It’s time to kick off our 2018 concert season, and boy did we kick it off in style! Our first concert of 2018 was A Concert for Island Relief at Radio City Music Hall in New York City.
The concert was held to help raise funds and awareness for those people living in the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. Those islands were devastated by hurricanes in 2017. The concert featured Hurray for the Riff Raff, Aaron Neville, Trey Anastasio Band, and Dave Matthews.
We spent the weekend in New York City to attend the concert, staying at our favorite hotel in Manhattan – the Radisson Martinique on Broadway. For more on visiting New York City, check out our blog post with tips for visiting the city, including how to get around, where to stay and where to eat:
Keep reading to learn about Radio City Music Hall, hear about our pre-concert party with a big group of Dave Matthews Band fans, and our thoughts on the show.
This content uses referral links. Read our Affiliate Disclosure statement for more info. Making purchases after having followed one of these links will benefit me, but costs you nothing extra. Thanks for clicking!
Radio City Music Hall is an iconic venue in the heart of New York City. The theater seats 5,960 people. Around 3,500 seats are in the orchestra area on ground level. The remainder of the seats are located on three mezzanine levels.
The venue was built on a plot of land that was originally intended to be for the Metropolitan Opera House. However, in 1929, the opera house canceled its plans. This opened the land up to be used for Rockefeller Center. The complex was built between 1932 and 1940, and included two theaters. The larger theater is known today as Radio City Music Hall.
After briefly featuring live stage shows, the theater converted into showing feature films paired with a live stage show. By the early 1970s, attendance at the shows had steadily declined.
By January of 1978, the theater was in serious debt. It announced that it would be closing the doors that April. Rosemary Novellino, who was Dance Captain of the Radio City Music Hall Ballet Company, gathered up a group of fellow performers, media and political allies and formed the Showpeople’s Committee to Save Radio City Music Hall.
In May of 1978, Radio City Music Hall was placed on the National Register of Historic Landmarks. This led to the theater being saved and restored.
Today, Radio City Music Hall is managed by The Madison Square Garden Company. The theater now focuses on concerts and live stage shows, including the very popular Radio City Christmas Spectacular starring the Rockettes. The theater has hosted everything from the NFL Draft to multiple televised award shows such as the Tony Awards and Grammy Awards.
Tip #1: We were there on a VERY frigid winter night. It was very cold inside the lobby areas due to the doors being open to let people in. It was so cold that you wanted to have a coat on. Inside the actual theater was a bit warmer.
Tip #2: We were sitting on the orchestra level. The nearest bathrooms were downstairs. It’s a bit of a walk, so plan your bathroom trips accordingly.
Tip #3: Lines for food and drinks were quite long. Again, plan accordingly.
THE PRE-CONCERT PARTY
If you read my post about the Dave Matthews Band 2018 summer tour, you know that fans are hungry for the band to get back on the road.
So, even though this concert featured Dave solo, his fans were out in full force. My husband and I hosted a DMB fan gathering at a local restaurant/bar – Dutch Fred’s. Over 75 fans came out to have food and drinks, and re-connect with friends they haven’t seen since the last set of shows.
Dutch Fred’s is a great place. It has a “speak easy” kind of feel, with lots of craft cocktails. They also have a pretty good beer list. Their food is delicious as well.
Additionally, they did a great job accommodating our large group. They gave us the whole back section of the restaurant, and roped the area off for us. The wait staff was fantastic! They did a great job of making sure everyone had drinks and food, and cashed everyone out quickly when people were ready to head over to the show.
Hurray for the Riff Raff
Hurray for the Riff Raff is the creation of Alynda Segarra. Other band members include Caitlin Gray and Jordan Hyde. Currently based out of New Orleans, Segarra is of Puerto Rican descent and grew up in the Bronx. Segarra left home at age 17, hitting the road to pursue her music.
The band’s first two albums – It Don’t Mean I Don’t Love You and Young Blood Blues – were both self-released. In 2011, Segarra picked her favorite songs off of those two albums, and released them through Loose Records on a self-titled album – Hurray for the Riff Raff. A few of the tracks got some radio play in the UK.
In 2014, the band signed with record label ATO Records. They released their first album under the label – Small Town Heroes – in February of that year. After the release of that record, Segarra started feeling like something was missing. She soon realized that she needed to re-visit the fact that she was a Puerto Rican born in the Bronx, and her music should reflect that.
To that end, Segarra took on the character of The Navigator, which is also the name of her latest album. The album follows Segarra’s character as she grows up on the streets of the city, wanders around, and finally realizes she needs to re-connect with her ancestry.
Hurray for the Riff Raff took the stage shortly after 7 p.m. The theater was still fairly empty, as a lot of people were just getting into the venue.
The band opened with “Nothings Gonna Change That Girl”. Segarra danced around the stage and really entertained the crowd. In between songs, she talked about her Puerto Rican descent, and how being a part of the show with the other artists was such an honor for her.
After playing two more songs, the band seemed to just be getting into their set when they started their fourth song. However, it appeared that Segarra started to sing the song, and was unable to sing. The band tried to restart the song a couple of times. The music then stopped, and Segarra stated that the weather had taken a toll on her, and she bolted off the stage. The rest of the band seemed a bit confused (as was the audience), and followed Segarra off the stage.
I’m not sure how many songs the band intended to play, but their set only lasted about 10 or 15 minutes. They definitely have talent and potential, so it was a shame that they didn’t get to take full advantage of playing in front of a huge crowd.
Hurray for the Riff Raff is currently scheduled to play a few festivals – mostly outside of the U.S. You can find more information about their music and keep up on any future tour dates on their website at www.hurrayfortheriffraff.com.
Aaron Neville was born in New Orleans in 1941. He debuted his first single in 1966. Since then, he has had a long and successful career, including four platinum-certified albums and four Top 10 hits. He has also recorded music with his brothers – Art, Charles and Cyril – under the name The Neville Brothers.
Neville’s music is rooted in R&B, but also includes influences of Cajun and Creole music. While he started recording music in the mid-60s, his biggest hits didn’t come until the 1980’s and ‘90s.
In 1989, Neville recorded the album Cry Like a Rainstorm, Howl Like the Wind with Linda Ronstadt. That album spawned two Grammy winning #1 hits – “Don’t Know Much” and “All My Life“. He followed that up with his solo hit from 1991 – “Everybody Plays the Fool”.
While never meeting with the same commercial success on subsequent albums, Neville has continued to record music in a variety of genres including R&B, Christian, Gospel and Jazz. He released My True Story in 2013, which was a collection of doo-wop tunes, and Apache in 2016.
Neville hit the stage accompanied by a guitarist and pianist. He sang a number of classic songs, covering everything from Ben E. King to Leonard Cohen.
Neville’s voice is very unique, and is still as strong as ever. My favorite part of the set was when he sang Bob Marley’s “Three Little Birds” into “Stir It Up”. The crowd loved it and sang along.
It appeared the Neville may have been given a little more time due to the shortened set by Hurray for the Riff Raff. He stopped and asked how much time he had left before closing his set with Randy Newman’s “Louisiana 1927”.
Neville continues to tour and perform regularly, including an annual Christmas tour. He also regularly appears at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. You can check Neville’s website at www.aaronneville.com for more information.
Set List: Stand By Me (Ben E. King cover), Bird On A Wire (Leonard Cohen cover), This Magic Moment (The Drifters cover), A Change is Gonna Come (Sam Cooke cover), Three Little Birds/Stir It Up (Bob Marley cover), Louisiana 1927 (Randy Newman cover)
Trey Anastasio Band
You may know Trey Anastasio best for his role as lead singer of the band Phish. However, for over 30 years, Anastasio has been making music in various forms – whether as a solo artist, with Phish, with his touring band, or as a collaborator with other musicians.
Since 1998, Anastasio has toured and recorded music periodically without his bandmates from Phish. He’s used a number of back-up musicians – which started out as just a trio, but has expanded to up to 10. The band never really had a name, but fans started referring to it as the Trey Anastasio Band, or TAB for short.
The original members of the band included Anastasio along with Russ Lawton (drums) and Tony Markellis (bass). Since those beginnings, the band has added Cyro Baptista (percussion), Ray Paczkowski (keys), Jennifer Hartswick (trumpet, vocals), Natalie Cressman (trombone, vocals) and James Casey (saxophone, vocals).
Anastasio’s musical resumé is impressive. He is credited with writing 152 original songs for Phish and he’s recorded 11 solo albums. Anastasio has also performed with several symphony orchestras, and he wrote the score for the Broadway musical Hands On a Hardbody.
After an impressively quick set change, TAB took the stage. Despite all of the concerts I’ve been to, I’m a little embarrassed to say that I’ve never been to a TAB or Phish show. After seeing their set, I wish I would have gone before!
The band was phenomenal! As soon as they took the stage, everyone in the theater got on their feet and stayed there for most of their set. The music was so much fun, and the band is super talented. I was particularly impressed with Hartswick and Cressman, who are not only impressive on their instruments, but have great voices.
TAB kicked off their set with Mozambique and then went straight into Everything’s Right.
They played mostly Trey songs, with only one Phish cover – Sand. My favorite part of the show was when they covered Gorillaz’ “Clint Eastwood”. It featured an amazing job by Hartswick on vocals.
TAB wrapped their set with Anastasio, Hartswick, Cressman, and Casey doing an a capella version of “The Parting Glass”. They did a beautiful job harmonizing.
TAB really brought down the house, and their fans loved every minute of it! They certainly turned me into a fan.
After appearing with the Trey Anastasio Band at this show, Anastasio is hitting the road solo for a few shows across the U.S. Be sure to check out his website at www.trey.com for information on the upcoming shows.
As with Anastasio, Dave Matthews is best known as front man of his band – Dave Matthews Band (DMB). Born in South Africa, Matthews eventually ended up in Charlottesville, VA, which is where he formed DMB in 1991.
Matthews started playing the guitar at age 9, but didn’t start playing publicly until he moved to Charlottesville. It was there that Dave first met Tim Reynolds, who would invite Matthews to join him up on stage during his shows.
By 1991, Matthews was bartending at the Charlottesville downtown bar Miller’s, when he started put together the pieces for his band. With original members LeRoi Moore, Carter Beauford, Stefan Lessard, Peter Griesar, and Boyd Tinsley, DMB played their first official gig at Trax Nightclub on March 14, 1991.
After losing his father to cancer at a young age, Matthews and his family endured a second tragedy in 1994. His older sister, Anne, who lived in South Africa, was murdered by her husband, who subsequently killed himself. Her death had a deep effect on him, and the band’s album Under the Table and Dreaming was dedicated to her memory.
In addition to his band’s success, Dave recorded a solo album – Some Devil – in 2003. Over the years he has also toured and performed with Tim Reynolds, including several appearances at Farm Aid as well as several tours in both the U.S. and Europe.
The crew did an amazing job again in between sets. They dropped a black curtain in front of the majority of TAB’s set up (which was a good hint that TAB was coming back out), and set up Dave’s guitars and amps.
Dave came out in a suit coat, which clearly looked to be bothering him throughout his set until he eventually took it off. He mentioned that he wasn’t used to dressing up and wearing suit jackets for shows, and it was hard to play the guitar with it.
He kicked off the show with Don’t Drink the Water, and then worked through a mix of songs that were from his solo album, as well as those from Dave Matthews Band. Dave was in a chatty mood, and we got quite a bit of “Davespeak”, like his intro to Samurai Cop.
After playing Grey Street, Dave told the audience how one of his good friends was directly impacted by the hurricanes. He was from the U.S. Virgin Islands, and his mother was forced to leave her home because of the damage the storm did to it. The DMB fans were thrilled to see the band’s trumpet player – Rashawn Ross – join Dave for the next several songs.
Dave also brought “Ben the Sax Guy” on stage, and talked about how he met him when Dave and his family were in an airport in Portugal on their way to Spain.
I thought Dave’s voice sounded really strong. You have to be quite a performer to be on stage solo with just your guitar, and have a whole theater of people on their feet dancing and singing along.
After wrapping up his solo set, Dave returned to the stage with Anastasio to do a beautiful duet of Phish’s “Waste”. Then, the black curtain lifted to reveal the rest of TAB. They were joined by Aaron Neville, Rashwan Ross, and Ben the Sax Guy as well.
The whole crew finished off with The Maker, which is a song DMB often plays. Matthews, Neville, and Anastasio alternated on singing lead on the verses. Neville then took the lead with a great cover of “Iko Iko”, which had everyone in the crowd on their feet and dancing.
The show wrapped with everyone performing on “I Want to Take You Higher”. It was a great way to end an amazing night of music!
Of course, DMB fans are all anxiously awaiting the return of the full band to the road, as all indications are that a DMB summer tour will be happening in 2018 after a hiatus in 2017. You can get more information about the band and any upcoming tour dates when they are announced on their website at www.davematthewsband.com.
Set List: Don’t Drink the Water (DMB cover), Stay or Leave, Funny the Way It Is (DMB cover), So Damn Lucky, Samurai Cop (DMB cover), Grey Street (DMB cover), Mercy with Rashawn Ross (DMB cover), Satellite with Rashawn Ross and Ben the Sax Guy (DMB cover), Save Me with Rashawn Ross and Ben the Sax Guy (DMB cover), Some Devil, Dancing Nancies (DMB cover), Waste with Trey Anastasio (Phish cover), The Maker with everyone (Daniel Lanois cover), Iko Iko with everyone (The Dixie Cups cover), I Want to Take You Higher with everyone (Sly & The Family Stone cover).
Have questions about New York City, Radio City Music Hall or any of the musicians that performed? What did you think about the show line up and the sets? Comment below or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Did you like what you read? Want to keep up on live music, food, drink and travel? Make sure you follow us on social media. Click on the links at the top of the homepage of our website, and follow us for regular updates on where we are, what we are drinking, and what music we are listening to!