Alice Cooper: 7/6/2003

This is one of my favorite ticket stubs. I mean, Alice Cooper, in Liverpool England, the home of the Beatles. How cool is that?

I was in England visiting family at this time, which was a very difficult period in my life. I was working like crazy because I owned a small business, and let’s say that my business partner was the antithesis of helpful. My wife and I were struggling financially, I was physically and mentally exhausted, and things were pretty grim. But there was a huge family gathering happening in England and one of my uncles offered to buy me a ticket to fly there, so I packed my bags and flew across the pond.

I was staying with family not far from Liverpool, and discovered much to my surprise that Alice was playing there. My cousin P., who is one of the most awesome people in the world, knew how much I liked Alice Cooper and bought two tickets so that I could go with one of my uncles. So my Uncle B. and  I headed down to Kings Dock to see the Coop.

The venue was surreal. It was like a big tent set up on the dock, so it had that crazy carnival feel, which is apropos for a Cooper concert.

The lights went down, and the band took the stage, opening with “Hello Hooray,” arguably the best opening song ever. And then it was all classic Cooper.

He broke out some really cool tunes that were surprising, like “Desperado,” “Public Animal #9,” and “Long Way to Go,” a highly underrated song off the “Love It To Death” album. The tour was dubbed the “Bare Bones Tour,” so it was missing the elaborate stage props (no guillotine or snake), just Alice and the band playing a solid set of killer tunes.

Although I was teetering on the brink of depression, seeing Alice in England was a nice boost for me. And getting to go to a concert with my uncle is a memory that I will treasure for the rest of my days. Anyway, here’s the setlist. Rock on!

Setlist

  • Hello Hooray
  • No More Mr. Nice Guy
  • Billion Dollar Babies
  • Long Way to Go
  • Public Animal #9
  • Be My Lover
  • Lost in America
  • I’m Eighteen
  • Serious
  • Desperado
  • Halo of Flies
  • Welcome to My Nightmare
  • Cold Ethyl
  • Only Women Bleed
  • Ballad of Dwight Fry
  • Guilty
  • School’s Out

Encore:

  • Poison
  • Elected
  • Disgraceland
  • Under My Wheels

Jake Bugg: 6/20/2014

JakeBugg_6-20-14

I was first introduced to Jake Bugg by my daughters. They both like his music and played it for me, and I immediately recognized his brilliance as a songwriter. Then, while on a family vacation to England, we visited the Cavern Club in Liverpool, and what was on display there alongside Beatles memorabilia? One of Jake Bugg’s acoustic guitars. Clearly, he was a musician worth checking out. So when he booked a show here in Asheville at the Orange Peel, an intimate venue, I knew I would be going.

Not surprising, my daughters also wanted to go. My older daughter was putting money away for college at the time, so my younger daughter decided to buy her big sister a ticket for the show, which I thought was so sweet. Anyway, it ended up being the whole family going: me, my wife, and our two girls.

The concert was amazing. Jake had a great band backing him up, and he roared through a set that was a nice mix of acoustic and electric songs, demonstrating his versatility as a songwriter and performer. He was not the type of person who spent time talking with the crowd, which was fine by me. He got up there, played his music with all he had, and then ended the show.

We were fairly close to the stage, and I have to admit that Jake looked pretty rough, like he was either burnt out from being on the road, or he had been overindulging. Very likely a combination of the two. That said, it did not seem to impact his performance, which I appreciated. I’ve seen too many musicians suck on stage because they were too stoned. But I felt a touch of sadness, fearing that he may become another in the long list of talented people who burn out way too soon. Hopefully, that will not be the case.

What will always stand out for me about this show is the joy I felt being with my family, watching my two daughters together, and sensing the sibling love that they have for each other. What more can a parent wish for?