Pigeons Playing Ping Pong: 2/1/2019

I was recently at a party at my friend Ilene’s house, and she asked me if I was familiar with this band. I told her I had never heard of them, and she told me they were really good, and that her and her husband had gotten some comp VIP passes and that they could get me one if I was interested. Far be it from me to turn down an opportunity to see a show for free. So they secured me a freebie and I listened to some of their stuff to familiarize myself with their music.

How to describe them? They are definitely a jam band, but they have a bit of a funk sound too. Their stuff is upbeat and danceable. I figured it would be a good time, and when I saw that the show was sold out, I suspected it would be pretty high-energy too.

I met Ilene and her husband Jonathan outside the venue. They got us the VIP wristbands, which allowed us to sit in the reserved section on the side of the stage. Not that it was really reserved. It was still pretty much open season for the freaks who chose to wedge themselves in there.

The opening act was a band called The Fritz. They are local, but very good. I had remembered a friend telling me about them. They were better than your average opener.

PPPP came on around 10ish, and they were pumped. Definitely feeding off the energy from the audience. And they played a looooooong time—finishing up about 1:00 am. Two solid sets and an encore. I was definitely feeling tired toward the end, but forced myself to stay until the end, which is a testament to how good they were.

In between sets, I ran into my friend Andy. I had not seen him in years, so it was a nice surprise. He had come into town specifically to see the band and was planning to see them the following night in Raleigh. I didn’t realize that following Pigeons was a thing, but I guess it is.

After the show, as I exited the venue to walk to my car, I was surprised to find people selling balloons full of nitrous oxide. Nitrous?! People still do that shit? I suppose some things never change in the jam-band scene. It made me think of a quote from the Netflix show, “Big Mouth”: “They’re jam bands. They’re the tools of Big Nitrous.”

Anyway, here’s the setlist, followed by a few pictures I snapped at the show. Rock on!

Set 1

  • Melting Lights >
  • Whirled
  • Penguins >
  • Funkijam >
  • Funk E. Zekiel
  • Fortress
  • Yo Soy Fiesta
  • J-Town
  • Poseidon >
  • Jessica >
  • Poseidon

Set 2

  • Live Life / Upfunk
  • Snake Eyes
  • Horizon >
  • I Wanna Be Like You >
  • Bare Necessities >
  • I Wanna Be Like You >
  • Horizon
  • Drunk People
  • Walk Outside
  • Ocean Flows

Encore:

  • Doc

 

The Fritz

 

Pigeons Playing Ping Pong

 

PPPP w/ Jamar Woods from Fritz on keys
Advertisements

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

Yes: 7/6/1991

This was a pretty cool concert. I’ve always loved Yes and this time I got to see the classic lineup along with some other band veterans. Essentially, the Union tour was a collaboration between older and newer members. Here is the list of all the musicians who participated:

  • Jon Anderson – lead vocals, acoustic guitar, tambourine
  • Steve Howe – guitar, backing vocals
  • Trevor Rabin – guitar, lead vocals, backing vocals
  • Tony Kaye – Hammond Organ, keyboards, sound effects
  • Rick Wakeman – keyboards, synthesisers, percussion on “Your Move”
  • Chris Squire – bass, backing vocals
  • Alan White – acoustic drums, percussion
  • Bill Bruford – electronic drums, percussion

In addition to the rich lineup, this show was “Yes in the Round.” The band was set up on a circular stage in the center of the arena. The stage slowly rotated so wherever you sat, you eventually had a great view of every member of the band. I was particularly thrilled when Rick Wakeman was facing me. He is one of my favorite keyboardists, second only to Keith Emerson.

I went with my friend Dana, and we had a great time. The music and the show were amazing. One of the high points for me was when they played “Awaken” from the “Going for the One” album. A great piece of music, but not something I would have expected. Jon Anderson played harp on that song, which was just beautiful and moving.

Here is the complete setlist.

Setlist

  • Yours Is No Disgrace
  • Rhythm of Love
  • Shock to the System
  • Heart of the Sunrise
  • Clap
  • Mood for a Day
  • Make It Easy
  • Owner of a Lonely Heart
  • And You and I
  • Drum Duet
  • Changes
  • I’ve Seen All Good People
  • Solly’s Beard
  • Long Distance Runaround
  • Whitefish / Amazing Grace
  • Keyboard Solo (Rick Wakeman)
  • Lift Me Up
  • Awaken

Encore:

  • Roundabout

Jethro Tull with U.K.: 9/4 or 5/1979

This is a pretty sad stub. The concert was amazing, but I was quite upset that the gatekeeper gave me the short stub. I even said something to the guy, but he was a real asshole about it and refused to let me have the better half. As such, I had to do some digging online to find the actual date of the concert, which was part of the Stormwatch tour. It seems that they played two nights at the Sportatorium. I’m not sure which was the one I attended.

Anyway, the concert was awesome! I was a huge Tull fan growing up. I have great memories of being in the woods in New York with my friends, listening to Songs from the Wood on a dinky cassette player. One of my earliest album purchases was Best of Jethro Tull, and I listened to it over and over and over. So getting to see Tull was a big deal for me.

The prog rock band U.K. opened the show. I was not that familiar with them at the time, but once I learned more about them, I felt fortunate to have gotten to see them live. The incarnation of the band I saw was the trio version which included singer/bassist John Wetton (from King Crimson, Roxy Music, and Uriah Heep), keyboardist/electric violinist Eddie Jobson (Roxy Music and Frank Zappa’s band), and drummer Terry Bozzio (from Frank Zappa’s band). I didn’t know any of their music, but damn – I was really impressed with their performance.

Then Tull took the stage. The entire band was out, sans Ian Anderson. There was a stand in the center of the stage holding his flute. Suddenly, a pirate-looking figure swung from one side of the Sporto on a rope to the other, swung back, and on the next swing, let go, slid across the stage and swooped up his flute. I was completely blown away! They played five songs from the new album, after which Ian said, “Well, we’ve played some new stuff, now the rest of the evening will be all older material. This song starts out loud, then gets soft, then gets loud, then gets soft, then gets loud again. I think you know the rest…” and they blasted into “Aqualung.” The crowd exploded. And true to his word, the rest of the show was all classic tunes, which included “Songs from the Wood,” “Thick as a Brick,” “Too Old to Rock and Roll,” and “Cross-eyed Mary.” And just when I thought it could get no better: the encore!! They came back, played Minstrel in the Gallery > Locomotive Breath > Dambusters March > Minstrel in the Gallery (reprise). To this day, that holds up as one of the best encores I’ve ever seen.

I would go on and see Jethro Tull other times in my life, but none of the subsequent shows ever lived up to this one. It was by far the best Tull show I have seen, and up there with some of the best concerts overall.

Eric Clapton: 6/30/1982

clapton_6-30-82

Eric Clapton has definitely earned the title of guitar god. As a guitarist, seeing him live for the first time was huge for me.

I went to the concert with my friend Jim, but almost didn’t get to see the show. I had snuck in a bottle and was imbibing prior to Clapton taking the stage, when a big hand clutched it while I was holding it. I looked up into the face of a very large security person, flashlight cocked back menacingly, as he said, “That’s mine!” I relinquished the bottle, and he stalked off, and I was grateful that the incident ended there.

We were kind of toward the back of the Sportatorium when Clapton came out, but the energy was immediate. Even in a place notorious for its terrible acoustics, I could hear his guitar work and was impressed from the first song. But we were all in for a surprise that night!

A few songs into the show, a big black man came out onto the stage. Eric must not have known about this because he turned, expressed surprise, and then welcomed the great Muddy Waters to the stage. They performed “Blow Wind Blow” together, which is one of those musical moments that is imprinted into my psyche. But what makes this even more amazing is that this ended up being Muddy Waters’ last performance ever.

Mr. Waters made his final concert appearance last June when he performed his early hit “Blow Wind Blow” in an Eric Clapton show in Miami.

(New York Times)

The other big surprise for me was a performance of “Whiter Shade of Pale.” I think they did it because the keyboardist was from Procol Harum, but I am not 100% sure of this.

The rest of the show was classic EC. I would see Clapton again years later, but the first time would be the best for me. Here’s the full setlist.


Setlist:

  • Tulsa Time
  • Lay Down Sally
  • I Shot the Sheriff
  • Blow Wind Blow (with Muddy Waters)
  • Wonderful Tonight
  • Pink Bedroom
  • Ramblin’ on My Mind
  • Have You Ever Loved a Woman
  • After Midnight
  • A Whiter Shade of Pale
  • Key to the Highway
  • Double Trouble
  • Blues Power
  • Cocaine
  • Layla
  • Further Up the Road

Grandmothers of Invention: 8/11/2012

Grandmothers_8-11-12

This was a really cool show, featuring members of Frank Zappa’s Mothers of Invention. I had seen Zappa many years ago, and he was great, but as my musical tastes developed and expanded, my appreciation for his music grew.

For those of you who have never been to Asheville, the Grey Eagle is a small venue, basically a bar which also serves some food. But the vibe there is great. So needless to say, I had seats quite close to the stage with my friends Bill and Robert.

Musically, this band was incredible. Napoleon Murphy Brock was brilliant as the front man, chatting up the crowd, making jokes, dancing up a storm, and directing the music. They had a young guitarist who looked a lot like Frank and he was scary good on the guitar. But for me, it was Don Preston on the keyboards who stole the show. He was getting ready to turn 80 and he looked and sounded great. Not only was he all over the keyboards, playing incredibly intricate music, but he also performed magic tricks on stage, much to the delight of the audience. And if that wasn’t enough, he took out hi iPhone, opened a synthesizer app, and played a killer solo on his phone. It was impressive… most impressive.

The band returned to the Grey Eagle again the following year, and I went to see them again, convincing my brother (a long-time Zappa fan) to drive out to Asheville for the show. But that’s another stub and another story.

Here’s a video clip that my friend Robert took.

Emerson, Lake & Powell: 10/5/1986

ELP_10-5-86

Keith Emerson was my favorite keyboardist of all time, and sadly, he died yesterday of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound. So, I figured it was appropriate to write about one of the times I saw him perform.

I was never fortunate enough to see Emerson, Lake & Palmer, but this show was pretty close. For the tour, Cozy Powell replaced Carl Palmer on drums. Powell is no slouch on the drum kit, and he was probably the best person to fill in.

The concert was nothing short of spectacular. The set included a nice mix of pieces spanning ELP’s career. Some of the high points were “Pirates,” “Pictures at an Exhibition,” and “Fanfare for the Common Man.” But the pinnacle of the show for me was the encore, which included “Karn Evil 9: 1st Impression Part 2.”

“Karn Evil 9” is from the Brain Salad Surgery album, which is one of my all-time favorite album. Throughout the years, I’ve owned multiple vinyl copies, CD, cassette, and have even owned it on 8-track. It is just a phenomenal album. So how can I convey what it was like to see Keith Emerson perform this?

The band rocked through “Karn Evil 9,” and then Emerson went into a wild solo on the keyboards. He was like a madman! He was soloing, and then turned around and continued playing backwards, not missing a beat. He then extracted a pair of daggers from his belt and stabbed them into the keys, holding and sustaining notes while playing over the sustained notes. Then he hoisted the keyboard onto his back and began running around the stage playing the keys backwards and over his shoulder. I was floored! I had never seen anything like it, and I have never seen anything like it since. It was almost beyond belief.

Keith Emerson will be sorely missed. He was a virtuoso musician who pushed the boundaries of rock music. Here is a video of him performing. Be inspired!