Rainbow: 7/23/1982

Here is my ticket stub from when I went to see Rainbow on the “Straight Between the Eyes” tour. I don’t remember much from this show, which was post Ronnie James Dio. What I do remember is that Ritchie Blackmore was as fast as ever on the Strat. I also recall them playing “Long Live Rock n’ Roll” and finishing up with “Smoke on the Water.” I could not find the setlist from this particular show online, but I did locate a setlist from Madison Square Garden on the same tour, which is probably similar to the show I saw.

Here’s the MSG setlist:

  • Spotlight Kid
  • Miss Mistreated
  • I Surrender
  • Can’t Happen Here
  • Tearin’ Out My Heart
  • All Night Long
  • Stone Cold
  • Power
  • Difficult to Cure
  • Long Live Rock ‘n’ Roll
  • Smoke on the Water

Deep Purple: 3/16/1985

DeepPurple_3-16-85

Growing up, Deep Purple was one of my favorite bands. They were the epitome of hard rock and I had heard stories of how they were in the Guinness Book of World Records for the loudest concert, something I found most impressive. When I saw Deep Purple, it was a big reunion thing featuring the classic lineup: Ian Gillan (vocals), Jon Lord (organ), Roger Glover (bass), Ian Paice (drums), and Ritchie Blackmore (guitar). The band had been split up for years and Ritchie Blackmore had his solo band, Rainbow. But then the band got back together and released the album “Perfect Strangers,” which did quite well. So when they booked a show at the infamous Hollywood Sportatorium, I grabbed some tickets.

I went to this concert with my brother Mike. On the drive out to Pembroke Pines, we discussed what song they might open with (a typical discussion of ours before a show). Mike felt certain they would open with “Highway Star,” a pick that I discounted saying it was too popular and would be closer to the end. Well, my brother was right… “Highway Star” was the opening song!

The concert was impressive and everything I expected from Deep Purple. It was loud, energetic, and visually thrilling. The band had a great laser show that totally added to the overall experience. Some of the high points of the concert for me were “Lazy,” “Child in Time,” “Strange Kind of Woman,” and “Speed King.” And of course, the last song of the encore to close the show: “Smoke on the Water.”

Since then, there have been other incarnations of Deep Purple, but none with the classic lineup of members, so I could never bring myself to see them again. This show was perfect and I could not imagine a reconfigured version being anywhere close. So I will maintain the integrity of this concert memory.

Rock and Roll!!

KISS: 4/8/2000

Kiss_4-8-00

This ticket stub is from KISS’s “Farewell Tour.” Umm, farewell to your money, maybe. They have certainly continued playing since then.

Anyway, I went with my friend Jim and I was pretty psyched to see KISS. I had never seen them and I had always heard they put on a killer stage show. Plus, it was a big outdoor thing with other bands I had not seen.

The first act to perform was Skid Row. My expectations were not high for this act, let me tell you. Although I love glam rock, the 80’s hair bands just never did anything for me. But I saw them, so check that one off the list.

Next act was Ted Nugent. Yes, I know, he is a most abrasive and unsavory person and not someone I would ever spend a penny on to see by himself, but I figured if it is thrown in for free, what the hell. And the truth is, he was really good live. If he would just play guitar and not talk, the world would be a better place. Wasn’t it Frank Zappa who said “Shut up and play your guitar”? Bottom line, for an opening act, he was good. At least you knew the songs and the energy was there.

Then it was time for KISS. Total spectacle! They were lowered onto the stage on this huge platform and kicked the show off with “Detroit Rock City.” Smokin! The concert was really heavy on the older, classic stuff. They even played some choice nuggets like “Strutter” and “Firehouse.”

The stage show was everything you’d expect. The pseudo-Ace’s guitar smoking and catching fire before floating into the air and exploding. Gene Simmons spit blood and breathed fire. Paul Stanley got the crowd roused and swaggered in his platform heels. It was over-the-top, glam rock pageantry at its finest. When it was over, I could not think of a single song I wanted to hear that they hadn’t played. A most satisfying concert.

I have had other opportunities to see KISS, but the tickets were high-dollar and I couldn’t image them being any better than when I saw them.

So don’t forget kiddies: “Rock and roll all nite, and party every day!”

Black Sabbath and Van Halen: 11/5/1978

BlackSabbath_11-5-78

Since this concert was back in the 70’s, the details have become a little foggy. What I remember the most about this was the sheer excitement of seeing Black Sabbath in concert. I remember going to a yard sale with my mom as a young kid and looking through a bin of albums, then discovering Black Sabbath’s “Paranoid,” which I bought for a quarter and wore out on my turntable. I would sit with the album cover opened, staring at the black and white photo of the band inside, and thinking how cool they were. So getting to see Sabbath, as a young teenager, was a big deal for me.

Van Halen was the opening act. I would see Van Halen other times afterwards, and they were never as good as this time. I remember being impressed with their energy on stage. They were young, hot, and bursting with rock and roll vibrancy.

As far as Sabbath goes, I recall the eerie effects of the stage bathed in rich hues of lighting. I remember Ozzy, summoning the crowd with his vocals while Tony Iommi unleashed thunderous sounds on his SG. I also, sadly, remember someone falling from the rafters. At the Sporto, people would climb across the metal beams on the ceiling to attempt to get a better view. One unfortunate soul lost his grip that night.

I wish I could recall more details, but alas, all I have is the ticket stub and the deep feeling that I had a really great time at this concert. And hey, music is all about the feeling, right?

Rock on!

GWAR: 12/3/2014

GWAR_12-4-14

I’ve always kind of wanted to see GWAR, just because I have never been one to shy away from the bizarre. So when I saw that they were coming to the Orange Peel, with their new female lead singer Vulvatron, I had to reach out to my friends to see if anyone had the courage to go see them. Thankfully, my good friend Bill rose to the occasion.

Bill has a great music blog, Musoscribe,  so he gets passes to shows and sometimes gets to interview the artists. He said he would reach out to the promoter to see about getting us some comp tickets for the show. His email to the promoter, and the promoter’s response, are classic. I saved the email, so here is the exact verbiage:

Bill: One of my best friends assures me that I haven’t lived until I’ve seen the spectacle that is GWAR. They’re coming here to Asheville (The Orange Peel, mere blocks from my house) on Wed 12/3. If you’ll set me up with a show pass +1 (and – shudder – photo privileges if they’re allowed) I’ll review the show on the Musoscribe blog. Let me know. Thanks!

Promoter: God damn right you haven’t. I will put you on for 2 tickets and a photo pass. It’s first 3 songs, no flash. The other rule is duck and cover, and probably cover your equipment with plastic.

Because we knew that the band is known for their liberal spraying of fake blood and gore over the audience, we figured it would be prudent to go to Goodwill and purchase some throw-away white clothes. So with our old clothes, wallets and phones safely stowed in ziploc bags, we willingly entered the hellish realm of GWAR.

It was over the top! Words cannot adequately convey the image of Vulvatron spraying copious amounts of fake blood from her oversized prosthetic breasts onto a sea of crazed rockers. It was a spectacle most bizarre in nature. And yes, although I stayed more to the side, I did get hit a few times with the liquid gore.

GWAR is definitely not for the timid, but if you have a morbid sense of humor and appreciate over-the-top entertainment, then they are worth checking out. If you do, wear a white tee shirt, then you will leave with a one-of-a-kind tye-dye.

REO Speedwagon, Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow, and The Godz: 6/10/1978

ReoRainbow_6-10-78

This is one of my earliest ticket stubs, possibly my oldest. I was very young when I went to this show and it was pretty crazy.

My mom drove my friends and me to the Suffolk Forum in Commack, Long Island, NY. We got there early and waited in line since it was general admission. I was with two of my friends: Tommy and Schnook. We went in and found seats in the stands for the first act, The Godz.

The Godz may be the archetype for bad 70’s hard rock. Years later, when I saw the film “This is Spinal Tap,” the mock metal band featured in the film reminded me of The Godz. They were so bad and so cheesy that they were actually good, if that makes any sense. I still have a vinyl copy of The Godz’s album, if you can believe that.

Next up was Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow. This was actually the band I was interested in seeing and the reason I went to this concert. At a young age, I was a big Deep Purple fan, so seeing the legendary guitarist’s new band was huge for me. At this time, Ronnie James Dio was the lead singer for Rainbow. Dio later went on to sing with Black Sabbath and after that he had a successful solo career.

My friends and I decided to go down onto the floor for Rainbow. It was insane, but we managed to get fairly close to the stage. Toward the middle of the set, Ritchie Blackmore took hold of the body of his Stratocaster and started smashing the neck of the guitar against the edge of the amplifier stacks. Soon pieces of guitar neck were sailing out into the crowd. Then, a piece flew toward us. I watched as the piece of guitar travelled through the air in slow motion and landed right in Schnook’s outstretched hand. He looked at me with a huge smile on his face, which lasted just a moment. Immediately, a fist came out of nowhere and punched Schnook in the face, and his rock and roll prize was snatched from his hand. We went back to the stands and Tommy and I watched as Schnook’s eye blackened and swelled shut. He told me that he actually saw stars when the guy punched him. I felt bad for him.

REO Speedwagon played next. I can’t tell you much about them other than they were OK. But I kept wondering why Ritchie Blackmore was opening for this band, which I had never heard of before. Of course, a few years later, REO would become super popular.

I learned an important lesson that day—concert’s were dangerous and if something sails into the audience from the stage, best to move out of the way.

Rock on!