Great Performance! Berlin Featuring Terri Nunn at the City Winery Chicago (September 10, 2019)

Berlin is celebrating 40 years together a band. However, this tour isn’t just a nostalgia trip. They are making new great music with their latest album, Transcendance, and putting on a great performance.

Early on in the set, the lead singer, Terri Nunn, introduces “I Want You” as a song about sex in her 50s from the new album. It doesn’t have to be important, she says. “I just want to get laid”. She continues this trend by introducing “Animal” saying it about sex in her 40s. And last in this series is “Touch” about her first one night stand in her 20s.

Later on in the evening, Nunn sings a cappella “Watching every motion, In my foolish lover’s game” in a stripped down introduction to “Take My Breath Away”. Then, the band kicks in and everyone recognizes the song instantly. It’s a giant singalong as she glides through the audience.

 

In a softer moment, she talks about speaking with her mother shorty before she passed away. She gets emotional while talking about this moment when she asked her mother what it is like to let go. She put her response into the lyrics of “Transcendance”:

Maybe it’s love
Maybe it’s emptiness
Maybe I just want to believe again
Maybe it’s love
Maybe we’re limitless
Maybe it’s not just in my head
Transcendance

To introduce the finale, she quotes the writer of the song, Malcolm Young. If you want serious lyrics, listen to REM. But, at the end of the night, everyone just wants to get laid! The band then goes on to close the night with “Highway to Hell” by AC/DC. It’s a fun way to close out the night.

Cost of a ticket: $40
PlaylistHQ Economic Rating: Worth It
Rating Scale: Exceptional Value > Worth It > Half Price > Go for Free > Don’t Bother

See the full setlist here.

Quinn Delaney

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An Exceptional Value and Hilarious! Monty Python’s Spamalot at Mercury Theatre Chicago (Through November 3, 2019)

Spamalot is the musical lovingly ripped off from the motion picture Monty Python and the Holy Grail, which was released in 1975. The original screenplay was written by Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, and Michael Palin. It was adapted into a musical by Eric Idle and John Du Prez. Spamalot’s world premiere took place as a preview at Chicago’s Schubert Theatre starting on December 21, 2004 and then moved to Broadway beginning on February 14, 2005. It was nominated for 14 Tony Awards and it won three including Best Musical. Now, in September 2019, it opens at the Mercury Theatre Chicago.

In the story, King Arthur gathers a group of men to find the holy grail. On their quest they come across a wide variety of characters including the Lady of the Lake, the French Taunter, the Knights of Ni, Tim the Enchanter, the Black Night, and many more. One of the best scenes starts with a man ringing a triangle asking everyone to bring out their dead. Bodies are dragged out into the street to be removed. Then, one of the bodies simply says “I’m not dead yet.” “Yes, he is” says the man who dragged him out. “I feel happy”, says Not Dead Fred who then launches into a full song and dance number!

Spamalot 8

Jonah D. Winston (Avenue Q, Jesus Christ Superstar, Machinal, Longer! Louder! Wagner) is a strong, commanding, and hilarious presence as King Arthur. Matching his charisma and humor is Meghan Murphy as the Lady of the Lake. Many of the actors portray multiple roles with great style and oh so many costumes. Adam Fane is so funny as Not Dead Fred, Minstrel, and more. Karl Hamilton is exceptionally cast as Sir Lancelot, the Knight of Ni, and more. David Sajewich is solid as Sir Dennis Galahad, the Black Night, and Herbert’s Father.  The rest of the cast is absolutely fantastic also.

It’s a Broadway worthy show at midsize theatre prices! Get tickets now for Spamalot through November 3rd!

Cost of a ticket: $50

PlaylistHQ Economic Rating: Exceptional Value

Rating Scale: Exceptional Value > Worth It > Half Price > Go for Free > Don’t Bother

Spamalot 5

Quinn Delaney

Pick of the Week! Your Smith with K.Flay and Houses at Riviera Theatre (September 19, 2019)

Your Smith with K.Flay and Houses at Riviera Theatre (September 19, 2019)

The Minneapolis native relocated to Los Angeles in 2016 and after years of releasing her music under her given name, Caroline Smith, she let go of her insecurities and reawakened herself under the new moniker Your Smith. Her newfound steadfastness, boldness, and unapologetic nature through her alter ego flourishes in her latest, acoustic driven single, “You Could’ve Told Me,as she sings, “You could’ve told me, when you met me, all your love was gone.”

Smith’s freedom of her new self appears through her previously released, carefree single, “Wild Wild Woman,an anthem for the wild woman that lives inside us all, begging to be let out. The warm, synth-pop gem is tinged with Funk and R&B rhythms, Smith’s silky, smooth voice, and a beat that’s danceable until the very end. Following this lighthearted essence, Smith released “In Between Plans,a song inspired by an acid trip on a catamaran in Nicaragua. Written in a jungle hut at Neon Gold’s prestigious NEON GOLDEN writing retreat, the session was attended by Tove Lo, Phoebe Ryan, What So Not and more. It was there she was able to shove self-doubt aside and take her artistry to a new level.

Your Smith is opening on this tour, but don’t be surprised if she is the headliner next time around!

Get tickets now for the September 19th show!

Cost of a ticket: $42
PlaylistHQ Economic Rating: Worth It!
Rating Scale: Exceptional Value > Worth It > Half Price > Go for Free > Don’t Bother

Also, check out her fantastic cover of St. Lucia’s “Closer Than This”!

 

 

Relaxed Pace with Great Music! Broadway in Chicago Presents The Band’s Visit at the Cadillac Palace Theatre (Through September 15, 2019)

In 2007, The Band’s Visit was first released as a film. In 2017, it opened on Broadway. The next year, it won 10 Tony Awards, including best musical. And now, in September 2019, it opens at the Cadillac Palace Theatre.

It is 1996 and an Egyptian orchestral band travels to Israel to play at an Arab Cultural Center. “You probably didn’t hear about it. It wasn’t that important.” This a great example of the humor of this show. The band ends up in the wrong town due to a miscommunication. They enter a café where they learn of their error. Thankfully, the owner of the café offers them hospitality and a place to stay until the next bus leaves the next day. It’s a great slice of life story about a small town in Israel, Bet HaTikvah, in the middle of the desert.

Chilina Kennedy & Sasson Gabay. Photo by Matthew Muprhy

The characters are all very real to life and the story moves along at a relaxed pace. It also has a good song to dialog ratio of about 50/50. At about 105 minutes, it’s a bit long to not have an intermission. It’s a feel good story without any politics or violence.

The music in this show is excellent. Some of the musicians are seated off stage, but many of them are on stage and have lines to speak. The instruments played on stage are violin, cello, clarinet, darbouka, oud, and a trombone. They play traditional Egyptian music and a little Chet Baker.

Get tickets now for The Band’s Visit through September 15th!

Cost of a ticket: $92.50
PlaylistHQ Economic Rating: Worth It –
Rating Scale: Exceptional Value > Worth It > Half Price > Go for Free > Don’t Bother

The company of The Band's Visit North American Tour. Photo by Matthew Murphy (2)

Quinn Delaney

Excellent Career Spanning Set! John Waite at City Winery Chicago (August 22, 2019)

John Waite has been making music since 1976 when he formed the Babys in London. He starts his set with a song from that era, “Midnight Rendezvous”. They also play “Isn’t It Time”, which they released in 1977. He introduces it by saying they used a full orchestra and a group of backup singers for the recording, but they’ll give it a shot with just the band. Also, if they screw it up, it’s the guitarist’s fault!

In 1981, the group disbanded and he released the album Ignition as a solo artist the following year. For the second song of the night, he plays “Change” from that album.

His second solo album, No Brakes (1984), produced his most famous song, “Missing You”, of which he does an electric version tonight. It’s a giant sing-a-long and the entire audience is all smiles.

In 1989, he formed Bad English and they released “When I See You Smile”, which is also part of tonight’s set. It’s a real career retrospective that all goes together very smoothly.  In 2017, he released Wooden Heart, Volume 2, which features “Downtown”. He tells us this song is about walking around downtown Manhattan where he has lived for most of his adult life and going to a martini bar.

He plays two covers tonight. “All Along the Watchtower” by Bob Dylan and “Whole Lotta Love” by Led Zeppelin. While these are both great songs, they seem out of place in his set and he doesn’t give any context for them.

Throughout the night, he is very conversational with the audience. This includes a long story about the origin of the song, “Bluebird Café”. This stage banter makes the show feel more intimate and definitely adds to the fantastic performance.

Cost of a ticket: $43

PlaylistHQ Economic Rating: Worth It

Rating Scale: Exceptional Value > Worth It > Half Price > Go for Free > Don’t Bother

Quinn Delaney

Chicago Dancers United Presents Dance for Life Featuring The Joffrey Ballet, Giordano Dance Chicago, and more at The Auditorium Theatre (August 17, 2019)

Dance for Life is a fantastic event that brings together the best Chicago dance companies and the best dance audience. The proceeds go to the Dancers’ Fund, which provides financial assistance to dance community professionals in their time of need due to a medical issue. It’s a celebration of the dance community and its ability to care for its own. Here is a selection of some of the best performances:

 

Giordano Dance Chicago

SOUL (2018)

Choreography by Ray Leeper (So You Think You Can Dance)

Music: Tina Turner – Proud Mary

SOUL 2

This piece is so fun, soulful and energetic, just like Ray Leeper’s work on So You Think You Can Dance. It has mass appeal and truly matches the spirit of this iconic song. The picture captures a moment of this joyful dance. Catch Giordano Dance Chicago next at the Harris Theatre on October 25th or 26th.

 

The Joffrey Ballet

Lorelei (2018)

Choreography: Nicolas Blanc

Bells (2011)

Choreography: Yuri Possokhov

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Both of these duets by the Joffrey are  very graceful and beautiful. They stand out on this night as the most elegant and stylish. The Joffrey Ballet are true masters of this art form.

Catch The Joffrey Ballet next from October 16-27 in their production of Jane Eyre.

 

Ensemble Español Spanish Dance Theater

Mar de Fuego / Sea of Fire (2018)

Choreography: Carlos Rodriguez

This dance is dedicated to Dame Libby Komaiko (1949-2019), the founder of Ensemble Español Spanish Dance Theater. It’s a beautiful piece of movement fusing flamenco, folkloric, classical, and contemporary styles.

Catch Ensemble Español Spanish Dance Theater next on October 4th back at the Auditorium Theatre with Cerqua Rivera.

 

Chicago Dance Crash

Leap of Faith (2018)

Choreography: Jessica Deahr in collaboration with the dancers

On multiple occasions, the dancers pull of impressive feats that are met with gasps from the crowd. It’s modern and it’s fresh and it fits in perfectly on this night.

Catch Chicago Dance Crash next from August 23rd to August 31st in their World Premiere of Lil Pine Nut.

 

Hubbard Street Dance Chicago

Excerpt from Decadance / Chicago (2018)

Choreography: Ohad Naharin

Music: Chair Dance (Echad Mi Yodeah) by Ohad Naharin and Tractor’s Revenge

This piece features all the dancers dressed up in suits seated in a large semi circle. As the intense music plays, all the dancers remove their clothing one piece at a time while chanting along to the music. It’s very repetitive and feels like the dragging on of a long work week. One dancer repeatedly falls and struggles to keep up with the others. It feels like he doesn’t fit in and isn’t right for this job. It’s a very interesting piece open to interpretation.

Catch Hubbard Street Dance next at the Harris Theatre on November 7th, 9th, and 10th.

 

Cost of a ticket: $75

PlaylistHQ Economic Rating: Worth It

Rating Scale: Exceptional Value > Worth It > Half Price > Go for Free > Don’t Bother

 

Quinn Delaney

Dance Party! Tuxedo at Thalia Hall (August 13, 2019)

Tuxedo is the new collaboration with Mayer Hawthorne and Jake One. Tonight, they are bringing the party to Thalia Hall. Early on in their set, Mayer comments on how the stage looks like a game show. “I’ll take an H.” Ding! An H appears in lights towards the back of the stage. Then Jake says “I’d like to buy a vowel. I.” Buzz! Incorrect! Mayer then asks the audience for a letter and they all should out “O!” Ho! He then goes on to explain that whenever the big red button at center stage is pressed, it will shout “Ho!” Also, small keychain versions of the button are available at the merch table! You can also get one at this site along with the free app version.

Later in the night, they play “Designer Drug”, which is a bonus track on the deluxe edition of Mayer Hawthorne’s Where Does This Door Go album. It perfectly matches the Tuxedo style and fits right into the setlist. “It’s like you’re made inside a laboratory, just for me. You, you are, My designer drug!”

They close their set with their biggest hit, “Do It”. It currently has over 21 million streams on Spotify. This song is a great party jam and the audience happily dances and sings along.

Quinn Delaney