Elton, Paul Simon/Sting to make tour stops in Toronto and Montreal

Two BIG concert announcements to tell you about. First up: Sir Elton John and his band will be playing Montreal and Toronto Wednesday February 5th and Thursday February 6th respectively. According to his website.  Elton and the band will be playing classic album tracks from his incredible five-decade career, as well as a selection of songs from his new album, The Diving Board, which was released on Capitol Records in September.

This will be the 18th time that Elton has performed in Montreal (the first being in October 1972) and the seventh time at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto.

Tickets for the Montreal show (prices not listed) go on sale to the general public on Saturday, November 9 at noon at evenko.caTickets for the Toronto show ($71-$171 including the fees) go on sale to the general public on Friday November 8 at 10:00 a.m. at ticketmaster.ca.

I’ve seen Elton three times in 1980, 1982, and 2006. At the 1980 show his opening act was a UK singer named Judy Tzuke who was signed to Elton’s Rocket Records label at the time. In 1982, the opening act was Quarterflash (remember “Harden My Heart“?); both Elton and Quarterflash were labelmates on Geffen Records at the time.

Check out my ticket stub from the 1980 show. Note the price:

Elton John 1980

The other BIG announcement:

Paul Simon Sting

Yep, this one is interesting. Paul Simon and Sting are hitting the road for a short joint tour that runs February 8th-March 16th (with more dates possible) with stops in Montreal (Friday February 28th) and Toronto (Saturday March 1st). According to what I’ve read, the tour will likely follow a pattern of each performer playing their own hits followed by some duets.  This one won’t be cheap, though (at least for the Toronto show).

I’ve seen Paul Simon three times, including the amazing Graceland tour in 1987; Sting just once when he paired up with Annie Lennox for their 2004 tour. That last one was a fantastic show.

Tickets for the Montreal show (prices not listed) go on sale to the general public on Tuesday November 12 at 10:00 a.m. at evenko.caTickets for the Toronto show ($63-$268 including the fees) also go on sale to the general public on Tuesday November 12 at 10:00 a.m. at ticketmaster.caHowever, there are presales that begin TOMORROW Wednesday November 6th as follows:

Fan Pre-sale

Start: Wed, 11/06/13 10:00 AM EST
End: Fri, 11/08/13 03:00 PM EST

VIP Packages Pre-Sale

Start: Wed, 11/06/13 10:00 AM EST
End: Mon, 11/11/13 10:00 PM EST

Front Of The Line By American Express

Start: Thu, 11/07/13 10:00 AM EST
End: Sat, 11/09/13 05:00 PM EST

VIP Packages Post-sale

Start: Tue, 11/12/13 10:00 AM EST
End: Sat, 02/08/14 05:00 PM EST

Get out your wallets now. Looks like the 2014 concert season is going to be expensive.

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Coming to stores November 5th: The Human Rights Concerts

This sounds like an awesome set. Great for the music lover on your holiday shopping list.

hrc-dvd-cover

The following comes from humanrightsconcerts.com:

The “Human Rights Concerts” is the collective name of the series of concerts presented by the Nobel Peace Prize-winning human rights organization Amnesty International in the years 1986-1998. 2013 is the 25th anniversary of the most high-profile of all the concerts in the series – the “Human Rights Now!” world tour. A six-week, five-continent, fifteen-nation, twenty-concert tour of the world in 1988 raising awareness of the human rights cause – headlined by Bruce Springsteen, Sting, Peter Gabriel, Tracy Chapman and Youssou N’Dour.

In celebration of this anniversary – and to raise further funds for – and consciousness of – Amnesty, the films of all the “Human Rights Concerts” have been digitally restored and are to be released in 2013 in DVD, audio and digital formats. Three of the four films have never been available in any format since their one-time-only airing on TV – making the upcoming release all the more exciting.

The complete concert set will be released on a 6-disc DVD box-set in the Fall of 2013. The title of the box-set is “¡RELEASED!”

In addition to the DVD set, the audio release in the USA & Canada will be a 2-disc set containing 30 songs drawn from the four concerts. There will also be a digital release of all 120 songs from the four concerts. (Fans outside of North America will see the release of four individual CD sets – one set for each of the four concerts.)

Check out this clip from the 1988 tour featuring Bruce Springsteen, Sting, Peter Gabriel, Tracy Chapman and Youssou N’Dour performing Bob Dylan’s “Chimes of Freedom”:

It’s Friday. That’s my 2nd favourite F word. How about some F songs?

ipod-classic-accessories-3To be filed under ‘why not’:  I took a rough count of the number of songs that begin with “F” on my iPod: 328. That includes songs that start with “The” as in “The Fever”. Listing all of them and adding links so you can have have a listen would be somewhat of a ridiculous undertaking, so instead I have provided a sampling. I chose them based on alphabetical order, moving down the alphabet and choosing the first two (if there are two) for each letter that’s the second letter in the song title. Hope that makes sense. It’s an interesting mix of tracks.

1. F The CC–Steve Earle (Note: really funny, but NSFW)

2. F.I.N.E.–Aerosmith

3. Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa (Sad Song)–Otis Redding

4. Face Dances Part Two–Pete Townshend

5. Fear For Your Future–Ronnie Wood

6. Fear of Falling–Robbie Robertson

7. Fiddler’s Green–The Tragically Hip

8. Fields of Gold–Sting

9. The Flag–Barenaked Ladies

10. Flamethrower–J. Geils Band

11. FM–Steely Dan

12. Folds In Your Hands–Passion Pit

13. Follow–Susan Tedeschi (just a sample for this one)

14. Fractured Mirror–Ace Frehley

15. Fragile Bird–City and Colour

16. Ft. Worth Blues–Steve Earle

17. F*ck You (NSFW)–Cee Lo Green

18. Full Moon–The Kinks

Tidbits on new discs from U2, Sting and…Billy Idol?

U2Ok, first up…U2. The band was in New York City at the end of last week with producer Danger Mouse who is putting the finishing touches on the new disc that supposedly will be released in the last quarter of 2013. The disc will be the foll0w-up to 2009’s woefully underwhelming No Line On The Horizon. Initially there were rumours that the band was planning to release an album of additional material worked on during the Horizon sessions but (thankfully) that idea was kiboshed.   As for the direction of the as-yet untitled new disc, who knows, but in a recent Globe and Mail article producer Daniel Lanois stated that he has heard some of the new tracks and that it was “Very, very big and powerful-sounding. Some of it was adventurous. There were shades of Achtung Baby. A couple of songs I was familiar with, because we worked on them before but had not completed them. Now they’re back on the burner. Bono is very excited, and he’s singing beautifully.”

stingAs for Sting, he also has a new album slated for a September 24th release, his first of original material in a decade. Entitled The Last Ship, his website says the album “grew out of the songwriting Sting has been doing for a musical of the same name, which the producers hope will run on Broadway in 2014. That play is set in a shipyard in Wallsend, England, near where Sting, born Gordon Sumner, spent his youth. The title song is a waltz-time folk tune, heavy with Christian imagery and told in a Northern English dialect. It freights the launching of the last ship from the yard with spiritual significance. Another song, “And Yet,” is a jazzy funk number, sung from the point of view of a sailor arriving in his home port and wondering about a woman he left behind. “Dead Man’s Boots,” meanwhile, is a tense dialogue between a father who works in the shipyard and a son who wants to do something else with his life.” For those of you hoping for something a little closer to rock n roll, you may be disappointed. His last three albums:  an album of covers of a Renaissance lute master in 2006, a holiday album in 2009 with a few originals and a symphonic album in 2010 with orchestral arrangements of his previous work.

BILLY IDOLAnd finally, for those of you want more, more, more Billy Idol is working on his first new album in eight years. He recently told Billboard magazine that he’s “been gradually putting new songs together. A couple of them are a little more ballad-like, but of course we balance those off against a lot of the sort of fun Idol songs that people know and expect.” No release date has been set. This will be the first set of new material from the rebel yeller since Devil’s Playground in 2005.

And now, a musical interlude. Some personal faves from U2, Sting and Billy Idol:

Springsteen to be honored as MusiCares Person of the Year.

grammy

[Editors’ note: I can actually talk about other music besides Springsteen, but hey, when a story presents itself… :-)]

From grammy.org:

Jon Stewart is set to host the tribute concert in honor of Bruce Springsteen being named the 2013 MusiCares Person of the Year. MusiCares provides a safety net of critical assistance for music people in times of need. MusiCares’ services and resources cover a wide range of financial, medical and personal emergencies, and each case is treated with integrity and confidentiality. MusiCares also focuses the resources and attention of the music industry on human service issues that directly impact the health and welfare of the music community.

The gala will celebrate Springsteen’s exceptional artistic achievements and philanthropic work. Scheduled to perform at the concert are Alabama Shakes, Jackson Browne, Kenny Chesney, Ben Harper, Emmylou HarrisFaith Hill, Jim James, Elton John, Juanes, John Legend, Natalie Maines, Tim McGraw, Tom Morello, Mumford & Sons, Patti Smith, Mavis Staples, Sting, Eddie Vedder, and Neil Young. The sold-out gala will take place Feb. 8, 2013, two days prior to the 55th Annual GRAMMY Awards. Additional performers will be announced shortly.

Past MusiCares Person of the Year honorees are Tony Bennett, Bono, Natalie Cole, Phil Collins, David Crosby, Neil Diamond, Gloria Estefan, Aretha Franklin, Don Henley, Billy Joel, Elton John, Quincy Jones, Paul McCartney, Luciano Pavarotti, Bonnie Raitt, Paul Simon, Sting, Barbra Streisand, James Taylor, Brian Wilson, Stevie Wonder, and Neil Young.

The lineup as announced so far certainly lends itself to all sorts of interesting possibilities with respect to the performances.  A number of these performers are no strangers to Springsteen’ material, having performed his material or with him in the past e.g. Eddie Vedder, Tom Morello, Neil Young and Sting, who was part of the lineup when Springsteen was made a Kennedy Center honoree a few years ago:

The British Are Coming–Paul McCartney; Sting hitting the road. Also: frontman of classic rock band seeks guitarist to make beautiful music together.

Bunch of good stuff to report on today. First up is news that Sir Paul McCartney will be hitting the road this year. Tour details are just starting to trickle in, with only five dates announced so far:

Sunday 28th March Jobing.com Arena, Glendale AZ
Tuesday 30th March Hollywood Bowl, Los Angeles CA
Wednesday 31st March Hollywood Bowl, Los Angeles CA
Saturday 3rd April Sun Life Stadium, Miami FL
Monday 5th April Coliseo De Puerto Rico, Puerto Rico

McCartney hasn’t played the Hollywood Bowl since 1993. The Beatles of course played the Hollywood Bowl in 1964 and 1965 and those shows were recorded for a live album that finally saw the light of day 13 years later. A posting on McCartney’s website says more dates will be announced soon. Hopefully there will be some Canadian dates in the mix.

Here’s a great clip from the Good Evening New York City DVD.:

And while we wait for word on Canadian dates for McCartney, Sting has announced he will be heading out on a world tour, backed by the 45-piece Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra. The tour launches June 2nd in Vancouver. According to his website, Sting’s greatest hits will be reinterpreted with brand new orchestrations created especially for this tour. Selections will include fan-favorites such as ‘Roxanne’, ‘Next To You’, ‘Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic’ and ‘Every Breath You Take’, to notable songs from Sting’s enduring solo career – ‘Englishman in New York’, ‘Fragile’, ‘Russians’, ‘If I Ever Lose My Faith in You’, ‘Fields of Gold’, and ‘Desert Rose.’ Toronto and Montreal are on the tour itinerary but dates have not yet been announced. Sting will also have a four piece band with him onstage. Could make for an interesting evening. Did you catch Sting on the recent Hope for Haiti telethon? I thought it was a pretty good performance.

And from the “this definitely has possibilities” file: With the future of The Who in doubt due to Pete Townshend’s problems with tinnitus, Roger Daltrey has stated that he would love to work with Jimmy Page. Daltrey has told the BBC that he’s a huge fan of Page’s and would love to form some kind of supergroup with the famed guitarist, maybe some kind of blues project.

Page’s bandmate John Paul Jones is part of another supergroup, Them Crooked Vultures, along with the Foo Fighters’ Dave Grohl. And while Daltrey may have to wait and see if Page wants to do something with him, Daltrey will be hitting the road with another legendary guitarist. He’ll be touring with Eric Clapton for about a dozen shows in the U.S. starting Feb. 25th. But Daltrey and Page? An evening of Who Tunes, Zep tunes and classic blues tunes? Count me in.

Big guns lining up for Friday’s Hope For Haiti Benefit

The line-up of big ticket talent is starting to come together to join George Clooney and Wyclef Jean as they, along with CNN’s Anderson Cooper, host the Hope For Haiti benefit to air this Friday January 22nd from 8:00-10:00 pm ET. The event will be broadcast on CTV, MuchMusic and MTV as well as all the major U.S. nets. Comfirmed so far are Bono, Sting, Justin Timberlake, Christina Aguilera and Alicia Keys. Expect plenty of more names to be announced before Friday.

The show will benefit a number of relief organizations such as the Red Cross and UNICEF. On a personal note, I have donated to Doctors Without Borders.