Category Archives: Concert Reviews

Fantastic! TOTO at the Chicago Theatre (October 4, 2019)

“Hold the Line! Love isn’t always on time!” sings the lead singer on “Hold The Line” from TOTO’s 1978 self titled debut album. The song still sounds great after 40 trips around the sun, as their tour is named. It gets the whole audience out of their seats and singing along.

“Rosanna” is another crowd favorite. It’s from their 1982 album, Toto IV. They joke about how creative they are when naming their albums.  “Not quite a year since she went away, Rosanna. Now she’s gone and I have to say, meet you all the way.”

They also play “Human Nature”, which was written by the keyboardist and became a hit for Michael Jackson.

Dominique Xavier Taplin plays a fantastic keyboard solo. He is filling in for the regular player. He is also a member of Ghost-Note, headed by two drummers from Snarky Puppy.

At last, the lead guitarist asks the crowd “Are you ready for that song?” Everyone stands up and joins in singing “Africa”. It’s quite a magical moment when the band stops and just the crowd is singing the melody.

See the full setlist here.

Quinn Delaney


Also, TOTO made a brief appearance on Family Guy last Sunday!


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

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

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

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

Hawaiian Rock! Iration and Pepper at House of Blues Chicago (July 14, 2019)

The House of Blues is packed tonight for some reggae rock.  Pepper takes the stage and the crowd is soon transported to a tropical beach.  They play Ashes and everyone sways back and forth to the music. This Hawaiian band knows how to set a groove and keep it going.  They leave the stage with the audience wanting more.

Iration formed in 2004 in Hawaii and since then they have toured relentlessly earning them the honor to headline at the House of Blues Chicago. Early on, they launch into “Summer Nights”. “Getting high, thinking about the summer nights” sing the whole crowd as they sway back and forth and enjoy this great reggae groove.

For a fun cover, they play “What’s My Age Again?” by Blink-182. They don’t sing the words, however. They allow the audience to shout the lyrics along to the trumpet playing the vocal notes.

For “Last to Know”, the lead singer puts down his guitar. “Move to the beat, to the beat don’t stop” he sings as he dances around the stage. This song is from their latest self titled album. It demonstrates them exploring new territory by adding a touch of dance to their sound. It works fantastically and the crowd eats it up.

For the first encore song, only the lead singer returns to the stage to play “Falling” on an acoustic guitar. It’s a beautiful sing along and a great choice for an encore.

Cost of a ticket: $45
PlaylistHQ Economic Rating: Worth It –
Rating Scale: Exceptional Value > Worth It > Half Price > Go for Free > Don’t Bother

Quinn Delaney

Impressive Lineup! The Strumbellas, lovelytheband, and Joywave at the Taste of Chicago (July 13, 2019)

First up is Joywave, a rock band from Rochester, NY. They take the stage all dressed in white track suits. They jump right into their blend of rock / dance / electronic music.  “Don’t ever want to wake up, next to someone new” sings the band leader on “Someone New”. Later on, he mentions that one of their earliest shows was in Chicago. He remembers seeing fireworks with the Sears Tower in the background. “Who would have thought we would end up in Millennium Park 12 years later playing to dozens of people!” A few small corrections there: The concert is taking place in Grant Park and there are hundreds of people in attendance. Towards the end of the set, they play the fantastic “Tongues”. It’s impossible not to dance along to this infectious song.

Next up to the stage is lovelytheband from LA. They start off with a bang by playing “make you feel pretty”. “Spending all my money just to make you feel pretty” they sing. It’s an incredibly fun song that gets the audience up and dancing right away. Later on, the singer explains that he broke his hand and that it hurts to play the guitar, but he is powering through it. He jokes that he is taking his songs too literally. This joke refers to the song that they close their set with, “broken”. “I like that you’re broken, broken like me. Maybe that makes me a fool.”

Last up are The Strumbellas from Canada. Their fun sound filled with a lot of heys and the full band singing is similar to The Lumineers. This is good company to be in and their live show matches their energy too. It’s a great close to an impressive lineup of bands at the Taste of Chicago on the Petrillo Music Shell.

Cost of a ticket: $25
PlaylistHQ Economic Rating: Exceptional Value
Rating Scale: Exceptional Value > Worth It > Half Price > Go for Free > Don’t Bother

Quinn Delaney


Poetic Rock! Courtney Barnett with Sunflower Beam at the Taste of Chicago (July 10, 2019)

Courtney Barnett has played Chicago many times. Lollapalooza in 2014, the Metro later that year, and Pitchfork Music Festival last year just to name a few. This year, she is promoting her new single released in April called, Everybody Here Hates You as she plays The Taste of Chicago. It is her last stop on this tour. A hot 90 degrees welcomes her as she takes the stage at a quarter to seven after Sunflower Beam successfully warmed up the audience.

Barnett’s lyrical style is a stream of consciousness style. It’s poetic in nature. “If you’ve got a spare half million, you could knock it down and start rebuilding” she sings on the beautiful crafted “Depreston”. The lyrics even look great translated into American Sign Language by the interpreter on the right hand side of the stage.

She closes her set with “Pedestrian at Best” from her album, Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit. It’s one of her more rocking songs and a great choice for a closer. “Put me on a pedestal and I’ll only disappoint you!” she yells as she plays power chords on her guitar while strutting and spitting across the stage.

Cost of a ticket: $25

PlaylistHQ Economic Rating: Exceptional Value –

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

Quinn Delaney