Stevie Nicks steps onstage and back in time on new tour

[Originally published in the Boston Herald in June of 2007.]

Some stars reflect on past mistakes and claim they wouldn’t change a thing. Not Stevie Nicks.

The rock goddess, who plays the Tweeter Center tomorrow with Chris Isaak, may weave layers of ambiguity through her songs, but she’s straightforward about her desire to erase almost two decades of drug abuse.

Nicks battled a cocaine habit from 1977 to 1986, and almost immediately after, an eight-year addiction to the tranquilizer Klonopin.

“I would absolutely do it differently,” Nicks said from a tour stop in New York City. “Cocaine almost ruined my life. And if I hadn’t done Klonopin, I would have made two or three more fantastic albums. I lost most of my 40s to Klonopin and that really makes me mad, because your 40s are great. Maybe that’s why I see through 40-year-old eyes, because I lost my 40s, so I’m trying to get a little of my 40s back.”

If Nicks is making up for lost time, she’s doing it in style. For her Crystal Visions Tour, the singer/songwriter has a girly new wardrobe that helps her slip into the persona of an ageless rock star even as she creeps toward 60.

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Review of Mike Posner’s “31 Minutes to Takeoff”

No telling if “31 Minutes to Takeoff” will lead to more than 31 minutes of fame for overnight sensation Mike Posner, but one thing is clear: Vocally, the 22-year-old sounds like a dance-leaning version of “American Idol” finalist Jason Castro minus the swooning romance. Posner deals in terms that most who juggle hangovers with morning classes can understand: hookups, failed relationships and white lies. “When I met you at the party and I told you you were pretty, I was honestly just trying to score,” he croons to his unsuspecting victim on “Gone in September.” Sweet. Posner’s high-pitched yet husky vocals are frequently difficult to bear, but his brand of electro-pop production proves interesting. Things even get mildly exciting when he dares to venture off-campus: Check the track to download, “Save Your Goodbye.” [Published in the Boston Herald on Aug. 9, 2010]

Concert review: Ke$ha fans get sleazy, and then some

[Originally published in the Boston Herald, April 14, 2011]

Barring a drastic makeover, newly minted pop star Ke$ha will never be accused of displaying class. Her worshippers wouldn’t have it any other way.

The 24-year-old’s Get $leazy Tour stopped at a sold-out House of Blues on Tuesday. There wasn’t much to figure out beneath the blue lipstick, American flag tunics and glittery leotards. If it’s lewd, crude and nonsensical, Ke$ha’s most likely made it a part of her repertoire.

The 85-minute show opened to the sounds of “Sleazy,” with Ke$ha perched inside a diamond-shaped light frame on the second tier of the stage wearing glow-in-the-dark goggles. She remained trapped in her music substation for the first four songs, pressing buttons that set synth riffs in motion and tapping on percussion boards with glow-in-the-dark drumsticks. She finally skulked front and center stage for “Blow” and brought the confetti guns with her.

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Welcome to The Machine

This is the story of a cover band that never set out to be a cover band.

Four-piece outfit The Machine has been described as more like Pink Floyd than Pink Floyd itself, but band members never intended to exclusively perform the progressive rock group’s material.

The Machine began as a venture between lead singer/guitarist Joe Pascarell and drummer Tahrah Cohen, who were stuck playing in weekend bands together and opted to establish something more serious.

“We said, ‘Let’s just put a band together and play music that we love,'” Pascarell said by phone. “That was the criteria. We played some Floyd, but we played other stuff, too.”

But the Pink Floyd songs always got the best responses.So before there were “a billion Pink Floyd tribute bands,” The Machine supplied what crowds demanded.

Soon, an agent took notice and told band members that if they learned more Pink Floyd material, he would book them as a Pink Floyd cover band. And The Machine was born.

“In less than three months, we had all quit our jobs and were playing full-time,” Pascarell said. “It took off from that. I always find it so interesting that it was never a conscious decision.”

Ironically, The Machine has been a more consistent source of live Pink Floyd material than the British band itself. The group has performed more than 2,000 live shows and released several live CDs and DVDs, including “The Symphonic Side of the Moon,” a live rendition of the seminal “Dark Side of the Moon” album with a full symphony orchestra… Continue reading at The Sun Chronicle.

Opening Knight: A New Kid’s ‘Unfinished’ business

[Originally published in the Boston Herald in May 2011]

Strolling down Massachusetts Avenue in Cambridge last week, New Kids on the Block superstar Jordan Knight seems less like a heartthrob in one of the world’s biggest boy bands and more like, well, a regular person.

His fourth solo album, “Unfinished,” drops Tuesday and a joint tour with NKOTB and fellow pop idols the Backstreet Boys kicks off this week. But you’d never know it by talking to the unassuming crooner. When asked how he stays humble amid the hoopla, Knight revealed for the first time his struggles with alcoholism.
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