Neil Young: 2/6/1983

This was my first time seeing Neil Young, and I was really psyched. Neil was such a huge influence on me as a young guitarist (pun intended). He was performing two shows at the James L. Knight Center in Miami, and I don’t recall why, but I only got a ticket to see him on the second night.

The Knight Center was a great venue in downtown Miami, relatively small and with great acoustics. There was not a bad seat anywhere in the house.

This was a solo tour in support of the Trans album, which had come out the previous year. It was just Neil by himself with various guitars, harmonicas, keyboards, and a banjo. He took his time, selecting what instrument to play, and seemed 100% comfortable on stage. And he played for a long time, not shying away from songs that usually have a full band (“Powderfinger” and “Down by the River” come to mind).

I would go on to see Neil multiple times in the future, including four times with Crazy Horse, but this first time seeing him holds a magical place in my heart.

Here’s the setlist, and may Neil keep on rockin’ for many more years.

Setlist

  • Comes a Time
  • Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere
  • Down by the River
  • Only Love Can Break Your Heart
  • Soul of a Woman
  • Are There Any More Real Cowboys?
  • Cowgirl in the Sand
  • My Boy
  • Helpless
  • Dance, Dance, Dance
  • Southern Man
  • Don’t Be Denied
  • The Losing End
  • Cortez the Killer
  • Powderfinger
  • Ohio
  • Sail Away
  • After the Gold Rush
  • Transformer Man
  • My My, Hey Hey (Out of the Blue)
  • Mr. Soul
  • Sugar Mountain
  • I Am a Child
  • Computer Age

Sarah McLachlan: 9/22/2018

Sarah McLachlan is not someone I usually listen to, but we have her first cd and I have listened to it a bit. I can appreciate her piano playing and her vocals are amazing, without question. When I saw she was coming to town, I looked at ticket prices, but they were a little out of my price range. But when I got an email announcing that a non-profit to which I belong was giving out free tickets, I put my name in, and my wife and I each got a freebie to the show.

This was a benefit concert to raise money for the pediatric cancer center, so it was a good cause. There were some speakers and a couple opening musical acts, one of which was quite good. His name was Andrew Reed, and he’s a local Asheville musician who I understand is actually on the Billboard charts now. I guess I’m a little out-of-touch. Anyway, he was good, and after he played Sarah came out.

What can I say about her? She was awesome! Her voice was as clear and powerful as it was 25 years ago. Even in the US Cellular Center, which has pretty crappy acoustics, her voice was crisp, vibrant, and unwavering. My wife had seen her years ago at the Lilith Fair, and she agreed that Sarah sounded just as great today as she did back then.

For whatever reason, the setlist for this particular night is not online, although the shows before and afterwards are available. The two I found are almost identical, and seem to match what I remember about the performance, so here is the setlist from Charleston on the 24th, which should be the about the same as the Asheville show.

Setlist:

  • Possession
  • I Will Remember You
  • Adia
  • Building a Mystery
  • Good Enough
  • Answer
  • Fallen
  • Beautiful Girl
  • In Your Shoes
  • Elsewhere
  • Rivers of Love
  • World on Fire
  • Sweet Surrender
  • Loving You Is Easy
  • Angel

Encore:

  • Untitled/unreleased song (“Into Your Wilderness”)
  • Song for My Father
  • Ice Cream
  • The Sound That Love Makes

Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band: 9/10/1985

Springsteen on the Born in the U.S.A. tour. He was definitely one of the top touring acts in 1985. I had not seen Bruce but had heard about his epic concerts, so I figured I had to go and check him out. He lived up to the hype, that’s for sure.

I went to this show with my concert buddy Jim. He drove, and we parked in some sketchy lot near the Miami Orange Bowl, then made our way to the stadium. At this time, I was already losing interest in stadium shows. Shitty acoustics, too many people, risk of bad weather, there are myriad reasons to avoid stadium shows. But there was no other place that could hold the crowd that Springsteen would draw, so the Orange Bowl it was. At least we had decent seats.

Not surprising, he opened the show with “Born in the U.S.A.” It was a great anthem song to kick things off, and I was kind of glad he got it out of the way early. Not that it is a bad song, it was just way overplayed on the radio in those days. Then he tore right into “Badlands,” which was cool.

Miami in September can be brutally hot, and Bruce is known to sweat a lot during his performances. Anyway, the band had tubing set up on the stage that blasted a steady stream of cool air onto the musicians. I was somewhat impressed with this, and assumed that they were enjoying some air conditioning while still playing outside.

As was expected, the band played a long time (I want to say it was about 4 hours). They did two solid sets, and an encore that was so long, it was essentially a third set in my opinion. I have to say, after seeing Bruce live, I had a whole new level of appreciation for him as a musician. The man can rock. Period.

After the show, Jim and I started looking for the car. Unfortunately, we had forgotten where we parked, and as we wandered the dark and seedy streets of downtown Miami in the 80’s, I was somewhat concerned. But thankfully, we had no issues, and after almost an hour, we stumbled upon the lot where Jim’s car was parked.

Here is the setlist.

Set 1:

  • Born in the U.S.A.
  • Badlands
  • Out in the Street
  • Johnny 99
  • Seeds
  • Darkness on the Edge of Town
  • The River
  • Working on the Highway
  • Trapped
  • Darlington County
  • Glory Days
  • The Promised Land
  • My Hometown
  • Thunder Road

Set 2:

  • Cover Me
  • Dancing in the Dark
  • Hungry Heart
  • Cadillac Ranch
  • No Surrender
  • I’m on Fire
  • Pink Cadillac
  • Bobby Jean

Encore:

  • Can’t Help Falling in Love
  • Born to Run
  • Ramrod
  • Twist and Shout
  • Do You Love Me?
  • Stand on It

Roger Waters: 3/13/1985

This was my first time seeing Roger Waters. I had seen David Gilmour solo prior to this, which was very cool, but I was definitely excited to see Roger.

Unfortunately, we were on the second leg of this tour. The first leg, which happened in 1984, featured Eric Clapton on guitar. Instead, we had Jay Stapley. Oh well… such is life.

I went to this concert with both of my brothers, one of whom traveled a considerable distance to attend. But that brother has always been a huge Pink Floyd fan, so he was not going to pass on the opportunity to see Waters.

The show was basically broken into two sets: the first set was all Pink Floyd stuff, and the second set was “Pros and Cons of Hitchhiking” in its entirety. Then they did “Brain Damage/Eclipse” as the encore, which was awesome.

The sound was about as good as it could be, considering it was in the Hollywood Sportatorium, notorious for its crappy acoustics. The stage show was very cool. Lots of freaky visuals, props, and theatrics. Basically, everything that you would expect from a Roger Waters concert. High points for me were “Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun,” “If,” “Pigs on the Wing,” and of course, “Brain Damage.” Here is the full setlist. Rock on!!

Set 1:

  • Welcome to the Machine
  • Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun
  • Money
  • If
  • Wish You Were Here
  • Pigs on the Wing 1
  • Get Your Filthy Hands Off My Desert
  • Southampton Dock
  • The Gunner’s Dream
  • In the Flesh
  • Nobody Home
  • Have a Cigar
  • Another Brick in the Wall Part 1
  • The Happiest Days of Our Lives
  • Another Brick in the Wall Part 2

Set 2: (The Pros and Cons of Hitchhiking)

  • 4:30 AM (Apparently They Were Travelling Abroad)
  • 4:33 AM (Running Shoes)
  • 4:37 AM (Arabs with Knives and West German Skies)
  • 4:39 AM (For the First Time Today, Part 2)
  • 4:41 AM (Sexual Revolution)
  • 4:47 AM (The Remains of Our Love)
  • 4:50 AM (Go Fishing)
  • 4:56 AM (For the First Time Today, Part 1)
  • 4:58 AM (Dunroamin, Duncarin, Dunlivin)
  • 5:01 AM (The Pros and Cons of Hitch Hiking, Part 10)
  • 5:06 AM (Every Stranger’s Eyes)
  • 5:11 AM (The Moment of Clarity)

Encore:

  • Brain Damage
  • Eclipse

The Pretenders: 3/28/2018

So I had some reservations about going to see this show. The reason being, I had seen the Pretenders back in the 80’s, and they were AWESOME! They were so great, I was afraid that seeing them 34 years later would be a let-down. (Note: This show was exactly 34 years to the day after I first saw them.) Anyway, my wife wanted to go because she loves the Pretenders and had never seen them, so I bought tickets. I’m damn glad I did.

The band was playing at the Peace Center in Greenville, about an hour’s drive. The venue has great acoustics and comfortable seats, but it’s a little strange. Most of the people who go there are old. Now I am no spring chicken and have earned my rank as a veteran concertgoer, but I felt like a teenager there. I think that many people purchase season tickets, but I’m not sure. Maybe I’m just older than I feel.

Anyway, the opening band was pretty good, although I forgot their name. But not long afterwards, the Pretenders took the stage.

What can I say? Chrissie Hynde still looks and sounds incredible. She took the stage in tight black pants, tee shirt, pink blazer, and leopard skin shoes, looking every bit the rock goddess that she always was. She had a great band with her (Martin Chambers on drums was the only other original), and the guitarist was especially good, channeling the classic riffs with punk-rockabilly flare.

What I thought was cool was that Chrissie was adamant about people not using their cell phones during the show, stating that they needed to just focus on the music. Now I have no issue with snapping a picture or two, even taking a short 30-second video to share on Facebook if that’s your thing, but I confess an annoyance when I am looking toward a stage and all I see are devices in the air, as if the experience is not real unless it happens on your iPhone screen. So Chrissie did shame someone for trying to use a phone, and I think that scared everyone else.

As far as the performance goes, it was kick ass from beginning to end, with an encore that was mind-blowing. She interspersed the tunes with some banter and cool stories, but not to the point of drudgery. The energy was high, and she played for what felt like a long time. Totally felt like I got my money’s worth.

I found a setlist online, but there were some things that I noticed were definitely not correct, so I edited it a little. I think this is mostly right now, but I am not promising 100% accuracy. But you should be able to get an idea of how the show was.

Thanks Chrissie, for all the great music. Long may you rock!

Setlist:

  • Alone
  • Gotta Wait
  • Talk of the Town
  • Down the Wrong Way
  • Private Life
  • My City Was Gone
  • Let’s Get Lost
  • Kid
  • Back on the Chain Gang
  • Hymn To Her
  • Forever Young
  • Don’t Get Me Wrong
  • I’ll Stand by You
  • I Hate Myself
  • Thumbelina
  • Night in My Veins
  • Middle of the Road
  • Mystery Achievement

Encore:

  • ?????
  • Stop Your Sobbing
  • The Wait
  • Tattooed Love Boys
  • Precious

U2: 12/3/1987

I know that this might draw down the wrath of U2 fans, but I have to be honest and say that this show was a little disappointing for me. It’s not that the band was bad—on the contrary, they were very good. The issue for me was that I had seen U2 twice on the Unforgettable Fire tour in a much smaller venue, which was mindblowing. But in a big stadium, I just did not feel the same connection with the band that I did in the smaller venue. It is difficult to pull off a good stadium show. Not many bands can do it well. I suspect U2 has gotten better at the stadium performance, but 30 years ago, not so much.

Anyway, Buckwheat Zydeco opened the show, and they were fun. Cool, danceable, New Orleans style music. I seem to recall that they had a hit on the radio at that time, but the song escapes my memory.

U2 came out and opened with “Where the Streets Have No Name.” I remember the sound being pretty good for the Orange Bowl, which was notorious for its God-awful acoustics, but still not that great. And since I had nosebleed seats, I spent the night straining my eyes, trying to see the miniscule figures on the stage. I was just a bad setting for a concert. Maybe if I were closer, I would have enjoyed it more.

I don’t have much more to share about this show, but I do have the setlist.

Setlist

  • Where the Streets Have No Name
  • I Will Follow
  • Trip Through Your Wires
  • I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For
  • One Tree Hill
  • Gloria
  • Sunday Bloody Sunday
  • Exit
  • In God’s Country
  • People Get Ready
  • Bad
  • October
  • New Year’s Day
  • Pride (In the Name of Love)

Encore:

  • Bullet the Blue Sky
  • Running To Stand Still
  • With or Without You
  • 40

Yes: 4/21/1984

Since Yes is about to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, I was inspired to dig through my mess of ticket stubs and locate the stub from the first time I saw Yes, which was on the 9012Live tour. They played at the infamous Hollywood Sportatorium, notorious for its crappy acoustics; but in spite of being in a proverbial barn, the band sounded amazing.

I remember the stage being sparsely populated. The amps seemed to be hidden somewhere. There was just a futuristic series or ramps that allowed the musicians to move about in an unfettered manner. Trevor Rabin was the guitarist on this tour, and though I love Steve Howe’s guitar work, Trevor did an outstanding job. They featured the 90125 album prominently, but included some choice classic pieces, such as “And You and I” (one of my favorite Yes songs) and “Soon” from the Relayer album.

The band closed the main set with “Starship Trooper,” and as they played the outro, the lights above the stage began folding down like the landing gear of a spacecraft. Smoke billowed as multicolored lights flashed and exploded. It was really mind-blowing! After that, they came back and played “Roundabout” for the encore. In my humble opinion, a spectacular show!

I would see Yes several more times in my life, and each show was unique and special in its own way, but this one holds a special place in my heart. Here is the full setlist.

  • Cinema
  • Leave It
  • Yours Is No Disgrace
  • Hold On
  • Hearts
  • I’ve Seen All Good People
  • Keyboard Solo
  • Solly’s Beard
  • Changes
  • And You and I
  • Soon
  • Make It Easy
  • Owner of a Lonely Heart
  • It Can Happen
  • Long Distance Runaround
  • Whitefish / Amazing Grace
  • City of Love
  • Starship Trooper

Encore:

  • Roundabout

Eric Clapton: 6/30/1982

clapton_6-30-82

Eric Clapton has definitely earned the title of guitar god. As a guitarist, seeing him live for the first time was huge for me.

I went to the concert with my friend Jim, but almost didn’t get to see the show. I had snuck in a bottle and was imbibing prior to Clapton taking the stage, when a big hand clutched it while I was holding it. I looked up into the face of a very large security person, flashlight cocked back menacingly, as he said, “That’s mine!” I relinquished the bottle, and he stalked off, and I was grateful that the incident ended there.

We were kind of toward the back of the Sportatorium when Clapton came out, but the energy was immediate. Even in a place notorious for its terrible acoustics, I could hear his guitar work and was impressed from the first song. But we were all in for a surprise that night!

A few songs into the show, a big black man came out onto the stage. Eric must not have known about this because he turned, expressed surprise, and then welcomed the great Muddy Waters to the stage. They performed “Blow Wind Blow” together, which is one of those musical moments that is imprinted into my psyche. But what makes this even more amazing is that this ended up being Muddy Waters’ last performance ever.

Mr. Waters made his final concert appearance last June when he performed his early hit “Blow Wind Blow” in an Eric Clapton show in Miami.

(New York Times)

The other big surprise for me was a performance of “Whiter Shade of Pale.” I think they did it because the keyboardist was from Procol Harum, but I am not 100% sure of this.

The rest of the show was classic EC. I would see Clapton again years later, but the first time would be the best for me. Here’s the full setlist.


Setlist:

  • Tulsa Time
  • Lay Down Sally
  • I Shot the Sheriff
  • Blow Wind Blow (with Muddy Waters)
  • Wonderful Tonight
  • Pink Bedroom
  • Ramblin’ on My Mind
  • Have You Ever Loved a Woman
  • After Midnight
  • A Whiter Shade of Pale
  • Key to the Highway
  • Double Trouble
  • Blues Power
  • Cocaine
  • Layla
  • Further Up the Road

The Police with The Fixx and Eric Burdon and the Animals: 10/28/1983

Police_10-28-83

As the ticket stub shows, this concert was originally supposed to be at the Miami Baseball Stadium. But because of the huge demand for tickets, the concert was moved to the Orange Bowl, a much larger venue. Even in the big stadium, it was a packed mob scene.

I went with my girlfriend at the time and my brother Mike. We got there plenty early, since it was general admission and I wanted to see The Animals, who were opening the show. The Animals were great and Eric Burdon’s voice was strong. The only downer song was “House of the Rising Sun.” They kind of changed the arrangement around and it felt like they were playing it half-assed. I felt like, really? I’m sure you are getting tired of the song, but if you are going to play it, at least put some energy into it and realize that it is such an iconic song that futzing with the arrangement  is akin to Led Zeppelin playing a reggae version of “Stairway to Heaven.”

The Fixx played next, and they were cool. They had some hits at the time: “Saved By Zero” and “One Thing Leads to Another.” They definitely had a good energy and light show. Plus, their style fit in well with The Police.

So I have to say that The Police were way better live than I expected. They always seemed more like a studio band than a good live act. But I was pleasantly surprised. They were really high-energy and sounded great, even in an acoustic hell hole like the Orange Bowl. My big complaint, though, was the overcrowding. It was really uncomfortable to be mashed among so many people sweating in the South Florida heat for the entire day. But other than that—good times!

Here is the Police’s setlist, courtesy of setlist.fm:

  1. Voices Inside My Head
  2. Synchronicity I
  3. Synchronicity II
  4. Walking in Your Footsteps
  5. Message in a Bottle
  6. Walking on the Moon
  7. My God
  8. De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da
  9. Wrapped Around Your Finger
  10. Tea in the Sahara
  11. Hole in My Life
  12. Spirits in the Material World
  13. Invisible Sun
  14. One World (Not Three)
  15. King of Pain
  16. Don’t Stand So Close to Me
  17. Every Breath You Take
  18. Murder by Numbers
  19. Roxanne
  20. (encore) Can’t Stand Losing You / Reggatta de Blanc
  21. (encore) So Lonely

Robert Plant and Alison Krauss: 6/14/2008

PlantKrauss_6-14-08

The Rolling Stones may be the greatest rock and roll band, but Led Zeppelin embodies the mythos of rock and Robert Plant is the archetype of the rock god. So when Robert Plant booked a show in lil ol’ Asheville with Alison Krauss, I had to grab a ticket, even though I had seen Plant multiple times before. The two had recently collaborated on an album, “Raising Sand.” Then I discovered that T Bone Burnett was also part of their band, and I was really psyched. I knew this was going to be a special show.

I went with my wife and we had decent seats about halfway back on the side. The Civic Center is far from acoustically perfect, but it really didn’t matter, they still sounded incredible.

Plant and Krauss each sang some songs separately and many together. I was really impressed by how well they harmonized. Many rock singers suffer from voice damage in later years, but Plant still sounded great. He performed three Zeppelin tunes: Black Dog, Black Country Woman, and Battle of Evermore. I can honestly say that the performance of “The Battle of Evermore” was one of my most memorable moments of live music performances ever. I managed to find a YouTube recording of the performance. The quality of the video is not the greatest, but it at least gives a sense of how magical the performance was.

The Battle of Evermore – Asheville Civic Center

Overall, it was a wonderful date night with my wife. I’m fortunate to be married to someone who loves live music as much as I do.

For those of you who are interested, here is the complete setlist from the concert.


Setlist:

  • Rich Woman
  • Leave My Woman Alone
  • Black Dog
  • Sister Rosetta Goes Before Us
  • Through the Morning, Through the Night
  • It’s Goodbye and So Long to You
  • Fortune Teller
  • Black Country Woman
  • In the Mood
  • Bon Temps Rouler
  • Shut it Tight
  • Trampled Rose
  • Green Pastures
  • Down to the River to Pray
  • Killing the Blues
  • Nothin’
  • The Battle of Evermore
  • Please Read the Letter
  • Gone Gone Gone

Encore

  • Don’t Knock
  • (I’m a) One Woman Man
  • Your Long Journey