Concert: Zendaya

Last night, my daughter and I went to the Zendaya concert at the Keswick Theater in Glenside, PA. I was actually quite surprised to see that Zendaya was touring. I didn't even realize she had put out a solo album. Since my daughter likes her music, we bought the album and headed off to the concert. The Keswick is a rather small venue for a concert. It only has about 1300 seats. I believe this makes it the smallest concert my daughter has attended. Thanks to this, we were able to get seats rather close to the stage. We were about six rows from the stage on the left side. The funniest part of the show was the mere fact that there was an MC. Miss Kim came out to introduce the opening act, then she came out when he was finished to plug all of his stuff (website, Facebook, album, blah, blah, blah). After the intermission, she came back out to introduce Zendaya and again at the end to plug her stuff. I've never seen an MC at a concert so it was kinda weird but cute.

Liam Lis was the opening act. He played three or four songs. I liked one. No, I don't even remember the name of it. Liam is a 12-year old boy that looks like he really wants to be Justin Bieber. He came out wearing an oversized parka vest and a stupidly huge truckers hat that read MERCY across the front. He had two male backup dancers and a rap...sidekick, I guess? The whole thing was terribly confusing and looked really out of place for a 12-year old. I wish him well but maybe he should wait a few more years.

Zendaya, meanwhile, was awesome. My daughter and I have seen quite a few "tween" concerts, including Selena Gomez, Victoria Justice, and Miranda Cosgrove. We officially ranked Zendaya second best, just behind Selena Gomez. Zendaya danced all over the stage, interacted with the crowd, and was just a joy to watch. She had four backup dancers (including two poor guys who had to wear the same shirt-dress-things the girls wore except the guys had pants on underneath) and even they were awesome. Everyone looked like they were having the time of their lives. I know it sounds lame but that really does make a concert better.

Not only were they all having fun, but Zendaya can sing. Sure, the other Disney/Nick stars can sing but not nearly as well as Zendaya. Pop is fairly easy. Zendaya has a bit more of an R&B vibe to her voice that just fills a room. I hope that, like Selena Gomez, she can turn this into a real music career so I can see her on stage again. Go Zendaya!

Movie review: Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds 3D

Yesterday, I took my daughter to the Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus concert movie. For those of you that don't follow the Hannah Montana news, this tour is the biggest ticket of the year. Some sites are claiming it is bigger than The Police reunion tour. Tickets are selling out within seconds and scalpers are taking in a cool $500+ from parents who weren't able to buy them from legitimate sources. So Disney decided that they would film a couple of the live concerts and release it for one week in February as a 3D theatrical movie. Tickets for the movie? $15 a piece. Overall, the movie was not bad. None of the songs offend my ears and, actually, some of the songs are really quite good. People just write them off because they come from a Disney channel show.

The movie started off with some backstage scenes. It was basically a "how the tour got started" type of mini-documentary. Then the concert started with Hannah Montana (which would be Miley Cyrus in a blonde wig) singing a couple of songs. There was a lot of dancing and running around. It was obvious she was having fun on stage. In between the songs, there was more of the behind-the-scenes stuff with Miley talking about some of the mistakes on tour (in one song, she's carried by four male one show, they dropped her) or working on dance moves. It was nice to see what goes on backstage but I felt it really detracted from the concert. People go to see Hannah/Miley sing, not to see how long it takes her (and her assistants) to do a costume change. It takes away the magical feel of a concert.

After Hannah sang, she brought out the Jonas Brothers to sing "Party With Us" before she left to change into Miley. While she was changing, the Jonas Brothers sang two songs. Unfortunately, they picked the two worst Jonas Brothers songs to put in the movie. It was also a little difficult to understand what they were singing because the instrumentals were turned up too high. Luckily, the boys told us the name of each song before they sang it. I don't know that the audience would have been able to identify it otherwise.

Finally, Miley came out to sing. In my opinion, the Miley songs are much better than the Hannah songs. Even the dancing was livelier. Again, there were problems with the vocals being too low to be understood. You would have thought that the sound guy would have picked up on this by now. More backstage documentary pieces told us why she wrote some songs and how her mother helps her out on tour. The concert ended with Miley and a pre-recorded Hannah singing "Best of Both Worlds" together.

Luckily, my daughter really enjoyed the concert movie. It was her opinion I wanted. The concert isn't really geared for us parents. It's for the kids. However, I still think it would have been better if they left out the documentary parts. The Hannah/Miley fanbase is mostly made up of younger kids - ages 4-10 or so. I'm not sure that they are particularly interested in watching Miley rehearse or see her hiding under the stage before an entrance. I also think it might have been better if they had just filmed one concert instead of filming multiple performances then splicing them together to make it look like it was one performance. If you pay attention, you can see props moving around the stage without being touched or the number of guitar picks in a microphone stand changing mid-song. Again, it's nothing big. It's just one of many little things that takes you out of the concert experience.

So, if you or your kids are a Hannah/Miley fan, you would enjoy the movie. But if you are looking to see the movie in place of going to the concert, it just won't work. Maybe, one day, those of us who aren't willing to shell out a couple hundred dollars for a children's concert will be able to have our kids experience an actual concert.

Jconcert review: Gackt - TRAINING DAYS 2006 DRUG PARTY

Artist: Gackt Concert: TRAINING DAYS 2006 DRUG PARTY Date: 12/19/06 Location: Zepp Tokyo GacktJOB members: You, Chachamaru, Ju-Ken, Jun-Ji Song list:

1. Cube 2. Maria 3. uncontrol 4. Emu-for my dear- 5. seven 6. REDEMPTION 7. Ash 8. NINE SPIRAL 9. Speed Master 10. Lu:na 11. Storm 12. Papa lapped a pap lopped 13. Kalmia 14. Fragrance 15. mind forest 16. Metamorphoze 17. Birdcage 18. Mirror 19. ANOTHER WORLD 20. Kimi ga Oikaketa Yume

Tell me about the concert: This is one of Gackt's most laid back concerts. There are no costume changes, no backdrops and few videos. The entire concert is just Gackt and the band playing their hearts out in a smaller venue. None of his dancers are there but two new dancers - Kaori and Chika - dance in masked nurse uniforms to Storm and Papa lapped a pap lopped. On the DVD, only the second half of Mirror is performed. When you reach the extras, you will find that You and Chacha sang the first half of the song while Gackt slammed away on the drums. It is extremely funny to watch but I wish they had kept it in the context of the concert. I was very confused when the second DVD began with the infamous Gackt yelling in the middle of the song. There is also a beautiful rendition of Kimi ga Oikaketa Yume at the end of the concert. It begins slowly - almost like a tinkling jewelry box song - then it picks up speed, giving you a very satisfied ending to the event.

What are your feelings? TRAINING DAYS is my favorite Gackt concert. All of the guys seem more relaxed here and therefore seem like they are truly enjoying playing music together. There are some amazing performances in here. Fragrance and Birdcage are absolutely stunning. While I know that some people didn't enjoy this concert, I think that the lack of theatrics made it much more breath-taking than anything else he has done. This is a perfect example of the musical genius that is Gackt.

JConcert review: Gackt - Jougen no Tsuki

Artist: Gackt Tour: Jougen no Tsuki Year: 2003 Location: Yokohama Arena GacktJOB members: ChaChamaru, You, Ren, Ryuichi Song list: Noah (plays in the background during the introduction) Speed Master Lu:na Fragrance Rain Solitude -Regret- Kimi ga Matteiru kara Doomsday Tsuki no Uta Mirror Another World Soleil Kimi ga Oikaketa Yume memories Birdcage Orange no Taiyou

Tell me about the concert: As a few of you may know, Gackt is an amazing performer. If you muted the sound while watching this, you could still be very entertained by what you see. The DVD starts out with an introduction about the Moon Saga - a collection of projects that included CDs, concerts (with their DVDs) and a movie. From there, you slam into Speed Master, a high energy, fast paced, erotic song. As a warning, if you have epilepsy, you probably shouldn't watch a Gackt concert. Speed Master starts off with the lights flashing and twirling, making it somewhat difficult to distinguish the individual members of GacktJOB.

Immediately, Gackt slams into Lu:na. Most of his dancers come out wearing black clothes with white masks. Two of the dancers match Gackt’s white outfit, though they have a black hood and a white mask on. While Gackt holds his microphone, all of the dancers hold swords. The dance that follows is a mixture of sword fighting, martial arts and gymnastics.

Fragrance slows things down a little. Smoke surrounds Gackt’s feet as his dancers move around him. It’s a good break from the frantic opening songs.

In my opinion, the performance of Rain is really what makes this particular concert amazing. About halfway through the song, water falls from above and surrounds the stage. I don’t mean that there is one gush of water and that’s it. Rain falls steadily around the stage for a good ten minutes without any apparent splashing onto the stage. I still have no idea how he managed to pull this off without getting a speck of water on the stage. (The video for this can be found here.)

After a short guitar duet between ChaCha and You, a video of flashing lightning and moving clouds is shown. Gackt appears back on stage wearing his black baggy costume and performs a piano piece titled Solitude – Regret-.

Following the instrumental is the one-two punch of Kimi ga Matteiru Kara and Doomsday. Both are powerful songs but Gackt’s performance of Doomsday is exceptional. For those that don’t know, the song is about obsession ending in madness. Gackt uses his entire body to look quite insane as the song bounces back and forth between softness and almost yelling. At the end of the song, a blast of fire shoots upward from the stage as Gackt screams. It is definitely an appropriate ending to the song.

There is a short blackout before we find ourselves looking at a child. Anyone who has seen the movie ‘Moon Child’ would recognize the boy as the child version of Gackt’s character, Sho. The boy and Gackt, who has changed costumes again, stand a couple of feet apart from each other. As Gackt sings, he moves toward the boy. Once they are standing together, the boy begins to lip-synch showing that they are, indeed, the same person in child and adult form. Chalk this up to another beautiful performance for this concert.

Usually this is where Gackt moves into the ‘fun’ side of the concert. We are still treated to the high-energy, GAKUTO-screaming, jumping off the stage fun of Mirror and it is followed up by another high-energy song, Another World. However, this concert leaves out the U+K cat costume dance. Instead, the cats come out to Soleil. It’s not a bad song and I’m sure many people have tried to wash the men in tutus from their brains but it’s not U+K. and Kimi ga Oikaketa Yume round out the last of the fast songs. Gackt finishes the concert with the slower songs, memories and Birdcage. Finally, the cast from ‘Moon Child,’ minus Hyde, come out and perform a small skit. Wang Leehom performs the duet of no Taiyou with Gackt as clips from the movie are shown. Toward the end of the song, the rest of the cast leave the stage and Hyde’s voice comes over the speakers. Gackt finishes off the duet with the recording of Hyde while standing next to an empty spotlight. He motions toward the spotlight and the concert ends.

What are your feelings? This isn’t the best Gackt concert by far but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth watching. If you enjoy watching plays or highly theatrical performances, chances are you will like this concert. Of course, you can watch it just for the Gackt factor too. It’s hard to not like a Gackt concert.