Arts & Culture

The Lineup

November’s Concert Calendar

By
Arts & Culture Editor
Friday, November 7, 2014

Stevie Wonder | Nov. 11 | TD Garden’s Fleet Center, Boston

Wonder has garnered more Grammy Awards than any other male soloist — 22, not including his 1996 Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award — since he first signed with Motown Records at the tender age of 11. But as the angelic voice that launched him into fame ripened with time, he established his place in the cultural conversation by addressing the harsh realities that most of his contemporaries skirted around, including race and its intersection with post-1960s disillusionment, substance abuse and urbanity.

Even across decades, his reviews remain consistently transcendent. But Rolling Stone’s Vince Aletti put it best in 1974 when he wrote, “What he can’t say in words he can say more fluidly, subtly and powerfully in his music. So it’s Wonder’s music, his spirit, that dominates here and seems to fill up the room. It’s his voice — also beyond mere words, into pure expression — that snatches you up. And won’t let go.”

 

Bob Dylan | Nov. 15 | Providence Performing Arts Center

In the early 1960s, a skinny boy from Minnesota moved to New York City and changed his name. His self-reinvention presaged the revolution he would spark in a generation, and it was this movement — mapped through the Midwestern twang he never ironed out, the rusty guitar he never tuned as finely as the poetry laid over its strings — that charted a new cartography in the musical landscape.

After half a century of songwriting and recording, Dylan has moved beyond the deft sociopolitical allegories and iconoclastic questions of existence that defined his heyday. Still, he undoubtedly remains one of the most influential musical artists of the 20th century — if not of all time. His show in Providence is part of the Never Ending Tour he embarked on in 1988.

 

Alt-J | Nov. 18 | Orpheum Theatre, Boston

The British indie-rock band set a high precedent for itself when its 2012 debut album, “An Awesome Wave,” won the Mercury Prize for that year. But the group has so far upheld this standard: Its sophomore album, “This is All Yours,” released in September and catapulted to the number one spots on the United Kingdom’s Official Albums Charts and Billboard’s Top Alternative and Top Rock Albums. The track “Buffalo” appeared in David Russell’s enormously acclaimed blockbuster, “Silver Linings Playbook.”

Though widely dubbed the “new Radiohead” — likely because the band exhibits a Thom Yorke-like tendency to experiment with ambiguous electronic textures — the members of alt-J depart from their angst-ridden predecessors by refusing to take themselves too seriously. Irony smacks in the band’s eclectic cultural references, like the sample pulled from Miley Cyrus’ song “4×4,” as well as their bizarre and self-conscious lyrics. Fun fact: The band derives its name from the Mac keyboard shortcut. Typed in, it produces the Greek letter delta, or the mathematical symbol for change.

 

Atmosphere | Nov. 18 | Lupo’s Heartbreak Hotel

Critics have lauded rapper Sean “Slug” Daley for his complex rhyme schemes and famously introspective lyrics. Though the specific framework of this content has changed over time to reflect the rapper’s own evolution from resentful son to awestruck father, he continues to dig unflinchingly into themes of family, mortality and the burden of experience. Meanwhile, DJ and producer Anthony “Ant” Davis contextualizes the gravity of this subject matter against a sonic foundation of keyboard and guitar, the authenticity of which distinguishes Atmosphere from many of its more formulaic contemporaries.

Slug and Ant celebrated and meditated on their Minneapolis origins in Atmosphere’s most recent album, “Southsiders,” which ranked third on Billboard’s list of Top R&B/Hip-Hop albums upon its May release.