Me Talk Pretty & Madina Lake @ Gramercy Theatre (12/18/2011)

Artist: Me Talk Pretty
Venue: Gramercy Theatre (New York, NY)
Opener: Madina Lake, Shinobi Ninja, Man Of Earth, New Year’s Day
Date: 12/19/2011
Label: Universal Music

I will admit that I was barely able to move after the previous evening’s Twisted Sister show and that made sense since their brand of a Christmas show is unlike any that you will experience. Of course you will have to read that report should you want more of the details. All in it made the idea of even leaving the couch something of a ridiculous notion much less attending one more concert. Still, I managed to “man up” as they say and headed into this strangely early starting event. It was being held at the Gramercy Theatre and the headliner was NYC’s own Me Talk Pretty. The other acts on the bill were Man On Earth, Shinobi Ninja and Madina Lake. I think there was a swap out with some other band but I was not there on time to see the very first group hit the stage. I walked in while the guys in Man On Earth were playing, and they had a very accessible sounding Alternative Rock to them and while they were tight this is not the kind of stuff that I focus much on these days. The audience did seem to enjoy them but as this was early in the night there was not yet much of a crowd assembled. Next up was Shinobi Ninja.

Shinobi Ninja: I had heard this Brooklyn based band’s name a couple of times before tonight but never really knew much more about them so that would make almost everything I caught at this show add up to a triple play of musical education. The band hit the stage hard and it’s an interesting act for lack of a better word. There are heavy elements to their song composition but lots of Rap influxes as well and I know that it makes me seem close minded but I am so done with that angle insofar as Heavy Rock is concerned. The band had two front people (the politically correct way to say a dude and a chick were at the helm nowadays) and there was a lot of the expected rhyming from them since as I mentioned this was more of a Heavy Rap Rock group than a conventional Metal or Hard Rock act. They were tight which I will give them kudos for but I am not much sold on this kind of style and despite this I do wish them luck since they are from my native Brooklyn. I don’t think they impressed the crowd who mostly were wearing Madina Lake shirts in the front. Now it was their turn.

Madina Lake: At this point in time the guys in Madina Lake are a relatively new signing to Razor & Tie Entertainment after having apparently been dropped from the Roadrunner Records roster of artists not too long ago. I remembered reviewing their EP entitled “The Disappearance Of Adalia” but I would lose track of them after their RR debut “From Them, Through Us, To You” which was a bit of a shame since I did enjoy what they put out there quite a bit. Very high on the harmony vocals and quite the energetic display of music from tune to tune. I was glad they were on this bill since I could finally see what they were all about and for those in the unaware the group was founded by twin brothers Matthew and Nathan Leone. Nathan handles the main vocals while Matthew the bass. They are rounded out by Mateo Camargo (guitar) and Dan Torelli (drums) but for some reason these dates would find the aforementioned guitarist being filled in for by the road manager (who I think was named Bob). I guess the band was lucky enough that he knew the material and could help continue the tour as opposed to cancelling. They would open up with “Imagineer” from their “World War III” album and since theirs would be a very short set we would only find one more tune from this release along with two from two from “Attics To Eden” and three from their full-length debut. Onstage the band is nothing less than energetic and seemed to feed off their fans. I probably say this particular phrase a lot but when it applies I just need to repeat myself and that was going on for sure this evening. The downside would be that before you knew it their set was over. They had some cool light up signs that said their name and part of me felt that it probably took longer to get that section up and functioning than they had played for their fans. After the set they would all be hanging out at their merchandise table and posing for photographs with their fans. I like seeing this happen and remind some of the groups that come through the Apple that you are never too big for your fan base. There are so many shows happening here that you can easily be bypassed for something else. The connection between fan and band that I observed with Madina Lake was to be commended. I really enjoyed their set but wished I had seen them prior to this so I might have been able to enjoy more tunes from the debut release that I was really, really into. Now it was time for the nights main event, the headlining set of Me Talk Pretty.

Me Talk Pretty: I had not seen Me Talk Pretty in a very long time and as a matter of fact it’s not been since they played Arlene’s Grocery in what could be considered a way back ago as the band was not anything more than a “hey we just released our own EP” kind of group so I was interested in seeing what they had become. A little research found me learning that back in early 2010 they had signed to Eight O Five Records and released their full-on debut album entitled “We Are Strangers”. The album features the hit tune “Wake Up” which is also the running title of this particular tour. It was originally supposed to feature the band New Year’s Day as well but they dropped off. The band hit the stage with a dramatic floor tom drum display by its pair of guitarists and this got the audience engaged rather quickly. I don’t usually see stuff like this being done in the shows I cover so found it very interesting. Soon enough the bands leading lady Uliana was here and the show fully underway. I just spoke of an instant connection with the fans and the band and this was also very apparent with Uliana and the fans of Me Talk Pretty who I will refer to as MTP going forward to save myself some typing. The singer had on high-heeled boots but that did not stop her from stepping over the space between stage and audience to balance precariously on the gate to their outstretched arms and hands. Generally this space is where the photographers are hanging around and it protects the bands from the crowd surfers but this is not that kind of fan base. Clearly they love her and she loves them back. You can feel that kind of appreciation and its good energy for sure. The singer also managed to snag my Santa cap for a few moments and sport it for great photo opportunity of the crowd. Hey, I was in the holiday spirit and thought it would be fun to wear to the show. I enjoyed seeing her do this even though it caught me off guard just a tad.

The show sounded great and the band was very into what they were doing and I had to say that I was glad I attended. The band slowed down a little bit toward the end of the set and some personal stories were given to us and the time focused on the piano that was onstage. The piano had hand prints on it and the money raised by its auction was going to be used for those who didn’t have any kind of medical benefits. The singer originally hails from Romania and if I heard the story correctly her own mother had passed away from pneumonia after not having proper benefits to get treatment. Such a shame and all the more reason to admire the band for taking a stand in this day and age. We all can do so much more in life. This show ended very early, and I think it was about 10:15 when I was walking out the venue door and that was fine by me as I had a super late one the night before with Twisted Sister and could use the rest. And there you have it. My next and final show for the 2011 Year in Music would be the Trans-Siberian Orchestra and that is still one of my very favorite experiences in terms of live shows.

Madina Lake Set List:
1. Imagineer
2. Adalia
3. Never Take Us Alive
4. Let’s Get Out of Here
5. Hey Superstar
6. Here I Stand
7. True Love

MTP Set List:
1. Hey Boy
2. Hello Hello
3. Keep Waiting (omitted)
4. Survive
5. Love Is In The Air
6. Close Your Eyes
7. Break Free
8. When you Realize
9. Say You Will
10. Brokenhearted (omitted)
11. Cut Your Lips
12. Wake Up!

I was excited to see Madina Lake as I had enjoyed them for a couple of years already but never saw them in concert. Tonight would be my chance and here is a glimpse of their merchandise table. They had a few different shirts and a bunch of CD’s, but I didn’t take any photos of those. Sorry.

Madina Lake Merchandise

As the headlining band there was a lot more merchandise available for Me Talk Pretty. They had some nice shirts and a hoodie along with a poster. Check it out in the photos below.

The guys in Madina Lake had a great stage setup that featured some giant letters that showcased their name. I love a big bright marquee and this was very clever and stood out.

The Madina Lake Stage Setup

There was a big connection and love from the Madina Lake fans this evening and here are a few of them.

The Madina Lake Fans

Whenever I realize I have the shot, I like to get some of the tech, or music equipment that allows these concerts to be delivered with skill. This next shot shows some of the guitars used by one of the opening bands, Shinobi Ninja.

Shinobi Ninja Guitars

While I have a ton of concert photos to share with you from Me Talk Pretty, these few I wanted to share on their own as it served up the dramatic entrance of the band.  It was a percussion lovers dream as two floor toms were set up on either side of the stage and played by the guitarists of the band while the drummer also kept time.  It was cool.  Check it out.

My next and final show for the year would be the end of the week’s Trans-Siberian Orchestra appearance over at Prudential Center. What a way to close out one’s concert adventuring. Stay tuned . Oh yes, the Gramercy Theatre did not have the bands name on the marquee this evening but did have this nice little holiday wish for us all.

See you in the funny papers.

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