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Robyn’s Honey odyssey peaks with a victory lap at The Mann Center

Robyn | photo by Ashley Gellman for WXPN | agellmanphotos.com

We don’t deserve Robyn. Her music, her moves, her endless energy and empathy on stage, any of it. But we do need her. To see her perform live is to feel revived, cleansed of woes and worries both personal and communal, however temporarily. Any opportunity to dance it out with her in a space full of likeminded disciples is a gift. To see her three times? On a tour that has quickly pivoted from showcasing to celebrating what may go down as the album of her career? This provided the serendipitous opportunity to see one of this generation’s pop greats do what too few of her contemporaries can. From Washington, D.C. to Barcelona, and ultimately to Philadelphia, she took roughly the same set of songs and made them feel perfectly tailored for every unique space and crowd. Continue reading →

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Confetti and Joy: The Decemberists and M. Ward made the Mann Center feel like home

The Decemberists | photo by Kate McCann for WXPN | katemccannphotography.com

It was one of those nights at the Mann Center for Performing Arts where every moment made you fall in love with Philadelphia all over again. And each song made you feel more at home with the ever-engaged audience.

The skyline aglow, M. Ward took the stage with an acoustic guitar, alone, and fervently played to the crowd. The band shuffled in, playing favorites like “Chinese Translation” and “Post-War.” Mid-set, Ward announced a surprise album release of What a Wonderful Industry, that dropped today and followed it up with a new single, “Miracle Man.” Continue reading →

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Belle and Sebastian and Andrew Bird delight generations of fans at Mann Center

Belle and Sebastian | photo by Kate McCann for WXPN

“Young and hip and beautiful, that’s what we used to be,” Belle and Sebastian’s Stuart Murdoch laughed. He was referencing the opening set by Porches, now almost three hours ago at the Mann Center, but spun it into self-depricating self-reflection in the middle of a lively and high-energy set.

It was a night full of many instruments, and attendees got their money’s worth with hours of music during sets by Porches, Andrew Bird and a delightful selection of songs by Belle and Sebastian. After Porches played some of their synthpop jams, including a very deadpan version of “Car,” Andrew Bird took the stage with his band. Continue reading →

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Blondie and Garbage at The Mann, Hurry at Everybody Hits, Amanda X at Ortlieb’s

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

It’s a double header of still-vital rock and roll pioneers at The Mann Center tonight with Blondie and Garbage. In the 70s and early 80s, Debbie Harry and her bandmates bridged downtown New York punk rock with the dance-driven international New Wave scene, and wrote a massive amount of hits in the process; in the 90s, Shirley Manson brought a bold dose of glam and pop sensibilities to the dreary grunge landscape. Thing is, neither band is resting on its laurels or going through the nostalgia motions. Blondie and Garbage have both released albums of new material in the past year that stand strongly alongside their work from 20 (and 40) years ago — Pollinator, from the former, totally rips, as Harry and the band proved at NonCOMM this year, and Strange Little Birds is Garbage at its most vulnerable and honest but still kicks out driving anthems. Watch videos for “Long Time” and “Empty” below and get tickets and more information on tonight’s show at the XPN Concert CalendarContinue reading →

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Just Announced: Cage the Elephant and Portugal. The Man will play The Mann’s Skyline Stage

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Cage the Elephant | Photo by Joe Del Tufo | joedeltufo.com

In what is bound to be an energized double-bill of epic proportions, modern rockers Cage the Elephant and Portugal. The Man just announced a Philadelphia gig on Thursday, May 12th at the Skyline Stage of The Mann Center for the Performing Arts.

Cage the Elephant released its Dan Auerbach-produced fourth LP Tell Me I’m Pretty back in December, via RCA Records. Portugal. The Man’s most recent outing is 2013’s Evil Friends, though they have reportedly been in the studio working on its follow-up with collaborators ranging from Mike D to Mac Miller. Continue reading →

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Ingrid Michaelson and friends pull out all the stops for the last night of tour

Ingrid Michaelson | Photo by Cameron Pollack | cameronpollack.500px.com
Ingrid Michaelson | Photo by Cameron Pollack | cameronpollack.500px.com

To say that Ingrid Michaelson gets better every time I see her is in no way an understatement. Over the past year, this is the fifth time I’ve caught her live; you think I would have seen everything, but you would have thought wrong. She throws in new (though equally beloved) songs, always makes sure to love her band in the most creative ways possible, and with this week’s Mann Center appearance being the last show of her Summer Night Out tour, antics were sure to occur. Occur they did. Continue reading →