Robert Plant: 7/14/88

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This is an example of a great concert where I did not have a really great time. I was originally planning to go to this show with my then girlfriend, Julie. But something came up and she could not go. Instead, she insisted that I take her mother instead. I knew this was not a good idea, but she was insistent and I decided to give it a go.

To say I was uncomfortable is an understatement. I was certain that this woman was scrutinizing and judging me. Still, I was going to try my best to enjoy myself and the concert.

Cheap Trick was the opening act, and I do love Cheap Trick. Our seats were toward the back of the arena, but we still had a decent view of the stage. As the band tore through their set, I got more and more excited. Finally, in a fit of rock and roll enthusiasm, I stood up and screamed “California Man!” wanting to hear my favorite Cheap Trick song. My girlfriend’s mom looked at me with what seemed a blend of pity and disdain, and then said, “Do you really think they can hear you?” I felt crushed, but only for a moment, because they immediately broke in to “California Man” and vindicated me. I looked back down at the mom with a smug smile on my face.

The rest of the show was less eventful, thankfully. Robert Plant was great, as always. His set was mostly solo material, but he did perform a few Led Zeppelin tunes, the best being “Trampled Under Foot.”

Anyway, I survived the ordeal, and vowed never to make that mistake again.

Alice Cooper and Cheap Trick: 8/26/2005

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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!