Manic Music Monday across West Michigan featured a wet-but-uplifting concert at Meijer Gardens, with British songwriter Frank Turner lighting up Bell’s Brewery. The reviews, photos at Local Spins.
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FRANK TURNER AT BELL’S BREWERY IN KALAMAZOO
Only three musicians graced the Bell’s Brewery Back Room stage Monday night in Kalamazoo as Eight Belles frontwoman Jessi Philips was joined by local artist Sam Cooper on violin to open things up with a soft and delicate set before English punk/folk sensation Frank Turner took over the spotlight, captivating and energizing a sold-out crowd of 400 with an intimate and rare solo performance.
Taking a break from his band and the big stage, Turner, who played the 5,000-person Aragon Ballroom in Chicago with his band a few weeks back and will perform in front of 20,000-plus tonight and tomorrow night in Indiana and New York, delivered an inspiring, all-original set, as he hit on songs from the past 10 years of his nearly two-decade career, including many from his latest release “Be More Kind.”
The admittedly “very jet-lagged Englishman,” who landed in the States less than 24 hours before regaling attendees with stories and songs of self-worth, community and equality, kicked things off with the title track from his new album, before heading into “Don’t Worry,” joking that he had “broken the rules” by opening with two new songs.
Fans didn’t seem to mind as they sang along just as loud for classic Turner cuts like “Recovery” and “I am Disappeared” as they did newer anthems “Little Changes,” “Blackout” and the politically-charged “Make America Great Again.”
“I may just be an ignorant Englishman, but I love this country very much, and I hope the f**king best for you,” said the spirited songwriter before launching into the latter cut which has drawn attention with its catchy chorus of “Let’s make America great again/By making racists ashamed again/Let’s make compassion in fashion again/Let’s make America great again.”
Asking the audience — many of whom had driven more than a couple hours to get there — afterward if they were still friends, the raucous and appreciative attendees were treated with older impassioned sing-alongs to “Photosynthesis,” “I Still Believe” and “Get Better” which closed out the two-hour, break-free show. – Ryan Boldrey
Set List: Be More Kind, Don’t Worry, Recovery, Little Changes, Mittens, The Next Storm, Blackout, The Road, If Ever I Stray, 1933, Peggy Sang the Blues, Try This at Home, I am Disappeared, Substitute, Journey of the Magi, To Take You Home, Rivers, Wanderlust, The Way I Tend To Be, There She Is, Make America Great Again, Photosynthesis, I Still Believe, Get Better
PHOTO GALLERY: Frank Turner, Eight Belles at Bell’s Brewery in Kalamazoo
Photos by Derek Ketchum
DISPATCH, NAHKO & MEDICINE FOR THE PEOPLE, RAYE ZARAGOZA AT MEIJER GARDENS
Appropriately enough, water was one of the central themes at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park on Monday night.
Though not heavy enough to be categorized as torrential, the rain sweeping across West Michigan left audience members soaked to the bone by the end of the night.
Beginning about a half-hour before show time, the sky darkened and rain started falling, but it didn’t affect the enthusiasm of the audience at the sold-out show, with crowds growing throughout the evening.
Actually, it was quite fitting that the weather was rainy considering that every band or singer mentioned the importance of preserving water cleanliness during their sets. In fact, every performer’s music and filler comments reflected the same mission: harmony between all groups of people and harmony with the environment.
The whimsical-yet-powerful songstress and New York native Raye Zaragoza opened the night with her first-ever Michigan appearance, and after her engaging set, she could be seen hugging and giving stickers to her newfound fans at the merch table.
Nahko & Medicine for the People hit the stage shortly after, uncorking an eclectic, multi-genre, indie-alternative set that featured a trombone player and electric violinist.
By the time Dispatch hit the stage, the rain was at its heaviest, though it ceased halfway through the set. The lighting, backdrop and smoke machines added arena-style touches to a high-energy performance filled with the band’s singular mashup of reggae and rock.
Throughout the rain-splashed evening filled with umbrellas and rain gear, many fans remained standing, though Dispatch clearly had the most people grooving and singing along. This indie band knows how to command the attention of an audience, something they proved recently by playing three sold-out shows at Madison Square Garden in New York City.
And the message that rained down from all of the evening’s acts? Observe and be inspired to create change together. – Katlin Merby
PHOTO GALLERY: Dispatch, Nahko & Medicine for the People, Raye Zaragoza, Tim Snider at Meijer Gardens; Photos by Kevin Huver Photography
FOR A SEPARATE REVIEW, PHOTO GALLERY OF L7’S SHOW MONDAY AT THE PYRAMID SCHEME: L7 gets lean, loud, vicious and unapologetically raucous in Grand Rapids tour stop
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