The 50 Greatest Live Acts Right Now (at least according to Rolling Stone)

Rolling Stone_bruceSo the cover story of the new issue of Rolling Stone is all about the hottest acts on the road. Of course, any kind of top-whatever list will lead to all sorts of disagreements (just check out the comments on the magazine’s website), but I can heartily agree with their choice for number one on the list. Hint: It’s the fella on the cover.

Yeah, yeah, I know…I’m biased. But c’mon…who else could it be? I’ve seen Springsteen 13 times since 1984; three of those on the Wrecking Ball tour that just finished up in Europe. Whether it was with the E Street band, solo, or with the “other band” (well, maybe not that last one), every show was a unique and memorable experience. No two shows were ever exactly alike. And on the most recent tour, he played a whopping 223 different songs over the course of 129 shows.

Here’s what the magazine had to say about their top choice:

Springsteen has always brought nearly superhuman levels of energy to his shows, but his current Wrecking Ball tour stands as one of his greatest and most thrilling. (It even featured the longest Springsteen show ever – four hours and six minutes, in Helsinki, Finland, on July 31, 2012.) For more shows, Springsteen shreds the pre-planned setlist and collects request-bearing signs from the crowd, leading the band in impromptu renditions of covers by everybody from The Ramones to Jackie Wilson. “I don’t look at the setlist very much during the night,” he recently told Rolling Stone’s David Fricke. “I’m listening to the song we’re playing – it’s talking to me about what to play next. And I’m watching the audience. Sometimes it’s the look in someone’s eyes about how bad they want to hear that song they’ve written on a piece of cardboard or their head.”

I’ve listed the top 20 below, and you can find the rest and read the whole story here. And check out the great fan-filmed clip at the end of the post from the Springsteen show at Toronto’s Rogers Centre last August. I was there, and it was outstanding.

1. Bruce Springsteen

2. Prince

3. The Rolling Stones

4. Arcade Fire

5. Neil Young

6. Jay Z

7. Radiohead

8. Jack White

9. Rage Against The Machine

10. My Morning Jacket

11. U2

12. Wilco

13. Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers

14. The Black Keys

15. Paul McCartney

16. Alabama Shakes

17. Nine Inch Nails

18. Metallica

19. The Roots

20. Kanye West


What do Prince and Tom Jones have in common? Hint: candles and cake

prince-2012-500x286Tom JonesToday is the day his royal purpleness and the Welsh-born vocal powerhouse celebrate their birthdays. Prince is 55, Jones is 73. Both are still producing new music and performing live. In Prince’s case, he released some new songs (including this killer track) earlier this year with his new back-up band 3rd Eye Girl  and has played some club dates, including a not-so-well received gig in Vancouver. As for Jones, he’s showing no signs of slowing down anytime soon. His most recent album, 2012’s Spirit In The Room, was well-received by critics and he too has been playing small gigs, a recent show at NYC’s Bowery Ballroom among them.

Happy Birthday, gents. Keep on doin’ what you’re doin’.

Here’s Prince at the recent Billboard Music Awards:

Here’s Tom Jones’ cover of Leonard Cohen’s Tower of Song from Spirit In The Room. Have a listen, you might be surprised. It’s a long way from this.

The “Monday mid-afternoon, it’s snowing, I’m tired, and just feel like going to bed” Shuffle Report


The Shuffle Report: 10 songs I listened to, in order, on my iPod in shuffle mode at a given point in time. No editing, no skipping. It is what it is.

Crappy day outside, and I’m not feeling great either. Everyone at home has been sick; now it’s my turn I guess. As I try to think of happier thoughts, here are the tunes that came up in the rotation this aft. Now where did I put those damn Ricola lozenges?

1. Me and You (Against The World)—Joe Jackson (Blaze of Glory) [Great late 80’s effort.]

2. Tangled and Dark—Bonnie Raitt (Luck of The Draw) [Solid track from the same album that gave us ‘Something To Talk About.]

3. Can’t Stop Loving You—Joan Armatrading (What’s Inside) [One of my favourite songwriters.]

4. Riviera Paradise—Stevie Ray Vaughan (The Real Deal: Greatest Hits Volume 2) [Love this slow groove instrumental.]

5. Nightrider—Electric Light Orchestra (Face The Music) [Not one of their bigger hits but a great track nonetheless.]

6. Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town—Bruce Springsteen [Hey, with the snow that’s falling today, it certainly looks that way. And Bruce’s version of the song is the only one that matters anyway.]

7. You Like Me Too Much—The Beatles (Help!) [Stellar disc start to finish.]

8. Horse With No Name—America (History: America’s Greatest Hits) [70’s AM radio classic.]

9. The Tears of A Clown—Smokey Robinson & The Miracles (The Ultimate Collection) [One of the greatest of the Motown roster of stars.]

10. Kiss—Prince (The Hits 2) [Just a guitar, keyboard and drum machine. Killer.]

The Who to play 2010 Super Bowl?


In 2005, it was Paul McCartney. Then came the Stones, followed by Prince (in the rain, natch) Tom Petty and last year’s great performance by Bruce Springsteen. I have to admit, I’m not a big football fan (I prefer hockey and basketball), but like millions of others I usually jump on the Super Bowl bandwagon every year, if for nothing else then to tune in to the halftime show, which has been quite the spectacle over the last few years.

Now comes rumour that The Who will be taking the stage at the 2010 extravaganza known as Super Bowl XLIV, set for February 7th in Miami. This has not yet been officially confirmed by either the NFL or the band, so stay tuned.

The Who are apparently working on new music for their next album, a follow-up to “Endless Wire“, released in 2006. I can only hope another tour will follow and this time they’ll stop in Toronto. On the last tour, they bypassed Toronto in favour of Hamilton.

Until their (let’s hope) Super Bowl performance, here’s a great clip of the band from Switzerland in 2006. They still got it.

Still Goin’ Crazy After All These Years


With apologies to Paul Simon, today marks the 25th anniversary release of Prince’s landmark album, Purple Rain. While his previous release, 1999, gave him his first taste of true commerical success, it was Purple Rain that launched his career into the stratosphere, going on to sell over 13 million copies. I was never a big fan of the movie, but the soundtrack was an outstanding fusion of funk, r&b and hard rock that still holds up today.

Prince of course went on to have well publicized battles with record companies, changes to his name (What? You’re a symbol now? Wait, now you’re Prince again?) and more hits like Raspberry Beret and Kiss. And then there’s that guitar playing. Say what you want about his idiosyncracies, but in my opinion, he’s one of the best rock guitarists out there. However he’s never matched the power and success that was Purple Rain, and probably never will again. But we’ll always have 1984.

Watch the music video for “Let’s Go Crazy” here.