Grateful Dead: 10/16/1988

This was the last night of a three-night run of Dead shows. The previous night’s show was excellent, and my friends and I all crashed and slept late.

After waking up and having a late breakfast, I convinced Armando and Tim to join me on an excursion to the Dali Museum in St. Petersburg. Immersing ourselves in surreal artwork seemed like a good way to prepare ourselves for the third Dead show.

The museum was very cool, and we were not the only Deadheads who had the idea of checking out the Dali Museum. There were many tie-dyed freaks wandering around, gazing glassy-eyed at the many artworks that were on display. Two in particular stood out for me. There was a hologram of Alice Cooper wearing a tiara, which was very cool, especially since I am such a big Cooper fan. But without question, it was the massive painting entitled The Hallucinogenic Toreador that was the most captivating. I stood for what seemed like an eternity, getting lost in the psychedelic colors that pulsated on the canvas. Here is a link to an image of the painting to provide a sense of context.

The Hallucinogenic Toreador: Wikipedia

After the museum, we made our way back to the Bayfront Center and hung out with the other intrepid music fans until show time. It was decided amongst us that we would drive back to Miami after the show. I was not too keen on this idea and felt it would be better to spend the night in St. Pete and drive back early in the morning, but Armando was adamant that he had to leave tonight to be in Miami in time for work in the morning, so I acquiesced since he said he would be the designated driver.

This particular evening was Bob Weir’s birthday, and as expected, the show was stellar. Our seats were not as good as the first night in St. Pete, but since the venue was so small, it really didn’t matter. The second set was especially hot, with Phil opening the set with “Box of Rain.” The set also included “Terrapin Station,” one of my favorites, and “Morning Dew” to close, followed by “Quinn the Eskimo” for an encore. If you are at all interested, the full concert is available on YouTube, with actual video from the show and not just pictures.

Anyway, after the show, we skipped hanging out because Armando was eager to get on the road. We were facing a good five-hour drive, which would get us in to Miami close to 4:00 am. Once we were on I-75 southbound, Tim stretched out in the back seat and fell asleep, while I sat up front with Armando and had the important task of keeping the music going. But eventually, the hypnotic lines on the road got the best of me and I leaned my head against the window and slipped into slumber. I was ripped from my sleep by the sound of Tim screaming as the car was bouncing and careening off the road. Everything was a blur as I waited for the inevitable crash, but somehow, Armando miraculously got the car back on the road without us hitting anything. Tim was yelling from the back seat, and Armando was apologizing that he fell asleep. At this point, we were all wide awake with the collective adrenaline rush, but after a while, the rush was replaced by a deeper fatigue brought on by the adrenaline crash. This time, Armando consented to our suggestion that we pull over at a rest area and sleep a bit in the car. We cracked the windows and sank into some much-needed sleep.

When we awoke, we were all groggy, but rested enough to make the remainder of the drive. We rolled in to Miami around 8:00, which wasn’t bad, all things considered. It was a long, strange trip, which could have ended in disaster, but the four winds blew us safely home again.

Here’s the setlist.

Set 1:

  • Mississippi Half-Step Uptown Toodeloo
  • Never Trust a Woman
  • Feel Like a Stranger
  • Friend of the Devil
  • Stuck Inside of Mobile With the Memphis Blues Again
  • To Lay Me Down
  • Don’t Ease Me In

Set 2:

  • Box of Rain
  • Victim or the Crime
  • Foolish Heart
  • Looks Like Rain
  • Terrapin Station
  • Drums > Space
  • The Wheel
  • Gimme Some Lovin’
  • All Along the Watchtower
  • Morning Dew

Encore:

  • Quinn the Eskimo (The Mighty Quinn)

Alice Cooper: 7/6/2003

This is one of my favorite ticket stubs. I mean, Alice Cooper, in Liverpool England, the home of the Beatles. How cool is that?

I was in England visiting family at this time, which was a very difficult period in my life. I was working like crazy because I owned a small business, and let’s say that my business partner was the antithesis of helpful. My wife and I were struggling financially, I was physically and mentally exhausted, and things were pretty grim. But there was a huge family gathering happening in England and one of my uncles offered to buy me a ticket to fly there, so I packed my bags and flew across the pond.

I was staying with family not far from Liverpool, and discovered much to my surprise that Alice was playing there. My cousin P., who is one of the most awesome people in the world, knew how much I liked Alice Cooper and bought two tickets so that I could go with one of my uncles. So my Uncle B. and  I headed down to Kings Dock to see the Coop.

The venue was surreal. It was like a big tent set up on the dock, so it had that crazy carnival feel, which is apropos for a Cooper concert.

The lights went down, and the band took the stage, opening with “Hello Hooray,” arguably the best opening song ever. And then it was all classic Cooper.

He broke out some really cool tunes that were surprising, like “Desperado,” “Public Animal #9,” and “Long Way to Go,” a highly underrated song off the “Love It To Death” album. The tour was dubbed the “Bare Bones Tour,” so it was missing the elaborate stage props (no guillotine or snake), just Alice and the band playing a solid set of killer tunes.

Although I was teetering on the brink of depression, seeing Alice in England was a nice boost for me. And getting to go to a concert with my uncle is a memory that I will treasure for the rest of my days. Anyway, here’s the setlist. Rock on!

Setlist

  • Hello Hooray
  • No More Mr. Nice Guy
  • Billion Dollar Babies
  • Long Way to Go
  • Public Animal #9
  • Be My Lover
  • Lost in America
  • I’m Eighteen
  • Serious
  • Desperado
  • Halo of Flies
  • Welcome to My Nightmare
  • Cold Ethyl
  • Only Women Bleed
  • Ballad of Dwight Fry
  • Guilty
  • School’s Out

Encore:

  • Poison
  • Elected
  • Disgraceland
  • Under My Wheels

Motley Crue and Alice Cooper: 10/22/2014

While I generally get physical tickets for concerts, this one is a printout e-ticket. What’s unique about it is it is a Groupon ticket. My brother contacted me and said that Alice Cooper and Motley Crue were playing in Greensboro and he wanted to go, and asked if I was interested. Since I had never seen the Crue (they were not high on my list) and it was their final tour, added to the fact that I will not pass on a chance to see the Coop, I said yes. Anyway, my brother said he was getting tickets at a significant discount through Groupon. I didn’t even know that was a thing! He snagged tickets for himself, a friend of his, and me.

I drove out to Greensboro, which was about a two-and-a-half hour drive from where I was living at the time. We all connected, grabbed some dinner, and went to the show. The first band to play was called The Raskins. They were pretty good. Young leather-clad rockers who were clearly raised on steady diet of early punk.

After a brief intermission, the lights went down and Alice took the stage, opening with “Hello Hooray,” in my opinion one of the greatest opening songs ever. The song concluded with a shower of sparks cascading from above the stage. It was awesome! The rest of the show was all killer, no filler, blasting from one classic tune to the next. The only disappointment was that it was a fairly short set, with no encore. But I suppose that is how it goes when you’re one of the opening acts.

Then came Motley Crue. So I confess I have never been a fan, swiftly changing the station on the radio when they came on. But I’m open-minded, and was actually looking forward to checking them out. Lots of people I know told me that they put on an impressive show, so what the hell, it’s only rock and roll.

My overall impression… meh. I didn’t hate it, but I certainly did not love it. And in all fairness, they played after Alice Cooper, who is one of my favorite all-time artists. Had it been Motley Crue opening for Alice, I think I would have enjoyed their set much more than I did. It just felt anticlimactic. Even Tommy Lee’s “big drum solo” where the drum set went along the track above the crowd just felt, I don’t know, like a big fat who-cares. But, at the end of the day, I’m glad I got to see them and check them off the list. Definitely not the worst band I’ve seen, but not rushing out to buy any of their records either.

Here are the setlists for both Alice and Motley Crue. Rock on!

Setlists

Alice Cooper

  • Hello Hooray
  • No More Mr. Nice Guy
  • Under My Wheels
  • I’m Eighteen
  • Billion Dollar Babies
  • Poison
  • Dirty Diamonds
  • Welcome to My Nightmare
  • Feed My Frankenstein
  • Ballad of Dwight Fry
  • Killer (partial)
  • I Love the Dead (excerpt)
  • School’s Out

Motley Crue

  • Saints of Los Angeles
  • Wild Side
  • Primal Scream
  • Same Ol’ Situation (S.O.S.)
  • Looks That Kill
  • On With the Show
  • Too Fast for Love
  • Smokin’ in the Boys’ Room (With “Rock and Roll (Part 2))
  • Without You
  • Mutherfucker of the Year
  • Anarchy in the U.K.
  • T.N.T. (Terror ‘N Tinseltown)
  • Dr. Feelgood
  • In the Beginning
  • Shout at the Devil
  • Don’t Go Away Mad (Just Go Away)
  • O Fortuna
  • Drum Solo
  • Guitar Solo
  • Live Wire
  • Too Young to Fall in Love
  • Girls, Girls, Girls
  • Kickstart My Heart

Encore:

  • Home Sweet Home

Alice Cooper: 9/30/2009

This tour was coined the Theatre of Death tour. What was unique about this show was that the Coop was killed not once, not twice, but three times during the concert: once by hanging, once by electric chair, and once with the classic guillotine.

I went with my friend and bandmate, Bill. We made the long drive from Asheville to Durham, but got there in plenty of time to grab some dinner before the show. Some great Cuban food in Durham!

We got in to the Performing Arts Center, which is a beautiful venue. Our seats were a little to the right, but pretty close. Anyway, the buzz was going around the place that a band called 5th Avenue Vampires was opening, and the band included Dennis Dunaway, Alice’s original bass player. I got pretty psyched after hearing this.

The 5th Avenue Vampires were very cool, and Dunaway did a nice bass solo which included classic snippets from vintage Cooper songs, like the intros to “Dead Babies” and “Gutter Cats.” Definitely got the crowd riled!

After the intermission, Alice took the stage, opening with “School’s Out,” and just ripping through one of the most incredibly choreographed performances ever, with an onslaught of one kick-ass song after another. It was all Killer, and no filler.

Then came the encore, which featured Dennis joining Alice on stage to play an extended reprise of “School’s Out.” For an old Cooper fan, I was in my glory seeing those two together slinking around the stage. One of those rock and roll moments that will remain with me forever.

After the show, we drove to my brother’s house and crashed there, since he lived fairly close to Durham.

Anyway, here’s the setlist. Rock on, my droogs.

Setlist:

  • School’s Out
  • Department of Youth
  • I’m Eighteen
  • Wicked Young Man
  • Ballad of Dwight Fry
  • Go to Hell
  • Guilty
  • Welcome to My Nightmare
  • Cold Ethyl
  • Poison
  • The Awakening
  • From the Inside
  • Nurse Rozetta
  • Is It My Body
  • Be My Lover
  • Only Women Bleed
  • I Never Cry
  • Black Widow Jam (with Drum Solo)
  • Vengeance Is Mine
  • Devil’s Food
  • Dirty Diamonds
  • Billion Dollar Babies
  • Killer
  • I Love the Dead
  • No More Mr. Nice Guy
  • Under My Wheels

Encore:

  • School’s Out (with Dennis Dunaway)

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

Iron Butterfly: 7/6/1987

Crown Rockin’ Lounge was a crappy, hole-in-the-wall bar in North Miami that had live music, usually bands that were only enjoyable after a significant amount of cheap drinks, which the establishment offered in abundance. But occasionally, there would be a decent band. For this reason, I was kind of surprised when I heard that Iron Butterfly was playing there, and the lineup included Mike Pinera on guitar, notably from Blues Image, and also he was guitarist for Alice Cooper for a bit. The band’s lineup was:

  • Ron Bushy – drums, percussion
  • Mike Pinera – guitar, vocals
  • Kelly Reubens – bass
  • Tim Von Hoffman – keyboards

The bar was close by my friend Jon’s house, so we decided to go check out the show. My expectations were not too high, even though I knew Pinera was no slouch on the guitar.

I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised. The band sounded solid, and Pinera’s guitar work was excellent. They played a decent set of mainly obscure tunes, but then cranked out a nice long version of “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” to finish up the show. That alone was worth the $5.50 cost of the ticket.

Alice Cooper: 3/26/2018

I know – I’ve seen Alice a LOT of times. But my youngest daughter had never seen him and wanted to go, so how could I say no?

We drove to Greenville, SC, which was a little over an hour. We got there with plenty of time to spare, which was a good thing, because there was only one merchandise table, so the line literally snaked around the hallway. But we waited patiently with the other rockers and got a couple of cool shirts. Then headed in to the show.

We had decent seats on the floor, right in the center. There was no opening act, just Alice. He came out, ever the grim glam god, and opened with “Brutal Planet.” After that, it was all Killer and no filler, just one great tune after another. Some of the high points for me were “Billion Dollar Babies,” where they had the classic snakeskin wallet cover as a backdrop, “Halo of Flies,” one of the greatest epic Cooper tunes ever, and “Serious” off the “From the Inside” album, somewhat obscure, so great to see performed live.

My daughter really loved the show, which I was glad about. And while she slept on the drive home, I thought about how lucky I am that I get to share live music with my kids.

Here’s the setlist from the show.

Setlist:

  • Brutal Planet
  • No More Mr. Nice Guy
  • Under My Wheels
  • Billion Dollar Babies
  • Be My Lover
  • Lost in America
  • Serious
  • Fallen in Love
  • Woman of Mass Distraction
  • Guitar Solo (Nita Strauss)
  • Poison
  • Halo of Flies
  • Feed My Frankenstein
  • Cold Ethyl
  • Only Women Bleed
  • Paranoiac Personality
  • Ballad of Dwight Fry
  • Killer (Excerpt)
  • I Love the Dead (Band vocals only)
  • I’m Eighteen

Encore:

  • School’s Out (with “Another Brick in the Wall”)

Alice Cooper: 7/17/1980

This is my ticket stub from the very first time I saw Alice Cooper. This was a huge deal for me, because I was a major Coop fan and was psyched beyond words to see the man live. This was the “Flush the Fashion” tour, which was not my favorite album at the time, but I have learned to appreciate it over the years. Anyway, on to the story.

I was living in Miami at the time, and West Palm Beach was a bit of a hike. I worked with a guy named Floyd, who was a bit of a redneck but he liked rock music, and he had a car. He agreed to drive me and my two friends Vinnie and Leanna, so the four of us piled into his car and headed down the road.

We were driving up I-95, Vinnie and Leanna were in the back, I was shotgun, and the three of us were talking and laughing while Floyd was driving. Then he suddenly pulled off onto the shoulder and started yelling at us: “STOP LAUGHING!! My license is expired and if I get pulled over by the cops, I go to jail.”

I looked at him. “Umm, the cops probably won’t pull you over if we are laughing, but they might if you are stopped on the side of the highway. But if it makes you feel better, we will be quiet.”

An uncomfortable silence ensued for a while. After a bit, Floyd said, “It’s ok. Y’all can laugh if you want.” At that point, I was failing to see the humor in anything.

We got to the West Palm Beach Auditorium, hung around the parking lot a bit, then went inside. It was a triple bill, so the first act to play was Billy Squire. He was OK. Next up was Mike Pinera’s Sea Rock. Mike was also playing guitar with Alice on this tour, but it was cool to see his solo band. For those of you who don’t know, Mike Pinera was from the Blues Image, so of course they played “Ride Captain Ride.”

While we were waiting for Alice to come out, Floyd asked us to kick in money towards gas, since he filled the tank prior to the drive and we had agreed to give him some money. I gave him $3 and Vinnie gave him $3. Leanna didn’t have any money. Gas was cheap back then. Floyd had spent $12 to fill the tank. Anyway, he stood there, looking at the money, and said: “Hey. I put $12 in the tank. There are four of us, and 12 divided by 4 equals $3 each, so you all owe me another $3.” Vinnie had no more money, and all I had was $3 to my name. I told him that Leanna didn’t have any money, explained our cash situation, and told him I would give him a few dollars at work when we got paid that week. He responded by saying that Vinnie and I could get a ride back, but he would not drive Leanna because she didn’t pay. At that point, I lost it and got in his face, yelling and cursing at him. People were backing away because the argument was getting really heated. Finally, I gave him the last of my money and said, “Here you go, asshole! Take my last three fuckin’ dollars. Cheap fucker! Hope you’re happy!” At that point, he tossed the $9 at me, turned around, and walked away.

Now I started to panic. West Palm was a long way from Miami, especially in the days before cell phones and Uber, and $9 was not going to pay for a cab. I envisioned us hitching, which was not what I wanted to do. Alice came out, started rockin’, but I was obsessing. Visions of me kicking this guy’s ass at work were dominating my thoughts. I tried my best to enjoy the show, but each song seemed to fuel my anger more and more.

Finally, after a few songs, who shows up beside us, but Pretty Boy Floyd. “Hey guys! WOOOOOOO! Killer jams!” I looked at him with a feeling of disgust, but had enough common sense to keep my mouth shut. After a while, my anger subsided as I realized that we were getting a ride home, and he didn’t even ask us for a penny. I figured that this guy must not be playing with a full deck. I would be sure to keep that in mind.

The show was awesome. Extremely loud, but I was lovin’ it to death. The stage show was scaled back, no guillotine or anything like that, but the fight scene in “Gutter Cat vs. the Jets” was very cool. I would see Alice many times after this, but there is nothing quite like the first time.

The ride home was uneventful, thankfully. Here is the setlist. Rock on!

Setlist:

  • Model Citizen
  • Grim Facts
  • Go to Hell
  • Guilty
  • Pain
  • I Never Cry
  • Talk Talk
  • I’m Eighteen
  • Gutter Cat vs. the Jets
  • Only Women Bleed
  • Clones (We’re All)
  • Nuclear Infected
  • Under My Wheels
  • Dance Yourself to Death
  • Road Rats
  • Elected

Encore:

  • School’s Out

Alice Cooper: 4/29/2017

My wife is not an Alice Cooper fan, but she made me a promise that if he ever came close to us, she would go with me. Well, this was my chance to cash in on that promise. Cherokee is a relatively short drive (under an hour), and we figured we would make a day of it by touring the village and going to the casino.

We got there early and it was a gorgeous day. The first thing we did was visit the Museum of the Cherokee Indian. It was a cool museum that really gave a broad picture of the tribe’s history.

Afterwards, we walked around a little and went into some shops. Total tourist traps. Every shop had the same bogus crap that was made in China. It was kind of sad. It made me feel that their culture was reduced to mass-produced shit for white people on vacation to waste some money on. The only thing I bought was some coffee from a local coffee roaster. That was actually quite good!

After that, we went to Harrah’s Resort and Casino, where the concert would be held. This was my first time at a casino, so it was a little overwhelming. We had planned to gamble $50 each, but when they figured out we were newbies, they told us we could sign up for a rewards card and get $50 each credit to play. That was a no brainer! We got the cards and started on the slots. We did OK, cashed out that money, then tried our luck at the roulette table. Didn’t do quite as well there, but we still walked away with some money that we didn’t have before, so it worked out well.

We tried to get into one of the restaurants before the show, but there was no way. The waits were ridiculous. We ended up getting some fast-food grub which was disappointing but filled the void. Then we headed over to the concert hall.

The venue was quite nice: decent size with comfortable seats and a big stage. As we got to our seats, we ran into our friend Ari who was in the same row as us. Small world!

Show started right on time and Alice opened with a blistering version of “Brutal Planet.” Then it was classic Cooper for a solid two hours, complete with wild stage theatrics that included a giant Frankenstein monster, trademark snake, guillotine, and a straightjacket. The highpoint for me was definitely “Halo of Flies,” one of his more obscure tunes from the Killer album which I think is a metal masterpiece.

There was one point in the show where my wife got visibly disturbed, which was during the “Cold Ethyl / Only Women Bleed” segment. She felt it was misogynistic and promoted violence toward women. While I have seen that part of his performance many times, I have always viewed it as an acknowledgment of violence directed towards women, but not as a promotion of it. In fact, that part of the act is almost always followed by Alice being apprehended and punished for his crimes (usually by beheading). But, I had to agree with my wife that it could certainly be seen that way. Thankfully, that did not ruin the entire evening for her.

Anyway, here is the full setlist.

  • Brutal Planet
  • No More Mr. Nice Guy
  • Under My Wheels
  • Lost in America
  • Pain
  • Welcome to My Nightmare
  • Billion Dollar Babies
  • The World Needs Guts
  • Woman of Mass Distraction
  • Guitar Solo (Nita Strauss)
  • Poison
  • Halo of Flies
  • Feed My Frankenstein
  • Cold Ethyl
  • Only Women Bleed
  • Escape
  • Ballad of Dwight Fry
  • Killer
  • I Love the Dead
  • I’m Eighteen
  • Elected

Encore:

  • School’s Out

Alice Cooper and Cheap Trick: 8/26/2005

AliceCooper_8-26-05

This is a concert that has a very special memory associated with it. This was the first concert that I took my oldest daughter to see. Even at a young age, my daughter had great taste in music (a sign that I have done my job as a parent well). She liked Alice Cooper and would listen to the “Welcome To My Nightmare” album a lot, so when I saw Alice was coming to Atlanta, with Cheap Trick no less, I figured it was worth taking a road trip to have a father/daughter bonding experience.

My wife was concerned about me taking our young daughter to an Alice Cooper concert, particularly if I needed to use the bathroom. She did not want me leaving her alone for even one second. Luckily, my brother Mike lived in Atlanta at the time and he was totally interested in going to the concert with us. It also meant we had a place to stay. All in all, it was shaping up to be a great time.

We got to the show, and despite my brother’s warning about how strange of a venue Chastain Park Amphitheatre was, I was still surprised. Chastain sells season passes to really rich folk who bring fancy picnic dinners, have tables set up, and dine by candlelight while enjoying an evening of music. Behind the bourgeois, where we were at, were all the rock and roll crazies. Anyway, it was a very surreal environment.

Cheap Trick came out and they were great, as always. I had seen them many times over the years and loved them each time I saw them. They romped through all their hits and even played “California Man,” possibly my favorite Cheap Trick song. During their set, in a moment of tomfoolery, Rick Nielsen took one of Alice’s band member’s guitars and gave it to someone in the audience. The roadies were quick to retrieve the guitar and bring it back on stage.

I mentioned that “Welcome To My Nightmare” was my daughter’s favorite Cooper album; I should add that “Department of Youth” was her favorite song from that album. So when Alice came on stage and opened the show with “Department of Youth,” it was one of those special moments that only happen at a live music performance. As I saw the rapt look of joy on my daughter’s face, I couldn’t help but feel that Alice chose that song just for us. I know that I’m being naïve, but still, I couldn’t help feeling that way.

The rest of the show was classic Alice: the snake, the guillotine, the straightjacket, and the giant balloons and confetti during “School’s Out.” We had a great time and I have a memory of time spent with my daughter that I will always cherish.

Thanks Alice!