Fantastic Arena Rock! Panic! at the Disco at The United Center (October 28, 2022)

Tonight is the last stop of Panic! at the Disco’s tour. It almost didn’t happen after they had to cancel their earlier performance due to COVID. They also had to cancel their Milwaukee performance and were unable to reschedule it at the Fiserv Forum. This tour has a very massive stage, complete with a U-shaped piece at the front that allows the band to walk around it. The fireworks and flamethrowers are very impressive.

This tour is unique in that they are playing their entire new album, Viva Las Vengeance, which was released this year. Usually a band only plays a few songs from their new album. But they have a reason to play it all, it’s fantastic. The second song is “Middle Of A Breakup”. “Oh shit, you’re kissin’ my neck, kissin’ my chest / Now I remember why we fell in love / Hot smoke, feels like we just met, lips I couldn’t kick / Honey, honey, you’re my favorite drug”. These lyrics perfectly capture this magical moment and the audience eats it up.

Later on they play “God Killed Rock And Roll”. “God killed rock ‘n’ roll / No blood on the stage, no Plant, no Paige / Kiss ’em all goodbye”. Wow, this is really arena rocker that would make Queen proud.

On “Say It Louder”, Brendon Urie sings “When this song comes on the radio / When you’re headed home after the show (headed home after the show) / Remember what it’s like to be there / You definitely had to be there (remember what it’s like)”. It’s true, you really did have to be there to fully experience this huge performance.

During “I Write Sins Not Tragedies”, Brenden lets the audience sing without him. “Haven’t you people ever heard of closing the goddamn door? / No, it’s much better to face these kinds of things / with a sense of poise and rationality”. This huge hit from their first album in 2005 still rocks.

To close out the night, they play their mega hit, “High Hopes”, which has over 1.2 billion streams on Spotify. The packed crowd at the United Center gleefully sings along “Had to have high, high hopes for a living / Shooting for the stars when I couldn’t make a killing / Didn’t have a dime but I always had a vision!” It’s such a joyous song a fantastic way to end the evening!

See the full setlist here.

Cost of a ticket: $158 – (Floor and 100 Level Seats)

PlaylistHQ Economic Rating: Half Price + (But sometimes you have to splurge)

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Quinn Delaney

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Final Week: First Floor Theater Presents Botticelli in The Fire at The Den Theatre (Through November 5th, 2022)

Sandro Botticelli was an Italian Renaissance painter. He was born in 1445 and died in 1510. In this play, he is commissioned by Lorenzo de Medici to paint a portrait of his wife, Venus. His apprentice, Leonardo da Vinci provides input and help with the painting.

Jordan Tannahill’s play isn’t for everyone. The plot was a bit thin and the characters weren’t developed enough for the audience to have an emotional connection.

Photos by Evan Hanover

The cast includes Neala Barron (Adding Machine) as Clarice, Yuchi Chiu (It’s a Wonderful Life), Andrew Cutler (Plano) as Medici, Christopher Meister, Alex Benito Rodriguez as Botticelli, John Payne as Da Vinci, and Jenece Upton.

Cost of a ticket: $41

PlaylistHQ Economic Rating: Half Price

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Get tickets now for Botticelli in The Fire through November 5th.

See the program here.

Quinn

Enthralling! Meg Mac opening for Jacob Banks at House of Blues Chicago (October 28, 2022)

Megan Sullivan McInerney, known by her stage name Meg Mac, is an Australian singer-songwriter and musician. This past weekend, she was the opener for Jacob Banks at the House of Blues in Chicago and with her first song, she instantly grew her fan base as the audience was enthralled by her voice.


During this performance, Meg Mac mainly promoted her new album, Matter of Time, which was released September 16, 2022. She also included previous work from her debut album, Meg Mac with songs, “Every Lie” and “Roll Up Your Sleeps,” along with, “Give Me Back my Name” from her second album, Hope.

Her song-writing is deep and meaningful, and beautifully depicts the versatility in her voice. This was especially evident during her performance of “Give Me Back My Name” and “Understand” where her singing is effortless and her stage presence is captivating as she sings with conviction which resonates with the audience. In addition, her cover of “Grandma’s Hands” by Billy Withers had fans wanting more and is a testament to her continued and growing success. 

Setlist:
1. Every lie
3. Roll up your sleeves 
4. Give me my name back
5. Something in the water
6. Matter of time
7. Letter 
8. Grandma’s hands
9. Never be 
10. Understand
11. Is it worth being sad

Cost of a ticket: $38
PlaylistHQ Economic Rating: Worth It +
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Hilarious Physical Comedy! Clue at Mercury Theatre (Through January 1, 2023)

The board game version of Clue was first created in 1943 by British board game designer Anthony E. Pratt. The film version was released in 1985. The musical version had tryouts in Baltimore in 1995 and Chicago in 1996 before opening Off-Broadway in 1997. The first productions of this play version were in 2018. And now, in October 2022, it opens at The Mercury Theatre.

Six people are mysteriously summoned to a remote mansion to play a game. It is eventually revealed that they were all blackmailed to attend. It’s not long until someone turns up dead and they have to figure out who is the killer.

This is a hilarious farce full of physical comedy, satire, and movie references. They reference Citizen Kane, Gone with the Wind, and many others. The only change I’d recommend is adding an intermission before they begin to solve the case

Photos by Liz Lauren

The entire cast over acts in a hilarious manner. Mark David Kaplan (Little Shop of Horrors) is outrageous as the butler, especially with his long winded recap towards the end. Tiffany T. Taylor (Spring Awakening) is sweet and funny as the maid. Honey West (Priscilla Queen of the Desert) is very hilarious as the cook and the singing telegram girl. Jonah D. Winston (Avenue Q, Spamalot) is so silly and stupid as Colonel Mustard. He also starred recently in The Play That Goes Wrong which shares a lot in common stylistically with Clue and was just as funny.

McKinley Carter (Spring Awakening, Fun Home) is devilishly good as Mrs. White. Nancy Wagner (Sister Act) is fantastically pompous as Mrs. Peacock. Kelvin Roston, Jr. is surprising as Mr. Green. Andrew Jessop (Mr. Burns) is excellent as Professor Plum. Erica Stephan is very seductive as Miss Scarlet. Finally, Patrick Byrnes and Andrew MacNauhgton are solid in their many roles.

Cost of a ticket: $55 (Middle of the Main Floor)

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Get tickets now for Clue through January 1st!

Quinn Delaney

Intense and Funny – The Gift Theatre Presents The Locusts at Theater Wit (Through November 19, 2022)

Ella returns to her hometown of Vero Beach, FL, to help find a serial killer. She normally works as a researcher and profiler, but she is sent into the field for this case because of her familiarity with the city. While she is there, the death toll keeps rising as clues slowly come to light.

Jennifer Rumberger has written a play that is not for the faint of heart. There are many greatly terrifying and gruesome stories told. Thus, it is very appropriate for the Halloween season. However, it is not all serious as there are surprisingly many great moments of comic relief.

Photos by Sarah Elizabeth Larson

The positioning of the stage and the seats could use some improvement. A lot of the action takes place very far away from most of the audience. So, when facing the longest row of seats, sit as far to the left as possible.

Cyd Blakewell is excellent as Ella, who is very smart and determined while also battling the dark history she has in her hometown Brittany Burch (The Minutes) is great as her sister, who is very worried about her daughter and upset that Ella left town. Mariah Sydnei Gordon is full of youthful energy as the daughter, who tells great horror stories to her grandmother. Renee Lockett is solid as the grandmother, who is so supportive of her granddaughter’s dreams. Jennifer Glasse is fierce as the sheriff of Vero Beach who wishes she could get more funding instead of having outsiders come in to help. Patrick Weber is superb as the new cop eager to prove himself and catch the killer.

Cost of a ticket: $38

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Get tickets now for The Locusts through November 19th!

Quinn Delaney

So Fun! Judah & the Lion with The National Parks at The Riviera Theatre (October 21, 2022)

Early in the set, they play “Kickin’ da Leaves” from 2014. They say the song started as a joke, but his mom enjoyed it so much that they decided to record it. The quick repeating of words is so fun. “So so so don’t don’t don’t wait wait wait for for for me me me me me me me me me me me”!

Later on, the National Parks come back out on the stage to join the band for a covers melody. They play “Since U Been Gone” by Kelly Clarkson and “Higher” by Creed, followed by a recording of “Snap Yo Fingers” by Lil Jon. It’s a very fun celebration of music in the middle of their set.

The mandolin player, Brian, is from Wheaton. So, this is a hometown show for him and his parents are in the audience tonight.

Soon afterwards, they play “Suit and Jacket”. Judah sings “I ain’t trading my youth for no suit and jacket / I ain’t giving my freedom for your money and status”. It’s a great song about doing what you want, and not just what is expected of you.

They close their set with their biggest hit, “Take It All Back 2.0”. It has over 90 millions streams on Spotify. The entire audience sings along: “And one day we might have a big house with nice cars and fancy clothes and a wife with a big ol’ diamond ring / ‘Cause the people they dancing along, they dancing along to the mando’ and some sort of hip-hop beat / But I’d take it all back, take it all back, take it all back /I’d take it all back just to have you”! It’s a fantastic love song about giving it all up for your love and an excellent set finale.

See the full setlist here.

Cost of a ticket: $50

PlaylistHQ Economic Rating: Worth It

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Quinn Delaney

Solo Piano: Dan Layus of Augustana at City Winery Chicago (October 18, 2022)

To begin, Dan Layus takes the stage, bows, and sits down at the piano. He then goes on to play about four songs from his latest album, Everyday an Eternity: Solo Piano Works. He doesn’t say anything to audience before or in between the songs. It has everyone wondering if he will speak at all. Finally, after the last one, he says hello to the audience. He says that was the first time he played those songs for a crowd. They sounded great and are definitely audience ready, but a short introduction to them would be better than none.

Layus also plays some songs from his other album that came out this year, “Yourself Yesterday: A Rarities Collection”. One of these is “Looking for the Door”.

Later on he plays “Fire”. Layus only recently learned that this song almost didn’t make it on the album because the producer and the label didn’t think it fit in well. This album, Can’t Love, Can’t Hurt (2008) hit #2 on the charts. Tonight, he is playing his old songs a bit slower and quieter than usual, which makes them fit in nicely with his solo piano songs.

Dan says they decided to make their third album self-titled because it really felt like who the band really is. This self titled album (2011) also hit #1 on the Billboards chart for Top Independent Albums. He plays the opening track from this album, “Steal Your Heart”. It sounds a lot different in this slower solo version, but still solid.

“Oh, and I forgot this one” he says as begins the closer, his biggest hit, “Boston”. This single from 2005, hit #10 on the Adult Top 40. The audience is delighted as they sing along. “She said I think I’ll go to Boston / I think I’ll start a new life / I think I’ll start it over / Where no one knows my name”.

“See you next year!” he says as he exits the stage.

Cost of a ticket: $25 to $35

PlaylistHQ Economic Rating: Exceptional Value

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Quinn Delaney

Great Energy! Próxima Parada opening for Joe Hertler and the Rainbow Seekers at Chop Shop (October 15, 2022)

Próxima Parada, which means next stop in Spanish, are from San Luis Obispo, California. Having an opportunity to speak with the band prior to the show, they displayed such warmth and created a welcoming and relaxing environment. Their devotion to music and their fans was felt immediately and throughout the night. At the beginning of the evening, the lead singer, Nick Larson, picks up on the energy of someone in the audience in the front and instantly forms a connection with his fans.

His voice is fantastic, full of emotion, and resonates with everyone in the room. It is similar to the great soulful Leon Bridges. This is especially true on, “Time in a Circle”. “I decided to tear my house down / Now begins some reconstruction”. It’s a beautiful song and the crowd eats it up.

Larson at one point shares with the fans that two of the members had a crush on the same girl in college. So, they wrote a song about her titled, “Hannah Hannah”. The lead singer encourages everyone to shout out “Hannah” in the chorus, or any name they want to really. The lead guitarist says he likes to shout his own name. So, a large portion does just that, and yells “Josh,” which creates a connection among the fans. In another similar instance, Larson introduces a new song which they wrote in Spanish and when the audience passionately sings along, “me gusta” (the only part they knew), hecannot contain his laughter and acknowledges the love from their fans – a beautiful moment of the evening.

The lead guitarist, Josh Collins, makes great use of a talk box. He uses it well to create an excellent groove on stage that has everyone dancing along. Their energy makes them a great match to tour with Joe Hertler and the Rainbow Seekers.

Cost of a ticket: $30

PlaylistHQ Economic Rating: Worth It +

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Quinn Delaney

Great Play, Misleading Title – Swing State at The Goodman Theatre (Through November 13, 2022)

Peg lives alone in rural Wisconsin. Her husband died one year ago. Ryan, a local young man who she has known since he was six, is her only friend. She paid the taxes on his house while he was in prison for three years. In her will, she plans to leave her house to him. One day, Peg notices that some of her late husband’s tools and gun are missing. The local sheriff immediately lists Ryan as the top suspect. Her new deputy isn’t so sure and makes a great good cop to counter the sheriff’s bad cop personality. Who took the gun and what was Peg planning to do with it?

Rebecca Gilman has written a great play about a widow’s life in rural Wisconsin. The title is misleading, as there is only one line about politics. It is much more about Peg’s friendship with Ryan and her relationship with the police. These are explored in a very natural way to starts off light and funny and leads to being dramatic. At an hour and 45 minutes, it quite long to not have intermission.  

Photos by Liz Lauren

Mary Beth Fisher (Domesticated) is excellent as Peg, who is struggling to get through each day and find meaning in her life. Bubba Weiler (The Good Fight) is great as Ryan, who is also barely hanging on as he tries to adapt back to life outside of prison while also deeply worrying about Peg. Kristen Fitzgerald (Sweat, Mary Page Marlow) is intense as the sheriff who is looking to solve the case, even if Peg doesn’t want her to. Anne E. Thompson (Twilight Bowl) is so kind as the new deputy, who has finally found a job she is good at.  

Cost of a ticket: $55 (Main Floor)

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Get tickets now for Swing State at The Goodman Theatre through November 13th!

Quinn Delaney

Face Melting Rock! Joe Satriani at The Chicago Theatre (October 12, 2022)

Joe Satriani comes to The Chicago Theatre on his Earth Tour to support his latest release, The Elephants of Mars. Early on in his first set, he plays two tracks from the album, “Sahara” and “The Elephants of Mars”.  It is immediately clear he is still writing great music and his playing is still fantastic.

The solos on “Flying in a Blue Dream” are face melting. Behind the band on 3 screens, there are visuals of flying across beautiful landscapes. Another song features a spaceship flying through an asteroid field which matches the otherworldly guitar playing.

For one song, he says he pictured Nicholas Cage on fire on a motorcycle escaping the devil (like his character in Ghost Rider). He has to keep playing rapid notes so that he can survive.

To open the second set, the drummer, Kenny Aronoff, plays an extensive solo. It’s very impressive and is met with a great applause at its conclusion.

After jamming on “Shapeshifting”, Satriani says, “Woah, I don’t know where I went on that one. I need to calm down for the next song, which is a serious one called “Teardrops”.

He was right. This one was serious as it explored some dark and sad emotions.  

There are more shredding electric solos on “If I Could Fly”. No lyrics are required. Like classical music, the emotion is in the notes.

See the full setlist from the St. Louis show here, which was very similar.

Cost of a ticket: $114 (Main Floor Middle)

PlaylistHQ Economic Rating: Worth It

Rating Scale: Exceptional Value > Worth It > Half Price > Go for Free > Don’t Bother

Quinn Delaney

P.S. Satriani gave lessons to Steve Vai, who will be playing in Chicago next month.