The Best Concerts in New York This Week, 11/25/13


For more shows throughout the week, check out our New York Concert Calendar, which we update daily.

Monday, 11/25:

Music Hall of Williamsburg
8:00 p.m., $15-$18
An L.A. kid whose dad played with Diana Ross and the Temptations and whose brother, Ronald Bruner Jr., drummed with Wayne Shorter, Dianne Reeves, and Suicidal Tendencies, Thundercat is a 27-year-old, Flying Lotus-affiliated bassist who has grown big enough to play with artists like Snoop Dogg and Erykah Badu and listen to his own songs in Grand Theft Auto V. This spring, his grooves during Red Bull Music Academy’s “Night of Improvised Round Robin Duets” were a highlight during an otherwise lackluster event; tonight, his headlining set at the Music Hall of Williamsburg gives him more than an hour to play tracks off his recent Apocalypse. — By Nick Murray

Van Morrison
Theater at Madison Square Garden
8:00 p.m., $69.50-$250
As it goes with many performers saddled with expectations based on their earliest iconoclastic works, live performances means struggling to reconcile legends with the strain of age and economic imperative. This is especially true for Van Morrison, the famously mercurial singer capable of ecstasy as well as scowling indifference even in his prime. However, touring in support of a just-released deluxe edition of his classic Moondance, Morrison appears to be in surprisingly strong voice for a 68 year-old, so that even when he strains to capture his old feverish sensuality he retains an imposing and enviable stage presence. — By Aaron Gonsher

Tuesday, 11/26:

Smash Mouth
Irving Plaza
7:00 p.m., $22
At times, San Jose’s Smash Mouth can seem like a parodic cross between self-help guru pap and a commercial-jingle machine. “All Star” is their best-known anthemic goof, but it might surprise casual listeners to learn that they’re packing an entire discography designed to scratch the same populist itch. The group’s mash of ska, punk-lite, and power pop ingratiates, but singer Steve Harwell is its ever-present, backslapping main attraction, the host of every party you’ve never been at but declined to vacate for fear of missing out on something epic. — By Raymond Cummings

Wednesday, 11/27:

Theater at Madison Square Garden
7:30 p.m., $34.50-$74.50
Over the past three decades, Slayer have helped define the thrash-metal genre, from their breakneck tempos and jagged riffs to their uncompromisingly controversial death-obsessed lyrics and imagery. Tonight, they’re playing an “old-school set” to celebrate their formative years in the ’80s and early ’90s, when all of their horror-movie lyrics about hell, blood, and necrophilia paved the way for the band to earn gold records and win Grammys with the same subject matter. Recent concerts on this tour have found the band drawing from albums recorded in 1990 and earlier, including their touchstone 1986 LP, Reign in Blood. Beyond the oeuvre, the show is notable for being the band’s first New York concert since the death of founding guitarist Jeff Hanneman in May. The band’s frontman, Tom Araya, has said that he’s not quite sure how the band will carry on after this trek. — By Kory Grow

Thursday, 11/28:

Gato Barbieri
Blue Note
8:00 p.m., $30/$45
Leandro “Gato” Barbieri has been quite willing to conquer alien musical territories with his unmistakably fiery tenor sax tone. In the ’60s, he jumped into free jazz, often with legendary trumpeter Don Cherry. In the ’70s, he found himself returning to his South American roots, most notably his score to Last Tango in Paris — which split the difference between jazz and tango in a way that Astor Piazzola never could — but also on classic albums like El Pampero, Fenix, and Caliente, where his smoldering sax soared over Afro-Latin (and sometimes funk) rhythms to delightful effect. In the ’80s and ’90s, el Gato sauntered into a smooth jazz comfort zone that he still occupies today, but his tone never weakened, which is proof that the fire in his belly remains. Join him for his 81st birthday. — By Winston Groman

Friday, 11/29:

Brian McKnight + Musiq Soulchild + Avant
Beacon Theatre
8:00 p.m., $45-$95
Brian McKnight probably edges out Babyface for the title of “Smoothest Artist in 1990s R&B,” as the latter’s funk background generally meant that his hits contained some degree of urban edge. Mr. McKnight, on the other hand, was more indebted to gospel and smooth jazz, and his most enduring songs (“Anytime,” “Back to One,” “The Only One For Me”) are all ballads, floating in the elegant ether of ’80s Quiet Storm. Even his more “uptempo” numbers like “You Should Be Mine” still prominently display atmospheric piano chords taken straight from Aja and jazzy vocal harmonies reminiscent of Take 6, his older brother’s gospel/vocalese group. McKnight’s music is perfect for these late-fall evenings when people sport sophisticated coats, turtlenecks, and scarves, and his concerts provide the perfect space for Autumn in New York-style romance. — By Winston Groman

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