About 7 months ago I begrudgingly purchased tickets to Coldplay – Christmas gifts for my 13 and 15 year old daughters. I liked Coldplay, but not enough to pay close attention to their music or to try to distinguish between their songs, which to me, all sounded similar. Not being the biggest fan of huge, mainstream productions in arenas, I cringed at the thought of going, and continued cringing all the way up until the point that I entered the venue.
Coldplay’s graffiti-inspired Mylo Xyloto set has got to be one of the most vivid backdrops I’ve ever seen – almost to the point of distraction. Adding to the spectacle, upon entering the arena fans were given “Xylobands,” light-up wristbands to wear during the concert. (A quick Google search revealed that the band spends nearly $600,000 per night on these bracelets for the tour.) The wristbands were programmed to light up at certain points throughout the show. I was skeptical at first, but have to admit, it really was pretty cool to see Atlanta’s Philips Arena, lit up with 20,000 lights. In fact, the Xylobands almost stole the show.
Coldplay Live in Atlanta at Phillip’s Arena
About half of the songs on the evening’s set list were from their most recent Mylo Xyloto album. And the other half pretty evenly spread from their older albums. The highlight of the evening was the encore set. Spotlights illuminated a small section of the lower balcony where two rows of about five seats were roped off. One by one, the band members joined Chris Martin in that very small area and performed an acoustic set of “Up Against the World” and “Speed of Sound.” (The only thing that could have made this any cooler was if the band members weren’t wearing matchy-matchy colorful outfits with parachute pants…but I digress.) The encore then continued from the main stage with “Clocks” “Fix You” and “MMIX”. Chris Martin led into “Fix You” with Ray Charles’ “Georgia on My Mind.” The crowd went wild.
The music was much better than expected, and the scenery was spectacular. So over-the top in fact, that every now and then I found myself feeling like I was watching some sort of elaborate Disney concert, or perhaps Coldplay had stolen the Wiggles’ uniforms, but those thoughts were fleeting and overpowered by the fact that, all in all, it was a really good show.
I’ve seen a slew of concerts over the first half of the year, but none of them stood up to the dynamic show that London’s Wolf Gang delivered at The Social this weekend. This talented and energetic quintet is a band that we’re going to be hearing a lot from in the years to come, and they blew away the Orlando crowd with a blazing sixty minute set.
While most of Orlando was at The Amway Center abusing their ears with thousands of screaming pre-teens at the One Direction show, a sage group of discerning Rock And Roll Animals saw some truly majestic rock ‘n roll in the cozy club on Orange Avenue. If you were one of the many who chose the wrong venue on this evening, you really missed something special.
Max McElligott is the musical vision behind these young alt-rockers, having penned and performed all of the songs on the band’s excellent debut album Suego Faults. He’s also assembled a fantastic line-up of passionate musicians who have been touring extensively for about a year. Their set was predictable, with all but nine cuts off of the album, plus three other new songs. Suego Faults is really quite good, certainly one of the top ten of the year thus far. Surprisingly, the live performance actually exceeded those lofty standards.
They opened the set with a new track, “Into the Fire,” one that featured McElligott on guitar that got the house rocking from the start. He switched over to keyboards for the next song, “Something Unusual” where we had our first taste of the band’s amazing harmonies. He traded off between guitar and keyboards throughout the show and on quite a few songs, he left the playing to the remainder of the band and took center stage with just the mic.
McElligot voice is powerful and distinctive and his range broad. The uber-talented front man sounded near perfect and the backing harmonies from his band mates were spot on, matching the excellent vocals from the album. On stage, McElligott reeks of charisma and certainly offers a theatrical touch. At times I thought of Freddie, other times Bowie, most times…I thought I was seeing the next legend out of England.
Interacting with the crowd throughout, McElligott was comfortable on stage, from his opening “Welcome to the wonderful people of the Social Bar” to sharing the London lads’ rough initial taste of our searing Florida sun. I was impressed by the energy of the band at the relatively small Social, immediately after wrapping up a huge arena tour with Coldplay, yet they seemed to thrive in the more intimate club.
The band members were tight and cohesive throughout the evening, and they all switched off between instruments, as well. James Woods on bass was a non-stop whirling dervish and powered the band through a rollicking version of Stay & Defend. Lasse Petersen on drums was the band’s backbone all night, and absolutely shined on another new cut, “The Kill.”
We had a chance to witness the group’s softer side on both “Promises” and the spectacular “Suego Faults” which featured three keyboards, highlighted by McElligott and Jamie Jones, and some of the best vocals/harmonies of the night. McElligott had the crowd in the palms of his hands, expertly adjusting the flow and timbre of the show throughout.
The entire band seemed energized during “Dancing With the Devil” which featured a nice solo from Gavin Slater, before slowing things down with a nice love song, “Midnight Dancers.” From there, the band wrapped up the show with their two biggest singles to date, “The King and All His Men” and “Lions in Cages” closing out a great set, raising the energy level to a fever pitch and sending the crowd home convinced they had seen something special.
Charlotte’s Flagship offered a nice opening set in their first trip to Orlando, highlighted by their drummer, Mike Finster, who tore it up the entire set, despite playing on a borrowed drum kit! They’ve got a unique sound and are definitely worth a trip to check out next time they are in town.
Wolf Gang’s drummer, Lasse Petersen is apparently an excellent cook, with a fondness for duck, and actually cooked at Hard Rock Hotel this week.
All five members of Wolf Gang hung around after the show and got to know their fans; they really seemed to care about meeting everyone, asking names, chatting, and listening! It was refreshing to see.
Wolf Gang is looking to come back to Orlando this fall, so keep your eyes peeled to RARA’s Farm for the show announcement, and next time, don’t let some teeny-bopper boy band deter you from their excellent show.
If you were there, let us know what you thought in the comments below. If you were trapped into seeing One Direction to please your eight year-old niece and want to rehabilitate your ears, check out the album below.