The Kills and L.A. Witch at the Ogden Theatre in Denver, CO on 5/27/16

I first discovered Alison Mosshart through Jack White’s side project The Dead Weather.  She fronted the band by jolting around the stage making the audience entranced with her every move.  I was excited to see her perform with her main band.

The Kills

The Kills formed sixteen years ago in Europe when Alison Mosshart, a punk rocker from Florida, met Jamie Hince, a British rocker, while touring in separate bands. The two started a low-fi rock blues duo backed by a drum machine.  Five albums later, they have definitely perfected their sound.

Jamie Hince had a difficult time during the last few years.  He slammed a car door on his left hand resulting in numerous surgeries.  Hince lost use of one of his fingers forcing him to relearn the guitar.  He also had a very public separation with his super model wife Kate Moss (that’s why I don’t date super models).  Mosshart has recently moved to Nashville, Tennessee to create visual arts and possible be closer to a Mr. Jack White III.

The Kills photos by the Rock and Roll Princess

Friday night, the duo took the stage with  intensity and high energy.  Alison Mosshart appeared in tight Jim Morrison type leather pants with bleach blonde hair.  Jamie Hince was dressed as a proper Englishmen in a sweater and tie.  They started with No Wow from 2005 with it’s building rhythm and dark sexual lyrics.  The rest of the set was heavy on new material from their upcoming album Ash & Ice.  New songs Doing It to Death and Siberian Nights seem to reflect Hince’s recent struggles.  There was a healthy mix of older material sprinkled in to the delight of their die hard fans.

The Kills turning up the heat

Alison Mosshart danced, moving her hips, whipping her hair around all while singing with extreme sexuality.  Other female singers rely on skimpy outfits and outrages acts while Mosshart simply just performs oozing sex.  Her performance of the new song Hard Habit to Break made the temperature at the Ogden Theatre instantly rise.  They ended with Sour Cherry from 2008’s Album Midnight Boom.  Mosshart repeated the chorus, “I am only the sour cherry on the fruit stand.”  I am pretty sure the subject was not really produce related.

L.A. Witch

L.A. Witch was the opening band. The black lipstick trio played a vampire version of surf rock. Lead singer Sade Sanchez played an impressive guitar that was bigger than her.  Bass player Irita Pai dressed all in black with torn stockings providing a large dose of goth attitude.  Drummer Ellie English’s crashing beats forced each song to break free of it’s heavy reverb darkness. They ended their set by simply packing their instruments.  No good byes.  No waves to the crowd.  No thank you Denver.  It was odd.  But I was amused by their punk rock spirit.

See you at the next show.  I will be the one not wearing leather pants.

Mudcrutch and The Shelters at the Ogden Theatre in Denver, CO on 05/26/16.

It only took minutes for the show to sell out when it was announced that Tom Petty was getting the band back together. It’s not the Heartbreakers. It’s Mudcrutch. The band he was in forty-six years ago in Gainesville, Florida before making rock and roll history a few years later with the Heartbreakers.  After reuniting in 2008, Mudcrutch has gotten back together again for another album and a small club tour. The ones lucky enough to get tickets (or the ones that sold their first born to scalpers) got a chance to see a rock icon in the intimate setting of the 1,600 capacity Odgen Theatre.  Die hard fans (yes… I was one of them) waited in the rain for hours until the doors finally opened to get close to the stage.  Nobody seemed to mind feeling like wet dogs because we all knew we were going to witness something special.

Mudcrutch photo by the Rock and Roll Princess 

A bearded Tom Petty took the stage in his standard Tom Pettyish vest.  He quickly responded to the crowd shouting for Heartbreakers hits, “We are not going to be doing that tonight.  But we will try to give you everything you need.”  With two albums of Mudcrutch songs and freedom not to sing the hits (free from playing Free Fallin’), he seemed thrilled.

Petty played bass instead of his usual Rickenbacker guitar just like he did with Mudcrutch originally.  He let other members sing lead on a few songs while sneaking drags off a constant burning cigarette siting on the drum riser.  But Petty was front and center for Mudcrutch’s psychedelic bluegrass glory.

Mike Campbell and Tom Petty

Mudcrutch has Mike Campbell (also a member of the Heartbreakers) an under-rated guitar wizard who has played with the likes of Don Henley, George Harrison, and Bob Dylan.  He sang Victim of Circumstance with an astonishing guitar solo.  This made someone from the crowd yell out, “Oh my God, Mike can really sing.”

 It’s not often that you find a grand piano on the Ogden Theatre stage.  However, if your keyboard player is Benmont Tench (also a member of the Heartbreakers) you probably should have one.  Tench has become a in-demand studio musician who has recorded with everyone from Neil Diamond to U2.  He sang the lead on the hilarious Welcome to Hell with a boogy-woogy solo that was extended after Petty signaled for more.  This made Tench show a big smile that is usually hidden behind the piano and his fedora.

Tom Petty

Tom Leadon who later wrote songs for the Eagles and became a well known Nashville guitar teacher was the happiest one in the reformed band.  He wore a fancy western style shirt not letting any chance to be in the spot light slip away.  He sang the lead on The Other Side of the Mountain showing off his guitar skills while harmonizing with Petty on the chorus.  

Randall Marsh played the drums in a number of bands in Los Angeles, California after Mudcrutch disbanded.  Singing Beautiful World from his drum kit,  Marsh expressed his gratitude of the evening with the songs positive lyrics.

Mudcrutch photo by the Rock and Roll Princess


Herb Pedersen a Nashville legend (I know this because that’s how Petty introduced him) looked like a slightly younger Wilford Brimley added to the group’s sound with backing vocals and banjo picking.


Of course, Tom Petty brought it all together.  He sang the fourth song that he ever wrote entitled Save Your Water.  Petty stated, “The guys are letting me play this one that I dusted off after fifty years.”  The best song of the night was Petty’s I Forgive It All.  It described someone content with where they are in their life.  “I ain’t broke and I ain’t hungry.”  Summing up the feeling the band must be having after getting together again after all of these years.

The Shelters

The Shelters from Los Angles, California were the opener.  Tom Petty co-produced their debut album after seeing them perform. Their song Rebel Heart sounds like it was influenced by either the Los Angles based band The Byrds or the other Los Angles based band Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers (I’ll let you decide).  Their sound is a combination of pop, rock, and jam music that got the crowd nodding along.  They seemed grateful for the opportunity of a life time to open for Tom Petty’s pre-heartbreakers band.

See you at the next show.  I will be the one wondering what a mudcrutch is.

Lucius and Happy Hollows at the Gothic Theatre in Englewood, CO on 05/14/16

Few performers have mystic qualities.  David Bowie was the man who fell to Earth and Lucius’ beautifully blended harmonies are so extraordinary they don’t seem to be from this world either.

After meeting at the Berklee School of Music, Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig started singing together under the name Lucius. They were joined by guitarists Andrew Burri and Peter Lalish and drummer Dan Molad. They built up a loyal following with unison singing, well crafted songs, and retro fashions.

Lucius

Wolfe and Laessig came on stage at the Gothic dressed like futuristic flight attendants with matching capes. Their hair was shaved on the sides and piled up on top in a pompadour cross bun. The gentlemen in the band wore complimentary blue suites minus the capes.  Wolfe and Laessig not only lead the band with their beautiful harmonies, but played the keyboards and drums to build up the intensity of their pop infused folk.

Things slowed down when Wolfe and Laessig broke away from the keyboards and shared a mic to sing Dusty Roads. The song highlights their amazing vocals and comes to a peak when they sing acapella.

Another highlight was their performance of Gone Insane which conveyed the feeling of…. wait for it….insanity.  They sang to a crescendo while almost screaming. The song has hints of Florence and the Machine and Kate Bush.  However, it is very much their own.

Holly Laessig and Jess Wolfe

Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig left the stage for a moment to reappear in the middle of the crowd wearing futuristic gold ponchos.  They got the crowd to start jumping along with them while singing and circling each other.

They eventually made their way back to the stage to perform Elvis Presley’s Can’t Help Falling in Love.  The crowd was so overwhelmed that they gave each other a massive group hug.  Never underestimate the power of the King.

Lucius ended with the high energy and percussion heavy (we need more cowbell) Genevieve. 

Happy Hollows

Happy Hollows from Los Angeles, California opened the show with their own brand of quirk indy pop.  The enthusiasm of lead singer Sarah Negahdari was extremely infectious.  Their songs were catchy and Negahdari’s interpretive dance moves made them instantly likeable.  She stated how much of an honor it was to open up for the aliens…. I mean Lucius.

See you at the next show.  I will be the one not wearing a cape.

Chris Stapleton and Anderson East at the Fillmore Auditorium in Denver, CO on 5/6/16.

Tom Petty describes modern country music as “bad rock with a fiddle.”  I do like some country. But I find most of it filled with generic songs about trucks, dirt roads, and girls in tight jeans. Chris Stapleton is starting to change my perception.  He has brought back songs with vivid lyrics, a powerful voice, and soulful guitar playing.  Stapleton left a successful career as a song writer for Adele, Darius Rucker, and Kenny Chesney (to name only a few ) to step out in front of the mic

I attended the second night of a sold out run at The Fillmore Auditorium.  The cowboy boot wearing crowd filed into the auditorium with their Tennessee Whiskey and Strawberry Wine breath and love for the long haired, bushy beard, teddy bear shaped man about to take the stage.

Chris Stapleton and Morgane Hayes-Stapleton

The band consisted of bass player J.T. Cure,  drummer Derek Mixon, Stapleton’s wife vocalist Morgane Hayes-Stapleton, and legendary long time Willie Nelson harmonica player Mickey Raphael (he is so famous there were Mickey t-shirts at the merch both). The audience sang along from the beginning of his set with Nobody to Blame to the last song of the night.  During Fire Away, a security guard even waved his arm like a conductor when the crowd sang the chorus.  Morgane Hayes-Stapleton stated that it was the loudest a crowd has ever sang (not the best Denver, the loudest).

The most heart felt songs were when Chris Stapleton looked into his wife’s eyes while she provided harmonies that made his roaring voice even more powerful.  Their duet of You Are My Sunshine gave off a definite Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash vibe.

Chris Stapleton

Chris Stapleton shared a story about when Merle Haggard sent a legal Colorado substance to Stapleton’s tour bus when they shared a stage.  Instead of smoking it, Stapleton kept it.  Making it a perfect introduction to his song Might as Well Get Stoned.  

Stapleton displayed his vocal range by singing the long introductions of his band that magically turned into his hit Tennessee Whiskey.

When the band returned for the encore, Stapleton showed off his guitar skills with Outlaw State of Mind.  No wonder he was chosen to perform along with Bonnie Rait and Gary Clark Jr. for B.B. King’s Grammy Tribute The Thrill is Gone.  He has a slow raw note bending style.  When Stapleton returns to Denver, it will be in a larger venue to fit more fans to sing along.

Anderson East

Anderson East opened the show with a rhythm and blues set complete with a horn section and keyboard player.  The Athens, Alabama native lead his band though a high energy set.  His song Satisfy Me has a Joe Cocker/Wilson Picket vibe.  The set included a soul cover version of David Bowie’s Rebel Rebel and a perfect rendition of Van Morrison’s Tupelo Honey.  The tribute covers kept coming when his guitarist The Reverend (when he speaks, he speaks the truth) preached Prince’s Dearly Beloved Sermon from as an introduction to Prince’s I Would Die 4 U.  East will be opening for The Dixie Chicks this summer.

The Fillmore Audtiorm’s Sold Out Crowd

I left the show with a little more hope for the state of country music.  Maybe the truck, dirt road, girls in tight jeans generic genre is changing for the better.

See you at the next show.  I will be the one drinking Tennessee Whisky.  Second thought…. I’ll stick to beer.