Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Guster - On the Ocean Concert(s) and more

Guster is set to bring a weekend of live music, baseball and beer to Portland Maine in August.  Here are some of the details of this (hopefully) on-going series of events.

Guster On The Ocean Concert at the State Theatre
Date: Friday, August 3, 2018 with Caroline Rose.
Time: Doors at 7:00PM; Show at 8:00PM
All tickets are general admission and are just $46. All ages (children under the age of 3 are free).

Guster On the Ocean Concert at Thompson’s Point, Portland, ME
Date: Saturday, August 4, 2018 with Kishi Bashi, Kishi Bashi , The Secret Sisters and Rest Assured , winners of the Maine Academy of Modern Music’s 2018 MAMM SLAM: Maine's High School Rock Off.
Time: Gates at 5:00PM. Concert begins at 6:00PM.
All tickets are general admission and are just $46. All ages (children under the age of 3 are free).

Guster Day at Hadlock Field, home of the Portland Sea Dogs
Date: Sunday, August 5, 2018
Time: Game starts at 1:00PM; Guster activities on the field beginning at 10:00AM.  Band also slated to throw out first pitch.
General Admission Tickets - $9 for adults; $6 for children

Also, the band is partnering with Mast Landing Brewing Company to produce “On the Ocean Pale Ale”.  The beer will be officially launched at the State Theater on Friday August 3rd.  It will also be available at select locations in/around Portland following.

For tickets and more information about Guster On The Ocean, visit

Be sure and follow Guster oInstagramFacebookTwitter  for On The Ocean updates

and last minute weekend announcements.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

U2 - Two Show Reviews. Boston and Mohegan Sun

So this is something new, I’ll try to do two show reviews, same band, same tour, a few weeks apart.

TD Garden, Boston MA
Thursday June 21, 2018 (Night 1 of 2)


Mohegan Sun, Uncasville, CT
Tuesday July 3, 2018 (night 1 of 1)

The two shows ended up being my 23rd and 24th times seeing the band (at least I am pretty sure, I’ll check my information and make the edit)  Basically seeing them is not a “new” thing for me.  Over these years, tours and shows I’ve grown to expect certain things, hope for more things but always leave pretty happy I went through the effort of getting tickets and getting to the show.

For the Boston show I had GA/floor tickets.  I have been VERY lucky the last few tours in that I’ve been getting GA tickets with relative ease (knock on wood) and at face value.  The pre-sale has always worked for me which is a good thing. 

My pal Doug and I took up a spot about 15 feet back from the second stage.  The second stage was towards the front of the area, nearly using the whole floor as a catwalk to get there.  Having seen the previous tour where this same lay out was done I knew where I wanted to be.  For me, being taller is a help.  I settled in towards the back and took in the show.  Once the band did their “second stage” portion I was 2-3 people off the rail and was able to be “one of those people” where I watched more of it than I should have through the lens of my camera phone (camera phones have lenses right??).  It was a solid show and the band did focus a LOT on the new record, which is fine.  It has grown on me over the past few months and the songs are solid live.

For the second show I was behind the stage. I actually did this semi on purpose.  Mohegan Sun was added late, it is and was the smallest venue on this leg of the tour, and to my surprise was only about a 10 minute longer of a ride than a show in to Boston would be for me.  Being the night before the 4th of July (ie No work) I looked in to tickets.  Tried for GA, but was only pulling tickets further away than I’d like and for more money than I’d have liked.  I saw $40 options for tickets so I tried, it was behind the stage and I said why not?  They were cheap, I’d be in the building and I’ve been VERY lucky with tickets in the past so maybe this is/was some sort of sacrifice for the other fans in that I’d give up my “good seats” in the hopes the ticket gods would bless me down the road.  We shall see.
My wife came along to this show.  We don’t’ get to many shows together but she said she had a good time.  I felt bad due to the sight line(s) and all that.  Even though she didn’t know much of the new stuff she said she had a good time.  The balcony was steep and most people around us were either standing for the rowdy songs, or sitting for the other tunes.  I just played along largely just taking it all in.  The second stage stuff was pretty lost to us.  The huge screen that separates the floor was basically right in front of me so it was impossible to even see Larry sitting at his drum kit.  I hate to watch shows on the screens, but I was glad they were there.

The venue was pretty good for a show and I think I’d try to go again.  Would have been nice to have made a night of it, stay down there but a $500.00 per night room rate kept me out.

Here are the two set lists and I’ll break some of that down.  Actually, it is just one since it was the same both nights.

TD Garden and Mohegan Sun Set lists:

Love is All We Have Left
The Blackout
Lights of Home
I Will Follow
Beautiful Day
The Ocean
Iris (Hold me Close)
Cedarwood Road
Sunday Bloody Sunday
Until the End of the World
(Second Set)
You’re the Best Thing About Me (acoustic)
Staring at the Sun (Bono/Edge) (acoustic)
Get Out of Your Own Way
American Soul
City of Blinding Lights
Love is Bigger Than Anything in its Way
13 (There is a Light)

Okay, so time to break things down some.  The band opens with three brand new tunes.  That is okay, it is after all, a tour for the new album.  For “Love is All we Have Left” Bono is inside the screen about ½ way in to the area and then the full band joins him.  Sort of a neat touch to immerse yourself in the crowd early on.

I’ve seen “I Will Follow” a lot.  It is a fun tune, but it’s sort of a tired workhorse for them.  They’d been teasing the Electric Co a few times and that would have been a bit more welcome.  I think it’s time to sit on I Will Follow for a bit.  “A Day Without Me” would be a nice as would “Stories for Boys” heck blow our mind with “A Celebration”, that would be wild.  All that being said “Gloria” was fun to hear and I am not sure I’ve hear it very much, if at all in all the years I’ve been seeing them.  “Beautiful Day” is still fun and gets people going.  “The Ocean” tease was really a chance for Bono to talk as they lead in to “Iris (Hold Me Close)” which is a song that builds and the payoff is usually good.  I see this song going away though (like “Kite”) after this whole tour is done.  “Ceadarwood Road” had the same intro and graphics as the previous tour.  Feels played out and campy honestly, but that riff the Edge has is awesome.  This leads in to a stripped down version of “Sunday Bloody Sunday”.  Here the band all comes to the catwalk and Larry just has a single snare drum.  The tempo drops considerably and the message feels a little lost.  The band does some heavy reliance on the graphics.  I am torn on this tune.  The full “Under a Blood Red Sky” version I could do over and over again, a stripped down version is not really a favorite.  The first set wraps up with “Until the End of the World”.  It was neat to see this from the stage view as Both Adam and Larry return to the stage, but Edge and Bono do a catwalk thing and then disappear down under the stage from the front.

There is then a few minute break as the second stage gets set up and a piped in version of “Hold Me Thrill Me Kiss Me Kill Me” is played on the PA.  I don’t miss this tune at all.

The next six songs are done via catwalk and second stage.  If you have GA this is great, if you have behind the stage a lot is missed.  “Elevation” and “Vertigo” still get the crowd worked up and they are fun.  “Desire” was thrown in there and they put a little twist on the tempo.  It’s more of a sing along tune these days than a breakout.  The band did dust off “Acrobat” from “Achtung Baby”.  A track many fans have waited years to be performed live, we got it. “You’re the Best Thing About Me” was done full band acoustic.  I think this tune will stick around, but I’d like to hear it “electric” next time around.  Adam and Larry disappear and Bono and Edge play an acoustic “Staring at the Sun”.  Its okay, never been a huge song on my wish list of songs to hear live.

“Pride” follows.  A this point Bono is on second stage, Adam and Larry are now on small stages about ¼ back from the main stage and Larry is on his drum kit.  I like how the band continues to be “approachable” in the sense of getting out there “close” to the fans.  Pride has been a staple of the set lists for ages and when it comes on the radio I usually roll my eyes and move on, but live it always grabs me.  Two more newer tracks in “Get out of Your Own Way” and “American Soul” get us just to about the close and we bang out “City of Blinding Lights” as the closer.  This is another track I’ve always been sort of “meh” on, but live it just goes up a level.  For now, I hope it sticks around.

The band leaves and we get a three song encore.  “One” is up first.  Here is another one that I’ve heard countless times live and, much like Pride, I skip over it on the radio, but live it pulls me back in. “Love is Bigger than Anything In Its Way” translates well but down the road, if it remains, its better suited for a mid-set “mellow” section.  The final track is “13 (there is a light)”.  The band played this on the Joshua Tree 30 tour and I left.  Night 1 in Boston I also left.  In CT I stayed through the end.  It’s honestly a pretty lousy closer after a pretty high energy night.  Bono walks the catwalk, then in to the crowd and out one of the side exits…show done.  Sorta of anti-climactic, but it is what it is.

U2 has been doing this for a long time and I will continue to listen to/buy their new material and see them live when I can.

As a longtime fan my wish list is probably not unlike anyone else’s.  Toss out some of the same old staple tracks, dig a little deeper in to your 40 years of history and make each show be “unique”.  I was saying to my wife it would have been nice that if in CT on the final night they pull out something they hadn’t done on the tour.  I am not a huge fan of bands with a  catalog like theirs doing cover tunes, but heck “All Along the Watchtower” as an example is a basic tune for them to toss out there.

The shows all skipped Joshua Tree tracks.  This was okay, but man “Where the Streets Have No Name” is sorely missed.

Songs from this tour/shows I wouldn’t miss:
Sunday Bloody Sunday (this version at least), I Will Follow, The Ocean, Iris, Cedarwood Road, Desire and Staring at the Sun.

Songs I’d really love to see come back:
Surrender and or The Refugee from War.  They’ve never played The Refugee Live so maybe this can be the new “Acrobat”.  “I Threw a Brick Through A Window” would be a trip as would “Zoo Station”.

So you are probably wondering what did I really think?

The Good – The band still sounds great.  You can tell they like what they do and enjoy playing live.  I didn’t hear bum notes and Bono seems to realize his vocal limitations which is good.

The Bad – stagnant set list.  There are just no “surprises” to make the evening feel like you REALLY had to be there.  Sightlines for night two were a drag, but night 1 made up for that.

In conclusion – They still have it.  If you are a casual fan this tour might not have been for you.  Lots of focus on the new stuff but they give you a bang for the buck.  Considering they are in their late 50’s they still give a good 2hr+ show.  See them while you can, but seeing them on multiple nights is probably not necessary.

Finally...tail of two "views"