Diamonds in the rock; Ice Cube reigns supreme

Flash pots? Diamond Nights don't need no stinkin' flash pots. Why waste time on cheap pyrotechnics when your band can dazzle with the just basics: songwriting and showmanship. On their 2005 debut, Popsicle, this New York City quartet dropped smart, streamlined pop-rock that lives up to the mix of glitz and grit their moniker suggests. "The Girl's Attractive" delivers a rush as pure and invigorating as any classic '80s MTV leather-and-studs standby, and "Snaky Ruth" flirts with T. Rex-style glam, while the herky-jerky "Drip Drip" slyly shows off Diamond's rhythmic dexterity. Live, the band is everything you could wish for — polished but not slick, enthusiastic, and good-humored. And, like their spiritual predecessors (Cheap Trick, Thin Lizzy), the catchy songs are guaranteed to be running around your brain long after the feedback fades ... assuming they weren't already solidly wedged in there to begin with. Diamond Nights perform Friday, April 21, at Cafe Du Nord at 9:30 p.m. Admission is $10; call 861-5016 or visit www.cafedunord.com for more info. Kurt B. Reighley


Back in the '60s, saxophonist Pharoah Sanders would perform with a raucous, sheets-of-sound style. It was all about transcendence through raw power — which, at the time, often seemed like aggression. Since then, the former band mate of the legendary John Coltrane has mellowed considerably. His vision now leans toward a more accessible mysticism, less focused on fits of fury at the Wailing Wall than what he calls "blending spiritually." That means finding the space in improvisation where silence is key and a single sustained note packs more punch than ear-bleeding skronk. Sanders' lifelong ties to Africa and India have clearly influenced his identity as a global artist and proselytizer of peace. "I'm not into trying to be a 'jazz' musician or any kind of thing like that,' he once said in an interview. "It's all universal, all world ... and I just try to convey the creator through the music." Hear him channel the Spirit in a rare solo performance on Friday, April 21, at Grace Cathedral at 8 p.m. Admission is $25-$44; call (800) 225-2277 or visit www.sfjazz.org for more info. Sam Prestianni


You probably don't know the name Terry Reid. That's because in 1968 he turned down Jimmy Page when the magick-man asked him to front Led Zeppelin. What's more, in 1971 Reid declined Deep Purple's offer to become its new vocalist, which begs the question: Why would this fella piss away two golden opportunities to attain classic rock immortality? The answer can be found in copies of this obscure, Brit-born Californian's four LPs from said period. Jam Reid's 1969 self-titled release and you'll hear a versatile young rocker possessing killer axemanship, sharp songwriting skills, and a fiery, passionate voice who was way too talented to be somebody else's frontman. Few musicians from that era traversed the pop landscape as searchingly as Reid: fuzzy mod psych, crunchy blues rock, hook-laden power pop, blue-eyed soul, and glorious country-flavored West Coast folk-rock. The dude is one of rock 'n' roll's true hidden treasures who, after a lengthy hiatus, is gigging once again. Reid plays on Friday, April 21, at Mezzanine at 9 p.m. Admission is $10; call 625-8880 or visit www.mezzaninesf.com for more info. Justin F. Farrar


The first time L.A. smartass Mickey Avalon "performed" in San Francisco (just a few weeks back), the show was one fucked-up disaster. With both his mascara and his delivery smearing all over the place, the self-proclaimed ex-hustler was barely able to spit the lyrical barbs those who know and love this underground MC have come to appreciate. Southern California's "kosher salami" was one limp weenie, apparently wasted beyond repair. Yet the guy is so goddamn funny it's worth seeing if the second time is the charm. The man who invented the "Jane Fonda" and claims "I used to work nights at hotcock.com/ But then I got fired when my mom logged on" comes through for round two on the anniversary of club "Blow Up" on Friday, April 21, at the Rickshaw Stop at 10 p.m. Admission is $8; call 861-2011 or visit www.rickshawstop.com for more info. Jennifer Maerz


Due out this summer on his Lench Mob Records, Ice Cube 's Laugh Now, Cry Later will be the icon's first album since 2001's Greatest Hits. Enough time has passed that youngsters might identify Cube as an actor more than a rapper these days — he's had a string of hit comedy and action roles, from Friday and Barbershop to XXXand Three Kings. He doesn't take this freedom from the major-label machine for granted, though, which is significant for a performer known for incendiary music (from the "Fuck Tha Police" days of NWA to solo efforts like Amerikkka's Most Wanted and Death Certificate). Cube also crafts party jams like "You Can Do It" and "We Be Clubbin'"; for a balanced arsenal. Catch the rare chance to hear past and future gangster rap classics on Tuesday, April 25, at The Fillmore at 8 p.m. Admission is $38.50; call 346-6000 or visit www.thefillmore.com for more info. Tamara Palmer

 
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