Ziggy Marley: 9/10/2021

This was my first concert at the Mountain Winery in Saratoga. Ever since moving out here to California, people have been telling me that this is an amazing place to see a concert. An intimate 2500 seat outdoor amphitheater situated atop a mountain with spectacular views of the surrounding area, it really is a magical place for a concert.

When they announced the lineup for this year’s shows, there were many great options, so my wife and I decided we would each choose two concerts, and this was one my wife picked. I had seen Ziggy Marley many years ago as an opening act at a larger concert, and he was good (from what I can remember). But this show was fantastic.

First off, it was made clear that this was a tribute to his father, Bob Marley, and that they would be performing only songs from Bob Marley’s vast repertoire. That was a big plus for me. While I like reggae music, I am not a huge fan, but I do really like Bob Marley’s music.

We arrived at the venue and got our seats, which were fairly close, but immediately I realized that there is not a bad seat in the house. If I were in the last row, it would still be a good seat. After a somewhat long wait (it did not start on time), Ziggy and the band took the stage. He quickly announced to the audience that his brother Stephen Marley would be performing with them. Then they kicked right into the music.

The crowd was really responsive, and most everyone was up and dancing for the entire show, which felt great. It was almost like dancing away the negativity from the past 18 months and replacing it with “Positive Vibration.” It was so much fun and just what my soul needed.

Here is the full setlist, and I am including a few pictures from the show. Thanks for stopping by, and keep on jammin’.

Setlist:

  • Nice Time
  • Positive Vibration
  • Jamming
  • Burnin’ and Lootin’
  • Three Little Birds
  • Stir It Up
  • No Woman, No Cry
  • Get Up, Stand Up
  • War / No More Trouble
  • One Love / People Get Ready
  • Coming in From the Cold
  • Iron Lion Zion
  • Running Away / Crazy Baldhead
  • Is This Love
  • Exodus
  • Could You Be Loved

Encore:

  • I Shot the Sheriff
  • Lively Up Yourself
  • Them Belly Full (But We Hungry)

SiliCon: 8/28 – 29/2021

SiliCon is the new name for the Silicon Valley Comic Con, hosted by Adam Savage of Mythbusters fame. Since I kind of fall into the nerd category, it should come as no surprise that I could not resist attending a con a mere 15 minutes from my house, especially when one of the key sessions was a Q&A with the legendary William Shatner from the original Star Trek. Anyway, I decided to splurge on the VIP pass, which would get me preferred access to sessions, access to a VIP lounge with refreshments, and an autograph session with a guest to be announced. I wound up getting an autograph session with Mark Sheppard, which I was excited about being a big fan of “Supernatural” (he played Crowley, the King of Hell).

A “convention” in the time of COVID was a little weird. First off, it was pretty small. I had attended this con a couple years back and it was packed. This year, the exhibition hall was about half the size, and there were very few attendees. Which was fine with me, since it made me feel more comfortable. Additionally, masks were required, and cosplay masks did not qualify. But in spite of these health restrictions, it was a fun couple of days.

Not surprising, the high point for me was seeing the great William Shatner. For someone who is 90 years old, he was in great shape, had entertaining stories to tell, and was just inspiring. Also, I really enjoyed Mark Sheppard’s session. He was really witty and eloquent.

On Day 1, I attended the following sessions:

  • Opening Keynote Session with Adam Savage and astronaut Cady Coleman
  • Q&A Session with Bruce Boxleitner (IMDB Page)
  • Q&A Session with Mark Sheppard (IMDB Page)
  • Q&A Session with Denise Crosby (IMDB Page)

On Day 2, I attended:

  • Session with Adam Savage
  • Everyone to Beam Up: Q&A Session with William Shatner
  • How the Pandemic Changed Tabletop Gaming Forever
  • Lana Parrilla: A Q&A Session with Once Upon a Time’s Evil Queen

I had also planned to attend Dirk Benedict’s session (IMDB Page), but that got canceled, which was a bit of a bummer, but OK. All in all, it was great to get back out in the world and gather with some fellow nerds.

Here are a few pictures.

Mark Sheppard
Denise Crosby
William Shatner
Lana Parrilla

Bobby Weir & Wolf Bros: 7/24/2021

Yes! Live music is here again. This marks my first concert since Patti Smith at the Fillmore in March of 2020.

Earlier this week I was having breakfast with my wife, and she was reading the newspaper and asked me, “Did you know that Bob Weir is playing this weekend in Berkeley? Says tickets are $75.” I said I wasn’t aware and asked if she wanted to go with me, and she said yes, so I promptly went online and ordered two tickets to pick up at will call. Being a long-time Grateful Dead fan, it seemed appropriate that this would be my first post-pandemic concert. And I was particularly excited to go to the Greek Theatre. This is one of those legendary concert venues, so that just made the event all the more special.

When I ordered the tickets, I was notified about Covid restrictions. All concert attendees must present either proof of vaccination or a recent negative Covid test. I had been procrastinating getting my official “Covid Passport” through the State of California, even though I am vaccinated. So I got that, and had a picture of my vaccine card on my phone, just in case.

Berkeley is a good hour’s drive for us, so we left early, since it was a general admission show, we had to deal with will call, and we wanted to grab some dinner before the concert. We got there and there were lines of Deadheads extending from both the north and south gates, two hours before show time. I wasn’t really worried, though. We went and got the tickets easily enough, then walked about a half a mile to a Mexican restaurant called Celia’s. The service was quick and the food was good. My wife and I both had combo fajitas.

After dinner, we went and got in line. Gates were open at this time, and entry was seamless. We did have to show our vaccine record, but that was easy and in no time, we were in the Greek. I have to say, just the stage itself was impressive.

The show started at just a few minutes past 7:00, and they opened with “Not Fade Away,” a Crickets’ cover which was a standard Dead song but I had never seen it played as an opener. The band sounded really good, and we particularly liked the horn and string ensemble that was supporting them.

About halfway through the first set, Bobby announced that a guest would be joining them for a song, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott. For those of you who are not familiar, Ramblin’ Jack is an American country/folk icon. At 89, it is amazing that he was able to join the band on stage. They performed a cool version of “Mule Skinner Blues,” which I really enjoyed.

While the rest of the first set was solid, I have the say that the second set was amazing. It was like Bobby was playing to the fans, connected on a spiritual level, and each song seemed to have some poignant meaning. The lights were amazing, and we were on our feet dancing almost the entire show.

If I had to pick a high point, I would have to go with “Standing on the Moon.” I love that song, and they did it so beautifully, I felt truly moved.

The show concluded with “Ripple” as an encore, segueing into a reprise of “Not Fade Away,” bringing the musical experience full circle.

Again, I cannot emphasize enough how much I have missed going to live music performances. I’m glad they are back.

Here is the full setlist from the show. Stay safe, and rock on!

Set 1:

  • Not Fade Away >
  • Cassidy
  • She Says
  • Friend of the Devil
  • Black-Throated Wind
  • Tennessee Jed
  • Mule Skinner Blues (with Ramblin’ Jack Elliott)
  • Weather Report Suite >
  • Let It Grow

Set 2 :

  • You Win Again >
  • Scarlet Begonias >
  • Playing in the Band (with ‘So What’ by Miles Davis snippet) >
  • Uncle John’s Band >
  • Playing in the Band (reprise) >
  • Estimated Prophet >
  • The Other One (with ‘So What’ by Miles Davis snippet)
  • Standing on the Moon
  • One More Saturday Night

Encore:

  • Ripple >
  • Not Fade Away (reprise)

Hamilton: 11/29/2019

So I have finally found out what all the excitement is about, and went to see Hamilton.

My wife and daughter were watching the parade on Thanksgiving morning, when a commercial came on advertising Hamilton in San Francisco, saying tickets were still available. My wife went online, and sure enough, we were able to get three tickets for the following day (we were not going to miss our shot!). The ticket prices were very reasonable, $99.00 each, which is way less than what I hear others have paid for tickets to a performance. The only down side was that the seats were not together, but we were in the same general area of the mezzanine, so that was fine.

While I’m not a huge fan of Broadway musicals, I do enjoy them, and this was definitely one of the better musicals I have seen. The songs were great, the story was engaging, and the stage was very cool. While I personally would not consider it to be $400-a-ticket good, it was well worth the hundred bucks a ticket we paid.

Since I’m not a theater critic, I don’t have much else to share. It was a cool show and I’m glad I went.

Trans-Siberian Orchestra: 11/26/2019

This was the first concert I had attended in a while. The past few months have been challenging: relocation issues and the passing of a loved one just a couple of the major things. As such, hitting concerts was not a priority. But things are settling a bit, so my wife and I decided to go see Trans-Siberian Orchestra at the SAP Center (affectionately called the Shark Tank since it’s home to the San Jose Sharks hockey team). I’d never seen them before and heard they put on a killer stage show, so I figured it would be worth checking them out.

We had lower level seats, pretty much straight back. I figured this would be a good spot to appreciate the lasers and pyrotechnics (I was correct in my assumption). The show started almost on time, and there was no opening act, just TSO.

So the first half of the show was Christmas Eve and Other Stories, and was comprised of about 15 songs, very much in the Christmas spirit. I have to say, if I’m being honest, I found it a little too hokey for my tastes. It was like being strapped in a chair and made to watch Hallmark Holiday Programming for an hour straight (note that Hallmark Channel sponsored the tour). My wife said it felt like being in a mega-church. So while there were some cool parts, overall, I was not impressed with the first half.

Thankfully, they redeemed themselves in the second half.

The second half was chock full of classical hits (Grieg, Mozart, Beethoven, etc.) amped up with wailing guitars reminiscent of Judas Priest. And the light show was mind-blowing! There was even a massive Tesla coil shooting out flames and bolts of electricity that crackled in time to the musical pieces.

So on the whole, I liked the show. I would even consider seeing them again, but only if it was not around the holidays. I would love to see a performance that was all hard rock interpretations of classical music. That kind of stuff brings out the prog rock fan in me.

Here are some pictures I snapped from the show, along with the setlist. Hope your holidays rock!

 

Setlist:

  • Who I Am
  • An Angel Came Down
  • Come All Ye Faithful / O Holy Night
  • The Prince of Peace
  • First Snow
  • A Mad Russian’s Christmas
  • Christmas Eve (Sarajevo 12/24)
  • Good King Joy
  • Ornament
  • Old City Bar
  • Promises to Keep
  • This Christmas Day
  • An Angel Returned
  • Epilogue
  • The Storm / The Mountain
  • Handful of Rain
  • Mozart/Figaro
  • Christmas Canon Rock
  • Wizards in Winter
  • Can You Hear Me Now
  • Beethoven
  • Believe
  • Wish Liszt (Toy Shop Madness)
  • Requiem (The Fifth)
  • Christmas Eve (Sarajevo 12/24) (Reprise)

The Raconteurs: 7/23/2019

I bought these tickets to see The Raconteurs at the Fox Theater in Oakland before we moved out to California. My wife loves the band, and I really like them too. Actually, my favorite of all Jack White’s projects. So I scored tickets and the show promptly sold out. They added a second show, but there’s something that makes a sold out show just a little more special.

Anyway, we drove to Oakland, which took a while because of rush hour traffic, but we still made it in time to grab a bite to eat before the show. After dinner, we walked to the theater, which even from the outside looked really cool.

Now I have to say that the inside of the theater was even nicer, really beautiful and ornate. Unfortunately, this was a “no phones” show, and they were hard-core. Everyone had to put their phones into these hermetically sealed pouches that could only be opened upon exiting the venue. But, if you want, you can Google the venue and there are plenty of pictures online to give you a sense of the décor.

The opening act was an artist called Lillie Mae, who is someone Jack White produced. She and her band were awesome. Totally worth checking out. Cool alternative country vibe. My wife said that they sounded like a mix between Dixie Chicks and Mazzy Star, which was pretty accurate.

After a brief intermission, The Raconteurs took the stage. We had general admission floor tickets, so we were pretty close, and I was grateful that I brought earplugs, because they were quite loud. After so many concerts, I need to protect my hearing.

What can I say about the show? They totally rocked! It was all killer and no filler. High energy, great mix of old and new stuff. The only criticism I have is that it was kind of short. Including encore, they barely played for an hour and a half. For $85 a ticket, I feel like you should get at least two hours. But beside that, it was great.

Here’s the setlist. Rock on!

Setlist:

  • Consoler of the Lonely
  • Level
  • Don’t Bother Me
  • Old Enough
  • Shine the Light on Me
  • Top Yourself
  • What’s Yours Is Mine
  • Somedays (I Don’t Feel Like Trying)
  • Broken Boy Soldier
  • Only Child
  • Help Me Stranger
  • Blue Veins

Encore:

  • Bored and Razed
  • Many Shades of Black
  • Sunday Driver
  • Steady, as She Goes

Jeff Lynne’s ELO and Dhani Harrison: 6/24/2019

Some of you may have noticed that I have not posted in a while. That’s because I moved and am now a California dude. And what better way to get settled into a new state than by going to see a concert.

Electric Light Orchestra has been on my short list of bands I want to see but have not had the opportunity. I can now check them off the list. I managed to get tickets for my wife and I, which were cheap seats way in the back, but this actually worked out for the best, because the light show was mind-blowing.

Anyway, getting ahead of myself.

Dhani Harrison opened the show. If his name seems familiar, yes, he’s George Harrison’s son, and quite a good musician. His songs were cool and he had a unique sound, but his voice definitely sounded like his dad’s on a few songs. It was nice to have an opener who was actually good.

After a brief intermission, ELO took the stage. Wow! Incredible sound, even in a big arena. And the lights—mesmerizing. But what was most astonishing about the show was just how many hits they had. I recognized every song, and they played a long time. The band was comprised of multiple keyboardists, cellists, a violinist, and stellar backing vocals, so every song they played sounded spot on. Even “Xanadu,” my least favorite ELO tune, was cool.

Another treat was when Dhani Harrison joined ELO on stage and performed “Handle with Care” by the Traveling Wilburys. He nailed his dad’s part, and the vibe was just really good.

I’m looking forward to seeing a lot of shows here on the west coast. For now, here’s the setlist from this one. Rock on!

  • Standin’ in the Rain
  • Evil Woman
  • All Over the World
  • Showdown
  • Do Ya
  • When I Was a Boy
  • Livin’ Thing
  • Handle With Care (with Dhani Harrison)
  • Last Train to London
  • Rockaria!
  • Xanadu
  • 10538 Overture
  • Shine a Little Love
  • Wild West Hero
  • Sweet Talkin’ Woman
  • Telephone Line
  • Don’t Bring Me Down
  • Turn to Stone
  • Mr. Blue Sky

Encore:

  • Roll Over Beethoven