Game of Thrones Live Concert Experience

Tonight was the “Game of Thrones Live Concert Experience” at the Xcel Energy Center, but the day started by visiting the Science Museum of Minnesota and seeing the Omni Theater’s newest show ‘A Beautiful Planet’ which was wonderful and then looked at the fun Mythic Creatures exhibit.

Here is the official blurb:
“Enter the world of Westeros with the Game of Thrones® Live Concert Experience – an immersive music and visual experience that will bring the Seven Kingdoms to life on a scale never seen before. Using state-of-the-art technology, Game of Thrones® composer Ramin Djawadi, along with a full orchestra and choir, will take fans on a musical journey through the realm – from King’s Landing to Winterfell, along the northern stretches of the Kingsroad to The Wall and across the Narrow Sea to Braavos, Meereen and beyond. Fans of the groundbreaking, critically-acclaimed and Emmy® Award-winning show will finally have an opportunity to immerse themselves in the Game of Thrones® universe through the breathtaking score created by Ramin Djawadi” (http://www.xcelenergycenter.com/events/detail/game-of-thrones)

Sloane, also a Game of Thrones fan, went with me and we had a good time and the music was wonderful, but they kicked us and everyone else in our section out of our seats (we had row 1 and they gave us row 18 in another section) and there were really bad sight lines. They had originally changed the date of the concert after selling tickets, from Friday Feb 17 to Monday Feb 20. They did not tell us ahead of time about the seats, just made us go to another line once we were inside and just handed us new tickets. No reason or explanation as to why. So seats I handpicked months ago, were no longer ours. There were empty rows around us, so we wondered if this was the reason for kicking us out of our seats/section – there were just too many unsold tickets (the PR for the show was bad and no one I know saw a television ad). The new seats we got were ok, but if we were a few more rows to the left we would not have been able to see anything. There were two big screens and lots of little ones, but all the action (clips from the show) took place on the two big screens and unless you were directly in front of these two big screens your seat was not very good. This was just weird, as why did they go through all the trouble of staging this big event and not allow all seats to see the big screens. Also it looked like if you had the VIP seats on the floor you could not see the big screens either, but that’s just a guess. So despite the stage being a ‘theater in the round’ they had all the individual performers at the other end, so you could not see them, except on the little screens and they really did not move around the stage. The show went on for an hour, then there was a 15 minute intermission, and then another hour. There were also spots on the big screen that were not working, a rope ladder and wires slightly to the left of us that were sometimes in the way. We also wondered if somethings were not working, as we both expected more lights and special effects. The music and show clips did not really follow any chronology, they just sort of lumped events and people together and we expected to see more of certain people and did not really see them. They ended the concert with a bunch of clips from the end of Season 6 and there were no hints for Season 7. The music and clips from the ‘Battle of the Bastards’ episode was probably the best part of the concert, but it was an amazing scene from Season 6. There was a cute little encore with a ‘In Memoriam’ Westeros style while a few musicians played ‘The Bear and the Maiden Fair.’ There was also a tiny exhibit of 5 or 6 costumes and a Iron Throne, so that was disappointing as I expected them to have more and in one of the Ticketmaster blurbs it mentioned a merchandise area and there was just a table with t-shirts, so nothing special there either. Sloane mentioned that she thought the sound was too loud a few times and I would agree with her, but I also thought that sometimes the music sounded too good. Overall I had a good time and the music was wonderful, plus the shows cinematography which really comes though on the big screen, but there were too many other distractions going on for it to rank in my top concert category.

Andrea Bocelli

This past Thursday (June 9) was a good day. I turned in grades for the class I was teaching (at a very dysfunctional university, but that’s a story for another time) and attended a Andrea Bocelli concert with my friend Kelley (originally the evil twin was to go with me, but that’s also a story for another time).

I would rank the Andrea Bocelli concert in the middle of concerts I have seen over the years. Not the best, but not the worst, but it was certainly one of the weirdest. It was held at the Target Center and apparently there were about 10,000 people in attendance. The official start time was 7:30pm and we arrived at 8:03pm due to parking issues (I got to try to parallel park, something I have not done for years) and we figured, well no worries, as concerts never start on time and there is always an opening act. Not this time. There was no opening act and apparently he started at 7:50. Which is odd as to why an Italian would be starting to sing so early and almost on time. Then the intermission came at 8:30pm and was for 20 minutes. Then the concert ended at 9:30. No, that’s not a typo, 9:30pm. I have never been to a concert that ended so early. Now Andrea does have a lovely voice for opera and the first half of the concert were all opera songs in Italian, which included the song from La Boheme. After the intermission he did movie songs, which were nice, but he really does not have the voice for pop songs or non-opera songs. He sang songs from Phantom of the Opera, West Side Story, etc. He also had a lady violinist, a lady opera singer, a couple that danced to two songs, and a Cuban opera singer who was not very good and thought she was a pop diva or something (she also had really strange fingernails). There was no program and no names were really given out, so I have no idea who these people were. Andrea did not talk to the audience and had the conductor of the orchestra introduce the Cuban singer. Does he not speak English? The weirdest thing was that he needed to be escorted on and off stage after every other song. Yes, I know he is blind and all, so why move at all? So he would sing a song or two and then leave. Why could he not stand or sit there when he was not signing? As I remarked to Kelley, we brought up the median age of the crowd (who were mostly in the 60s and 70s) and it was weird to go to a concert where everyone sat in their seats and were not drunk, like the past two concerts I have been to (Madonna and Garth Brooks). But by far the strangest thing at the concert was the music video at the end. Imagine if you will a video showing a desert landscape the entire time with a horse, then Andrea, then a astronaut, then a kid, then a Roman Gladiator, then two airplanes, then Andrea walking, then Andrea riding the horse, then John Travolta, then a woman in front of an image of the Taj Mahal, then Andrea riding the horse, then an Asian kid, then John Travolta again, etc. It was truly bizarre. Kelley and I were laughing and I kept thinking “WTF”. I expected there to be credits with Andrea’s name or a relatives name or some explanation, but nothing.

So overall I had a nice time. It was fun to catch up with Kelley and hear about her husband and kids and what everyone is up to. I had an adventure trying to parallel park (Kelley is a magnet for driving issues) and went to a nice, slightly weird concert.

1st Christmas Song of the Year!

Driving home from seeing Hunger Games tonight and heard my first Christmas Song of the Year! It was Elvis Presley’s ‘Here comes Santa Claus’ which is a good song, but its way too early in the season. After Thanksgiving yes, before no. Too early! Too early!

Ukelele

I am not catching onto the mandolin as quickly as I thought I would, so after talking to two musicians who each play like 12 instruments, they both said I should try something a bit easier and recommended the ukelele. So I found a good, inexpensive one online (the yellow color and shark bridge were just a bonus) and it arrived today! I am calling it my surgery gift to myself.

The Rolling Stones ZIP CODE tour

Wednesday night (June 3, 2015) I went to see The Rolling Stones! Yes, Mick, Keith, Charlie, and Ronnie aka that group of 70 year olds were on their ZIP CODE tour. As I was still at work when the concert started, I took an hour of vacation to leave early and missed the opening act Grace Potter (who I heard did a good job), but as The Stones did not were not scheduled to play until 9:15pm it was fine that I arrived late. As I was walking to the TCF Bank Stadium (the UMN still charges students a ‘stadium fee’ of $12.50 per semester per student to pay for the construction and debt of the stadium which sits empty most of the year), it was jam packed on the streets and inside the stadium and you could barely move (despite it being super crowded I did run into a friend also attending the concert- hi Keely!). The Stones started at 9:20pm and began with Jumping Jack Flash, my favorite song and really, how can you hear that song and not think of Whoopi Goldberg? They talked just a little bit and continued to play songs from their Sticky Fingers album, which was just re-released. They gave a good concert, but really its just Mick that moves around and performs. The others just kind of stand there and at times you wonder if they even know what was going on. Keith talked to the audience and while he plays and sings great, when he is talking to the audience I wondered what language he was speaking, as it was not English. So a good concert, but considering all the police and security and the fact that they searched everyone entering the stadium, it was amazing the amount of illegal booze, cigarettes (smoking is not allowed on camps or in the stadium), marijuana, falling down drunks, and various other things going on that the police and TCF Stadium security chose to ignored. A real sex, drugs, and rock-n-roll Rolling Stones concert I guess. I left a little early to avoid the herds of drunk drivers and saw people in lawn chairs sitting outside the stadium enjoying the music for free and even at my parking spot, I still could hear the concert. So if you cannot get concert tickets, the next best thing is to sit outside the stadium for free and listen.

The Rolling Stones
Rolling Stones – TCF Bank Stadium – June 3, 2015 at 8:00 PM

A nice pre-concert article from The Current:

“We are excited to be back in North America playing stadiums this summer! We are looking forward to being back on stage and playing your favorite songs.” – Mick Jagger

“We love being out on the road and it is great to come back to North America! I can’t wait to get back on the stage!” – Keith Richards

The Rolling Stones ZIP CODE tour will see Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Charlie Watts and Ronnie Wood head back out on the road after their critically-acclaimed 14 ON FIRE tour in Asia, Europe, Australia and New Zealand in 2014. The iconic band will treat their generations of fans to special one night only shows, with a set packed full of classic Stones hits such as “Gimme Shelter”, “Paint It Black”, “Jumpin’ Jack Flash”, “Tumbling Dice” and “It’s Only Rock ‘N’ Roll”, as well as special gems from their extraordinary catalog.

The Rolling Stones ZIP CODE tour will be the first time the rock legends have played North American stadiums since 2005-2007’s “A Bigger Bang Tour.”

The stage design for the stadium shows includes a thrust that extends deep into the audience allowing the Stones to interact directly with their fans. Known for their ground-breaking sets and use of cutting-edge technology, the Stones’ set design will feature video screens and special effects that will enhance the high-octane experience of attending a live Stones’ show.

The tour will also coincide with the Rolling Stones re-release of Sticky Fingers on May 26 by Universal Music. Sticky Fingers, one of the most revered albums from the Rolling Stones, is set to enthrall a new generation of fans in 2015. The 1971 classic features timeless tracks such as “Brown Sugar,” “Wild Horses,” “Bitch” and “Dead Flowers.” Sticky Fingers 2015, with its iconic zip cover, will be unveiled in a variety of formats. The deluxe editions include a generous selection of previously unreleased Stones studio outtakes from the Sticky Fingers sessions and stunning live performances from that time. These sought after tracks have never been available until this release.

Recorded in Muscle Shoals, Alabama and Olympic Studios in London, and produced by regular confidant Jimmy Miller, Sticky Fingers was released just before the Stones became tax exiles in the south of France, leaving Britain after a sensational farewell tour. It also featured some of the most ground breaking design in rock history, with its famous working zip on the front cover and artwork by Andy” (http://www.thecurrent.org/events/2015/06/03/1036/the-rolling-stones-zip-code-tour/).

 
The setlist:

  • Jumpin’ Jack Flash
  • It’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll (But I Like It)
  • All Down the Line
  • Tumbling Dice
  • Doom and Gloom
  • Bitch (which was the internet pick)
  • Moonlight Mile
  • Out of Control
  • Honky Tonk Women
  • Before They Make Me Run
  • Happy
  • Midnight Rambler
  • Miss You
  • Gimme Shelter
  • Start Me Up
  • Sympathy for the Devil
  • Brown Sugar
  • Encore:

  • You Can’t Always Get What You Want
  • (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction