The Beatles – On Air – Live at BBC Volume 2

Reviewing a Beatles album is intimidating task. Can you really even review them? They are only the most popular band ever. If you say nice things then you are pandering and if you dare to say anything negative you might be hung. No winning here for the critic. What you do get is a ton of material on this album. Sixty three tracks to be precise. They are all rare, previously unreleased tracks from the band recorded live in the BBC studios while on a variety of shows at the station. Plenty of covers rather than their songs and most are from the 1950s and 1960s. “The Hippy Hippy Shake”, “Please Mr. Postman”, “Long Tall Sally” and “Lucille” are just a couple of the rare gems. Plus you get live versions of them doing “Roll Over Beethoven”, “”Twist and Shout”, “I Saw Her Standing There” and “Money (That’s What I Want)”. Many of the songs are rather raw (i.e. imperfect) but all are high in energy. John, Paul, George and Ringo all get their chance to shine. It is also cool to hear them live without all their fans screaming in the background. A rare opportunity. You can hear how much they enjoyed performing. A great forty-eight page booklet as well as some bonus interviews are included in the two disc package

Star Trek: Enterprise – Season: Three – Blu-ray Edition

So this is the original Enterprise. Keep up with me people! This version of Star Trek happens before even the Captain Kirk one.  Enterprise NX-01 is the first ship built on Earth that is able to break the warp barrier. It was originally a ship and crew meant for exploring but an attack on Earth by the Xindi that kills 7 million changes everything. Captain Jonathan Archer (played by Scott Bakula) and his crew are now charged with finding the Xindi and the weapon they are building to finish the job. The Enterprise is off to a part of the universe known as the Delphic Expanse, an area nothing is known about. The race is on to stop the destruction of Earth and all humans.

Episode 1: The Xindi: Captain Archer and the crew of the Enterprise head off in search of the Xindi.  Commander Tucker (played by Connor Trinneer) is having trouble sleeping.

Episode 2: Anomaly: A weird anomaly begins disrupting things on the Enterprise. Captain Archer and an away team take a shuttle to investigate an immense sphere in order to try and recover things stolen from them.

Episode 3: Extinction: Captain Archer and an away team travel to a planet that a Xindi ship crashed on. Once there the away team begins to experience strange transformations.

Episode 4: Rajiin: T’Pol (played by Jolene Blalock) is using a Vulcan method to help Tucker to sleep. Other members of the crew are gossiping that more is going on between the two senior officers.

Episode 5: Impulse: Tucker tells Captain Archer that the crew needs some R&R. The Enterprise receives a distress call from a Vulcan ship and they set off to help them.

Episode 6: Exile: Ensign Hoshi Sato (played by Linda Park) believes she is seeing things that are not there. Soon a telepath reveals himself and offers his help locating the Xindi.

Episode 7: The Shipment: The five Xindi species are very close to finishing the building of the weapon; they are a few weeks away from completion. The telepath has given the Enterprise coordinates of a planet with a Xindi colony, so Captain Archer and an away team take a shuttle to investigate.

Episode 8: Twilight: Captain Archer wakes up much older and not on Enterprise rather living with T’Pol on a planet. She tells him it is twelve years later and they were caught in an anomaly that affected his memory.

Episode 9: North Star: Captain Archer, T’Pol and Tucker have traveled to a planet where there is a human/alien settlement that is much like the Old West. They look into what is going on in the settlement.

Episode 10: Similitude: While trying to perform improvements on the engine so Enterprise can stay in warp longer Commander Tucker is injured. He is in a coma and Dr. Phlox (played by John Billingsley) is not sure he will survive.

Episode 11: Carpenter Street: A human is supplying the Xindi with human subjects. Someone from the 30th century called Daniels (played by Matt Winston) revisits Captain Archer to tell him that the Xindi are in Detroit, Michigan 150 years ago meaning the 21st century.

Episode 12: Chosen Realm: After the Enterprise rescues a few Triannon they realize that their guests have ulterior motives for being there. Captain Archer and the rest of the crew become prisoners on their own ship.

Episode 13: Proving Ground: While going through an anomaly the Enterprise is rescued by Commander Shran (played by Jeffrey Combs) and his Andorian ship. Captain Archer then reluctantly allows the Andorians on board to aid in the repairs.

Episode 14: Stratagem: Years after the Xindi weapon destroyed Earth the Insectoids begin killing off the other Xindi species. Archer and Degra (played by Randy Oglesby) are put in the same cell then manage to break out only Degra doesn’t remember anything.

Episode 15: Harbinger: The Enterprise is heading towards the coordinates of the Red Giant given to them by Degra. Reed (played by Dominic Keating) and Major Hayes (played  by Steven Culp) see eye to eye on precious little.

Episode 16: Doctor’s Orders: Dr. Phlox puts the crew all in an unconscious state and takes over complete control of Enterprise. For several days Archer’s dog Porthos is his only companion besides T’Pol.

Episode 17: Hatchery: Captain Archer and an away team investigate Azati Prime after discovering a Xindi ship there. On it they find a hatchery – offspring of the Xindi crew.

Episode 18: Azati Prime: Once at Azati Prime the Enterprise discovers a convoy of Xindi ships being led by Degra. He is there to show the Xindi council that the weapon is ready.

Episode 19: Damage: The Enterprise, now under T’Pol’s command, is trying to recover from the Xindi attack. Captain Archer tries to convince a few Xindi that humans are not their enemy.

Episode 20: The Forgotten: T’Pol is having to adjust to her new emotions. Archer is trying to prove to Degra that he is telling the truth.

Episode 21: E2: The Enterprise is traveling through a nebula to meet up with the Xindi Council. They come into contact with a ship labeled as the Enterprise whose captain tells them to turn around.

Episode 22: The Council: The Sphere Builders are aware the Xindi, notably Degra, are turning away from them. T’Pol leads an away team to investigate one of the spheres.

Episode 23: Countdown: The Reptilians have taken control of the weapon and are preparing to launch it. Hoshi has been taken by the Reptilians.

Episode 24: Zero Hope: Archer, Reed and Sato prepare to board the weapon in order to stop it from destroying Earth. Tucker and T’Pol head to Sphere 41 in order to disrupt the entire system of spheres.

Special Features: The Xindi Saga Begins, Enterprise Moments: Season Three, In a time of War – Part One: Call to Arms, Part Two: Front Lines, Part Three: Final Conflict, Temporal Cold War:  Declassified, Enterprise Profile: Connor Trinneer, A Day in the Life of a Director: Roxann Dawson, Behind the Camera: Marvin Rush, Enterprise Secrets, Outtakes, Photo Gallery

Jay Z @ Bell Centre – January 24, 2014

There is something really refreshing about a performer who is comfortable in their own skin.  They don’t have any pretense about themselves and don’t feel the pressure to impress the crowd.  As Jay Z easily moved from side to side of the big stage on Friday night at the Bell Centre you could really just sit back (or stand up and dance along to the beats) and enjoy watching a master.

Jay Z has been in the music industry for almost 20 years, so the man has plenty of experience.  Enough to know what works and what does not.  Though it seems like he shot out of the gate with that knowledge as he has always had an easy coolness about him.  The guy is smooth and oozes confidence the moment he takes the stage, but without anything pompous about him.  He knows he is the king of the rap game though he doesn’t rub our noses in it.  Jay Z still works hard, though.  It is an amazing combination to behold in a live setting.

The man is big enough that he does not need an opening act.  But for about 45 minutes before he took the stage a little past 9 p.m. there was a DJ onstage (though not really lit) who warmed the crowd up spinning some hip hop and rap tunes.  He played a wide range of tunes, but the one that got the biggest reaction from the crowd were the classic tunes.  Makes sense as they were there to see a guy who has been around the block.

Some have dared to wonder out loud whether Jay Z can command the stage and do a show on his own anymore.  Yes, he has not toured alone for about 4 years and the last times he has gone out on the road it has been with Kanye West and Justin Timberlake.  We should not have taken that as a sign of weakness or a loss of skills.  For the over 2 hours he was on stage he commanded each and every person in the Bell Centre’s attention.

He was the centre of attention.  His stage, which impressive, was rather simple as it featured a couple of levels, big screens on the side and it lit up.  What I liked about the stage was that it lit up almost like a big Rubik Cube and was fairly open.  You could almost say it was transparent kind of like the man.    He was not relying on special effects rather he was just going to wow yo with his skills as a rapper.

Once he took the stage most of the crowd rose to their feet and greeted the man from the projects in Brooklyn with a diamond sign.  It signaled the beginning of an evening that was like a big party.  Through much of the evening he was all smiles enjoying the adulation that was coming his way.  It was also clear that he still enjoys doing what he does and there were no motions being gone through.

Jay Z was not completely alone as there was a trio of live musicians on stage as well as his good friend Timbaland.  The successful producer and performer was there in the beginning of the show, but there was no fanfare surrounding him.  He just did his thing mostly in the shadows.  When Jay Z was ready for a break to change his outfit his longtime friend was there to support him.  After introducing Timbaland, Jay Z left the stage in his hands.  The big guy then proceeded to mix some music.  Some great tunes he has worked on with artists like Aliyah, Ginuwine and Missy Elliot got big reactions from the crowd.  He even slipped in a tune from his latest album.  It didn’t last that long though it did pack a punch.

While his set was made up of a nice mix of old and new it was definitely older songs like “Big Pimpin”, “99 Problems”, “Dirt Off Your Shoulder”, and “Hard Knock Life” that got the biggest cheers from the crowd.  Of the newer tunes “Tom Ford” got the biggest response.

What impressed me was the point where he took time out of the show to point out some people in the crowd.  It was his way of saying that he realizes that the people in the crowd, his fans, are the ones that have brought this guy out of the projects and made him one of the richest men in music.  Of course, his talent and hard work are big parts of it, but he knows that the people who have bought his music and concert tickets are the biggest reason.  And you could tell his appreciation was genuine.  He made the nights of a couple of fans by bringing a young woman who had a sign indicating this was her 14th time seeing Jay Z live up on stage and giving her a couple of hugs.  Jay Z also brought a guy up on stage for a couple of photos and the guy gave him a Canadiens t-shirt for the king of rap’s young daughter, Blue Ivy, complete with her name on the back.  Nice gesture and Jay Z seemed genuinely thankful.  He loves his fans and the feeling is mutual.  As far as rap acts go this guy engages with his fans more than your average bear.

He also made a nice speech before the closing number of his encore “Young Forever”, which he dedicated to Nelson Mandela, about never giving up on your dreams.  Encouragement to chase your dreams coming from a guy who worked hard for his and has achieved success, I am sure, beyond his wildest dreams seem to have serious weight with the crowd.  And he was not just reciting the words, the guy believes it.  There was not a disingenuous moment the whole show.

If you haven’t and have the opportunity see this guy live.  While his music is great to listen to it really is in the live setting that he excels.  While watching him you are aware you are hearing a living legend in the rap/hip hop.  All in all you can see why this guy had previously won 17 Grammys previously as his music is really the soundtrack of many a person of a certain age as well as a great example of how he has set the trends in rap.  You could also see that he remains relevant as illustrated that he led all acts with 9 Grammy nominations this year and added a few more trophies to his collection.  Like his song says this guys seems to have the ability to remain Young Forever”.

Set List:

1) Higher Intro

2) U Don’t Know

3) Crown

4) On to the Next One

5) Holy Grail

6) Fuckwithmeyouknowigotit

7) Beach is Better

8) 99 Problems

9) Picasso Baby

10) Dead Presidents

11) Can I Live

12) No Church in the Wild

13) Somewhereinamerica

14) Big Pimpin’

Timbaland Interlude

15) Jigga My Nigga

16) Nigga What, Nigga Who (Originator 99)

17) Dirt Off Your Shoulder

18) I Just Wanna Love U (Give it 2 Me)

19) Niggas in Paris

20) Tom Ford

21) Public Service Announcement

22) Clique

23) Run This Town

Encore:

24) Encore

25) Empire State of Mind

26) Izzo (H.O.V.A.)

27) Hard Knock Life (Ghetto Anthem)

28) Young Forever