#SupportPGHMusic // Exclusively on HughShows Radio streaming at the bottom of the page, enjoy the entire December 13, 2014 concert of HughShows Live at Eide’s Finale featuring mini sets from acoustic and solo versions of my favorite Pittsburgh bands during the marathon 6 hour concert. //

This show was probably the most emotionally uplifting concert I have ever been to. With the obvious elephant in the room whisked away early and quickly as Mr. Campbell started RIPPING leads on his guitar, you could practically hear a collective sigh of relief from the crowd. Sure there were a couple of bum notes here and there but overall, the man proved what a legend he is. This show will definitely be on a bunch of local year-ends come December, mine included. Another review here.

Downtown This was one fantastic concert. Leaving out all the negatives that could be brought up (ticket prices, venue choice, ‘auto-tune’?) I was floored how good the music (the backing band in particular) sounded. Yeah sure, the guys are getting up there in age and one cannot rule out the ‘cashgrab’ factor, especially after seeing first hand the ‘fragility’ of Brother Brian, but the songs were great, the crowd was into it and I simply had fun. My biggest surprise was Mike Love. Always considered (unfairly) to be the cantankerous Beach Boy, he was charming as he blew kisses and waved and told corny jokes throughout the night. He really made the show for me, other than all those killer songs of course.

As I have done for the past several years, I close out the musical year Downtown with WYEP’s artists of the year. Can’t think of a better way to celebrate.

The last time I saw them play was in 2002 at Farm Aid. They were on way early in thd day a round noon, right before Drive By Truckers. They also played the Lecture Hall in Oakland in 2004 I am told. This was the perfect venue for them. What amazed me was that the first three front row center seats were empty during the night. I found out that a buddy checked ticketmaster that day and saw those very same seats available but passed for financial reasons. Crazy that they were never gobbled up by anyone?.

So far this year, I have seen (amazingly to me) around 100 bands play. This show is in hardcore contention to be my favorite of all of them. With a killer opening act to boot, I wasn’t expecting too much from a band that almost exclusively plays songs about baseball. I have zero interest in the sport but the band’s love for the game is infectious and the tunes are fun, catchy and great, regardless of the subject. I had a shit-eating grin the whole set. R.E.M. bassist Mike Mills was pinch-hitting for an absent Peter Buck and I have to say, the band may have been better for it. He actually can sing where Buck cannot and to have them play the Mills’ penned ‘Rockville’ sealed the deal. Just an awesome time. Another review here. More photos here.

My man Scott has been pimping these guys large for a few months now, and I finally decided to check out what all his gushing was about. Man, am I so glad I did. These guys came out of the gate smoking and never let up. They sounded really good in the open expanse of the park but I am sure a club setting would be unbelievable for their sound. I won’t the mistake again of missing them anytime they roll through town. More photos here.

Not an uber fan of hers but I do like that song ‘The Story’ a lot. My first exposure to here was outside Club Cafe in 2006. I was waiting in line for the sold out matt pond PA/dios malos late show doors when Brandi came out of the club after finishing the early show. She seemed very quiet but nice, I guess. I had no clue who she was till I found out later. Yeah, thrilling tale….More photos here.

Not at all familiar with their stuff but one a the few chances to shoot the festival’s concerts this year and I took it. I was surprised at the low turn out for all the shows I saw this year. Regardless, for an offshoot band that’s celebrating 30! years, I was highly impressed at the joyous energy coming from that stage. A review here. More photos here and here.

This was my second time seeing Justin and even though he was good both times, I came away from the sets wondering what his intimate music would be like in a less ‘grandiose’ atmosphere. The grandeur of the Benedum and the vastness of Point State Park kinda swallowed the vibe for me. Thankfully, he is returning to the smaller stage of Mr. Smalls in August. I would love to hear him with a full band. Here’s hoping… Listen to a WYEP studio session from earlier in the day here. More photos here.

This is a band that you either really love or really hate. Strike that, I don’t hate them, it’s just that I have tried several times to get into them and they always leave me a tad lukewarm. I am not trying to slag them, it’s just that you can’t like every band in the indie rock world, can you? Apparently around 2826 people do love as them this show was sold out and that is the official seating capacity in the place. And what a place it is. The Benedum may be the nicest venue in town. Ornate, spacious and built for acoustics, I can’t recall the last time I was there? Was it those Three Stooges festivals I went to while in high school when it was The Stanley? That was too long ago. There should definitely be more concerts booked there. Got to give the band props in that they played the Quiet Storm during their early years! Talk about coming a long way, baby. More photos here and here.

Thanks to my friends at the PSO, Ms. McLachlan has the distinct honor eight days in to be my very first show of the year. So, yeah…she’s got that going for her. Performing the always fan satisfying “An Evening With…” format, she entertained her beloved audience for two and a half hours. It was my first time shooting in Heinz Hall and being that the folks in the PIT payed some good scratch to be up there and not have a pesky photog ruin the experience of the first three songs by getting in their way, I was regulated to the back of the room by the soundboard to shoot. Kind of makes the photos look all the same. See Paul McCartney, Jimmy Buffett, Emmylou Harris and Bruce Springsteen. I always like to hug the stage (without hopefully being a nuisance to the other audience members) when I document a band. That far back creates a ‘flatness’ to the pictures and it doesn’t occur often enough for me to invest in a long lens that I won’t be able to use at Brillobox. No worries. What other photog in the city can say they shot Sarah M. at Heinz Hall besides me? No one, baby. So, yeah…I got that going for me.

My very first picture of 2011. Incredibly, the seats were full ten minutes later.

What can I say about this band that I haven’t said before? How about how cool they are as people and it’s been a great pleasure of mine to meet and eventually get to know them this year. Expect a follow up to their debut sometime in the near future. More photos here.

Over the next few weeks I’ll be backtracking and bringing you a bunch of images from local bands, many who I saw for the first time. These guys aren’t one of them. I really can’t tell you how many times I have seen them perform and it’s so fitting for me for them to be the last band I saw play in 2010. More photos here.

Chalk this show up to another one where the opening band is more enjoyable than the headliner, in this case, Broken Social Scene. The Wooden Birds weren’t Earth shattering or anything, just solid indie pop that was a total surprise to me. It was cool recognizing Matt Pond as he came onstage and approaching him afterward he was really nice, as was the rest of the band. I really loved this set. More PGH fanboy love here.

As support for Emmylou Harris, the band got a rare standing ovation for an opener. It was totally well deserved as they played a bunch of stuff from their upcoming release which sounded amazing. I was blown away of how good they were. Can’t wait till they come back in February as they announced from the stage. It was also cool to see Emmylou enjoying the set from the wings. More photos here.

Donnie Iris is a Pittsburgh institution. He’s been actively producing music for over 40 years and has a brand new Christmas album coming out tomorrow, November 18. Called appropriately enough ‘Ah! Leluiah!’, Donnie will be at North Park Lounge in Cranberry to celebrate it’s release.

The following day, catch the band celebrate Light Up Night with a free show on the bridge! Seriously, what’s more yinzer than that? I am thrilled that ‘King Cool’ himself took some time to participate in this rather ‘tongue in cheek’ version of First/Last.

Thanks dude. No kidding, at this moment I am cracking a King Cool Light in your honor my man!

It’s amazes me how many great shows I have seen this year. Among the top of the list is this one. I have seen him before but was floored of how good he and his band sounded. He played his entire new album straight through and then a set of ‘hits’. Usually I would be a little weary of such a show but his new stuff sounded just as great as the old. I am so glad I saw this show. As Rosemary stated in her introduction, she was jealous of the first timers in the audience who never saw him before. Well put. More photos here.

On assignment for WYEP. I really don’t know much about Citizen Cope except that from first impressions, dude seems chill. I was surprised how many people were actually there. Wasn’t he always playing Club Cafe when he came to town? In actuality, I am glad his following is growing, he and his band sounded great. He also had some signed framed posters for sale at $100 a pop! Here’s a tip, wait after the show by his bus and get it for free. More photos here.

I have to admit, I was disappointed in this show. Their latest album is a top ten contender for me and my expectations were maybe too high for that reason. Several things marred this performance for me, first and foremost is that the band just didn’t seem to be into it, despite the fact that Kevin came out and announced that he and Brendan were celebrating recent birthdays. Could they have been hung over? Last time they played here, Brendan was jumping all over the stage. This night he was a zombie. Four songs in, Lisa Lobsinger came out and sucked whatever minuscule life was left in the room to bring the performance to a dead stop. The other off thing was the room. I love the Byham. I just don’t think it’s suited for a rock show. Some people want to dance, some want to sit. This isn’t the venue to accommodate for both. Maybe I am a bit too harsh but I was hoping for a stellar show and did not get one by a long shot. They were good, not great. More photos here.

What was interesting to me about this show was the crowd. I rarely go see bands that are welcomed to the stage with a high-pitched wall of sound. The audience was young and energetic and actually endearing in their enthusiasm. A somewhat nice change of pace and nice reminder of why I love live music so much. Setlist here.