Monday, June 30, 2008

Charity cases

First comes news that (Product)Red will be starting a new music subscription service—but with a twist: you pay $5 per month and half of that goes to AIDS-in-Africa charity, but they send you two MP3 files of their choice, not yours. One will be by a major, known act, the other by a breaking one.

Hmm. Most people are already discovering new music, and established tunes, by roaming the halls of the iTunes Store and Amazon's new MP3 service as well as the less-savory back alleys of Usenet, Gnutella, and music-sharing blogs. The main appeal of a (Product)Red service will likely be the feeling of charitable virtue, or maybe it's just part of a larger, strange trend toward unmarked packages along the lines of HotWheels Mystery Cars and Mystery Flavor Doritos.

And speaking of charity...

News sources everywhere are bzzzzing about the possibility of Britney Spears redeeming herself for her not-well-received (and, in our view, grossly overcriticized) appearance at the 2007 MTV Music Awards by... opening the 2008 MTV Music Awards. MTV's president asks, "Everyone deserves a second or third chance, right?"

Uh-oh. They're already getting ready for the 2009 redemption. This could end badly.

But WB does not blame Britney, no matter what happens, and we definitely weren't on the bandwagon of "OMG she's so fat" criticisms that set women's body image progress back several dress sizes, at least momentarily. We are, however, still highly annoyed that she enabled this guy's launch into the viral-video pantheon:

Sometimes there are no words...

Suffice it to say that when a classic like "Bambi Meets Godzilla" inspires even a heavyweight like David Mamet, it's a work of lasting significance. Pure poetic metaphor in one and a half minutes:

Friday, June 27, 2008

Transition complete - introducing our new co-author

WB has a new look and a new, wider focus: not just music, but everything in popular culture. To accomplish that, the staff now includes Litchik1203, connoisseur of comic books and graphic novels, aficionado of reality TV, and constant reader of Entertainment News online. Together, we're a rolling pop cult minutiae machine... or at least we've been so accused.

Litchik will be taking over the blog while 78 takes a homecoming trip to Chicago, and after that it's anyone's guess about what and when she'll post. But we know it'll be good.
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Thursday, June 26, 2008

Geezerguitar Heroes

Kids are jamming to Foghat, Kansas, Judas Priest, Aerosmith, Kiss, and even Heart in record numbers. (But not Johnny Winter, left. He's there to illustrate the post title.) So many that their parents are freaking out a little, although they're also delighted to see the little ones headbanging to the classics.

Something in the water? No, something in the game room: Guitar Hero.

And the freakout doesn't just go one way. According to the Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch, while there's a wave of parents asking "Where'd you hear that?" when the kids break out singing a classic rocker, there's also a wave of kids responding, "Well, how do you know about it?" And then the generations reach out to one another across the years and everyone holds hands and Slade comes into the room to sing, "We can all swing together, my oh my."

It's all extremely touching. But speaking of Johnny Winter, there won't be any justice until both he and Alvin Lee appear on the next Guitar Hero. Here they are, each in their prime, at (the original) Woodstock — a long, long time ago.

(For you young'uns, Johnny's the albino and Alvin's got the square jaw. How come you didn't know that?)



President Obama's iPod

The July 11 issue of Rolling Stone has an in-depth conversation with the 44th POTUS, Barack Obama, about... music. Dylan, Springsteen, the Stones, Sheryl Crow, Jay-Z, and Ludacris are on the current senator's iPod, but more than that, he's also on phone-number terms with Springsteen and Jay-Z.

Meet the new boss, friends with the other bosses.

Maybe most revealing, Obama name-drops two songs as being particularly meaningful to him: Dylan's "Maggie's Farm" and the Stones' "Gimme Shelter." Check the lyrics and know the man....

1.20.09 can't come soon enough, when the world finally will be given shelter from a guy who doesn't even choose his own iPod tracks:

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Stop. Hey, what's that sound? Moog's guitar has come to town.



And more information here.

Price? Only $6,500. Order yours today!

(We're guessing that Brian Eno was the first to buy.)

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Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Alan Freed's got nothing on this...

Payola, kickbacks, cash for a smash (hit)—ghosts that loom over the early days of rock 'n roll radio in America. But now that the record companies are all tanking with the death of CDs, that's over, since there's no bribe bait left in the bank account.

In Uganda, meanwhile, bribes, "tips," payola, "gifts," "thanks," and "injections" are not just expected, but demanded by radio programmers and DJs. And as big acts pay bigger "tributes," the little acts are getting squeezed out even when they play along in the crooked game.

(If that isn't bad enough, the same thing happens with Ugandan news. If you want to be one of the day's top stories, you have to pay the journalists to cover what you've done.)

Wonder what these guys will charge to spin the O'Jays classic, "For the Love of Money," a few times?

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Monday, June 23, 2008

Amy Winehouse is/not suffering from/clear of emphysema/tuberculosis/heart disease, sources don't/say

This is what we know from Amy Winehouse's father and the doctors at the hospital she was taken to after several days of coughing up blood and then finally collapsing (again):

The diminutive, drug-addled 24-year-old has early stage emphysema, which in just one month could turn into end-stage emphysema. She does not have emphysema, but she has tuberculosis. She has tested negatively for tuberculosis and is all clear—but she still has a "chest infection." In addition to all of these things she does/not have, she also has a "heart ailment" causing an irregular heartbeat. All of these conditions have not/been caused by cigarettes, crack, and a whole lot of other drugs. Doctors say if the singer doesn't go 12-step immediately, she'll die.

Obviously, her father and her doctors are very concerned... and confused. They also appear to have a tendency toward sharing premature diagnoses with the press.

Regardless of the confusion, this is sad stuff. "Rehab" is a great, big song that holds up after hundreds and hundreds of listens. But Amy Winehouse is just a troubled soul in a tiny body that's showing signs of wearing out quickly after hundreds and hundreds of abuses. Big drug habits put little abused bodies into deep graves.

Time for the media and Amy herself to get some things straight.

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Sunday, June 22, 2008

Just Kidding?

There's a story blowing up as of noon today (GMT-5) that staunch Republican and American badass Kid Rock has "posted a bizarre online rant" lashing out against iTunes, record companies, gas stations, car dealers, and the tech twins Microsoft and Apple.

Only problem is, no one has posted an actual link to the alleged "rant." Trying to track Kid's quotes to their source just leads back to the reports about it.

That said, here's the heart of the coverage: "The star...claims he is happy to let fans download tracks for free [and he] urges kids to steal laptops, MP3 players, cars, and gas from retailers because big businesses can afford the loss. He says, 'The whole debate on downloading music has gone too far. There are record companies suing kids. You can illegally download my music, steal it if you will. Because I'm fucking rich. How can I bitch about you downloading a song or two. I can't.... Let's level the playing field. Steal everything. If you want a new MP3 player or a computer, do you know how much money Apple and Microsoft have? Go in there, get a new laptop and run. You need a new car? Go steal a Toyota.'"

Multiple choice: If true, this "rant" is an example of
(a) Satire
(b) Hyperbole
(c) Self-parody
(d) Republican family values

Extra credit: Why is a redneck, rock 'n roll son of Detroit name-dropping Toyota?

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Friday, June 20, 2008

The Summer of Michigan Music, part 3: Folk


If Dirt Fest is too loud and Rothbury is too enlightening, then Blissfest has you covered. Way up in northern Michigan in the beautiful setting of Harbor Springs, Blissfest will feature over 30 acts representing American Roots Music ("Folk," for those who like their genre names short) including mid-state crowd favorites Steppin' In It and Daisy Mae. Behind the music, there'll be arts and crafts displays, healing arts demonstrations, non-profit and activist booths, and services from local guitar shops, bike shops, and farmers.

Grab a sleeping bag and tent and point your carpool north—and don't forget the organic bug spray. Michigan deer flies (a.k.a. horse flies in the lower 47) become the state bird in summer.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

And speaking of Detroit: Roll Call.

• CKLW
• Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen
• The Contours
• Alice Cooper
Creem Magazine
• Marshall Crenshaw
• Eminem
• Doug Fieger (The Knack)
• The Four Tops
• Glenn Frey (The Eagles)
• Aretha Franklin
• Marvin Gaye
• Berry Gordy (Motown Records)
• Grand Funk Railroad
• Bill Haley
• John Lee Hooker
• Uncle Kracker
• Kid Rock
• Lene Lovich
• The MC5
• Motown Records
• ? and the Mysterians
• Ted Nugent
• Wilson Pickett
• Iggy Pop
• Suzi Quatro
• Della Reese
• Martha Reeves (The Vandellas)
• Smokey Robinson
• The Romantics
• Diana Ross
• Mitch Ryder
• Bob Seger
• Chad Smith (Red Hot Chili Peppers)
• The Spinners
• Sponge
• The Stooges
• The Supremes
• Taproot
• The Temptations
• The Verve Pipe
• The Von Bondies
• Andrew W.K.
• Dick Wagner
• Was (Not Was)
• The White Stripes
• Jackie Wilson
• The Winans Family
• Stevie Wonder
(And one awful movie inspired by a horrible Kiss song.)

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Appalachian Rock in the D

Robert Plant/Alison Krauss/T-Bone Burnett, "The Raising Sand Revue," Fox Theater, Detroit, June 17:
The real star of a Fox Theater show is the 1928 theater itself, but having two music legends singing harmonies for two hours gives the building some tough competition. "The Raising Sand Revue," as Robert Plant called it, was plagued by small sound problems all night—every member of the band had to send subtle or frantic hand signals over to the sound mixer, including some comical signing from Plant that he was hearing stagehand chatter in his earpiece—but that didn't stop 5,000 people from seeing a fantastic show.

Sharon Little, a big-voiced former waitress who could give Joss Stone a run for her money, opened the show with a rockin' "Follow That Sound," turning the audience from murmuring "Sharon Who?" to offering thunderous applause in only five minutes. But just when she'd won over the crowd, a few songs later she took a conversational break to praise the Fox's opulence and say that Detroit was a "cute town." She never quite got the audience's attention back after that one—they were too busy asking each other if she'd actually used the word cute to describe what she'd seen out there.

Set change to an array of persian rugs and a simple lighted curtain, and then Burnett's tremolo-heavy guitar kicked out the opening notes to "Rich Woman" (the concert opened with the first song from the Raising Sand CD and closed with the last track) as the headliners entered from opposite ends of the stage to take their places side by side. The set list really did follow a "revue" format, with duets from the CD followed by solo performances by Plant or Krauss while the other took a break, then both leaving the stage for Burnett and the band to play a great swamp-rock version of "Bon Ton Roulay." Three Led Zeppelin classics—"Black Dog," "Black Mountain Woman," and "The Battle of Evermore—were turned into Appalachian boogie stomps, with fiddle and banjo taking the place of Jimmy Page's guitar, and each song brought down the house. And an a cappella version of "Down to the River to Pray," from the O Brother Where Art Thou soundtrack, had the audience sitting in church and singing along.

The unsung (and unintroduced, until the final song of the encore) hero of the night was drummer Jay Bellerose, sitting behind a vintage kit and bringing the thunder to all of the most haunting and stirring musical passages. Throwing swatches of velvet, suede, or cotton over the snares and toms, and several times using maracas as drumsticks, Bellerose schooled all of the would-be drummers in attendance in the art of perfected restraint—or unrestrained bombast.

Hey, Tom Petty: This is how you do it. No paint-by-numbers here.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Finding Energy in Music, July 3-6

Rothbury is a tiny little village near Michigan's west coast, but the Double JJ Ranch there is going to be the site of something big:

"ROTHBURY is dedicated to throwing a HUGE party… with a purpose. This July 4th weekend, ROTHBURY emerges as a new American celebration where music and cause join together to stir ideas, to awaken possibilities, and to empower through knowledge. And yeah, to have the time of our lives. Our theme is Finding Energy Independence. ROTHBURY is guided by a bold environmental sustainability mission. Dedicated to running as close to a zero-waste event as possible, we have implemented the following initiatives, and continue to add to this list:

• Run a near-zero waste in-house production
• Support the companies supporting the environmental solutions
• Make every effort to eliminate trash
• Replace disposables with compostables
• Compost as much as possible
• Provide easy to use, full service recycling
• Provide an around-the-clock Green Team
• Choose clean energy
• Carbon offset all that can't be reduced
• Promote mass transit and carpooling
• Educate the public through experiential activities
• Give back to the local community"

In addition to a magnificent talent lineup including Dave Matthews, John Mayer, Modest Mouse, Trey Anastasio, 311, Snoop Dogg, Primus, and Govt. Mule, Rothbury will offer "Think Tank" discussions and seminars, opportunities to get involved in political and environmental activism, work exchange programs, circus and theater performances, and some seriously enlightened music fans.

For more info, just click the graphic above.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Metallica — Apologia Pro Vita Sua

The soap opera continues. Apparently, the boys in the band did a little Interwebbing after several weeks touring in Europe (and without online access?) and were shocked to discover that their managers had been harassing the nice Brit bloggers who'd been invited to review the upcoming album.

"Bad managers!" the boys said, and then apologized to the bloggers with a cheery "Carry on, then! As you were."
Ars Technica, reporting in detail, wonders if it might all be an elaborate ploy to generate buzz for the new stuff. WB is $eriou$ly $hocked by the mere $ugge$tion....

Morello + Tankian = Guess What? — Activism.

Axis of Justice is "a non-profit organization formed by Tom Morello and Serj Tankian. Its purpose is to bring together musicians, fans of music, and grassroots political organizations to fight for social justice. They aim to build a bridge between fans of music around the world and local political organizations to effectively organize around issues of peace, human rights, and economic justice."

Check the main web site here and the MySpace page here, and don't miss the Axis of Justice Radio Network and podcast/mp3 section here.

Always good to see some wealthy musicians out working for "the little people" who helped to make them wealthy. You can buy yourself a stable full of cars and guitars, or you can launch a nonprofit organization and use your power for something other than yourself. (You listening, Metallica?)

Okay, that last dig wasn't fair. The Metboys have contributed to a lot of causes, including the Bridge School benefit concerts. But that's another post for another day....

Thursday, June 12, 2008

78 is feeling his Visigoth ancestry today...

... due to a "story of your life" project started by Litchik, so what better than to showcase Germany's own Nina Hagen with Finland's heavy metal cellists, Apocalyptica, covering Germany's Rammstein?



It's not new by any means, but it's still a great model of how the kinfolk can kick it over there. We especially like all of the cheerful colors to go with the happy mood of the song.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Metallica Agonistes

Sigh...

After letting a handful of British music reviewers have an early listen to six-tenths of the upcoming new album, Metallica's lawyers have gone batshit with cease-and-desist orders when those reviewers posted, um, reviews of what they heard.

And the reviews were, by all accounts, positive.

WB blames Jason Newsted. Ever since he left, there's been no real-world ballast to keep the S.S. Jamesandlars floating right side up. First St. Anger, now this. By the time the new album arrives anywhere, what's left of the Metfan base will have dissolved.

Hmm. Maybe that's why Jason left in the first place....

Monday, June 9, 2008

Just in case you missed these...

"Yes We Can" - the politics of hope by Barack Obama:




"John He Is" - McCain 08 - like hope, but different:

Sunday, June 8, 2008

"Guitar Hero: Metallica" - on store shelves by April '09

According to Reuters and The Street and E! and Wired and - ah hell, that's enough - Metallica and Activision have arranged to make a special edition of Guitar Hero where gamers get to be James, Kirk, Lars, and... uh, Cliff or Jason or Rob.

It'll be a sequel to the upcoming Guitar Hero: Aerosmith edition, and a backlash has already begun against what the GH franchise could quickly do to music, and to gaming. John Mayer, for one, doesn't have a lot of respect for the whole GH phenom, telling Rolling Stone: "I don't ever want to be the kind of guy who rails against whatever progress has taken place. But Guitar Hero was devised to bring the guitar-playing experience to the masses without them having to put anything into it. And having done both, there's nothing like really playing guitar. I mean, what would you rather drive, a Ferrari or one of those amusement-park cars on a track?"

Good point, but a Ferrari can scare the hell out you at 180 mph, and a carnival car can be a lot of fun....

Metallica's new album walks into a bar....

From BlendMusic: "Metallica had a private listening session with two U.K. magazines, Metal Hammer and Rock Sound earlier this week. The mags had an exclusive chance to hear six tracks from the upcoming, still untitled album. To summarize: think ..And Justice For All meets the The Black Album at a bar and they start bullying St. Anger into setting up a tab so the two can go shot for shot till dawn with Master of Puppets bartending."

Uh, sounds... good?

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Raging against la machina in Spanish-accented English

A performer in transition from pop lite to politik heavy, Manu Chao shows how sometimes having a limited vocabulary can make statements even more powerful than having a whole thesaurus's worth of words: in Baghdad/it's no democracy/that's just because/it's a U.S. country.

The same thing happens with the videos for Manu Chao's "Rainin in Paradize" and "Politik Kills" — a few images make a movie's worth of lasting impressions.

Today it's raining in paradise...



Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Sound and Fury — the return of 0:45 punk (Ramones who?)

Mi$$ion: Metallica - Moribund and Moot?

According to Wired, the whole "Metallica embraces the Internet, wishes people would forget the whole Napster episode and get on with buying Metstuff" idea is quickly going up (down) in flames:

"The band's unveiling of a fan-outreach program called Mission: Metallica, including DRM-free downloads and access to unreleased material, [editor's note: see earlier post below] reflects a new understanding on their part about how the internet works: Give people what they want or they'll get it from somewhere else. But the response was overwhelmingly negative....

"Wow, you're looking into using the Internet," wrote Lewis Salem. "Good for you, Lars. We have been looking into using it for 14 years. ..."

When the band announced that its plan did not include giving the album away for free, as Radiohead and Nine Inch Nails have done, fans became even more hostile. "Too little, too late. I don't even listen to metal, but I'm going to download this album illegally out of spite. Metallica sucks," wrote Ched.

Danijel followed that up with "Stay off of the internet, Napster-killing pieces of shit hypocrites."

P.W. explained his decision to stop following the band as part of his embrace of MP3s, despite the fact that Metallica is selling its next album in the format: "Up yours, Metallica. (I) don't buy your crap anymore and don't listen to your stuff after the late '90s. You wanted me to pick between MP3s and Metallica? I did. You lost."

Contrast this with the love fans have shown for Radiohead and Nine Inch Nails, the two bands Lars Ulrich said Metallica had been keeping an eye on while devising its own strategy.

About Radiohead's In Rainbows, commenter Bennet wrote, "I'm glad I could shell out 40 pounds for the discbox, the album is great and the bonus disc should be great," while Falha explained that any version of an afterlife would be acceptable, so long as they play Radiohead....

Nine Inch Nails received similar praise and gratitude from Listening Post readers for Ghosts I-IV. "Finally a music release system that I can get into. Pay the artist not the corporation," wrote Beriale. "Thank you NIN."

Why do people still hate Metallica so much? We can think of a few potential reasons. Anecdotal research indicates that people who like computers also tend to like Radiohead and Nine Inch Nails more than Metallica, even prior to the Napster imbroglio. Metallica is still on a major label, while Radiohead and Nine Inch Nails, which essentially own their own indie labels, have spoken out against their former major labels on multiple occasions.... And everybody likes free stuff...."


Anecdotal research also indicates that some Mac fanatics have been lifelong Metallica fans and NIN fans, while puzzling over the whole Radiohead thing. And of course, Trent Reznor is both a lifelong Mac fanatic and a huge NIN fan.


Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Mid-Michigan Metal (and related genres like 'hard rock' for metal purists)

Birch Run, Michigan, between Flint and Saginaw on beautiful I-75, is the site of the 12th annual Dirt Fest this summer. Mark your calendars for August 2 and point the car toward the Birch Run Expo Center, 11600 N. Beyer Road.

Dirt Fest '08 will feature 60+ acts on five stages. Australia's not very threateningly named, but still excellent, Parkway Drive will be among the headliners.

"Tickets for Dirt Fest 2008 are only $20 if you get 'em before July 1st. Buy five or more tickets and get a FREE Dirt Fest 10th Anniversary t-shirt. Tickets are already available at Electric Chair Tattoo in Flint and Clio, and at Mid-Michigan Music locations. Tickets will be available in the Detroit outlets soon!"

A free two-year-old T-shirt? Who could pass that up?

Commercial for commerciali$m...

Metallica'$ new mi$$ion / life after Warner Bros.


Wired and various music news sources report:
"Metallica's future with its record label, Warner Bros. Records, may not extend past the release of the band's ninth studio album this fall. According to Bloomberg.com, Edgar Bronfman Jr., CEO of the Warner Music Group, declined to comment on the status of contract negotiations with the band during a quarterly conference call earlier this month. The new Metallica album is the band's last under its current contract with the label, which dates back to 1984 when the quartet first signed with Warner subsidiary Elektra Records.

Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich says that finishing out its recording contract was a liberating experience for the band: "It's awesome. I mean, to be out of your record contract, it's exciting just because of, what are the new -- and that's not anything disrespectful about the great bunch of people up at Warner Bros. Records. But it's just exciting to be able to communicate directly with your fans, and having the opportunities to do it, you know. I think that's really exciting."

Warner Music has already lost Madonna to Live Nation and is reportedly paying a tremendous amount of money to keep Nickelback under contract, while other artists that have recently defected from the major labels include Nine Inch Nails and Radiohead.

Metallica has been watching what Radiohead and Trent Reznor have been up to.... [I]t hopes to make amends with fans still angry about the Metallica-killed-Napster episode years ago with a new website called Mission: Metallica, offering fans a chance to "experience the new album before it's done" that will offer its upcoming album in the unprotected MP3 format -- no digital rights management attached.

However, unlike Radiohead and NIN, Metallica won't offer its album for free. When the two-years-in-the-making album is finally ready to be released, members of the site will be able to download it in the DRM-free MP3 format (320 Kbps) -- quite a big step for the band that sued the original Napster. The album will also be available in vinyl and CD formats, each of which will also come with release-day digital download versions.

But the album's just the tip of the iceberg, according to the band, which plans to use the site to open up to its fans, somewhat in the style of Some Kind of Monster.

"Mission: Metallica is your inside look at the past two years of riffing, writing and recording," reads a note on the site, which was created by the band's label, Warner Music Group. "[It's] proof that we've actually been doing shit most of this time! We're gonna open the floodgates and share with you photos, videos, riffs and a lot more."

This represents a big move for Metallica and its major label overlord away from DRM and towards unprotected music. And since it requires the creation of a profile, the site will also likely become a sort of social network for Metallica fans as the album is released and the band goes on tour in support of it.

That said, the band and its label still have one foot in the old music industry. Mission: Metallica offers fans certain things for free (mostly in the form of video footage and teasers for the album), but the decision not to offer a free version of the album looks major label-ish when compared to Radiohead's and Nine Inch Nails' full album giveaways.

Fans have several options when signing up for Mission: Metallica, from free all the way up to $125."

Main sources: here and here.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Words of wisdom and revolution from The Nightwatchman....

a cappella metal !


"Five singers, one drummer. No guitars, no bass, no keyboards but nevertheless an unbelievable melodic metal experience." That's the description of van Canto, a German a cappella group that's done an amazing job of covering Metallica's classic "Battery" (from the Master of Puppets album, a.k.a. before the band met Bob Rock).

Not sure why these fine Germans thought they should sing the word "battery" instead of just humming the notes of the original's acoustic guitar intro, but once that's done, the heart of the song kicks in—and we mean, kicks.

Video is here.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Going to the Palace to listen to the radio


Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers/Steve Winwood, May 31:

Here's how the Grand Rapids Press summed up the concert from the night before: "Lead guitarist Mike Campbell has never been better, Benmont Tench proved he may be the most tasteful keyboard sideman in rock, drummer Steve Ferrone solidified his standing as the Heartbreakers' perfect drummer, bassist Ron Blair stayed out of the way while providing rhythmic thunder, and multi-instrumentalist Scott Thurston showed off his considerable vocal skills. At 57, Petty has never seemed more comfortable in his stage skin, whether stretching his arms out like a bird to strut across the stage or getting bluesy on 'Saving Grace' or revving up an already revved-up crowd on 'American Girl' to close out a killer encore.... Even the eye-catching, tree-like stage and lighting set-up, with multiple video screens, cubes and a colorful lighted curtain backdrop, ranked as one of the most creative in Petty's tour history."

Oh yeah, and there was the warm-up act: "Steve Winwood delivered one of [his] strongest performances, [mixing] material from his latest album, Nine Lives, with hits ranging as far back as the '60s with triumphant, crowd-pleasing renditions of 'I'm a Man' and 'Gimme Some Lovin' ' (which he first recorded at 15), not to mention faves from his years with the eclectic, psychedelic Traffic and solo hits such as 'Higher Love.'"

Saturday night in Auburn Hills, Steve Winwood had the crowd screaming for well-loved songs from his Blind Faith, Traffic, and Spencer Davis Group arsenal. At 60, his voice sounds no different than it did at 15, and this cat can play a mean guitar solo, too. It was clear that the headliners had limited his access to the sound system and the lighting, but his hour-fifteen set was still energized and awesome.

Then came the main attraction. Tom Petty may be the only performer out there who moves entirely in slow motion. Literally. His lips and fingers move in standard time, but everything else about him is slo-mo. The word you'll see used most often to describe Tom, the human being, is "mellow," but that doesn't capture the time-delay involved in the way Tom, the performer, drags his boots across the stage, lifts his arms to conduct the band, bows to his drummer to close out a song, or any other physical movement. Everything half speed.

Music? Note-perfect to the CD versions of every song. Not a single change in tempo, phrasing, solo length, anything. It was like listening to the radio, and with Scott Thurston (wearing a gray suit) glued to his rhythm-guitarist spot at stage far right, Ron Blair (wearing a gray suit) never moving from his spot in front of the bass amp next to Thurston, Ferrone and Tench (wearing a gray suit) nailed to their instruments by necessity, and Petty sort of gliding slowly from one place to another, that pretty much left some impressive lighting and the admirable soloing skills of Mike Campbell—who did move, visibly and perceptibly—to serve as the visuals for the radio sing-along to the Greatest Hits package:

You Wreck Me
Mary Jane's Last Dance
I Won't Back Down
Even The Losers
Free Fallin'
End Of The Line
The Waiting
Saving Grace
Face In The Crowd
Learning To Fly
Don't Come Around Here No More
Refugee
Runnin' Down A Dream
American Girl


Hmmph. A six on the zero-to-ten scale.