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The Queen of Soul is with her Lord. (8/16a)
A royal dust-up (8/16a)
Tracking the swing of the pendulum. (8/16a)
Queen gets some special sauce. (8/16a)
A Travis takeover (8/16a)
Or as it's known in the trade-publishing world, Doorstop 2.0.
That stands for Artists and Repertoire, in case you were wondering.
I'm winning this one.
It's the new tape room.
Critics' Choice

By Phil Gallo

Halfway through their summer tour with Train, Daryl Hall and John Oates delivered the sort of hits-packed show Thursday they have been delivering the last few years as they make their way around the country in the warmer months. That the concert was held in Madison Square Garden, which was packed to the rafters, and continues to venues such as Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena and The Forum in L.A., speaks volumes about the lasting qualities of their music and the significant vocal talents of the two men.

The duo, the best-selling ever, are peaking commercially as a touring act. That was unfathomable a decade ago. Amazingly, in the 10 years since their electrifying set at The Troubadour that resulted in a live album and DVD, they’ve been piling up the accolades from peers, young musicians and a growing fan base that crosses generation and demographics; it has led to larger venues, more cities on each trek and an introduction before each show as Rock and Roll Hall of Famers.

Just think, 11 years ago, Daryl Hall was focusing his efforts into bringing little-known newcomers and old friends to his studio in upstate New York to film a web series while doing the occasional weekend show with Oates in markets that were usually secondary and tertiary. The web series, Live From Daryl’s House, which became a syndicated TV show, revealed what fans have long known: Hall is one of the most gifted vocalists of the rock & roll era. Now, at 71, his voice retains the expressiveness of his youth as he passionately rips through the classics “She’s Gone,” “I Can't Go For That (No Can Do)” and “You Make My Dreams” with no sense of nostalgic yearning. The songs may be played on oldies radio, but the live interpretations are fresh and urgent.

They do this despite keeping a good three-quarters of the songs locked-in to their recorded versions, using the rest as launch-pads for solos, extended group interplay and, during the finale of “Private Eyes,” a lengthy sing-along. None of it is excessive, merely a reinforcement of how solid Daryl Hall and John Oates have been as live performers for nearly five decades.

They have a new record, “Philly Forget Me Not”, recorded with Train, and Train frontman Pat Monahan joined Hall and Oates for three songs late in the set, the new one, “Wait for Me” and “Calling All Angels.” Bringing the talents together gives the show a distinct 2018 air—it would have been a delight to hear Tears For Fears with them during last year’s joint tour—but you can easily guess which vocalist out-sang the other.

Speaking of fresh and urgent…The day before Daryl & John played the Garden, Robert Plant performed at Forest Hills Stadium in Queens. Obviously a defining voice of the late ‘60s and all of the 1970s, Plant has become a calmer, more controlled singer, and they work marvelously in his current fusion of Delta blues, Middle Eastern rhythms and a soft twang offered by his fabulous band, the Sensational Space Shifters. (Hard as it may be to believe but Plant is a little less than two years younger than Hall.)

He can still wail—“Babe, I’m Gonna Leave You” rises seamlessly from the guttural to the ethereal—though he mostly works from the center of a song and works his way out rather than starting from the fringes as so many Led Zeppelin songs do.

Songs in the set from his stellar Nonesuch release from last year, Carry Fire, and its predecessor lullaby and…The Ceaseless Roar reinforce Plant’s position as a vital innovator. The evidence is in the polyrhythms underneath the welcoming melodies of “The May Queen” and “Carry Fire’”; the Chuck Berry-reduced-to-a-molten flow “Turn It Up”; and the early ‘60s R&B-Celtic rhythm mashup of “Rainbow.” Plant’s tour stops at Arroyo Seco Weekend on 6/24.

Daryl Hall and John Oates and Led Zeppelin had little in common in the 1970s. Today, though, they stand of beacons of rock & roll styles many fear will disappear from the mainstream. While there’s little doubt their songs stand up to tests of time, it’s amazing and gratifying to find the artists standing up so brilliantly as well.



By Phil Gallo

In revisiting Springsteen on Broadway at the Walter Kerr Theater nearly seven months after first seeing it, Bruce Springsteen has turned it into a better show these days.

He is looser than in the performances that earned him raves back in October, moving more onstage and integrating extra dynamics into the show through simple actions—stepping away from the mic or pushing the volume of a guitar.

At that October show I felt a subtle distinction between the portions of his autobiography he reads and the material written for the show; that separation is gone. He has a better sense of how to play for laughs and how to pause after lines get a round of approving applause—he’s not just playing himself, he’s learned how to use the skills of an actor to more dramatically tell a story.

At that first show, “Brilliant Disguise,” “Tougher Than the Rest,” “Thunder Road” and “Born to Run” were favorites; this time it was the medley of “Dancing in the Dark” and “Land of Hopes and Dreams,” “My Hometown” and “Long Walk Home.” In a Broadway season when complaints abound regarding the paltry selection of musical offerings, Springsteen continues to deliver a show that will be talked about for decades. And, one hopes, may inspire others to consider the Broadway stage when the opportunity arises.



It was 25 years and one day ago that the reborn Big Star—original members Alex Chilton and Jody Stephens, plus Posies Jon Auer and Ken Stringfellow—played a historic show in the parking lot of the Missouri Tigers’ basketball arena in Columbia, which became the title of the ensuing live album on Zoo. Our own Karen Glauber and Bud Scoppa, who have some history with the legendary cult band, wouldn’t have missed this special occasion for the world. Immediately below, engineer/producer Jim Rondinelli remembers that magical day and the events leading up to it.

“25 years ago, on one of the proudest if most intensely stressful days of my life, I had the honor of recording Alex Chilton, Jody Stephens, Ken Stringfellow and Jon Auer for the Big Star Columbia album.

“We had a few days of rehearsals in Seattle, but logistics precluded a full sound check on the day of the show. The final album is presented as the show was played---one shot, no overdubs. Oh yeah—I should mention that this show of a lifetime was happening outdoors in a leaky tent.

“This shot was taken behind the old MetroMobile remote truck just after we completed recording. [Zoo’s] Bud Scoppa fearlessly supported my scheme to capture the show as a record from day one, and deftly shepherded the album to release. I remember Karen Glauber, James Barber, Scott Byron and I all being in a state of disbelief that it actually happened. Some feared Alex wouldn’t show. I never did. And despite his reputation, let it be known that Alex was a dream to work with from rehearsals through the completion.

“Somehow, it did happen. And somehow, the rain held off until evening. I feel lucky to this day just to have been there to see it all happen.

“I do miss those days.”