Singer Bob Dylan, who has a reputation as a relentless road warrior, has returned to the stage for the first time since things shut down because of the pandemic — at least on filmBy DAVID BAUDER AP Entertainment WriterJuly 19, 2021, 5:51 PM• 2 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleNEW YORK — After a year and a half away because of the pandemic, relentless road warrior Bob Dylan returned to a concert stage on Sunday — at least online.He performed for fans who paid $25 to watch online through the live-streaming platform Veeps. It was less a concert than a stylized black-and-white film, with the 80-year-old singer fronting a four-piece band in a juke joint before audience members who smoked a lot and paid little attention to him.Dylan hasn’t performed live since December 2019, COVID-19 finally concluding his so-called Never Ending tour. Since 1988, he had kept performing regularly: 78 gigs in 2019, 84 in 2018, for example.His wardrobe changes and differences in the placement of the band and witnesses made clear that Sunday’s performance, titled “Shadow Kingdom,” did not run straight through. His audience was actors rather than fans; they didn’t applaud.Dylan’s band included an accordion player and, for many songs, an upright bass player. There was no drummer, with the performances more folk, blues and country instead of rock ‘n’ roll. Dylan sometimes accompanied himself on acoustic guitar, as on the opener, “When I Paint My Masterpiece.”As he began, two women sat in tables in front of him, smoking and taking drinks from beer bottles. When he performed “I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight,” the women flanked the white-coated Dylan onstage, staring emotionless at the camera.Dylan concentrated on material from early in his career, including infrequently performed numbers like “Queen Jane Approximately” or “Wicked Messenger.” His luminous version of “Forever Young” was the best-known of the 13-song performance. A version of “What Was it You Wanted” from the 1989 album “Oh Mercy” was the only song originally released later than the early 1970s.He didn’t speak to his online audience. After a stark version of “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue,” the performance was over in less than an hour, giving it the feel of the first part of something more. Dylan hasn’t announced any further appearances on Veep.com, and hasn’t said when he is returning to the road.
In one of the year’s odder musical ideas, Elvis Costello is releasing a Spanish-language version of his 1978 classic album ‘This Year’s Model.’By DAVID BAUDER AP Entertainment WriterJuly 16, 2021, 12:56 AM• 2 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleNEW YORK — Elvis Costello is re-releasing his classic “This Year’s Model” album — but this year’s version erases his vocals and replaces him with Spanish-language singers.A video of Juanes performing “Pump it Up” was released Thursday, preceding the full version of “Spanish Model” due to come out on Sept. 10.Producer Sebastian Krys kept, and remixed, the original instrumental tracks recorded by Costello and his backing band, the Attractions. Besides Juanes, other vocalists include Fito Paez, Luis Fonsi, Sebastian Yatra and Jesse & Joy.Originally released in 1978, “This Year’s Model” was Costello’s second album and first with the Attractions. With its furious sound and blistering pace, Costello described it as an album about control and “desire and how that relates to love, fashion and the male gaze towards women.”“I don’t think there’s anything that somebody in another language would not have encountered,” he said.He said in a news release that he was inspired by television producer David Simon’s request that he record his song “This Year’s Girl” as a duet with singer Natalie Bergman for his show “The Deuce.” He said he had a dream where he heard “This Year’s Model” sung in Spanish.Juanes had just worked with Krys on his latest album, “Origen.” He told The Associated Press that he could hear Costello’s breathing in the mix used for his vocals.“The video is very particular, too,” Juanes said, “because it’s an animation over the original. I mean, it’s the original video, but with my face. It’s a bit crazy, but it’s really cool. The same body of Elvis dancing to the song, but with my face.”“Spanish Model” includes versions of “Mentira” (Lip Service) sung by Pablo Lopez, “La Chica de Hoy” (This Year’s Girl) by Cami and “Tu Eres Para Mi” (You Belong to Me) by Fonsi.Costello has teased the concept of bilingual releases recently, with Iggy Pop singing a French version of Costello’s song “No Flag.”“Part of the fun of this project is its unexpected nature,” Costello said. “Although, I think people in my audience that have been paying attention are pretty much used to surprises by now.”———Online: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kc—MYgfqHXI———Associated Press Spanish Entertainment Editor Sigal Ratner-Arias contributed to this report.
Bruce Springsteen reprises his Broadway show for a summer run, another sign of live entertainment’s rebirth after a 15-month pause because of COVID-19By DAVID BAUDER AP Entertainment WriterJune 27, 2021, 10:29 PM• 4 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleNEW YORK — In another sign of live entertainment’s rebirth, Bruce Springsteen returned to Broadway this weekend, strapping on a guitar and reviving a show for an audience that included a member of his E Street Band and the governor of his home state.Springsteen had ended his residency in December 2018 after 236 performances, but was persuaded to return for a summer’s encore ahead of most Broadway shows coming back in September.The tough rock ‘n’ roller was clearly emotional. He wiped away tears toward the end of his show, which mixes personal remembrances with performances of his songs. He said the summer reprise allows him to spend more time, figuratively speaking, with his late father and other fallen relatives.Every week brings fresh evidence of life resuming in entertainment following a 15-month COVID-19 pause. Festivals and concert tours are being booked, and Springsteen plans to take his band on the road next year. The Foo Fighters reopened New York’s Madison Square Garden for music with a cathartic June 20 concert.Thrilled to be back, fans cheered Springsteen’s words so often he had to profanely tell them to settle down, lest the show take all night. His longtime guitarist, Steven Van Zandt, received a standing ovation when he took a seat in the audience. New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy and U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg were also there Saturday night.“It’s good to see everyone here tonight unmasked, sitting next to each other,” Springsteen said. “What a year. I’m 71 years on this planet and I’ve never seen anything like it.”Audience members had to show proof of vaccination to enter the St. James Theatre. That attracted a boisterous handful of anti-vaccination demonstrators to gather at the entrance and complain Springsteen was promoting segregation.Inside, one audience member, Gina Zabinski of Wyomissing, Pennsylvania, said it felt amazing to see music performed live again. “I’m going to cry,” she said.“I didn’t think I would miss it as much as I did,” said Zabinski, who brought her son Zak, a musical theater student at the University of Miami. “I think I just took it for granted because we would go to shows all the time.”Another fan, Benjamin Smith of Philadelphia, said “I can’t think of a better person to help us return to a sense of normalcy.”Springsteen said he and his family were lucky during the pandemic, able to stay healthy and keep busy.“I had a podcast with the president of the United States (Barack Obama),” he said. “I was handcuffed and thrown in jail.”The latter referred to his Nov. 14, 2020 arrest for drunken driving and reckless driving in New Jersey. Those charges were later dismissed since he had a blood alcohol level below the state’s legal limit and he paid a fine for downing two tequila shots in an area where alcohol wasn’t allowed.“New Jersey,” he said. “They love me there.”While the case provided him with fresh fodder for jokes, the structure and stories of Springsteen’s show was similar, if a little streamlined, to the way it was the first time he was on Broadway.He eliminated the iconic closer, “Born to Run,” replacing it with the thematically sharper “I’ll See You in My Dreams,” off his 2020 album. The two-song duet with his wife, Patti Scialfa, featured a smoldering version of “Fire,” his song that became a 1978 hit for the Pointer Sisters.In a clear reference to the George Floyd killing, Springsteen performed his own song about a police shooting, “American Skin (41 Shots),” standing onstage in a blood red spotlight.Springsteen said he’s never seen American democracy as threatened as it is today, and that it frightened him.“I’m still stubborn,” he said. “I believe we’re going to make it.”
NEW YORK — The tragedies of Brian Wilson’s life is a rock ‘n’ roll story well told.The postscript — that he’s a survivor nearing age 80 who appears to be supported personally and professionally in a way he never really had before — is less familiar.Despite some uncomfortable moments in “Brian Wilson: Long Promised Road,” that important update is the point of the documentary that premieres Tuesday at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York.The film’s heart is a series of drives around southern California, where Wilson and Rolling Stone magazine editor Jason Fine talk, listen to music and occasionally stop at restaurants. There’s a comfort level between the two; Fine is a journalist who has become a friend.Wilson, the creative force behind the Beach Boys, has dealt with an abusive, hard-driving father, the mental illness Schizoaffective disorder where he’d hear voices berating and belittling him, and band members often resistant to where he was going musically. Add in years of drug abuse, a quack psychologist who effectively held him prisoner for a decade and the younger brothers who died early, and it’s a lot to endure.“He doesn’t deserve the accolades about his music,” Elton John says in the film. “He deserves the accolades about his personal life.”John, along with Bruce Springsteen, Don Was and Linda Perry, are eloquent in describing what made Wilson’s work unique and enduring, crucial to making the film appeal to more than just his fans.Film director Brent Wilson (no relation) contacted Fine after his own attempts to interview Wilson bore little fruit. Fine said his own experiences with the musician have taught him that “being there when he’s ready to talk has always been a big thing with Brian.”So they hit the road, eventually filming some 70 hours.Wilson’s importance to southern California is evident at some of the stops along their drive. A sign now marks the spot where a Beach Boys album cover was shot. While the boyhood home of Brian, Dennis and Carl Wilson in Hawthorne no longer stands, a plaque marks that location, too.“I didn’t feel that Brian’s story, Brian’s third act now, had been done properly,” Fine said in an interview with The Associated Press. “I think that Brian is often seen as a recluse, as a victim, as someone who burned out (and)… lost his way,” he said. “That’s not how I see Brian at all. Ever since I’ve known him I see him as a hero, a courageous person, who gives everybody who goes to his shows strength and inspiration.”Fine said that “I wanted to show people Brian’s humanity, his decency, his kindness, his humor, his curiosity.”In the film, Fine stops the car outside of the former home of Wilson’s brother Carl, who died of lung cancer at 51 in 1998. Fine gets out; Wilson wants to stay in the passenger seat. The camera catches Wilson wiping away a tear.At another point, as they passed a spot where he once owned a health food store, Wilson says that “I haven’t had a friend to talk to in three years.”They are moments that are deeply discomforting, bordering on exploitive. Wilson is clearly a damaged soul and, for his sake, you wonder at times in “Long Promised Road” if he would have been been better served by the dignity of privacy.Fine doesn’t see it that way.“All of it is done on Brian’s terms and on Brian’s comfort level, so I don’t see it as exploitive,” he said.Wilson himself, in a Zoom call with reporters, said little. Asked why he agreed to participate in the film, he said, “I don’t know. I just made up my mind.”Fine said it appears that the level of fandom that Wilson inspires is sometimes intimidating. He was struck once, following a show where Wilson and his band performed the “Pet Sounds” album, when Wilson told him that he’d always doubted it, but that now he thought that people loved his music and that he was doing what he was supposed to be doing.“You’d think that was something he would felt over the last 60 years or so, being onstage with people singing and screaming for his music,” he said. “But what you feel inside is different than what comes from the external sources. I think that he feels the love and I think that’s huge.”After all the years where his life was dominated by negativity, Wilson now has a positive, supportive personal life with wife Melinda and their family. He’s also surrounded by musicians who clearly revere him and are devoted to bringing what Elton John called the orchestra in Wilson’s head to life.Nerves drove Wilson off the concert circuit at the height of the Beach Boys’ success. Now he loves performing, Fine said.Perhaps, within himself, Wilson has accepted that he’s done things that mean so much to others, he said.“That sort of simple message he really wanted to give people through his music going back to the ‘60s — a sense of warmth, a sense that it’s going be OK in the same way that music lifted him up from his darkness, he’d try to do for other people,” he said. “I think now, more than earlier in his career, he accepts that he does that and that’s a great comfort to him.”