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Jon Bon Jovi, Southside Johnny salute Joe Cocker at Hope Concert

Two tributes to the late Joe Cocker, who had died earlier in the day of lung cancer, at 70, helped make the seventh annual Hope Concert at the Count Basie Theatre in Red Bank a truly remarkable evening. First, Jon Bon Jovi, appearing as an unannounced guest, sang “The Letter,” the Box Tops hit that Cocker had a hit with in 1970. Bon Jovi sang with lots of passion (though he didn’t really try to sing like Cocker), and the band used the Wall of Sound arrangement that Leon Russell provided for Cocker’s version. (Bon Jovi actually performed “The Letter” at Hope Concerts in 2011 and 2012, so he could have been planning to perform it even before learning of Cocker’s death.)

Much later in the evening, Southside Johnny led the show’s entire cast through “With a Little Help From My Friends.” Once again, the band did it the way Cocker did it, not the way it was originally done (by The Beatles). And Southside did a good job of singing it like Cocker did, too, and nailed the number’s climactic scream. Continue Reading →

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Nicole Atkins goes to extremes at The Stone Pony

You couldn’t think up a more sublime opening, or ridiculous ending, for Nicole Atkins’ Saturday night concert at the Stone Pony in Asbury Park. Atkins, who also performs at the Hope Concert at the Count Basie Theatre in Red Bank tonight, opened with an unamplified, solo version of the slow, haunting “Neptune City,” sung from the middle of the Pony’s floor, with just her acoustic guitar as accompaniment. It’s the kind of move that few of her contemporaries could pull off, but Atkins has the vocal power to make it work. In sharp contrast, she closed the show, which was billed as a holiday concert, with the kitchiest seasonal song of them all: “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer.” Atkins joked that she chose a Christmas song about death since so many of her song are about that topic. Continue Reading →

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Asbury Music Awards notes: Deal Casino dominates; Burtnik proposes; Mr. Reality to reunite; winners list


It’s hard to stand out from the crowd at the Asbury Music Awards, where there are 40 categories plus short sets by various prominent nominees throughout the evening. But Deal Casino did so, Thursday night at the Stone Pony, both by winning the most awards of any group (three, for Best Pop/Rock Band, Best Vocalist, and Best Live Performance) and by making the most of their short time onstage, delivering a performance of unbelievable intensity from the first note to the last. If I had to compare them to another band, I’d say early Smashing Pumpkins, due to their squalling guitars and their ability to project a sense of life-or-death urgency. It was a big night for a band that seems to have all the potential in the world. ***

Other multiple winners included Matt Wade (who also made a big impression with a volcanic cover of Stephen Stills’ “Love the One You’re With”), Nicole Atkins, Toothgrinder, Brick + Mortar, Francis Lombardi and The Battery Electric, who all won two statuettes apiece. Continue Reading →

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New Rock Hall honoree Joan Jett joins Who tour

The day after being selected as a 2015 inductee to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Joan Jett & the Blackhearts have been added as the opening act for The Who’s 2015 North American tour. The Hall of Fame ceremony takes place April 18 in Cleveland, and on April 25, the tour begins in Tampa. There are two New Jersey dates: May 22 at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, and Oct. 25 at the Prudential Center in Newark. “We’ve been very close friends with Joan Jett for a long time. Continue Reading →

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Asbury Music Awards announces 2014 nominees

If there was any doubt that Asbury Park has the strongest local music scene in New Jersey, just look at the nominees in the 40 — that’s right, 40 — categories for the 2014 Asbury Music Awards. There are at least eight nominees in all categories, and more than 10 in most. It’s hard to imagine any other New Jersey music scene even approaching those numbers. The 22nd annual edition of this awards show takes place Dec. 18 at the Stone Pony. Continue Reading →

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Electric Daisy Carnival to return to MetLife Stadium


Once again, New Jersey’s biggest summertime dance music event will take place at MetLife Stadium, as Electric Daisy Carnival is coming to the Meadowlands once again, May 23-24 (the Saturday and Sunday of Memorial Day weekend). Tickets will go on sale Dec. 17 at noon at electricdaisycarnival.com. Tickets prices are not yet available, and the lineup has not been announced yet, through Electric Daisy Carnival always books dozens of acts, including some of the biggest names in dance music. Also promised, according to a press release, are “over-the-top production, amazing fireworks displays, larger than life art installations, full-scale carnival rides and more.” Continue Reading →

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World AIDS Day concert live blog

8:18: Mini-concert over. Everyone comes out and takes a bow together. 8:13: Springsteen sings “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For,” dedicated to Bono. “Be well, my friend,” he says. 8:08 p.m.: Springsteen joins U2 for “Where the Streets Have No Name.” Continue Reading →

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Bruce Springsteen to sing with U2 (minus Bono) tonight

Adele Springsteen

Well, it’s not a surprise anymore. But it should still be pretty awesome. Bruce Springsteen and Chris Martin of Coldplay will join U2, minus singer Bono, at a World AIDS Day concert tonight in Times Square. Kanye West and Carrie Underwood will also perform. The event was originally planned as a surprise u2 concert but was revamped after Bono sustained serious injuries in a bicycle accident. Continue Reading →

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Bob Dylan focused and intense at NJPAC concert

When Bob Dylan and His Band stopped at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark on Wednesday (prior to a five-shows-in-six-nights residency at Manhattan’s Beacon Theatre, which begins on Friday), the 73-year old legend arrived needing to confront not just the shadow of his own mortality, but his faltering live reputation. For decades, a Dylan concert usually involved the artist shuffling through his prodigious back catalog, rearranging and rewriting beloved hits into ungainly new configurations. Unfocused and indifferent onstage, Dylan gave the impression that the “Neverending Tour” had become an unending bore. But from the moment he stood on NJPAC’s stately stage and focused his froggy croak of a voice on his Academy Award-winning “Things Have Changed,” his audience — mostly composed of diehard middle-aged fans, along with a handful of teen and 20-something acolytes — knew that Dylan was back. These days, Dylan constructs a set list and sticks to it religiously for weeks on end, so his NJPAC show didn’t pack any surprises. Continue Reading →

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Thankful for long career, Ian Hunter will perform in Parsippany, Friday


The night Ian Hunter turned 75, June 3 of this year, he was onstage at the City Winery in New York, at a concert billed as his Diamond Jubilee Birthday Bash. “It was great,” says the former frontman of the British band Mott the Hoople, “but I’m not good at that kind of that thing. I didn’t know what to do in those kinds of situations.” Hunter, who lives in Connecticut, will be in New Jersey the day after Thanksgiving, Nov. 28, for a show with his Rant Band at the Mount Tabor Tabernacle in Parsippany. Continue Reading →

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NJ shows of the week: Bob Dylan, Say Anything, River City Extension, Brick + Mortar

First things first: Bob Dylan is in town. The town is Newark, and the place is the New Jersey Performing Arts Center, where Dylan will play with his band Wednesday night. I notice you’re not sprinting to the box office, and I think I know why. Dylan has a deserved reputation for inscrutability in performance: he mumbles his words and rearranges his old favorites until they’re unrecognizable. A Dylan show is the opposite of a corporate rock concert where the musical director takes pains to make sure the songs sound exactly as they do on record. Continue Reading →

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Idina Menzel will sing in Holmdel, Atlantic City


On a career high after voicing the character Elsa and singing “Let It Go” in the animated movie “Frozen” and starring in “If/Then” on Broadway (plus getting unexpected publicity at the Oscars after John Travolta mispronounced her name), Idina Menzel will play some of the biggest shows of her career next year. The North American leg of her tour, set to last from early summer to early fall, comes to the Event Center at Borgata Hotel Casino and Spa in Atlantic City on July 10, and the PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel on July 12. Tickets — priced at $85 to $125 for Atlantic City, $35 to $135 for Holmdel — go on sale at 10 a.m. Dec. 5. There will also be pre-sales for American Express and Citi card members. Visit idinamenzel.com, livenation.com or citiprivatepass.com, as well as theborgata.com for the Atlantic City show. Continue Reading →

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