Depeche Mode 9/9/17

(a) setlist

  1. Going Backwards
  2. So Much Love
  3. Barrel of a Gun
  4. A Pain That I’m Use To (Jacques Lu Cont remix)
  5. Corrupt
  6. In Your Room
  7. World in My Eyes
  8. Cover Me
  9. A Question of Lust (acoustic)
  10. Home
  11. Poison Heart
  12. Where’s the Revolution
  13. Wrong
  14. Everything Counts
  15. Stripped
  16. Enjoy the Silence
  17. Never Let Me Down Again


  1. Somebody
  2. Walking in My Shoes
  3. Heroes (David Bowie cover)
  4. I Feel You
  5. Personal Jesus

(b) highlights

  • Depeche!!! Mode!!!! YESSSSS!
  • this was one of the best show I’ve seen in such a long time, probably the best performance of the year. I’m still buzzing about it, and I’m writing about this over a month and a half later.
  • this setlist was out of control, so tight, so measured, so so damn good.
  • I’ve heard roughly a dozen covers of “Heroes” over the last two years since Bowie’s death and this was the best without a doubt. hands down.
  • “In Your Room,” “Wrong,” and “Everything Counts” were phenomenal; don’t even get me started on “Enjoy the Silence” and “Personal Jesus.”
  • the high-class visuals of this show were probably the best I’ve ever seen since New Order and U2; the use of the screens and runways was made for massive arenas yet totally made Madison Square Garden feel small and intimate.
  • the perfect classics fit so perfectly along Depeche Mode’s new music and that is definitely something I can say about legacy acts.
  • this show was so good that it made me raise my personal bar for what determines a great show and performance; if you’ve been around for over a decade, have money, and claim to prioritize the necessity of showmanship, then you better see Depeche Mode and see how they’ve perfected it.

(c) lowlights

  • nothing. not a single thing.

(d) overall thoughts

I’ve been a fan of Depeche Mode since high school when I first discovered them. Like U2, The Smiths, The Cure, and other 80’s bands that I deeply treasure, Depeche Mode have always been artists that felt untouchable and unreal to me. And after seeing them at Madison Square Garden at this show, David Gahan, Andy Fletcher, and Martin Gore feel even more godly.

I think the reason this show felt so legendary to me was because I was expecting something else. It would’ve been so insanely easy for Depeche Mode to stroll out, play a couple of classics, maybe throw in a few new cuts, and most people probably still would’ve had a good time. But that’s not at all what they did. They didn’t settle whatsoever. Gahan came out with more star-power energy than guys half his age. But that’s exactly the point of what made this show next level: not a single moment was half-assed.

Even though I was sitting at the clear back of the venue in pretty good seats, and I’ve definitely had better seats at Madison Square Garden, I’ve never seen a crowd with more energy. And I have seen massive groups perform there. Radiohead, U2, Blur, The Cure and Morrissey all had notable, high-energy crowds, but none of them could touch this. At one point, I couldn’t even hear Gahan singing “Everything Counts,” but thousands upon thousands voices all chanting together. I felt like the walls of MSG were going to fall off.

I feel like I could talk endlessly about Gahan’s energy as a frontman, Martin Gore’s strength as a both a singer and guitarist, Andy Fletcher’s consistent purity, hit after hit shocking the audience with their perfection, and the unbelievable visuals, but I would much rather tell you to see Depeche Mode and see them as soon as you can. You will only regret missing them.

Bottom line: Depeche Mode have no interest in resting on their laurels as musicians and performers, and that’s just one more reason they’re incredible artists. I won’t forget this show and have no problem saying it’s probably the best performance I saw this year. This is one of those shows I’ll be thinking about and remember for years and years to come.

Radiohead 7/27/16

(a) setlist

    1. Burn The Witch
    2. Daydreaming
    3. Decks Dark
    4. Desert Island Disk
    5. Ful Stop
    6. My Iron Lung
    7. Climbing Up The Walls
    8. Morning Mr. Magpie
    9. Pyramid Song
    10. Bloom
    11. Identikit
    12. The Numbers
    13. The Gloaming
    14. Weird Fishes/Arpeggi
    15. Everything In Its Right Place
    16. Idioteque
    17. There There

Encore 1:

  1. Give Up The Ghost
  2. Let Down
  3. Present Tense
  4. Planet Telex
  5. Karma Police

Encore 2:

  1. Reckoner
  2. Creep

(b) highlights

  • Two nights in a row of Radiohead, I don’t deserve this life
  • Looooooooooooool, Christ Almighty they played “Creep” live. Nope. First time they played it in the U.S. in 12 years. I was laugh-crying throughout the whole thing
  • The same way “No Surprises” made me feel really emotional the night before, “Climbing Up The Walls” totally wrecked me at this show
  • Dayummm, “There There” sounds so good live; Ed O’Brien on those drums alongside Phil Selway was top notch
  • the energy of the entire set felt just a few notches above the previous night; both the setlist and crowd felt more adventurous and alive
  • Thom chatted a bit more to the audience, mostly saying mundane things that ended up feeling moving and profound just because Thom Yorke was saying them (e.g. “Everything will be better when we wake up. But we need to wake up.”)
  • have I mentioned Thom Yorke’s dancing?? Because his dancing needs to be mentioned.

(c) lowlights

  • I’m just going to quietly say that we might not have needed so many songs from King of Limbs and maybe could’ve gotten “Talk Show Host” or “True Love Waits” but REALLY this show was amazing and I will not be complaining when half of New York couldn’t even get tickets

(d) overall thoughts

Is seeing the same band two nights in a row at the same venue ever necessary? What a dumb ass question that is, first of all, and second of all, the setlist for Radiohead’s second night at Madison Square Garden might as well be a work of art. I initially wasn’t planning on going to this show, but fate brought me back to that arena and I know it’s because it was finally time for me to hear my favorite Radiohead song of all time: “Karma Police.” Yeah, it might be basic, but oh well. I don’t care.

Just like the night before, Radiohead didn’t hold back any emotional punches when it came to crafting their performance. The lighting was just as eerie, the songs just as touching, and the sound was just as perfectly played. Thom appeared a bit looser, a bit more relaxed, and nearly undetectable string of energy felt like it was vibrating through the crowd all night. Each song felt like a set piece or episodic chapter in a larger story; the narrative played out quite well. “Climbing Up The Walls” was freaking phenomenal, “My Iron Lung” was such a treat, “Weird Fishes” felt like it floated around the whole arena without ever touching down while “There There” pounded its way right through the core of everyone, and I can’t even begin with the encore.

The pairing of “Let Down” with “Present Tense” and then “Planet Telex” with “Karma Police” felt like it was designed to destroy me in the best way possible. I know I’ll never forget that feeling of being all the way up in the rafters and overlooking the band and crowd and just singing with every fiber of me, “For a minute there, I lost myself, I lost myseeeellllff.” God. What magic. It felt like the whole crowd had become a single tingling being by the time “Reckoner” ended that I feel like I don’t even remember being present when “Creep” started. Thom said into the mic, “Well, this is show business” just before the opening notes began and it was suddenly so hard for me to not laugh. Not in a funny way, but in a “Wow, I cannot believe this is actually happening right now and not some strange dream.” You know a show is good when you go from feeling pure excitement to profound sadness followed by total elation and unbelievable shock in a 10-minute span. What a show, what a night, what a band, what a life.

Bottom line: There’s no other band in the world like Radiohead and I hope there never is one like them again. Because we don’t deserve it. I don’t deserve it. But man, I can’t help but enjoy it.


*Bonus Material: I took several videos of the night and they’re mostly of Thom’s dancing and me scream-singing-crying, but this bit of “Creep” was salvageable:


Radiohead 7/26/16

(a) setlist

    1. Burn The Witch
    2. Daydreaming
    3. Decks Dark
    4. Desert Island Disk
    5. Ful Stop
    6. Lotus Flower
    7. The National Anthem
    8. 15 Step
    9. No Surprises
    10. Tinker Tailor Soldier Sailor Rich Man Poor Man Beggar Man Thief
    11. Separator
    12. Planet Telex
    13. The Numbers
    14. 2 + 2 = 5
    15. Everything In Its Right Place
    16. Myxomatosis
    17. Idioteque

Encore 1:

  1. Let Down
  2. Present Tense
  3. Paranoid Android
  4. Nude
  5. Bodysnatchers

Encore 2:

  1. Bloom
  2. Street Spirit (Fade Out)

(b) highlights

  • “Let Down”!! It was the first time Radiohead played it live since 2006. That’s 10 years. What.
  • I never could’ve predicted it, but wow, “No Surprises” made me so emotional; I have always worshiped OK Computer and I think hearing such a beautiful song from me reminded me of the first time I really got into that album
  • “2 + 2 = 5”!!!! One of my favorite Radiohead tracks ever, holy crap this was amazing and I never thought they’d play it
  • the new material from A Moon Shaped Pool was freaking amazing; I love the album a ton and hearing so much of it live elevated it beyond what I thought possible; “Present Tense” is my favorite from the album and it was p e r f e c t live. perfect.
  • really this entire setlist, like, this band is incredible
  • just being at this show in general; there was and still is so much controversy over the ticket sales and how it all sold out in about half a second (I don’t even want to talk about how much I paid these tickets via StubHub…)

(c) lowlights

  • pretty much nothing; might’ve been cool to hear “Karma Police,” “Talk Show Host,” and “True Love Waits,” but man I can’t really complain at all
  • oh, and why on God’s green Earth are Radiohead selling a sweatshirt that is more expensive than the damn ticket to the show at their merch table; why was every t-shirt at least $50 when they’re just simple cotton shirts, come on lads

(d) overall thoughts

Most people might not know this, but Radiohead is my second favorite band of all time. I’ve loved them ever since I got really into their first couple of albums in high school and they’ve stuck with me ever since. This show was the first time I’d seen them in over 8 years and it felt like the first time all over again. OK ComputerIn RainbowsHail to the ThiefThe Bends – they’re really all incredible. True pieces of art that have withstood decades already and will withstand many more.

Radiohead’s live shows are those sort of experiences where it feels like time stops and everyone is choosing to stop along with it. Every single body in Madison Square Garden was standing, awake, erect, and alive that night. Not everyone was moving to the music, which was at first strange to me, but it really started making sense in context as the show continued. Radiohead has this overwhelming ability to command all attention without doing anything. I feel like any popular band can get people screaming and losing their minds, but it takes true artists to completely silence a room. Thom Yorke has that ability. How? I don’t know. Everything about him just feels profound and thoughtful. He hadn’t even opened his mouth near the microphone yet and the entire arena was frozen, gaping, and ready to be taken for a ride. What a ride it was.

The Moon Shaped Pool material felt just as perfectly heavy and floaty and deep and surface and sad and triumphant as it does on the album, but significantly better. All the songs sounded exactly like the album, but widely elevated. It’s the strange conundrum that is Radiohead. They’re abstract and intimidating and can feel pretentious, but they’re also extremely simple and understated and intimately understanding. Madison Square Garden felt so massive when everyone was singing “Everything In Its Right Place,” but then immediately shrunk to this small, intimate space once “Present Tense” began. Hearing “Daydreaming” instantly put me into the music video and I swear I could feel the temperature in the room drop as if we were all walking through that Paul Thomas Anderson landscape. “15 Step,” “Nude,” and “Paranoid Android” plummeted me into memories of high school and before – how crazy is it that In Rainbows is nearly a decade old now? These songs are so indicative of the time in which they were released, sure, but even more than that – they’re timeless. Just like Radiohead shows. You feel every hair on your body stand when the opening notes to “Idioteque” start, but your body also isn’t even present. The outside world stopped once the show began, but the performance also rapidly soared by; I couldn’t believe that over an hour had passed once we got to the encore. I guess what I’m saying is, Radiohead is contradictory and unique and that’s magic. Simple as that.


Bottom line: Radiohead is one of the greatest bands of all time and I’m pretty sure there isn’t an argument there; their live performance feels like an existentially spiritual experience. I think the fact their music feels philosophically contradictory is the beauty of them.

The Cure 6/18/16

(a) setlist

    1. Plainsong
    2. Pictures of You
    3. Closedown
    4. A Night Like This
    5. Push
    6. In Between Days
    7. Doing The Unstuck
    8. Friday I’m in Love
    9. Like Cockatoos
    10. The Caterpillar
    11. The Walk
    12. Lovesong
    13. Just Like Heaven
    14. Jupiter Crash
    15. Want
    16. The Hungry Ghost
    17. Prayers for Rain
    18. Disintegration


  1. It Can Never Be the Same
  2. Pornography

Encore 2:

  1. Step Into the Light
  2. Us or Them
  3. Burn

Encore 3:

  1. Last Dance
  2. Lullaby
  3. Never Enough
  4. Fascination Street

Encore 4:

  1. The Perfect Girl
  2. Hot Hot Hot!!!
  3. Close to Me
  4. Why Can’t I Be You?
  5. Boys Don’t Cry

(b) highlights

  • The Cure. Madison Square Garden. 4 encores. WHAT.
  • I can’t even really discuss this setlist, like how freaking incredible is this band
  • “Pictures of You” is one of my favorite songs of all time – I love it so much that I can’t even listen to it that often; seeing that shit live feels like an out-of-body experience
  • Disintegration is probably my favorite Cure album and I’m always so pleasantly surprised when “Disintegration” pops up in the setlist…I love that song so freaking much, wow
  • the crowd was so freaking great, like wow – even in the upper level seats, everyone was so into everything going on: old songs and new songs alike
  • this really doesn’t even need to be said but Robert Smith is so amazing and perfect and still sounds freaking great and looks like the coolest vampire of all time, I want to hug him; he looks like he gives great hugs

(c) lowlights

  • apparently my section – 224 – was freaking BUMPIN’ because two separate fights broke out that involved security and drunk people and it was all actually pretty funny, to be honest; the crowd was mostly middle-aged and it was so just amusing to see that combination of drunk-emotional people
  • I would’ve liked to hear “Let’s Go to Bed” or “The Love Cats” but I am SERIOUSLY reaching, this show was phenomenal

(d) overall thoughts

I feel like there’s no band like The Cure. They defined an era of music, created a subculture, and then redefined their own identity twice over all in about a decade and half’s time. The work they put into the 80’s and 90’s is still incredible to think about and it’s pretty clear to me that Robert Smith is an inarguable genius.

I have seen The Cure once before – at Lollapalooza 2013 – but this Madison Square Garden show felt very special. They played 4 sold-out nights – nearly 3 hours of non-stop music each night – and it was so obvious to me that their discography could easily allow the band to perform for another week. Playing a combination of classic singles, deep cuts, rarities previously unheard for years, and even new (!) songs, the band totally nailed it. Each song’s performance felt connected to the one before it while also a uniquely pleasant experience in itself. The number of times I thought, “Wow, I totally forgot about this great song” were innumerable, and the emotional moments in tow were endless.

The stage set-up, production, and atmosphere were so quintessentially The Cure in every way – dripping lights, dense fog, and black trestles offset by bright white lights brought forth the gothic vibe while Robert Smith’s in-between song banter reminded everyone that he’s an older man now, but no less interesting, talented, or funny than he was in the band’s heyday. The crowd’s vigor and excitement barely waned over the nearly-three-hour performance and everyone knew to the words to all the classics. Few things beat the feeling of singing along to “Boys Don’t Cry,” “Friday I’m in Love,” and “Close to Me” with 20,000 fans. You just couldn’t leave that night without feeling what it seemed everyone had felt: that The Cure are a freaking amazing band with an untouchable, transcendent discography that sounds just as good in 2016 as it did in 1986.

Bottom line: Robert Smith is an angelic vampire, the Cure’s discography is truly unrivaled in vastness, diversity, and quality, and every performance removes all doubts otherwise.

Arctic Monkeys 2/8/14

(a) setlist

    1. Do I Wanna Know?
    2. Brianstorm
    3. Don’t Sit Down ‘Cause I Moved Your Chair
    4. Snap Out of It
    5. Crying Lightning
    6. Old Yellow Bricks
    7. Fireside
    8. Knee Socks
    9. Why Do You Only Call Me When You’re High?
    10. Arabella
    11. Dancing Shoes
    12. Pretty Visitors
    13. I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor
    14. Cornerstone
    15. I Wanna Be Yours
    16. Fluorescent Adolescent
    17. 505 (w/ Miles Kane)


  1. All My Loving (w/ Miles Kane) (The Beatles cover)
  2. One For The Road
  3. R U Mine?

(b) highlights

  • dayyyummm that setlist! “Old Yellow Bricks!” “FIRESIDE!” “Cornerstone!” “505!” Miles Kane!! The Beatles cover!!
  • seeing this show from the seats to avoid the excruciating AM fans in the pit and consequently having the best mini concert in our seats ever
  • despite my previous point, I’ve been an AM fan since the band’s first album, so it was a proud moment for me to see the band sell-out Madison Square Garden – that was cool
  • for real though, this setlist was amazing and it was cool seeing Miles Kane join the guys

(c) lowlights

  • Alex Turner’s persona post-Humbug is so painful and contrived and man, some of that in-between song banter is next level bad; don’t do drugs, kids
  • did we really need “Don’t Sit Down ‘Cause I Moved Your Chair”? did we? can we even talk about that song title, or is that not even worth our time?
  • AM-era fans
  • why do AM take so long in-between songs? where is there always 20 seconds of dead silence? are they all checking the setlist and reapplying hair gel or something. I feel like I’m the only person who’s ever noticed that this band does this.

(d) overall thoughts

For the past few years, I’ve had to defend being an Arctic Monkeys fan and it was only during the band’s tour for their fifth album AM did I realize why. Through a combination of insufferable Tumblr fans, Alex Turner getting a stupid haircut, buckets of hair gel, and motorcycles, the band became associated with a bunch of garbage that had nothing to do with their music. Putting all that aside, I’ve loved pretty much every Arctic Monkeys album a ton (except for maybe Suck It and See…) and knew I wasn’t gonna miss this show at Madison Square Garden. And I’m so glad I went.

Sitting in the seats was a great decision for many reasons, but it pretty much forced the visuals and audience to fall to the wayside and for the music alone to stand out. There are so many strong AM singles and deep cuts that endless combination of setlists could be compiled, and while I would’ve never thought to put together so many of these songs together, the result was extraordinary. Four out of the first five songs are from four different Arctic Monkeys albums – it’s such a subtle move, but so few bands would actually do something like that. “Do I Wanna Know?” sets an incredible mood, “Brianstorm” always gets everyone going, “Snap Out Of It” is perfect for snap-dance coordinated moves, and “Crying Lightning” is a slick, guitar-heavy banger – what more could you ask for in the first 12 minutes of a show?

I was most excited to hear “Fireside” – my absolute favorite track from AM, and it didn’t disappoint. Old classics like “Old Yellow Bricks” and “Dancing Shoes” reminded me of my favorite days of the band and my high school days. “Cornerstone” is probably one of my favorite Arctic Monkeys songs of all time and it felt so special to hear it that night. Speaking of special, having the band’s old pal and Last Shadow Puppets’ member Miles Kane show up for another one of my favorites “505” was amazingFavourite Worst Nightmare is my favorite AM album and I loved how many songs the band played from it that night.

The Beatles cover was freaking awesome and a great way to celebrate the Beatles’ 50th anniversary of coming to America and unleashing the perfection that led to Beatlesmania. It felt meaningful alongside the band’s selling out of the arena, having come so far as a band and as performers. I tease Alex and complain about fans, but I love them and this night was big for them. I won’t ever forget that.

Bottom line: Arctic Monkeys have gotten particularly silly as a band in the last several years, and while it’s easy as all hell to call them out on their nonsense, their music is still totally killing it; they have huge songs and put on a great show, and this was one of their best.


Note: I filmed a video of “All My Loving,” but it’s mostly me being a spazz and I think my computer ate it, so here’s someone else’s:

Blur 10/23/15

(a) setlist

  1. Go Out
  2. There’s No Other Way
  3. Lonesome Street
  4. Badhead
  5. End of a Century
  6. Ghost Ship
  7. Coffee & TV
  8. Out of Time
  9. Country Sad Ballad Man
  10. Beetlebum
  11. Thought I Was a Spaceman
  12. Trimm Trabb
  13. Tender
  14. Parklife
  15. Song 2
  16. To The End
  17. This Is a Low


  1. Stereotypes
  2. Girls & Boys
  3. For Tomorrow
  4. The Universal

(b) highlights

  • dude!!! BLUR!!!!
  • in the 4th row of the pit at a sold-out Madison Square Garden – only the second time in the band’s career playing = AMAZING
  • this was easily one of the best shows of 2015, probably in the top 10 ever – the crowd was unbelievable (perhaps the best I ever witnessed in the Garden), the set was unrelentingly phenomenal, Damon Albarn was TOP NOTCH, and seriously everything about it was the highest of levels
  • the band management (presumably) had been going through the crowd and pulling out the people having the best time and brought them all on-stage for “Parklife”; Damon let this super cool 17-ish-year-old black chick do the talking parts of the song and she straight up KILLED IT – everyone was cheering her along and Damon was definitely impressed, even hugging her at the end of it
  • it was one of those strangely perfect shows where it honestly felt like every single person around me knew every song
  • I feel like the pictures I took were most indicative of the performance – crazy water everywhere, blurred (ha) faces in the crowd, awesome lighting – all of it
  • the massive crowd singalong during “Tender” was truly one of the most moving moments in recent concert memory; it’s not something I’ll forget for a very long time

(c) lowlights

  • this really isn’t a bad thing but a douchebag in the pit literally dumped his entire cup of beer right on Damon like three songs in; Damon laughed and kept going, but like what???? I would’ve been piiiiiissed if it was me

(d) overall thoughts

One of the best shows of 2015. Hands down. Perhaps one of the best shows I’ve ever gone to in my life. I’ve been a fan of Blur for awhile – I discovered them about the same time I found Oasis…and I actually always preferred Oasis. Regardless, I’ve thought Blur was awesome and their last album, The Magic Whip, was one of the best of their career, so there was no way I was gonna miss this show. My friends are also massive Blur fans – perhaps even more so than me, so we knew this show was gonna be special.

Somewhere around “There’s No Other Way” I realized this show was gonna be one for the books. Damon, Graham Coxon, Alex James, and Dave Rowntree were all in top freaking form – it was especially great to watch Graham all night. Damon frequently came up to the crowd and interacted, whether taking people’s hands or gifts (a packet of stickers I believe was one?). It felt like the entire crowd – both in the pit and in the seats – was so incredibly present for nearly every song. One of my favorite moments ever was a near-acoustic singalong to “Tender,” a truly beautiful song that I swear transcended that entire goddamn venue. Watching members of the crowd – clearly huge Blur fans – join the band on-stage to sing one of the ultimate classic tracks of all time “Parklife” made me so, so happy.

The encore, especially “Girls & Boys,” was just so joyful, it was impossible to feel any more elated. You know a show is next-level when people around you are stepping outside of themselves and the performance before them to say aloud, “Wow, this show is amazing.” Those are my favorite moments, and this show was chock-full of them.

Bottom line: Blur are some of the best performers I’ve ever seen, and there was something seriously special about this Madison Square Garden performance; this one is one for the books.

U2 7/18/16

(a) setlist

  1. The Miracle (of Joey Ramone)
  2. The Electric Co.
  3. Vertigo
  4. I Will Follow
  5. Iris (Hold Me Close)
  6. Cedarwood Road
  7. Song For Someone
  8. Sunday Bloody Sunday
  9. Raised By Wolves
  10. Until the End of the World
  11. Invisible
  12. Even Better Than the Real Thing
  13. Mysterious Ways
  14. Elevation
  15. Ordinary Love
  16. October
  17. Every Breaking Wave
  18. With or Without You
  19. City of Blinding Lights
  20. Bullet the Blue Sky
  21. Pride (In The Name of Love)


  1. Beautiful Day
  2. Where The Streets Have No Name
  3. One

(b) highlights

  • this was my first time seeing them!!!
  • U2 is INCREDIBLE, haters may proceed to the LEFT, BYEEEE
  • so so SO many great ass songs, like look at that encore, LOOK AT IT
  • making fun of Bono while also worshiping Bono is like my favorite thing to do ever
  • their production notoriously costs about $2947203 million dollars but damn, it is so worth it – I can’t even describe how intricate and unique the use of art and screens and projections was during this show, like wow
  • “Ordinary Love” was dedicated to Nelson Mandela because it was his birthday; then Bono just started naming people like Desmond Tutu and Yo-Yo Ma and like Angelina Jolie or whoever, saying they were all in the crowd tonight; like can you imagine what the U2 VIP guestlist must look like
  • Bono was top-notch Bono-y, I loved it

(c) lowlights

  • would’ve liked to hear “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” 😦 but damn that setlist was so good, so this complaint is a very minor one

(d) overall thoughts

I fell in love with U2 the summer of 2005 pretty much on accident. They, like the Beatles and the Beach Boys, had kind of always existed in the world I grew up in, but I somehow became enamored with their Best Of (1980-1989) when I was 14. I’ve heard for years that their live shows are next-level and with crazy cool production, so I was freaking psyched for this. And I totally was not disappointed.

I feel like a minority in saying that I actually enjoyed U2’s last album Songs of Innocence (and not just for the William Blake reference!) because most of the songs were genuinely great and, oh, sorry, I’m not gonna hate on a super popular band for literally GIVING ME THEIR ALBUM FOR FREE. (Why was everyone such a dick about that Apple thing? I really don’t get it. You got a free album. It’s a standard setting on iTunes for albums to NOT download, so you had to go OUT OF YOUR WAY to make sure iTunes put that album on your phone. Everyone is a douche, bye.) The newer material told a beautiful story that not only Bono spelled out for the audience between and sometimes during songs, but the visual story-telling with the projected artwork and jumbo screens was seriously awesome.

My friend and I were the youngest people in the crowd who weren’t there with their parents, but the crowd – for the most part – was pretty damn into it. Belting out the appropriate numbers (“Pride,” “Where the Streets,” and “With or WIthout You”) with everyone cheering and waving their arms made me wanna close my eyes and just listen to the individual notes. It was impossible to not smile throughout.

Also, hearing “One” for the first time almost exclusively reminded me of my favorite Noel Gallagher quote of all time: “(to Bono) Shut the fuck up about Africa and just play ‘One’!!”

Bottom Line: U2 is amazing, providing true evidence that showmanship is not dead, and everyone wants to be a hater for no reason because people don’t want to be reminded that their stupid lives are inherently better than poor kids in Africa, so everyone shits on Bono when he’s a wonderful man and his band is great, so SUCK IT.

Note: I took 14,283,382 photos, you’re welcome.

Morrissey, Blondie 6/27/15

(i) lineup

(1a) Blondie
(2b) Morrissey

(1a) (Blondie’s) setlist

  1. One Way or Another
  2. Rave
  3. Hanging On the Telephone (The Nerves cover)
  4. Call Me
  5. Maria
  6. A Rose By Any Name
  7. Rapture
  8. Heart of Glass
  9. The Tide is High (The Paragons cover)

(1b) highlights

  • dude, it was BLONDIE
  • Debbie Harry KNOWS WHAT’S UP
  • the Gay Marriage Act had just been passed in that week, so Debbie was up there with her rainbow flag and dancing around, celebrating it; it was adorable
  • apparently Debbie Harry was turning SEVENTY three days before the performance, which is PSYCHOTIC to me because she still sounded so, so good
  • a whole marching band came out during “The Tide is High,” like how precious is that

(1c) lowlights

  • I brought my nice Canon Rebel XS, but we had super far back seats in MSG and there was no jumbotron or feed whatsoever, so Blondie was, uh, super small for everyone in my section

(1d) overall thoughts

Seeing a super iconic artist like Blondie open for someone I love so much in crazy famous venue like Madison Square Garden is something you don’t forget. After all these years, the band still sounded strong. Yeah, their young, punky days have been over for awhile but there’s nothing like hearing “Heart of Glass” and “The Tide Is High” in Madison Square Garden regardless of everyone’s age. Blondie, and Debbie Harry in particular, totally killed it.

Bottom Line: Debbie Harry was 69 years old for this performance and more interesting than half the boring ass Brooklyn-based, leather-jacket-wearing, mediocre-ass opening bands I’ve seen in NYC.

(2a) (Morrissey’s) setlist

    1. The Queen Is Dead (The Smiths cover)
    2. Suedehead
    3. Staircase at the University
    4. Ganglord
    5. World Peace is None of Your Business
    6. Speedway
    7. Kiss Me A Lot
    8. Alma Matters
    9. I’m Throwing My Arms Around Paris
    10. Everyday Is Like Sunday
    11. Istanbul
    12. Will Never Marry
    13. I Will See You in Far-Off Places
    14. Mama Lay Softly On The Riverbed
    15. Kick The Bride Down the Aisle
    16. Neal Cassady Drops Dead
    17. The World is Full of Crashing Bores
    18. The Bullfighter Dies
    19. Meat Is Murder (The Smiths cover)
    20. What She Said (The Smiths cover)


  1. Now My Heart Is Full

(2b) highlights

  • MORRISSEY!!!!!!
  • seeing the entirety of Madison Square Garden literally light up as the whole crowd belted out “Everyday Is Like Sunday” along with Moz will forever be burned into my retina; such a beautiful, wonderful, almost serenely perfect experience
  • “Ganglord” is stupidly funny to me and it’s totally not supposed to be, but I can’t get over it
  • all of MSG went “meatless” at the request of Moz, which I thought was cool, and “Meat Is Murder” was AMAZING
  • Moz took off his shirt and threw it into the crowd at the end, which I’d only basically read about in books at that point, so that was next-level living a dream

(2c) lowlights

  • at one point in between songs, Moz referenced how bright the theatre was, saying, “there’s a light in here…that never goes out” BUT THEN DIDN’T FUCKING PLAY “THERE’S A LIGHT THAT NEVER GOES OUT” LIIIIIKE, WTF?????!!!!???
  • again, there was no jumbotron or live feed, so Moz was like an inch tall – so much for bringing my nice camera for pics -____-

(2d) overall thoughts

Morrissey is basically a god to Smiths’ fans and to the rest of the world who doesn’t find him super insufferable, myself included. I’d been looking forward to this performance forEVER because Morrissey (of course) had cancelled a show at Barclays Center in Brooklyn a year earlier that I was supposed to go to. I was pretty freaking relieved more than anything that MSG agreed to go meatless and Moz actually showed up.

On one hand, this was an incredible performance and definitely one I’ll never forget. There seriously isn’t a better feeling than waiting for him to come on-stage and seeing the Queen give two middle fingers while “The Queen Is Dead” starts playing. Like, my freaking breath caught in my chest, I could barely stand it. The crowd was mostly really responsive and the stage design and lights were really solid. But on the other hand…I feel like Moz actively tries to annoy the crowd. It’s as if he performs better knowing everyone is annoyed with him. He played so much new material from his newest album World Peace Is None of Your Business, which I actually wouldn’t at all mind…if the album was actually good. (That’s mostly unfair – the album is fine, but nowhere near his previous works, but I digress.) Like, why not play “Hairdresser On Fire”? Or another solo song that everyone knows and loves and can dance too. I’m not saying I want an hour-long performance only of Smiths’ covers, but how fucked up can you get when you seriously reference a Smiths’ song in your between-song banter, but then not play it???? I love you, Morrissey, but my god.

Bottom Line: The memorable moments outweighed the bad at this Moz performance and at least he didn’t run off stage this time! Also he took off his shirt! What a time to be alive!

Jack White 1/30/16

(a) setlist

    1. Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground (The White Stripes cover)
    2. High Ball Stepper
    3. Lazaretto
    4. Hotel Yorba (The White Stripes cover)
    5. Temporary Ground
    6. Cannon (The White Stripes cover)
    7. Broken Boy Soldier (The Raconteurs cover)
    8. Love Interruption
    9. We’re Going to be Friends (The White Stripes cover)
    10. Three Women
    11. Black Math (The White Stripes cover)
    12. Top Yourself (The Raconteurs cover)
    13. Ball and Biscuit (The White Stripes cover)


  1. That Black Bat Licorice (w/ Q-Tip)
  2. Excursions (A Tribe Called Quest cover w/ Q-Tip)
  3. Sixteen Saltines
  4. Astro (The White Stripes cover)
  5. Steady As She Goes (The Raconteurs cover)
  6. Would You Fight For My Love?
  7. Just One Drink
  8. Blunderbuss
  9. Seven Nation Army (The White Stripes cover)

(b) highlights

  • my friend won a lottery through Jack White’s fan club that let us automatically get in the venue first, which means front row center at Madison Square Garden = heaven
  • that SETLIST, Jesus
  • getting to hear that many White Stripes songs was a true treasure
  • I don’t know how or why, but “That Black Bat Licorice” was seriously next level – a damn near religious experience
  • the entire show’s audio streamed on xm radio, which made the whole experience that much more special
  • Jack was in a great mood, elevating each moment to a better place – his mood made the performance the best possible

(c) lowlights

  • I don’t know who I have to murder to hear “Icky Thump” live, but I would really like to know eventually, please
  • also willing to commit a small crime to hear the Dead Weather’s “I Cut Like a Buffalo,” but I suppose that’s a longshot that this point
  • Jack White is CRAZY about people taking photos during his shows (meaning, he’s stopped performing and caused a scene because of it), so no one took pictures throughout the show*
  • *(this isn’t actually a lowlight – it was nice that no one was distracted during the performance, but I wish I could’ve had a few keepsake photos of my experience)

(d) overall thoughts

For those who don’t know, Jack White is an…eccentric guy. As a performer, he doesn’t use conventional setlists or even really determine how long his shows will be before they’ve started. His band of touring musicians are a particularly skilled group of people who can equally perform each song with perfection and anticipate the unexpected when it comes to Jack. As an astute audience member, you can definitely sense the tension every so often on stage. Jack will start one song and turn it into something else halfway through. His violinist will pick up one fiddle and bow only to immediately put it down and pick up something else after Jack has changed the song seemingly mid-chorus. It sounds stressful, and sometimes anxiety-inducing to watch, but at Madison Square Garden, it made me excited. I had seen Jack White’s solo act twice before this show – once in a small outdoor venue and another at a huge festival – but it was at this show that he seemed most happy, comfortable, and effortlessly thrilled to be playing. He performs for himself, not the audience, so his art really speaks for him. Make of that what you will.

Jack’s second solo album Lazaretto was so strong to me, and this night really let those songs shine right alongside some true White Stripes classics. “High Ball Stepper,” “Temporary Ground,” and “Three Women” felt so fully embodied as songs that you wonder how they haven’t always existed. “That Black Bat Licorice,” even with the bizarre accompaniment of Q-Tip, felt so massive and so much bigger than that venue could even hold. Each song felt like taking steps a part of a greater journey, and I was so willing to take Jack White’s hand and let him lead me along the way. Regardless of how people feel about Jack, who has somehow become a point of controversy over the years, you can’t deny the presence of magic hearing 20,000+ people sing “Seven Nation Army” in such an iconic arena. That’s something you never forget.

Bottom line: Jack White is a true musician in every sense of the word, and experiencing his art live is a privilege…even if he sort of hates the audience in the process. I can live with that.

[All photos are by David James Swanson, Jack’s personal photog.]


Bonus Material!

My blonde head is too excited and jumping in and out of frame, but man, this song was beautiful.