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

Joan Armatrading, Hopkins Center for the Arts. At 64, playing her 201st show of her "last world tour," she brought the house down and earned four standing ovations. Playing solo with just three guitars, she delivered her rock, blues and folk songs equally masterfully with renewed vigor.

Kraftwerk, Northrop. Part video game, part music video, the simple 3-D effects played off the music so well in captivating and mesmerizing us. A visual sonic play for the mind.

Robert Plant and Kent Nerburn in the Badlands. After playing in Chicago, Plant flew to South Dakota to tour the Badlands and Wounded Knee with Minnesota author Nerburn of "Neither Wolf Nor Dog." Although the rock god was spotted at Wounded Knee the night of the blood red moon, he remarked how pleasant it was to be with a larger local legend. Plant was also seen at Wall Drug and mischievously told fans he wasn't the real Robert Plant.

John Eichten, Mpls.

E-mail popmusic@startribune.com.

"Unfaithful Music & Disappearing Ink" by Elvis Costello. Like his music, this 670-page memoir is witty, wordy and often wonderful. There's lots about his big-band singer father and partying with the Attractions. He's hard on himself but often good-natured.

Phil and Dave Alvin, the Dakota, and Leon Russell, the Medina. This winning doubleheader started with a blast of blues (and a tantalizing taste of the bracing Blasters) from the reunited Alvin brothers and ended with the inimitable gospel/rock glory of the surprisingly chatty, Starkey Hearing-loving piano man.

RIP, Billy Hallquist. He was a journeyman Twin Cities singer-songwriter with a big heart and generous spirit who helped raise tens of thousands of dollars for Guitars for Vets.

Jon Bream, Star Tribune