Category Archives: Concert Reviews

Kristina At Carnegie Hall Hits Stores Finally

Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson of ABBA first let audiences in on their masterpiece, “Kristina Från Duvemåla,” in Malmö, Sweden on October 7, 1995, then record buying audiences were able to obtain the 3-CD cast recording in September of 1996. Almost immediately there was talk about translating the work to English and bringing it to an American audience, particularly because the story of “Kristina Från Duvemåla” (translating to Kristina From Duvemåla) is just as much a story about Sweden as it is a story about America. However, it seems a lot of the work in bringing “Kristina” to America would have to wait due to the surprise success of a little show launched in London in 1999, called “Mamma Mia!” would demand a lot of time and attention for Björn and Benny.

The story for “Kristina” is based on Vilhelm Moberg’s “Emigrants” series of four novels, which follows the lives of a group of Swedish settlers which include Karl Oscar and his wife Kristina, as they make the tough decision to pack up and take their chances settling in the unknown wilds of America in the mid 1800’s. While the books follow the group, the show has singled out Karl Oscar and Kristina to be the central focus of the show. The novels are considered to be some of the finest works in Swedish literature, which is what attracted Björn and Benny to wanting to tell the tale of Kristina. Their earlier musical effort, a collaboration with Tim Rice on an original idea by Tim Rice resulted in the musical “Chess.” As much as “Chess” is praised for it’s incredible songs, it’s also panned for its relatively weak plot, which left Björn and Benny looking for a well crafted story to transform into a musical. Björn and Benny felt for their second musical, they didn’t want plot to be one of the problems to plague the show.

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Arrival Rocks Palm Springs With ABBA Music

When it comes to ABBA Tribute Bands, Arrival from Sweden is the world’s best. It is the most authentic recreation of an ABBA concert you’ll ever see, and Vicky Norbäck-Zetterberg, founding member of Arrival, has gone to great lengths to ensure the most authentic show possible, including enlisting the help of ABBA’s costume designer, Owe Sandström, to recreate some of ABBA’s signature costumes and choreography that’s be researched to match how ABBA originally performed the songs live. All the music is created live, unlike some ABBA tribute bands that actually bring recordings to sing to their shows. And who can resist authentic Swedish accents as they are real Swedes who are able to accurately sing the songs the way ABBA did.

Arrival’s performance in Palm Springs was part of the 2010 Evening Under The Stars charity event benefiting Palm Springs AIDS Assistance Program. The event was held on the grounds of the O’Donnell Golf Club, just a short walk away from Downtown Palm Springs. As the event was $395 a plate for the charity dinner, I was attending as a guest of the band. I had the opportunity to hang out with the band before and after the performance along with a couple of other guests the band invited.

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Kylie Minogue Finally Lights Up The Hollywood Bowl

Kylie Hollywood Bowl SignI know this review is a bit late and I still need to get to my reviews of the “Kristina” shows from Carnegie Hall, but I’m trying to fit in the time when I can. So apologies to my readers anxiously anticipating my reviews.

I wasn’t expecting my chance to see Kylie Minogue in person to be such a last minute affair, but I had been hoping my new Blackjack Training program I am I developing would not only be released long before this concert, but it would also help brining in the funds to purchase much better seats for the show. But as the concert has come and past and the project is still not yet ready to launch, I ended up scrambling last minute to make sure I had the night of October 4th off work, and purchased some tickets. I decided I wasn’t that fussed about having great seats, as I felt it was just more important to be there. So I bought a couple of the cheapest tickets available so my good friend Rod Reynolds and I could see the Australian pop diva bring her first ever United States tour. I didn’t know it at the time I bought the tickets but they were second row seats……second row from the back.

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ABBA Fab Brings Unique ABBA Tribute Show To Escondido

ABBA FabHaving literally just gotten off the plane from New York where I spent two nights with the real Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus as they presented the first English language performance of their musical, Kristina at Carnegie Hall, I took the opportunity to attend the ABBA Fab tribute concert at Escondido’s California Center For The Arts. As the author of the eZine article, “ABBA Tribute Bands – 8 Tips To Improve Your Show” I often like to check out ABBA Tribute Bands to see which ones are worth recommending and which ones are worth avoiding.

ABBA Fab bills themselves as “The Premiere ABBA Experience” on their posters for the event and on their website at ABBAFab.com as “The most amazing tribute show you will see anywhere.” which are some pretty grand statements for a tribute band that has never been seen or heard by me or any of the other ABBA fans I am in touch with around the globe. So I was a bit skeptical of their claim as I have seen some truly great ABBA tribute performances and some truly appalling performances as well.

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Roxy Monoxide Rocks The Beauty Bar For CD Pre-Release Party

Roxy Monoxide Beauty BarOne of my favorite local bands, Roxy Monoxide, announced they were going to have a pre-release party for the CD entitled “Another Day, Another Episode” at San Diego’s Beauty Bar located near the intersection of El Cajon Blvd. and Euclid Ave.

Having never been to the Beauty Bar, I looked them up online and comes to find out they are a chain of locations with Beauty Bar’s in a variety of cities, including Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Las Vegas, Austin, and Brooklyn. They seem to have quite the concept. In style reminiscent of a 1950’s or 1960’s style beauty salon, it’s a full service bar. Think “Beauty School Dropout” from Grease crossed with alcohol and you’ll get the idea. Go to the bar and get your martini and sit under an old style salon hair dryer. Let’s just say, the B-52’s would never look out of place here. (Check out the photos of the venue here.)

San Diego’s Beauty Bar consists of a main bar area and a tented performance space in behind the bar that is connected via a roll door. It definitely wasn’t the most modern looking venue, but I liked the them of it. You have to appreciate the double meaning of calling the place the Beauty Bar, as it was certainly a bar in the alcohol sense of the world, and wouldn’t have been out of place with bar as in bar of soap. Personally I’m surprised the venue isn’t in Hillcrest.

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Chantal Kreviazuk Previews New Songs At The Hotel Cafe In Los Angeles

Chantal Kreviazuk PerformanceLast night I got the opportunity to see Chantal Kreviazuk play a very small and intimate club in Los Angeles called, The Hotel Cafe. The venue can hold about one hundred fifty people, so it was pretty small and the venue wasn’t the easiest to find, fortunately, Google Street View maps made it relatively easy thanks to being able to identify the surrounding businesses.

Chantal was third on the lineup of four artists performing each performing for about 45 minutes starting at the top of the hour with the first artist taking the stage at seven. Tickets to the event were not sold in advance online so it was kind of a crap shoot to just drive on up to Los Angeles from San Diego. But what the hell, I took a couple days extra off work to do this as I love Chantal’s music and it was worth it to me to come. I didn’t even know how much the tickets would be at the door either. So when I got to the venue and found out they were only $8, it was one of the best concert bargains all year.

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Benny Andersson Band Played London On July 4th

Benny AnderssonBenny Andersson Orkester, also known as BAO for short, recently released an album aimed at the English speaking market under the name of Benny Andersson Band. To commemorate the Swedes taking over the presidency of the EU, the Benny Andersson Band headlined a Swedish festival in Hampstead Heath on July 4th in a free performance just slightly north of London.

It’s not the first time the Benny Andersson Band has performed for a mainly English speaking audience. The band has performed previously in Glasgow as well as in Minneapolis. Brining a touch of Swedish folk along with several other styles of music, an evening with the Benny Andersson Band is always an eclectic experience. One of the joys of seeing Benny Andersson perform is his true love for music. He is clearly in his element and it becomes a pure joy to see him perform the music he’s crafted in both the most traditional of Swedish styles as well as his own pop styles.

Those expecting to hear a slick ABBA style performance would be clearly disappointed by what Benny dubs “14 middle aged men” and two vocalists, the incredible Helen Sjöholm, and Tommy Körberg. The very traditional folk and vocal styles are often more reminiscent of a big band era performance than a modern pop band. The band plays a variety of styles of traditional dance music and often encourages dancing while they play instead of a more traditional concert performance. Because of this their performances often last far longer than traditional concerts. When I saw the band in Minnesota a few years ago, they played for four hours. The London performance lasted for two and half hours and according to the reports that have come in, the show was excellent.

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Arrival Brings A Touch Of Sweden To The San Diego County Fair

Arrival at the San Diego County FairI think in large part due to the phenomenal success of “Mamma Mia! The Movie” last summer which was released shortly after last year’s San Diego County Fair concluded, the organizers of the San Diego County Fair thought it fitting to bring in an ABBA tribute band as a headlining act for the 2009 San Diego County Fair at the Del Mar Fairgrounds. Fortunately the organizers picked what I consider to be the world’s best ABBA tribute band out there. That tribute band is Arrival, who like ABBA, also originate from Sweden and the show Arrival is touring under is called “The Music Of ABBA”.

Headed by Vicky Zetterberg (who portrays Anni-Frid “Frida” Lyngstad) and joined by Jenny Gustafsson (who portrays Agnetha Fältskog), Arrival brought a wonderful touch of Sweden to San Diego, not once, but twice with two shows on July 2, 2009. The afternoon show began at 2pm and while the program states the afternoon concerts are hour long shows, Arrival played for a full two hours bringing a complete ABBA show to those down at the fair early enough to catch the afternoon show. I was personally fighting with traffic and the whole mess with parking so I didn’t make it to the Heineken Grandstand Stage until 2:30pm but I did get there. Arrival were performing “Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight)” as I arrived.

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B-52’s Rock The San Diego County Fair In Del Mar

B-52's LiveLast night at the San Diego County Fair, I went to go see the B-52’s perform with some of San Diego’s bear community. Roughly twenty or so of us went and we squatted out a section of free seats in the grandstand with a great view of the stage even though we weren’t that close. The tickets were amazingly cheap. Entrance to the fair was $13, but if you hit an Albertsons grocery store, you could get $11 tickets. The concert was included in the fair admission price, and there was an opportunity to upgrade the tickets for reserved seating, but where we saw the group was just fine.

I wouldn’t consider myself to be a giant fan of the B-52’s but I do like them a lot. I’ve never been obsessive about getting all their albums. I would say my B-52’s collection consists of a greatest hits album, the “Cosmic Thing” album, a single for “Good Stuff”, and the “Funplex” album from last year. Oh, and the “Flintstones” movie soundtrack where the B-52’s became the BC-52’s to perform “The Flintstones Theme” and “The Bedrock Twitch.” Not quite the obsessive fan I tend to be about other groups. However, I think I may be adding a few more of their albums following the show.

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CHESS In Concert DVD & CDs Available Tuesday

Chess In ConcertIf you think the only musical theatre entry of Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson of ABBA is MAMMA MIA!, you’d be wrong. Shortly after the last songs of ABBA’s catalogue were completed, the members of ABBA decided to take a break from the group, and Björn & Benny decided to try their hand at writing a musical. Tim Rice, well known for his collaborations with Andrew Lloyd Webber, was in the market for new composers to work with for his idea of building a musical around the idea of a Chess championship. After having met Björn & Benny and deciding to work together, the process of bringing Chess to life was born.

Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice established a successful formula of trying out the songs from shows they wrote in a “Concept Album” format that got released to the public long before a staged version of the show got made. This methodology was an invaluable way to see if the songs were good enough to warrant the time and expense of launching a full scale musical. Instead of going to the expense of launching a full show, it’s a chance to release the album to the public and see if it generates enough interest. If the album tanks, a fortune has been saved, and if it succeeds, then it creates an audience for the show when it gets launched.

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