Unfriended leaves viewers in pixelated purgatory

ORIGINALLY POSTED ON STRAIGHT.COM, APRIL 18, 2015 By Steve Newton You've gotta give Blumhouse Productions credit: they sure know how to make big bucks off cheaply made horror flicks. The company is noted for 2007's Paranormal Activity, which was mostly shot in one bedroom, cost 15 grand to make, and grossed over $190 mil. Now Blumhouse … Continue reading Unfriended leaves viewers in pixelated purgatory

Fleetwood Mac brings one helluva drum sound to Vancouver

By Steve Newton Fleetwood Mac must really love Vancouver. The Anglo-American pop greats played Rogers Arena less than five months ago, on November 18, before returning for last night's gig at the same venue. Apparently the feeling is mutual, because hordes of Vancouverites were willing to drop $199 (plus service charges and fees) for the … Continue reading Fleetwood Mac brings one helluva drum sound to Vancouver

Robert Cray soars on spectacular sound at Hard Rock Casino Vancouver

photo by Kevin Statham By Steve Newton I've seen a lot of electric guitar-based concerts in the last 30 years or so. Heck, one of the main reasons I became a music journalist back in '82 was to see a lot of electric guitar-based concerts. (That, and to get free albums.) But I honestly can't recall … Continue reading Robert Cray soars on spectacular sound at Hard Rock Casino Vancouver

2nd annual Burnaby Blues Fest suits yard apes and beer drinkers alike

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, JULY 26, 2001 As any local fan will tell you, the Vancouver area has needed a full-fledged blues festival for so long that it hurts. Harmonica ace and CFMI Sunday Blues radio-show host Stormin’ Norm Casler tried getting an annual all-day blues fest going at Granville Island a few … Continue reading 2nd annual Burnaby Blues Fest suits yard apes and beer drinkers alike

The Babadook is the most moving and memorable fright flick of the year

ORIGINALLY POSTED ON STRAIGHT.COM, DEC. 3, 2014 By Steve Newton Is The Babadook a slow-burning, Repulsion-style psychodrama depicting a lonely woman’s paranoid descent into madness? Or is it more of a flat-out horror show that introduces a freaky new being—the titular pitch-black, long-taloned, top-hat-wearing demon thingie—to the fearscape? Who cares? Fact is, it’s the most moving and memorable … Continue reading The Babadook is the most moving and memorable fright flick of the year

Paul McCartney & Wings deluxe-edition box sets are pretty sweet

By Steve Newton Nineteen-seventy-five was one hell of an awesome year for rock. That was when Floyd released Wish You Were Here, Zep dropped Physical Graffiti, and Lizzy unleashed Fighting.And a band named Wings, featuring ex-Beatle Paul McCartney, joined the fray with a 13-track monster titled Venus and Mars. Man, I played the crap out of that album. From the … Continue reading Paul McCartney & Wings deluxe-edition box sets are pretty sweet

The Rolling Stones play Vancouver on the Steel Wheels Tour

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, NOV. 10, 1989 By Steve Newton In what was surely the biggest Vancouver concert event of the '80s, the Rolling Stones hit Vancouver for two nights last week amid a flurry of hype and much grovelling for tickets. Now that Jagger and the boys have gathered up their money-bags … Continue reading The Rolling Stones play Vancouver on the Steel Wheels Tour

Ouija is by-the-numbers horror leading nowhere

ORIGINALLY POSTED ON STRAIGHT.COM, OCT. 23, 2014 I remember Ouija. When I was a kid in the late '60s my older sister would use our "weegee board" to try to conduct séances and communicate with the dead. I was never into it. "Leave the dead alone," was my motto. Plus, I didn't have much faith … Continue reading Ouija is by-the-numbers horror leading nowhere

Creepy-doll flick Annabelle has more potent scares than The Conjuring

ORIGINALLY POSTED ON STRAIGHT.COM, OCT. 6, 2014 I've been a sucker for creepy-doll flicks ever since that ventriloquists' dummy from Magic put its unblinking spell on me back in 1978. The genre has had its ups (Child's Play) and downs (Dead Silence), but it gets a major boost with Annabelle, a prequel to last year's over-rated The Conjuring. Married couple … Continue reading Creepy-doll flick Annabelle has more potent scares than The Conjuring

Tusk goes off the rails as a crazed body-horror trainwreck

ORIGINALLY POSTED ON STRAIGHT.COM, OCT. 1, 2014 Kevin Smith’s podcast-spawned Tusk has to be one of the most insane horror-comedies I’ve ever seen. Considering how supergonzo it is, I’m surprised I didn’t like it more. The movie opens with self-absorbed L.A. podcaster Wallace (Justin Long) and his best friend, Teddy (Haley Joel Osment), in the midst of … Continue reading Tusk goes off the rails as a crazed body-horror trainwreck

Elton John not impressed by the Newt’s review of his Vancouver show

An outraged EJ scribbles "You don't know shit, Newt" on my treasured copy of Yellow Brick Road You'd think that pop legend Elton John would be beyond caring what the critics think by now, right? Well, apparently he still reads the reviews. Even before they get in the paper. I wrote a pretty damn glowing online … Continue reading Elton John not impressed by the Newt’s review of his Vancouver show

Meat Loaf plays Vancouver, threatens to kick 900 asses

On August 31, 1989, Meat Loaf played Vancouver's 86 Street Music Hall, so I went. Here's my review, published in the September 8-15 issue of the Georgia Straight under the headline "The Bat Out of Hell returns for another bite". Meat Loaf was one of the most unusual rock personalities of the '70s. First off, unlike … Continue reading Meat Loaf plays Vancouver, threatens to kick 900 asses

Genesis box set goes heavy on The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, DEC. 17, 1998 By Steve Newton Before paying the hefty list price for this boxed set, you’ll want to make sure you’re a big fan of Genesis’s 1974 double album, The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway, because a live version of it—recorded at L.A.’s Shrine Auditorium in January of … Continue reading Genesis box set goes heavy on The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway

There’s plenty of room to keep your weed in the Queen box if you toss the two duds

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, DEC. 17, 1998 By Steve Newton Don’t let the oversized imitation-velvet box fool you—this cheaply designed collection is nothing more than a digitally remastered reissue of the band’s first eight studio albums. Unlike in most boxed sets, there’s nothing previously unreleased here, nothing rare, nothing live. Instead of paying … Continue reading There’s plenty of room to keep your weed in the Queen box if you toss the two duds

Mott the Hoople box set is definitely worth the extra dollars

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, DEC. 24, 1998 By Steve Newton This long-awaited, three-disc Mott the Hoople box--All the Young Dudes: The Anthology-- is only available as a British import, but for die-hard fans of the distinctive and innovative glam-era band it’s definitely worth the extra dollars. As well as the group’s biggest hits … Continue reading Mott the Hoople box set is definitely worth the extra dollars

Silverchair fanatics will lap up the Aussie grunge-rockers’ Freak Box

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, DEC. 11, 1997 By Steve Newton You’ve gotta think pretty highly of yourself to issue a five-disc box set when you’ve only got two albums to your name, but that’s what teenage Aussie grunge-rockers Silverchair have done with this limited-edition import, The Freak Box. Even more bizarre, though, is … Continue reading Silverchair fanatics will lap up the Aussie grunge-rockers’ Freak Box

The Doors box set documents the band in all its unrefined glory

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, DEC. 11, 1997 By Steve Newton This four-disc package of Doors material, spanning the years 1965 to ’71, favours previously unreleased live tracks and demo recordings over studio-polished hits, and documents the band in all its eccentric, unrefined, and—with tunes that pass the 18-minute mark—excessive glory. Its mix of … Continue reading The Doors box set documents the band in all its unrefined glory

Sinister director goes from horrifying to horrible with Deliver Us From Evil

ORIGINALLY POSTED ON STRAIGHT.COM, JULY 3, 2014 Director Scott Derrickson's Sinister was one of the better Hollywood fright flicks of 2012. It was a grim descent into domestic horror, with Ethan Hawke convincingly portraying a true-crime writer uncovering genuinely creepy supernatural goings-on at his new home. Derrickson's latest, Deliver Us From Evil, is pretty much the opposite. … Continue reading Sinister director goes from horrifying to horrible with Deliver Us From Evil

Whiney False Creek residents put a damper on the Granville Island Blues Festival

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, SEPT. 26, 1996 What is it with Vancouver residents who can’t stand the sound of music emanating from an outdoor venue? I remember how the folks living in the Hastings-and-Renfrew area used to beef about the volume of daylong rock concerts at Empire Stadium in the mid-’70s, as if … Continue reading Whiney False Creek residents put a damper on the Granville Island Blues Festival

That wild ’70s weekend when Kiss brought the glam and the Pistols brought the punk

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, SEPT. 5, 1996 The Rocket really nailed it. The Seattle music paper’s latest cover sports hilarious caricatures of Kiss’s Gene Simmons and the Sex Pistols’ Johnny “Rotten” Lydon, under the headline “Geezers of Rock”. A prune-faced Lydon is depicted with bloodshot eyes, slobbering all over himself, wearing a button that … Continue reading That wild ’70s weekend when Kiss brought the glam and the Pistols brought the punk

A cringe-inducing Ozzy cashes in on the genius of riff-master Tony Iommi in Vancouver

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, AUG. 1, 1996 When Ozzy Osbourne called off his June GM Place show after two-and-a-half songs, the excuse given for his voice lapsing into a pathetic-sounding croak was first described by the concert promoter as a “vocal seizure”, and then by his record label as an “allergic attack”. But … Continue reading A cringe-inducing Ozzy cashes in on the genius of riff-master Tony Iommi in Vancouver

Even Limblifter has trouble topping the Odds’ power-pop at Foxfest ’96

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, JULY 25, 1996 The folks at CFOX radio have been jubilantly claiming that “the Fox rocks!” for quite some time now, but as any Vancouverite with cable hooked up to their tuner can tell you, it’s really the stations out of Seattle that can rock you like a hurricane. … Continue reading Even Limblifter has trouble topping the Odds’ power-pop at Foxfest ’96

The Scorpions and Alice Cooper bring melodic ’70s-style hard-rock to Vancouver

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, JULY 11, 1996 By Steve Newton It was such a scorcher last Sunday (July 7), I found it impossible to pull myself out of our plastic kids’ pool and get down to the Coliseum in time for the start of the Scorpions/Alice Cooper concert. I completely missed the 25-minute … Continue reading The Scorpions and Alice Cooper bring melodic ’70s-style hard-rock to Vancouver

Tom Cochrane gets his Canuck on at the Commodore in Vancouver

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, MARCH 22, 1996 Last July a band calling itself Red Rider—but without Tom Cochrane in the lineup—played the Commodore. Not surprisingly, the turnout was small, and not surprisingly, I wasn’t there. I’ve been a Red Rider fan since day one, but the notion of seeing the band without Cochrane … Continue reading Tom Cochrane gets his Canuck on at the Commodore in Vancouver

John Popper’s wild harp licks in Vancouver bring to mind Jan Hammer on Wired

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, DEC. 7, 1995 Blues Traveler singer-harpist John Popper may be the most awe-inspiring harmonica player in the world of rock, but what really makes him special is the way he couples the mastery of his instrument with truly outstanding vocals. There aren’t that many virtuoso instrumentalists who can also … Continue reading John Popper’s wild harp licks in Vancouver bring to mind Jan Hammer on Wired

WolfCop would be painful to watch even without the Gowan

ORIGINALLY POSTED ON STRAIGHT.COM, JUNE 4, 2014 WolfCop looks like it could have been a hoot to make, because judging by the finished product, nobody involved—from the director on down to the FX lackey spattering fake blood around—seemed to give a rat’s ass about how the Canadian horror-comedy turned out. It’s got the look and feel … Continue reading WolfCop would be painful to watch even without the Gowan

Quadrophenia: Live in London gets primo packaging in a collector’s edition

By Steve Newton I've long posited that the Who's Quadrophenia is the greatest rock album of all time. The 1973 double-disc captured the British rock quartet at its creative peak, firing on all cylinders, and—thanks to Pete Townsend's songwriting skills—told a thoroughly engrossing tale of a young man's struggle for identity amid the Mods vs. Rockers turmoil … Continue reading Quadrophenia: Live in London gets primo packaging in a collector’s edition