The final week of summer and arrival of Grand Rapids’ ArtPrize brought a blitz of concerts to West Michigan. Here are some Local Spins recaps and photo galleries.
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From the “Invincible” and ageless voice of Pat Benatar at another sold-out Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park show to the grace of songbird May Erlewine at Wealthy Theatre to the infectiously upbeat delivery of hip hop’s Lady Ace Boogie at Canal Park, it was another week to remember for Grand Rapids’ live music scene.
And that doesn’t even count:
• The 50th anniversary show starring metal-meisters Judas Priest at Van Andel Arena (read the full Local Spins review and view the photo gallery here: Judas Priest unleashes fistbanging 50th anniversary spectacle);
• Tour stops by Canadian singer-songwriter Andy Shauf at Calvin University and indie-rock’s Alex G at The Pyramid Scheme;
• Grand Rapids’ The Deep Stare pushing the jazz envelope at Tip Top Deluxe Bar & Grill with help from Traverse City mandolinist Don Julin, with a set by Wuzee.
Here are photo galleries and a couple of concert recaps, courtesy of Local Spins. And return to Local Spins later today for a review of the final Meijer Gardens concert of the season, which took place Sunday night.
ROCK ‘N’ ROLL QUEEN PAT BENATAR + NEIL GIRALDO REV UP GR FANS
Pat Benatar is a queen, that much was clear to the sold-out crowd gathered at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park on Thursday.
Maybe because it was the last week of the summer series (after a nearly two-year wait for shows in the amphitheater), but the crowd seemed extra fired up to see Benatar, 68, and her dazzlingly talented guitar player husband, Neil Giraldo. Fitting then, that Benatar and Giraldo’s opener was “All Fired Up.” Giraldo wasted no time showing us his skills on a blazing solo.
Though Benatar’s voice flagged slightly on the low parts of “All Fired Up,” she hit her famous high notes exquisitely for the entire show. On “Invincible,” her voice gave me chills, not for the last time. “It’s like a dream,” she said of performing live after an 18-month break. “It’s like a dream!”
As a duo, this couple is seamless and their chemistry sparks even after almost 40 years of marriage and musical collaboration. At times, it seemed like the crowd wasn’t even there: It was Pat and Spider (his nickname) performing together for the joy of it.
The sparks continued to fly as Giraldo began playing a grand piano on stage and Benatar serenaded him with the first song they wrote together, “Promises in the Dark,” as the bright moon shone down. This song started out sweet and slow and then ignited, culminating in another blistering solo from Giraldo.
The couple slowed things down again with a “reverential” song to honor those we have lost to the COVID-19 pandemic: They performed “We Belong” in a spare, gentle arrangement, stirring emotion and reflection in the crowd.
Benatar has a very serious side, as she displayed in songs such as “Hell is For Children,” about child abuse, and “Purgatory,” about harmful military chemicals.
But she is best known — and loved for — her rocking anthems that peel decades off the lives of her listeners, if only for a few minutes of youthful bliss. The crowd went ape for her signature smash “Hit Me with Your Best Shot,” and the more subdued “Love is a Battlefield.”
The duo took the temperature back down one more time before the big finale with the achingly lovely new song, “After the Fall,” which will be included in their soon-to-be-released stage musical.
Of course, Benatar couldn’t leave without belting out “Heartbreaker,” could she? The chorus had the crowd yelling “don’t you mess around with me” at the top of their lungs, but just when the fans thought this was the apex, it got better. Mixing in Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire” to “Heartbreaker” made for a powerful and show-stopping medley, the perfect ending to a nearly perfect night.
Jimmie Bones opened the show with a rejuvenating keyboard set of soulful ballads and juke joint toe-tappers. Reminiscent of Billy Joel, Bones delighted the crowd with his originals, including “Through Hell for Heaven’s Sake” and the flamboyant “Honey Flow.” The highlight of the set was his superb cover of 10cc’s “I’m Not in Love.” – By Lorilee Craker
PHOTO GALLERY: Pat Benatar, Jimmie Bones at Meijer Gardens
Photos by Steve Baran
ANDY SHAUF’S ‘WHIMSICAL SENSIBILITY’ AT CALVIN
Andy Shauf’s stopover in Grand Rapids on Wednesday proved to be a captivating performance and display of masterful musicianship. Fans gathered into the dimly lit Fine Arts Center and packed the auditorium for an evening of delicate compositions.
Shauf’s band was rounded out by a bassist, guitarist, drummer, keyboard player and saxophonist who doubled on clarinet.
The show was a balancing act of melody and harmony with songs that explored life’s everyday moments with striking beauty.
Songs from the Canadian singer-songwriter included “Neon Skyline,” “Clove Cigarette,” and “Early to the Party.”
The rhythm section was tight-knit, while guitar, keys and horns floated ethereally above the mix in a whimsical sensibility. – By Enrique Olmos
PHOTO GALLERY: Andy Shauf, Tomberlin at Calvin University
Photos by Kendra Petersen-Kamp
PHOTO GALLERY: Lady Ace Boogie, The Mainstays
Friday Night Live at Canal Park (City Built Brewing)
Photos by Anna Sink