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Bullet Sunday 397: Retro Futura Tour 2014

Posted on September 7th, 2014

Dave!Put on that skinny tie and flip up that collar... because a Very Special Retro Futura Tour 2014 Edition of Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• Tom Bailey! I'm just going to cut to the chase here... as a diehard Thompson Twins fan, Tom Bailey's run through some of the band's greatest hits surpassed my every expectation. After 27 years you'd naturally assume that something would be lost. But it wasn't. Everything he sang was note-perfect and the arrangement of the songs, while freshened up a bit, was still respectful to the originals that everybody came to hear. I loved every minute that Tom was on stage, and nearly three decades of begging for a Thompson Twins tour was rewarded in every way I could have dreamed of (short of having Alannah and Joe show up, of course)...

Tom Bailey Retro Futura Tour 2014

Tom Bailey Retro Futura Tour 2014

Tom Bailey Retro Futura Tour 2014

Tom Bailey Retro Futura Tour 2014

The set-list was pretty much what you expect...

  • We Are Detective (instrumental). A short, playful, nickelodeon-style version of this classic song played while waiting for Tom and his Sisters of Mercy band to arrive. The crowd was already going a little nuts.
  • In The Name of Love. Tom takes the stage with a spotlight shining on the crowd while singing "Hey you! I've seen your face before!" and, just like that, an abbreviated version of the Thompson Twins were back as if they had never left. This was the song that broke the band wide open, was the first song of their's I had ever heard, and remains a favorite to this day. It's just as infectious now as it's always been.
  • Lies. Another early hit that was on MTV every ten minutes during those early days. If you had asked me before Retro Futura if it's held up over the years, I'd probably have said no, despite still loving the song. After seeing Tom breathe new life into it last night, I'm inclined to feel differently.
  • Sister of Mercy. Kind of the odd-man out in tonight's show, as I don't believe it charted here in the US and was only a minor hit in the UK. Still, it's a decidedly darker and more serious tone for the band, and I'm sure it was selected primarily to mix things up a bit. In that case, it succeeded. And it's a great song to boot.
  • You Take Me Up. I don't know that this is my favorite Thompson Twins song, but it's up there. It's subtle, but Tom's delivery of the title line in the song was quite different than in the original recording, making the song feel even more upbeat and uplifting than usual. In interviews, Tom has said that he re-recorded all the songs before heading out on tour... hearing this makes me really, really hopeful we get to hear those recordings one day. The lyrics-tracking video in the background during You Take Me Up was my favorite visual of the night
  • If You Were Here. This song wasn't a single or even a hit... until it appeared at the end of the classic John Hughes film Sixteen Candles. Haunting in a way that most songs can only aspire to, Tom's original breathless arrangement had to be beefed up vocally to translate to a live performance, but it's no less beautiful and timeless. In an interesting twist, a new verse was added to the song... but felt as if it should have been there all along.
  • Love on Your Side. This is one of those songs that translates perfectly to a live show because it feels as if it were designed as a performance piece from the get-go. And while Tom took as best advantage of this as he could by his lonesome (GIANT BLUE BALLOON TIME!), Joe and Alannah's on-stage theatrics were missed here more than anywhere else in the set.
  • Doctor! Doctor! An obvious pop-hit grab if there ever was one, this song more than made up for the cheesy lyrics with a beautiful musical arrangement. And that's exactly what we got... along with a surprising amount of audience participation.
  • King for a Day (Encore). I like this song quite a lot, but it's repetitive refrain wears thin after a while ("Love is all... Love is all... Love is all you need. Love is all you need! Love is all... Love is all... Love is all you need. Love is all you need! Love is all... Love is all... Love is all you need. I say love is all you need!). Of course, this opinion was formed before Howard Jones took the stage, but we'll get there soon enough.
  • Hold Me Now (Encore). The Thompson Twin's greatest and most memorable hit plays very well live, and this evening's performance was everything you could hope for. Letting the audience sing out the ending was a brilliant way of making people feel they were a part of the show, and there's no question everybody was left wanting more... much more... as Tom's set came to an end.

If time were permitting, I would have really liked to have seen Lay Your Hands on Me and Get That Love included. Maybe one day. And please. Please. Please one day let Tom Bailey take the trip back to Brit-Pop Land and give us a new album of Twins material. Please. If there's one thing his participation in Retro Futura has shown us, people are ready.

   
• Howard Jones! I'm a big HoJo fan. I love his incredible synth play and feel-good lyrics. His music is on regular rotation on my iTunes playlists. I've seen him perform live twice. Seeing him in concert should be one of life's highlights for me and, for the most part, it is. But good lord, man... does every tune you play in concert have to be the super-extended-disco-remix version of the song? Yes... I love it when a live performance brings a little something to the table that you can't get from the album... but you did that with the heavier pumping synth intros. There's no need to give us fifty refrains of WHAT IS LOOOOOOOOOVE, ANYWAY? DOES ANYBODY LOVE ANYBODY ANYWAY? All it does is serve to drive your beautiful song into the ground and make it run way, way too long.

Still... it was Howard Jones. And though the senseless, endless repetition was annoying, I still loved his performance...

Howard Jones Retro Futura Tour 2014

Howard Jones Retro Futura Tour 2014

And so did the rest of the crowd...

Howard Jones Retro Futura Tour 2014

By the way... Howard Jones has continued to release albums well after the 80's were dead and gone. His last release was in 2009. If you're a fan, it's well-worth checking out. Even so, for the sake of Retro Futura, Howard didn't stray from those early hits that made him famous... The Human Touch, Like to Get to Know You Well, Everlasting Love, No One Is to Blame, The Prisoner, What Is Love?, Things Can Only Get Better, and New Song.

   
• Katrina... sans The Waves! I should come clean here... I am most definitely not a fan of Walking on Sunshine, which is Katrina and The Waves' greatest hit (here in the US, anyway). I am, however, absolutely a fan of Katrina Leskanich's performance at Retro Futura last night. She worked her guts out to put on a good show and succeeded completely. And not just from her music, which was terrific, but from her conversations between songs... telling the story of how they came to be and how they impacted her career...

Katrina Retro Futura Tour 2014

My favorite track she performed was Going Down to Liverpool, a Katrina and the Waves track made famous by a cover by The Bangles. As Katrina explains it, the success of that song by another group led to her band getting signed. The rest is history.

It's worth noting that by opening the show, Katrina had to perform in full-on sun... which was blisteringly hot and relentless throughout her entire set. That she managed to get through her song list without fainting is pretty impressive. Even more impressive? The album she wrote and recorded in just five weeks before joining the tour. Take a listen here.

   
• China Crisis! This is a band that pretty much flew under my radar back in the day. The only song I remember latching onto was the beautiful Wishful Thinking which, thankfully, was performed in their set...

China Crisis Retro Futura Tour 2014

I don't know that Retro Futura turned me into a diehard fan of the group, but it did make me much more interested in taking a listen to their stuff.

   
• Midge Ure sans Ultravox! And here's where we get to the biggest surprise of the evening. I've played his album If I Was - The Very Best of Midge Ure and Ultravox so many times that the lyrics are burned into my memory. Every song on that album is absolute magic, and I was pretty excited to see Midge perform live, as I'd never had the opportunity before. Little did I know that he would blow the doors off the joint with a voice so powerful and pure that you could feel it to your very soul...

China Crisis Retro Futura Tour 2014

Absolutely amazing show. I think he took the breath away from every person in attendance.

When it comes to his track selection, any fan of Ultravox was bound to be disappointed because he only had time to perform five songs...

  • Hymn. A pretty track off of Quartet that played really well live. It was the perfect introduction to his set.
  • Fade to Grey. And speaking of surprises. Turns out Fade to Grey was not a song by Ultravox or Midge Ure's solo career... it's a song Midge wrote and produced for another band, Visage. A band I never knew existed, as I've always heard the song off of The Very Best Of... by Midge.
  • Vienna. To say that Midge did an amazing job on this song is under-selling it by a wide margin. He redefined the phrase "killing it" by blasting through the track with a vocal fury that exceeded even the astounding range he showed on the original recording... THIRTY-FOUR YEARS AGO! If there was anybody in the audience who wasn't already a fan when the show began... they are now.
  • If I Was. I love this song, obviously, but oh lord how I wish it could have been Reap The Wild Wind or Dear God or even Call of the Wild... all songs I love even more. What I wouldn't give to here those live (though, admittedly, Reap the Wild Wind would not be the easiest song to perform without a full band and backup).
  • Dancing With Tears in My Eyes. A great song I really like but, again, where was Dear God? After hearing how Ure belted out Vienna I was left dying to hear him tackle it. Still... this was a great track to close out his performance, and I'm happy I got to hear it live. I really shouldn't complain.

All in all... wow. Just wow. I would watch another show in a heartbeat.

   
• SHARK BITE EXTREME! Before heading to the Sandy Amphitheater, Marty (of Banal Leakage fame) and I headed to Joe's Crab Shack. They have a beverage called a "Shark Bite" that I really wanted to try (because it looks so cool), and the restaurant was fairly close to the venue. When the drink arrives, it's all vodka, rum, sweet and sour, plus Blue CuraƧao... with a shark full of grenadine hanging off the side...

Joe's Crab Shack Shark Bite Drink

The idea is that you dump the grenadine into the blue "water" to make a bloody mess...

Joe's Crab Shack Shark Bite Drink

And it is cool... for a minute.

But what you ultimately end up with is a disgusting glass of purple stuff that's so sweet your teeth will ache afterwards.

You do get to keep your plastic shark though... and that's all I really cared about.

   

And there you have it. This afternoon I flew home from Salt Lake City without incident... walking on sunshine the entire way because I got to meet Erin Gray, hang out with one of my long-time blog friends, get a plastic shark... oh... and see one of my favorite bands of all time perform live after 27 years of waiting. A pretty great way to spend a weekend, I think.

   

SEA->SLC

Posted on September 5th, 2014

Dave!And I'm off to Salt Lake City.

A short flight that can have some interesting scenery, if you care to look out the window...


Seattle to Salt Lake City Flight

Seattle to Salt Lake City Flight

Seattle to Salt Lake City Flight

Seattle to Salt Lake City Flight

Seattle to Salt Lake City Flight

Seattle to Salt Lake City Flight

While I like Salt Lake City quite a lot, transportation to and from the airport has always sucked because it's so expensive. Despite being just six miles away, a metered taxi to the airport is minimum $20... usually more like $25... not including tip. One time I ended up being booked in a car service I didn't ask for and had to pay $40. YES, YOU READ THAT RIGHT... FORTY DOLLARS FOR A TEN MINUTE RIDE!

Fortunately, Salt Lake City's public transportation has extended the TRAX light rail service out to the airport now... so no more absurdly expensive rides...

Seattle to Salt Lake City Flight

Price? $5... round trip.

After checking in at my hotel... which was going to be the Hilton until I found out they're still charging for internet like it's 1994... I was off to the beautiful City Creek Shopping Center for dinner with Marty (of Banal Leakage fame) and his wife at Johnny Rockets.

And now...?

Sleep.

Assuming my next door neighbors stop screaming at each other.

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Disappointment

Posted on April 10th, 2013

Dave!Today was kinda a play day where I had no real agenda. That's the good news.

Today was filled with disappointments. That's the bad news.

But, all in all... any day away from the office is a good one, am I right? I mean, sure, I worked a bit... but most of my time was spent looking for things to do in Salt Lake City that I haven't done before. I've been here many, many times, so that is a bit of a challenge.

My first stop was decided last night when I saw "BRUGES WAFFLES" flash across my hotel television's concierge screen. "Wow. I could go for some authentic Belgian waffles!" I said to myself. And so I got up and walked the three lonnnnnng blocks to the waffle shop in time for...

   
DISAPPOINTMENT NO. 1
On their website, Bruges Waffles says that they have "authentic caramelized waffles," which is exactly what I wanted. The reality? Not so much...

Un-Belgian Waffle

Don't get me wrong... it was a delicious waffle, and the cream was out of this world. Overall, a wonderful breakfast. But where is the pearl sugar that makes that delightful speckle of caramelized bits that I love? I sure couldn't find them. If they were there, my waffle would have looked like this...

Belgian Waffle!
Photo from A Feast for the Eyes... which has a recipe for the waffles you're looking for!

And let me tell you... those pearls of caramelized sugar are what makes a Belgian waffle go from "good" to "FOOD OF THE GODS!"

Next up? I wanted to visit the Natural History Museum of Utah. I had been there before years ago, but they relocated to a new building in 2011, and it's supposed to be pretty spectacular. The problem is that there's no real "elegant" way of getting there via public transportation. By car, it's a 16 minute drive from downtown to their location on edge of the University of Utah campus. But I had to spend an hour and fifteen minutes taking the Blue Trax Line to the Red Trax Line all the way out to the University Medical Center... then catch a campus shuttle over some gawdaful roads to get to the museum where I was faced with...

   
DISAPPOINTMENT NO. 2
The Natural History Museum of Utah is, indeed, in a spectacular new location and has some exhibits that are incredibly well done. The dinosaur exhibits alone are worth the price of admission. Honestly, if you're in Salt Lake City, you owe it to yourself to check it out... it's totally worth it, even if you have to go through public transportation hell to get there.

HOWEVER... when I was there it was absolute bedlam because (I'm guessing) there was a school field trip going on. This wouldn't have been a big deal, except the kids were running around going ape-shit insane. Museum staff didn't even attempt to reign them in, which was just senseless. And the "chaperone adults" that were accompanying the kids didn't bother to "chaperone" at all. They just lounged around while kids were yelling, screaming, running, kicking, and beating on the displays. It was beyond crazy. Even if they didn't make the kids behave, you'd think they would AT LEAST attempt to keep walkways clear so people could get around the museum... but... no. After 45 minutes, I couldn't take it any more and left. But I still got to see some cool stuff...

Natural History Museum of Utah Dinos
The dinosaur exhibits are truly first class.

Natural History Museum of Utah Dinos
RAWRRRRR! Says the ancient giant crocodile!

Natural History Museum of Utah Diorama!
The dioramas were nicely done too... if you like looking at dead stuffed animals.

Natural History Museum Sky Deck
The "Sky Deck" offers amazing views of downtown Salt Lake City and beyond.

Natural History Museum Weaving Exhibit
There was a really nice weaving exhibit that was much more interesting than I would have thought.

I complained about the ordeal of using public transportation to get to the museum, but there's one cool bit I should mention. When I was ready to leave, I checked my phone to see how often the campus shuttles ran. Much to my shock and delight, they have a web app that shows you where the shuttles are AND you can tap on a station to get an estimate as to when the next shuttle will arrive there...

University Shuttle Web App

Now THAT'S cool... and so useful! I wish the TRAX light rail system here had the same feature.

The one thing I wanted to do above anything else while I am here is to visit The Leonardo so I could see the awesome-sounding MUMMIES OF THE WORLD exhibit. Unfortunately, that brings us to...

   
DISAPPOINTMENT NO. 3
The show was sold out for the day. And the next day. And the next day. Talk about a soul-crushing sense of defeat... I missed getting to see mummies, dammit!

Last night Marty had mentioned that The Apple Store had relocated from The Gateway to a new shopping mall built by the Mormon church called "City Creek Center," so I decided to stop because I really want a different case for my iPhone 5. When I first got it, there were like -zero- cases available, so I thought I would have a better selection now that seven months have passed. You can probably imagine that this brings us to...

   
DISAPPOINTMENT NO. 4
The iPhone 5 case selection at the Apple Store is only barely better than it was back in September. They don't even have a simple bumper I can buy... they come attached to a hunk of ugly plastic. And the rest of the cases they have are pretty lame. WAH! Oh well... City Creek Center is really a beautiful mall (if you're into that kind of thing) so I was happy I got to see it...

City Creek Center SLC

After bumming around beautiful Temple Square for a while (which is never a disappointment), my waffle started wearing off so I decided to head back to the Bruges Waffles shop again for a late lunch. They advertise having "wonderfully crispy 'frites' or fries, with 10 delicious homemade mayos." Now, as anybody who has read this blog for even a little while knows, I am absolutely crave "patatjes met" (Dutch Fries with Dutch Mayo) and also love "frites avec mayo" (Belgian Fries with European Mayo). So this was kinda a no-brainer idea, right? Not really...

   
DISAPPOINTMENT NO. 5
Patatjes Met? More like Patatjes Meh. First of all, the mayo is NOT creamy, delicious, Dutch/European-style mayonnaise with that delicious taste I love. Nope... it's no different than the clumpy, egg-flavored American mayo you get out of a jar. In fact, I would't be surprised if that's exactly what it is. The "homemade" stuff they're talking about must be American jar mayo mixed with spices or whatever. "Disappointed" doesn't even begin to cover it. But that's just the beginning, because then I got the "frites"...

Frites in SLC

They weren't "bad"... but they also weren't the big, crispy, golden frites you get in Belgium. Not by a long shot. Too many of the fries were limp, waggy, and overly-greasy. But making matters worse was that a full half of my frites were crusty little nubs that aren't fit for dipping... they're barely fit for eating...

Frites Mess in SLC

BULLSHIT! Even the worst frites shop in Belgium would never serve this. I make better fries at home. Hell, McDONALDS makes better fries than this. The entire time I was eating this mess, all I kept thinking about was flying to Belgium and getting me some real frites. Or, better still, flying to the Netherlands and getting me some delicious patatjes met...

PATATJES MET!

Oh damn. Just look at those beautiful fried potatoes! AND LOOK AT THAT LUSH, CREAMY, FLAVORFUL MAYO FOR GOD'S SAKE!!! This is the stuff you want!

WAH!

Not wanting to risk any further disappointment, I headed back to my hotel so I could rest up and get some work done.

And now it's time to leave all my disappointment behind me so I can put some pants on and head out for an evening that promises to be anything but disappointing...

   

Calories

Posted on August 26th, 2009

Dave!Despite the fact that Salt Lake City's airport is a mere 6 miles from downtown, it will run you about $20 (+tip) for the privilege of being driven there by a taxi. My hotel, however, pushes for a private transportation company which runs an outrageous $25 (+tip). Having fallen for that trick before, I requested a METERED TAXI instead of the private car. This caused the valet to freak out. He started jabbering on about how a taxi would take a half-hour to arrive, and it only saves you $3... AS HE WAS LOADING MY LUGGAGE INTO THE PRIVATE CAR.

Not wanting to argue, I just went along with the scam. But I was fuming, and nobody got a tip.

I don't give a crap if I have to leave five hours early and book the taxi myself, next time these assholes are not getting any of my money. I cannot wait for Salt Lake's local TRAX light rail to be run out to the airport sometime in 2013. Then I'll be able to tell these rip-off taxi companies and hotel scammers to kiss my ass. I mean, seriously, TWENTY-FIVE-DOLLARS? That works out to over $100 an hour! For that kind of insane money, I expect to get blown after my luggage is unloaded.

Anyway...

When my flight arrived at Boise, Idaho, I got a text telling me that my connecting flight to Seattle was delayed. This meant I would miss my final connecting flight home. Seeing that there was a flight leaving immediately, I ran to the gate and managed to get on the earlier plane just as they were closing the doors. My luggage wouldn't make it home, but at least I wouldn't be stuck in Seattle's airport (WITH NO FREE WI-FI!) until midnight.

The upshot being that I would now have a four hour layover in Seattle, which was plenty of time to grab some lunch.

Which is when I overheard this...

GIRL ONE: Do you want a bottle of water with your salad?
   
GIRL TWO: No, I need to cut down on my calories.

Needless to say, I was mystified... calories in WATER?!?

Davesani Water Bottle

Isn't water the stuff where you look at the Nutrition Facts and everything is ZERO... because it's like... fucking WATER?!?

Davesani Nutrition Facts: IT'S WATER YOU DUMBASS!

Just when I think that people couldn't possibly get any more stupid, something comes along to prove me wrong.

Unless there's some new high-calorie water out that I don't know about...

   

Mode

Posted on August 25th, 2009

Dave!Saw an absolutely incredible performance by Depeche Mode tonight in Salt Lake City with Marty and WarpedGirl16...

Depeche Mode LIVE!

   

   

For a spoiler-filled set list and some additional photos, you can get all that in an extended entry.

→ Click here to continue reading this entry...

   

Denver

Posted on August 24th, 2009

Dave!There are plenty of things I could blog about, but the only thing that's in my head right now is how I get to sleep in tomorrow. For the first time in months I have nothing going in the morning. No calls scheduled. No meetings to attend. No places to be. No flights to catch. Nothing. I could sleep in until noon. Heck, I could sleep in until 5:00pm if I wanted to. The whole concept is so bizarre that I can't quite wrap my head around it.

Of course, the odds of me actually sleeping in are small. I'm sure my insomniac nature will take over and I'll be waking up at 4:00am as usual... and I'll be bored as usual... so I'll start getting some work done as usual. Oh well. I suppose just the thought of being able to sleep in if I wanted to is enough.

Anyway...

This morning started out early because I wanted to visit Denver's very own independent book store... The Tattered Cover. There are a couple locations, but I went to the beautiful LoDo store on the 16th Street Mall (years ago I visited the "original" store in Cherry Creek, but it has since moved). Much like Powell's City of Books in Portland, The Tattered Cover is a wonderful experience for people who love books...

Tattered Cover Book Store

I then walked around the corner to visit The Old Map Gallery. As a die-hard map-lover, I had been really looking forward to seeing the shop... but it was closed. And there were no hours posted, so I didn't stick around. For all I know they could be closed Mondays, and I'd be waiting for nothing (the website isn't much help either). This is probably a good thing, because a look in the window shows that I would have been dangerously close to spending entirely too much money there...

Old Map Gallery Window

From there it was time for lunch at the beautiful Hard Rock Cafe Denver...

Hard Rock Denver Outside

Hard Rock Denver Inside

And then back to the hotel so I could catch my ride to the airport. The sky, which had been blue with scattered clouds when I left in the morning, had become dreary and overcast by afternoon...

Capitol Building Grey Sky Afternoon

And by the time I got to the airport we were on weather delay. Fortunately, it was only 30 minutes, which put us into Salt Lake City just 14 minutes late (it's the old "we'll make up time in the air" trick!). Or would have if we didn't end up in a holding pattern for ten minutes once we got there.

Marty and Reba (of Banal Leakage fame) were then nice enough to pick me up at the SLC airport so we could head to the Rio Grande Cafe for Dave Lake City 3! The last time we were there I was doped up on massive pain killers for kidney stones and couldn't really enjoy it, so I was really looking forward to eating there again. It was (as expected) delicious, and it's always great to hang out with Marty and his better half...

Dave Lake City 3 Badge

And tomorrow, Depeche Mode, baby!

   

UPDATE: Annnnnd... I was up at 5:15am. That's a whole 45 minutes I got to sleep in!

   

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