EM THE MASTER — “The Master”? Maybe, if you know you can back it up. EM does and does it all, maybe like no one you’ve ever seen, and up close in a local bar not an arena, and for 10 bucks. She sings, she dances, she has dancers, they all jump up on the bar (watch those drinks!), practically spilling the show out the door onto Fourth Street. She crawls across the stage and the floor gripping the mic. She doesn’t play the piano, she attacks it. She uses her voice as an instrument in creative ways to transform each number.
She aggressively leads a killer band, her energy is nonstop and seemingly limitless, she can sell a song, rockers and ballads, vocally and with her smart, seductive arrangements. She writes terrific songs perfect for her act, and she may remind you some of a more energetic LadyGaga. In her spare time she co-authored a book with Gaga that made the NY Times best-seller list. Maybe the best 10 bucks you ever spent. Every Tues 9:30 p.m., Harvelle’s, DTSM, $10.
TONIGHT! HAMILTON — No, I still haven’t seen it, dammit, but I think I can only go wrong by not recommending it, from what I’ve heard and read. Tonight, Fri, Sat, Tues, Wed, next Thurs 8 p.m., Sun 1 p.m., 6:30 p.m., also Sat 2 p.m., all performances at Pantages Theater, Hollywood, $49-3000+, depending on date/time/where purchased.
LA OPERA presents VERDI’S “IL TROVATORE” — LA Opera is back! And with a lineup of some of the best-known operas, by a composers’ hall of fame. They’ve got Verdi bookended (“Aida” next May), with Wagner’s “Tannhäuser,” Rossini’s “Cinderella,” and “St. Matthew Passion” by Johann Sebastian Bach. When you can see spectacle like this, some of the world’s greatest voices and exquisite music, for around 20 bucks a pop, well, I just can’t understand why you wouldn’t take in all five.
Only three more performances for Verdi’s esteemed “Il Trovatore,” so don’t delay. It’s been reviewed as “exquisite,” a “triumphant season-opener.” As if it isn’t hard enough starting up again after 18 months, they had to build the sets from scratch in 10 days because the ones coming from Europe are still held up outside LA Harbor (last count: 100+ ships waiting to dock and unload).
Music director James Conlon must be as happy as a puppy — with over 500 Verdi opera performances under his belt, it should be a treat to hear him squeezing every last note for all Verdi intended. How many times have you heard”The Anvil Chorus”? Now see where it came from. Big chorus on stage. Oh yeah. Sun 2 p.m., Wed 7:30 p.m., Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, DTLA, $23-292.
SHAKESPEARE’S “A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM” — one of the best “AMND” I can recall. Loved the inventive physical comedy, and these TB fairies were show stealers; who could not be charmed by their little chirping sounds? Sun 4 p.m.
SHAKESPEARE’S “JULIUS CAESAR” — makes ancient political drama seem contemporary. Every word shimmers, due to the delivery and acting of the TB thespians. Special linguistic laurels to Melora Marshall as Cassius, who was just made for this role, even though it is a man’s part. She pulls you straight in, to the moment. Sun 4 p.m.
THEATRICUM BOTANICUM presents “THE LAST, BEST SMALL TOWN” — this moving, timely original with themes of racism, small town life, youthful rebellion, tradition — the full range of the human condition set in a small town that both nurtures and stultifies. Sun 7:30 p.m.
All performances TB, Topanga Canyon, $10-60.
VAN MORRISON — Van the confounding Man, I revere him like few other musicians, there;s no other like him, part jazz part blues all Irish Catholic all rocknroll, still putting out great music nearly 60 years after “Gloria,” I’ve seen a couple of absolutely astounding, unforgettable performances for the ages, and I’ve seen him go through the motions, only to shift gears and suddenly become transcendent. He does what he wants on stage, and that’s what you want, I guess, from your genius artists.
Lately he’s teamed with old friend Eric Clapton in the science-dumb anti-vax disinformation campaigns, but Van has always had an anti-establishment bent that sometimes leads him down some dark paths. The only thing that should count is what happens on that stage, and so we judge performers on their artistry and try to keep the politics and personalities out of it. Quite a few genius artists have been pretty rotten human beings. Thank goodness Ted Nugent, Kid Rock, Sammy Hagar, Hank Williams Jr., were never worth listening to, and Clapton not for at least30 years. Don’t forget Nixon-loving Elvis. But try to forget all that stuff when Van hits the stage. Sat 8 p.m. Hollywood Bowl, $29-1300+.
MDOU MOCTAR — Tuareg guitarist and songwriter Mahamadou Souleymane, otherwise known as Mdou Moctar, first gained notoriety through the vast person-to-person music trading network of cellphones and memory cards in West Africa. I have seen him and his group perform multiple times and have deeply enjoyed every show. His cool, consummate shredding is not to be overshadowed by his progressive songwriting and lyrics (in Tamasheq, not English) and mesmerizing rhythms. This show has a LOW TICKET ALERT so don’t sleep on buying yours! This performance the band did on KEXP gives a good taste of what’s going to go down. Sun 9pm, Lodge Room, Highland Park, $20. (https://lodgeroomhlp.com/shows)
21st ANNUAL USA SUMO OPEN — This is the longest running sumo wrestling championship outside of Japan, and it is a sight to behold. I went in 2019, knowing little to nothing about sumo wrestling, and I still think about it. The event will take place at the brand new Terasaki Budokan in Little Tokyo, will feature 60 wrestlers from all over the world, including 24-time World Champion Anna, from Russia, who will be competing for the first time on U.S. soil, and past US Sumo Open Champion, Ramy, 520-pounds, from Egypt. Sat 11:30-4:15 (see website for scheduling), Terasaki Budokan, Little Tokyo, DTLA, $35. (Link to purchase tickets: https://www.usasumo.com/us-sumo-open/2021-us-sumo-open/)
LOWRIDER CRUISE NIGHT — See 100+ lowriders cruise up to celebrate Kristin Bedford’s newly released Cruise Night: Scenes from the Mexican American lowrider life, a clothbound photo book documenting this car culture as done uniquely LA. This family-friendly event includes raffles, DJ sets, food, and free admission to The Autry! Sun 10 a.m.-4 p.m., The Autry Museum, Griffith Park, KA, free.
COMING ATTRACTIONS: LA PHIL returns to Disney Hall! – Homecoming Gala and Benefit with DUDAMEL, varied program, 10/9; LIBRARY GIRL 12TH YEAR, poetry, music, food, Ruskin Group Theater, SM Airport, 10/10; DUDAMEL conducts STRAUSS, 10/14-17; DUDAMEL conducts MAHLER’S 4TH, 10/21-24, all performances at Disney Hall, DTLA.
Charles Andrews has listened to a lot of music of all kinds, including more than 2,000 live shows. He has lived in Santa Monica for 34 years and wouldn’t live anywhere else in the world. Really. Send love and/or rebuke to him at email@example.com