Live and kicking

By BOSTON PHOENIX MUSIC STAFF  |  December 17, 2007

Beastie Boys | Opera House | August 5
Sure is nice to have the Opera House back, and this August the Opera House was fortunate enough to play host to Beastie Boy Adam “MCA” Yauch’s 43rd birthday. The Boys were in town to support an all-instrumental disc, The Mix-Up (Capitol), but as Jon Garelick reported, there were some major sighs of relief when “Yauch, Adam Horovitz, and Mike Diamond jumped around stage unencumbered by instruments and shouted call-and-response riffs with Mix Master Mike on ‘Three MCs and One DJ.’ ”

The Download Festival | Tweeter Center | August 18
Although it had nothing to do with downloading and was one of those tours filthy with corporate sponsors, the Download Festival succeeded because it had one of the best multi-band bills of the year: headliners Modest Mouse plus Guster, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Neko Case, Wolf Parade, Band of Horses, Bang Camara, and Apollo Sunshine. Mike Miliard wrote that “the day-long fest reached full efflorescence when Isaac Brock and company turned in a tight, impassioned set . . . calling on fans in the cheap seats to descend toward the premium area” during an anthemic “Float On.”

Elvis Costello and Bob Dylan | DCU Center | October 2
The greatest songwriter of the boomer generation meets the greatest songwriter of the punks who came after — and who looks more the punk these days? Elvis played the role of the consummate showman, Dylan did Dylan as only Dylan can, and, as Steven Lee Beeber wrote, “The audience was wonderfully in the moment.”

Nellie MCKay | Paradise Rock Club | October 2
She was more than an hour late, and the natives — even those lucky enough to grab one of the cabaret-style seats — were restless. But once McKay hit the stage, all was forgiven as she began what Matt Ashare described as a “beguiling solo set that was as playful as it was potent.” McKay may draw comparisons with jazz chanteuses like Diana Krall, but she has a subversive streak that sets her apart, and a sense of spontaneity that makes it seem as if every show were a once-in-a-lifetime event.

Gogol Bordello | Roxy | October 11
Leave the sex and drugs behind but bring the vodka and herring — that was transplanted Ukrainian Eugene Hütz’s message when his band hit the Roxy. Oh, and don’t forget the rock — or, as Jon Garelick described it, “Eastern party music, big stomping polkas with Colombian or klezmer accents that got the mosh pit pogoing.”

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