Live Show Review: Bridge School Benefit at the Shoreline Amphitheater, 10/25/09

by Gordon Elgart on October 25, 2009

The view from 201, Row I

The view from 201, Row I

When I saw the lineup for this year’s Bridge School Benefit, I got excited. When I saw that hardly anyone was buying tickets for Sunday’s version of the show, I waited for the discounts to happen. And when Livenation reminded everyone that they should only buy tickets on Wednesdays by lowering decent pavilion seats to $40 including service charges, I was in.

It turns out Google offers free wifi throughout Mountain View, including here, so I’m hoping to post the first full length review of the show. With that in mind, I’m writing this review during set breaks. Keep reloading or revisiting, and I’ll add bands as I go.

Here's when everyone is playing so you know when to come back

Here's when everyone is playing so you know when to come back

First up was the traditional Pegi Young intro followed by Neil Young. He only did one song today, “Comes a Time,” before giving the stage over to Gavin Rossdale, famous for being both the lead singer of Bush and the husband of Gwen Stefani of No Doubt, tonight’s de facto headliner.

Gavin played a solid set of some newer originals, a couple of covers (Fleetwood Mac’s “Landslide” and Prince’s “Sometimes It Snows in April”), and finally closed with the Bush classics “Glycerine” and “Come Down.” I was particularly excited to hear Glycerine because he hadn’t played it the last time I saw him (at the Alice show in Golden Gate Park early this summer). My friend was calling him “Hottie McHoterson” (if that’s how you spell that), so I guess he made a good impression on the crowd.

Next up were Wolfmother, a hard rockin’ Australian combo that seemed to take the crowd by surprise.  They played the first Neil Young cover of the day, “Don’t Let It Bring You Down,” which brought the Neil faithful into their fold right away. They played a loud set full of their best known songs.  “Woman” and “Joker and the Thief” were the highlights. The new lineup is larger and a little more sloppy than the original lineup, but Andrew Stockdale can still wail, and at the end of the day, that’s mostly what matters.

Fleet Foxes came on stage next, quietly playing a gorgeous set of music that was marred only by the rudeness of those around me. If you need background music for your gossip, could you try a CD player at home? Why come here and talk over a magical band like Fleet Foxes when you could shut up and listen and not bother the blogger sitting in front of you.

Other than that, they sounded amazing as they as always do. The acoustic nature of this show did nothing to their sound.  It was quiet and pretty, and Robin Pecknold spent the time between the set practically whispering thanks (including to Neil Young for “guiding all of his life’s decisions”), as if he were afraid to wake up the neighbors. I’m not sure the largeness of Shoreline suits them, but I’d see them anywhere at this point.

Monsters of Folk followed, and they played what can only be called a pretty uninspired set of songs from their recent album, save one that my friend believes to be a Neil Young cover, but if it was one, I didn’t recognize it. (Please comment below if you know.) I hadn’t seen them before, unlike the other acts on today’s bill, and I had heard that their full set features a generous helping of each member’s solo material. That would probably be better. Also, M. Ward’s voice is so much better than the other guys in the band, the difference is shocking when he starts singing.

Next up was Sheryl Crow, and I used her set to write the first portion of this article. She did not annoy me at all, which was better than expected. I’ll say the cougars in the audience really liked dancing to “Soak Up the Sun.”

Adam Sandler walked on stage, said “I’m with you people. I don’t know what I’m doing here either” before launching into a cover of The Doors’ “Break on Through” that was actually pretty darned good.  He claimed that he “wrote the song when he was 4 years old in 1969 when he was a professor at UCLA, and some young man stole his notebook.” He played a fairly straightforward rock set of mainly Adam Sandler originals, with some joking throughout.

Random woman screams “I love you!”

Sandler replies “I love you too, but I’m married, although my wife’s OK with certain things.”

Then a main screams “I love you!” Sandler repeats himself.

For his penultimate song, “The Hanukkah Song,” he had the lyrics written down because he doesn’t remember them anymore. The Fleet Foxes talkers were big Adam Sandler fans, screaming along throughout, and it seems that he skipped a verse or two. Also, “Mel Gibson: not a Jew” brought on a big hearty laugh it might not used to get.

And then he finished by performing a duet with Neil Young on a song that Adam Sandler wrote for Neil Young, who then “recorded it and had a big hit.”

Overall, he had the biggest reaction so far tonight, without a doubt.

Adam Sandler on the Bridge School stage, swearing in front of the kids

Adam Sandler on the Bridge School stage, swearing in front of the kids

Adam Sandler setlist:

Break on Through (The Doors)
7 Foot Man
The Grandma Song
Listenin’ to the Radio
My Little Chicken
Hey Hey What Can I Do (Led Zeppelin)
Lunchlady Land
The Hanukkah Song
Powderfinger (with Neil Young)

Chris Martin came on stage next, dressed in a knit cap and sitting by himself at the piano, and led right into a modified version of “Dock of the Bay” with lyrics suited to the event going on. Then, without warning, he jumped right into “Clocks.” I expected this at the end, actually. The Fleet Foxes talkers seem to be big Chris Martin fans, too. Lots of screaming.

His look and manner are what I expect seeing Thom Yorke at this event would be like, except without the awesome material. He even moves like him at the piano; could his influences BE any more obvious? Still, he’s good on stage, telling lame jokes that his fans love. And for the most part the crowd sat and listened to him, which was a pleasant change.

From the Springsteen cover on, he brought out a violinist to accompany him. He introduced “Earth Angel” as his favorite song from his favorite film. Could he have meant Back to the Future or something else? He ended his last song with a singalong, and I learned that the Fleet Foxes talkers are not only loud; they’re also tone deaf.

Chris Martin Setlist:

Dock of the Bay (shortened with new lyrics)
Clocks
Lost
My Love Will Not Let You Down (Bruce Springsteen cover)
Yellow
Maple Leaf Rag (Scott Joplin)
Viva La Vida (Joe Satriani cover?)
Earth Angel (The Penguins cover)

Adam Sandler walked back on stage to introduce No Doubt, who then took the stage. People want to know one important thing about No Doubt. What is Mrs. McHoterson wearing? Here’s the best picture I could get from this vantage point. I’ll describe it, too. She was wearing a babydoll black dress with white tights and Sparta high heels. And her hair was done up in such a way that made her look every bit the hottie as her husband. This is one smokin’ hot couple.

With a little sass thrown in for good measure

With a little sass thrown in for good measure

The band sounded great, and the acoustic arrangements suit them.  They also had a string quartet on stage for the last four songs as well.  During “Just a Girl,” Gwen did the traditional move of singing directly to the Bridge School students, even climbing up on the stage to sing among them. She’s totally the star of the night. The Fleet Foxes talkers were discussing afterward how they KNOW she was lip syncing most of her parts. Goodness, these Fleet Foxes talkers are the worst.

No Doubt Set List:

Bathwater
Underneath It All
Just a Girl
Simple Kind of Life (string quartet joins here)
Magic’s in the Makeup
Don’t Speak
It’s My Life (Talk Talk cover)

Finally, the stage got dark for the actual headliner of the evening, our co-host Neil Young. It’s always a mystery what kind of set he’s going to play. Will it be countrified? Rockers? He emerged with his white hat and jacket, began strumming his guitar, playing harmonica, and sang.

Neil Young As-He-Plays Set List:

Out on the Weekend
Hold Back the Tears
From Hank to Hendrix
Daddy Went Walking (w/Sheryl Crow)
Harvest Moon (w/Sheryl Crow)
Down By the River

So it seems that the Fleet Foxes talkers like Neil enough to yell “YES!” when he plays a song they like, but not enough to actually shut up and listen to the songs. Instead, they called friends on their cell phones and told them to listen.

And then Neil invited everyone out on stage for the finale. The finale was a reprise of Neil’s opening, “Comes a Time.”

There comes a time when everyone comes back on stage.

There comes a time when everyone comes back on stage.

And with that, the night was over, and it’s time for this live review to end, and for me to go find my car and drive back to the city. Thanks for reading, everybody, and don’t forget to donate to the Bridge School!

Gordon Elgart

A music nerd who probably uses that term too much. I have a deep love for bombastic, quirky and dynamic music.

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{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

Vanessa Romero October 26, 2009 at 10:58 am

Viva La Vida is a Coldplay song, duh!

Reply

Gordon Elgart October 26, 2009 at 12:14 pm

That was an editorial comment about the Joe Satriani/Coldplay legal case.

Reply

Vanessa October 28, 2009 at 10:21 am

um, yea, see below. my brain was slow that day.

Marie Carney October 26, 2009 at 1:41 pm

I wonder if the Fleet Foxes talkers would even know you were talking about them if they read this?
No Doubt with a string quartet sounds AMAZING. I am now sad.

and I can’t believe M Ward is the best singer live in Monsters of Folk. On the record I think he’s the worst!

Reply

Ralphthegreek October 26, 2009 at 3:39 pm

For the most part, the show was pretty dull from the opener (Gavin Rossdale, whom I didn’t even know was married to Gwen Stefani until this morning) was pretty dull over all.

Wolf mother was a lot more animated and lively then Rossdale, Monsters of Folk and the very boring Fleet Foxes. Other then having some sounds reminiscent to early ’70s Zepplin, there was nothing there to get me on my feet.

Sheryl Crow was pretty dull until ‘Soak Up the Sun’, that’s when the crowd started waking up.

Thank god for Adam Sandler. He reminds me of when I’m doing an open mike. Real…genuine.. himself. I’d pay to seen him do that again. And his choice of Waddy Wachtel, a music icon was great!

But no doubt…No Doubt was my biggest shocker of the evening. At 58 I’m a ‘still stuck in the 60s’ kind of guy. If she was lip sinking (hard to believe..I wached those lips with the big binoculars) she did a damn good job. Her band was incredible. Great guitar work, incredible bass work and the two guys on brass and other instruments earned their keep. Gwen was a doll. Not to mention I had no idea she’s ……. 40?

So…my vote, first part of the show… zzzzzzz… from Adam Sandler on… YEEEAH!!!!

Ralphthegreek

Reply

Joby October 26, 2009 at 3:42 pm

Hear both Joplin tune candidates here:
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:Ragtime

Reply

Gordon Elgart October 26, 2009 at 5:21 pm

Thanks! It was Maple Leaf Rag. Now I can update this post, and leave these confusing comments behind.

Reply

Caroline October 26, 2009 at 5:11 pm

How could you think M.Ward is the worst singer? His voice is so smooth for such a gruffy tone.

I won’t tell you who I think is the worst. 😉

Reply

Marie Carney October 26, 2009 at 6:55 pm

Re Caroline’s comment:
Oh, I already know who you think of as the worst! To me, M Ward’s voice sounds like he’s gargling while singing, all in the back of his throat. It’s not my taste. I like singers who have a brighter tone centered more forward in the mouth, or I like singers who sing like they don’t give a crap what they sound like, they just have to sing or else they’re going to explode (which as cheesy at it is, why I like Conor Oberst so much, though he doesn’t sing like that so much anymore now that the teenage hormones have faded).

M Ward doesn’t fall into either of those catagories. I find him very static and reserved, and his tone is quite throaty.

Jim James does have a nice bright, clear, forward tone on the record, but I’ve never heard him live.

We’ll just have to agree to disagree. 🙂

Reply

Vanessa Romero October 26, 2009 at 9:02 pm

Gordon, yea sadly I just realized that 12 or so hours later, but I was tired!

Reply

Dakin October 27, 2009 at 7:32 pm

Just a note related to the fleet foxes talkers, they were there several years ago, when thom
yorke, Leann rimes, Jack Johnson and tenacious d were on the bill. They were talking, including the occassional mutterance of “who the hell is this guy” during thom yorke. Quiet and attentive for everyone else

Reply

Gordon Elgart October 27, 2009 at 8:16 pm

@Dakin, I wouldn’t be surprised if it were the SAME people.

Reply

Ralphthegreek October 27, 2009 at 7:50 pm

… And the drone of damn Miller Draft Plane going around and around wore on me. A few times would have been effective. All afternoon was rude and inconsiderate.

Reply

Chico Tim November 2, 2009 at 2:02 pm

Theres always dumbasses who talk during sets at BSB shows. You know the type, they only come for 1 or 2 acts then babble on endlessly during other performers. The year Dashboard Confessional
comes to mind with their brainless 20 year old fans. But the most notable one to me was many years ago when Warren Zevon played, was the same year Simon & Garfunkle, Heart, etc. This young woman just wouldnt shut up during Warren’ set. Finally Id had enough and asked her to be quiet as from the lawn could barely hear anyways. Id at first was polite about it but she got very offended. Later in the show she came up and nearly whispered in my ear about what a asshole I was, etc etc. Well I just totally went off on her verbally. Never in my life have the right words come so easily. Later her brother told me that she always gets away with stuff and that I was the only one who really stood up to her. Even my buddy was going on about it to complete strangers later in the parking lot. Damn that felt good.

I feel like giving a lesson in BSB etiquette but the people who need it most will never read it here. Besides, being considerate is something you learn over time and if you aint got it by young adulthood, nothing I say will change that.

Reply

Bigjok September 14, 2011 at 9:54 am

Another snob music blogger who feels the need to take cheap digs at Chris Martin, from the thom yorke comments to the ” Joe satriani cover ” ( you must think your so clever with that ) how clear could you possibly be that you hate coldplay. I’m honestly disgusted at your review

Reply

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