Robert Plant: 7/1/1985

So if you are paying attention, you will notice that the date on the stub and the date of this show do not match up. That’s because, even though this was an indoor concert, it was postponed due to rain. If you grew up in South Florida in the 70s and 80s, you would remember the barn of a venue that was the infamous Hollywood Sportatorium, which was such a shithole that when it rained, water threatened to pour down on the stage.

The Sportatorium roof was infamous for occasionally leaking over the stage (and performers) or the audience during heavy rainfalls. Robert Plant postponed a 1985 concert for one day due to leaks in the roof, and remarked to the crowd the following night, “This is the first gig I’ve ever done that was rained out inside the building.”

(Source: Wikipedia)

We had driven out to Pembroke Pines on the Sunday, since we hadn’t heard the news about the postponement, and we were turned away along with a bunch of other concertgoers (read Sun Sentinel article about cancellation). Thankfully, there were no conflicts preventing us from returning the following night. Since this was my first time seeing Robert Plant, I would have been devastated if I had to return my ticket.

Anyway, the next day, we made the trek (again) out to the Sport-hole, and this time we were treated to an awesome performance by Plant. He was touring in support of the Shaken and Stirred album, but he also included a short Honeydrippers set, which was very cool. I was slightly disappointed that he didn’t play any Zeppelin tunes on this tour, but I guess he was trying to establish himself apart from his past. I can respect that, but it would have been cool to toss in one or two songs. But the quality of what he did play certainly made up for it, and I would see Plant perform Zep stuff at future shows, particularly when he performed with Jimmy Page.

Here’s the setlist—there was good rockin’ at midnight!

Setlist

Robert Plant

  • In the Mood
  • Pledge Pin
  • Pink and Black
  • Little by Little
  • Burning Down One Side
  • Too Loud
  • Thru’ With the Two Step
  • Other Arms
  • Messin’ With the Mekon
  • Slow Dancer

Honeydrippers

  • Rockin’ at Midnight
  • Young Boy Blues
  • Sea of Love
  • (Every Time I Hear) That Mellow Saxophone

Robert Plant

  • Like I’ve Never Been Gone
  • Easily Lead

Encore:

  • Big Log

Jimmy Page & Robert Plant: 3/6/1995

Seeing Plant and Page performing together is about as close as you can get to seeing Led Zeppelin without actually seeing Zep. This tour was booked after the rock gods appeared on MTV Unplugged. When they booked a show at the Miami Arena, I immediately got tickets for my wife and I to go. And not surprising, a good number of my friends also got tickets.

The Miami Arena was fairly small as far as arenas go, so getting to see Plant and Page here was great. We had seats straight back in the lower section, but could still see really well, and the sound was good.

Rusted Root was the opening act for this show. At the time, I had not heard of them, but I was immediately impressed by their music and stage presence. They totally had the place rockin’ and did not draw any wrath from the usually intolerant South Florida music crazies.

After a break, Plant and Page took the stage. It was awesome! They totally kicked ass from the first crushing notes to the very end. They had a solid band backing them up, which included Porl Thompson from The Cure.

  • Porl Thompson — guitar, banjo
  • Nigel Eaton — hurdy-gurdy
  • Charlie Jones — bass, percussion
  • Michael Lee — drums, percussion
  • Ed Shearmur — orchestral arrangements, organ
  • Jim Sutherland — mandolin, bodhran

What can I say about seeing Plant and Page together on stage? The image was so iconic, like they stepped right out of a poster from my teenage wall and exploded into reality. The energy was tangible, and I think half the crowd was hoarse by the end of the night. They played a great mix of hard-rockin’ Zep tunes, some acoustic stuff, and even a couple covers. I can’t imagine how difficult it must be to choose songs from such an amazing catalog of music. If you think about it, there is no such thing as a bad Zeppelin song. Everything that they wrote was amazing.

It’s impossible for me to pick out high points from this show. It was all one big high point. That said, “Song Remains the Same” with Page on the double-neck guitar was amazing, and “Kashmir” to end the night was perfect. Here’s the full setlist, forged from the Hammer of the Gods.

Setlist

  • Tales of Bron
  • The Wanton Song
  • Bring It On Home
  • Celebration Day
  • Thank You
  • Dancing Days
  • Shake My Tree
  • Lullaby (The Cure cover)
  • No Quarter
  • Wonderful One
  • Hey Hey What Can I Do
  • Gallows Pole
  • Hurdy-Gurdy Solo
  • Nobody’s Fault but Mine
  • The Song Remains the Same
  • Since I’ve Been Loving You
  • Friends
  • Calling to You (w Dazed And Confused / The Hunter excerpts)
  • Four Sticks
  • In the Evening
  • Black Dog
  • Kashmir

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’

Spirit: 3/31/1981

Spirit_3-31-81

Spirit was one of those bands that the first time I heard them, I was floored. I had a friend named Paul and he was excited one day because he had just bought the Best of Spirit. We listened to it and the next day I went to the record store and bought a copy of the album. It basically lived on my turntable for weeks afterwards.

The Agora Ballroom was a club in Hallandale, Florida, which is just north of Miami. The club later became the infamous Button South, but when I went to see Spirit there, it was still the Agora.

Although the band only featured two of the original members, Randy California and Ed Cassidy, they were amazing. Randy’s guitar work and vocals were stellar and the band ripped through almost everything I wanted to hear. The only song that they didn’t play which I would have loved to see them perform was “Mechanical World,” a very dark, apocalyptic anti-war song.

Spirit was one of those bands that never became as popular as they should have. I like to say that they are the best band you’ve never heard of, although you’ve probably heard their songs, like “I Got A Line On You,” “Nature’s Way,” and “Fresh Garbage.” Also, it has been asserted that Jimmy Page stole the main musical theme for “Stairway to Heaven” from Spirit’s “Taurus.” (There is a lawsuit against Page seeking to give credit to Randy California for the song.)

If you’re not familiar with Spirit’s music, I strongly encourage you to check them out. “Twelve Dreams of Dr. Sardonicus” is one of my all-time favorite albums. They were so ahead of their time and their music sounds as fresh and exciting today as it did when I first heard them back in the late 70’s.

You have the world at your fingertips
No one can make it better than you
You have the world at your fingertips
But see what you’ve done to the rain and the sun
So many changes have all just begun, to reap
I know you’re asleep
Wake up

(“Prelude” from Twelve Dreams of Dr. Sardonicus)

Jimmy Page: 9/8/1988

Page_9-8-88

Let me start by saying, as a guitarist, I have been inspired and awed by the great Jimmy Page. He has the mystique, the skill, and the style that earns him a spot as a guitar god. So, when I saw that he was performing at the James L. Knight Center in Miami (a small venue), there wasn’t even a question as to whether or not I was going. I was there!

I went with my good friend Craig. We got to the show early since it was general admission and we had decided to get as close as possible to the stage. And close we got. But alas, there was a problem. As Page and his band came on stage, it began to get crushing up front. After being up front for a nice part of the show (which included an awesome version of “Over the Hills and Far Away”), Craig and I decided we should move back so we could enjoy the rest of the show without being squashed.

Craig looked at the mass of people and yelled into my ear: “How the fuck are we going to get through that?”

I looked at the impenetrable sea of rockers and thought for a minute. Then I had an idea. “Follow me!” I yelled back at him.

I then put my hand over my mouth and pretended to wretch, acting like I was struggling to hold back projectile vomit. The sea of people parted before me like I was Moses at the Red Sea. It was beautiful! Never underestimate how quickly people will move out of your way when they think you are going to throw up on them. We cleared the crush and laughed heartily as we found a nice relaxing spot to sit and enjoy the rest of the concert.

A couple highlights about this show that are worth mentioning. Page played an amazing version of “In My Time of Dying” which featured some really eerie slide guitar playing. Then, for the encore, Page brought out the classic double-neck guitar and played an instrumental version of “Stairway to Heaven” to which everyone in the theater sang along. It was the perfect way to close a fantastic night of rock and roll.

This was not the first time I saw Page in concert, nor would it be the last, but it was a really cool show and one that stands out in my memory of concerts.

Stevie Ray Vaughan and Jeff Beck: 11/21/1989

StevieRay-JeffBeck_11-21-89

I have to admit that this show holds a special place in my heart and this is one of my prized stubs. That’s because this was the only time that I saw either of these amazing guitar gods, and I saw them together! It was a mind-blowing concert. Also, the great Stevie Ray was to die tragically in a helicopter crash less than a year after this show. He was 35. A huge loss for music.

Each of the guitarists performed a full set on their own. As a guitarist, it’s hard to convey just how inspiring it was to see these legends on stage. I kept fluctuating between intense inspiration, wanting to do nothing but practice guitar 12 hours a day, and utter dismay, feeling like I will never come close to the skill and talent that each of these musicians possessed.

To close the night, Stevie and Jeff came onstage together and performed “Going Down,” swapping off licks and leaving everyone awestruck.

Jeff Beck still performs. If you ever get a chance to see him, I highly recommend doing so. He is one of the guitar greats, right up there with Clapton and Page.

I did a quick search on YouTube and found a video of Beck and Vaughan performing together. It was from the same tour that I saw, but a different show. Anyway, I figured I would include it, just to give an idea of how great this was. Camera work is a little shaky in the beginning, but then it stabilizes. Watch it till the end. You will not be disappointed.