Ringo Starr and his All-Starr Band: 3/27/1999

This was my second time seeing Ringo.  The first time was cool, but this show was light years better.

The lineup for this incarnation of the All-Starr Band was nothing short of mind-blowing.

  • Ringo Starr – drums, vocals
  • Todd Rundgren (from Nazz and Utopia) – guitar, percussion, vocals
  • Gary Brooker (from Procol Harum) – organ, keyboards, vocals
  • Jack Bruce (from Cream) – bass, keyboards, vocals
  • Simon Kirke (from Free and Bad Company) – drums, vocals
  • Timmy Cappello – saxophone, keyboards, harmonica, guitar, vocals

The band opened the show with “It Don’t Come Easy,” which is maybe my favorite Ringo solo song and one that he did not play the first time I saw him. This show also had a nice amount of Beatles tunes woven in. And the songs from the other members—WOW! Todd actually played some Utopia, Simon sang some Bad Co. and a Free song, Gary Brooker sang some classic Procol Harum stuff, including Conquistador, and Jack Bruce belted out several Cream hits. There was absolutely no weak spots anywhere in this show.

Here’s the full setlist. Rock on!

Setlist:

  • It Don’t Come Easy
  • Act Naturally
  • Whisky Train
  • I Saw the Light
  • Sunshine of Your Love
  • Shooting Star
  • Boys
  • Love Me Do
  • Yellow Submarine
  • Conquistador
  • Hammer in My Heart
  • I’m the Greatest
  • No No Song
  • I Feel Free
  • All Right Now
  • I Wanna Be Your Man
  • Bang the Drum All Day
  • White Room
  • A Whiter Shade of Pale
  • Photograph

Encore:

  • You’re Sixteen
  • With a Little Help From My Friends
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The Black Crowes and Gov’t Mule: 11/29/1996

I went to this show with my friend Greg, who was also the other guitarist in a band we were in at the time called The DV8s. Greg was a little reluctant to go to this show with me, because Dike Dale was playing the same night at a dumpy little club in Miami. But after some convincing, he agreed to go with me, so we made the drive up to Broward County to see the show at the Sunrise Musical Theatre.

We had no idea that Gov’t Mule was also on the bill. In fact, although I was familiar with Warren Haynes as a guitarist, I had not even heard of this band. But we ran into a friend of mine in the lobby, and he was all stoked about the Mule, and told me it was Warren’s new band. I got excited too. Over the years, I would see Gov’t Mule many times, but this was the first time seeing them.

Anyway, we grabbed our seats and Mule opened the show. They were really really good! Powerful, a lot heavier than what I expected, having only seen Warren with the Allman’s and solo. And you can’t go wrong opening with a Zappa tune.

After a short intermission, The Black Crowes took the stage. They were great, and the crowd was psyched. But there was a moment there when Chris Robinson got pissed and stopped the show. Some asshole in the crowd had a laser pointer and was shining it at the stage, and I guess zapping Chris in the eyes. He stopped mid song and yelled at the unknown light-saber wielding jerk, cursing and making threats. I can’t blame him. The incident did not surprise me, though. South Florida concert fans were notoriously rude.

After the show, Greg was still focused on trying to see Dick Dale. He calculated that if we drove straight to Churchill’s Hideaway in Miami, we could make it in time. I was never one to pass up on some live rock and roll, and I did want to see the King of the Surf Guitar, so we went for it and made a bee-line to Churchill’s. We paid the admission at the door (so no ticket stub) and squeezed in. Dick Dale was great, but SO FUCKING LOUD! I love some loud guitar as much as the next person, but this was actually painful. I considered leaving, but like an idiot, I stayed. I do not exaggerate when I say that my ears were ringing for three days afterwards. I genuinely thought I had permanently damaged my hearing. Maybe I did. But the ringing eventually subsided.

Thanks to the wonders of the internet, I found the setlists for both Gov’t Mule and the Black Crowes from that night. Here they are. Rock on!

Gov’t Mule Setlist:

  • Pygmy Twylyte
  • Blind Man in the Dark
  • Mother Earth
  • Game Face
  • Birth of the Mule
  • Grinnin’ in Your Face
  • Mule

Black Crowes Setlist:

  • One Mirror Too Many
  • Sting Me
  • Evil Eye
  • High Head Blues
  • Girl From a Pawnshop
  • Wiser Time
  • Ballad In Urgency
  • Hotel Illness
  • Mr. Spaceman
  • Nothing Love Everything
  • Black Moon Jam
  • Black Moon Creeping
  • Big Time
  • Hard To Handle

Encore

  • Sometimes Salvation
  • Twice as Hard

The Who: 8/16/1997

“Quadrophenia” is one of my favorite Who albums, so when I saw they were touring and performing the album in its entirety, I didn’t even hesitate. My friend Jim also wanted to go, so we got the general admission field tickets, which were pretty cheap. We figured we would get there early and snag a decent spot, which was what we did.

Drivin’ n’ Cryin’ was the opening act. I had not seen them before, but I had heard of them. They were good; better than your average opener. But I was definitely stoked to see The Who.

How to describe the energy when the band kicked in to “The Real Me”? Words fail me. John Entwistle was all over that bass with his spider fingers. “The Real Me” was my buddy Jim’s favorite Who song, so he was instantly blown away.

The rest of the show was nothing short of excellent. They played through all of “Quadrophenia” and then returned for an encore which was actually more like a second set. They even tossed in some Who silliness and played a little bit of “It’s a Small World,” conjuring the Disney energy of being in Florida.

But what stands out the most for me about this particular show was the very end… the last note of “Who Are You.” Pete took his guitar and slammed in into the stage. While this was not the wanton guitar destruction of yore, it was the only time I saw Townsend “smash” a guitar on stage. It is one of those iconic rock images that is burned into the collective rock and roll consciousness.

I would see The Who perform Quadrophenia again years later, after Entwistle’s death. That show was great for other reasons, but this one has a warm spot in my heart.

Here is the full setlist. “Long Live Rock!”

Quadrophenia

  • I Am the Sea
  • The Real Me
  • Quadrophenia
  • Cut My Hair
  • The Punk and the Godfather
  • I’m One
  • The Dirty Jobs
  • Helpless Dancer
  • Is It in My Head?
  • I’ve Had Enough
  • 5:15
  • Sea and Sand
  • Drowned
  • Bell Boy
  • Doctor Jimmy
  • The Rock
  • Love, Reign O’er Me

Encore

  • I’m the Face
  • Won’t Get Fooled Again
  • Behind Blue Eyes
  • Substitute
  • I Can’t Explain
  • It’s a Small World ([Disney] cover) (Partial; sung by Roger)
  • The Kids Are Alright
  • Who Are You

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

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