MUSIC REVIEWS

CONCERT & ALBUM REVIEWS

  • Rihanna remains an enigma onstage at the Forum

    Rihanna remains an enigma onstage at the Forum

    Rihanna is one of the few pop artists who has seemingly mastered multi-platform superstardom in our digital, social media-driven world.  Since her debut more than 10 years ago, Rihanna has retained a high level of visibility in pop culture that would have long veered into overexposure if she weren't...

  • Paul McCartney looks forward and back again at world tour kickoff in Fresno

    Paul McCartney looks forward and back again at world tour kickoff in Fresno

    There seems to be no end to the stories of how the Beatles impacted people across the globe, a fact that about 13,000 fans were reminded of in two key moments during the opening night of Paul McCartney’s new world tour.Performing for the first time in Fresno on Wednesday, McCartney shared an anecdote...

  • Caetano Veloso and Gilberto Gil basically played their album in concert (and it was awesome)

    Caetano Veloso and Gilberto Gil basically played their album in concert (and it was awesome)

    What a pleasure it is to watch two masters at work. That’s what I kept thinking Sunday night at the Microsoft Theater, where Caetano Veloso and Gilberto Gil — two aging giants of Brazilian pop whose friendly collaboration dates to the mid-1960s — played a deeply satisfying concert to begin a brief...

  • Guns N' Roses is back. But where are Axl Rose's snake hips?

    Guns N' Roses is back. But where are Axl Rose's snake hips?

    You knew where you were. You were in the retirement home, baby. At least that's how it felt when Axl Rose, the sneering frontman who once used similar language to welcome listeners to the jungle, was wheeled onstage for the first full-scale concert in a much-hyped reunion tour by his influential...

  • Can't we just let Adam Lambert be Adam Lambert?

    Can't we just let Adam Lambert be Adam Lambert?

    “American Idol” introduced us to Adam Lambert, but it’s also what’s kept us from really getting to know him.In 2009, this former San Diego theater kid struck the televised singing competition like a bolt of originality. He was sensitive but macho, showy yet deep-feeling. As a vocalist, he could...

  • How Gwen Stefani dug deep for her brutally honest new album

    How Gwen Stefani dug deep for her brutally honest new album

    Sixteen years ago, Gwen Stefani of No Doubt sang about wanting "a simple kind of life." That's not how things turned out. Sure, No Doubt — the Anaheim ska-pop band that blasted off in 1995 with the zillion-selling album "Tragic Kingdom" — continued its straightforward ascent for a few more years,...

  • Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band revisit 'The River' in L.A.

    Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band revisit 'The River' in L.A.

    In the pursuit of the things that matter most in life, “half measures avail us nothing,” states an adage that Bruce Springsteen seems to have had in mind when he made “The River,” the 1980 double album he’s revisiting on his new tour, three dozen years down the line. It’s perhaps his most ambitious...

  • Sia wastes an opportunity on the ordinary 'This Is Acting'

    Sia wastes an opportunity on the ordinary 'This Is Acting'

    A year and a half ago, Sia transformed a serious liability into an undeniable asset. So why does her new album make waste of her success? An Australian singer-songwriter with a flair for fitting confessional lyrics to sleek electronic beats, Sia built a respectable following in the late 1990s and...

  • Jennifer Lopez gives all she's got -- and more -- in Vegas

    Jennifer Lopez gives all she's got -- and more -- in Vegas

    “Vegas, there’s a new girl in town,” Jennifer Lopez announced during a sold-out show at Planet Hollywood's Axis Theater on Friday. Judging from the dazzling two-hour spectacle the multi-hyphenate entertainer has produced for her debut Vegas residency, Lopez’s proclamation felt more like a warning...

  • John Mayer hops aboard the Dead & Company train at the Forum

    John Mayer hops aboard the Dead & Company train at the Forum

    The members of Dead & Company had been chewing on the taut boogie-rock groove of "Bertha" for a good long while at the Forum when John Mayer looked over at Bob Weir in search of a little guidance. Are we done? Mayer seemed to be asking with his eyes. Or do we keep going? Weir took his hands off...

  • Muse offers big issues, echoes of Pink Floyd at Staples Center

    Muse offers big issues, echoes of Pink Floyd at Staples Center

    The journeymen of Muse are masters in the art of subversion. It can be heard in their mingling of message and melody as singer Matt Bellamy urges,  “You can revolt!” on the trio’s new album, “Drones,” within the most disarmingly sunny vocal imaginable. Most of the new album is a lot noisier, and...

  • Here's how Miley Cyrus regained her mojo at the Wiltern on Saturday night

    Here's how Miley Cyrus regained her mojo at the Wiltern on Saturday night

    Miley Cyrus waited until the end of her concert at the Wiltern on Saturday to tell the audience why she was there, and maybe that was because she hadn’t wanted to give anyone the wrong idea by explaining it earlier. Seated behind a grand piano, Cyrus described the show as her response to a feeling...

  • On new albums, Chris Brown and R. Kelly have no use for filters

    On new albums, Chris Brown and R. Kelly have no use for filters

    Hours after a judge in Philadelphia suggested this week that she might send rapper Meek Mill to jail for violating his probation, Chris Brown fired up Twitter to defend his friend and get some things off his chest. “Wish the judge could see the influence meek mill can have out of jail more than...

  • Prince is back -- again -- with the proudly organic 'HitNRun Phase Two'

    Prince is back -- again -- with the proudly organic 'HitNRun Phase Two'

    Is this becoming a habit? That's the question Prince raised Saturday morning when, without warning, he released a new album, "HitNRun Phase Two," on the streaming-music service Tidal. As its title suggests, the 12-track set follows an earlier album, "HitNRun Phase One," which Prince had made available...

  • At KROQ-FM's Almost Acoustic Christmas, a blend of modern and not-so-modern rock

    At KROQ-FM's Almost Acoustic Christmas, a blend of modern and not-so-modern rock

    Chris Cornell was the ghost of alt-rock past when he appeared on a bill dominated by younger acts with quicker creative metabolisms at KROQ-FM’s Almost Acoustic Christmas concert. Not terribly long ago, Cornell would’ve counted as a major player at this annual radio-station blowout, first with...

  • One Direction and the Weeknd pay the piper at KIIS-FM's Jingle Ball

    One Direction and the Weeknd pay the piper at KIIS-FM's Jingle Ball

    Harry Styles wanted to be precise about this. “We’re with you for the next 23 minutes,” said the One Direction singer as his band took the stage at KIIS-FM’s sold-out Jingle Ball concert. A transaction disguised as a party, the annual all-star extravaganza pulls together quick performances by pop...

  • Tom Jones rejuvenated at KCRW Apogee Sessions show

    Tom Jones rejuvenated at KCRW Apogee Sessions show

    When Tom Jones first met Elvis Presley, he recalls the King asking him “How do you sing like that?” referring to the influence of blues, R&B and gospel music out of the American South that were always evident in the Welsh singer’s vocals. After Jones explained that “It’s just the way I sing,” Presley...

  • One Direction prepares to disappear with 'Made in the A.M.'

    One Direction prepares to disappear with 'Made in the A.M.'

    Like clockwork, they arrive each November. We’re talking, of course, about One Direction albums. The British boy band, which formed on the U.K. version of “The X Factor” and quickly escalated to filling stadiums, has given us a new record every year since 2011. Now, right on time, comes the fifth — and...

  • Kendrick Lamar brings Kunta's Groove Sessions to the Wiltern

    Kendrick Lamar brings Kunta's Groove Sessions to the Wiltern

    The first time I saw Kendrick Lamar play live, at New York’s Roseland Ballroom in February of 2013, he was cresting rapidly after a major label debut, “Good Kid, M.AA.D. City.” He was ferocious, alone except for his DJ, but a bit overwhelmed by a crowd reaction that felt ahead of itself, as much...

  • 'Bob Dylan 1965-1966' opens window on a creative peak

    'Bob Dylan 1965-1966' opens window on a creative peak

    Editor's note: In what was considered a "radical" choice, Bob Dylan was announced as the winner of the Nobel Prize in literature on Oct. 13, 2016. Read the story here. Among the many things Thomas Edison famously said, he remarked that “Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration,” and he also...

  • Josh Groban's 'Stages' feels like a retreat at the Dolby Theatre

    Josh Groban's 'Stages' feels like a retreat at the Dolby Theatre

    It’s an indication of Josh Groban’s vocal prowess that his new album of lung-busting Broadway ballads feels a little like a cop-out. Before he recorded “Stages,” which came out in April, the singer spent a few years venturing from the polished classical-crossover sound that made him a baby-faced...

  • Madonna feels her 'Rebel Heart' beat at the Forum

    Madonna feels her 'Rebel Heart' beat at the Forum

    As watchful a superstar as pop has ever known, Madonna paused not long into her concert at the Forum to appraise the recent renovation of the venerable Inglewood arena, which has housed so many of her performances over the decades that “I feel like this is one of my homes,” she said. “I see the...

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