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)
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R.E.M.: 4/29/1989

The 80’s was a good time to see R.E.M. They were definitely riding the wave of success and were coming out with some great music. In fact, this tour was in support of the album “Green,” which is probably my favorite R.E.M. album

I went to this show with my long-time concert buddy Jim. Neither of us had seen the band before, so we were both pretty psyched. We went to downtown Miami, to the now-gone Miami Arena, and joined the fans.

I don’t have a whole lot to share about this concert, other than I thought the band was excellent. Nothing crazy happened, just had a fun night digging on some cool music.

Here’s the full setlist. (I had forgotten they did three encores.)

Setlist:

  • Pop Song 89
  • Exhuming McCarthy
  • Welcome to the Occupation
  • Turn You Inside-Out
  • Sitting Still
  • Orange Crush
  • Fall on Me
  • Feeling Gravity’s Pull
  • Cuyahoga
  • World Leader Pretend
  • Begin the Begin
  • Pretty Persuasion
  • Rotary Ten
  • I Believe
  • I Remember California
  • Get Up
  • Auctioneer (Another Engine)
  • It’s the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)

Encore:

  • Stand
  • Academy Fight Song
  • You Are the Everything

Encore 2:

  • Finest Worksong
  • King of Birds
  • Swan Swan H
  • Life and How to Live It

Encore 3:

  • Harpers
  • Summertime
  • Crazy
  • Perfect Circle
  • After Hours

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

The Who: 8/16/1997

“Quadrophenia” is one of my favorite Who albums, so when I saw they were touring and performing the album in its entirety, I didn’t even hesitate. My friend Jim also wanted to go, so we got the general admission field tickets, which were pretty cheap. We figured we would get there early and snag a decent spot, which was what we did.

Drivin’ n’ Cryin’ was the opening act. I had not seen them before, but I had heard of them. They were good; better than your average opener. But I was definitely stoked to see The Who.

How to describe the energy when the band kicked in to “The Real Me”? Words fail me. John Entwistle was all over that bass with his spider fingers. “The Real Me” was my buddy Jim’s favorite Who song, so he was instantly blown away.

The rest of the show was nothing short of excellent. They played through all of “Quadrophenia” and then returned for an encore which was actually more like a second set. They even tossed in some Who silliness and played a little bit of “It’s a Small World,” conjuring the Disney energy of being in Florida.

But what stands out the most for me about this particular show was the very end… the last note of “Who Are You.” Pete took his guitar and slammed in into the stage. While this was not the wanton guitar destruction of yore, it was the only time I saw Townsend “smash” a guitar on stage. It is one of those iconic rock images that is burned into the collective rock and roll consciousness.

I would see The Who perform Quadrophenia again years later, after Entwistle’s death. That show was great for other reasons, but this one has a warm spot in my heart.

Here is the full setlist. “Long Live Rock!”

Quadrophenia

  • I Am the Sea
  • The Real Me
  • Quadrophenia
  • Cut My Hair
  • The Punk and the Godfather
  • I’m One
  • The Dirty Jobs
  • Helpless Dancer
  • Is It in My Head?
  • I’ve Had Enough
  • 5:15
  • Sea and Sand
  • Drowned
  • Bell Boy
  • Doctor Jimmy
  • The Rock
  • Love, Reign O’er Me

Encore

  • I’m the Face
  • Won’t Get Fooled Again
  • Behind Blue Eyes
  • Substitute
  • I Can’t Explain
  • It’s a Small World ([Disney] cover) (Partial; sung by Roger)
  • The Kids Are Alright
  • Who Are You

Grateful Dead: 4/3/1990

This was the third and final night of the run of shows at the Omni. Things get stranger and stranger the more time you spend in the Grateful Dead environment, and while the first two nights proved weird (first night / second night), this day was not without its weirdness.

As was par for the course, we managed to get to the show early and found a spot amid the colorful caravan of freaks in the parking lot. Armando, Tim, and I were hanging out, sitting on the hood of the car, watching the parade of oddities move past. Then this one particularly wild-eyed casualty came up to us. His face looked recently scabbed, like he’d taken a nasty fall and scraped his face on the asphalt. He walked up to us with eyes darting schizophrenically around, like a cartoon character.

“Have you seen the Easter Bunny?”

The three of us were puzzled. Armando pressed him for more information: “The Easter Bunny?”

“Yeaaaaaah. I keep hearing the Easter Bunny. Don’t you hear the Easter Bunny? I hear the Easter Bunny!”

I replied sarcastically, “Oh yeah man, I hear the Easter Bunny too.” I had no idea what this guy was talking about.

Then he excitedly pointed to a car a little ways down the aisle, where a crowd of freaks was standing around an entrepreneur with a tank of nitrous oxide gas, selling balloons full of nitrous. “There’s the Easter Bunny!!” And he stumbled off to join the line of people waiting to buy nitrous gas. We finally figured out that this dude must have thought the balloons looked like Easter Eggs. The guy clearly spent way too much time in Grateful Dead parking lots.

After a while, he came back, balloon in hand and smile on his face. “Easter Bunny.” He proceeded to inhale the gas, and we watched as his eyes rolled back in his head and he muttered incomprehensibly. After a while, he wandered off, and we concluded that the Easter Bunny dude must have blacked out from huffing gas, smashed his face on the ground, and sustained his injuries. I felt sad for him. Another lost soul.

The rest of the day was uneventful. We went in to the concert and ran into some friends of ours from South Florida, which was cool. We all hung out together, danced, and had a great time digging the music. The next day we would make the trek back to Miami.

Here’s the setlist from the show.

Set 1:

  • Shakedown Street
  • Hell in a Bucket
  • Sugaree
  • We Can Run But We Can’t Hide
  • When I Paint My Masterpiece
  • Row Jimmy Row
  • Picasso Moon
  • Tennessee Jed
  • Promised Land

Set 2:

  • Estimated Prophet
  • Scarlet Begonias
  • Crazy Fingers
  • Playin’ in the Band
  • Drums > Space
  • I Will Take You Home
  • Goin’ Down the Road Feelin’ Bad
  • Throwin’ Stones
  • Not Fade Away

Encore:

  • We Bid You Goodnight

Grateful Dead: 4/2/1990

This was the second of a three-night set of shows at the Omni in Atlanta. My friends and I got to the show early (well, as early as possible considering the long night of music the night before), parked the car in the lot, and proceeded to hang out, enjoying the people watching.

At one point, another vehicle pulled into a space near us with obvious trepidation. We watched as the driver slowly and carefully maneuvered the car into the spot, then backed out, and pulled back in again. And backed out, and pulled back in again. And backed out… After several attempts, the dude pulled completely out, then moved on to a new spot a little further down the row. And pulled in, and backed out, repeating the same back and forth as in the first spot. We decided to make a game of it, trying to anticipate his next move. This resulted in a fit of laughter that lasted until the driver finally gave up and drove off and out of view. When it was time to go into the show, I couldn’t help wondering if the guy ever found a comfortable parking space.

This evening, our seats were in the upper left, also known as the Phil Zone because of the proximity to bassist Phil Lesh. IT was actually was one of my favorite areas to sit at a Dead show, since it provided a good view of the band as they were interacting. Anyway, during intermission, my friend Tim began to exhibit some strange behavior, which caused Armando and myself some slight degree of concern.

Tim: “Is this fun?”

Armando: “Well, yeah. We’re seeing the Dead and having a good time. It’s fun.”

Me: nodding in agreement.

Tim: “I just realized. I’m the creator!”

Me: “Oh yeah. I understand. That’s cool.”

Tim: “No! You don’t understand. It’s like… I’m the Creator!”

At this point, I figured it best to disengage. Thankfully, not long afterwards, the lights went off and the band came out for the second set. I snuck an occasional furtive glance at my friend, who was sweating and struggling, but eventually he seemed to shift into a better space. Before long, he was dancing and back to his old self. Tragedy narrowly averted.

As far as the show goes, it was a solid show, with a bit of a surprise. They played “Death Don’t Have No Mercy,” which they did not seem to play much, and was the only time I had seen the band perform that song. I distinctly recall Jerry delivering a powerful vocal performance, reaching deep and expressing some strong emotion. I wondered if someone close to the band had recently passed away, especially since they also played “He’s Gone.” I never found an answer to the question, but I definitely had the sense that the song selection conveyed someone’s death.

Here is the full setlist from the show. Rock on!

Set 1:

  • Feel Like a Stranger
  • Mississippi Half-Step
  • The Weight
  • Queen Jane Approximately
  • Easy to Love You
  • Brown Eyed Women
  • Let it Grow

Set 2:

  • Foolish Heart
  • Looks Like Rain
  • He’s Gone
  • The Last Time
  • Drums > Space
  • The Other One
  • Death Don’t Have No Mercy
  • Around and Around
  • Good Lovin’

Encore:

  • Black Muddy River