On Stage: Venerable acts headline locally this weekend

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By Denny Dyroff, Entertainment Editor

The Legendary Pink Dots

There are five musical acts playing around the Delaware Valley on October 12 that are very, very different musically but have one major aspect in common – longevity.

The Legendary Pink Dots – an Anglo-Dutch experimental rock band formed in London in 1980 – have found a genre all their own. Although far outside the mainstream, LPD have released more than 50 albums, have a devoted worldwide following, and tour frequently. Distinctive vocals and lyrical imagery are a big part of the band’s universal appeal.

On October 12, The Legendary Pink Dots will return to the area for a show at Boot and Saddle (1131 South Broad Street, Philadelphia, 215-639-4528,www.bootandsaddlephilly.com).

The Legendary Pink Dots have certainly earned their “legendary” status by now. The band, which is based in the Netherlands and has always featured a lineup with English and Dutch musicians, is celebrating its “40th Anniversary Tour” this year and next.

The LPD have always had two core members – singer/songwriter/keyboardist Edward Ka-Spel and keyboardist Phil Knight – along with a variety of rotating musicians and instrumental lineups.

Better known throughout Europe than in the states, the Dots’ music has elements of rock, jazz, psychedelia, industrial, synth-pop and avant-garde. They have released more than 50 studio albums and have reached double figures with their live album total. They also have more than 30 compilation albums to their credit along with a handful of DVDs.

The Legendary Pink Dots, who released their new album “Angel in the Detail,” recently on Metropolis Records, are in the beginning of a stateside tour supporting the new disc.

The current LPD lineup includes Ka-Spel (voice, keyboards, devices, gadgets, keyboards, interference, premonitions), Knight/The Silverman (keyboards, soundscapes, electronics devices, gadgets, technology, korgs, radios, cables), Erik Drost (acoustic, electric, bass and Hawaiian guitars) and Joep Hendrikx (electronics, effects).

“This is a pretty big tour – our 40th anniversary tour,” said Ka-Spel, during an interview Thursday. “We’re starting this fall and will be taking it into next year.

“We released our latest album ‘Angel in the Detail’ on a Philadelphia label, Metropolis Records. They also released our last two studio albums – “Pages of Aquarius’ and ‘The Gethsemane Option.’”

The Dots also release a lot of music on their own. One of LPD’s projects is its “Chemical Playschool” series of albums which is well into the teens.

“If I tried to remember all our albums and talk a little about each, it might carry into my next lifetime,” said Ka-Spell. “We also have a special release for this tour — a Remastered/Expanded edition of ‘The Seismic Bleats Of Quantum Sheep.’

“‘Angel in the Detail’ was recorded in my home in London over the course of two years beginning in Spring 2017. My little studio is, in fact, part of a living room.

“As we live in different countries, ideas would be exchanged through cyberspace then the rest of the guys would fly or drive to the U.K. for intense recording sessions. I prepared outlines for songs as ‘demos’ and we’d take things from there.

“We’re playing a lot of material from the new album. So much of the material lends itself to new twists and turns each night…so no show is the same as another.

“Some older songs have been included in the second half of the set. But they are very much new interpretations as to simply recreate them would feel a bit like the Dots becoming its own cover band — and we couldn’t allow that to happen. We thought about the entirety of ‘Klein Krieg’ (LPD’s debut album from 1981) but reckoned we’d save that for the 80th Anniversary Tour.”

Just because the Legendary Pink Dots play two-hour sets with songs that last longer than 10 minutes, don’t be misled into thinking that the Dots are just another jam band.

“We never get carried away,” said Ka-Spel, the creator of the band’s thought-provoking and often bizarre lyrics. “We don’t want to turn it to noodling. Noodles are for eating.”

Video link for The Legendary Pink Dots – https://vimeo.com/165800557.

The show on October 12 at Boot and Saddle, which has Orbit Service as the opener, will start at 8:30 p.m. Tickets are $25 in advance and $27 at the door.

If something lasts for 50 years, it must have something going for it.

Renaissance

If a music act lasts for 50 years, it definitely has something going for it – something that translates into guaranteed staying power.

In celebration of the band’s 50th Anniversary, Renaissance featuring Annie Haslam is embarking on a 10-concert date tour of the United States.

As part of “50th Anniversary Tour: Ashes Are Burning: A Retrospective Celebration of Renaissance Classics,” the band will be performing with an orchestra on October 12 at the Keswick Theatre (291 N. Keswick Avenue, Glenside, 215-572-7650, www.keswicktheatre.com) and without an orchestra on October 20 at The Grand Opera House (818 North Market Street, Wilmington, Delaware, 302-652-5577, www.thegrandwilmington.org)

Renaissance is a band with a rich history unique unto themselves as progressive rock pioneers who rose from the ashes of the seminal UK rock band, The Yardbirds. Acclaimed for its unique blending of progressive rock with classical and symphonic influences, the band’s career has spanned forty plus years spearheaded by the five-octave voice of Haslam and the masterful songwriting skills of Michael Dunford.

The band has toured throughout the world and has performed at Carnegie Hall with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra and additionally at the Royal Albert Hall with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and Royal Chorale Society. Renaissance had a Top 10 hit in the U.K. with the song “Northern Lights.”

It’s always a special occasion when Haslam and the band perform in the area.

The band’s latest project is something different. In October and November 2017, the band debuted its “Symphonic Journey” tour.

“We did four shows with the 10-piece orchestra – an orchestra that featured strings, woodwinds, brass, and percussion,” said Haslam, during a phone interview last week from her home in rural Bucks County. “One of those shows was at the Keswick Theatre in Glenside. We filmed the show and now it’s available for purchase.”

Last year, Renaissance released its new DVD – “A Symphonic Journey.” The DVD was filmed in October of 2017 with the Renaissance Chamber Orchestra. The videographers used track and boom mounted cameras to create more up close and personal shots of the band and orchestra. The concert also featured large screen projections of original paintings by Annie Haslam, with corresponding titles to each song performed throughout the concert.

Haslam, who was born in Bolton, Lancashire, first gained world-wide recognition when she was asked to become the lead singer of Renaissance, a band formed by Keith Relf after he left the Yardbirds.

While still a member of Renaissance, Haslam recorded her first solo album “Annie in Wonderland” — a highly-acclaimed disc that was a collaboration with (and produced by) Roy Wood, a founding member of both The Move and ELO.

According to Haslam, “I joined the band New Year’s Day 1971. Now, 48 years later we are still performing and bringing our unique style of music to more and more fans all over the world.

“This very special Anniversary tour will be a retrospective celebration of Renaissance classics including a special guest appearance from Jim McCarty, Renaissance and Yardbirds co-founder. He will be joining us at The Keswick Glenside show on October 12, which will be filmed for our first high definition Blue Ray DVD.”

Renaissance — Annie Haslam, lead vocals; Rave Tesar, keyboards; Mark Lambert, guitars/vocals; Geoffrey Langley, keyboards/vocals; Leo Traversa, bass guitar/vocals; Frank Pagano, drums/percussion/vocals — will be performing songs with the orchestra that have never been orchestrated before.

Last November, Renaissance treated fans to the full symphonic experience when it performed a concert at the Scottish Rite Auditorium.

“The show at the Scottish Rite Auditorium was great — except for me,” said Haslam. “I got sick. I had difficulty singing. Mid-range vocals were difficult because my vocal cords were swollen. I’m going to start wearing a mask wherever I go. I’m not sick and I’m not going to get sick.

“Now, we’re touring again and five of the shows are with the orchestra. We have an Indiegogo to raise all the funds for recording.

“The Indiegogo is helping keep us alive.

“The song ‘Ashes Burning’ is going to be orchestrated – and so is ‘Midas Man.’ It’s a two-hour show with an intermission. We found that works well. We play a hybrid version of ‘Prologue’ and then everything else is with the orchestra.

“The orchestra is a group of classical musicians that Rave put together. Some are from Philly and some from New York. It’s 10 people that sound like 20.

“Jim Carty is flying in for the Keswick show. He is going to be playing guitar on a couple songs including ‘Ashes Burning.’ Another song is ‘Island,’ which he co-wrote with Keith (Relf).”

Video link for Renaissance – https://youtu.be/N2c0b9xZIB0.

The show at the Keswick Theater on October 12 will start at 8 p.m. Ticket prices range from $45-$85.

The show at The Grand on October 20 will start at 7 p.m. Tickets are $29 and $35.

Redd Kross

Redd Kross, which is headlining a show on October 12 at Underground Arts (1200 Callowhill Street, Philadelphia, http://undergroundarts.org), is another band that has been around for more than 40 years.

The band started in Hawthorne, California in 1978 as a punk-rock band called the Tourists with brothers Jeff and Steve McDonald and two of their friends.

Since then, more than 20 band members have come and gone while the siblings have held down the fort. The current line-up features the McDonald brothers along with guitarist Jason Shapiro and drummer Dale Crover.

Redd Kross’ debut album was “Born Innocent” in 1982. Its most recent LP was “Beyond the Door,” which was just released in August on Merge Records.

“We’ve released eight albums in 40 years,” said Steve McDonald, during a recent phone interview from Indianapolis.

“That’s an album every five years. That’s fairly prolific.

“We haven’t gone through songwriting menopause yet. Like women with their lifetime supply of eggs, maybe we have a lifetime supply of songs. We don’t want to use up the whole supply, so we’ve been rationing the songs over the years.”

McDonald hasn’t been rationing his energy as a performer.

“We’re touring now with the Melvins,” said McDomnald. “Our drummer Dale is also the Melvins’ drummer and I play bass for the Melvins. So, there are two bands and we share the same rhythm section.”

Recently, a friend and his wife celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary. When someone congratulated them for being married 40 years, they replied – we got married 40 years ago but we haven’t been married for 40 years.

It’s the same with Redd Kross. The band formed 40 years ago but hasn’t continuously been an active band for four decades.

Redd Kross announced an indefinite hiatus after its tour for the “Show World” album. In July 2006, Redd Kross returned to the live stage after almost a decade’s absence.

“We started the band when I was extremely young – 11 years old and in middle school,” said McDonald. “In 1997, I was turning 30 and had been in the band the whole time. It just felt like I was being irresponsible – that maybe it was time to approach music from a different direction.

“So, instead of playing in a band, I worked as a record producer and as an A&R consultant spotting talent in the raw. If I found talent, I could be their guardian angel. I enjoyed the job until it got to the point where I had to work in an office. I wasn’t good at that part of the job.

“In 2003, I auditioned for Beck’s band and played bass for him on his ‘Sea Change’ tour. Then, I played with Sparks for about five years and then joined the band Off!”

Redd Kross was sleeping – but not dead.

“Around 2006, Redd Kross got tons of offers to do gigs,” said McDonald. “What was different with us and other bands that reunite is that my brother and I were always close.”

One thing led to another. A few gigs led to a tour and that led to another tour and that led to a new album. In 2012, Redd Kross released an album titled “Researching the Blues.” Seven years later, the band released “Beyond the Door” and now is touring in support of the lively LP.

“Our new record is more collaborative than anything we’ve done,” said McDonald. “We started it a couple years ago. I was in a couple bands, so it was hard to find time.

“We made the album in L.A. in our own studio. Jeff and I recorded and produced it and I mixed it. We finished it in February, and it came out in August.”

Video link for Redd Kross — https://youtu.be/I4QE08QTVXY.

The show at Underground Arts, which also features the Melvins and Toshi Kasai, will start at 9 p.m. Tickets are $25.

Hiromi

On October 12, , internationally-acclaimed composer and jazz pianist Hiromi will visit Philadelphia to perform a concert at the Annenberg Center (3680 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, 215-898-3900, http://www.annenbergcenter.org).

Hiromi Uehara ( ひろみ), known professionally as Hiromi, is a jazz composer and pianist born in Hamamatsu, Japan. She is known for her virtuosic technique, energetic live performances and blend of musical genres such as stride, post-bop, progressive rock, classical and fusion in her compositions.

Hiromi started learning classical piano at the age of six and was later introduced to jazz by her piano teacher Noriko Hikida. At 14, she played with the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra. When she was 17, she met Chick Corea by chance in Tokyo and was invited to play with him at his concert the next day. After being a jingle writer for a few years for Japanese companies such as Nissan, she enrolled to study at Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts. There, she was mentored by Ahmad Jamal and had already signed with jazz label Telarc before her graduation.

Since her debut in 2003, Hiromi has toured the world and appeared in numerous jazz festivals. She performed at the Newport Jazz Festival in 2009 and at the Paris Olympia in Paris in 2010 and toured in the summer of 2010 with the Stanley Clarke Band.

The piano virtuoso has released 11 studio albums — five as Hiromi, two as Hiromi’s Sonicbloom and four as The Trio Project. She is currently touring the states in support of “Spectrum,” released last month on Telarc.

Hiromi rarely records by herself. The pianist has spent nearly two decades working with bands to create a string of whirlwind albums and also boasts an eclectic list of collaborators such as Chick Corea, Akiko Yano and Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra.

Every 10 years, she steps away from all that for a time to go it alone.

“I want to record a solo album every decade,” said Hiromi, during a phone interview Friday from a tour stop in Atlanta, Georgia.

“I did one in 2009 and I wanted to do another one this year as a milestone. As a pianist, recording solo and performing solo is something special.

“Ever since I was six years old, I’ve had a very intimate relationship with the piano so, once in a while, it’s nice to be sitting alone with it. It’s a great way to see how I’ve grown as a pianist. I just had to write and record what I’m really feeling.”

Hiromi is equally comfortable playing jazz or classical — and equally adept.

“I listen to all kinds of music,” said Hiromi. “My teacher (Noriko Hikida) was a big jazz fan but she’d be playing Horowitz at the same time. I listened to all kinds of music ever since I was young.

“My teacher had me listen to musicians like Oscar Peterson and learn about improvising. That really fascinated me. In my live shows, there is a section in the songs written for improvisational parts. We’re always looking for something new in songs. It’s very free and open.”

As its name might indicate, “Spectrum” deals with colors.

“I decided to do an album with the concept of colors,” said Hiromi. “I thought that it would be an interesting theme – especially with a piano with its black and white keys.”

It was Hikida who first introduced Hiromi to the relationship between music and colors.

“When I was very young, Noriko Hirida introduced me to using colors with music,” said Hiromi. “She would draw on the sheet music with colored pencils – red for passionate, blue for melancholy. She really connected color and music.”

Hiromi’s focus on colors on “Spectrum” is underscored by some of the songs on the album — “Once In a Blue Moon”, “Whiteout,” “Yellow Wurlitzer Blues,” “Blackbird,” “Kaleidoscope,” “Rhapsody in Blue,” “Blue Train,” and “Behind Blue Eyes.”

“With my show at Annenberg Center, people can hear the colors because I’ll be mostly playing songs from ‘Spectrum.,’” said Hiromi.

Video link for Hiromi — https://youtu.be/A8RCz_RoefM.

The show at Annenberg Center will start at 8 p.m. Tickets are $44, $52 and $59.

Here in Chester County, there is a music act that has been going strong for more than 75 years — the Kennett Symphony.

On October 12, the Kennett Symphony (kennettsymphony.org) will open its 2019-2020 season with a concert featuring an attractive selection of compositions.

The concert, which is titled “Lament to Triumph,” will get underway at 7:30 p.m. at Unionville High School Auditorium (Route 82, Kennett Square). The performance will be under the baton of Conductor/Kennett Symphony Music Director, Michael Hall, and feature pianist Thomas Pandolfi.

From complete resignation before Fate to the triumphant and glorious finale,

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No.5 is the opening number. The Symphony No. 5 in E minor, Op. 64 was composed in 1888 and was first performed in St Petersburg at the Mariinsky Theatre later that year. It is described as a “go-to piece for people who like their music unapologetically heart-on-the-sleeve.”

The middle piece will be Sergei Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2.

The Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor, Op. 18, is a concerto for piano and orchestra composed by Rachmaninoff between 1900 and 1901 and premiered in November 1901.

This piece is one of Rachmaninoff’s most enduringly popular pieces and established his fame as a concerto composer.

The concert’s final piece will be “Lament and Primeval” by Canadian composer Harry Somers.

Somers was a Toronto musician/composer whose best-known work is the opera “Louis Riel.” Composed in 1946, “Lament and Primeval” is one of his earliest works.

Tickets are $63, $55, and $40 with $10 tickets available for students up to age 18.

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