Pick Six: Rufus Wainwright, Coldplay, Black Keys, "Get on Up” James Brown biopic; Jackson Browne, more

  • Updated: July 26, 2014 - 2:00 PM

A half-dozen cool things in music, from two points of view:

Rufus Wainwright, Minnesota Zoo. The setting couldn’t be better, with great sound and a stage surrounded by trees and animals for an intimate evening with my favorite singer/songwriter and performer. Besides singing my favorite songs during the encore (“Poses,” “Hallelujah,” “Pretty Things”), he also performed the final aria of his new opera sung in French and a duet (“Liza”) with his sister Lucy Wainwright Roche. A truly inspirational and magical evening.

Coldplay, “Ghost Stories.” The latest album by Chris Martin and crew lives up to expectations with haunting melodies and meaningful lyrics. “Sky Full of Stars,” “Always in my Head” and “Magic” follow the theme of the magical power of love even in the midst of dissolving relationships.

The Black Keys, “Turn Blue.” I love this album and if the Black Keys were influenced by Pink Floyd, I applaud them! It’s a “heavier” album than their others but still maintains the group’s groove as only they can do.

LAURA KJENSTAD, Minneapolis

to contribute: popmusic@startribune.com

“Get on Up.” This James Brown biopic is a powerful psychic portrait. Its self-consciously unconventional approach fits its unconventional subject. Chadwick Boseman, who played Jackie Robinson in “42,” has Brown’s walk, speech and aura down. His dancing is a bit unfinished, but his lip-syncing works with Brown’s actual singing voice.

Roots Rock and Deep Blues Festival. It was the fourth annual little Minneapolis fest that should. Should be better attended. Smartly curated on five stages, the efficient fest had impressive depth and variety. I caught memorable performances by local country hero Erik Koskinen, the soul warblers Black Diet featuring rock-star-in-waiting Jonathan Tolliver and shoulder-shaking Texas Americana singer-songwriter Ben Ballinger.

Jackson Browne, State. It was a show in balance: plenty of piano tunes (highlight: “Fountain of Sorrow”) and songs on electric or acoustic guitar; several hits and some deep tracks; enough talking but not too long-winded; a few local references to French Meadow Bakery at the airport and late guitar-maker Roger Benedict. Best of all, Browne was in fine voice.

Jon Bream, Star Tribune

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