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

RatDog: 10/13/1996

After Jerry Garcia’s death on August 9, 1995, Bob Weir’s solo project RatDog, which featured Rob Wasserman on bass, became one of the regular bands for lost Deadheads to flock to. I think this might have been my first RatDog show, since I don’t recall seeing them while Jerry was still alive, but if I discover an older stub, I will certainly amend this post.

The show was originally booked at The Edge, a club in Fort Lauderdale, FL. But the venue was changed to the Sunrise Musical Theatre, presumably because tickets were in such high demand that they needed a larger location.

According to the RadDog website, a band called Low and Sweet Orchestra opened, but I have no recollection of them. In fact, I don’t remember much about this show, although I have an impression of seeing Bobby performing “Bomb’s Away” and “Blackbird” at the Sunrise. This is a common problem when you have seen as many Dead-type shows as I have. They all tend to blend together after a while, and subtle distinctions are lost.

Anyway, here’s the setlist, courtesy of the RadDog site. Rock on!

Setlist:

  • Bombs Away >
  • Salt Lake City
  • City Girls >
  • Eternity
  • Blackbird
  • Desolation Row
  • Tanqueray
  • I Know You Rider
  • Little Red Rooster
  • Minglewood Blues
  • The Winners
  • Cassidy >
  • Bass/Drums >
  • Throwing Stones

Encore:

  • Johnny B. Goode

Ringo Starr and his All-Starr Band: 3/27/1999

This was my second time seeing Ringo.  The first time was cool, but this show was light years better.

The lineup for this incarnation of the All-Starr Band was nothing short of mind-blowing.

  • Ringo Starr – drums, vocals
  • Todd Rundgren (from Nazz and Utopia) – guitar, percussion, vocals
  • Gary Brooker (from Procol Harum) – organ, keyboards, vocals
  • Jack Bruce (from Cream) – bass, keyboards, vocals
  • Simon Kirke (from Free and Bad Company) – drums, vocals
  • Timmy Cappello – saxophone, keyboards, harmonica, guitar, vocals

The band opened the show with “It Don’t Come Easy,” which is maybe my favorite Ringo solo song and one that he did not play the first time I saw him. This show also had a nice amount of Beatles tunes woven in. And the songs from the other members—WOW! Todd actually played some Utopia, Simon sang some Bad Co. and a Free song, Gary Brooker sang some classic Procol Harum stuff, including Conquistador, and Jack Bruce belted out several Cream hits. There was absolutely no weak spots anywhere in this show.

Here’s the full setlist. Rock on!

Setlist:

  • It Don’t Come Easy
  • Act Naturally
  • Whisky Train
  • I Saw the Light
  • Sunshine of Your Love
  • Shooting Star
  • Boys
  • Love Me Do
  • Yellow Submarine
  • Conquistador
  • Hammer in My Heart
  • I’m the Greatest
  • No No Song
  • I Feel Free
  • All Right Now
  • I Wanna Be Your Man
  • Bang the Drum All Day
  • White Room
  • A Whiter Shade of Pale
  • Photograph

Encore:

  • You’re Sixteen
  • With a Little Help From My Friends

Phil Lesh & Friends: 4/14/2001

Not a whole lot to say about this show, other than it was great. This was the second show of a two-night run at the Sunrise Musical Theatre, and my wife went with me the first night, which was an experience because she was late in her pregnancy. This night, I went without her and hung out with friends, which was fun. I had a lot of Deadhead friends in Florida at the time, and it was like one big party with my peeps. We all danced and sang along until late in the night.

Here’s the setlist. Although they didn’t play a lot of songs, they played a long time. It was just over three hours, if my memory serves me correct. Rock on!

Set 1:

  • Jam >
  • Comes A Time >
  • Eyes of the World >
  • Just a Little Light >
  • Help on the Way >
  • Slipknot! >
  • Franklin’s Tower

Set 2:

  • The Golden Road >
  • Viola Lee Blues >
  • Wharf Rat >
  • Viola Lee Blues >
  • I Know You Rider
  • Dark Star >
  • Night of 1000 Stars >
  • Dark Star

Encore:

  • Box of Rain

Phil Lesh & Friends: 4/13/2001

This was my first time seeing Phil Lesh and Friends. As a long-time Grateful Dead fan, I was pretty psyched. The Sunrise Musical Theatre was an intimate venue, so getting to see Phil there promised to be a treat.

This incarnation of the band consisted of:

  • Phil Lesh on bass and vocals
  • Warren Haynes on guitar and vocals
  • Jimmy Herring on guitar
  • Rob Barraco on keyboards and vocals
  • John Molo on drums

The band was playing two nights, and I of course was planning to attend both shows. My wife though, who was very pregnant at the time, was only up for going this first night. And when I say very pregnant, she was well into her third trimester and looked like she would go into labor at any minute.

We got to the theatre, and someone from either security or management must have seen my wife and become very concerned. From the moment we walked in, there was someone near us, with walkie talkie, making sure that nothing happened to her. We were basically ushered to our seats, if my wife needed to go to the bathroom, someone was right there to clear the way for her, and once, someone down the aisle from us spilled a drink, and a maintenance person with a mop was immediately dispatched to clean it up. It was a little surreal, but we just went with it and enjoyed the VIP treatment.

The first set began with a poetry reading, which was pretty cool. Here is the excerpt that Phil read:

“Invocation to the Sun, the Prologue to The Odyssey: A Modern Sequel” by Nikos Kazantzakis (part 1)

O Sun, great Oriental, my proud mind’s golden cap,
I love to wear you cocked askew, to play and burst
in song throughout our lives, and so rejoice our hearts.
Good is this earth, it suits us! Like the global grape
it hangs, dear God, in the blue air and sways in the gale,
nibbled by all the birds and spirits of the four winds.
Come, let’s start nibbling too, and so refresh our minds!
Between two throbbing temples in the mind’s great wine vats
I tread on the crisp grapes until the wild must boils
and my mind laughs and steams within the upright day.
Has the earth sprouted wings and sails, has my mind swayed
until black-eyed Necessity got drunk and burst in song?
Above me spreads the raging sky, below me swoops
my belly, a white gull that breasts the cooling waves;
my nostrils fill with salty spray, the billows burst
swiftly against my back, rush on, and I rush after.

After the poetic invocation, the music kicked off and the band performed “Celebration,” which the Dead archivists assert was the first time this was ever performed. Pretty cool! The first set also included “The Eleven,” possibly my favorite Grateful Dead song ever. I was ecstatic.

After the first set was over, my wife ran into a friend of hers, who had been up toward the front. This friend kept raving about “The sickness of the jams!” That became our catch-phrase for the evening.

After the break, the band took the stage again for the second set, which was stellar, and loooong. My wife was definitely hitting her limit by the end of the night. She said that while it was great, she was glad she was not going the next night.

I’ve often thought about our unborn child, exposed to that long night of music. I think the sickness of the jams must have penetrated into her being, because she has had a deep love of music her whole life, and has since become a multi-instrumentalist.

Anyway, here is the full setlist. Rock on, and may the sickness of the jams ever plague you! (ha ha)

Set 1:

  • Poetry Reading: Part 1
  • Celebration >
  • Jam >
  • The Eleven >
  • Space Jam >
  • Soulshine >
  • Uncle John’s Band >
  • Get Together >
  • Not Fade Away

Set 2:

  • Low Spark Jam >
  • China Cat Sunflower >
  • Uncle John’s Band Reprise >
  • St. Stephen >
  • Sugaree >
  • St. Stephen >
  • I Am The Walrus >
  • Taste Like Wine >
  • The Wheel >
  • Lovin’ Jam >
  • The Wheel >
  • The Other One >
  • Celebration Reprise

Encore:

  • Here Comes Sunshine

Grateful Dead and New York City Percussion Ensemble: 9/16/1987

For the second night at Madison Square Garden, we had seats straight back in the lower level. When we got in and took our seats, I noticed something different about the stage—there were chairs set up along the front of the stage. My heart began to race! I immediately assumed that this meant the Dead were going to play an acoustic set. I had never seen the Dead play acoustic, but had heard recordings and was psyched at the prospect. Alas, they did not do an acoustic set, but we were treated to a nice surprise.

The New York City Percussion Ensemble opened the show, unannounced. They were awesome, and had some incredible African dancers accompanying the drummers. One of the people sitting near us said that Babatunde Olatunji was one of the percussionists. I have not been able to confirm this, but I am going with the belief that he was there and that I got to see the legendary drummer perform.

After the drummers, the Dead came out and played two solid sets, so it ended up being quite a long night of music. High points for me were Brent singing “Devil With a Blue Dress > Good Golly Miss Molly,” and a roaring version of “Truckin’” coming out of drums and space.

A side note about this show that is pretty amazing. There were a couple of guys sitting in front of us, and we chatted a bit between sets. Well, after the tour was over and we were all back in South Florida, my friends Julie and Miriam (same friends I was at these shows with) went with me to a Grateful Dead night at a club in Fort Lauderdale. While we were there, these two guys came up to us and said “Hey! Weren’t you at the Dead shows at Madison Square Garden, toward the back, on the second night?” They were the same dudes who were sitting in front of us! We exchanged phone numbers and became close friends. In fact, one of them, Armando, is still one of my closest friends today. It was kind of like some strange twist of fate.

Anyway, here is the full setlist from the show. “New York’s got the ways and means; but just won’t let you be, oh no.”

Set 1:

  • Touch of Grey
  • Scarlet Begonias
  • Little Red Rooster
  • Dire Wolf
  • My Brother Esau
  • High Time
  • Let it Grow
  • Don’t Ease Me In

Set 2:

  • Bertha
  • Greatest Story Ever Told
  • Devil With a Blue Dress
  • Good Golly Miss Molly
  • Devil With a Blue Dress
  • He’s Gone
  • Drums > Space
  • Truckin’
  • Wharf Rat
  • Throwin’ Stones
  • Not Fade Away

Encore:

  • Black Muddy River

The Firm: 3/15/1986

Those of you who missed the 80’s (or just have a cloudy memory) may need a little info on The Firm. They were a supergroup comprised of some very notable musicians:

  • Paul Rodgers on lead vocals (from Free and Bad Company)
  • Jimmy Page on guitar (from The Yardbirds and Led Zeppelin)
  • Chris Slade on drums (from Manfred Mann’s Earth Band, Uriah Heep, and AC/DC)
  • Tony Franklin on bass (from Roy Harper, John Sykes’ Blue Murder, David Gilmour, Kate Bush, and Whitesnake)

I went to this show with my friend Mike. Since we were both young guitarists, we were pretty psyched to see the legendary Jimmy Page.

What I remember about the performance was that they were awesome. I personally would have liked to have seen them do a Led Zeppelin tune, but alas. Page did do a really cool guitar solo, though, using the violin bow, with a pyramid of lasers encasing him, reminiscent of the solo featured in “The Song Remains the Same” movie. That was the high point for me.

After the show, we were making the long drive back from the Sportatorium along the two-lane road that took you out of the boonies and back to civilization. We saw two young women hitchhiking, so we picked them up. Mike immediately began chatting them up, clearly hoping to get lucky. When he asked them what they were into, one of them replied, “We’re into each other,” and began making out in the back seat. We could respect that. We drove them as far as we could and dropped them off, then headed home to recover from the killer night of rock and roll.

Here is the setlist, courtesy of the internet.

Setlist

  • Fortune Hunter
  • Closer
  • Someone to Love
  • Make or Break
  • Prelude (Chopin)
  • Money Can’t Buy
  • Satisfaction Guaranteed
  • Radioactive
  • Live in Peace
  • All the King’s Horses
  • The Chase
  • Cadillac
  • Midnight Moonlight
  • You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’

3 (Emerson, Palmer & Berry): 5/21/1988

I was (and still am) a huge ELP fan, so when I heard that the band 3, featuring Keith Emerson and Carl Palmer, were playing a nightclub in Fort Lauderdale, I immediately scored a ticket.

I don’t remember with whom I went with, but I remember the scene and the show itself most vividly. City Limits nightclub was jam packed, almost to the point of being really uncomfortable. But I was not to be deterred. I squeezed myself into a space where I had a good view of the stage, and especially Keith’s infamous Moog synthesizer.

I had seen Emerson, Lake & Powell a couple years prior, but seeing Carl Palmer pounding away was a treat indeed. And Keith’s playing was mind-blowing. I can still see him twisting knobs and pulling and inserting plugs during “Hoedown,” and laying on top of his grand piano, playing classical piano backwards. All the while, Carl pounding away with a precision that is unrivaled. I was not familiar with Robert Berry, but he was no slouch.

The band broke up after this tour (the only tour they did, I believe). I feel pretty fortunate to have been able to see them. Here’s the setlist.

Setlist:

  • Fanfare for the Common Man
  • Desde la vida
  • Lover to Lover
  • Hoedown
  • You Do or You Don’t
  • Talkin’ ’bout
  • The Fugue
  • Creole Dance
  • On My Way Home
  • Runaway
  • Standing in the Shadows of Love
  • America
  • Blue Rondo à la Turk
  • Toccata and Fugue in D minor, BWV 565
  • Drum Solo
  • Flight of the Bumblebee
  • Eight Miles High

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

Santana: 1/27/2018

This show was on our first full day in Las Vegas. My wife and I had arrived the night before and managed to squeeze in seeing Cher at the Park Theater, but Santana was the show we had tickets for well in advance and we were both really looking forward to seeing Carlos in a small venue.

The House of Blues is located in the Mandalay Bay Hotel, which is on the other side of the Strip from where we were staying. Since we had the entire day to kill, we decided to walk the Strip, stop in to a couple casinos, and take in the sights. We did the Venetian, Caesar’s Palace, the Bellagio, and the MGM. There was no shortage of interesting people-watching. We played some games–won a little and lost a little. We were even informed by some caring individuals that we were all going to Hell.

We got to the Mandalay Bay well before showtime, so we decided to eat at the buffet. What a waste! It was mediocre at best, and certainly not worth the price they were charging. For all the talk about the amazing buffets in Vegas, I’m thinking people must be really drunk when they go there, because honestly, it was pretty weak.

Anyway, after dinner, we walked through the veil of tobacco smoke that hung in the casino and got to the House of Blues. We had general admission tickets, which put us in a small pit at the front, very close to the stage. I could have paid more for seats, but Santana is dancing music, and why spend more to sit farther back when I can be closer and able to dance. It was a no-brainer.

The band came out a little after 8:00 and kicked the show off with “Soul Sacrifice.” A perfect opener, in my humble opinion. Then they went right into “Jingo,” and it was just one great jam after another for the rest of the night. At 70 years old, Carlos looked healthy and his guitar playing was as tasteful as ever. And his band was really tight—three drummers and two singers who also played hand percussion instruments, so the rhythms were incredible.

Even after being on my feet for the entire day, I was totally energized by the music and had no problem dancing for the entire show. What a treat to see Carlos up close in such an intimate setting.

Here is the full setlist.

Setlist:

  • Soul Sacrifice
  • Jingo
  • Evil Ways
  • A Love Supreme
  • Watoto Nyada
  • Primavera
  • Black Magic Woman / Gypsy Queen
  • Oye Como Va
  • Samba Pa Ti
  • Wishing It Was
  • Taboo
  •  Total Destruction
  •  Then Came You
  • Maria Maria
  • Corazon Espinado
  • Foo Foo
  • Carlos Jam > Cindy Solo
  • Smooth
  • Love, Peace and Happiness
  • For the Highest Good