New Jersey Stage
New Jersey Stage on social media


For great Jersey music and much more, tune into our radio station at AsburyMusic.com

Johnette Still Has It: Concrete Blonde At The Stone Pony

By Gary Wien


(ASBURY PARK, NJ - DECEMBER 14, 2013) -- After many years, Concrete Blonde returned to Asbury Park with a stellar performance at the Stone Pony. I had seen the band a couple of times before through the years, but Johnette Napolitano's voice sounded better tonight than I can ever remember. She's always had one of the best set of pipes in the business, but after seeing her in such form as tonight, I'd say she just might be the most underrated vocalist in rock and roll. And her band can flat out rock.

Proving that their best days are not in the past, Concrete Blonde kicked off the show with "Rosalie", the band's current single, and played the b-side "I Know The Ghost" following an incredible cover of Midnight Oil's "Beds Are Burning". Throughout the rest of the set, they ran through a good portion of their catalog from "True" off of their self-titled debut to "Roxy" from one of the band's last releases, Group Therapy. Seeing their songs presented this way in one setting, it's amazing just how steady their music and the songwriting has been over the years.

The band is a three-piece with Johnette on bass and lead vocals, James Mankey on guitar, and Gabriel Ramirez Quezada on drums. Together they combine to put forth a solid rock and roll sound that borders on punk at times, and which features a heavy dose of gypsy/mysticism thrown in for good measure. Johnette frequently showcased her flamenco dancing moves, while Mankey offered some of the sweetest solos you could ever hear. The solos were brief, but melodic and beautiful, and fit in perfectly whether alongside a slower number or one of the fastest.

With news of the shooting at the Connecticut elementary school fresh in everybody's minds, it was not the easiest show for the band to get through and Johnette clearly was fighting her emotions all night. She tried playing "God Is A Bullet", but barely could get through a quarter of the song before shutting it down, saying "I can't do this. Not tonight." The crowd all understood. It was actually pretty nice to see such utter honesty from a performer. They live in the real world too, but sometimes try so hard to put up barriers that it seems they aren't as affected by the news as you or I. For the band to avoid playing one of their most popular songs says a lot.

Concrete Blonde did a great job of mixing acoustic numbers with full blown rockers and doing subtle twists on the songs so they didn't sound one hundred percent like the records do. The setlist contained most of their hits, but included several cult classics as well. Looking at the crowd, it was nice to see a mix of original Concrete Blonde fans as well as those who looked barely old enough to drink. After recently attending a concert for an early 80s band that was like a senior citizens convention, this mix was most welcome.

In fact, one of the coolest moments of the night dealt with someone who was probably the youngest member of the audience. A young girl approached Johnette with her autograph book and Johnette was pleased to sign it. When Johnette asked what her name was the girl replied Lux. "I don't know if you were named after Lux Interior of the Cramps, but that kicks ass if you were," replied Johnette. She then proceeded to give the girl some advice on how to find a rich guy, and to remember her Aunt Johnette when that day arrived.

Highlights for me included a wonderful cover of "As Tears Go Bye" by the Rolling Stones, the rollicking "I Know The Ghost", and the smooth eloquence of "Scene Of A Perfect Crime". The closing song, "Bloodletting (The Vampire Song)" just might have been the best closer I've seen in a while. Johnette and the band left no doubt that this was the final number of the night. The song just seemed to build stronger and stronger with the bass literally pounding until the ultimate crash at the end. It was one of the most impressive live performances of a song I've ever seen.

While there was no encore, I think everybody felt they got their money's worth. I know I did. Sometimes you don't need the phoniness of the industry standard encore to complete a night.



In no particular order, here are the songs I remember were played.

Rosalie
I Know The Ghost
Beds Are Burning - Midnight Oil cover
Caroline
Joey
True
God Is A Bullet (Partial)
Someday?
Mexican Moon
Everybody Knows - Leonard Cohen cover
Run Run Run
Scene Of A Perfect Crime
100 Games Of Solitaire
As Tears Go By -- Rolling Stones Cover
Roxy
Ghost Of A Texas Ladies Man
Bloodletting (The Vampire Song)



For more by this author, click here






NJSO presents 2019 Winter Festival, 'Music Speaks'
(NEWARK, NJ) -- A trio of renowned guest artists with distinct musical voices—pianists Emanuel Ax and Daniil Trifonov and soprano Dawn Upshaw—headline the NJSO’s Winter Festival, “Music Speaks,” in January 2019. The Orchestra’s signature artistic event takes place across three weekends, January 10–27, in six New Jersey venues.
RVCC Chorale to Perform Annual Holiday Concert on December 8th
(BRANCHBURG, NJ) --The RVCC Chorale will give its annual holiday concert on Saturday, December 8 at 8:00pm in the Welpe Theatre at Raritan Valley Community College’s Branchburg campus. The program will feature Johann Sebastian Bach’s cantata, Das Neugeborne Kindelein, as well as a cappella pieces from by Sergei Rachmaninov, Zoltan Kodaly and Giuseppe Verdi. The program also will include an audience singalong of traditional carols.
Classic Stones Live! The Complete Rolling Stones Tribute Show Comes To SOPAC
(SOUTH ORANGE, NJ) -- The Rolling Stones, the greatest Blues band of all time, couldn’t make it to SOPAC on their 2018 tour. Instead, the acclaimed tribute band Classic Stones Live! makes an appearance on the SOPAC stage December 15 at 8:00pm for those who like to hear their Rolling Stones hits live.
Tony Trischka Presents "Of a Winter's Night" at the Morristown Unitarian Fellowship
(MORRISTOWN, NJ) -- Of a Winter’s Night is Tony Trischka's acoustic celebration of the holiday season. Based on his CD release of the same name, this concert features Trischka’s considerable melodic inventiveness on a wide variety of seasonal tunes. He turns his inventiveness loose on bluegrass and Americana music for the holidays. This one of a kind concert will take place at the Morristown Unitarian Fellowship on Saturday, December 8 at 7:30pm.
Idle Wave To Hold Record Release Party At Asbury Park Brewery
(ASBURY PARK, NJ) -- Pop-punks Idle Wave will celebrate the release of their self-titled EP on Saturday, December 1st at Asbury Park Brewery.  The record release show also includes performances by Skyeline, Roderick, and Pollyanna.


"An Amazing Musical Genius!" Brian Wilson LIVE! at the State Theatre
In the music room in the back of our house, there’s an electric bass and amp, two acoustic guitars, a microphone and PA speakers, several pieces of music recording equipment, and a bookcase filled with books on music, not to mention a slew of assorted music memorabilia. But, perhaps, one of the most highly prized items in the room is hanging directly above the piano next to the college music diplomas.
Jazz Saxophonist Don Braden LIVE! at Toms River’s Grunin Center
It’s a breezy day for a new installment of the Jazz On a Sunday Afternoon concert series at Toms River, NJ’s Grunin Center of the Arts this Sunday Oct. 27, 2018 afternoon. Today’s special 3pm performance is entitled Earth, Wind and Wonder and is presented by jazz saxophonist Don Braden.
Charlie Thomas’ Drifters, The Classics IV, and The Brooklyn Bridge LIVE! at The Strand, Lakewood
The stars are out this Saturday Oct. 26, 2018 evening in Lakewood, NJ for a “Golden Oldies” concert featuring Charlie Thomas’ Drifters, The Classics IV, and The Brooklyn Bridge!
PODCAST: Grammy Winner Terri Lyne Carrington At TD James Moody Jazz Festival
Drummer, leader, and composer Terri Lyne Carrington made history as the first woman to win a Grammy for Best Instrumental Jazz for her album “Money Jungle: Provocative in Blue.” Now, she brings her interpretation of Duke Ellington’s “Money Jungle” to the TD James Moody Jazz Festival at NJPAC on November 11, 2018, as part of a program called “Jazz Vinyl Revisited.” Producer Susan Wallner talks to Carrington about her connections to the jazz greats Clark Terry and Max Roach; her newest project, the Berklee Institute of Jazz and Gender Justice; and why she thinks drummers make natural leaders.
Sha Na Na LIVE! at the Newton Theatre
The audience is streaming into the Newton Theatre auditorium in Newton, NJ this Friday, Oct. 19, 2018 for a live concert starring Sha Na Na!










Event calendar
Thursday, Nov 15, 2018


MUSIC

New Politics @ House of Independents, Asbury Park - 8:00pm

THE REPUTATIONS @ The Saint, Asbury Park - 7:30pm

TOTO @ Mayo Performing Arts Center (MPAC), Morristown - 8:00pm


THEATRE

An Actor's Carol @ Cape May Stage, Cape May - 7:30pm

ANNIE, The Musical @ Axelrod Performing Arts Center, Deal Park - 8:00pm

Apples In Winter @ Centenary Stage Company - Kutz Theater of the Lackland Center, Hackettstown - 7:30pm

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat @ The Levoy Theatre, Millville - 7:30pm

Spring Awakening: The Rock Musical @ Black Box PAC, Teaneck - 8:00pm







DANCE

PARSONS DANCE @ State Theatre New Jersey, New Brunswick - 8:00pm


FILM

Crybaby Matinee: March of the Penguins @ Hopewell Theater, Hopewell - 11:00am

View all events
























New Jersey Stage © 2018 by Wine Time Media, LLC | PO Box 140, Spring Lake, NJ 07762 (732) 280-7625 | info@newjerseystage.com

Images used on this site have been sent to us from publicists, artists, and PR firms.
If there is a problem with the rights to any image, please contact us and we will look into the matter.