Category Archives: Concert Reviews

Excellent! Las Guitarras de España at City Winery (February 19, 2018)

Las Guitarras de España is a band that plays much more than just Spanish music. They explore music from all over the world. For example, tonight they play “Galloping Horses” as a tribute to the Chinese New Year. They also play “Su Sueño… My Reality” which is half in Spanish and half in English. It’s a Chicago Spanish blend that is unique and works really well. Also included is some excellent flamenco dancing. The crowd really gets into it by clapping along and shouting “Ole!”

 

All 13 musicians are having a great time. They are almost always smiling and truly enjoying playing the City Winery stage to a full house. Here is the full lineup:

Patricia Ortega – Vocals

Chiara Mangiameli – Dance/Vocals

Carlo Basile – Guitar

Diego Alonso – Guitar

Colin Bunn- Electric Guitar/Tres

Greg Nergaard – Bass

Kassandra Kososhis – Percussion

Javier Saume Mazzei – Percussion/Drum Kit

Ronnie Malley – Oud/Vocals

Victor Garcia – Trumpet

Guests:

Gerald McCelndon – Vocals

Chihsuan Yang – Violin/erhu

Here is the full setlist too:

Set 1:

Cada Dia (Patty/Carlo)

Zahma (Ronnie)

Maria La Mariposa (Colin)

Alameda (Diego)

Esperanza (Patty/Carlo)

Hanoi Pho (Carlo/Chihsuan)

Reality (Gerald/Carlo)

Alegrias (Dance- Chiara and GOS)

 

Set 2:

Mejor Me Voy Mañana (Carlo/Patty)

Mi Pulguita (Diego) *concert debut

Sevilla (Carlo/Alfonso Cid)

Nice Piece/Donde Esta Paco? (Ronnie/Carlo)

Mudanzas (Diego) *concert debut

Cejilla (Carlo/Patty)

——–

Quinn Delaney

 

 

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Fantastic! The Joffrey Ballet Presents Modern Masters at the Auditorium Theatre (February 16, 2018)

The Four Temperaments

Choreography by George Balanchine

This is the most classical of the pieces on the evening. However, there are currents of modern movement as well. The choreography excellently matches the challenging and complex music by Paul Hindemith. It’s a difficult piece to perform and the talents of the Joffrey dancers are truly showcased in this ballet.

2_The Four Temperaments_Jeraldine Mendoza and Edson Barbosa_Photo by Cheryl Mann

 

Body of Your Dreams

Choreography by Myles Thatcher

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The music for this piece uses a bunch of infomercials about fitness programs cut and pasted together in an electronic sounding piece. The dancers are wearing a style that is a mix of workout clothes and tight ballet outfits while performing a mix of those two styles of movement. While at first it seems to be a form of pop art and fun look at exercise, it turns into a critical look at the current fitness industry.

 

Beyond The Shore

Choreography by Nicolas Blanc

Beyond The Shore is composed of six short stories. The third one, Gemini in the Solar Wind, is the re-imagination of the first American space walk in 1965. Excerpts from the audio of this walk are featured in the song. It gives a fully outer space feeling that matches a female dancer being held up and carried across the stage just like she is in space. The choreography fantastically captures the inspiration.

 

Glass Pieces

Choreography by Jerome Robbins

This piece gives the feeling of a dense urban intersection in a large city. People are moving in all directions in a sort of chaos, but yet at the same time all with a sense of order. It’s a full company piece set to the music of Phillip Glass that is full of beauty and makes for a fantastic close to the night.

21_Glass Pieces_Valeriia Chaykina (center) and The Joffrey Ballet_Photo by Cheryl Mann

Get tickets for The Joffrey Ballet’s next show, Midsummer Night’s Dream, now!

Quinn Delaney

Independent Theatre at its Best! The New Colony Presents The Light at The Den Theatre (February 9, 2018)

A Chicago couple are planning to celebrate the anniversary of their first date. The guy, Rashad, was able to secure tickets to one of the biggest concerts of the year featuring one of his girlfriend’s favorite artists. However, one of the artists on the bill truly offends her, and she refuses to go. She starts by saying it is just the lyrics, but slowly it unravels into something much deeper as very serious issues arise.

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The acting in this production is absolutely fantastic. Jeffery Owen Freelon Jr. was excellent as Rashad. He plays Rashad as so loving and real towards his girlfriend.  Tiffany Oglesby is superb as Genesis. The torment on her face is clear as she struggles to deal with her past and how it will affect her future. At the curtain call, they are both still shaken up from the emotional roller coaster of the play.

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Loy A. Webb has written an expert piece.  The plot perfectly evolves as it slowly releases more and more information about the characters. As their histories are revealed, it makes the situation that much more complicated and interesting. The issues are brought up and face head on. This is independent theatre at its best and everyone in the theatre gets out of their seat at the end for a full standing ovation.

Get tickets now for The Light now through February 25th!

Quinn Delaney

 

Must See! Tablao Flamenco Cordobes in Barcelona, Spain

At Tablao Flamenco Cordobes, a large team unites to bring together an intense show. There are six men (three singers, two guitarists, and one dancer) along with three women (two dancers and one singer). Why do they need so many people? Because each person performs with such passion and energy and they give everything they have for a few minutes before they need a break.

The dancing is so strong and athletic that you almost have to jump back when they stomp. It blows you away. The women are dressed in long, flowing dresses, which makes it even more impressive and visually stunning.

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The musicians are the driving force behind the action with the guitar playing being incredibly quick paced and impressive. The vocal performers are equally as talented as the singing is fierce and emotional that you can’t help but be moved.  In the small intimate space, it’s a truly immersive experience that is absolutely a must see in the heart of Barcelona.

Get tickets for Tablao Flamenco Cordobes now!

Quinn Delaney

Superb! Maestros de la Guitarra Present the Barcelona Guitar Trio (February 2, 2018)

As you approach the Basilica de Santa Maria de Pi, you will be impressed by the large size of the structure. The concert doesn’t take place in the main room, but rather a small intimate one on the side that has excellent acoustics. The audience fills this room sitting in wooden pews with kneeling benches. The church bell rings nine times to mark the time and then the show begins.

The Barcelona Guitar Trio (Xavier Coll, Manuel González and Luis Robisco) take the stage and immediately launch into a fast paced Spanish guitar song. All three of them playing together creates a blur of quick finger movement and notes that sound beautiful. Next, they each play a song solo showcasing their individual talents.

Besides being talented on guitar, they also have a great sense of humor. Xavier first gives a long intro to a song speaking in Spanish. About one half of the audience laughs at the joke contained within. He then repeats the intro in English and the other half laughs, showing that it is a multilingual audience. Later on, while giving another intro, Luis keeps interrupting him by tuning his guitar loudly. It leads to a very funny back and forth between the two of them and then a melody of fun covers including “Smoke on the Water” and “Mission Impossible”.

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The introductions to the songs and the humor make this far more than just a guitar show. It’s an all around great Barcelona experience! Get tickets for Maestro de la Guitarra now!

Quinn Delaney

 

Excellent! John Popper of Blues Traveler at Blue Note Hawaii (January 4, 2018)

Right on time, John Popper comes up on stage. He is joined by Ben Wilson on piano. To start off the night, they play “The Mountains Win Again”. “And it looks like rain, I feel it coming in.”  Even though it was released in 1994, it still sounds fresh. Popper’s harmonica skills are on full display and everyone has a good view at the Blue Night Hawaii, a very intimate a comfortable jazz club.

After this first song, he begins to describe what he wrote the next song about. But he quickly stops himself. It doesn’t matter what he was writing about, he says. What matters is how you interpret it. “If you think I’m giving up on you, you’re crazy. If you think I don’t love you, then you are just wrong” he sings on “Just Wait”. It’s a beautiful song and it sounds fantastic tonight. Popper’s voice is so powerful, especially on this trick.

To close out the set, John sings “It doesn’t matter what I say, as long as I sing with inflection.”  It’s the start of “Hook”, and everyone shows a smile on their face. The harmonica solo on this track is legendary. Also, the fast paced singing is quite the feat.

When they return for an encore, some random guy comes up on stage with a ukulele and asks to play with the band. Popper is very friendly and he allows him to stay. The piano player tells him the chords for the next song, G C Am D. The guy says he doesn’t know how the song goes. So, John says you have 40 seconds to play your heart out. The guy goes ahead and starts to play “Hook” again. Popper joins him on harmonica. After the guy finishes the first verse, he just starts the verse over again. Finally, Popper pulls the mic away and the guy leaves the stage to end this strange encounter.

At last, they close out the night with “Run-Around”. “Like a game show contestant with a parting gift, I could not believe my eyes.” It was an excellent finish to a fantastic night of music!

Catch John Popper at Blue Night Hawaii through January 6th!

Quinn Delaney

 

Fantastic! The California Honeydrops featuring Ellis Hall at The Troubadour (December 22, 2017)

“Top of the hill you see heaven – From the top of the hill you see home” sings Lech Wierzynski on one of their best songs, Brokedown- Parts 1 and 2. It features an absolutely infectious horn riff that gets everyone dancing. And just like every Honeydrops show, the New Orleans brass band style party is started quickly. Word has spread about this great band which is why this show is the second of two sold out nights at The Troubadour.

“I know we’ve come a long way – Still got a long way to go” begins Long Way. Before the song, Lech described the story of how he wrote the song. He knew he was due to write a socially conscious tune. The Black Lives Matter movement was really inspiring him to try “walking in the shoes of another.” One night he couldn’t sleep because he was sick with the flu. He got out of bed and the lyrics just flowed out of him. It’s such a great hopeful song, and it has become a staple of their shows.

In the middle of the show, they bring out Ellis Hall to rock the organ. As a Ray Charles protégé, he shares a lot of characteristics with his mentor. He has a similar flair and exuberance as he plays and sings. It’s a fantastic fit with the band and it makes for a great collaboration.

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“Now that you’re here to stay, you know the thrill is gone. I liked it better when it was wrong.” Everyone is singing along to When It Was Wrong.  “Some of you may think this song is about cheating. It’s actually about pretending to be cheating to spice up a long relationship.” Is this true, or does he just say this to please his girlfriend?

In total, it was another fantastic show by the California Honeydrops.  The venue was packed, balconies and all. They definitely made more fans this night and the future looks bright!

Quinn Delaney