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37 posts categorized "MUSIC REVIEW"

Jul 15 2016
We Had Tonight: Sheena Easton In NYC Comments (0)

*DSC08651(All images by Matthew Rettenmund)

My friend Harry invited me to take his friend's place and join him in seeing Sheena Easton perform at B.B. King's, and we wound up having a great, if not totally heck-a-slammin' time.

We had front-section, central VIP seating, so missed nothing of the 90-minute gig, which was generously sprinkled hits (“I embrace my nostalgia!” she exclaimed early on), some of which a casual fan might have forgottne all about. Any student of Sheena Easton 101 knew to expect “9 to 5 (Morning Train)” from 1980, which got the evening's biggest reaction in spite of its near novelty-hit sound, and her smash Bond theme “For Your Eyes Only” from 1981, but I can't have been the only person surprised she is still doing gems like “Telefone (Long Distance Love Affair)” (1983).

*DSC08407Those over-the-hill jokes went over our heads.

Easton—looking very much like a red-headed Kylie Minogue, is still ravishing at 57, so much so that her surprisingly relentless self-deprecation about her age and her lack of hits since the '90s felt a bit like posting a fantastic selfie with the caption, “I look awful, right?” The true answer is she looks great and sounds great (aside from a tendency to over-emote) and has an engaging stand-up comedy banter between songs that made her perhaps a bit too accessible—one fan couldn't resist shouting suggestions to her after every song, eventually earning her ire. Sit down and shut up.

But back to the set list, which along with the previously named hits and some '60s and '70s pop covers (and one Christian song—she connected with *DSC08678Catholicism after four divorces), included the singles “When He Shines (1981), “I Wouldn't Beg for Water (1982), “We've Got Tonight (1983), “Almost Over You (1983), “Strut (1984), “The Lover in Me (1988). Most excitingly, with the help of a talented male duet partner, Easton offered a dynamic melding of “Sugar Walls” (1984)/“U Got the Look” (1987) as a tribute to her ex, Prince. 

Sheena Easton Setlist B.B. King Blues Club & Grill, New York, NY, USA 2016

Joking that she was thinking of hanging up her Spanx and discontinuing the performance of such sexed-up numbers, she revealed she had to do them as an excuse to air the work of the Purple One.

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Jun 25 2016
Armenia Girls: A Review Of KATDASHIANS: BREAK THE MUSICAL Comments (0)

IMG_7267*Three sisters: Kim Kat (Carmen Mendoza), Kourtney Kat (Bridget Kennedy), Khloé Kat (Elliott Brooks)

Okay, like, I got invited to this super exclusive new Off-Broadway show called Katdashians: Break the Musical, and it was seriously the funniest thing everrr or, like, at least, it was a funny thing, you know? Bible.

Katdashians: Break the Musical is the very funny creation of Bob and Tobly McSmith, the warped minds behind past romps like Bayside! The Musical!, Full House: The Musical! and Showgirls!: The Musical. With the McSmiths' perverse combo of legitimately complex songs and gross-out humor, tight direction by tight John Duff (who we would all like to see attempt to break the Internet with his own fame-ready caboose), and Broadway-level choreography by Viva Soudan, the show has more to offer than just cheap laughs at the world's most famous Armenian-Americans.

IMG_7219*There goes Times Square (again). (All images in this post by Matthew Rettenmund)

Though there are plenty of cheap laughs, too.

The show follows—wallows in?—the regrettable ascension of the Kardashians, ending somewhere just beyond Caitlyn Jenner's transition. The songs are, as the title suggests, frequently parodies of famous numbers from Cats (which is returning to Broadway in the near future—that legendary musical is as bad as Keeping Up with the Kardashians and apparently just as hard to euthanize permanently), but there are also clever re-workings of tunes by Beyoncé, Madonna and other suitably fabulous fame whores.

And yes, it was “better than Cats.”

IMG_7269*A Chorus Feline

Speaking of which, if there is anything limiting about doing a parody of the most famous, most polarizing people alive, it may be that the show works best if you know everything about the Kardashians and also have the Cats original cast recording memorized. Thing is, very few people probably check both boxes. Luckily, the show does work if you're only into one or the other, and even seems to work if you're a novice regarding both. I surveyed some patrons and was surprised how few were well-versed in Kardashian lore, though a girl behind me who claimed she knew nothing knew all the terms in the “How to Speak Kardashian” insert from our program. The guy next to me, who knew zero about the Kardashians, laughed loudly throughout. I mean, jokes about pubic hair and anal sex are pretty universal.

IMG_7257*Finding North: Vogue cover subject Kim vogues.

The cast/cats are purrfect, led by Carmen Mendoza as busty, bratty, dusky-Baby Doll Kim Kat. She has her look down pat and has the star quality necessary to function as the epicenter of an attention-logged sect.

Bridget Kennedy as Kourtney Kat is a riot, offering a deadpan, personality-free take that reminded me of the fun femme performances in the late, great American Psycho. She channels a Selma Blair monotone and has the requisite bombshell looks, the exact recipe for Kourtney.

Standing out from an already stellar group is Elliott Brooks as Khloé Kat, whose character gets the Cher-in-Moonstruck treatment as we follow her from Khloé's birth status as a softer, potty-on-me-mouthed version of The Thing to the voluptuous blonde work-out fanatic that she is today. With manic, verbal-diarrhetic glee, she spits out shocking one-liners about anal sex, anal beds, “Shit on a dick!” and projectile vaginal discharge—singing hysterically at one point about the seemingly drug-resistant strain of pubic hair she hosts—and yet still makes the audience root for her. Definitely pick of the litter.

IMG_7287*When Mama Jenner introduces her new boyfriend, Corey Gamble.

Bailey Nolan is Kris Kat/Kris Jenner's doppelgänger thanks to the perfect wig and a great vocal imitation; it felt like Kris was appearing in the show herself, which is not something I would put past her. Her counterpart, Peter Smith as Bruce/Catlyn/Caitlyn, nailed the transgender trailblazer's guyish speech and was able to make us cheer for her transition all over again, even though in real life, Caitlyn turned out to be kind of a dud in the inspiration arena. Smith's take on a parody of “Memory” was a show-stopper.

IMG_7284*They call me Bruce: Smith's Catlyn was the cat's meow.

Knee-slapping, mutinous scenes featuring choreographer Soudan as Kylie Kat and Ariel Ash as Kendall Kat (in a mask and peek-a-boo unitard, she was the spitting image) had some audience members howling. Alexis Kelley and Jenyvette Vega serve as ass-tastic Dash Dolls.

IMG_7295*Let's hope the litter-box office is strong!

Best thing about the show, though, might be the innovation of encouraging (non-flash) photography, and especially selfie-taking, throughout. So if your mind wanders, take a great selfie and let your followers on social media know that you're doing looking good.

In the end, this sometimes almost admiring, more often catty, hoot has its claws out mostly for you, the audience that pretends to revile a family famous only for being famous ... all the while watching their every move like a cat watches a bowl-bound goldfish.

Katdashians: Break the Musical is at the Elektra Theatre at 300 W. 43rd St., NYC, through July 16. Tickets are $25-$45. Visit the site here.

Keep reading for video and pictures from the opening-night champagne toast ...

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May 28 2016
The Empower Station: Cyndi Lauper & Boy George's Bangin' Bang A Gong Show Comments (0)
  Screen Shot 2016-05-28 at 12.16.55 PM DSC08586 DSC08697 DSC08766 DSC09074 DSC09115 DSC09213 DSC09297 DSC09304

(10 images in above gallery by Matthew Rettenmund)

I've seen Cyndi Lauper perform live probably a dozen (?) times, going back to her True Colors World Tour in (December 14, 1986) and including the Twelve Deadly Cyns World Tour (in NYC sometime in 1994-1995), She's So Unusual: 30th Anniversary Tour (October 20, 2013), her opening slot for Cher (May 9, 2014) and quite a few of her holiday and fundraising gigs (like this one). She's great, but I wondered if I really needed to see her yet again, as I did at the Beacon Theatre here in NYC on Thursday night.

Img151My room, 1987. (L) Full Madonna-cover mags in bags on the wall, plus Eurythmics, Marilyn Monroe, Alfred Hitchcock, Elizabeth Taylor, Cyndi Lauper. (R) View of my ceiling, with Madonna, Molly Ringwald, Marilyn, Cyndi, Ally Sheedy, Debbie Harry, Sade and ... Boy George! (Images by Matthew Rettenmund)

The real draw for me was Boy George. I absolutely loved Culture Club as a teen; I vividly recall the day I bought Colour by Numbers at a record store in Flint in the '80s. I even had a promo poster for one of the group's video collections on my ceiling, with a huge image of George in full makeup. I also remember the very first time my pals Mike Ashton (at his house) and Eric Olson watched the video for “Do You Really Want to Hurt Me?” (1982) on MTV and openly discussed the novelty of the dude who totally looked like a girl. Liking George was somewhat of a political statement in a small town—in any town, really.

But even without the tantalizing gayness, I thought Culture Club created two amazing albums (and the other not-half-bad ones), records I listened to and memorized. I was a pretty fair voice mimic for George, too.

Back in the day, Culture Club had a bad reputation as a live act, and I didn't summon the guts to attend any pop tour until Eurythmics' Revenge Tour on August 21, 1986, by which time Culture Club was kaput. Also, I'd heard more recently that George didn't sound so hot on a reunion jaunt, but I believe that was due to vocal issues.

So when I failed to get tickets and the joint gig between Cyndi and George (with Rosie O'Donnell as a special guest) neared, I reached out to a friend with a connection and, after his previous invitees fell through, I found myself seated in the fourth row for what turned out to be a thoroughly satisfying show.

DSC08639You better pink! (Image by Matthew Rettenmund)

Cyndi came out first, weirdly; I'd expected George would open for her, considering her relative success and being 3/4 of the way to being an EGOT. She looked great in her pink hair and punky leather get-up, and thanked us all for being there while also ensuring she educated the young'uns about the days when R&B and country were quite close in form. This was relevant because she's recently released a C&W album, Detour. Her roots with Blue Angel make this a good idea:

As reluctant as I was to see her again (at some point, seeing an artist over and over can almost dull my enthusiasm), and as little interest as I had in hearing her do country stuff, her set wound up being phenomenal. She had us on our feet the whole time and was in superb voice.

DSC08610

DSC08598Cyndi is an instrumental part of my musical taste (Images by Matthew Rettenmund)

Cyndi gave us four hits and four C&W covers from her new record:

(1) “Funnel of Love” (originally by Wanda Jackson)

(2) “She Bop”

(3) “I Want to Be a Cowboy's Sweetheart” (originally by Patsy Montana)

(4) “Walking After Midnight” (originally by Patsy Cline)

(5) “The End of the World” (originally by Skeeter Davis)

(6) “I Drove All Night”

(7) “When You Were Mine” (originally by Prince, covered by Cyndi on her first album)

(8) “Money Changes Everything” (originally by the Brains, covered by Cyndi on her first album)

For her encore, she treated us to one more cover and two of her biggest hits:

(9) “Misty Blue” (originally by Eddy Arnold)

(10) “Time After Time”

(11) “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” (with Rosie O'Donnell on the drums)

DSC08644A moment when she was mine (Image by Matthew Rettenmund)

Just a fantastic performance from her, and I couldn't believe I'd been unenthused going in. She also said something that relates to my false fatigue while she was honoring Prince. She said: 

I hope you appreciate all the artists while you have 'em.

Noted!

DSC08737Wanna be a cowboy 'n' you can be my cowgirl... (Image by Matthew Rettenmund)

Her other remarks about Prince were respectful without attempting to make it seem she was a major part of his story (she sang his “When You Were Mine” on She's So Unusual, an excellent cover that she performed live at the show perfectly):

I did one of his songs on my first record, and when he passed I couldn't believe it and it broke my heart—a bright light went out ... Life is short. But he was funny, and he was smart as a whip ... he was quirky—but I loved him.

Cyndi joked about Madonna's English accent but quickly said she loved her, and also gushed about being on Sire Records now, a label she had always considered to be so creative, the home of so many punk acts and also Madonna.

DSC08885Cyndi Lauper is 62 years old, y'all! (Image by Matthew Rettenmund)

Cyndi loves Madonna and Sire, but there was no love lost on Donald Trump when Rosie O'Donnell took the stage for what amounted to a quickie cover while Boy George and his band prepped behind the curtain. Awkwardly, George's voice and other distracting noises were coming through on the monitors, so Rosie kept getting interrupted and eventually just had to shout over it all—glad it was her and not, say, Mindy Kaling.

DSC09117Rosie's set trumped anything The Donald could ever say. (Image by Matthew Rettenmund)

Rosie used her brief time onstage to lambaste Donald Trump. Though she declared the Beacon a Trump-free zone, that wasn't quite true—it was more like an anti-Trump zone, and rightfully so:

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Mar 11 2016
No, Madonna Was Not DRUNK, But Her Show Was Intoxicating Comments (0)

2016-03-11-22-27-53-jpg(Image by Marguerita Tan)

First-hand account of Tears of a Clown from a longtime fan who was there.

 
Oct 19 2015
Madonna Critic Eats Her Words Comments (0)

DSC06666 copy copy

It's gratifying to read a former Madonna critic—who had previously snarked about Madonna's relevance, talent, motivation—take in a Rebel Heart Tour show and ... take it all back!

 
Oct 05 2015
Need To Know: She Did It Miley's Way + AC Drenched In Holy Water + NYC Bash + Biden, His Time + Bernie's Boston Tea Party + Semi-Nude Balance + Gaga For Disco + MORE! Comments (0)

*widget boy cultureMiley's SNL monologue was a song—a hilarious song. Images

*widget boy cultureMadonna's Atlantic City Rebel Heart Tour stop was all wet.

*widget boy cultureGrace Jones's book party left guests Jonesing for Grace.

*widget boy cultureGay right-winger mocks rape at Amber Rose's SlutWalk, gets boot.

*widget boy cultureAnother gay bashing in NYC.

*widget boy cultureJoe Biden gets rock-star welcome at HRC.

*widget boy cultureBernie Sanders gets rock-star welcome in Boston.

*widget boy cultureKochs might now think Fiorina is dumb enough to pull it off after all.

*widget boy cultureSean Bergara is very well-balanced! Images

 

Bosu ball pistol squats. #instadaily #instagood #pilates #yoga #fit #fitfam #fitness #fitspo #muscled #balance #palmsprings

A video posted by Sean Bergara age: 46 (@seanbergara) on Oct 3, 2015 at 6:25am PDT

*widget boy cultureLet's reinstate the 1994 federal ban on assault weapons.

*widget boy cultureDan Osborne's most bulge-tastic shots!

*widget boy cultureHandsome Matt Morrison jettisons his beard.

*widget boy cultureLady Gaga wants your love, she wants — your love.

*widget boy cultureHOT tennis daddy.

*widget boy cultureDavid McIntosh's KILLER ass. (Work Unfriendly)

*widget boy cultureHey, there, Handsome! I do anal!

*widget boy cultureAlan's booty pic (with my book!) got banned from Facebook. Over to Buttbook? Images

ALAN-ILAGANWho would report his work of art? (The book's nice, too.)

 
Sep 25 2015
Need To Know: REBEL HEART-On + Pope Has 'em On The Ropes + Tears For Fears + The Spy Who Loved Cock + Caitlyn Marie's Crisis + New Hercules Is A Marvel + MORE! Comments (0)

Madonna-Matthew-RettenmundYes, it actually did taste a bit like holy water.

*widget boy cultureAmazing coverage of Madonna in Philly, her “Popey-Wopey” dedication.

*widget boy cultureBuy my book on Amazon or BN or anywhere you buy books.

*widget boy cultureAnother devastating Stonewall review.

*widget boy cultureThe Pope spanks Congress.

*widget boy cultureNO MORE TEARS: The Speaker has left the House ... or is about to.

*widget boy cultureSam Smith's Bond theme is here.

*widget boy cultureAmazing Dancer from the Dance to get film version 40 years on!

**See Dancer from the Dance's 1st 'n' last lines, plus those of many more gay classics.**

*widget boy cultureTim Tebow tries dating a woman.

*widget boy cultureEric Decker is rock-hard!

*widget boy cultureJUICY: On how to write someone else's memoir

*widget boy cultureCaitlyn Marie Jenner is now legally a woman.

*widget boy cultureStr8 boy who bottoms and swallows? Put a ring on THAT.

*widget boy cultureGHOULISH: Ghost Adventures couple dead in murder-suicide.

*widget boy cultureMarvel's new leather-daddy Hercules looks like Jaxton Wheeler!

Screen Shot 2015-09-25 at 2.48.42 PMPhoto by Matthew Rettenmund. Bodies by God.

 
Sep 17 2015
Need To Know: Not Up For Debate + Face-Off + Jeb Bush Gets High(er) + Don't Go For 2nd-Best, Baby + Gay Munchies + Oh, Brother! + Haring Gain + Tru Dat + MORE! Comments (0)

UnnamedHillary's campaign sent this gif out in response to the clownish GOP debate.

*widget boy cultureBernie Sanders calls for revolution after debate, Hillary is SHH. Images

*widget boy cultureRepublicans' descent into madness on display in debate.

*widget boy cultureJeb humiliates himself with tippy-toe gambit.

*widget boy culturePerhaps Fiorina was the least insane last night

*widget boy cultureFacing off, Fiorina spanks Trump; he still focuses on her beauty.

*widget boy cultureRich, post-menopause Fiorina don't need no stinking Planned Parenthood. Screen Shot 2015-09-17 at 1.18.18 PM

*widget boy cultureFive-star Madonna review, and the Splash photos are mine!!!

*widget boy cultureRolling Stone gushes over Madonna.

*widget boy cultureThe boy's got the right attitude.

*widget boy cultureDon't miss Matthew Wilkas on InstagramImages

 

Something VERY STRANGE happened today when I drank from my giant black penis shaped sports bottle....

A video posted by Matthew Wilkas (@mwilkas) on Sep 16, 2015 at 5:12pm PDT

*widget boy cultureWhy Doritos are so totally gay. NYR_11021_0009.jpg

*widget boy cultureCody Calafiore's bro has hot buns!

*widget boy cultureIs Ellen DeGeneres a Cait-haiter?

*widget boy cultureAh-mazing Haring drawings for sale.Images

*widget boy cultureHe's suing his insurer to be able to take Truvada.

*widget boy cultureHow Jussie Smollett discovered he is famous.

*widget boy cultureNaked Highway's excellent “Never Cared” (lyric) video after the jump ...

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