Posted on 2013/07/27 20:50
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Best of the Fest: Sean

Lanois shimmers in the night at Field of Heaven

It has been said that the best pop and rock and roll music has already been made, coming out of the 60′s and 70′s when music wasn’t cynical nor artificial. The group that told me this actually played on the Red Marquee this year, and someone who you would have thought would rebel against the difficult odds of creating meaningful music with so many greats out there.

With this in mind, here are my picks of the festival.

1) Garth Hudson. What can we say? The man is a living legend, and was probably an integral member of one of the greatest bands on earth. He is old and frail now, but he still moves adeptly between the piano and the keyboard and brings us back to when music originate in the ballroom, the parlor, or the living room. His wife Maud did a nice job on vocals, and when this duo performed classics like “The Weight” and the spiritual, “I Shall be Released” capping a two-hour set, the crowd was awestruck.

2) Daniel Lanois: This man simply is music. Look up his bio and you will see him associated with the top records of the 80′s like U2′s “Unforgettable Fire” and “Joshua Tree” and Peter Gabriel’s “So”. If not for a mistimed LP which dabbled in atmospheric music, he may have become the biggest artist of this era. Instead, Lanois fell into obscurity, only to be remembered, or revered by music critics, musicians, or those who really know their music. In fact, my attendance at this show was inspired by a talk with a member of the Kensington Hillbillys who reminded me just why I had to be here. He plays the guitar like no one else, and in my mind, holds his own against the most venerated musicians of our day such as Neil Young and Bob Dylan.

3) Gary Clark Jr: There was a lot of hype about Gary Clarke Jr. going into this gig and he did not disappoint. In fact, I thought he was just messing with us, playing against the beat, riffing on the Hendrix tune “Third Stone from the Sun” for 20 minutes, and even muffling his guitar notes on his final song. The dude is sick, and he’s reinventing the blues right before our very eyes.

4) Sparks: Again, messing with my mind. The Mael brothers are redefining music with their witty metaphors and word play, a sort of Cirque du Soleil of the mind. And when you get one of their phrases stuck up their in the gray matter, there’s very little else you can think of. Where did the beat go?

5) Cure: Yeah, I know a lot of people watched The XX and thought they were great but The Cure put on a 3-hour set that encompassed a 40-year career. Robert Smith was firmly in command tonight and ready to take everyone on a ride, and at the end, I was simply overwhelmed.