The Decemberists: 9/25/2009

People often tell me that bands today are just not as good as the bands of yore, but The Decemberists demonstrate that this is just not the case. They are ever innovative, unique, and inspiring.

This concert was a true family outing. My wife and I brought both our daughters, which was so much fun. The girls were very excited, and the feeling was infectious. I had that sense of rock and roll energy that I felt when I was younger. I guess it’s true that live music keeps you feeling young.

The band was excellent.  For the first set, they performed The Hazards of Love in its entirety. Then they took a break, came back, and played a really solid second set, which included a super-energetic cover version of Heart’s “Crazy on You.” I left the show with an even greater appreciation for the band. They demonstrated that they are not only superb studio musicians, but they are also outstanding live performers.

Here is the set list…

Set 1 (The Hazards of Love)

  • Prelude
  • The Hazards of Love 1 (The Prettiest Whistles Won’t Wrestle the Thistles Undone)
  • A Bower Scene
  • Won’t Want for Love (Margaret in the Taiga)
  • The Hazards of Love 2 (Wager All)
  • The Queen’s Approach
  • Isn’t It a Lovely Night?
  • The Wanting Comes in Waves / Repaid
  • An Interlude
  • The Rake’s Song
  • The Abduction of Margaret
  • The Queen’s Rebuke / The Crossing
  • Annan Water
  • Margaret in Captivity
  • The Hazards of Love 3 (Revenge!)
  • The Wanting Comes in Waves (Reprise)
  • The Hazards of Love 4 (The Drowned)

Set 2

  • Angel, Won’t You Call Me?
  • Leslie Anne Levine
  • The Crane Wife 3
  • Down by the Water
  • Shankill Butchers
  • The Chimbley Sweep
  • Dracula’s Daughter
  • Valencia!
  • Crazy on You

Encore:

  • Raincoat Song
  • Sons & Daughters

Smashing Pumpkins: 7/3/2007

smashingpumpkins_7-3-07

This was one of the hardest tickets I ever managed to get. The Smashing Pumpkins decided to do a residency at the Orange Peel, a small venue here in Asheville that holds about 1000 people. They scheduled nine nights at the Orange Peel, which they followed with an eight-show residency at the Fillmore in San Francisco. Minutes before tickets went on sale, I began clicking Refresh on my computer. I got right in, scored tickets for my wife and I, and all shows sold out within about two minutes. I know more than a couple of my friends were very disappointed that they did not get in.

Night of the show, we got in the long line and made it in. It was about as packed as I have ever seen the Peel. They were selling earplugs, which we wisely purchased, because they ended up being blisteringly loud.

I had seen the Pumpkins before, but it was at a huge stadium show where they opened for the Rolling Stones (another story). Seeing them in an intimate setting was amazing. To this day I think of how fortunate I was to get to see this. They played a really long time and the show included a combination of new material and classic tunes. There was a technical mishap where one of the amps died, so they had to take an unscheduled break and acquire another amp, which they did, and then they continued.

If you are interested in listening to songs from this concert, they are all available at Archive.org.

Here is the setlist, and yes, the encore was a 33 minute song!


First Set
01 – I Don’t Mind (Billy solo acoustic) [04:09]
02 – Rotten Apples (Billy acoustic, Lisa on keys) [04:34]
03 – Mama (acoustic) [04:19]
04 – Question Mark (acoustic) [05:52]
05 – Drown (acoustic) [04:52]
06 – Starla [07:39]
07 – Tonight, Tonight [04:38]
08 – Starz [04:02]
09 – Zero [02:15]
10 – United States (abandoned) [04:40]

Second Set
11 – Intro Music [02:19]
12 – United States [13:18]
13 – Lucky 13 (abandoned) [04:57]
14 – Lucky 13 [04:01]
15 – Hummer [06:34]
16 – The Aeroplane Flies High (Turns Left, Looks Right) [07:26]
17 – Thirty-Three (Billy solo acoustic) [04:03]
18 – Winterlong (Billy solo acoustic) [05:42]
19 – With Every Light (acoustic) [06:30]
20 – Today [03:34]
21 > Bullet With Butterfly Wings [04:27]
22 – Tarantula [05:03]
23 – Neverlost [04:32]
24 – That’s The Way (My Love Is) [03:59]
25 > Heavy Metal Machine [08:46]

Encore
26 – Gossamer [33:57]

Death Cab For Cutie: 6/11/2016

DeathCab_6-11-16

This concert almost didn’t happen. After the NC government passed HB2 which discriminates against transgender persons, the band considered joining the ranks of other artists who are boycotting the state. But instead, they decided to turn the concert into a benefit show, giving the proceeds to two groups: Southerners on New Ground and The Freedom Center for Social Justice. I applaud the band’s decision.

I went to the show with my wife and daughter, which was really nice. Going to a concert with the ones you love is really bonding and makes the concert all the more special.

We arrived a little late and the opening act, Pure Bathing Culture, was already playing. We got to see most of their set, though. They were pretty good. They had the mellow alternative sound going on, sort of like The Cranberries or 10,000 Maniacs. While I’m not rushing out to buy their album, they were enjoyable as an opener.

Before Death Cab came out, Ben Gibbard, the lead singer, came out and talked to the crowd, explaining why they are “not not here.” He said they decided to not follow their contemporaries and instead make it a benefit show. He brought members of the action groups on stage and introduced them, and the groups pledged to work hard to overturn this heinous law.

Shortly afterwards, the lights went down and the music started. Wow! They were awesome! I liked their studio music, but I have to say, Death Cab For Cutie is one of those bands that are better live than on record. The sound was impeccable. Perfectly balanced and just the right volume. They played about two hours and there were no weak spots. It was all great.

DCFC
Photo I took from the concert.

I hope other artists follow suit and book benefit shows to help overturn HB2. It’s important to know that North Carolina is home to a lot of progressive and open-minded people. It saddens me that a small group of individuals in positions of political power are able to pass legislation that discriminates against people in this state. Anyway, for those of you interested in getting involved, here are the links to the organizations that Death Cab are supporting.

southernersonnewground.org

www.fcsj.org

Jack White and Alabama Shakes: 5/19/2012

JackWhite_5-19-12

This was one of those rare concert opportunities. Two great acts in one small venue. The Orange Peel only holds about 1000 people, and there was a huge demand for tickets. Knowing that it would sell out fast, my friend Arwen and I took turns waiting outside the Orange Peel box office. We were lucky enough to get tickets, and yes, it sold out within 30 minutes.

Now, there was a potential conflict. During this time, I was a member of a glam rock band, The Glampas, and we had a gig scheduled for that night. And while I am not one to miss a gig, there was no way that I was going to miss this concert either. Luckily, it was an early gig and we finished our last set around 8:00. My band mates agreed to take my equipment home for me, so I was able to rush straight from the gig and made it to the Peel in time for the concert.

My wife and daughter were already there, and my daughter had a friend with her who was a huge Jack White fan. So the two teenagers made their way up front, while us older folk hung back.

I had heard that Alabama Shakes were good, but at this time I was unfamiliar with their music; but wow, was I impressed. They came out and ROCKED the house. High-energy performance, very tight musically, there was no doubt in my mind that they would be very successful.

Then Jack White came out and the crowd exploded. He had a great band backing him up and while most of the show was his new solo material, he did play some White Stripes and Raconteurs tunes as well.

After the lights came on and the show was over, my daughter and her friend returned from the front. My daughter’s friend’s face was streaked from tears of joy at having been so close to her favorite musician. I could relate. There have been times where live music has touched me that deeply. And that’s what makes going to concerts such a great experience. You will never feel that connection and energy from watching a screen. So go and check out some live music soon!

TV on the Radio: 5/11/2015

TvRadio_5-11-15

I was between jobs when this concert came about, so my budget did not permit me to buy a ticket, even though I wanted to go. But I suppose I was fated to attend because I got a call from my friend Arwen who said she had an extra ticket and invited me to go with her. Of course, I could not pass on the opportunity.

I had seen TV on the Radio once before, with Arwen, now that I think about it. It was at a big festival and they played late at night, and were good, but not great. Arwen assured me that they were better other times she had seen them. So, I was looking forward to seeing them in an intimate venue like the Orange Peel.

We got there early enough to catch the first act, Bo Ningen. I have to say I was not impressed with them. We ended up going to the private lounge downstairs and hanging out there until their set was over.

TV on the Radio was great this time. The energy was much higher and they really connected with the crowd in the smaller venue. I confess that since I was not very familiar with their music, I could not name a single song that they played. But that didn’t matter. They were high energy, they sounded great, and I had a fun time dancing my butt off. I don’t need to know the songs to appreciate the music.

Want to thank my friend Arwen again for taking me to this show. It was just what I needed—some great live music to pull me out of my bad space.

New Pornographers: 10/28/2007

NewPornographers_10-28-07

I went with my wife to this concert, and we were both really excited because we both really liked this band… a lot.

For those of you not from Asheville, let me take a moment to describe the Orange Peel. It is a small but great concert venue, holding only about a thousand people. I seem to recall Rolling Stone magazine ranking it among the top 10 small concert venues in the country.

Anyway, the concert was amazing! Neko Case sounded so good, and the whole band was really tight. We danced and rocked until we were sweaty, loving every second.

I don’t have much more to share about this concert. There were no wild stories or unusual encounters; it was just a fun and thoroughly enjoyable evening of live music with the person I love. What could be better?

Here is a clip of the band performing “Bleeding Heart Show,” which is my favorite song by them and was definitely the high-point of the concert for me.

Big Audio Dynamite & Public Image Limited: 3/15/1992

BAD-PIL

This is one of those amazing shows that really stands out in my memory, and the ticket stub only tells a small part of the story. This was a big show that included a total of four bands, all of whom I was so psyched to see. It was an outdoor show at Miami’s Bayfront Park Amphitheater and I went with a big group of friends.

The first band to perform was Blind Melon. They were very good and performed an amazing set. The band suffered a tragedy a couple years later when the lead singer, Shannon Hoon, died of a cocaine overdose on October 21, 1995. I feel fortunate to have seen them.

The second band to perform was Live. Wow! I remember being blown away by the energy this band had on stage. It did not surprise me that they later rose to stardom. I had heard some of their music on the alternative college stations, but when I saw them live (pun intended), I immediately went out and bought “Throwing Copper,” which is an amazing CD.

Finally, we got Public Image Limited (PiL). Johnny Lydon, also known as Johnny Rotten from the Sex Pistols, commanded the audience in a way that is difficult to describe. He stalked the stage, engaged the crowd, and got everyone’s hearts pumping along with the music. When they finished, I was so psyched, but not quite able to grasp that there was STILL MORE! The main act, Big Audio Dynamite (or BAD), was still up next.

For those who are not familiar, BAD was formed by Mick Jones of The Clash after he left the band. I really like BAD and was virtually crawling out of my skin with anticipation. Was I in for a disappointment.

They came on stage, and immediately I could tell they were really wasted. The musicians staggered around the stage, slurring incoherently into the microphones, and getting tangled up in guitar cords. It was so anticlimactic after three amazing performances, each more energetic than the one before. The contrast was stark. And then, as if it couldn’t get any worse, the drummer fell over backwards and knocked his drums over. I felt like I was watching Cheech and Chong! I looked around and noticed people leaving in droves. We decided that we had to join them. There was no way we were going to sit through that kind of pathetic performance.

I was really bummed out about Big Audio Dynamite’s lack of professionalism. But I did not let that ruin the show as a whole. I got to see three great performances that day and have a great memory to go along with my ticket stub.