An Inflatable Concert Hall Inspired By… Giant Plums?

As the song opened, a tiny white-yellow sphere appeared on the screen, gradually becoming larger and larger until eventually revealing itself to be the moon. Other planets Mars, maybe? soon manifested. The concert got bogged down in three places. After “Oh Josephine,” Chris left the stage, and Rich led Green, Pipien (whose rolling lines should’ve been higher in the mix all night), MacDougall and drummer/co-founder Steve Gorman into a loose, circular jam. While this jam did posses some flickering-stars aesthetics, it took forever to go anywhere. This would’ve been the ideal time to visit the Crowes merch table, which still sells $8 packs of Black Crowes Rolling Papers, a winking niche-product the band first introduced about 20 years ago and many stoner-friendly groups have copied since. The second misfire occurred with the airing of “Cold Boy Smile,” a so-so ballad that appeared on the 2010 acoustic best-of collective, “Croweology.” Thankfully, green-firefly projection-screen imagery enhanced the vibe. A windy airing of the interstellar travelogue “Wiser Time” achieved overdrive, but if the Crowes want to give any of their better-known numbers a rest, this oft-played tune could use a few minutes on the pine. Rich took lead vocals (in an early Neil Young-esque voice) for a rousing version of the Bob Dylan-penned and Manfred Mann-popularized ’60s classic “Quinn the Eskimo.” For their current trek, the Crowes have elected to perform sans the female background vocalists that augmented the group since the frequently contentious Chris and Rich rebooted the band in 2005, after a four-year hiatus. Whether this is a down-sizing cost-saving measure or not, Rich and Pipien’s vocal skills have vastly improved over the years, and deftly fleshed out the group’s wide sound even further in Huntsville. The joyful “Soul Singing” followed Rich’s vocal turn. This late-period Crowes chestnut has become one of the band’s concert staples in the last decade, and for good reason: sitar-like Rich guitar intro, quiet-loud dynamics and Chris lovestruck howls.

PBS Sets Elton John Concert Telecast

An Inflatable Concert Hall Inspired By Giant Plums? Designed by Japanese architect Arata Isozaki, who teamed with British-Indian sculptor Anish Kapoor, the Ark Nova is touted as the world’s first inflatable concert hall. Kapoor is no stranger to inflatable structures, having created the Leviathan in Paris back in 2011. But that structure was designed to stay put inside the city’s Grand Palais, whereas the Ark Nova is designed to travel around Japan for the Lucerne Music Festival , visiting parts of the country still recovering from the tsunami. Looking something like a gigantic plum-colored pregnant belly, the Ark Nova takes about two hours to completely inflate, and is capacious enough to hold an audience of about 500. And instead of theater seating, a series of wooden benches crafted from tsunami-damaged cedar trees provide an easily transportable place for people to sit. The concert hall’s unique design not only makes it easy to setup and haul, it presumably provides better acoustics than your traditional tent. And its almost donut-like design results in a built-in support column on the inside, ensuring that it can withstand inclement weather and high winds. Organizers just need to make sure they don’t sell souvenir hat pins or letter openers, and the Ark should survive its tour. [ Lucerne Festival Ark Nova via Spoon & Tamago ] S

An Inflatable Concert Hall Inspired By… Giant Plums?

Plug, plug, plug. The official word: PBS today announced the world television premiere of ELTON JOHN IN CONCERT, a new special featuring the legendary musician in an exclusive and intimate performance taped in the beautiful surroundings of the BBC’s famous Radio Theatre in the heart of West London. The concert special showcases the multi-Grammy Award-winning superstar performing songs from his new album, The Diving Board, mixed with classic songs from his extensive repertoire of hits. Originally broadcast live on BBC Radio 2, the UK’s most listened to station, ELTON JOHN IN CONCERT premieres Saturday, October 5, 8:00-9:00 p.m. ET / 7:00-8:00 p.m. CT (check local listings) on PBS. “We are thrilled to bring PBS viewers this fantastic concert special from one of the world’s great entertainers,” said Beth Hoppe, PBS Chief Programming Executive and General Manager, General Audience Programming. “Elton John’s songs are iconic and timeless, and his enormous appeal to people of all ages and backgrounds is a tribute to his singular genius.” Produced by T-Bone Burnett, The Diving Board is Elton John’s first solo studio album in seven years, and features 12 new songs written with longtime lyricist Bernie Taupin, as well as three piano interludes composed by John. “It’s the simplest and most piano-driven record I’ve ever made,” John told BBC Radio 2 in an interview on September 11, 2013, the day of the concert. Taped before an audience of 300 fans selected to win tickets from over 79,000 hopefuls, ELTON JOHN IN CONCERT includes these and other performances: “Bennie and the Jets”