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Concert Recap: Mark Knopfler

Concert Recap: Mark Knopfler

1 Comment 05 October 2015

Saturday night, October 3rd, Mark Knopfler played a sold-out show at the Murat Theatre in the Old National Centre in Indianapolis. He was joined on stage by his band of eight other people to play a two-hour concert filled with classics from his former band, Dire Straits, and solo tracks, too. Knopfler is a musicians’ musician after having worked with and even producing records for the likes of Eric Clapton, Bob Dylan, Tina Turner, and Randy Newman. Rolling Stone ranked Knopfler the 27th greatest guitarist of all time and that title rang true on Saturday night in Indianapolis.

As the crowd sat in anticipation, a man appeared on stage wearing a bright, bold Union Jack jacket and introduced the one and only Mark Knopfler. The entire band then entered the stage and led the crowd in a clapping rhythm to warm up the room. In fact, Knopfler warmed the entire evening with his quick little jokes and asides. He even told his band “good luck” a handful of times. The entire crowd was giggling from his dry British humor and he kept it understated and consistent all evening.

The stage was set up with appropriate but discrete lighting and three blocks of instruments. Almost every instrument the band used throughout the evening (and there were many) was housed right there on stage. This gave the show a sort of living room or studio feeling. If you add in the fact that Knopfler hinted at the show being whimsical with a loose set list and the lack of large monitors at the front of the stage blocking the band, you can understand how this show may have felt personal in a way.

At one point in the evening, Knopfler took a moment to introduce his band members. Not only did he introduce them to an energetic, cheering crowd, but he had the most genuine and heartfelt things to say about them. The audience could feel the shared admiration between band members and this made for a special evening. These band members played more instruments than most other rock concerts ever have. Multiple guitars, electric bass, double bass used with and without a bow, keys, organs, accordion, fiddle, Uilleann pipes (the national bagpipe of Ireland), mandolin, saxophone, and others all made appearances on stage. This band is wickedly talented.

Highlights of the night included “Privateering,” “Romeo and Juliet,” “Postcards From Paraguay,” and the Dire Straits classic, “Sultans of Swing.” The show closed with
“Speedway at Nazareth” before an encore of “So Far Away” and “Going Home: theme from Local Hero.” During “Sultans of Swing” Knopfler played his signature Mark Knopfler Stratocaster guitar. He had the amazing ability to be able to play that song’s incredible guitar solo and have the rest of his body be as relaxed as can be. It was awe-inspiring.

In fact, the entire audience was awe-struck all evening. Knopfler himself used the term “Transatlantic Blues” at some point in the evening and that perfectly describes this classic bluesy rock with inspired hints of Celtic instruments and melody patterns. Mark Knopfler and his band left the audience in a unique kind of sensory overload with so many instruments doing so many things. One can’t help but try to watch them all at once, and that kind of musical overload is the best kind of musical overload.



Concert Recap: The Decemberists

Concert Recap: The Decemberists

Comments Off on Concert Recap: The Decemberists 30 September 2015

Tuesday night, September 29th, WTTS presented a show from The Decemberists at the Murat Theatre at Old National Centre. Earlier that day they stopped by Sun King Studio 92 powered by Klipsch Audio; you can find that performance here. English singer-songwriter Olivia Chaney opened for The Decemberists’ big return to Indy. The band was booked to play a show in Indianapolis in August of 2011, but unfortunately had to cancel due to lead singer Colin Meloy’s voice being damaged.

In fact, the first thing Meloy did when he took the stage alone was utter a sincere apology and express excitement to be here to make it up to their Indianapolis audience. He then played an acoustic, solo version of their appropriately titled, “The Apology Song” to begin the evening on such a wonderfully humble note. The band soon joined him on stage and the evening took off.

As the rest of the band enters, the stage suddenly changes. Their latest album, What A Terrible World, What A Beautiful World’s cover artwork comes down in layers of sheets that look like a quilt, adding to the folk feel of the evening. Even the amps on stage had shapes from the album cover painted to continue the theme. The band members all look very professional, wearing dresses, jackets, vests, and ties. It gives off the impression that they both take their jobs seriously and respect their audiences and that’s admirable.

The Decemberists are known for their incredible storytelling abilities in their songwriting, but that tradition carried to the stage as well. Colin told the audience that “Calamity Song” was originally written as a song to get his son, Hank, to eat his oatmeal. During “Calamity Song” the seated crowd was moved to stand and they didn’t sit again for the remainder of the show; they were unable to cease dancing and it was infectious.

The 5-part band was joined by two backup vocalists on stage who did so much more than sing (tambourine, shakers, mandolin, and even a little drumming). The bass player, Nate Query, toggled between an electric and stand-up double bass. Jenny Conlee is known for her diverse talents in organ, accordion, keys, and synthesizer. Needless to say (but we’ll say it anyway) this band is talented. Highlights of the night included “The Crane Wife 3,” “Make You Better,” “Down By The Water,” and the set’s closing song, “The Chimbley Sweep.”

“The Chimbley Sweep” and a couple other songs featured a break in the song for Colin and the band to absolutely entertain the audience in every sense of the word. He conducted a three-part crowd interactive singing session filled with ‘bas’ and ‘wees’ and ‘oos’. Later, he conducted the band with his hands in an improvisatory symphony that had the crowd roaring. The band played a six-song encore made up entirely of songs from their fifth album, “The Hazards of Love” before coming out for a second. This time, they played “Of Angels and Angles” and the epic “The Mariner’s Revenge Song.” This incredible story of a song included many instruments, voices, characters, and “screaming like you’re being eaten by a whale.” Yes, that’s what Colin asked the crowd to do on cue. And they did. The crowd sang along and danced shamelessly for The Decemberists. Their fans are passionate and awe-struck, as one should be after seeing a show like this.


The Decemberists

Rock To Read: Wilco Recap

Rock To Read: Wilco Recap

Comments Off on Rock To Read: Wilco Recap 26 September 2015

The first of three WTTS Rock to Read benefit concerts took place last night at the Indiana University Auditorium in Bloomington. A longtime WTTS favorite artist, Wilco, took the stage to an auditorium of over 3,000 fans that would soon be mesmerized.

Wilco formed in 1994 as an alternative rock/alternative country band in Chicago. Since their formation, the music has grown and morphed with the band. Frontman Jeff Tweedy led his bandmates in what seemed like three different shows of the evening. It was organized, thorough, and brilliant. Nashville based singer-songwriter William Tyler opened for Wilco and provided an ethereal display of atmospheric sounds that were impressively produced from distorted guitars and a looper pedal.

The evening began with a collection of songs from Wilco’s latest album, Star Wars. The album was released for free on the band’s website in July of 2015. The stage was saturated with small light bulbs from end to end and the lights displayed all kinds of moving colors throughout the show to set the mood of each song. Most of the lighting tended to be blue and purple; This gave a sort of spooky feel given the season and the hypnotic nature of Wilco’s music. It seemed almost like a Rock ‘n’ Roll Lite-Brite toy (though I’m sure much more expensive). During this first part of the show, Wilco played “Random Name Generator” among other new tracks that definitely got the audience buzzing and excited for whatever was to come next. The harmonies were haunting, the drum solo was incredible, and the audience was convinced of Star Wars’ gravity (pun intended).

After a handful of songs, Tweedy vocally thanked the audience for listening to Star Wars and declared they would move on to other albums. They began this segment with “Either Way,” which was clearly a crowd favorite. Other highlights included “Handshake Drugs,” “Hummingbird,” and “Impossible Germany.” “Art of Almost” was an epic, visual and sonic rainbow and proved to not only please the crowd, but absolutely “wow” it. During this set of older music, “Box Full of Letters” provided some banter between Tweedy and his audience. When Tweedy announced that the next song was from their first album, the crowd cheered. He then retorted, “Aw, you guys didn’t like it then” in true Jeff Tweedy fashion. After the song was over, an audience member shouted, “Play more of that!” Tweedy only used his hands to perfectly respond to the man and the audience broke out in laughter.

After a short, one-song encore, the band returned looking a little different. They all gathered near the front of the stage, mostly seated, with acoustic instruments. They looked like they might be in a friend’s living room giving a private performance. That’s just what this portion of the show was: intimate. This rare six-song encore was really more of a bonus feature on a film. The audience was introduced to the songwriter version of Wilco, which is just as beautiful as their captivating, harder jams. They played “Misunderstood,” “Bull Black Nova,” “It’s Just That Simple,” “Jesus, Etc.,” California Stars,” and “A Shot in the Arm.” It may be hard to picture, but between the rock-songs-turned-acoustic and the change of lead singer during one of these songs, the crowd remained silent. They were stunned into this silence during each song, unless they were quietly singing and humming along, beautifully.

Wilco treated the audience to a full range of shows, taking a trip through their history without sounding stale and nostalgic. This show was a true testament to the diversity and sheer talent this band continues to possess, and their ability to hypnotize an entire hall full of people using their music.

We are proud to have had them play the first WTTS Rock to Read benefit concert of 2015 presented by Jockamo Uppercrust Pizza. All proceeds from these shows contribute to children’s reading programs throughout Indianapolis and surrounding areas. Be sure to get your tickets for one or both of the next WTTS Rock to Read shows, John Hiatt and Lyle Lovett on October 20th and Guster on November 13th. You won’t want to miss them.


Foo Fighters at Klipsch Music Center

Foo Fighters at Klipsch Music Center

Comments Off on Foo Fighters at Klipsch Music Center 31 August 2015

Foo Fighters rocked a nearly sold out crowd on Thursday, August 27th at Klipsch Music Center. Below are photos from the show courtesy of Rhythm In Focus Photography. A fun way to view is to start the YouTube video below the photos and then start clicking through the slide show.

Foo Fighters 8-27-15