Monday, April 30, 2018


April 1, 2018
"John Nineteen Forty-One" from "Jesus Christ Superstar"
"Fooled Around And Fell In Love" performed by Elvin Bishop
"Fool To Cry" performed by The Rolling Stones
"Foolin'" performed by Def Leppard
"Bread And Wine" performed by Peter Gabriel

"Love Song" performed by Sara Bareilles
"Everything's Alright" performed by Sara Bareilles, Brandon Victor Dixon and John Legend-WSPC PREMIERE

April 2, 2018
"Don't Tell Me No" performed by The Cars
"Waterworld" performed by Handsome Boy Modeling School
"Trouble Man" performed by Marvin Gaye
"Girl From The Country" performed by Leon Russell
"Adventure" performed by Television

April 3, 2018
"Election Day" performed by Arcadia
"Sometimes It Snows In April" (live 4-28-17 NYC) performed by The Revolution

"Breathe In, Breathe Out" performed by Melody's Echo Chamber-WSPC PREMIERE
"Not In Love, We're Just High" performed by Unknown Mortal Orchestra-WSPC PREMIERE
"List Of People (To Try And Forget About)' performed by Tame Impala
"I'll Stay" performed by Funkadelic
"I Can't Write Left Handed" (live) performed by John Legend and The Roots

April 4, 2018
"Pride (In The Name Of Love)" performed by U2
"I Don't Know How To Love Him" performed by Sara Bareilles-WSPC PREMIERE

April 5, 2018
"Change" performed by Fishbone
"Tear" performed by The Smashing Pumpkins
"Identify" performed by Natalie Imbruglia
"Poses" performed by Rufus Wainwright
"All Apologies" (MTV Unplugged version) performed by Nirvana

April 6, 2018
"Live The Life You're Dreaming Of" performed by Sloan

"Oldest Story In The World" (live) performed by The Plimsouls
"Lust To Love" (live 1981) performed by The Go-Go's
"Our Lips Are Sealed" performed by Fun Boy Three
"Echo Beach" performed by Martha and the Muffins
"Enola Gay" performed by Orchestral Maneuvers In The Dark
"The Perfect Kiss" performed by New Order

April 7, 2018
"Damned For All Time/Blood Money" performed by Brandon Victor Dixon from "Jesus Christ Superstar 2018"-WSPC PREMIERE
"Jesus Is Just Alright" (live Chicago 1979) performed by The Doobie Brothers
"Jesus, I Have Taken My Cross" performed by The Djali Zwan

April 8, 2018
"Mirai wa Bokura no Te no Naka" performed by The Blue Hearts
"Wish" performed by Hideki Taniuchi
"Instrumental" performed by Yasunari
"Kiss The Rain" performed by Yiruma
"Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence" performed by Ryuichi Sakamoto
"Behind The Mask" performed by Yellow Magic Orchestra

April 9, 2018
"Pretty Persuasion" performed by R.E.M.
"Never Going Back Again" performed by Fleetwood Mac
"Pull" performed by The Amazing-WSPC PREMIERE
"Count It Up" performed by Field Music-WSPC PREMIERE
"This Is Pop" performed by XTC

April 10, 2018
"Heavy Makes You Happy" performed by The Staples Singers
"PYNK" performed by Janelle Monae-WSPC PREMIERE
"Breathe And Stop" performed by Q-Tip
"Welcome To The Terrordome" performed by Public Enemy
"Gimmie All Your Love" performed by Alabama Shakes

April 13, 2018
"Divide" performed by The Amazing
"The Black Mother" performed by Georgia Anne Muldrow
"Lemon Chiffon" performed by Wendy and Lisa
"Lazy Calm" performed by Cocteau Twins
"Gemini" performed by Alabama Shakes

April 14, 2018
"What I See Part 1" performed by Planet P. Project
'Panic In Detroit" performed by  David Bowie
"Heroin" performed by The Velvet Underground
"Mayonnaise" performed by The Smashing Pumpkins
"Dreams Never End" performed by New Order

"I Got Life" from the motion picture soundtrack of "Hair"

April 15, 2018
"The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway" performed by Genesis
"The Screams Of Passion" performed by The Family
"Lady Ice" performed by Arcadia
"Winter Marches On" performed by Duran Duran
"Hejira" performed by Joni Mitchell

April 16, 2018
"I Like That" performed by Janelle Monae-WSPC PREMIERE
"Strip My Mind" performed by Red Hot Chili Peppers
"Off Broadway" performed by Ryan Adams and the Cardinals
"Mia" performed by Aerosmith
"Do The Astral Plane" performed by Flying Lotus

April 17, 2018
"Semi-First Class Seat" performed by Mutiny

"War" performed by Lenny Kravitz
"So Long And Thanks For All The Fish" performed by A Perfect Circle-WSPC PREMIERE
"Taxman, Mr. Thief" performed by Cheap Trick
"Money" performed by Pink Floyd
"Money Don't Matter 2 Night" performed by Prince and the New Power Generation

April 19, 2018
"The Tracers" performed by Johnny Marr-WSPC PREMIERE
"Nothing Compares 2 U" (original 1984 version) performed by Prince-WSPC PREMIERE

April 20, 2018
"Mary Jane" performed by Rick James
"Don't Pull Me Over" performed by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
"Pass That Dutch" performed by Missy Elliot
"Hash Pipe" performed by Weezer
"Let's Go Get Stoned" performed by Ray Charles

Prince Rogers Nelson
June 7, 1958-April 21, 2016

April 21, 2018
"Spin The Black Circle" performed by Pearl Jam
"Mr. Record Man" performed by Willie Nelson
"Rock and Roll Records" performed by Eric Clapton with Tom Petty
"Another Record" performed by Genesis
"I'm Diggin You (Like An Old Soul Record)" performed by Missy Elliot
"Gonna Get Some Records" performed by Sandy Selsie

April 22, 2018
"Energy Blues" from "Schoolhouse Rock"
"(Nothing But) Flowers" performed by Talking Heads
"Rise" performed by Todd Rundgren
"Raspberry Beret" performed by Prince and the Revolution
"I'd Like That" performed by XTC

April 23, 2018
"Right To Roam" performed by Sloan-WSPC PREMIERE
"I'm A Cuckoo" performed by Belle and Sebastian
"Tree Of Knowledge" performed by The Pursuit Of Happiness
"Questions" performed by Papas Fritas
"I'll Never Get Over You" performed by The Partridge Family

"New Religion" performed by Anna Wang-WSPC PREMIERE

April 24, 2018
"Elementary, My Dear" from "Schoolhouse Rock"
"Entre Nous" performed by Rush
"The Wake Up Bomb" performed by R.E.M.
"The Bends" (live) performed by Radiohead
"Ghetto Soundwave" performed by Fishbone

April 25, 2018
"Sometimes" performed by Fleetwood Mac
"Basically" performed by World Party
"Morning Dew" performed by Grateful Dead

April 26, 2018
"In Your Eyes" (live) performed by Sara Bareilles

"Faron Young" performed by Prefab Sprout
"Life In A Northern Town" performed by The Dream Academy
"Stray" performed by Aztec Camera
"This Charming Man" performed by The Smiths
"North, South, East And West" performed by The Church

April 27, 2018
"S.O.S." performed by ABBA
"Silently Falling" performed by Chris Squire
"This Is The Picture (Excellent Birds)" performed by Peter Gabriel with Laurie Anderson
"Butterfly" performed by Bilal with Robert Glasper
"The Goose" performed by Parliament

April 29, 2018
"Feathers" performed by A Perfect Circle-WSPC PREMIERE
"Heavy Metal Machine" performed by The Smashing Pumpkins
"In My Time Of Dying" performed by Led Zeppelin

April 30, 2018
"Tapioca Tundra" performed by The Monkees

"Lost Verses" performed by Sun Kil Moon
"Soul Of The Sea" performed by Heart
"And You And I" performed by Yes
"Love Of The Common Man" performed by Todd Rundgren

Friday, April 27, 2018


1. "Carnival" performed by The Cardigans
2. "Lisztomania" performed by Phoenix
3. "Looking For Love" performed by The Cars
4. "Till Next Tuesday" performed by James Iha
5. "Hitsville UK" performed by The Clash
6. "The Fool Sings Without Any Song" performed by The Chamber Strings
7. "Soaring And Boring" performed by Plush
8. "Deja Vu and the Sins Of Science" performed by Tears For Fears
9. "Lose Face" performed by The Fixx
10."Nothing To Me" performed by Tinted Windows
11."Going Down To Liverpool" performed by The Bangles
12."Monkey Gone To Heaven" performed by Pixies

1. "Eruption" performed by Van Halen
2. "California Man" performed by Cheap Trick
3. "Adam Raised A Cain" performed by Bruce Springsteen
4. "To Be Someone (Didn't We Have A Nice Time)" performed by The Jam
5. "Picture This" performed by Blondie
6. "One Last Kiss"" performed by The J. Geils Band
7. "Famous Groupies" performed by Wings
8. "Baby's A Rock 'N' Roller" performed by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
9. "Hold Me, Touch Me (Think Of Me When We're Apart)" performed by Paul Stanley
10. "Little Hitler" performed by Nick Lowe
11. "I Want You (She's So Heavy)" performed by The Bee Gees, Dianne Steinberg, Paul Nicholas, Donald Pleasence, and Stargard
12. "Rumpfosteelskin" performed by Parliament
13. "Fade Away" performed by Todd Rundgren

1. "I Wanna Be Your Lover" performed by Prince
2. "High Fashion" performed by The Family
3. "A Love Bizarre" performed by Shelia E. and Prince
4. "Love And Sex" performed by Prince
5. "Gigolos Get Lonely Too" performed by The Time
6. "Two" performed by Madhouse
7. "Song About" performed by Wendy and Lisa
8. "Splash" performed by Prince and the Revolution

1. "Spin Our Wheels" performed by Sloan
2. "The Girl Doesn't Get It" performed by Belle and Sebastian
3. "Easy" performed by Real Estate
4. "Warm Ways" performed by Fleetwood Mac
5. "Pain" performed by The War On Drugs
6. "Count It Up" performed by Field Music
7. "Get The Message" performed by Electronic
8. "Cruel" performed by Prefab Sprout
9. "Amity Gardens" performed by Fountains Of Wayne
10."No Time To Lose" performed by Tarney/Spencer Band
11."2 Days 'Til Tomorrow" performed by Paul Westerberg


Released March 14, 2012
Released May 2, 1983
Released October 6, 1978
Released 1989
Released July 14, 2017
Released September 1970
Released September 26, 2014
Released April 6, 2018
NEW 2018 MUSIC: It is as if someone, somewhere captured the sound of Blue Oyster Cult's "Don't Fear The Reaper" merged it with the six string dreams of  Johnny Marr and somehow taught it to write, sing and perform all new songs. 

The Amazing, from Stockholm, Sweden, return for their sixth album, continuing the moody, rainy day, swirling dark clouds musical aesthetic of their predecessors. As with their previous albums, the melodies and murkiness envelops masterfully but for me, what made this album stand out even further was not how the tracks contained begin  but rather, how they end. 

Running nearly 70 minutes in length, creating a scope and variety akin to a double album, The Amazing's "In Transit" celebrates all that has arrived before while possibly, maybe signaling just what may be lurking around their musical corners...and truthfully, I am hoping this to be the case. As previously stated, it feels as if the songs really find new ground to cover within their ending sections and even codas. 

"Voices Sound" concludes with a cascading vortex of mesmerizing guitar patterns and vocal harmonies. The ending minutes of "Never Be" finds the band exploring jazzier textures and percussive poly-rhythms. "Leave Us A Light" would have confidently floated into the ether if not for its accelerated, vaguely African textures while "Je Travaille Dans la Banque" concludes the album with a glorious sheen of cosmic prog rock. But dear listeners, brace yourselves for the mammoth, almost 10 minute "Benson se Convirtio Completamente Furiosa," which begins as a dreamscape yet concludes with almost three minutes of explosive, almost Zappa-esque by way of Black Sabbath guitar and instrumental fireworks and fury.

That is what made this album truly exciting...these dips into what else The Amazing is able to do. Here's hoping we receive even ore new directions next time around.
Released February 2, 2018
NEW 2018 MUSIC: Singers/songwriters/multi-instrumentalists and brothers Peter and David Brewlis, collectively known as Field Music, also make their return with their sixth album this year,    yet another genre defying yet absolutely sparkling ode to the grand eur of pop music--if only most pop musicians were nearly as imaginative as this band.

Combining elements that are indeed reminiscent of The Beatles ("Open Here"), 10cc ("Checking On A Message," "Cameraman"), Talking Heads ("Time In Joy," "No King No Princess") and Brian Wilson/Todd Rundgren (the stunning, closing mostly instrumental "Find A Way To Keep Me"), Field Music circumvents any sense of being labled as copycats as they have clearly taken their influences and twisted them all around and inside out, creating a palate that feels of its own universe as it simultaneously pays tribute to the ones that have arrived before.

Oddly enough, "Open Here" almost feels like the most logical successor to Prince and the Revolution's "Parade" (released March 31, 1986), as Field Music ingeniously blends funk and soul rhythms with lush orchestrations in ways that are again not obvious but strong enough where you can feel a certain logical and sonic link--especially as Prince did announce himself as a fan of the band's work before his passing two years ago.  Just listen to the sounds of "Front Of  House," "Share A Pillow," and "Goodbye To The Country" adn I think you'll know what I mean.

Beyond that...I'll just put it here..."Count It Up," a count your blessings anthem, is already one of the most infectious songs I have heard this year and I think when you hear it, you will feel the same. 
Released April 6, 2018
NEW 2018 MUSIC: Ahhhhh.......the grand return of Sloan!!!!

At this particular stage of the Toronto band's nearly 30 year career, it my surprise you to know that I am currently finding myself thinking about Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. Certainly it is an odd comparison as the two bands do not sound remotely like each other, so to speak. For me, the comparison rests in the sheer dependability of both bands as their level of artistic quality control is, and has remained, so consistently high throughout the entirety of their respective durations, that it would be more than easy to take the bands for granted--especially as they have each make it all look to be so easy.

In the case of Sloan specifically, it is no small feat to hold a band together without any lineup changes for almost 30 years. And as this band features the collective of four singers, songwriters and multi-instrumentalists, it amazes me further that the inevitable ugly head of ego would not have reared itself sooner, thus fracturing the unit. Even so, I really hope and wish that people do take the time to really appreciate the gift we have in this superior band as they have not only continued to deliver exquisitely composed, produced, arranged and performed power pop, they are unquestionably MASTERS of their craft.

With the ingeniously simple entitled "12," Sloan has returned with their 12th album which consists of 12 songs and for the first time since their fifth album "Between The Bridges" (released September 12, 1999), the band has split the songwriting duties equally, with three songs from each member.

In a tight, taut 40 minutes or so, Sloan's "12" beautifully delivers the Beatle-esque/Beau Brummels styled melodic goldmines of Chris Murphy ("Spin Our Wheels," "Don't Stop (If It Feels Good, Do It)," "Wish Upon A Satellite"), the harder edged garage stompers and personal tales of anxiety and messages of affirmation from Patrick Pentland ("All Of The Voices," "The Day Will Be Mine," "Have Faith"), the astoundingly glorious AM Gold ear candy from Jay Ferguson ("Right To Roam," ""The Lion's Share," and album top flight winner "Essential Services") and finally, the introverted, mesmerizing psychedelia of Andrew Scott ("Gone For Good," "Year Zero," and "44 Teenagers").

While Sloan's "12" does not represent any sense of re-inventing the wheel, it does, without question or hyperbole, showcase the band, individually and collectively, as a unit continuing to work and play at the TOP of their game. Their vocals, both lead and the choirboy harmonies, are pristine and even ageless. All of the musicianship throughout is energetic, enthusiastic and as skilled as it is also luxurious. Again, they just make it sound so easy--and yet, it should be noted how these individuals have clearly taken it to the woodshed over and again, thus ensuring the rock and roll excellence on display.
Released October 3, 2006

Released November 7, 1975

Saturday, April 21, 2018


I needed to have this day.

After an extreme exhausting, exhaustive week at work, with a needless and more than hefty snowstorm smack dab in the middle of the week, the day had arrived!! Saturday, April 21st--the 2nd anniversary of the passing of the iconic musician Prince, no less-was the official date for the annual Record Store Day event, the celebration of local, independent records stores around the nation and starring oodles of exclusive (and expensive) items to whet the appetites of music fans everywhere.

Since it had indeed been such an aforementioned tiring week, I knew that is year, my pilgrimage would be as brief as possible..but again, as necessary as it had ever been. I needed to pay respects. I needed to show my face at the places that have meant so very much to me during my residence in Madison, WI over these past 31 years, as well as a tribute to all of the records stores that I have ventured into throughout my life as places of community, sanctuary and discovery.
My first stop was Mad City Music Exchange, the very record store where I first discovered and purchased a bootlegged and vinyl copy of Prince's then legendary and unreleased "The Black Album" back in early 1988 when I was 19 years old. 
Now owned and operated by Dave Zero and housed in its third physical location in these past three decades, it feels as if the store is stronger than ever, a feeling exceedingly confirmed when I walked into the establishment at around 8:45 a.m. The store was JAM PACKED!!!!
I was told my an employee that lines began forming outside of the store at 5 a.m.!!! And by the time of my arrival and the store not even open for one official hour, elbow room was powerfully scarce and the lines were epic,--a wonderful sight to see on Record Store Day, of course. But most of all, it seemed that people were all in good spirits, despite the chill in the air compared to the previous two years. I checked out some of the special releases and just casually listened to the conversations while regarding the armloads stuffed with music to purchase. 

With all due respect to Dave Zero and his expert staff and beautiful store, I felt the need to get outside and move along as I knew that it would take more than a little bit of time to make a purchase due to the sheer amount of customers (don't KNOW I'll be back). 
So, it was time for me to head to Stare Street and B-Side Records...

All was quiet on State Street this Saturday morning--a good sign that perhaps navigating B-Side would be a tad easier, maybe.
B-Side Records, owned and operated by my friend Steve Manley, a location that I have frequented since my very first week on the University Of Wisconsin-Madison campus back in 1987--and frankly, the last record store standing on State Street, a location that was once my record store mecca--was also heavily populated today. Again, it was a beautiful sight to me and I was indeed gracious to have a tad more elbow room at my disposal.
While the physical space of B-Side is quite tiny and tightly packed, it has always remained a treasure trove of sights and sounds and I know that I could still spend hours looking through the stacks and memorabilia from the legends and newer, local artists and musicians.
And speaking of local musicians, on this day, I was also extremely pleased to run into both singer/songwriter/bassist/guitarist Alivia Kleinfeldt (Dash Hounds, Squarewave, Modern Mod) and songwriter/drummer/guitarist Brendan Manley (Post Social, Dash Hounds, Squarewave, Modern Mod) each of whom also put time into keeping the flame of B-Side alive and kicking.
Alivia Kleinfeldt and Brendan Manley

By the time I reached the counter to pick up my purchases and say hello to Steve, my time at Record Store Day had been completed. While not a marathon of a day by any means, this was just another step on a lifelong journey.

Thank you so much to Steve, to Dave, to B-Side and Mad City plus Madison's Strictly Discs, Sugar Shack and to all other record stores around the nation that continue to serve as essential pieces of their respective communities, musical, economic, cultural and social.  

Sunday, April 8, 2018


Music and Lyrics by Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber
Directed by David Leveaux and Alex Rudzinski
Aired LIVE on NBC Easter Sunday-April 1, 2018

For so much of my life, I have adored Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice's classic rock opera "Jesus Christ Superstar," which originally entered my consciousness sometime during childhood on Easter weekend broadcasts of the CBS late, LATE show via the 1973 film adaptation from Director Norman Jewison and starring Ted Neeley as Jesus Christ and the late Carl Anderson as Judas Iscariot and was strengthened even further via an Uncle who gave me his copy of the original double album (released September 1970).

For over 40 years, the musical journey into the final week of Christ's life as mostly viewed through the eyes of the doomed Judas, has enraptured and enlightened me just as much as it has entertained and enthralled me. Seeing that NBC was planning to re-stage the production for their annual live television musical event certainly made me curious and to see none other than John Legend in the titular role more than piqued my interest. To have the chance to see and hear completely different people take on a production in which certain specific and idiosyncratic voices have been etched firmly into my inner musical jukebox was definitely something I felt to desire to check out, at least for a little bit. If it just didn't work for me, no harm, no foul. Nothing could taint what I already cherish, so I had nothing to lose. But fingers were...ahem...crossed.

Thankfully, and frankly within witnessing the fullness of the musical's Overture, this new production of "Jesus Christ Superstar" was a triumph. Delivered with a visual sheen that blissfully blended the theatrical with the cinematic, Webber and Rice's classic rock opera felt timeless as well as vividly fresh and potent in our especially turbulent 21st century via the visuals of the multi-cultural casting to the opera's core themes of political subjugation and grass roots uprisings, mob mentalities and the consequences of self-preservation in addition to spiritual turbulence, faith, fame and fraudulence, religion and reason, the possession and abuse of power, prophecy and proselytizing, love, humanity, mortality, sacrifice, salvation and ascension.
Staged like a rock concert, complete with mosh pit where audience members could interact directly with the cast and musicians often entering into and out of the main action, gave the entire production an infectious energy that was palpable through the television screen and only added to the overall excitement, seemingly feeding and pushing the entire cast (especially the gloriously vibrant collective of chorus and musicians) to perfection.

Housed with an open aired set design, often appearing as an updated version of the film's version's towering metallic scaffolding, the show's Directors David Leveaux and Alex Rudzinski made a series of highly captivating choices which only increased the power of the musical's songs and themes. With the name "JESUS" spray-painted graffiti style upon one wall, singers and dancers all dressed in rock star leather and copious a mounts of glitter, the elements of rock and roll extravaganza were certainly all in ravishing place and purpose.

Yet, for the story of Christ, his disciples and his enemies and the spiritual passion play a work, all of which were cemented by the presence of a giant wooden cross in the middle of the floor, I was struck with how malleable a presentation the show actually was, growing delicately intimate for some sequences yet vast, profound and epic during others, most especially the show's final stunning, shattering final image of Legend as Christ now having been crucified and fading into death. being lifted upwards and backwards into a wall of light as the stage's backdrop splits apart vertically and horizontally, revealing another cross into which Christ vanishes. Presented with the strains of the  opera's last selection, the string section led "John Nineteen: Forty-One," it was a grace note fully earned and left me with feelings of combined awe, sorrow and a certain meditative air that is as ethereal and inexplicable as one could imagine for a story such as this one.
For those who may have been experiencing this musical for the very first time, I sincerely hope they were not simply moved by the proceedings but just swept away by the audacity of it all. The nature of a story being told solely through songs and with no spoken dialogue whatsoever is a challenge in an of itself. But to tell the story of Jesus' last days and from the aspect of Jesus as a man and decidedly not as a God, remains controversial, but for me, is crucial for the story to carry any significant weight at all. Essentially, this is an exceedingly difficult story with exceedingly difficult parts to play and sing and truthfully, as much as I enjoyed the show, there were some...well, I won't say "faults," but more like aspects from the two primary leading figures, which, in all credit to them, showcased just how difficult and demanding "Jesus Christ Superstar" actually is.

It was certainly a reminder to me.
As Judas, Brandon Victor Dixon has to make the first significant vocal performance of the rock opera and it is a ferociously formidable one. "Heaven On Their Minds" presents Judas as one of the show's antagonists, the skeptic yet self-professed "right hand man" to Jesus who fears that the proselytizing of Christ combined with his rising fame and possibly self-aggrandizing propaganda will undo the progress made in the uprising against the Romans who have occupied Jerusalem. It is a song of searing doubt fused with a difficult love and admiration tinged with fury and recrimination and truthfully, Dixon did not quite match the titanic level the late Carl Anderson achieved in the film version, a performance during which he sang every song as if they would be the last songs he would ever sing.
To his immense credit, Dixon worked himself into fits and sweats with his performance. You could easily see the veins in his throat and temples on his cleanly shaven head flexing throughout every song he performed. He held a forceful, dominating presence certainly but you could also feel him finding his way to a degree, only building full comfort along the way, especially as the character endures his betrayal of Jesus ("Damned For All Time"/"Blood Money" and "The Last Supper") and he supremely came into focus with his anguish and suicide in his expertly staged and performed "Judas' Death."  Dixon certainly saved the absolute best for last with his spectacular, glitterific and hallucinatory excursion into "Superstar," during which he fully unleashed his inner Lenny Kravitz to brilliant effect.

And while Judas certainly wrestled with the demands of the musical, I think even Jesus had an even greater struggle.
As an actor, how would one even begin to conceptualize performing as Jesus Christ? I can only imagine how daunting of a task it would be to say the very least. In the case of John Legend, the reason I was most curious to watch this production, I truly wondered what was going through his head as he prepared for the role. John Legend, while he has acted, is not an actor, and to a degree that lack of experience presented itself in "Jesus Christ Superstar" as his earlier conflicts with Judas showcased how unnatural of a fit this was for him. Even the songs themselves were ones where you could hear how difficult they were, regardless of how splendid of a vocalist Legend already happens to be (and he truly is a tremendous singer).  .

Like Brandon Victor Dixon, Legend worked himself into a sweaty, deeply concentrated frenzy in the role and I give him an A+ for his efforts and perhaps a B for his full execution. That said, credit must be given to John Legend for taking such a massive risk, performing songs that are not of his specific musical genre and songs that were often out of his natural singing range--again, you could see him practically willing himself to hit some of the notes, taking extra, deeper breaths before releasing his voice. And then to act on top of the singing? No small feat whatsoever.
Legend also struck me as finding his way throughout the show, feeling more confident in the m moments where he displayed the charm and graciousness of Jesus, from  his gorgeous entrance as he emerged from a sea of light and interacting with the live studio audience at the lip of the stage and the quieter moments in songs like "Hosana" and especially in the palpable warmth and intimacy of his scenes with Sara Bareilles as Mary Magdalene (more on her very shortly).
Yet, by the time Legend arrived at his centerpiece, the wrenching, existential howl that is the solo "Gethsemane," he seemed to completely arrive as both singer and actor, delivering an exhaustively committed performance of a selection that drives to the core of the human condition. No, it didn't unseat what Ted Neeley achieved in the film version--a performance that truly suggested that these would be his final words on Earth...that is a Master Class performance. Even so, John Legend dug DEEPLY unearthing new levels of grace, pathos and searing power once the show dove into its final sections featuring "The Trial Before Pilate (The 39 Lashes)" and "The Crucifixion." 
Whatever difficulties notwithstanding, it is notable to see these two titans (as Dixon has performed in no less than "Hamilton" and Legend is...well, John Legend) honestly working diligently to deliver the goods, to being so devoted and committed to parts they will most likely perform only this one time. What was most beautiful to witness regarding both Dixon and Legend was the sight of these two beautiful, Black men at the centerpiece of this classic rock opera and frankly, John Legend marked the very first time that I have ever seen a Black man portray Jesus Christ in my lifetime, making the image and representation undeniably seismic to behold.
Faring much more effortlessly was Sara Bareilles, an artist that I honestly had not heard of before this production, despite her pedigree with hit singles and her work on the stage version of "Waitress." The impact she made upon me was instantaneous!!!! Yes, full confession, an instant, powerful crush emerged but as a performer, singer, actress, I felt that Bareilles took what is essentially an underwritten role and infused an enveloping warmth and serenity each time she appeared, and especially as the story grew more turbulent.

Sara Bareilles proved herself to be a more than worthy successor to the character's original actress/singer Yvonne Elliman as the rich, clarity of her voice provided a certain oasis as well as a powerful lesson for all of the up and coming vocalists, especially those who compete on those singing performance shows. Less IS more!! You don't have to invent syllables to create emotion. Find the truth in the words and that will carry the way and Bareilles achieved that feat enormously on "Everything's Alright" and her show stopper, "I Don't Know How To Love Him." 
As an actress, just watch (or remember) how she engaged herself with John Legend. How she would touch him. How they would regard each other. Their connection and chemistry was perfection, suggesting a certain spiritual, emotional and possibly physical intimacy and history that I had never quite felt before in this story. Sara Bareilles, without question, made the absolute most of her time, proving that there are no small parts if you just find the right person to perform them. 
That sentiment only extends itself to the show's supporting players from the baritone voiced Norm Lewis as Caiaphas, Jin Ha as Annas, Ben Daniels (who resembled Michael Fassbender to me) as the conflicted Pontius Pilate, and who sang himself completely hoarse by the show's end. And of course, there is no way to exclude the towering and appropriately theatrical demonic presence of the mighty Alice Cooper as King Herod, who was clearly relishing his part in "King Herod's Song" as well as the excitement and adoration of his fans in the audience.
If I had only one real complaint with the telecast it was all down to the commercials. Yes, NBC has to pay the bills but I do agree greatly with one review I read that suggested that perhaps there should have been an "intermission" of sorts. An extended period of advertisements smack in the middle, therefore the momentum of the show itself would not have been interrupted so frequently and also being emotionally jarring--for  how do you logically adjust and re-adjust from crucifixion to smartphone ads?

Regardless, and most of all, the endurance of "Jesus Christ Superstar" was not only extended even further its longevity was entirely justified through the earnestness and sheer commitment to this production by all participants involved. Imaginatively staged and directed, it also proved itself to be tailor made for the live television format as this was an honest event experience that are indeed harder to come by with the immense prevalence of channels and viewing outlets.

In fact, I wonder if this show will be preserved on the home video format down the road because it was indeed one that I would wish to add to my collection and have the opportunity to experience all over again, for it was so stirring, so surprisingly moving as it was filled end to end with that rock and roll power merged with spiritual deliverance.