Alice Cooper: 12/31/1998

What better way to rock in the New Year than with Alice Cooper, right? But wait – it gets even better. So the ticket says Row 2, which I have to say, I was pretty psyched about. But when my friend Jim and I arrived at the show, lo and behold, Row 2 was actually front row! So even though we were off on the side, we were still deep in the madness and mayhem, and we were graced by Alice’s presence when he slunk over to our side of the stage.

The theme of this show was kind of a psycho-circus motif. There were demented clowns providing Alice with his various implements of destruction, and just grinning menacingly like something out of a Stephen King novel.

There were some nice surprises in this show, notably “Public Animal #9,” a classic from the School’s Out album, and “Unfinished Sweet,” where the clowns shoved Alice into an Egyptian sarcophagus and skewered him with swords. Also, Alice made a nod to Elvis, one of his influences, by playing “Jailhouse Rock” for an encore, decked out in a sequined jacket and some fly shades.

There were so many high points at this show, it was basically just one long high point. From the first chords of “Hello Hooray” until the last note of “Under My Wheels,” it was all Killer and no filler.

Here’s the full setlist. Rock on!

Setlistlowns

  • Hello Hooray
  • Sideshow
  • Billion Dollar Babies
  • No More Mr. Nice Guy
  • Public Animal #9
  • Be My Lover
  • Lost in America
  • I’m Eighteen
  • From the Inside
  • Only Women Bleed
  • Steven
  • Halo of Flies
  • Nothing’s Free
  • Cleansed by Fire
  • Poison
  • Cold Ethyl
  • Unfinished Sweet
  • School’s Out

Encore:

  • Jailhouse Rock
  • Under My Wheels
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Grateful Dead: 4/3/1990

This was the third and final night of the run of shows at the Omni. Things get stranger and stranger the more time you spend in the Grateful Dead environment, and while the first two nights proved weird (first night / second night), this day was not without its weirdness.

As was par for the course, we managed to get to the show early and found a spot amid the colorful caravan of freaks in the parking lot. Armando, Tim, and I were hanging out, sitting on the hood of the car, watching the parade of oddities move past. Then this one particularly wild-eyed casualty came up to us. His face looked recently scabbed, like he’d taken a nasty fall and scraped his face on the asphalt. He walked up to us with eyes darting schizophrenically around, like a cartoon character.

“Have you seen the Easter Bunny?”

The three of us were puzzled. Armando pressed him for more information: “The Easter Bunny?”

“Yeaaaaaah. I keep hearing the Easter Bunny. Don’t you hear the Easter Bunny? I hear the Easter Bunny!”

I replied sarcastically, “Oh yeah man, I hear the Easter Bunny too.” I had no idea what this guy was talking about.

Then he excitedly pointed to a car a little ways down the aisle, where a crowd of freaks was standing around an entrepreneur with a tank of nitrous oxide gas, selling balloons full of nitrous. “There’s the Easter Bunny!!” And he stumbled off to join the line of people waiting to buy nitrous gas. We finally figured out that this dude must have thought the balloons looked like Easter Eggs. The guy clearly spent way too much time in Grateful Dead parking lots.

After a while, he came back, balloon in hand and smile on his face. “Easter Bunny.” He proceeded to inhale the gas, and we watched as his eyes rolled back in his head and he muttered incomprehensibly. After a while, he wandered off, and we concluded that the Easter Bunny dude must have blacked out from huffing gas, smashed his face on the ground, and sustained his injuries. I felt sad for him. Another lost soul.

The rest of the day was uneventful. We went in to the concert and ran into some friends of ours from South Florida, which was cool. We all hung out together, danced, and had a great time digging the music. The next day we would make the trek back to Miami.

Here’s the setlist from the show.

Set 1:

  • Shakedown Street
  • Hell in a Bucket
  • Sugaree
  • We Can Run But We Can’t Hide
  • When I Paint My Masterpiece
  • Row Jimmy Row
  • Picasso Moon
  • Tennessee Jed
  • Promised Land

Set 2:

  • Estimated Prophet
  • Scarlet Begonias
  • Crazy Fingers
  • Playin’ in the Band
  • Drums > Space
  • I Will Take You Home
  • Goin’ Down the Road Feelin’ Bad
  • Throwin’ Stones
  • Not Fade Away

Encore:

  • We Bid You Goodnight

Grateful Dead: 4/2/1990

This was the second of a three-night set of shows at the Omni in Atlanta. My friends and I got to the show early (well, as early as possible considering the long night of music the night before), parked the car in the lot, and proceeded to hang out, enjoying the people watching.

At one point, another vehicle pulled into a space near us with obvious trepidation. We watched as the driver slowly and carefully maneuvered the car into the spot, then backed out, and pulled back in again. And backed out, and pulled back in again. And backed out… After several attempts, the dude pulled completely out, then moved on to a new spot a little further down the row. And pulled in, and backed out, repeating the same back and forth as in the first spot. We decided to make a game of it, trying to anticipate his next move. This resulted in a fit of laughter that lasted until the driver finally gave up and drove off and out of view. When it was time to go into the show, I couldn’t help wondering if the guy ever found a comfortable parking space.

This evening, our seats were in the upper left, also known as the Phil Zone because of the proximity to bassist Phil Lesh. IT was actually was one of my favorite areas to sit at a Dead show, since it provided a good view of the band as they were interacting. Anyway, during intermission, my friend Tim began to exhibit some strange behavior, which caused Armando and myself some slight degree of concern.

Tim: “Is this fun?”

Armando: “Well, yeah. We’re seeing the Dead and having a good time. It’s fun.”

Me: nodding in agreement.

Tim: “I just realized. I’m the creator!”

Me: “Oh yeah. I understand. That’s cool.”

Tim: “No! You don’t understand. It’s like… I’m the Creator!”

At this point, I figured it best to disengage. Thankfully, not long afterwards, the lights went off and the band came out for the second set. I snuck an occasional furtive glance at my friend, who was sweating and struggling, but eventually he seemed to shift into a better space. Before long, he was dancing and back to his old self. Tragedy narrowly averted.

As far as the show goes, it was a solid show, with a bit of a surprise. They played “Death Don’t Have No Mercy,” which they did not seem to play much, and was the only time I had seen the band perform that song. I distinctly recall Jerry delivering a powerful vocal performance, reaching deep and expressing some strong emotion. I wondered if someone close to the band had recently passed away, especially since they also played “He’s Gone.” I never found an answer to the question, but I definitely had the sense that the song selection conveyed someone’s death.

Here is the full setlist from the show. Rock on!

Set 1:

  • Feel Like a Stranger
  • Mississippi Half-Step
  • The Weight
  • Queen Jane Approximately
  • Easy to Love You
  • Brown Eyed Women
  • Let it Grow

Set 2:

  • Foolish Heart
  • Looks Like Rain
  • He’s Gone
  • The Last Time
  • Drums > Space
  • The Other One
  • Death Don’t Have No Mercy
  • Around and Around
  • Good Lovin’

Encore:

  • Black Muddy River

Grateful Dead: 4/1/1990

Another Spring Tour with the Grateful Dead. By this point, it had become a tradition. I made the trek from South Florida to Atlanta with my two friends, Armando and Tim, who I met at a Dead show at Madison Square Garden.

This first night was an April Fool’s show, which was recorded and several songs later appeared on an album.

The Grateful Dead performed three consecutive shows during their Built to Last Tour on April 1–3, 1990. The shows were recorded and three songs from their April Fool’s Day show “China Cat Sunflower/I Know You Rider” and “Dear Mr. Fantasy” were included on their live album, entitled Without a Net.

(Source: Wikipedia)

We made it up there with no mishaps, secured our hotel accommodations, and went to the first night’s show. We got there early and spent some time checking out the parking lot scene, procuring tee shirts and other wares which were being hawked.

After shopping, we were hanging out by the car when a strange person approached us… strange even by the Grateful Dead parking lot standard. The young man clearly was suffering from chemically induced mental illness. As he began conversing with us, it became clear that he was a crack head struggling with his addiction to crack cocaine. He talked to us about Mr. Rocky, who was an anthropomorphic embodiment of crack rocks.

“Mr. Rocky. You know Mr. Rocky, right? Mr. Rocky. He destroys you mentally, and physical-al-al-lee.”

We talked with the poor soul for a while, before he meandered off on his lonely way. I felt sad for the guy. I had seen people go down that road, and it is a sad road from which few can redeem their lives.

When the time came, we went into the Omni and took our seats, which were lower section at the side of the stage. The show was very good, and hearing Jerry sing “To Lay Me Down” was particularly moving. It is a song that I still love to play on the acoustic guitar, which transitions between major and minor chords in such a way as to stir deep emotion.

Anyway, here is the full setlist from the April Fool’s show.

Set 1:

  • Touch of Grey
  • Walkin’ Blues
  • Just a Little Light
  • Candyman
  • Me and My Uncle
  • Big River
  • Althea
  • Victim or the Crime
  • To Lay Me Down
  • Music Never Stopped

Set 2:

  • China Cat Sunflower
  • I Know You Rider
  • Ship of Fools
  • Man Smart/Woman Smarter
  • Drums > Space
  • Dear Mr. Fantasy
  • Hey Jude Reprise
  • Truckin’
  • Stella Blue
  • Sugar Magnolia

Encore:

  • It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue

Eric Clapton: 7/23/1990

This concert was part of Clapton’s Journeyman tour. I had seen Clapton years before this with Muddy Waters, but I was definitely looking forward to seeing him again. My girlfriend at the time, Joyce, was a big Clapton fan too, so we were both excited about this show.

Our seats were in the lower section, pretty much straight back, so the sound was good, but the musicians were a little small. Not that I minded. Clapton sounded great, as was to be expected. He is, without question, one of the greatest guitarists of all time.

So you may be wondering about the guitar pick that is in the image along with the ticket stub. Of course, I would not have been able to get a pick sitting all the way in the back. But my roommate at time, Lowell, had seats right up near the front center, and he was one of the lucky souls to get a guitar pick that Eric had actually touched and played guitar with… and he gave it to me! I was kind of shocked. All I could think was, “Damn! That’s a true friend who offers you his Eric Clapton guitar pick.” It is a piece of rock memorabilia that I will treasure forever.

Here’s  the setlist from the show.

Setlist:

  • Pretending
  • No Alibis
  • Running on Faith
  • I Shot the Sheriff
  • White Room
  • Can’t Find My Way Home
  • Bad Love
  • Before You Accuse Me
  • Old Love
  • Tearing Us Apart
  • Wonderful Tonight
  • Cocaine
  • Layla
  • Cross Road Blues
  • Sunshine of Your Love

Blue Oyster Cult: 7/3/1991

Blue Oyster Cult, in a club. Definitely had to check this one out. Although they were not the band I saw back in the late 70’s, they still had Buck Dharma and Eric Bloom, so well worth the $10.

I went with my friend Jim and we wedged our way into Summers on the Beach, a Fort Lauderdale club that managed to get bands that brought in more fans than was probably safe to host.

The band came out, and as expected, they rocked the house. Seeing them in a small venue was way different than seeing them in a stadium. And although the rockers were starting to show their age, they still kicked out the jams.

One cool thing that happened, during a pause between songs, I screamed out for “Astronomy,” which is my fav BOC tune. Eric stepped up to the mic and said, “Yeah, we can do that one,” and broke into it. Although looking back over the setlists from that tour, seems like “Astronomy” was a standard, it was still cool and made me feel like there was a connection between me and the band.

Here is a generic setlist from the tour, which seems like what they played at this gig.

  • Stairway to the Stars
  • OD’d On Life Itself
  • Before The Kiss
  • ETI
  • Buck’s Boogie
  • Take Me Away
  • Cities On Flame
  • Astronomy
  • Career of Evil
  • Unknown Tongue
  • Burnin’ For You
  • Godzilla
  • (Don’t Fear) The Reaper
  • Dominance & Submission
  • The Red & The Black

Edie Brickell and the New Bohemians: 3/23/1991

Edie Brickell was one of those artists that I liked right off the bat. She had that cool hippie chic vibe, and her guitarist was obviously influenced by Jerry Garcia. So I jumped at the opportunity to see her and her band at the Button South, which was one of the better music clubs in South Florida at the time.

There is not much to say about this show, other than it was really, really good. Edie’s vocals were so sweet, and the band was tight and energetic. They also tossed in some cool cover tunes by Bob Dylan and David Bowie. I guess if you are going to pick artists to cover, those are solid choices.

Which I had more to share, but it was just a good, fun concert, and I was glad that I got to see them in their prime.

Here’s the setlist.

Setlist:

  • Woyaho
  • Mama Help Me
  • Little Miss S.
  • Nothing
  • Carmelito
  • Strings of Love
  • Picture Perfect Morning
  • Do It Again
  • He Said
  • Jackrabbit
  • Stwisted
  • Oak Cliff Bra
  • Air of December
  • What I Am
  • A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall
  • Forgiven
  • This Eye
  • Circle
  • Moonage Daydream