Usher Unleashes ‘The UR Experience’ In Atlantic City

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(PCM) After two packed shows in New York and Philadelphia, nearby Atlantic City demanded a dose of The UR Experience. Usher brought his sensational live act to Boardwalk Hall last night, and fans packed the 15,000-seat bungalow on the beach. Usher is touring in anticipation of his next album, UR, which is currently in the works.

The show got off to an explosive start as Usher took to the stage and laid down one of his signature dance moves amid a plethora of pyro. He opened with “My Way”, an appropriate track to kick things off on the tour branded with his very initials and the title track to his breakout sophomore release. He then cranked out back-to-back smash hits “OMG” and “Love In This Club”, and never looked back. Usher proceeded to unleashed a monstrous 28-song set filled with #1 hits and Grammy-winning tracks.

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Other highlights from the evening included “Lovers and Friends”, “U Remind Me”, “Lil’ Freak”, “Confessions”, “Good Kisser”, “Burn”, “Climax”, “Superstar”, and a sweet mashup of “Hey Daddy/My Boo/I Need a Girl”. Usher hit the crowd with the one-two punch of “DJ Got Us Fallin’ In Love” and “Yeah!” to conclude the set, and returned for a euphoric encore of “Without You”. The hit songs alone made the show awesome, but the top-notch choreography and the infusion of a live band greatly enhanced what Usher has shown us in the studio.

Throughout his career, Usher has sold over 60 million albums worldwide. He is one of the most decorated artists of his generation, with 8 Grammy Awards, 8 American Music Awards, 20 Billboard Music Awards, 2 MTV Video Music Awards, 9 Soul Train Music Awards, and 2 People’s Choice Awards just to name a few. Usher broke out with is Grammy-nominated second album, 1997’s My Way. The disc has since gone on to be certified 7x platinum by the RIAA.

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His last for studio albums have all debuted at #1 on the Billboard Top 200. He hopes to continue that streak in 2015 with his eighth album UR. Usher has been working on his new material with the songwriting and producing team of Jermaine Dupri, Eric Bellinger, Brian Alexander Morgan, and Bryan-Michael Cox.

Beginning in 2013, Usher served as a coach on NBC’s hit show The Voice during Seasons 4 and 6. In Season 6, he coached singer Josh Kaufman to victory in the competition. The North American leg of Usher’s current tour wraps up on December 14 at the Amalie Arena in Tampa, FL. In early 2015, Usher will jet to Europe for another leg of The UR Experience that runs through March 26.

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A full gallery of images from the show can be found here!

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Concert Review: Fleetwood Mac Are Spell-Binding In Philly

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(PCM) Words can not even begin to describe just how excited we were to get a chance to attend Fleetwood Mac’s recent show at a very sold-out Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, PA.

The band’s nearly three-hour performance was flawless and it was a true gift for fans to be able to experience the band’s classic line-up back together once again. There is something about witnessing Fleetwood Mac performing together on-stage that is simply magical and the show was truly hypnotizing from beginning to end.

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Fleetwood Mac has a a decades spanning career and their set list was chock full of fan favorites that included set opener “The Chain”, “You Make Loving Fun”, “Second Hand News”, “Rihannon”, “Landslide”, “Go Your Own Way” and many many more! The band played for nearly three hours packing twenty-four hits into their set!

One aspect of the show that stood out to us was just how comfortable and relaxed the band appeared to be on stage. As a band they were harmonizing beautifully and appeared to be having the time of their lives sharing their gift of song with the eager audience.

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After quite a lengthy absence, having Christine McVie back with the band again just added to the evenings magical elements. Guitarist Lindsey Buckingham even commented on stage that it was the beginning of a new era for the band.

The band members were also incredible gracious and engaging on the stage. It was wonderful to hear stories about the band’s roots and the back stories behind some of our favorite songs. Hearing Stevie Nicks tell the story about The Velvet Underground clothing shop in San Francisco and her ultimate vision for the band at that point in time was incredibly inspirational.

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It is also worth noting that age is doing absolutely nothing to slow this band down. Vocalist Stevie Nicks still has the very same haunting and ethereal stage presence as she did in years past. Her performance of “Gold Dust Woman” was truly out of this world as we were completely hypnotized by Nicks as the golden muse twirling about the stage.

We also have note that guitarist Lindsey Buckingham proved yet again that he can shred with the best of them, as his guitar solo was epic and drummer Mick Fleetwood’s drum solo was absolutely phenomenal as well.

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Fleetwood Mac and their aptly titled, On With The Show Tour appear to only just be getting started and this tour is without a doubt one of the must-see shows of the year!

Photography credit: Ken Schuler

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Caught In A Halestorm At The Shindig! Exclusive Interview!

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(PCM) A few weeks ago we attended The Shindig Music Festival in Baltimore, MD!  The festival was an epic showcase that included some of the most hard-working and diverse bands currently in the scene. The line-up featured artists such as Jane’s Addiction, Rise Against, Gogol Bordello, Clutch, Halestorm, The Bots just to name a few.

The festival celebrated a sense of unity among both the artists performing and their fans. The music from each of the band’s performing in some way speaks to the soul of the everyday person and without a doubt we can all find ways in which we relate,.

During The Shindig we were able to catch up with Grammy-winning rockers Halestorm to discuss the band’s festival performance, work on their upcoming new album, tour plans with Eric Church and so much more!

You can view the interview below:

 Photography credit: Ken Schuler for PopCultureMadness.com

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X Japan Take On NYC’s Madison Square Garden

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(PCM) This weekend’s New York Comic Con has been quite the adventure and we were thrilled to cap off our Saturday evening with a performance from X Japan, which marked the band’s largest ever headlining performance at the illustrious Madison Square Garden in the heart of NYC.

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Witnessing X Japan and the always fabulous Yoshiki commandeer the stage was pure magic and enlightening to the senses. There were times that I wasn’t truly sure what I was watching, but all I know is that I was loving every moment. X Japan’s musical style could best be described as a musical mosaic of sorts with the blending of vocal style and instrumentation form a wide variety of both styles and genres with the heart and soul of the performance deeply rooted in rock n’ roll.

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Back home in Japan, Yoshiki and X Japan can sell out 70,000 seat arenas, so to them the 20,000 seat MSG show may have seemed like a step back, however they never showed it and played their hearts out to the rabid fans in attendance who were hypnotized by the band’s every movement on stage.

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Over the years X Japan has struggled to try to make a break in The States, however after witnessing Saturday nights show I can certainly say with confidence that they are well on their way to leaving a mark in a big way. The band’s popularity in North America, as well as, other areas of the world outside of Japan has risen tremendously over the years and Yoshiki claims that it is the band’s goal to rock the entire world.

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One of the things that stood out to me about the New York MSG show was the truly amazing showmanship of this band. We saw lasers and pyro and, of course, some absolutely stellar musicians. Vocalist Toshi has one of the most amazing vocal ranges and Yoshiski was pounding the drums like a true rock god! Hearing songs such as “Drain” and “Silent Jealousy” live was a true treat.

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The band utilized every inch of the MSG stage, that also featured a lengthy catwalk that extended deep into the crowd. One of our favorite moments was witnessing Yoshiki’s drum solo as the entire set slid down the center runaway.

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Being that it was New York Comic Con the band participated in a panel during the convention and certainly had everyone in attendance amped for Saturday night’s performance. The band performed their new tracks “Beneath The Skin” and “Hero” during the performance and there was also filming being done for a documentary. The band also revealed that there is a new album currently in the works.

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For a band that has weathered some terrible tragedies over the years, their fortitude to keep pushing forward is mind-blowing and they certainly deserve much more recognition here in the U.S. than they have had in years past. I feel like this MSG show was a perfect show to set the pace for X Japan and we certainly expect to both see and hear a lot more from them here in the States for years to come.

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 We were able to catch up with X Japan for a press conference interview during Comic Con during which Yoshiki revealed some details about the MSG show as well as what has been going on with the band.

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When asked how the MSG show would compare to the band’s past shows in the States, Yoshiki revealed that this is the first time that the band has brought their full production show to the States, as their past shows have been very organic.

He also spoke about the filming of the band’s documentary and said that we could possibly expect to see it at some of the U.S. and foreign film festivals such as Sundance or Cannes.

Yoshiki also let us know that his fingers are crossed for the upcoming release of the band’s new album would be sometime in mid-2015 and that they plan on partaking in another world tour to support. You can watch the full press conference below:

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Catching Up With Clutch’s Neil Fallon

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(PCM) I was recently out at The Shindig Festival which was held in Balitmore, MD and had a chance to catch up with Clutch vocalist Neil Fallon.

We spoke in-depth about the band’s latest album release, the phenomenal “Earth Rocker”. I expressed to Neil just how much we had enjoyed the album on vinyl, which I highly recommend that everyone check out given the opportunity.

Based out of Maryland, the band tore up the stage at The Shindig and were a perfect choice to be part of the line-up that featured an eclectic mix of artists such as Jane’s Addiction, Gogol Bordello, Rise Against, Halestorm and more.

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All of the bands playing, Clutch included, share a certain spirit that connects with everyday people and that common thread of unity was quite apparent at a festival such as The Shindig.

Clutch recently performed at all three Riot Fest dates in Toronto, Chicago and Denver prior to their appearance at The Shindig. Neil informed us that the band has some plans for the holidays and of course New Years Eve and are also hard at work on a new album that we could see sometime next year.

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You can watch the full interview below:

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Louder Than Life Is Living Up To Its’ Name!

Louder-than-Life(PCM) It is the inaugural year for the Louder Than Life Festival held at Champions Park in Louisville, Kentucky and thus far we can say that it is certainly living up to its’ name.

We have just gotten back to our hotel room to recover from day one of this monster of a two day festival which boasts a line-up that consists of rock n’ roll royalty. Day one brought us performances from bands such as Judas Priest, Korn, Stone Temple Pilots w/Chester Bennington, Limp Bizkit, Theory Of A Deadman, Pop Evil, Alterbridge, Otherwise, Thousand Foot Krutch and many many more!

Day one featured a fairly good sized crowd and despite the fact that temperatures dipped fairly low, especially after the sun went down the raw enthusiasm from the crowd never waned. However, that could have something to do with the fabulous variety of bourbon and other spirits that were on-hand throughout the entire day.

We were absolutely blown away by the performance from Judas Priest to close out the first day. Vocalist Rob Halford and the rest of the band sounded utterly fantastic. Halford is always one of my favorite performers to watch in the live environment, as his vocal prowess is second to none. Oh to be able to hit some of those notes … and he does it almost effortlessly.

The band is celebrating their 40th anniversary, however watching them perform it was as if no time had gone by at all and their set was filled with the classic metal staples that we all know and love.

I was able to catch Korn perform back on the Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival earlier this summer and I had commented after their show in Camden, NJ that I had not seen vocalist Jonathan Davis looking so excited and refreshed as he did during that particular performance. Well, yet again Davis appeared to have discovered some kind of new found zest and excitement just oozes off the stage when watching them perform.

There is definitely no phoning it in with this band and their performances have certainly did more than deliver. Always an epic live band throughout the years, however there is something about now that is working and whatever it is I certainly hope it keeps up, as we are super excited for the band’s upcoming co-headlining run with Slipknot!

Prior to both Judas Priest and Korn taking the stage, we caught sets from both Stone Temple Pilots w/Chester Bennington and Limp Bizkit. While I think that STP feat. Chester Bennington are fabulous, I could not help but note that they brought the energy level in the crowd down just a notch.

The band’s performance was solid and I have to admit that Bennington is certainly holding his own in the band, but after a blazing set from Limp Bizkit and gearing up for Korn, throwing STP on in-between the two just seemed a bit odd and slightly out of place in the days line-up.

Many people continue to have mixed feelings about Limp Bizkit, but I will freely admit that they have always been one of my very favorite bands. Their music, to me, is like a trip down memory lane and back to the late nineties. It was a time when their were more carefree days and Limp Bizkit was definitely part of the soundtrack.

Vocalist Fred Durst has showed no signs of slowing down as he bounced all over the stage, at one point even coming down to the barricade to become a little more up close and personal with the thousands of screaming fans in attendance. Guitarist Wes Borland sounded incredible and it without a doubt one of the most unique and versatile players in modern rock.

The only slight complaints I had about Louder Than Life, and I’m sure many of you who were in attendance will agree, were the incredibly long lines/not enough porta-potties and for some reason the sound on the Main Stage South was fantastic, but Main Stage North at times because a bit muffled and was incredibly heavy on the bass.

The best part about these two-day festival is that we get to go back and do it all again tomorrow!  Stayed tuned for more updates as we catch performances from Kid Rock, Five Finger Death Punch, Volbeat, Buckcherry, Chiodos, Hellyeah, Crobot and more!

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Concert Review: Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers Rocked Philadelphia

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Photography credit: Ken Schuler

(PCM) Music played by Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers is the kind that has a way of just reaching out and soothing your soul. I like to compare it a loving embrace from an old friend, like the kind that you share fond memories with and catch up like no time has passed at all.

It was feelings like those that passed over me as I watched Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers perform during their recent tour stop at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, PA.

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Petty blasted into his set opening with “So You Want To Be A Rock n’ Roll Star?” which nicely set the pace for what was in-store for the rest of the evenings performance. On stage, Petty promised an industrial strength rock show and that is certainly what we received.

I was pleasantly surprised to hear “Last Dance With Mary Jane” for the second song of the set, but when you have a catalog that is as iconic and full as Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers then the hits are sure to pop up quite frequently throughout the performance. The crowd went absolutely wild and the entire floor because a sing-a-long as we all belted out the lyrics to that memorable song.

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Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers recently released a brand new album called “Hypnotic Eye” and it is absolutely phenomenal. I was thrilled to hear that some new tracks such as “American Dream Plan B” and the current single “You Get My High” made their way into the set.

The crowd continued to go wild as Petty and the Heartbreakers plowed through hits such as “Into The Great Wide Open”, “Free Fallin'” and “I Won’t Back Down”. It was at the point that an amazing moment occurred during the show. The band decided to change up the set list a little bit and Petty invited show opener, the amazing Steve Winwood to join him and the band on stage.

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The show in Philadelphia marked the first time during this tour that the two artists performed together and their jam session on the hit song “Gimme Some Lovin'” from The Spencer Davis Group with Winwood on vocals was just incredible. Prior to that, Winwood also performed a cover of Blind Faith’s “Can’t Find My Way Home” with the band as well. I was absolutely thrilled to be in attendance to watch this performance live!

We found an excellent fan filmed video of the two performing “Gimme Some Lovin” during the Philadelphia, PA show:

The band closed out their set with the hits “Refugee” and “Runnin’ Down A Dream”  and then of course returned to the stage for an epic encore that included “Don’t Come Around Here No More”, “You Wreck Me” and “American Girl”.

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It was an amazing night of rock n’ roll and it proves the spirit is alive and well, especially in Philadelphia!

Click here to see more amazing photos from the show!

 

 

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Natalie Merchant Shines At The Beacon Theater In New York City

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(PCM) The energy on 75th and Broadway last night was warm and energetic as renowned songstress Natalie Merchant took the stage at the historic Beacon Theatre in New York City. Merchant performed for a sold-out crowd, which included one confirmed special guest – Michael Stipe of R.E.M fame. Merchant is currently a North American tour in support of her new self-titled album. The new disc dropped back in May and debuted at #20 on the Billboard Top 200. With it being Merchant’s first studio effort in 13 years, needless to say fans had been eagerly waiting and were more than excited to see her perform again.

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Natalie’s marvelous band took the stage first and she followed suit shortly, greeted by a roaring ovation from the crowd. She opened with “Lulu”, one of her new tracks, and proceeded to showcase her latest studio effort by playing six more songs from it. The orchestral arrangements for the songs were very much on point, and her entire performance was truly brought to life. Merchant steadily navigated through a sizable 21-song set. She concluded the evening with a big five-song encore of some of her biggest hits – “Wonder”, “Carnival”, and “Kind & Generous”.

View more photos from the show!

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Steve Aoki Paints A Neon Future At Made In America Philadelphia

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(PCM) Words cannot even begin to express how excited we are for the upcoming new album “Neon Future I” the first installment of a dual release from Steve Aoki on September 30th!

The Vegas born producer/DJ recently performed at both Made In America Philadelphia on Saturday and then at Made In America Los Angeles on Sunday. When this man finds a minute to rest is completely beyond us!  His restless and creative spirit is always on the go and it shows.

His performances are truly a work of art and we adore an artist, especially in the world of EDM, who is not afraid to get up close and personal with their adoring fans, even if that does mean getting showered in both cake and champagne from time to time! Yum!

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It is also not everyday that you have rap icon (and Budweiser Made In America curator) Jay-Z and the infamous two-dollar bill man literally making it rain two-dollar bills during a performance as well…but with a Steve Aoki show, always expect the unexpected.

We got to hear some snippets of new material of the upcoming album which included a new collaboration with Afrojack. “Neon Future I” will also feature collaborations with Aoki and Empire Of The Sun, Fall Out Boy, Waka Flocka Flame and Machine Gun Kelly. We also loved his clever move of blending the opening of Kanye’s “Power” into the Chainsmoker’s “Kanye” as a way to almost welcome Kanye, who was up next, to the stage.

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We had the chance to catch up with Steve Aoki just prior to his incredible Made In America performance. We discussed the new album, the hectic schedule and the many places from which he draws his inspirations. Check out the full interview below:

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I’m Only “Happy” When It Rains…Pharrell And Kings Of Leon Bring Made In America 2014 To An Epic Close

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(PCM) Despite the imminent threat of inclement weather on the way, the Budweiser Made In America Day Two in Philadelphia kicked off with a hot and humid start with some amazing performances from Bleachers, Kongos, Penguin Prison, YG, Man Overboard and Awolnation.

As the day progressed the storm clouds began to roll in and just after Spoon took the stage a nasty thunderstorm began, forcing the band’s performance to come to an abrupt halt and the festival grounds to be evacuated.

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There was some mild protest from some of the more rowdy attendees in the audience, but it appeared that all were evacuated quickly and efficiently until the worst of the storm had passed. About 20 minutes later the gates were re-opened and the curfew was extended for a bit to allow the rest of the show to go on as planned.

Spoon took to the stage once again to finish out their set and I give both them and Girl Talk all the respect in the world for continuing their performances during some absolutely torrential downpours of rain, but hey…that’s rock n’ roll.

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Majority of the heavy rain had passed by the time that Pharrell Williams took to the stage and his performance was just brilliant. There is nothing we don’t love about Pharrell, as his performances are always both entertaining and thoroughly engaging. Opening with “Lose Yourself To Dance” and plowing through a hit filled set that included some throwbacks to tracks that he had produced including “Hot In Herre” and “Hollaback Girl” to name a few.

One of my favorite moments occurred when Pharrell was addressing the crowd and gave a shout-out to all the women in the house, claiming that his wish would be to see more women in positions of power including both government and the entertainment realm.

At the very end of his set Pharrell commented that he had wished that the media/photographers were still out there to capture what 100,000 happy people looked like from his point of view. Well, rest assured P…we were out there, just as happy as could be, dancing our way all over the Benjamin Franklin Parkway and loving every moment. (See our past chat with Pharrell Williams and his N.E.R.D. bandmate Shay Haly here)

In our opinion not much could compete with Pharrell’s outstanding Made In America performance, but Kings of Leon certainly gave it their best attempt. I am not sure I always agree with closing out a festival with a slower tempo, however Kings of Leon provided a nice way to close out Made In America festival with a dose of good ol’ rock n’ roll.

The rain unfortunately shortened the band’s performance time by a bit, but they were very gracious to those that stuck it out to the very end and definitely made true on their promise to give it all they had till the very end!

More images from Day Two of the Budweiser Made In America Festival Philadelphia below:

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