Concert review: Joe Henry (6/27/2014)

Joe Henry and his gorgeous custom-built guitar.

Joe Henry and his gorgeous custom-built guitar.

Yep. Joe Henry at Brighton Music Hall. I was, by any measure, unreasonably excited about this show. I keep a concert calendar with a list of dates, names and venues with a note about whether I have or need to buy tickets, and this entry read: ZOMG JOE HENRY IN BOSTON!!! Poking a little fun at my own excitement, of course, but I’m pretty sure I was the first person to buy a ticket and I was definitely the first person to arrive at the venue (but that was mostly because Brighton Music Hall tweeted the wrong door/set time for the show and I got there an hour earlier than intended). I actually went and lurked across the street to watch the door because I was afraid they would think I was a stalker if I got in line that early. When I saw some other people start waiting in line I went over and joined them. This worked out well, because those other people in line turned out to be really nice and we spent the next 75 minutes or so chatting about music until the show started.

I’d just been at this same venue two nights earlier for Jolie Holland (see my previous blog post), so I was surprised to see that they’d set out chairs – I’ve been there a bunch of times and I didn’t even know they did seated concerts. Joe Henry’s music is definitely sitting-down music and not standing-and-dancing music, so I was happy to see that. Plus it was a week where I managed to see four concerts in three states while also working full-time, so I was just plain tired and happy to be sitting.

The concert had been advertised as a solo set, although I suspected that (more…)

Concert review: Joe Henry in Ghent (6/10/2014)

Concert Manic’s most famous Belgian correspondent, Bjorn Weynants, is back with another excellent guest post! Many of my music-loving European friends have been catching shows on Joe Henry’s current tour, and their reports are making me really look forward to seeing his concert here in Boston in a few weeks. Have a listen to one of the songs from his brand-new album, Invisible Hour, while you read. – Sarah V.


Joe Henry is the not the kind of artist who tours regularly. The fact that he planned a massive European tour (at least massive to Joe Henry’s norms: only 12 dates, from Sevilla in the south of Spain to Bergen in Norway) with a stop in Ghent, Belgium is big news for his fans. His last Belgian concert was in 2007 (in the same venue as tonight’s show), as his Brussels gig two years ago was suddenly cancelled for undisclosed reasons.

The Handelsbeurs is a beautifully converted 19th century Trade Hall building in the centre of Ghent, which has been used for concerts for the past 10 years or so. (They have a rather Concertmanic-friendly programming as e.g. Ceramic Dog played here last April.) For this concert chairs were put around tables, giving the concert hall the feel of some kind of smoke-filled New York jazz club in the fifties. An ideal setting for a Joe Henry concert.

Joe Henry just released his 13th solo album, the excellent Invisible Hour. Just like his previous albums, it’s one that only discloses its full beauty after repeated listens. Add to that way-better-than-average lyrics and the result is that this is an album which will score very high on end-of-year lists (or at least it will on mine). Unfortunately, this is the kind of music that you won’t hear on the radio, as his music sits somewhere in the no-man’s land between folk, blues and jazz. And that’s a place not a lot of people (let alone your average radio DJ) venture into. While he is one of the great singer-songwriters of the last twenty years (and a great producer as well), the best known fact about him is that he’s the brother-in-law of (more…)

Upcoming concerts, tours and albums

As mentioned in a previous post, I’ve been living in Crazy Town lately, and not going to a lot of shows. I have tickets to ten concerts in May so I’m hoping this will change soon! But in the meantime, I thought I’d give you a little update on a few artists I really like who are releasing new albums and going on tour. Consider them all on my “not to be missed” list.

Joe Henry is doing some rare solo dates in Europe and the U.S. to promote his album due in June: Invisible Hour. There are about a dozen European dates and just six U.S. dates (San Francisco, L.A., DC, NYC, Philadelphia and Boston). He’s one of my absolute favorite singer/songwriters (and an excellent producer as well) – if you haven’t heard him, I can’t recommend his recent output highly enough: Reverie, Blood from Stars, and Civilians are all favorite albums of mine. He works with top-notch musicians, writes extremely fine lyrics, and has a knack for writing that kind of classic melody that feels as though it must have always existed, just waiting to be captured in a song. Check out the single from his upcoming album below (and/or check out another one of my favorites on Youtube by clicking here).

The tour dates are all listed here: http://www.joehenrylovesyoumadly.com/live-shows/

The next underappreciated songwriter on the list: Jolie Holland. I like all of her albums, but the last two (The Living and the Dead & Pint of Blood) really showed off her songwriting talents. Her upcoming album, Wine Dark Sea, is coming out in a few weeks and has been getting rave reviews – I can’t wait to hear it. I love her unique vocals and the fact that every one of her albums is coherent and distinctive enough that you could probably hear any one of her songs and immediately know which album it came from, just from the overall sound and feel of it. I’ve been listening to her a lot lately – the first signs of spring weather always make me want to listen to her music. I have no idea why – just one of those little quirks of the human brain, I guess! Here’s one of my favorite songs from The Living and the Dead:

You can see her tour dates by clicking here – she’s mainly sticking to the U.S. coasts but there are also a couple of Canadian dates.

Up next, Wovenhand, led by David Eugene Edwards. His previous band, 16 Horsepower, remains better-known than his current project, but he has done some fantastic work with Wovenhand and I love the fact that I can see him performing in tiny venues now. (I realize he would probably like to go back to the bigger venues he used to play with 16HP, but… I can’t help loving intimate venues!) I have kind of a weird relationship with (more…)

What’s happening this summer?

My July schedule is a bit strange, I’ve basically got 10 days with almost nothing to do (music-wise) and then there is a huge flood of good stuff happening. I thought since I’ll have no concert reviews for a week I would share a few things that are coming up and maybe help you find something fun to see.

First, I’ll mention that one of my favorite new bands, Zion80, is doing a live streaming webcast from Poland tomorrow, July 4th. 4PM Eastern (1PM Pacific/10PM Europe). According to their Twitter feed, this is the link where you’ll find it: http://t.co/pu9Vm7AUK3 Of course, if you’re in Krakow, you can probably go see them in person (click here for a complete list of tour dates). Some music, if you don’t know them:

Another notable European happening is that one of my very favorite songwriters, Joe Henry, has just announced a couple of shows in August in Dublin and Willisau. He also has one show in July in Los Angeles. He doesn’t tour very often so these shows are pretty special (I read that it’s the first concert he’s ever done in Ireland). I’m not sure if he’s planning on doing any more shows while he’s in Europe, but you can keep an eye on his schedule here. Some music, if you’re not familiar with him:

One of my very favorite musical people in the world, composer/saxophonist John Zorn, is heading off to Europe in July as well; he’s doing a number of marathon concerts (mainly at jazz festivals) in London, Rotterdam, Gent, Warsaw, San Sebastian and Lisbon. Lisbon gets three nights instead of just one, so the Portuguese are extra lucky this time around! In August and September he’ll be heading to Jerusalem and Paris, and throughout the year he is doing fantastic events in New York City. His Facebook events page remains the best place to keep up with events; the Zorn@60 page is really good, but it is a little behind the curve and missing some events that are listed on Facebook. Here is a live cut of the Dreamers, who I think are playing in all of the European concerts:

Local Cantabrigian (more…)