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The xx and Sampha dazzle the Mann Center’s Skyline Stage

The xx | photo by Doug Interrante for WXPN

Summer musical performances in West Fairmount Park is always a holistic experience – the skyline, landscape, stars, and grooves.  That rang true Wednesday as the Skyline Stage at the Mann kicked off their summer season.  Introduced in the summer of 2012, the Skyline Stage gives the Mann an opportunity to expand its concert offerings with a more intimate experience.  An experience necessary for the stellar bill of Sampha and The xx.

Sampha opened the show just as the sun started to sink in the sky behind backlit trees.  Leading with “Timmy’s Prayer,” a ballad co-written by Kanye West which fully displays how Sampha’s voice hits you on a more spiritual level.  His vocal delivery from start to finish was strong and emotive.  His falsetto, seemingly more delicate than most, rarely came close to its breaking point no matter how high he pushed it. Continue reading →

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NonCOMM Recap: Robert Cray and Hi Rhythm brings it home with guitar solos and soul

Robert Cray and Hi Rhythm | photo by John Vettese for WXPN

Bringing NonCOMM 2017 to a high energy close, veteran guitarist Robert Cray was joined by Hi Rhythm for an invigorating set of blues, soul and rock and roll.

Drawing from their new album Robert Cray & Hi Rhythm, the band was tight and energized, and Cray proved an understated but galvanizing leader of it — his presence was stoic on the verses, but emitted pure joy when he dipped into any of the set’s many guitar solos. Continue reading →

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NonCOMM Recap: Paul Shaffer and the World’s Most Dangerous Band bring a funky revue to Free At Noon

Paul Schaffer and the World’s Most Dangerous Band | photo by Emma Silverstone for WXPN

Strutting to the stage with a funky and frenzied cover of Kool and the Gang’s “Hollywood Swinging,” long time late night television bandleader Paul Shaffer played a lively set with his combo of veteran players, The World’s Most Dangerous Band.

Made up of Felicia Collins on guitar, Anton Fig on drums, Will Lee on bass and Sid McGinnis on guitar, with horn players Tom Malone, Frank Greene, and Aaron Heick, the band blew through selections from their new covers record,The World’s Most Dangerous Party.

“The breakout star is Felicia Collins,”Shaffer told the crowd of his guitarist. “People don’t understand the magnitude of talent we’re dealing with here.” Continue reading →

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NonCOMM recap: Laura Marling delivers soothing, soulful performance

Laura goshdang Marling.

If I had one tiny bit of an even an ounce of her vocal talent, I’d be one happy soul. Or her songwriting skills, I’d take that too. Or her complete coolness would be nice also. Basically, what I’m saying is that I think I want to be Laura Marling.

Sadly, that cannot happen. But, seeing her perform live is a close second. After a hearty introduction from Bob Boilen, Marling and crew swan-dived right into debut single, “Soothing,” off of her latest album, Semper Femina. Continue reading →

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NonCOMM Recap: Baskery weaves intricate dreamscapes on the PRX stage

Baskery | photo by Emma Silverstone for WXPN

Stockholm sisters Greta, Stella and Sunniva Bondesson make up Baskery, an eclectic trio that played a varied and high-energy set on the PRX Stage of NonCOMM Thursday night. The band crafted atmospheric, vibrant dreamscapes with a pick-up instrumental style — Greta alone rocked banjo, drums, guitar and harmonica — and their music recalled Tori Amos one moment, The Roches the next and Yeah Yeah Yeahs the next. Continue reading →

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NonCOMM Recap: Blondie reinvent cool pop again with Pollinator

Blondie | photo by Rachel Del Sordo for WXPN | racheldelsordophotography.com

You would think the highlight of a Blondie set would be the flawless performances of classic hits like “One Way or Another,” “Call Me,” “Heart of Glass,” “Dreaming,” and the rap-filled “Rapture,” all of which we heard during tonight’s NonCOMM set and all of which were real treats. But to be honest, the band’s new album Pollinator, released May 5th, is so good that it’s those songs, bridging disco, pop and darker rock, that had the crowd in the palm of Blondie’s hand.

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NonCOMM Recap: The National Reserve get things going with southern rock jams

The National Reserve | photo by Emma Silverstone for WXPN

It’s about 90 degrees in Philadelphia this evening and while it’s not too humid outside, the upstairs room at World Cafe Live is feeling a little sticky. It kind of sets the scene for The National Reserve though, a band from Brooklyn that opened the 17th annual NonCOMMvention with a set of bluesy rock ‘n’ roll straight from the steamy streets of the South.

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