A half-dozen cool things in music, from two points of view:
Lorde, “Live on Letterman” on cbs.com. Can’t get enough of this awkward Kiwi teen hip-hop balladeer. From her rebellious interviews to her proletarian lyrics, you can’t help but be fascinated. Can’t think of anyone since Sinéad O’Connor who has scored so quickly commercially while thumbing her nose at the very industry that got her there. Her six-song set on “Live” depicts her unique mastery of both voice and stage. This is not a one-hit wonder.
The Head and the Heart, First Avenue. Their three vocalists exchange the melodic lead as well as any band around. This was a rousing return for them after stealing the stage as the opener for Iron & Wine two years ago. Charity Rose Thielen, the female vocalist with Minnesota roots, is unmatched as a showstopper on “Rivers and Roads.”
Colin Meloy, Woman’s Club of Minneapolis. Absolutely the most intimate concert experience at an underrated, if not unknown, venue. Meloy was at his best sans the Decemberists, his usual band. The memorable encore of the three-part “The Crane Wife” demonstrated his musically intellectual prowess.
Patrick Walsh, Hutchinson, Minn.
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Robin Roberts and “One Edition” on “Good Morning America.” While interviewing One Direction, the TV anchor mistakenly called the huge boy band “One Edition” (she must have been a New Edition fan back in the day) — not once, not twice, but three times. And 1D’s Louis Tomlinson picked up on it and screamed “One Edition” as he thrust his arm in the air — and his mates then joined in with another One Edition salute. Hilarious.
Leo Kottke, Guthrie Theater. The Minneapolis guitar god has never talked more in concert — and played less — but it was still a highly entertaining and musically rewarding show. He told stories about his first kiss, childhood music lessons, family Thanksgiving dinners and misadventures on the road. He offered some fancy picking on 6- and 12-string acoustic guitars on “The Fisherman” and “Then” and showcased his inimitable vocals on “Ring Ring” and “Pamela Brown.” Props to Kottke for inviting three string players — violist Sam Bergman, violinist Jonathan Magness and cellist Pitnarry Shin — from the Minnesota Orchestra to open with a stellar and most appropriate program, peaking with the encore of John Mackey’s jazzed-up country/bluegrass piece “Wrong-Mountain Stomp.”
American Music Awards. Can’t remember who won what but can’t forget Miley Cyrus standing in one spot performing “Wrecking Ball” with a CGI cat singing behind her; Jennifer Lopez saluting Celia Cruz with two costume changes in mid-song and some flashy dancing, or Sarah Silverman’s comment about white guys up for favorite R&B performer — and then winner Justin Timberlake saying he’d never been racially profiled by a white woman before. His quips were consistently funny all night.
Jon Bream, Star Tribune