.

We were glad to have gone. As Mary noted, “Fun show, great music, amazing dancing.” We were REALLY glad that it didn’t rain, because we had lawn seats and did not want to be sitting in a sea of mud. That’s something the younger selves could have endured. My thanks to my ticket benefactor, so the only expenditure was the $10 parking charge.

Listen to Janet Jackson:

The Skin Game Part I
The Knowledge

Miss You Much

What Have You Done for me Lately
The Pleasure Principle

All For You

What About

Together Again
Scream (with Michael Jackson)

Rhythm Nation
State Of The World

It’s odd that I haven’t been to SPAC in a while. I saw Joni Mitchell there in 1974 (Miles of Aisles tour), Talking Heads in 1984 (Stop Making Sense), Bobby McFerrin in 1999 with the Philadelphia Orchestra, other orchestra and ballet performances, at least a half dozen Jazz Festivals, and the 1998 folk festival with Lyle Lovett, Joan Baez and many others.

We gotta get out more.

The Vivaldi Gloria, part of First Friday at First Presbyterian

First Presbyterian First Friday: Concert at 6:00 pm, Gallery open from 5:30-8:30 pm

First Snowfall by David Hinchen
First Snowfall by David Hinchen

Each First Friday at First Presbyterian Church, 362 State Street in Albany, is an “Experience of Visual and Musical Art.”

Friday, December 5, listen to Antonio Vivaldi’s Gloria, featuring Deborah Rocco, soprano; Carla Fisk, soprano; Fiona McKinney, alto; and First Presbyterian Church Chancel Choir, with Michael Lister, director and Nancy Frank, organ.

Also: Music for the Season from the First Presbyterian Church Handbell Choir, Jack Holmes, director.

Group exhibition of paintings, photographs, mixed media, and prints by a wonderful selection of local artists.
A unique opportunity to find some great handmade holiday gifts.

Featured artists include:
Laura McCarthy, Keven Kuhne, Ray Henrikson, Ward Capeci, Gail Hinchen, Dan Gibbs, Diana Bangert-Drowns, Grace White, Tim Dumas, Duane Barker, Dorothea Osborn, David Hinchen, Helen vonBorstel

Concert at 6:00 pm
Gallery open from 5:30-8:30 pm
(Not incidentally, I’ll be singing in this concert.)

Seeing Paul McCartney live in concert for the very first time

Paul McCartney acknowledged the signs in the audience which led to a wedding proposal on stage involving a Rochester couple, with Jon singing When I’m 64 to Claudia.

c. 2014 K Durkot
c. 2014 K Durkot

I don’t know how to review seeing Paul McCartney in concert on July 5, what turned out to be the first stop on the US leg of his current tour. Want a review? Here’s one by Greg Haymes, and here’s another one by Greg, who I happened to see before the show, and I’d say they are pretty darn accurate.

Also saw Karen, one of my oldest friends, a Beatlemaniac before I was by a few weeks, and that was fab. (Sorry.) The Daughter and I took the CDTA down and back, and THAT was actually worked out almost perfectly.

So let me do a song-by-song musing:

Eight Days a Week – Karen saw his performance at Frank Sinatra School of the Arts last October, a highlight of her life, and he opened with that here as well. The Daughter (L) was so excited; this is the moment it became real, that she has actually seen a Beatle in person.

Save Us – a new song, the one with the line about “heat of the battle”. Enjoyable. I need to listen to that NEW album again.

All My Loving – The Daughter was in heaven.

Listen to What the Man Said -while I turned L on to a lot of Beatles’ music, I haven’t done nearly as good a job with Paul’s Wings and solo career. It was after this when Paul McCartney took off his electric-blue blazer and noted, “That will be the only wardrobe change of the evening.”

Let Me Roll It – it was at the end of this song (I believe) when the band segues into some Hendrix, after which Paul tells this story about Jimi hearing Sgt. Pepper, the title song, and playing it two days later, but asking Eric Clapton, who was in the audience, to tune his guitar; Clapton demurred.

Paperback Writer – some artwork by Richard Prince, an artist who lives in this area on the background screen. Among them were the nurses’ paintings.

My Valentine – his one new song on his 2012 album of standards, dedicated to his third wife Nancy. Later, L and I had this conversation about how often celebrities get married. But, I explained, “his first wife, Linda, died!” She knew of Heather, wife #2, from Dancing with the Stars.

Nineteen Hundred and Eighty-Five – even though L didn’t know it at all – I REALLY need to start with the Band on the Run album – she got into the uptempo sections of this.

The Long and Winding Road – the last song on Beatles #1s, which I gave her when she was five, to start the Beatles brainwashing.

Maybe I’m Amazed – the guy who was sitting on the other side of me was having a religious experience. It’s my favorite too, dedicated to Linda. No songs dedicated to Heather.

I’ve Just Seen a Face – after L and I saw the movie Help in 2009, I gave her a copy of the Help! album. (Yet because I grew up on the US LP, I STILL associate it with Rubber Soul.)

On My Way To Work – an impromptu addition to the setlist, unknown to the techies

We Can Work It Out – L’s second- or third-favorite Beatles song

Another Day – always thought this was a dopey song, but it’s better live

And I Love Her – I’ve long thought that, while Sgt. Pepper and Abbey Road were major accomplishments, putting out the songs for A Hard Day’s Night in the midst of Beatlemania was amazing. Probably the second album the Daughter received.

Blackbird – by this point, he’s solo on the stage, in this forestage that rises as he sings. He tells the familiar tale of writing this during the Civil Rights struggle, particularly in the American South.

Here Today – his song remembering John Lennon. When I first heard it, on the 1981 Tug of War album, I thought it was a bit cloying, but after seeing his 2009 concert in New York City on ABC-TV, which I subsequently got on DVD, I found it amazingly affecting, and I did so again.

New – a new song we knew, because it showed up in Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2.

Queenie Eye – L and I liked this new song, but it may have gotten the most tepid applause of all his songs.

Lady Madonna – love that psychedelic piano. There were pictures of women and girls throughout on screen, from Marilyn Monroe and Ella Fitzgerald to Anne Frank and the Mona Lisa.

All Together Now – this is a silly song, but the cartoon graphics onscreen were quite appropriate

Lovely Rita – at this point, L is hungry. Actually, she has been for the last several minutes. We squeeze past the other patrons and go down to the concession, where she opted for fried dough, with powder. I decide going back to our seats with this treat, while allowable, is not optimal. So we watch the next several songs from the large screen.

Everybody Out There – you know, he looks very good for 72. The left eye is slightly droopy, perhaps, at least on the big screen.

Eleanor Rigby – another of L’s favorites.

Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite – missed the laser light show, apparently. Love that he does a John song.

Something – Paul tells the story about being at George’s place and George playing the ukulele, so Paul starts the song playing a uke.

Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da – L thinks it’s “weird” that I’m writing down all the songs we heard. That’s OK, I think it’s weird that she’s watched that Disney teen beach movie more than once.

Band on the Run – we return to our seats. This song has been mildly spoiled for me ever since I heard side two of THE SPASTIC PHONO BAND, “WINGS UNDER JAPAN”, a parody of Paul’s 1980 marijuana bust. I’m sure that the song came out before John died. (Go to www.blotto.net, click on MP3s, then AUDIO.)

Back in the U.S.S.R. – Paul talks about going to Russia and finding officials who bought Beatles records, learning to speak English in the process.

Let It Be – I notice throughout the audience little white lights swaying to and fro.

Live and Let Die – I tell L that this might be a little scary. The song starts off a bit meh, and suffers from the terrible line, “But in this ever-changing world in which we live in.” But then the pyrotechnics come! My stars! I’ve seen it on TV several times before, but there is nothing like this live. L held my arm tightly; after she got over the initial fear, she really liked it.

Hey Jude – the usual ending, with him asking the guys then the “girls” to sing by themselves the “na na” parts.

He returns for the ENCORE, carrying a large American flag on a pole, while others had a New York State flag, and a UK Union Jack.

Day Tripper – another of L’s favorites, and mine.

Hi, Hi, Hi – Paul reminds us he means a natural high.

Get Back – another suitable ending.


Yesterday – I do believe this is required.

Then Paul acknowledged the signs in the audience (again), which led to a wedding proposal on stage with Jon singing When I’m 64 to Claudia.

Helter Skelter – Paul plays this a LOT in concert. I think he wants to be seen as a real rocker, not the guy with just the sweet songs.

Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight/The End – another failing on my part; L does not recognize the closing suite from Abbey Road!

As I suggested, a great, magical night. Happy am I.

And interesting how much of this show is different from the setlist of that aforementioned 2009 show. That suggests that he’s not just mailing it in, which was pretty evident by his energy and demeanor.

Here’s the Paul McCartney YouTube channel.
“Early Days” is one of the highlights of Sir Paul McCartney’s most recent album, 2013’s New, but its music video might never have happened if it was left up to McCartney.


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