Florence + the Machine’s dynamic fan-friendly lovefest

photo by Scott Newton

Since the last time they graced our stage in 2011, the UK’s unstoppable Florence + the Machine have become international superstars. In a high energy show that demonstrated dynamic leader Florence Welch’s remarkable rapport with her fans, the band gave us a taping packed with hits and cuts from their most recent, chart-topping LP How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful.

Following a pre-taped musical intro, Florence walked onstage resplendent in a long, flowing white gown and barefoot, opening the show with “What the Water Gave Me,” the hit anthem from FATM’s second LP Ceremonials that went from moody to explosive as she moved from standing still before the mic to racing across the stage. Wasting neither time nor energy, the band dove right into the radio ruling monster “Ship to Wreck,” from How Blue. After imploring the audience to stand – and if already standing, to put someone on their shoulders, which a few couples did – Florence led the crowd into the dramatic “Rabbit Heart,” a gospel-like anthem that allowed to her to join the audience in jumping to the beat and bring some thrilled kids to the stage for twirls. She wasn’t done with the crowd afterward, recruiting them as her choir for the massive, Grammy-nominated hit “Shake It Out.”  

Florence returned to her latest record with “Delilah,” which started slow but quickly escalated into another of her patented pop anthems, and one which found her particularly animated as she danced freely across the stage. She then took a quick side trip with “Sweet Nothing,” the dance-flavored pop tune she delivered for British super-producer Calvin Harris. The title track of How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful came next – she explained how the horn-laden pop psalm was the starting point for the album, and how it taught her to love not just one person but everyone and everything. The rapturous vibes continued with “Queen of Peace,” a twirlfest from the same LP. The music’s mood darkened a bit for “What Kind of Man,” but that doesn’t mean it didn’t rock, as the guitar and horns traded riffs and Florence cranked up her distinctive, glorious wail.

Florence ended the main set with “Spectrum,” the Ceremonials anthem that brought the audience to its highest peak yet. She left the stage afterward, but the crowd didn’t want to let her leave, of course, and they made their position clear loud and long. Sure enough, the band returned for “You’ve Got the Love,” another unabashedly feel-good widescreener that became a call-and-response anthem. After that, there was only one way to end the magical show, and that was with “Dog Days Are Over,” her breakthrough hit. It was also the moment that best showed off her powerful connection to the crowd, as they followed her in hugs, jumps and waving portions of clothing like flags. The lovefest finally ended onstage, but will continue this fall when this fantastic show airs on your local PBS station as part of our Season 42.

Florence + the Machine livestream only for May 20 cancelled

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***Due to unforeseen circumstances we will not be able to livestream the Austin City Limits television taping with Florence + the Machine tonight. But stay tuned for the episode featuring Florence + the Machine will air this October on PBS.***

British breakout sensations Florence + the Machine make their highly-anticipated return to ACL, and this time the appearance will be livestreamed across the globe.  Fans everywhere can watch the concert on May 20 at 8pm CT/9 pm ET on  ACLTV’s  YouTube channel as it happens.  

One of music’s biggest live acts, Florence + the Machine is celebrating the gigantic success of their most recent release and first U.S. #1 album How Big How Blue How Beautiful which was nominated for five Grammy Awards. The album received widespread critical acclaim and was named to year-end best lists from Rolling Stone, NPR Music, SPIN, American Songwriter, Consequence of Sound and more, landing the band on Coachella’s main stage in one of 2015’s most raved about live performances.   Written and recorded over the course of 2014 and produced by Markus Dravs (Björk, Arcade Fire, Coldplay), the album follows Florence’s worldwide hits Lungs (2009) and Ceremonials (2011). Called “Florence Welch’s most personal, vulnerable and moving album to date” by Rolling Stone, How Big How Blue How Beautiful reached #1 in the U.K. (her third #1 album in the country), Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, Switzerland and Canada after reaching the top spot on iTunes charts in 24 countries worldwide. The album features the massive hit “Ship to Wreck,” which Fader calls “the best song of her career” and The Daily Beast calls “a testament to her ability to straddle pop and rock, convention and alternative.” As anyone who saw Florence’s ACL debut can attest, her taping will present, as Entertainment Weekly puts it, “an outsize physical presence who doesn’t so much sing as emit deeply emoted sounds out of some wellspring of the collective unconscious who commanded her space and demanded undivided attention.”

Please join us May 20th on our ACLTV YouTube channel as we welcome back Florence + the Machine.  The broadcast version will air as part of our upcoming Season 42 which premieres this fall on PBS.

Paul Simon amazes with career-spanning set

photo by Scott Newton

We here at ACL have a shortlist of artists on the “At last!” list. Paul Simon has been at the top of that list for some time, so we were beyond thrilled to have the singer, songwriter and legend on our stage for his first-ever appearance. In a performance for the ages, the New York native traversed all across his astounding five-decade career, from Simon & Garfunkel classics to hits from his solo catalog to material from his highly-anticipated upcoming release Stranger to Stranger (out June 3rd).

The band took the stage in darkness, guitarists Mark Stewart and Vincent Nguini and bassist Bakithi Kumalo laying down a bubbling African groove as the nine-piece band joined in on the instrumental “Proof.” Acoustic guitar in hand and purple blazer around his shoulders, Simon entered as the brief instrumental wound down. Then a distinctive accordion riff from Austinite Joel Guzman signaled the launch into “The Boy in the Bubble,” the Graceland hit that brought African music to mainstream radio. Simon followed that bang-up open with one of his big guns: the monster hit “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover,” highlighted by Mick Rossi’s organ solo and crowd backing vocals. He then leapt forward to 2011 to his acclaimed album So Beautiful or So What and the percolating pop tune “Dazzling Blue.”

“I didn’t know it was a set,” Simon joked. “I thought it was the real city of Austin.” Then it was off to Louisiana for “That Was Your Mother,” the zydeco romp from Graceland. Simon then gave a quick explanation of how some songs come to be, combining a handclapped rhythm, acoustic guitar licks and prepared piano for the So Beautiful tune “Rewrite.” The band then went into a rare cover – the Bill Doggett shuffle “Honky Tonk,” which segued seamlessly into the similarly and rapturously received single “Slip Sliding Away.” He kept going with the early hit “Mother and Child Reunion,” the Jamaican lilt of which reminded us that his exploration of international grooves began long before Graceland. Stripped of complexity but no less danceable, “Me and Julio Down By the Schoolyard” shot the show’s energy even higher than it already was, as evidenced by the audience’s wild response.

Switching to electric guitar, Simon told a story about an encounter with a brujo in the Amazon jungle as a prelude to “Spirit Voices,” from his Brazilian-inspired album The Rhythm of the Saints. He stayed with that record for the percussion-heavy radio hit “The Obvious Child.” Simon then touched on the title track of his upcoming LP, crooning over the gentle but insistent percolation of “Stranger to Stranger,” which featured a mallet hitting the inside of the piano as part of the percussion track. “It makes me feel good that you heard a new song and you liked it,” Simon commented. “Now here’s an old song.” That song was “Homeward Bound,” one of the gems from the Simon & Garfunkel catalog and one that earned him a standing ovation.

Simon stuck with the songs of his old firm for “El Condor Pasa (If I Could),” though it was used merely as an intro for “Duncan,” the Latin-tinged single from his 1972 self-titled LP that garnered much audience appreciation. Drummer James Oblon donned a lycanthropic headdress and Mark Stewart picked up a didgeridoo for the sardonic sociopolitical commentary of “The Werewolf,” on which the crowd joined him with wolf howls. Cameroon guitarist Vincent Nguini then stepped to the mic, telling a fanciful story about how Simon got the next song, the fizzy Afropop anthem “The Cool, Cool River,” which ended with a free jazz piano solo. That deliberately discordant conclusion led into one of the prettiest musical moments in the show, as Simon and band essayed the a capella intro of delightful Graceland hit “Diamonds On the Soles of Her Shoes.” A percussion outro led directly into “You Can Call Me Al,” one of Simon’s biggest Graceland hits and most irresistible songs (and showcase for bassist Kumalo). One audience sing-and-dancealong later, the main set came to an effervescent close.

Forgoing the walk-off, Simon and band instead stayed on stage for “Wristband,” a comic commentary on backstage stardom from the forthcoming record. He then revisited the iconic Graceland one more time for the slide guitar-saturated African groove of the title tune. The crowd went nuts, but it still wasn’t over. Once again not bothering to quit the stage for the encore ritual, instead Simon eased into a gorgeous take on his standard “Still Crazy After All These Years.” He finally left the stage, but his absence was brief, as he returned solo for an elegiac “The Sound of Silence,” Simon & Garfunkel’s first hit and the song that introduced his immense talent to the wider world. A smiling Simon clapped along with the screaming crowd, taking his final bow. It was an amazing show that ACL fans will talk about for years to come, and we can’t wait for you to see it when it airs this fall on your local PBS station.

My Morning Jacket’s epic performance

photo by Scott Newton

The last time My Morning Jacket appeared on Austin City Limits, in 2008, we were still in our original studio on the UT campus. So we were thrilled to welcome the Kentucky quintet to what’s been our home stage for the past five years for its third taping and first to be streamed live around the world. Concentrating on its most recent albums Circuital and The Waterfall, the band turned in a trademark epic performance.

After some brief pre-taped intro music, the band took the stage to the folk rocking strains of “Circuital.” Resplendent in his swirled kimono and big sunglasses, leader Jim James strapped on his Gibson for the neo-classic rock anthemry of “Believe (Nobody Knows),” segueing almost immediately into the similarly-inclined but pedal steel-laced “Outta My System.” Bo Koster’s buzzing synths and a midtempo stomp powered “Spring (Among the Living),” with James and fellow axeperson Carl Broemel alternating meaty solos. The band didn’t have to tell the audience that it would slow things down, instead jumping right into the self-explanatory “Slow Slow Tune” to bring on a mellow mood. The Jacket then did something we love: debuted a new song, entitled “Throwback (When We Were Young),” and driven by dueling riffs and a singalong chorus.

Band and audience paused for breath, before James and Broemel began the fingerpicked guitar web that introduces the epic “Tropics (Erase Traces).” After that storm of guitars and fire, the group brought the mood back down with the languid, soulful “Only Memories Remain,” on which James showed off his vocal range and took a dynamic guitar solo that went from jazzy to jagged. After eight songs drawing from Circuital and The Waterfall, the band reached back to its 2003 classic It Still Moves for the crunchy “Masterplan,” six-strings a-blazing. MMJ dipped back into The WaterfalI for “In Its Infancy,” which shifted from keyboard-led grooves to powerhouse arena rock at will. The band segued immediately into It Still Moves fan favorite “I Will Sing You Songs,” ending the main set on an unhurried note that eased the audience into the break.

Returning for a generous five-song encore, James, Broemel and Koster took the stage for the lovely “Wonderful (The Way I Feel),” with bassist Tom Blankenship and drummer Patrick Hallahan joining halfway through to transform it from folk to country. “Get the Point” aimed for an even more mellow target, the better to clear the palette for “Victory Dance.” Donning a towel on his head and a sampler around his neck, James strolled the stage as Koster’s clavinet roiled behind him and the band built up to its proggiest crescendoes yet. A galloping Hallahan beat announced the widescreen groover “Compound Fracture,” which stretched out without zoning out. The band brought the show to a close with It Still Moves’ upbeat rocker/statement of purpose “Mahgeetah,” bringing it all home with James and Broemel’s dueling guitar solos. The audience made its appreciation known loud and long. It was a fitting end to a spectacular show, and we can’t wait for you to see it when it airs this fall as part of our Season 42 on your local PBS station.

ACL to livestream My Morning Jacket taping on 5/2

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Austin City Limits is pleased to announce that we will be streaming our third taping with My Morning Jacket live, powered by Dell, on May 2 at 8pm CT/9 pm ET. Fans around the world can watch the concert on  ACLTV’s  YouTube channel as it happens.

My Morning Jacket are old friends of Austin City Limits. Not only has the band been featured twice, in 2006 and 2008, but dynamic leader Jim James has appeared four additional times, as a solo headliner, with Monsters of Folk and as a special guest of Bright Eyes and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band. For their first collective appearance in eight years, the eclectic Kentucky group focus both on material recorded for their most recent album The Waterfall, which the New York Times called “a consolidation of the band’s strengths” and Salon hailed as “the Louisville band’s best, most ambitious and most nuanced effort in more than a decade,” and previews of its upcoming 2016 LP.  

Please join us on May 2 on our ACLTV YouTube channel as we welcome back My Morning Jacket.

New taping: Paul Simon

photo by Mary Ellen Matthews

Austin City Limits is proud to announce the first-ever appearance by music legend Paul Simon, who is set to tape his ACL debut on Thursday, May 12th, 2016.

An artist whose work has had a profound effect on music and culture, Simon is one of the most successful and respected songwriters in popular music history.  Almost thirty years since the release of his landmark album Graceland, Simon continues his musical and sonic exploration on his highly anticipated 13th solo album, Stranger to Stranger, which is set for release via Concord Records on June 3rd, 2016. Produced by Simon and longtime musical partner Roy Halee, Stranger to Stranger is full of thrilling textures that feel fresh and modern, while still offering subtle and artful allusions to our shared musical past. “Its about making music that sounds old and new at the same time – music with a sense of mystery,” Simon explains of the new album, his first new studio recording since 2011’s widely acclaimed So Beautiful or So What.  “Sound is the theme of this album as much as it’s about the subjects of the individual songs. If people get that, I’ll be pleased.  The right song at the right time can live for generations. A beautiful sound – well, that’s forever.”

We can’t wait for this historic appearance, as we welcome Paul Simon to the ACL stage for the very first time.

Want to be part of our audience? We will post information on how to get free passes about a week before the taping. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for notice of postings.

Rhiannon Giddens does it all on ACL debut

photo by Scott Newton

Singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, interpreter – Rhiannon Giddens does it all on her acclaimed solo debut Tomorrow is My Turn. We were thrilled to host the Carolina Chocolate Drops member for her livestreamed debut ACL taping, and the NC native didn’t disappoint.

A barefoot Giddens and her seven-piece Americana orchestra took the stage to already enthusiastic applause. Donning her banjo, she and the band launched into the dramatic “Spanish Mary,” a Bob Dylan song Giddens finished for the all-star New Basement Tapes project. An accidentally muted fiddle meant an immediate retake – “Here’s a tune you may have heard before,” Giddens quipped – but the eager crowd clearly didn’t mind, and was rewarded with a tougher, grittier performance. She then moved to Tomorrow for the jaunty, fiddle-heavy “Don’t Let It Trouble Your Mind” from the catalog of the great Dolly Parton, “one of the most feminist writers out there.” She stayed with classic country for a stirring take on Hank Cochran’s sad and beautiful “She’s Got You,” made famous by the iconic Patsy Cline, before turning to the catalog of folk singer Odetta for the African-American work song “Waterboy,” a powerful showcase for her classically-trained vocal chops. She closed out the Tomorrow portion of the evening with a rumbling version of the Geeshie Wiley blues “Last Kind Words” that spotlighted her Drops bandmate Hubby Jenkins on mandolin.

Giddens then dug into her own growing catalog of originals for “Julie.” Inspired by a book of slave narratives, the tune recounts a conversation between a slave and her mistress, a performance stripped down to Dirk Powell’s fiddle and her own banjo, which is a replica of a 19th-century instrument. The rest of the band rejoined them as Giddens switched to fiddle and Powell (a folk and traditional music star in his own right) picked up his accordion for the Creole tune “Dimanche Apres-Midi” (“Sunday Afternoon Waltz”). Giddens and the band rocked up the folk for “Louisiana Man,” a snarling romantic putdown from Giddens’ own pen that bore down thanks to the circle of her banjo, Powell’s fiddle, Jason Sypher’s bass and Chance McCoy’s electric guitar. Jenkins then stepped forward to join Giddens on vocals for the gospel song “Children, Go Where I Send Thee,” which he brought to the Drops’ repertoire.

Giddens went back to her own catalog for the chilling “At the Purchaser’s Option,” a dark tune inspired by a 19th century advertisement for a slave and her baby and frosted by Malcolm Parson’s scraping cello. After ten songs chronicling American folk, she crossed the ocean for one of the musical strains at its root, closing the set with a stunning performance of traditional Gaelic “Mouth Music” that brought the house down. A standing ovation brought Giddens and the band back, wherein she explained that this was the band’s last show of the year and how thankful she was for her band and the paths on which her music has taken her. Following hugs all around for the musicians, Gidden and friends launched into a medley of “That Lonesome Road” and “Up Above My Head” from the catalog of pioneering gospel singer/proto rock & roll guitarist Sister Rosetta Tharpe – a rollicking call-and-response closer with solos all around. The crowd sent the band out with wild cheers and applause, all well-deserved. It was a rousing closer to a great show, and we can’t wait for you to see it when it airs this fall as part of our Season 42 on your local PBS station.    

ACL to livestream Rhiannon Giddens’ taping debut

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Austin City Limits is pleased to announce that we will be streaming our taping with Americana sensation Rhiannon Giddens live on April 25 at 8pm CT/9 pm ET. Fans around the world can watch the concert on  ACLTV’s  YouTube channel as it happens.

Rhiannon Giddens makes her highly-anticipated ACL debut performing tracks from her release Tomorrow Is My Turn, a 2016 Grammy nominee for Best Folk Album. The widely acclaimed album, produced by T Bone Burnett, marks Giddens’ solo debut after a decade as a founding member and leader of the Grammy-winning string band the Carolina Chocolate Drops.  Rolling Stone calls the debut “a spiritual archaeology of American racial and economic struggle via sublime covers of songs identified with Nina Simone, Patsy Cline, Dolly Parton and Elizabeth Cotten.”  The Piedmont, NC native and classically trained singer has chosen from a broad array of songs associated with the female artists who are her musical and spiritual forebears for an album that serves both as patchwork autobiography and as a tribute to these artists and their legacies. “The strength of American music is in bringing all these things together—Celtic, gospel, jazz, folk—all these things that make American music great,” she says. “Putting them side by side and having a production that pulls it all into a cohesive whole shows how related all these things are.”  

Giddens’ showcased her powerful vocals at the White House this past year and gave a show-stopping performance in our own 2015 Americana Music Festival special, and we’re thrilled to follow her journey for her ACL debut.

Please join us on April 25 on our ACLTV YouTube channel as we welcome Rhiannon Giddens.