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Thankfully, He’s Not There Yet

2 May

If you’ve never heard of Eric Hutchinson, that’s alright.

Despite releasing two highly enjoyable albums of soulful pop songs — including his latest, Moving Up, Living Down —having a couple of videos that’ve made VH1’s Top 20 countdown, and being an opener for Kelly Clarkson’s tour a couple years ago, mainstream success has so far eluded Hutch.

And I’m cool with that, because I like him (actually, I have for a while), and sometimes being a fan of a singer or band is more fun when they’re on the verge, and success hasn’t yet tarnished their vibe or image.

That’s why last night, Hutch played the Paradise here in Boston — as opposed to, say, the House of Blues, where fun. played just a couple weeks earlier — and it was a more intimate, laid back show that allowed Hutch to better connect with his fans, many of whom were from the area’s colleges. Continue reading

Some Nights Are Just More Fun

22 Apr

Oh, to be Nate Ruess.

The charismatic, boyish frontman of fun. (yes, the period is part of the name) took the stage at the House of Blues in Boston Saturday night not looking like he had an album to sell. Rather, it seemed like he wanted to celebrate, and bask in the band’s success so far this year.

The guy was positively beaming as he bounced all around the stage, having the best time of anyone in the room, and he commanded the mic like a conquering hero.

That’s how you’d act too if your crossover hit “We Are Young” was on track to be the best selling song of 2012, and you’d already had it featured in a Super Bowl commercial and an episode of Glee.

Sure, “We Are Young,” with its catchy, anthemic chorus, has many of the trademarks of a great one-hit wonder. But fun.’s show Saturday night proved that the band deserves to have a career beyond that one song. Continue reading

He Took Care of His Own

27 Mar

Hard times … Baby, well, they come to us all.

Few people understand that statement as well as Bruce Springsteen does. And that theme permeated a good chunk of Springsteen’s show last night at the TD Garden here in Boston.

With a new album out, Wrecking Ball, that addresses the tough, unfair economic climate, and a set list that drew heavily from that album, it was clear that Springsteen came to town hoping to give voice to the frustrated and angry.

And he did, beginning the show with sound and fury: “We Take Care of Our Own,” “Wrecking Ball,” “Badlands,” and the Celtic-flavored “Death to My Hometown,” one after another. That’s what he called putting “a whoop-ass session on the recession.”

Later on, he performed “American Skin (41 Shots)” as a not-so-subtle reference to Trayvon Martin.

But it didn’t take long to pick up on the fact that Springsteen had more on his mind than current events. Continue reading

Conan the Destroyer

27 Jun

Last year, when Conan O’Brien was (unfairly) fired as the host of NBC’s The Tonight Show, he didn’t take it very well.

Viewers saw that in the days and weeks leading up to his last show, as he piled on the jokes at his soon-to-be-ex-employer’s expense.

And those of us who saw O’Brien’s Legally Prohibited from Being Funny on Television Tour got a taste of that too, as each show included a few jabs at NBC and a bunch of self-deprecating jokes about the situation.

But behind the scenes was an even angrier person, and in the new documentary Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop, we get a chance to see a little more of that side. Continue reading

Welcome Home, Old Friend

5 Jun

The crowd was justifiably loud when Conan O’Brien took the stage Friday night at the start of his first Boston show on the Legally Prohibited from Being Funny on Television Tour.

This was the former Tonight Show host’s first paying gig in his hometown (he grew up in Brookline, if you didn’t know), and after more than three months off the air, we who love Coco were eager for some of his goofy Irish charm.

Conan brought that and more in a show that was eager to please, even if it maybe ran on a little too long. Continue reading

It Was Great Fun

7 Mar

All you really need to know about Jamie Cullum is right there in the lyrics of the song “Mixtape,” which appears on his new album The Pursuit.

The song — which name-checks Nine Inch Nails, Louis Armstrong, Morrissey, John Coltrane, Cinematic Orchestra, De La Soul, Thelonious Monk, the Shangri-La’s, and more — indicates the wide range of musical influences that are running ’round Cullum’s head, and which result in a wide-ranging live show, such as the one he put on Saturday night at the House of Blues in Boston.

(And if the list of influential artists doesn’t give away what Cullum’s live shows are like, then the image of an exploding piano on his album cover surely does.) Continue reading

Life Was Good

31 Dec

Generally, I’m not a fan of New Year’s Eve, but this year especially, I’m not looking forward to it at all.

You see, unlike many people I know, and contrary to general trends in the economy, 2009 was a great year for me. Really and truly it was.

So perhaps I jumped the gun when I called 2008 “The Year of Martin” because I enjoyed 2009 so much more.

Here are some of the reasons why. Continue reading